Capital - Arrecife
The capital of the island of Lanzarote is a bustling town of about 45,000 people with an interesting harbour area and great beaches where you can safely swim. It has some interesting individual shops in all kinds of back alleys as well as bars restaurants and nightlife. It is a good market on the shorefront promenade and hosts some great carnivals on the various public holidays in the canaries, the most famous of which is Mardi Gras late Feb/early March. The Castillo de San Gabriel is by the market over a short Bridgeway and has been restored as a national monument housing a museum.
On the outskirts of Arrecife, is the Castillo de San Jose which accommodates currently a very good restaurant and art gallery. It was originally built in 1799 and was a large fort to guard the entrance of the original Port Naos. It was used by the military until 1890, but was more recently restored as one of the iconic buildings by the islands architect, Cesar Manrique.
The other side of Arrecife has Playa Honda which stretches out to the airport area. This is a lovey beach and residential area and is pleasant for a meal or drink out.
This lovely town on the east coast is famous for its fish restaurants and local catches of produce. The fishing village is well worth a visit as is the beach La Garita which has a children’s playground on the beach and is excellent for body surfing and swimming.
The village also has an interesting Chinese house which although at first appears out of character, is a fascinating view.
This is an incredible family day out. The architect Cesar Manrique has designed this garden as a homage to the humble cactus! The array of varieties of this plant will astound you - there are over 1400 species! There is a restored windmill and a welcome café area where you can enjoy the display.
This town is at the most northerly point of the island and overlooks the island of Las Graciosa. The island is served by a ferry form the town’s harbour and makes an interesting day out to an island barely inhabited by 500 people.
Watch the local fishermen here bringing in their catch and enjoy a meal here with local fresh fish.
Each year there is a swimming gala from Orzola to La Graciosa
This small island is maintained as a nature reserve and no vehicles may be taken on to the island. It is beautiful, tranquil with fantastic sandy beaches where you can swim from. See the ferry times at Orzola but aim to leave at 9 returning at 3/4pm
Mirador del Rio
Cesar Manrique developed the most amazing viewing platform to see the island of La Graciosa from the cliff top. His architecture now gives you an opportunity to see the view along with a fantastic restaurant and gift shop. The way the architect has designed this viewpoint is a must to see whilst on the island. Open all year
Cuevas de los verdes (Green Caves)
This is an area between Arrieta and Orzola which has been modelled by the lava from ancient volcanic activity. There are about 2km of caves open to the public although the full length is around 7km.
They are very different to other caves having been formed in a different way and relatively recently (3000 years)
Well worth a visit!
Jameos del Agua
Near to the green caves, is another tribute to the work of Cesar Manrique, who adapted these naturally forming volcanic caves into a concert hall, auditorium and swimming pool. Regular shows are held here and the acoustic is to be marvelled at.
There is an underground cave called Jameo Chico which is connected to the sea. Here a unique, rare species of blind white crab live.
The caves here are open every day and on certain nights have late night entertainment. Please check with the tourist offices.
Guinate Tropical Park
This 11.5-acre park is open to the public and is full interesting flora, fauna and animals. Children will especially love the parrot show which is performed several times per day.
One of the islands regional capitals, Haria is known as the “valley of 1000 palms”.
There was a tradition of planting a palm tree for every child born to the village - 2 if the child were a boy! The village is picturesque and a great place to stop off for a break on the way to the mirador del Rio. There is a pretty square and a weekly craft market.
This is the wine growing area of the island, and has some wonderful bodegas (wineries) that you can visit and have wine tastings. The vines are watered in a unique way using condensation due to the lack of natural rainfall on the island.
You can visit the museo del vino at El Grifo which is one of the islands oldest bodegas. At the entrance to the museum is a monument to the El Grifo bird, designed by Cesar Manrique. Inside is an exhibition of the winery, machinery and other tools.
This property is built into the hillside at Oasis de Nazaret. Originally this villa was designed by Cesar Manrique and was the former home of actor Omar Sharif.
There is a restaurant and nightclub there along with a museum and art gallery. A good day visit which is family friendly during the day.
Monumento al Campesino and Casa Museo
The monument is a 15-metre-high modern sculpture depicting the Farm Worker (campesino) and stands in the geographical centre of the island. Casa Museo is nearby which is a converted farmhouse celebrating the farm workers’ way of life on the island of Lanzarote. You can get a meal or snack here and buy local crafts.
Cesar Manrique Foundation
Cesar Manrique is the island of Lanzarote most famous, world renown artist. He built his home on the edge of the village of Tahiche on the site of five volcanic bubbles. When he died, it was left to the people of Lanzarote and his home is now a stunning museum and tribute to the artist. As well as many pieces of his work, you have to see the incredible swimming pool he built for himself!
San Bartolome - Teguise
San Bartolome is a small local town which many pass through but do stop to look at its buildings, church and have a relaxing refreshment.
Teguise is the original capital of Lanzarote and this small town plays host to a wealth of architectural delights from the churches windmills and the nearby Castillo de Santa Barbara which stands on a hill overlooking the town.
The town has a lovely array of small independent craft style shops but on Sundays there is a large market held. Get there early to get parked and the best bargains!
The goods for sale range from African produce (remember - you are only 70 miles away from Africa) to tablecloths, handbags and leather goods.
The market is open from 9 - 2pm
Caleta de Famara (Famara)
Going west from Teguise on to the coast, you will come to Famara. This beach area and town is set at the bottom of cliffs and the surf here is excellent. Swimming is not recommended but there are lifeguards at certain times of the year who will have flags to tell you where surfing and sailing are safest. The undercurrents are very strong but this is an exhilarating place to visit. There are several bars and restaurants to make your visit complete.
Timanfaya National Park
Coming back inland from Famara, you will go through a small village called Mancha Blanca. Here there is the visitor interpretation centre where you can experience what it feels and sounds like to be near a volcanic eruption and also many exhibits including actual readings of current seismic activity on the island of Lanzarote. Here you can also organise ranger guide walks across the volcanos where no vehicles are allowed.
Moving on from the visitor interpretation centre, you arrive at the start of the centre of the national park. For an entrance fee you can go up to one of the peaks to see the most stunning restaurant with panoramic view, once again designed by Cesar Manrique. Here chefs can cook on a barbecue using natural heat from the earth. Be prepared for a show of geysers and a bus tour round the main peaks of the park. This is well worth doing and should be number 1 on your sightseeing list.
On leaving the park to go towards Yaiza, consider taking a camel ride along the crags of one of the peaks. It’s a family friendly activity which is memorable for your holiday.
Yaiza is in the southern region of Lanzarote and is the areas capital. It has been voted the prettiest village in Spain at various times and the nativity tableau on display at advent and Christmas is absolutely breath-taking.
Not just an administrative centre, it boasts gardens and a large square where many local fiestas take place. Ask at the local tourist office for details. There are several bars and restaurants here the most local of which serve excellent tapas.
Once more on the west coast about 10 mins drive form Yaiza, is the village of El Golfo. As well as the fabulous fish restaurants here, there is an unusual green lake
This has been created via unusual volcanic activity and erosion from the sea and is coloured by the various minerals. It is known locally as “La Laguna de los Ciclos”
This is the area of cliffs created by the volcanic eruptions of the 18th Century. They are fascinating as they are a series of caves created by lava cooling. The sea crashes against the rocks in a magnificent way and here you can really experience the sea. It is not suitable for swimming.
Salinas de Janubio
Coming back from El Golfo along the coast road and going past (and stopping off) at Los Hervideros, you will arrive at the salt flats. These are a working historic monument and from the cliff tops are laid out in squares which look beautiful as due to their water levels in each pan, create different colours.
This is also a great area here to look out for local birds although be careful of the tides and currents.
Las Brenas and Femes
As you come back across from the salt flats, head up into the volcanic hills to the villages of Las Brenas and Femes. From Femes you look down on to the village of Playa Blanca. Simply breath taking! Femes has two excellent restaurants from where you can enjoy this stunning view.
As you re- enter the Playa Blanca area from Femes, go towards the Marina Rubicon area and then across the unmade roads to the unspoiled natural Papagayo beaches. This area has been turned into a national park and although you can get there by car, please take supplies as there is only one small bar for the whole area. There is a sequence of these natural coves - choose which one you like - the nearest one to Playa Blanca is usually the busiest and they get quieter as you go further round.