5 Reasons to Visit Lanzarote in Winter
The cold slows our biorhythms, it’s true, but there’s life going on beyond the blanket and the latest Netflix series. What about giving yourself a holiday and exploring the most comforting version of Lanzarote?
- Season: December to March.
- Advantages: alternative routes and unrepeatable events.
Give yourself for a change of scene and forget about the typical winter backdrops of the northern hemisphere: you’re on the island of volcanoes, less than 100 kilometres from Africa.
Dry, low-lying and different to almost any island you will have visited on your travels, in winter Lanzarote’s temperatures oscillate between 16 and 23ºC, and the air is intoxicated by a persistent feeling of marine humidity.
Read on to discover the charms that this season offers to those who want to get to know the land that was home to César Manrique.
1) Lanzarote filter: light from another planet
If your landing coincides with the sunset, they will have to do you the favour of tying your hands to stop you shooting a torrent of photos from the aircraft’s window.
A sea of pink clouds, a rural skyline of smooth and rounded mountains, white foam toupees on the waves… in winter Lanzarote is burnished by the softest light of the whole year. This doesn’t mean that the UV index will be low: you need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen 365 days a year.
Open Google Maps and click: you’ll catch a glimpse of the little boats bobbing on the Charco de San Ginés; look towards Fuerteventura from the Faro de Pechiguera (Pechiguera Lighthouse); search out your own horizon from the spectacular Mirador de Guinate (Guinate Lookout) or in the peaceful Mirador de Guiguan (Guigan Lookout); breathe in the aroma of saltpetre and seaweed at the Caleta de Famara; watch the sun setting from Los Hervideros or from the Salinas de Janubio (Janubio Saltpans). Park your Instagram and disconnect for a midday swim at the beaches that are most protected from the wind, at the paradisiacal Papagayo or the secluded Playa Chica. The water temperature is around 19 or 20ºC.
2) The time of stews (and reclaiming the legume)
Tasty, but simple and full of nuances. Lanzarote’s real cuisine is based on the use of local products, cooked with the common sense of those who use their fire and pantry responsibly.
In winter, those icons of Lanzarote, such as potatoes with ‘mojo’ sauce or fish ‘on its back’ can still be found, but many of us feel the call of the stew. Legumes are a classic ingredient in the cooking of half the world and a starring product on this dry island that was for decades the granary of the entire Canary archipelago.
Lanzarote’s caldo de millo (corn broth) brightened with pork ribs is one of the most restorative delicacies of the island’s homes and traditional restaurants, together with lentil stew, arvejas (peas) in sauce and escaldón de gofio, a stew prepared with toasted corn flour and a good fish broth. These are inexpensive dishes with high nutritional value that reveal the history of survival that has shaped life on this island.
More? Much more. Christmas sweet potato trout, grilled meat (rabbit, kid), stewed goat, local cheeses, fried moray eel… All washed down with a glass of volcanic Malvasia wine or a local craft beer (another way of sampling local cereals).
3) Sleep in a traditional house (or palace)
More and more travellers are genuinely curious about the realities of the place they are visiting. They want to know what the local farm tools are called, what a ‘tunera’ is, who Manuel Díaz Rijo was, or why a few drops of rain make fluorescent green grass sprout in the craters of the volcanoes.
Choosing a rural lodge or a hotel in a historical building can be a way of satisfying your curiosity, as they are usually managed by open, friendly people who also have excellent knowledge of their island’s heritage.
At six o’clock in the evening, the light dies and the body of the traveller is grateful for a welcoming space. Browse and decide:
- A farmhouse converted into a bed & breakfast with panoramic windows overlooking the protected landscape of La Geria.
- A palace dating to 1690 featured in César Manrique’s book Arquitectura Inédita, with internal décor designed by an artist.
- A casa rural (rural house) restored according to the canons of traditional architecture and committed to sustainability.
- An old 18th century party house in Güime.
- A heritage property in Mozaga.
- A house in the valley of a thousand palms with a garden where you can pick fruit from the trees.
- A 19th century summer house in El Golfo , restored in the 1960s by César Manrique.
- A rural hotel surrounded by vineyards and with views over the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya.
- Some large warehouses from 1923 converted into rural apartments sheltered in the shade of a palm grove.
4) Events that you can only enjoy during this time
Here is a list of some of the winter must-see events on Lanzarote:
- The Quemao Class brings together the best surfers in the world to ride the majestic wave that they call the European Pipeline, that breaks on on the island’s coast. The championship is held sometime between November and March, when the sea decides.
- The Lanzarote Film Festival has become a reference point for cinema due to its charm, its diversity and its commitment to young talent.
- The Saborea Lanzarote (Savour Lanzarote) Wine and Gastronomic Festival is the biggest gastronomic event in the Canary Islands and is held in the last weekend of November in Teguise, the former capital of the island and a historic-artistic site.
- The Classical Music Festival of the Canary Islands , with its concerts in underground spaces such as the Jameos del Agua auditorium or the Cueva de los Verdes.
- The Carnavales (Carnival celebrations) that are celebrated in each and every one of the towns of the island (and which we will cover in detail in another post).
5) Contemporary culture, architecture, identity
“You can see Lanzarote in five days.” “What they have most is sun and sand.”
Two phrases that are as true as the Earth is flat.
The winter is an inviting time to see exhibitions in the CACT (Centres of Art, Culture and Tourism) or in the public and private art galleries that exist on the island. The Almacén is home to the creative avant-garde of the Canary Islands and the Casa Amarilla immerses you in the island’s historical memory.
You can even wander the island, creating your own route in search of the most beautiful curiosities of Lanzarote’s architecture. What about looking upwards to gaze at the chimneys of traditional houses? These simple smoke outlets are a true architectural masterpiece: you will find humble examples in masonry and stone, Byzantine styles, and some stately ones, with different heights and geometric shapes.
The vernacular architecture of Lanzarote -harmonious, ecological, defended at all costs by Manrique-, the houses with steps that go right down to the sea, the Canarian Neoclassical former Parador de Turismo, the bourgeois architecture of Casa Fermín Rodríguez, the dry stone walls of La Geria or the surprising Pancho Lasso School of Art, built in 1971 by the architects Enrique Spínola and Jesús Trapero, are some of the varied architectural structures that an alternative route through Lanzarote’s polyhedral backdrop has to offer.
Your body will interpret Lanzarote’s winter depending on the moments you choose (short sleeves for sipping vermouth in the sun, warm fleece for watching the stars?), but rest assured that your mind, whatever you see, will return home in a happier state.