Located off the Northwest coast of Africa and only a 4 hour flight away, it’s no wonder the Canary Islands are so popular what with consistently warm temperatures, spectacular beaches and dramatic scenery. We recently enjoyed a trip to Lanzarote where we explored the likes of Playa de Papagayo, Montañas del Fuego (the Fire Mountains), the ancient town of Teguise, Mirador del Rio and the Jardin de Cactus. That’s not to say we didn’t make the most of our villa pool and soaking up that winter sun of course!
One of the things I love about having a car abroad is that it gives you the flexibility to discover places you might otherwise miss. Like Mogrovejo which is nestled in the Picos de Europa mountain range, in the Asturias and Cantabria region of Northern Spain.
It’s funny how being parent changes a perspective and how you view travel. In the past, we’d often book flights and never really consider how else we could reach a destination. While exploration continues to remain at the heart of all our holidays, the journey to a destination is very much a part of that. Our six year old daughter POD has a wonderful sense of adventure and our first trip via cruise ferry certainly surprised us all. For all the right reasons.
Located in Guatiza, towards the ancient town of Teguise, the Jardín de Cactus is easy to spot with its giant metallic cacti sculpture outside the entrance. We were heading southward having spent time in Teguise, it was too tempting not to stop and have a look. There’s so much to explore in Lanzarote when you have a hire car and the freedom to travel around the island so I honestly didn’t think we’d make it here. Added to which cactus gardens probably aren’t that interesting to six year olds. But the Jardín de Cactus, built on the site of a disused quarry, offers so much more as we discovered. It is said to have one of the best collections of cacti in the world, showcasing some 10,000 plants and over 1,000 species.
If you’re on the hunt for a natural high, the Mirador del Rio could well be it. Situated in the far North of Lanzarote, it’s the island’s most well-known vantage point located almost 500 metres above sea level. It was originally used by the Spanish in the 16th century so they could look out for pirates, two hundred years later it became a fortress and gun battery. These days it’s a spectacular vista which offers breathtaking views across the El Rio strait and Chinijo Archipelago.
Said to be the oldest Spanish settlement in the Canaries, Teguise (or La Villa as it’s known locally) dates back to 1402. Situated in the middle of the island, the ancient town was Lanzarote’s capital for around 450 years. We went to check out Teguise on our first full day having arrived at our Lanzarote villa the night before.
Before we became parents we’d often book holidays at the last minute. It doesn’t happen so much these days with POD being at school but we do relish an impromptu break. As well as pre-planning the bigger holidays of course! That said this February we had an overwhelming desire to escape to the sunshine. While long haul destinations were certainly in the mix, in the end we opted for the Canaries over the half term period as it’s only a four hour flight. The ‘POD Father’ and I visited Lanzarote some 8 years ago so it was exciting to be heading back to the island as a family. Plus we only had to wait three weeks before jetting off!
We were in the Canaries during half term and had a wonderful week exploring the island. The ‘POD Father’ and I last visited Lanzarote around 8 years ago so it was great to return as a family. Although the three of us travelled all over during the time away, our base was a villa in the south. As can be the case with somewhere new, we lost our bearings and ended up on a dirt track when the tarmac road we were on disappeared.
While you can climb the Picos de Europa, it’s not something you’d attempt with a five year old in tow. Instead you take the Fuenta De cable car up to the summit where you can enjoy spectacular views as soon as you arrive. As you’d expect it’s a popular spot so we found ourselves heading off the beaten track the following day. Pico Jano (1,446 metres) is only accessible by foot from the village of Dobarganes. While fairly remote, the area is surrounded by magnificent scenery and it’s easily accessible by car. That’s the joy of travelling to Northern Spain by cruise ferry, we got to explore in our own car.
We kept ourselves pretty busy while we were in Northern Spain. In the first few days we’d taken in the magnificent Picos de Europa, trekked from Dobarganes to Pico Jano and explored the spectacular El Soplao Caves. Green Spain is an absolute gem and there’s plenty to explore off the beaten track too. The roads in the Liebana region are surprisingly good and we enjoyed having the freedom of being able to travel around in our own car.