If you’re heading to the Canary Islands for a holiday, you may be wondering what to expect. Although all the Canaries are popular destinations with package holiday companies, it’s still quite an isolated part of the world, just a few km off the coast of Saharan Africa. To help you prepare, we’re going to focus on Lanzarote…
If you’re travelling from London, you’ll find that Lanzarote is in the same time zone as London (GMT). They follow the British Summer Time changes at the same time (March and October) so there is never a time difference to prepare for.
Lanzarote locals speak Spanish with a distinct Canarian accent, considered closer to Puerto Rican or Carribean than that spoken by the ‘peninsulares’ or mainlanders. There are a number of words peculiar to the islands, not spoken on the mainland. The main economy on Lanzarote is tourism. It has been a popular tourist destination for Brits and the Irish since the 60s, so you should have no problem talking to waiters and hotel staff even if you don’t have much Spanish.
You might think that the Canary Islands are named after the bird. In fact, the islands gave the name to all species of canary, which are descended from the wild canary bird still found all over the region. The wild canary you will see in Lanzarote is brown, with green and yellow shading – look out for it as you hike round the island’s beauty spots. It was first exported by conquering Spaniards in the 15th century, becoming a popular household pet all over the world.
Lanzarote’s only airport is just west of Arrecife, the island’s capital. Among the travel firms providing low-cost flights to the Canary Islands, Thomas Cook runs year-round flights (and the weather is pretty much the same year round, being in the tropics). Visit Thomas Cook to find out more about getting to Lanzarote.
Once there, there are a range of activities to keep you busy. The Timanfaya national park is a visually arresting lunar landscape, great for hiking. Water activities are obviously a strong point – snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, parasailing and canoeing are all available at various beaches dotted around the island. There is also a wild-west themed animal park (Rancho Texas) and a couple of very good water parks. Most of all, you will probably want to just relax on the beach and enjoy some evening meals at the many fine restaurants Lanzarote has to offer.