Your guide to Lanzarote, Canary Islands
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Lanzarote’s charm goes beyond just windswept beaches. If you love the sun and sand but also want to infuse your vacation with some nature, culture and truly original wine adventures, this is the Canary Island for you.
Besides long stretches of golden sands, Lanzarote is home to many art installations by the island’s very own César Manrique, a Spanish artist with a flair for incorporating natural landscape into his work. And, if you’ve ever wanted to explore a volcanic vineyard and sample volcanic wine, this is the island to do so.
If you aren’t quite sure if Lanzarote is the right island for your visit, check out these guides which may help you choose another:
- How to know which Canary Island is right for you
- Which Canary Island is best for a socially distanced vacation?
Getting there and around
Plan to fly into Lanzarote Airport (ACE), which is located a few miles south of Arrecife, the island’s capital. Similar to many of the other Canary Islands, if you plan to explore all that Lanzarote has to offer, car rental is essential. If you’d rather just relax at your all-inclusive hotel, it may not be necessary. Taxis are readily available at the airport if you decide not to rent a car.
Where to stay
Lanzarote has many tourist resort areas. The closest to the airport and most popular is Puerto del Carmen, a short ride away from the airport and the capital of Arrecife.
Although there are plenty of tourist-catering beachfront resorts in this area, we love the boutique Hotel Los Lirios, decked out in traditional whitewashed plaster with volcanic rock, located slightly inland. This option is ideal if you want to be near some of the amenities, but away from the party scene or avoid the crowds.
For a more typical hotel experience, the Barcelo Teguise Beach north of Arrecife is an adults-only resort with two pools and a modern, chic ambiance.
If you want less wind and guaranteed sunshine, the best spot is Playa Blanca in the south, which also features more luxury hotel and resort options, such as the Kamezi Boutique Villas. Some of the villas feature private pools and the resort overlooks a gorgeous rocky beach.
For those wanting to be closer to the white sand beaches in this area, the recently renovated H10 Rubicon Palace is perfect for families, with a special play area for children featuring a pirate ship.
If you’d prefer to get away from it, consider a stay at the Finca de Arrieta Eco Retreat, close to the sand and rocks of Playa Garita. This spot is all about “glamping,” so expect hammocks, eco-chic yurts and fancy farmhouses.
What to do and see
Lanzarote’s beach scene has something for everyone: black sand, picturesque pebbles, white and golden sand stretches flanked by cliffs, breezy surfer spots and shallow bays perfect for families.
- For natural sands in the south: Playa de Papagayo
- For natural sands in the north: Playa Orzola
- For shallow, family-friendly waters: Caleton Blanco
- For amenities and golden sands: Playa Flamingo
- For shallow, calm waters: El Jablillo
- For surfing: Famara Beach
Nature and adventure
A must-see in Lanzarote, Los Herivdores are cliffs created from volcanic lava. Weave through tiny paths heading towards the sea for some awe-inspiring scenery. Next, pay a visit to El Golfo, a volcano that has slowly been eroded by sea and salt, now a reddish crater wall with a vibrant green lagoon made up of volcanic minerals. The green water is separated from the blue ocean by a black pebbly beach, a one-of-a-kind natural wonder. Note that swimming in it is forbidden though.
You can’t leave the island without checking out the Timanfaya Natural Park, home to volcanic craters and the famous Fire Mountain Monument. For more volcanic craters and hiking, you also have the nearby Volcanos Natural Park.
Culture and art
For a family-friendly adventure, check out one of the most beautiful villages in the Canary Islands, the whitewashed town of Haría lined with palm tree after palm tree.
Design and art lovers need to enter the world of César Manrique. Visit his former home in Haría, decked with sculpture and art incorporating the natural landscape of caves, volcanic rock and tunnels in his distinctive design aesthetic.
Another Manrique must-see is the Jameos de Agua, a unique tunnel, pool and event space with quirky design touches. And don’t forget about his famed cactus garden, or the Campesino Museum, where his work is also on display.
What to eat and drink
Volcanos Natural Park has another claim to fame: the volcanic wine of La Geria. You can’t come to Lanzarote without touring a volcanic vineyard, learning about how the grapes thrive in the mineral and ashy soil. The wines have small stone circles around them to protect from wind, salt and rain, making these volcanic moonscapes unlike any other vineyards in the world. Tour and taste at wineries such as Bodega Vega de Yuco or Bodega Vulcano Lanzarote. Most wines are light and fruity, but some sweet wine is also cultivated on the island.
Beyond its famous wine, Lanzarote has cuisine typical of the Canary Islands, stews and simple plates of tapas like potatoes with mojo picon sauce. To eat like a local, you’ll want to dine in Arrecife, the island’s capital, or in the north, where most of the population lives. For international cuisine, the tourist resorts of the south have many different gastronomic options.
For a truly unique dining experience, eat at El Diablo, a restaurant designed by César Manrique that overlooks the island’s impressive volcanic landscape. For the complete experience, order something cooked using the volcanic steam, which can heat up to 570 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you want a beach vacation that also includes some culture, Lanzarote is the island for you. With plenty of art, design and sculpture by César Manrique, its volcanic vineyards and impressive natural parks, you’ll never get bored there.
Featured photo courtesy of Balate Dorin/Getty
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