Lanzarote

Travel Guide Europe Spain Canary Islands Lanzarote

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Introduction

lanzarote

lanzarote

© paperix72

Lanzarote is the easternmost of the Canary Islands, located just 125 kilometres west from Africa's coastline. It covers almost 850 square kilometres and has about 130,000 inhabitants, nearly half of which in the capital Arrecife. Its proximity to Africa is reflected in the fact that (together with Fuerteventura is the driest island of the Canary Islands and parts are semi-desert areas. It's climate, beaches and some great (volcanic) landscapes attract numerous tourists, mainly from Europe. It was artist and architect Cesar Manrique who had a huge influence on how the island looks today. Because of him, you will find only one highrise building on the island, and is the island free of advertisements on the side of the roads. Besides this he built some of the biggest attractions on the island.

Not all that much is known about the island's early history, because most archaeological evidence has either been buried under lava or carried off by raiders. The Phoenecians were there, followed by the Romans. The Arabs then settled the island, the French explored it, and the Spanish conquered it.

The island thrived for a while by producing cochineal, an expensive, crimson dye taken from the carapace of a scale insect that lives on cactus. Cochineal is used for dying fabric, decorating china, in cosmetics, and as a food colouring.

The eruptions in 1730-1736 covered a quarter of the island's surface, destroying its most fertile farmland and eleven villages. Still, visitors marvel at how stone walls and semi-surrounds are used to capture moisture to grow crops elsewhere on this decidedly desert island.

The coherence and beauty of the island's cultural and tourist centres is largely the legacy of the local artist César Manrique (1919-1992). He also played a key role in having the island declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993.

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Geography

Lanzarote is located 11 kilometres northeast of Fuerteventura, west of the Africa mainland, with Morocco its nearest neighbour. The island is about 60 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide and has over 200 kilometres of coastline, of which only part is sand/beach, and the remainder is rocky. Its dramatic landscape includes the mountain ranges of Famara (671 metres above sea level in the north and Ajaches (608 metres above sea level) to the south. South of the Famara massif is the El Jable desert which separates Famara and Montañas del Fuego. The highest peak is Peñas del Chache rising to 670 metres above sea level. The "Tunnel of Atlantis" is the largest submerged volcanic tunnel in the world.

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Cities & Towns

  • Arrecife - The capital. It's the nerve center of the island and almost obligatory entrance point of Lanzarote (unless you come via Playa Blanca). The city has no great attraction except for its coastal area: Playa del Reducto, a pretty calm beach, Fort San Gabriel on an islet accessible by La puente de los Bolas, and the Charco of San Gines, lagoon of sea water surrounded by a beautiful walk. The other center of interest of the city hides towards the merchandise port. It is the International Museum of Contemporary Art which took its quarters in the fort San José. Designed by Cesar Manrique, the museum also houses a gourmet restaurant at reasonable prices.
  • Teguise - Former capital, with the holiday resort Costa Teguise. It naturally presents the most representative face of the traditional aristocratic architecture. Walking through ancient cobbled streets or around the church square, the visitor can admire numbers of facades, massive doors or other wooden balconies. The Spinola Palace, home to the Timple Museum (local musical instrument) and the piracy museum hosted at Santa Barbara Fort (outside the city, placed on a volcano) are the two unavoidable attractions of the city. Also here, a large weekly market occurs on Sunday, attracting crowds of tourists - though it's rather uninteresting, since mostly overpriced rubbish is sold here.
  • Puerto del Carmen
  • Tias - The city is not very interesting, the municipality is primarily known for Puerto del Carmen seaside resort - which is even bigger than the city. The vineyards of the Garia valley are also here.
  • San Barthalomé - Central city of the island. San Bartolomé is above all a large crossroads between the North (Tinajo), South (Arrecife,East (Geria Valley) and west (Teguise). A gigantic sculpture by Cesar Manrique The monument to the peasant is visible at the intersection of these roads. Beyond this symbolic work, Casa Museu, in the same place, allows to appreciate the local culture and its (peasant) history. Half way between a museum and a the craft shop, the creation "manriquienne" also houses a restaurant.
  • Yaiza - A tourist center and ferry port Playa Blanca. The most spectacular scenery on the island. If the north of the island has been valued by the artistic work of Cesar Manrique, the landscapes of the south (and thus the municipality of Yaiza) are sufficient for themselves. Yaiza resides between Timanfaya, Papayago and el Golfo - a charming little sleepy village. There is little to see except maybe in the neighboring village of Uga, a smoked salmon smokehouse (you can buy one, too) and a dromedary (camel) breeding center. The latter organizes daily round trips to Timanfaya, performing a promenade for the coming tourists.
  • Haira - In the north, with famous volcanic caves and the most green area. After crossing a pass from Teguise, Haria appears like an oasis at the bottom of a valley. With a nickname "Ten thousand palm trees valley", Haria contains palms than a classic city. The major attraction of Haria is the house of César Manrique. Excentric, the artist's last home is an unfinished work. The center is quite small but nice. At the Leon y Castilla square, it is possible to take a break on the terrace of a café, in the shade of eucalyptus. On the same square, a craft market happens every Saturday morning, selling local products.
  • Playa Blanca
  • Tinajo - At the north of the island and the edge of the Parque Natural de Los Volcanes, it's the most authentic and secluded. The flow of tourists from the south and east of the island stops mostly in the Geria Valley or Timanfaya National Park. Two points are worth a visit: Mancha Blanca on one side (hermitage of Los Dolores and Sunday morning market) and the agricultural museum El Patio on the other. The Lanzaroteño identity is undoubtedly most present here.

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Sights and Activities

Timanfaya National Park

Lanzarote, Timanfaya National Park

Lanzarote, Timanfaya National Park

© Herr Bert

Timanfaya National Park covers a huge part of the central eastern part of the island. The moonlike landscape you see today dates back from the volcanic eruptions that took place between 1730 and 1736, and from a smaller eruption in 1824. Access to the park is prohibited apart from 3 footpaths, of which two need to be done with a guide, that can be booked at the Timanfaya visitor center. The other one is a footpath along the coastline, which is free for everyone. Needless to say, you should stay on the path and take litter with you. The most used option is however to drive up to the El Diablo restaurant, and to go on one the bustours that start from there. Take the LZ-67 either from Mancha Blanca (from the north) or Yaiza (from the south) and follow the signs. Upon leaving the LZ-67, you will have to pay the entrance to the park (€8). The ticket already includes the bustour. The bustour follows a 14 kilometre-long road, which was build under supervision of Manrique, and passes by the main features of the park. Apart from the tour and some demonstrations (including burning scrubbushes, and pouring water in the ground to create an artificial geyser), there is not much more to do.

Jameos del Agua

Jameos del Agua

Jameos del Agua

© Herr Bert

The Jameos de Aqua is one of the structures of Cesár Manrique, in which he tried to merge nature and culture. The structure is located in a partly collapsed lava tunnel. In the first part you will find what is called the great lake, which is an underground lake located in the old lava tunnel in which the rare albino crabs find their home. In the second part you see the pool, surrounded by a garden features. Behind the pool, and missed by many visitors is a venue, which can house up to 600 people, and is used for a couple of cultural events during the year.

Mirador del Rio

The Mirador del Rio is a lookout located at the northermost tip of the island, with great views over La Graciosa, Lanzarote's smaller sister island. (which can be visited by ferry from the town of Orzola.) At the Mirador you will also find a restaurant/bar.

Cueva de los Verdes

The Cueva de los Verdes, is basically a hollow lava tube which was formed after an eruption of the Volcano La Corona. The entrance to the caves can be found pretty close to the Jameos del agua.

La Graciosa

Derived from the Spanish word for 'graceful', this volcanic island was formed by the Canary hot spot. The entire island is composed of volcanic rock and sand. It is also apart of the Islands conservation groups Parque Natural del Archipiélago Chinijo, Reserve of the Biosphere, and "Marine Reserve of La Graciosa". Having only a population of approximately 700, there are only two inhabited areas on the Island. those areas are Caleta del Sebo and summer-friendly Casas de Pedro Barba. The island has a school, lyceum, post office, supermarkets, a bank, port, beaches, and — except bar-restaurants — a square where bicycles can be hired (plaza). The main industry of the island is tourism and fishing. The climate of the island is one of the most commonly reported pull factors for travelers. Streets and roads on La Graciosa are unpaved sand. The Gracioseras can often be seen early each morning sweeping the streets smooth of the previous night's footprints. Motor vehicles are strictly prohibited and limited to a handful of licensed vehicles for special purposes. Since the roads are bad, and cars have to be shipped to Lanzarote for repair, about 70% of the motor vehicles on the island are old Land Rovers which often can be repaired by a local serviceman. There are no natural water sources on the island. Desalinated water has to be piped directly from Lanzarote since 2001.

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Other Sights and Activities

  • Jardín de Cactus
  • Fundación César Manrique
  • Casa Monumento al Campesino ("House of Monument to the Peasant")
  • Whales and Dolphins Museum
  • Agricola Museum
  • Beaches, like Playa de Papagayo

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Weather

Lanzarote has one of the most perfect climates. Summers last from May to early October when temperatures are generally between 25 °C and 30 °C during the day and a pleasant 20 °C on average at night. Winters are a little wetter but still nice with temperatures from November to April mostly between 20 °C and 25 °C and nights of around 15 °C. The southern parts of the island are slightly warmer than the northern parts, which also see a little more rain.

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Getting There

By Plane

Lanzarote Airport (ACE) is located just 5 kilometres from the capital Arrecife. Numerous airlines serve the island. Arrecife Bus has regular connections to Playa Honda and Arrecife, from where there are connections to other destinations.
Ryanair now serves the island as well, with flights to/from Bournemouth, Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Girona, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Madrid, Shannon and Weeze(near Düsseldorf). Easyjet serves Liverpool, Londen and Madrid as well, while Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines serve many British destinations as well. Hamburg International and Air Berlin mainly serve the German market, while Air Europa and (slightly less) Iberia serve Spanish cities.
Other airlines mainly serve European destinations, including Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Bergen, Gothenburg, Helsinki and Vienna. Gran Canaria and Tenerife have a flights as well and there are regular flights to Agadir in Morocco.

By Boat

Trasmediterránea provides ferries from Cádiz in Spain to and from the Canary Islands, including Lanzarote. Fred Olsen provides serves with other Canary Islands as well.
Naviera Armas runs weekly services between Portimao in mainland Portugal to Madeira and on to Tenerife, with connections to other Canary Islands, like Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

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Getting Around

By Car

The best way to travel on the island is by a rental car. The streets are good and the island is small, so you can see the main sights in two to three days. In all three holiday centers, Puerto del Carmen, Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca as well as in the capital Arrecife, a car can easily be rented. As a rule, the driver must be at least 21 years old and a deposit is usually required. In addition to regular cars, it is also possible to hire jeeps, which make it easier to drive the unpaved roads - but they also cost twice as much per day. In the off-season there are regularly special offers for several days.

Multiple car (with prices €30-50/day including taxes and insurance) companies are operating here. When choosing one of the cheapest companies (like Goldcar), make sure to understand the terms & conditions, since there may be hidden fees or tricks. Such as petrol refill fee at the time of return, or mandatory insurance to be paid at pickup.

It only takes about 40 minutes to cross the entire island from North to South by car, and about 25 minutes across.

Lanzarote tends to be a bit windy, and often a bit more in July, making motor scooters or bicycles a little difficult and risky.

By Taxi

All taxis and drivers have a license and are generally friendly and honest. There are fixed prices for an overland trip, otherwise taximeters are used. There are four tariffs: tariff 1 applies to trips in cities, tariff 2 for round trips, tariff 3 for landings (which do not have fixed prices) and tariff 4, which applies to holidays. In all larger places there are taxis and parking, otherwise taxis can be stopped by handsignal when the green lamp of the roof light is on.

By Bus

The airport is served only by a small bus that stops at both terminals to the city of Playa Honda and the Capital Arrecife, so it would be necessary to go there to connect to other destinations by BUS. Buses leave about twice per hour daily for most of the day, except for Sundays when there is a reduced schedule. Check ARRECIFEBUS for bus schedules (bus line 23). The bus fare from the airport to Arrecife is about €1 and from Arrecife to Puerto del Carmen about €1.5 (2016). A taxi ride from the Airport to Puerto del Carmen can range from €12 to €24, and around €30 to the resort of Playa Blanca at the south of the island.

There is also a hop-on, hop-off bus service which stops at all major attractions and the island's three resorts. The service is called Vision Bus.

By Boat

The small neighboring island in the north, La Graciosa, as well as the larger island, Fuerteventura, can be visited by ferries. La Graciosa is car-free, thus the car must be left on Lanzarote.

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Eat

The local cuisine is typical of the Canary Islands.

Mojo means sauce. The most common varieties are:

mojo picón (hot, spicy) made from red chillis,
mojo verde (green) made either from green pepper or coriander (cilantro),
mojo hervido (boiled) made from spices and lemon.

Papas arrugadas ("wrinkly potatoes") are cooked unpeeled in salt water then baked dry. Customarily served with a mojo sauce.
Gofio is a flour substitute milled from a variety of cereals like wheat, corn (maize), and barley, or a mixture of them. It is sometimes served by local restaurants in entreé dishes as a small patty of moist dough, and also forms the basis for local pastries and pie bases.

There are many non-traditional places to eat out in the main resort towns, serving a wide range of food such as Greek, Chinese, Indian, and Mexican.

The 'old town' area of Puerto del Carmen is home to Blooming Cactus Vegetarian Restaurant, but those with vegan or vegetarian dietary requirements will find limited choice outside of this eatery.

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Drink

The tap water is treated sea water, brackish, and not recommended for drinking. Try to drink bottled water, which is affordable.

There are many bars in the tourist areas, in particular Irish bars in Puerto del Carmen.

Alcohol is very cheap in supermarkets. A 1 l bottle of San Miguel is around €1, and a can of beer as little as €0.50. However, in bars and clubs, the same beer would cost around €3.50. There is no duty on alcohol purchased in Lanzarote (other than VAT at 5%) so restaurants tend to make a lot of their money from the selling of alcohol at a significant - but to foreign visitors seemingly imperceptible - markup. Again, if a package exists which is all-inclusive, it might be a good idea to pay the little bit extra in the long run.

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Sleep

Lanzarote has a broad selection of hotels and other forms of holiday accommodation. Most hotels are clustered in and around the major resorts of Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise.

Hotel Los Fariones, C/. Roque del Este 1, Puerto del Carmen, ☏ +34 928 510 175. The Hotel Fariones is a beachfront hotel set in luxurious gardens with native plant species with direct access to the crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Coronas Playa, Avda del Mar 26, Costa Teguise, ☏ +34 928 82 66 40. The Hotel Coronas Playa is in a prime seafront location, the nearby beach Playa Bastian and the local shops and bars are only a short distance away.
Apartments Celeste, Avda. Islas Canarias, 21-23-25, Costa Teguise, ☏ +34 928 591 720. The Hotel Celeste features 85 fully equipped apartments with one and two bedrooms, in the heart of Costa Teguise, Lanzarote’s premier holiday resort. The complex is divided into three blocks, each with its own swimming pool and sunbathing area.
Gran Melia Salinas, Avda. Islas Canarias s/n, Costa Teguise, ☏ +34 928 590 040. In the north of the Lanazarote Island, Gran Meliá Salinas is close to the architecturally historical capital of Teguise, as well as Arrecife airport, Jameos del Agua, and Cueva de los Verdes.
Hesperia Lanzarote, Urb. Cortijo Viejo (Puerto Calero). 35570 Lanzarote. This hotel is on the coast, offering fantastic views. Spa, Games room and swimming pools are available in and around the hotel. From €48.
Castillo Schlaraffenland, Camino del Meson 45 (La Assomada), ☏ +34 928511159. The apartments of Castillo Schlaraffenland that are built in César Manrique style are in the middle of the island, 250 m above Puerto Calero. All three apartments have been built into volcano rocks and have a stunning view over the Atlantic coast and Fuerteventura island.
Finca Botanico - Calle Tarajal 30, Guatiza. Rural holiday accommodation for up to six guests, in The Secret Garden Villa (2 beds) and the Garden Apartment (1 bed).

View our map of accommodation in Lanzarote

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Accommodation in Lanzarote

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Lanzarote searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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