Lanzarote, also called Fire Island, is a volcanic island with almost 300 volcanoes. The island is still volcanically active and the breathtaking moonscape consists of looming volcanoes, solidified lava, enchanting caves and sheltered bays. An important attraction is the architectural designs that merge with the landscape. Lanzarote also has beautiful white villages, a wonderful climate and beautiful beaches. There are sports facilities at the highest level, especially for water sports enthusiasts. The island also has a wide range of holiday entertainment, such as museums, island tours and a vibrant nightlife. Lanzarote is the ideal destination for lovers of an ancient landscape, but also for sun worshipers and active holidaymakers.
- Seaside resorts
- Top locations
- Top hotel on Lanzarote
- The origins of Lanzarote
- Flora and fauna
- The people of Lanzarote
- Party and event
- Sports activities
- Travel to Lanzarote
- Traveling in Lanzarote
Lanzarote is part of the Canary Islands, which consist of eight inhabited islands in the Atlantic Ocean: Lanzarote, Isla Graciosa, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro. The islands belong to Spain, but Lanzarote is located 115 km west of mainland Africa and about 1200 km from mainland Europe. Lanzarote, including the smaller islands belonging to Lanzarote, is 846 km² in size. The island is the northeasternmost island of the archipelago. The capital is Arrecife, with 61,351 inhabitants (2018). A total of 148,462 people live on Lanzarote (2018).
The coast of Lanzarote consists of 30 km of sandy beaches. The beaches here are usually quite small and have golden yellow or white sand. Almost all of Lanzarote’s beaches are located along the flatter east coast.
Puerto del Carmen
This fishing village, in the southeast of the island, is Lanzarote’s largest seaside resort. The Avenida de las Playas is the center of Puerto del Carmen. This 8 km long sea promenade runs along the beaches, which are considered among the most beautiful on the island. The two most important are Playa Grande and Playa de los Pocillos . Playa Grande has beautiful sheltered bays, large stretches of the beach are covered with white sand, other stretches with lava sand. Playa de los Pocillos is a beach with light sand and a flat sloping bottom. Puerto del Carmen offers the visitor luxury hotels, shops, restaurants and nightclubs. There are also sports facilities, especially for water sports enthusiasts. Here you can go (wind)surfing, diving and fishing. It is also possible to take a trip by catamaran to Fuerteventura and Lobos.
The former fishing village of Playa Blanca is located at the very south of the island. It is one of the largest seaside resorts on the island, with a ferry connection to nearby Fuerteventura. Playa Blanca has a kilometre-long and very well-maintained sea promenade that starts at the old ferry port and continues east to the new marina. There are many shops, restaurants, bars and cafes along this promenade. Playa Blanca has some beaches near the center, but the most popular are the beaches of Playas del Papagayo . This is a series of beaches between Playa Blanca and Punta de Papagayo , about 4 km southeast of Playa Blanca. These beaches are located on beautiful coves and surrounded by high cliffs. The clear calm water here is ideal for fishermen, swimmers and divers. Just east of the new marina is the Castillo de las Coloradas . This watchtower, on Punta de Águila, was built in the 18th century. From the terrace of the round tower you have a beautiful view towards Fuerteventura.
The quiet seaside resort of Costa Teguise is located in the east of the island. This tourist city, designed on the drawing board, was created in the late 1970s. Hotels and apartments are naturally integrated into the volcanic landscape and designed in the traditional architectural style of the island. In Costa Teguise, most tourist facilities can be found in the Pueblo Marinero , a market square surrounded by shops, restaurants and bars. A weekly market takes place on Fridays. Costa Teguise has several beaches. The most beautiful beach is Playa de las Cucharas with light sand and located on a small bay. There are also sports facilities, such as a golf course and a marina. Playa de los Charcos is the ideal beach for (wind)surfers.
Timanfaya National Park
In the west of the island lies the crater landscape of the Montañas del Fuego , the Fire Mountains. This area of 5000 hectares is now a national park and one of Lanzarote’s main tourist attractions. The eruptions between 1730 and 1736 buried entire villages and turned a quarter of the fertile island into a barren stone wasteland. In various ways the tourist is shown that this area is still volcanically active. Temperatures of 400 degrees Celsius prevail a few meters underground . Water poured into underground pipes spurts out as steam with great force. The volcanic grill of the El Diablo restaurant works on the heat of the ground. You can visit the volcanic landscape on foot, by bus or by camel. The most interesting part of the park is the Ruta de los Volcanes tour . Here you drive past the bizarre landscapes and volcanic formations of the Montañas del Fuego.
Just outside Tahíche, in the east of the island, is Taro de Tahíche . This house was built in 1968 by César Manrique, who lived there until 1988.
César Manrique (1919-1992) was the most important artist in Lanzarote. He was a painter, sculptor, architect and construction consultant. He made his international breakthrough with his abstract paintings and exhibited in Europe, Japan and the United States. He returned to Lanzarote in 1968 and has since done much to preserve the original character of the island. Manrique’s efforts were rewarded with binding building regulations regarding the height, style and color of the new buildings. His own designs based on volcanic shapes produced architectural masterpieces. Many buildings and projects in Lanzarote are among his works, such as the Mirador del Río, Jameos del Agua and the El Diablo restaurant in the Timanfaya National Park. He left his mark on Lanzarote both through his own designs and through his influence on tourism development.
In 1992, Manrique donated his former home to the Fundación César Manrique . This organization promotes an architecture that is in harmony with the natural environment. The former house was built in and around a lava cave. The underground level includes five lava bubbles that were converted into living quarters. The cube-like shapes above the ground hark back to the island’s traditional architecture. This section above ground now accommodates exhibition spaces. Manrique’s private collection can be seen here, including work by other artists in addition to his own art.
Arrecife is located on the east coast of the island and is 7 km from the airport. It has been the capital of Lanzarote since 1852 and is the administrative, cultural and commercial center of the island. The capital has a lot to offer, such as excellent shopping opportunities, museums and interesting sights. To protect the island against attacks from the sea, two forts were built, Castillo San Gabriel (1574-1596) and Castillo de San José (1771). San Gabriel Castle is located on an island and is accessible via the Puente de Las Bolas (Bullet Bridge). There is a small ethnographic museum in the castle. A little outside the center is the Castillo de San José. This fortress was converted by Manrique into a museum for contemporary art, the Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo . The museum is used for temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection contains works by Miró, Picasso and Tápies, among others. Anyone who enjoys shopping should definitely visit the main shopping street León y Castillo . Here you will find old-fashioned shops, ultra-modern designer shops and the reasonably priced large department store Centro Comercial Atlántida . Near the shopping street is the old port district of El Charco , located on a city lagoon. At the beautifully restored harbor you will find terraces, bars and a cinema. Between the shopping street and the old port district is the Iglesia de San Ginés , built in 1665. This church is dedicated to the patron saint of Arrecife. This three-aisled church with a dark wooden ceiling contains late Baroque statues of San Ginés and the Virgen del Rosario.
In the center of the island is Teguise, the former capital of Lanzarote. The city was founded in 1418 by Maciot de Béthencourt, the nephew of colonizer Jean de Béthencourt. For centuries, Teguise was a prosperous city, until 1852 it was even the capital. The city’s prosperity attracted pirates, who repeatedly plundered Teguise. Hundreds of people were killed in a pirate attack in 1596. Today, Teguise is still an imposing city. Squares, churches, monasteries and palaces recall Teguise’s former glory. The parish church Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is located on the square in the center . It dates from the mid-15th century and is one of the oldest churches in the Canary Islands. The interior, in neo-Gothic style, houses a statue of the venerated Virgin of Guadalupe. On the other side of the square is the Palacio Spínola , built between 1730 and 1830. The palace is now home to the Casa Museo del Timple . The timple is a five-string guitar and a traditional Canarian instrument. Teguise has two interesting monastery churches. The Convento de San Francisco is a Franciscan monastery, founded in 1590. This monastery has been destroyed several times and now only the church remains, which houses a small religious museum. The Convento de Santo Domingo , built in the 18th century, now houses the town hall. The church space now serves as a cultural center where exhibitions are held. High above Teguise stands the Castillo de Santa Bárbara , probably built in the 15th century. It now houses a Pirate Museum . You also have a beautiful view over Teguise and almost the entire island.
Jameos del Agua
The Jameos del Agua are located in the northeast of the island, within walking distance of the sea. In the late 1960s, César Manrique turned this cave system into an entertainment complex. Above the caves lies a picturesque irregularly shaped pool, surrounded by tropical flora. Here a staircase leads down to an underground salt lake that is connected to the ocean. A staircase at the entrance leads to the large main cave. This cave is used as a restaurant and a dance hall. The Jameos also includes an underground auditorium, accessible via a staircase behind the artificial lagoon. The auditorium seats 600 spectators. Through the auditorium you can walk to the Casa de los Volcanes , an exhibition about nature and the environment. Here you will learn all about volcanism and the flora and fauna of the Canary Islands.
Mirador del Rio
Lanzarote’s most famous viewpoint is located on the northern tip of the island. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, an artillery position was built here. In 1973, this position was converted into a panoramic restaurant by César Manrique. The light-flooded restaurant has windows spanning the entire width. The stone walls are painted white and the only decorations are Manrique’s spider-like iron sculptures. From the viewing platform, 479 m above sea level, you have a view of El Río, the strait between Lanzarote and Isla Graciosa. Across the strait are the islands of Isla Graciosa, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste, Roque del Este and Alegranza.
The typical Canarian village of Haría is located in the north of the island. The beautiful valley in which Haría is located is known as the ‘Valley of a Thousand Palms’. The village has low, white houses and flowers of all colors bloom profusely. One of the most beautiful squares on the island is Plaza León y Castillo . This shady, tree-lined square is home to the Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación church . To the right of the church is the church museum El Museo de Arte Sacro Popular . Here you can see religious works of art from the old church, including some statues from the 17th and 19th centuries and an altar from the 20th century. Haría also has an arts and crafts center, Taller Municipal de Artesanía . All kinds of traditional craft products come from here, such as embroidery, ceramics and baskets. A market takes place every Saturday in Plaza León y Castillo. Only products produced on the island may be sold at this Mercado de Artesanía Tradicional .
To the east of the Fire Mountains lies Lanzarote’s main wine-growing area. La Geria is located in a landscape of ash and solidified lava, and the vineyards thrive in this fertile volcanic soil. The way in which the vines are planted here is special. The vines are planted here in excavated funnel-shaped holes. Semi-circular walls have been built around the funnels that both block the wind and absorb moisture. The funnels are also covered with volcanic ash, which absorbs the humidity of the environment. The grapes are used to make wine of excellent quality: Malvasía , the most famous Canarian wine that is also famous outside Lanzarote. Malvasía and other local wines can be purchased at the bodegas (wineries). The Bodega del Grifo is located in the north of La Geria and dates from the 18th century. Next to it is a wine museum, the Museo del Vino Lanzarote . Here you can see old equipment for the production and storage of wine.
On the southwest coast, near El Golfo, is the huge volcanic crater El Golfo. This crater was formed during the Ice Age and is the result of an undersea volcanic eruption. The crater is filled with seawater and forms the crater lake Lago Verde . Its intense green color is due to excessive algae growth. A black lava beach separates the ocean from the green water in the crater lake. The presence of olivine is special , this olive green semi-precious stone can be found on the black lava beach. The nearby fishing village of El Golfo is popular with tourists for its restaurants and the wide range of fish and shellfish.
Isla Graciosa is also called the eighth Canary Island. It is located 2 km north of Lanzarote and is only 28 km² in size. The 600 inhabitants mainly live in the main town of Caleta del Sebo and in the village of Pedro Barba , both located on the east coast. Isla Graciosa is an ideal destination for divers, hikers and cyclists. The island offers a slow pace of life and is very suitable for a quiet and relaxing day out. On the beautiful beaches you can enjoy the sun and the sea in peace. The most beautiful beach is the kilometre-long Playa de las Conchas , with white sand and turquoise sea. Isla Graciosa has a minimum of facilities, there are no hotels, but there are guesthouses and apartments.
Top hotel on Lanzarote
Gran Meliá Salinas in Costa Teguise
This five-star hotel was opened in 1977 and built under the watchful eye of César Manrique. It is designed in the traditional architectural style of the island and blends naturally into the volcanic landscape. This modern luxury hotel, located directly on the sea, has spacious rooms with a chic interior. There is a wide range of sports options and evening entertainment.
The origins of Lanzarote
Like all other Canary Islands, Lanzarote is a volcanic island. Fuerteventura is by far the oldest, Lanzarote followed a little later and rose from the sea 19 million years ago through eruptions in the ocean floor. Layers of lava flowed on top of each other, solidified and at some point the ‘island’ surfaced.
The last major change on the island was caused by volcanic eruptions in the Montañas del Fuego area. The heaviest eruptions occurred here between 1730 and 1736, turning a quarter of the island into a sea of solidified lava. Since then, the landscape of Lanzarote has hardly changed.
Of all the Canary Islands, Lanzarote’s volcanic origins are most clearly visible. The landscape was mainly shaped by the major eruptions that took place between 1730 and 1736. The last eruption took place in 1824. Lanzarote is quite flat and the highest mountain, the Peñas del Chache, is only 671 m high. It is quite dry because there are no high mountains that can catch rain. As a result, there is almost no vegetation, and a large part of the island looks like a moonscape. The volcanic landscape is wild and rugged, and has been turned into a barren stone wasteland by lava.
Flora and fauna
Because Lanzarote is quite dry, there is less vegetation than most other Canary Islands. The flora of Lanzarote consists mainly of cacti, succulents and palm trees. The north of the island is the most humid part of Lanzarote. Thousands of date palms grow here and the rare fleaweed grows in the Famara massif. In the dry south, a number of plants grow that can withstand drought well, such as boxthorn bushes, lavender plants, cacti and succulents. Hundreds of species of lichen grow on the lava plains, including the cardón (candelabra spurge). Of course, the wine region of La Geria is also characteristic of the flora of Lanzarote. The fields of this wine-growing region are kilometers long and consist of holes in the ground in which the vines are planted.
The animal world
On Lanzarote there are few animals living on land. A number of geckos and lizards live on the island, including the Majorero wall gecko and the Atlantic lizard. Rabbits, mice and rats live in the wild. Goats roam more or less freely on the island. Domesticated are cats, dogs, donkeys, goats and camels. Camels are mainly used for tourism and are now part of the landscape of the Montañas del Fuego. A number of bird species also live on Lanzarote. A well-known bird species is the yellow finch, an ancestor of our canary. Furthermore, pigeons, herons and ospreys live there. Birds of prey are also there, including kestrels and Egyptian vultures.
The sea around Lanzarote is blessed with a rich fish population, including reef fish, deep sea fish and mammals. The very diverse marine life includes whales, dolphins and sea turtles, swordfish and mackerel. Rays, parrotfish, moray eels and squid are also found here. A well-known animal species is the blind albino crab that lives in the underground salt lake in the Jameos del Agua.
Lanzarote has a subtropical climate with temperatures averaging 16 degrees in winter and 24 degrees in summer. The sea water temperature fluctuates between 18 and 23 degrees. Extreme temperatures are mitigated by the Canary Current and the northeastern trade winds. Occasionally the northeast trade wind turns to southeast (sahara wind) and then provides warm and sunny weather. A westerly wind will cause unsettled weather with rain showers. However, it rarely rains and because Lanzarote has no high mountains, the moist trade winds are not blown up enough to bring rain. Because Lanzarote is quite flat, there are few climate differences between the northeast and southwest. This also means that the trade winds are more noticeable.
The people of Lanzarote
The current inhabitants of Lanzarote are called the Lanzaroteños. They adopt a relaxed, friendly and hospitable attitude towards tourists. Most Lanzaroteños have blood ties with the Spanish, but at such a short distance from the Sahara some feel more African than Spaniard. In the past, in times of poverty, thousands of Canarians left their native island to start a new life elsewhere. Nowadays, even on Lanzarote, more people come in than leave. Thousands of foreigners have settled here more or less permanently. They mainly come from South America and Europe, to come and enjoy the ‘eternal spring’ after their retirement.
Party and event
In addition to the national holidays, Lanzarote also has a number of national and regional holidays. The festivals of local patron saints are often celebrated extensively with several parties and a varied program. Finally, there is usually a romería , a religious procession in which images of saints are carried through the streets.
Carnival is Lanzarote’s most important festival. The festival is celebrated in several places one after the other for three weeks. Carnival is celebrated on a large scale in Arrecife. Carnival parades are also held in the tourist centers, but in size and exuberance they cannot compete with the celebration in Arrecife. As soon as a carnival ends, preparations for the next one begin. Costumes are made, and dance steps and songs are rehearsed. The starting signal takes place in Arrecife with one of the highlights: the Gran Desfile de Carrozas (large parade of floats). The carnival ends with a funeral procession, El Entierro de la Sardina (the burial of the sardine).
Fiesta de San Marcial del Rubicón
During this festival, in Femés, the patron saint of Lanzarote is honored. The most important holiday is July 7, when a statue is carried in a solemn procession around the church in honor of the village saint Marcial del Rubicón, a former bishop of Limoges. On this occasion, hundreds of Lanzaroteños flock to honor the patron saint.
Those looking for entertainment will certainly feel at home in Lanzarote. There are museums and a wide variety of excursions are organised. Lovers of a vibrant nightlife will also not be bored on Lanzarote.
During the day you can, for example, take a jeep safari or a camel ride. It is also possible to take an excursion with a sailing boat or glass bottom boat. Another fun way to spend the day is to take a boat trip to Fuerteventura or Isla Graciosa.
No one will be bored in the evening on Lanzarote, there is a huge choice of bars, cafes and pubs and clubs. Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise have an extensive nightlife. Puerto del Carmen even has a casino, the only one on the island. On a more modest scale it is also possible to go out for an evening in Playa Blanca. Those who prefer to mingle with the locals can enjoy Arrecife’s nightlife at the weekend. There is also entertainment in hotels with live music, flamenco shows and playback shows.
The favorable climate makes Lanzarote ideal for all kinds of sports. The most popular sports are of course water sports, such as sailing, surfing, diving and fishing, but the island also offers opportunities for golf, walking and cycling.
If you want to focus on sports during your holiday, you should definitely choose Club La Santa in La Santa. Club La Santa is located on the northwest coast and is one of the largest sports hotels in Europe. You can choose from twenty different sports here. The northwest coast, especially La Santa, is good for surfing. You can also enjoy fishing, diving and cycling here.
With its ever-blowing trade winds, Lanzarote is ideal for sailing. In the ports of Puerto del Carmen and Puerto Calero you can rent sailing boats with or without crew. Alternatively, you can also participate in sailing excursions that are offered, on catamarans or sailing yachts. These depart from Playa Blanca, Puerto Calero and Puerto del Carmen.
The strong winds and large waves make Lanzarote ideal for surfing. For beginners who want to surf or windsurf, the beaches of Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise are ideal. Popular locations for advanced skiers are the beaches of La Caleta and Arrieta, both in the north, or the beaches of Isla Graciosa. Windsurfing schools can be found in Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise, and the most modern equipment can also be rented here.
The coastal waters of Lanzarote are extremely attractive diving areas. The underwater landscape provides a fascinating backdrop for the hundreds of different fish species that occur here. Top locations for diving are Puerto del Carmen and Isla Graciosa. There are one or more diving schools in Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise. You can rent equipment and take lessons here.
The waters around Lanzarote and Isla Graciosa are full of fish and sport fishing can be practiced from the beach, a boat or a pier. You can also go on an organized fishing excursion. Specially equipped ships for hire depart from the ports of Puerto del Carmen and Playa Blanca.
The pleasant weather makes Lanzarote an ideal destination for golfing. There are now at least two golf courses, Costa Teguise Golf and Lanzarote Golf Resort near Puerto del Carmen. Both are 18-hole golf courses, where golfers can practice their sport in a volcanic environment.
Hiking is easily the best way to explore Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape. Popular hiking destinations include the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya and the area around the Famara massif, in the north of the island. From Puerto del Carmen it is possible to walk uninterruptedly along the coast all the way to Arrecife. Isla Graciosa is also an ideal hiking destination.
Lanzarote is quite flat and therefore the bicycle is an excellent means of transport, despite the lack of cycle paths. The area around La Caleta, La Santa, Mancha Blanca and San Bartolomé is very suitable for cycling, there is little traffic here. The area around Haría and the Fire Mountains is more beautiful, but there is usually more traffic there. Both city bikes and mountain bikes can be rented in Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise. You can also take a bike tour with a guide.
Travel to Lanzarote
Lanzarote can be reached by various airlines from various airports in the Netherlands. The flight time is more than 4 hours for a direct flight. You can travel further from Arrecife Airport in various ways. Travelers with an arranged trip are usually picked up by representatives of the tour operator. The fastest but most expensive way to reach your destination is by taxi. From the airport you can take scheduled buses to Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise. It is also possible to rent a car at the airport.
Traveling in Lanzarote
On Lanzarote there are bus connections between Arrecife and all the larger towns on the island. Many places, even some tourist attractions, cannot be reached by bus. Taxis are fairly cheap on Lanzarote, especially compared to Dutch rates. For a rental car you can go to car rental companies in the major seaside resorts and at the airport.
- Tenerife: a varied Canary island
- Gran Canaria: a versatile Canary island
- Fuerteventura: the ideal beach destination
- La Palma, the green Canary Island
- El Hierro, the small Canary Island