Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Is Lanzarote a good idea for a warm mid-winter welcome?
Every day our travel guru answers your travel questions
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Wednesday 21 November 2012
Q We would like to travel to Lanzarote in mid-January. Is it a good time of the year to go there? Specifically how is the weather in Lanzarote at that time of year?
Philipp Mandel, East London
A Good plan: Lanzarote, like the other half-dozen Canary Islands, is warm year-round, as well and welcoming and intriguing. The Canaries provide a blissful escape route for British travellers. They are emphatically Spanish, which spells great food, drink and hotels, well-preserved culture, and good organisation for everything from roads to medical care.
Yet the geographic location is African rather than European, which brings blessings for anyone seeking winter sun. Lanzarote is on same latitude as Orlando in Florida and Eilat at the southern tip of Israel - but much easier to reach than either, being a four-hour flight from many UK airports (which, from your point of view, include Stansted, Luton and Gatwick). Air links are good through the winter.
I have just returned from a couple of the other Canary Islands, and the sun and sea in November was warmly delicious.
By January the Atlantic will have cooled significantly, and the first few weeks of the year are also when the average daily high air temperature briefly sinks below 20C. But Lanzarote will still be highly appealing. Puerto del Carmen, with its sublime harbourside location, is an excellent place to stay; it also offers the chance of a day-trip across to Fuerteventura. But the beaches of Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise also appeal, and have more accommodation options.
There are plenty of activities if the beaches prove too breezy. Inland, there is much to explore in the dramatic volcanic landscape, intricately decorated by the island's favourite artist, Cesar Manrique.
For the best value on a week's holiday consider a package with a tour operator such as Thomas Cook, Thomson, Monarch or easyJet Holidays (though when comparing prices be aware that transfers and baggage allowance are not included with the latter). You can pay £300 per person or less for a basic week in two-star self-catering accommodation, including flights and transfers.
Incidentally, pretty much of all of this applies equally to Madeira (substituting “Portuguese” for “Spanish”), about 100 miles north - which is slightly cooler and damper, but even more fascinating.
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