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The Other Side to Lanzarote: Tips for Culture Vultures

La Geria Wine Regian via Lloydi on Flickr

Let’s be honest, Lanzarote is a destination with a bit of a reputation. You might know it best for catering to British 20-somethings, who want to revel in their youth at the local bars, clubs and black sandy beaches. But there’s another side to this island, one which offers a chance to experience a more authentic side of Canarian culture and explore the country’s rich scenery and history, too. So whether you fancy lapping up the local wine, discovering the ancient landscape or diving into the sea life, here are some ways to make the most of your stay in Lanzarote.

Wallow in the wine

Even though Lanzarote is a volcanic island, believe it or not, grapes have been grown in the vineyards of the La Geria valley for centuries. One of the tell-tale aspects of the wine here, setting it apart from the rest, is the hint of smokiness mixed with the sweetness of the grapes. You can sample it for yourself by going on a coach tour of the different wineries in this 5,000-acre region. It’s a great day out for those in the mood for a drink away from the typical bar scene, while still learning about this thriving local industry.

Head for the Coast

Lanzarote is also home to some of the world’s most exotic fish, including barracudas, angel sharks and sting rays. If you really want a good view of the marine life, the best idea is to go deep sea diving or take a submarine tour. For those who would rather stay closer to the surface, there’s plenty of spots to see the fish while snorkelling. Puerto del Carmen on the south side of the island offers loads of opportunities to set your sights on some dolphins and whales, which generally hang about near the old harbour. Avid surfers should head for the northwest coast of the island, as Famara Beach is a well-known hub for the best waves.

Fire Mountains via blinkingidiot on Flickr

Explore the Park

Keen walkers can hike across the island to Timanfaya National Park and see the ancient rock formations throughout the grounds, including the famous volcanic peaks of the Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) as well as ancient caves and lava fields. You can either tackle the trails yourself or opt for a guided tour. Entry costs around 10 Euros for the day, which includes a coach tour around the park. If you forgot to pack your sandwiches, there’s an onsite restaurant for the ravenous, and rumour has it, they’ll cook your meat straight from the heat of the volcanoes – you can’t get any more authentic than that!

Learn about the local art

Soak up some artistic culture along the central coast at the International Museum of Contemporary Art in Puerto Naos. The museum is housed in an ancient fortress in the Castillo de San José (San Jose Castle), so it’s impossible not to take in the building’s historic architecture while you’re there. Founded by the local internationally-acclaimed artist CesarManrique, the museum also displays pieces by the likes of Picasso, Botero and Alechins.

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