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Lovely Lanzarote

If you’re considering a holiday to Lanzarote but are concerned it’s all water parks and sun bathing, well think again. Lanzarote is an island rich in history and natural beauty with an awe inspiring volcanic landscape.

Historians have dated habitation on the island back to 1000 BC and since then the island has been through numerous governmental disputes until the treaty of Alcacovas granted authority of the Canary Islands, including Lanzarote, to Spain in 1479.

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In 1982 the Canaries became an autonomous region of Spain and this is celebrated throughout the archipelagos on 30th May each year with a national holiday known as ‘Dia de Canarias’.

The Canary Islands, though part of Spain are actually located near to the northwest African Coast, close to Morocco. Lanzarote is one of the largest of the archipelagos which is perhaps the reason why, along with Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, it is one of the most popular places for holidaymakers.

The name Lanzarote is said to derive from the name of the Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malocello who arrived at the island in 1336.

While there’s an interesting history of the island to explore it is perhaps the unique lunar-esque landscape that really deserves some attention.

Volcanic Landscapes

Volcanic eruptions are responsible for shaping the unique geography of the island today and have created the out-of-this-world environments tourists flock to explore. With rugged rock formations and solidified lava streams, it’s like something straight out of a sci-fi film set in outer space.

The famous volcanic eruptions of 1730-1736 are largely responsible for this when they devastated the communities that had developed around the island.

Culture

Beyond the political history and natural beauty, Lanzarote also boasts an impressive cultural climate.

Arguably the most famous artist Lanzarote has produced is César Manrique and his work is proudly celebrated throughout the island with paintings, sculptures and architecture.

Manrique was hugely influential in the development of tourism in Lanzarote, which really started to take off here in the 1960s. With the average temperatures generally staying above 17?C all year round it’s easy to understand why it’s still such a popular choice for holidaymakers.

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A Beginner’s Guide to the Canary Islands

If you’re eager to go on a cruise holiday this year but don’t yet know where to go, I heartily recommend that you consider the Canary Islands. This part of Spain has long been popular among British travellers, but don’t worry if you’ve never been here before and aren’t sure if it’s right for you. You’re certain to find it an enthralling destination!

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As you may have already guessed, given the fact it is in Spain, the archipelago benefits from some truly terrific weather. Not only does it receive around 3,000 hours of sunshine a year (which is more than anywhere in Europe), but its annual temperature is a thoroughly pleasant 22 degrees C.

You’ll develop a glowing tan wherever you go, but it’s important to think carefully about what you’d like to see and do. With the Canaries consisting of seven islands, I recommend you look for cruise deals that stop by at least a couple of them so you get a fuller sense of its terrific culture and landscapes. To give you an idea of where in the region to go, I’ve set out some information about three of what I think are its best islands.

Lanzarote

While the Canary Islands is famous for its lunar-like terrain, there is perhaps no isle where this is more the case than Lanzarote, which formed after a series of volcanic eruptions that started some 22 million years ago.

Come here and you’ll have the opportunity to explore some diverse terrain, ranging from towers of solidified lava to vast canyons. The Timanfaya National Park is a particularly good place to get acquainted with the island’s stunning landscape, while in the Chinijo Archipelago Nature Reserve you’ll get to see a vast range of marine birds.

Lanzarote also contains a wealth of golden beaches that are perfect for relaxing on and soaking up the famous Spanish sunshine. Among these is Dorada, a 300 m stretch of golden sand in Playa Blanca that is well sheltered from the wind and, as such, is great for families to visit.

La Palma

Nature lovers, meanwhile, are bound to enjoy a cruise that calls in at La Palma. Often called isla bonita – which in English translates as ‘beautiful island’ – this part of the Canaries is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and features a number of stunning nature reserves and parks.

One place I particularly recommend is La Caldera de Taburiente National Park. This is the ideal destination for keen walkers, not least of all because it is home to a towering volcano that has a 5-mile wide crater. Elsewhere, you’ll discover verdant laurel forests, black sand beaches and towering mountain ranges, while adrenalin junkies will have the chance to try their hand at everything from paragliding to mountain biking.

Gran Canaria

The final island that I’m going to look at is Gran Canaria. If you’re hoping to develop a golden tan on a cruise holiday, you’ll be glad to know that the isle offers ample sunbathing opportunities, thanks to its 236 km of coastline. Among the many beautiful locations you can recline on is Maspalomas – a sandy stretch that is nearly 3 km long and is good for bird-watching – and Las Canteras, which is ideal for a variety of sports.

Head to La Cueva Pintada (‘the painted cave’ in English) and you’ll get to see some fascinating aboriginal cave art, while the Guanches archaeological site contains artefacts made by the island’s first settlers.

This is just a brief guide to the Canary Islands, but if you’re thinking of making it the destination for your next holiday let us know by leaving a comment below.

 

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A Look at Malaga’s Top Museums

I’ve got a real passion for art and history so I’m always urging my friends and family members to take holidays where they can soak up a little culture. One destination that really fits the bill in this regard is Spain and, although I haven’t been there yet, Malaga is a city that particularly stands out as being perfect for a culture-focused getaway.

picasso museum malaga

Given that it is among the largest cities in the country, I don’t think you will have any trouble finding museums or galleries to take in. If anything, you might struggle fitting all the fantastic sights that there are on offer into a single holiday!

As such, I recommend that you spend a little time planning what attractions you would like to visit the most in advance. While you can do this after you have taken care of essentials like booking a flight to Malaga from Birmingham and sorting out accommodation, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t make a head start on planning which museums to see as soon as possible!

Pablo Picasso is undoubtedly one of Malaga’s most famous sons – not to mention being among the world’s greatest artists – so I certainly recommend you get an insight into the life and work of the local hero. The best place to do this, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the Picasso Museum.

Established in a direct response to the artist’s wish for his work to be shown in the place he was born, this institution’s permanent collection features more than 200 of Picasso’s pieces. These include, among others, Acrobat – an oil painting that was made in 1930 – and Insect, a ceramic work that contains blue decorative motifs.

In addition to being a great place to find out more about Picasso’s career, the museum hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Many of these focus on artists that have some kind of connection to Picasso, with previous shows looking at the work of Alberto Giacometti and David Douglas Duncan.

Admission to the museum’s permanent collection costs €6 (£5.10), though if you just want to see the temporary exhibits you can buy a separate ticket for €4.50. Alternatively, you could get a combined ticket for €9 that will provide you with full access to the entire institution, while a range of package and discount deals are also available.

To get an even fuller flavour of Malaga’s terrific culture, I suggest you head to the Museo Carmen Thyssen. Situated in the 16th century Villalon Palace, this museum focuses on 19th century Spanish art, with a particular emphasis on art that has been produced in Andalusia.

Casas Carbo Ramon, Maria Fortuny and Francisco de Zurbaran are just some of the artists whose works are exhibited in the permanent collection, though the array of temporary displays will always offer lots of variety in terms of the works you can see. This is supplemented by a fantastic range of events, including workshops, seminars and cinema screenings, so you can easily have a fun-filled day out here.

You will have to pay €6 to see the permanent collection, while €4 will get you admission into the temporary exhibits. A combined ticket for both parts of the museum costs €10.

Whether you go to the Picasso Museum or Museo Carmen Thyssen – or, even better, both – I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic cultural city break in Malaga.

 

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Why Spain is still the place to be in 2013

Spain has been a holiday favourite for us Brits for years and is set to top our list of destinations again in 2013, whether it’s for a long weekend or a big holiday. We’ve pulled out the key attractions that the country has to offer below. With such an array, how can you resist jetting there this year?

Madrid

Why is it so good?

Simply put, Spain has something to offer everyone. Whatever you want from a holiday, you can find it in Spain.

  • Weather – Summers are gloriously hot and winters are often still warm, so this is a place you can visit all year round.
  • Culture – Spain caters for those who want culture, with remarkable architecture, a history from a mix of cultures and a cosmopolitan society.
  • Food – Spain offers a plethora of dishes and wines, both national and local to each region. From Rioja wine to tapas, paella and sumptuous seafood, your taste buds will be tantalised like never before. Most Spanish places also cater for British palates, for those moments when you fancy a taste of home.
  • Activities – Spain offers a variety of activities. To list but a few, consider relaxing on a beach, trying your hand at water sports, hill walking, visiting cultural attractions, sailing a boat, zoning out in a spa, sipping wine in a bar watching the world go by or ambling through city streets. Take your pick!

 

Where should you go? 

From fashionable cities like Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and Valencia to beach resorts such as Marbella, the Costa Brava and the Canary Islands, Spain has a lot to offer. Spanish city life offers amazing architecture, fabulous shopping and some of the best restaurants in the world.

 

Spain’s coastlines harbour stunning beaches, chic marinas and quaint fishing villages. Head inland and you’ll find dramatic mountain ranges and a whole host of outdoor activities.

We’ve highlighted our top three destinations below:

  • Barcelona – With a unique blend of Spanish and Catalan culture, the fashion capital of Spain has fantastic architecture including Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia. This architecture is paired with a vibrant atmosphere which you can find on Las Ramblas, La Boqueria market and the city’s marina and beaches.
  • Seville – This Andalucían jewel has a strong Moorish influence. It is home to the Reales Alcazares housing Muslim and Jewish art, trees lined with orange trees, brilliant bistros and charming winding streets. It is known as Spain’s most romantic city.
  • Marbella – Marbella is a great mix of old and new. Visit the cobbled streets of the old town for great boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, or venture into the neighbouring Puerto Banus marina to see million dollar yachts and flash cars on show.

 

The current economy means we all have less to spend on travel. Spain provides the above huge range of destinations, great weather and attractions at affordable prices. Plus flights can be found from most UK airports. Take a look at some cheap holidays to Spain and start planning your trip!

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