Born out of water and fire, Lanzarote in the Canaries is no less than a rocky paradise. The fourth largest island in the Canary archipelago showcases a rare mix of varied topography which stands out above the rest. Set northeast of Fuerteventura, volcanic formations, beaches, vineyards, and caves welcome brave souls exploring it. Every natural landscape is divine, and every human-made attraction is culturally-charged.
A Brief History
The black and red volcanic rock formations in the beautiful island of Lanzarote are remnants of the violent eruptions which led to its creation. Just as with other islands in the Canaries, a part of Lanzarote is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Despite its volcanic origin, the land is fertile while surrounded by the equally rich Atlantic Ocean. As such, fishing and agriculture were the most prominent livelihood of the Majos, its original inhabitants.
In early 1300, the first seafarers of Mediterranean descent arrived its shores. Many believe that the island took its name from one of them, Lanzarotto Maocello. In the succeeding centuries, the small population of the island faced repeated attacks by Europeans. Finally, the Spanish conquest fashioned the culture Lanzarote currently holds.
The Exquisite Nature in Lanzarote
Search for Lanzarote images, and a series of the most surreal and magical sets of photos fill the screen. Here, travelers discover that nature and modernity can co-exist. It is in large part through the efforts of Cesar Manrique, an artist who inspired the island’s best attractions.
Caves and Geologic Formations
From the depths of the sea, volcanic eruptions led to the rise of the island. After millions of years, geological formations on the coast and inland became habitats of endemic species. From the breathtaking cliffs to the majestic peaks, the natural landscape of Lanzarote is food for the soul.
Timanfaya National Park
“Are we still in the Canary Islands? Is this even on the same planet?” Visitors are prompted to ask once they set foot on the moon-like terrain of Timanfaya National Park. The vast expanse of volcanic landscape safeguards a plethora of endemic plants and animals. Guided tours take guests on unforgettable visual feasts and a once in a lifetime camel ride.
Watch the high waves relentlessly crash into the impregnable cliffs of Los Hervideros. Solidified lava in ancient times gave birth to bizarrely-shaped cliffs and underwater caves.
Jameos del Agua
No other place in Lanzarote highlights the genius of Cesar Manrique than Jameos del Agua. Go underground and experience the tantalizing atmosphere where nature and modern amenities collide. Within this complex are an auditorium, a cafe, and a pool built in and around a cave and a salt-lake. Quite near the northern coast, a massive crab sculpture points the way to the must-visit cave.
Cueva de Los Verdes
Take refuge from the blazing sun in Cueva de Los Verdes, north of Lanzarote. The maze of lava passages with strategically lighted rock formations is a sight to behold for explorers. Believed to have been a hiding place for locals when pirates attack the island, its nooks and crevices provided refuge. One end of the passages leads to a concert hall with dancing lights.
After millions of years passed, the once active volcanoes are now dormant. It seems as if it has spent all its raw aggression in shaping Lanzarote. Devoid of its destructive power, its summits afford hikers the best spots to see the island in its entirety.
From the car park on LZ-56, the impressive sight of Raven’s Volcano looms ahead. It is only a mere 30 to 45-minute walk to reach the crater. The marked trails are easy to follow, and it is just near the edge where the path gets a little steep. Surrounded by what can pass for a lunar landscape, the walk itself is a surreal experience.
To learn more about the violent volcanic eruptions which shaped Lanzarote millions of years ago up until the recent 19th century, join the tours in Fire Mountains. Guests here get acquainted with the powerful energy below the earth through various experiments. To make it more interesting, they can dine in the restaurant situated nearby.
Volcan La Corona
Another stunning volcano defined by barren rocky landscapes and sparse vegetation is Volcan La Corona. Once at the crater, a view of a vineyard greets the wandering eyes. Sunset here is particularly lovely as the golden sunlight showers the stony ground.
Where there are volcanoes, there are mountains. In Lanzarote, a series of mountain ranges dominate the skyline. Aside from serving as shelters and protection, these valleys and peaks are also the masterpieces of the most celebrated artist the world has ever known – nature.
One of the most famous mountain volcanoes in the southern region is Montana Roja. Renowned for its Martian-like landscape, the ground is a sea of red rocks and sands. Once at the crater, soak in the 360-degree view of Lanzarote and the sea at Playa Blanca.
One of the highest peaks on the island and hikers’ paradise is the Montana Blanca. It stands out due to its light color (thus the moniker White Mountain) and perfect shape. The trails here are plant-laden, and the summit offers a panoramic view of the tourist towns on the island’s eastern coast.
Montana de Guardilama
One of the highest peaks of the island, Montana de Guardilama is an equally beautiful lookout point. From the summit, a spectacular view of the neighboring Fire Mountains awaits. Down the slope, stretches of fields and vineyards give a splatter of color to the otherwise black and dark brown landscape.
Pools and Lagoons
Surrounded by the vast Atlantic Ocean, the coastline of Lanzarote features some of the best natural pools and lagoons in the archipelago.
El Golfo and Lago Verde
A walk through the enigmatic El Golfo and Lago Verde in the southern part of the island give visitors an excellent idea of how powerful Mother Nature is in shaping the stunning land and seascapes. With half of the volcanic crater crumbling into the sea, the sight is one of a kind. Equally remarkable is the half-moon shaped green lagoon at the foot of the abyss which is in stark contrast to the deep blue waters of the Atlantic.
El Charco de San Gines
Truly Spanish in architecture and atmosphere is the area around El Charco de San Gines. The lagoon which opens up to the sea is frequented by many due to the accessible walking path, myriad of restaurants, and local shops. The whitewashed houses, as well as the scattered boats in the sea, give the waters an authentic colonial feel.
Nothing can best describe Los Charcones other than natural pools. Perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving, these little bodies of water are calm and crystal clear. Nestled at the south of the island only a few minutes from Playa Blanca, the track to this unspoiled paradise can be a bit challenging, though.
Wherever one looks from inland, the Atlantic Ocean beckons. Surrounded, the coastline of Lanzarote has some of the most spectacular beaches in Europe. Of hundreds, here are some of the best.
Playa de Papagayo
Playa de Papagayo might be a bit difficult to reach due to the dirt road, but that does not stop tourists from discovering its remarkable beauty. With tranquil green waters all day long, it is a paradise for swimming and snorkeling. Protected by volcanic cliff and rocks, there is only a small beach bar on the hillside. Peaceful and tranquil, the beach remains unspoiled to this day.
Playa Blanca and Playa Dorada
Two of the most visited beaches are on the southern coast of Lanzarote. Fun in the water and the golden sand awaits the adventurers at Playa Blanca and the nearby Playa Dorada. The scenery depicts a sleepy fishing village packed with whitewashed houses, a complete promenade, and a marina which welcomes ferries coming in from the island of Fuerteventura.
Puerto del Carmen
A perfect holiday destination for most tourists visiting Lanzarote is Puerto del Carmen. Enjoy the numerous beaches, countless shops, restaurants and bars in the area. Try jet skiing in the small hidden beach of Playa Chica. Bathe in the sun on the golden sandy beach of Playa Grande. Finally, enjoy a romantic evening walk along the dark shores of Playa de Los Pocillos.
Water sports enthusiasts have one beach in mind when in Lanzarote: the Famara Beach. Known for the constant high wind and waves, it’s the best place for surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing, and even paragliding. The volcanic rocks and mountains that rise at the back of the beach and the golden sand makes it a breathtaking destination.
Parks and Wildlife
From a distance, Lanzarote may seem like a barren piece of land with traces of civilization scattered in a few spots. But there is more to the island, and that includes parks and wildlife.
Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park
Want to indulge the little ones? Take them out to see the wild animals in Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park. Aside from the fabulous dolphin and birds of prey shows, this park is unique as it is the only zoo in the Canaries which houses a water park. So, after a long walk and numerous enjoyable shows, the kids and kids at heart can cool down and play around in the water.
Las Pardelas Park
One of the best places to visit for families with children in Orzola is Las Pardelas Park. Packed with fun-filled activities such as pottery making, egg hunting, donkey riding, the children’s farm provides hours of recreation. It’s an enjoyable place where parents can teach kids how to interact with farm animals.
Jardin de Cactus
The last among the many architectural works of Cesar Manrique is found northeast of Lanzarote, in Gautiza. Jardin de Cactus, or the Cactus Garden, makes every tourist appreciate the thorny plants even more. With over 1,000 species from all over the world, all arranged in an amphitheater-like landscape, it is indeed worth a visit. In the distance, a white windmill completes the picture-perfect scene.
A Culture-Filled Lanzarote Trip
Lanzarote Island wins visitors over not just because of its diverse natural attractions. It has a rich culture and history that entices guests to dig in a little deeper.
Churches and Cathedrals
Soon after the conquest, the Spaniards build churches and cathedrals as they did anywhere else. These structures have lived on for hundreds of years and continue to serve its purpose.
Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
Experience the lovely Sunday market in Teguise to get a general feel of how warm the locals are. Afterward, take some time to reflect and marvel at the gorgeous architecture of Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, the church right beside the market and in front of the park. Its pristine walls are a quiet refuge from the noises of the outside world.
Iglesia San Gines
Tucked away in the old town of Arrecife is a cathedral dedicated to San Gines, its patron saint. Boasting of a combination of black volcanic stone and whitewashed exterior and a magnificently built wooden ceiling, it’s a place of beauty and serenity. The picturesque square transforms into a lively center where locals celebrate their festivities.
Ermita de Las Nieves
On the road connecting the town of Haria and Teguise lies a unique looking church uphill. Ermita de Las Nieves is small but is nonetheless remarkable. Nestled on top of the mountain Risco de las Nieves, it’s a worthy stopover for people who are fascinated by religious history. Just like in other churches, the peaceful atmosphere becomes festive during processions held in August every year.
Getting immersed in the culture is one way to heighten the Lanzarote experience. Besides the history, the artistry of Cesar Manrique is also everywhere.
Fundacion Cesar Manrique
To understand more about the passion of the late Cesar Manrique, artist, sculpture, painter, and considered the cultural hero of Lanzarote, head to the center of the island. Fundacion Cesar Manrique is a dwelling place built in several lava bubbles. The serene and astounding environment is a representative of the artist’s vision to marry nature and modern art and architecture.
Casa/Museo Cesar Manrique
Towards the end of his life, Cesar Manrique yearned to get away from the crowd to focus on his creations at peace. Hence, he built a small home in Haria, which is now known as the Museo Cesar Manrique. Tiny but still very stylish with a private pool, and well-preserved rooms, this is where he spent the last few years of his life.
Another stunning house turned museum is Lagomar Museum. Previously owned by actor Omar Sharif for a day, the house is an impressive maze of rooms carved into a mountain. Visitors here still see the influence of Cesar Manrique with the striking but seamless fusion of modern architecture and a natural environment.
Superb Lanzarote Dining Options
When in Lanzarote, expect to have an enjoyable dining experience in one of the many excellent restaurants. Furthermore, the presence of numerous vineyard in the island ensures an endless supply of delicious tasting and export quality Malvasia wines.
Lani’s Cafe Restaurant
Don’t be deceived by its name. Lani’s Cafe Restaurant is a proper restaurant with a complete and mouthwatering Mediterranean and European menu and a list of excellent drinks. Set in Puerto del Carmen, it offers spectacular views of the ocean on all sides. Have a taste of their scallops and then top your meal with the best wine and their highly reviewed creme brulee.
La Carmencita del Puerto
Guests can’t get enough of the Spanish, Mediterranean and even the Vegetarian-friendly cuisines in La Carmencita del Puerto. Aside from the excellent food, they offer superb service and a lovely atmosphere. When in Puerto del Carmen, never miss trying their Tapas, meatballs, and drinks.
My Kitchen by Julius
Also in Puerto del Carmen is My Kitchen by Julius. Run by Filipinos, the restaurant is famous for their meat dishes. Particularly well-loved by guests are their T-bone steak and their homemade sauces. Delight in the friendly staff and excellent service that makes every visitor’s dining experience sublime.
Where to Stay in Lanzarote
Once in Lanzarote, it’s impossible not to want to stay longer and explore the rest of the gems the island offers. Luckily, there are many resorts, hotels, and holiday rentals that cater to tourists.
Lani Suites’ Deluxe
One of the most popular hotels travelers love is Lani’s Suite Deluxe in Puerto del Carmen. This 4-star hotel boasts of the first-rate service right from the time guests arrive until they leave. Offering a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean, it is just a stone’s throw away from surrounding restaurants and establishments.
Costa Sal Villas and Suites
A romantic accommodation option in Puerto del Carmen is the villas and suites of Costa Sal. The hotel is proud of its many choices catering to families, individuals, and couples. Aside from the usual amenities like restaurant, pool, and a bar, they also have a tennis court and spa.
Las Terresitas No. 42
A little bit tight on the budget department? No worries. There are many reasonably priced holiday rental apartments also in Puerto del Carmen. One of the most rated is Las Terresitas. Feel like staying in a home away from home with its complete amenities. The best part of it is that since it’s on the top floor, guests are treated to a lovely view of the marina and the ocean.
H10 Timanfaya Palace
One of the top resorts in Lanzarote is H10 Timanfaya Palace. Located in Montana Roja, right in Playa Blanca. The proximity of the complex to the seafront promenade makes it undeniably appealing. Apart from the exceptional services, it is completed by a roster of amenities, like a gym and a restaurant, suitable for a 4-star hotel.
Lanzarote Health and Safety
Lanzarote has been reported to be a relatively safe island with a low crime rate. But even so, there’s nothing to lose if one would take extra precautions that could make a perfect holiday trip worry-free.
The most common advice for safety given to people who explore Lanzarote are the general ones related to traveling. That includes not staying alone and in dark areas of the beach during nighttime, taking care of personal belongings, and leaving valuables at the hotel’s safety vault. These are essential tips that can spare anyone from theft.
Since tourists frequent the island, be careful with tourist traps and scams. Make sure to carry enough change when riding a bus or a taxi and strictly follow traffic rules when driving. For emergency situations, the police hotline is 112.
The most recommended health advice is to secure a European Health Insurance Card or EHIC to cover medical needs during an emergency. Having travel insurance and carrying personal medication is also advisable.
To avoid spoiling the fun when in the beach, always be ready with sunscreen lotion. Additionally, be aware of natural hazards like high waves and scalding steam in specific well-known destinations.
Getting to and Around
Ready to start an adventure at the rocky paradise? Just book a flight from any of the UK airlines like Thomson, Monarch, British Airways, and EasyJet. Many fly directly to Arrecife airport located east of Lanzarote. Others may also opt to travel to Madrid, Spain before booking another flight that would take them to the island.
Ferries also operate to and from the island, so those who are fans of voyages in the sea are welcome to ride a boat from Cadiz, Spain.
Travel from the airport to Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise would take about 15 minutes, and taxi fare is around €20-40. If going to Playa Blanca, prepare to travel for approximately 45 minutes and make sure to have around €40-60.
Once on the island, travelers may take a taxi, ride the bus, or drive a car hire to get to most of Lanzarote’s famous spots. Some places, however, only expose their beauty after a short trek.
Want to explore other islands in the Canaries? No worries. Ferries and planes from the same ports can take guests anywhere they want to go. If ever, booking flights in advance are one of the ways to reduce stress.
Lanzarote is the Volcanic Paradise of Our Dreams
Lanzarote is undoubtedly a living volcanic paradise. Adorning its grounds are remnants of red and black lava that created the otherworldly landscape. Stretches of vineyards not only added to the panoramic view, but they also produce some of the most exquisite wines in the world. Lining its coasts are splendid beaches of black, gold, and white sand.
The tranquility of its long summer days is the perfect background music to the wondrous show nature performs here daily. From the splashing of vigorous waves against massive coarse cliffs to the erosion of half a volcano crater out into the sea, every inch of the island is a visual treat.
Blending with its unspoiled nature is the clever modern architecture which preserves and further enhances its beauty. These human-made attractions allow visitors to experience otherwise the impossible. Imagine dining in a cave, watching a concert in a cavern, or finding a pool below the earth.
Awarded with a World Biosphere Reserve classification by the UNESCO, it is home to endemic flora and fauna in the Canaries. Families can witness all these through the numerous parks scattered around the island.
Dining is a must, and staying longer is a natural choice. With many restaurants serving the delicious cuisines, heavenly desserts, and exceptional wine, gastronomy here is divine.
Lastly, anyone can find the most comfortable and reasonable accommodations, most of which offer a stunning view of the mountainside or the sea.