Visiting Lanzarote - What to See and Do
(Lanzarote Airport ACE, Spain)
The Canary island of Lanzarote
may not be the biggest of the archipelago, but it is easily the most scenic. The volcanic landscape here provides a dramatic backdrop for the villages, beaches and vineyards that dot the island. Lanzarote is just small enough that you can become intimate with it during a week-long visit. There is a lot to see and do, made easier with a rental car.
With a touted 99 beaches to work with, there is no end to the ways you can enjoy the beach and coastal attractions on Lanzarote. The sun shines virtually every day and the weather is comfortable throughout the year, so it is no wonder that most visitors come here for the sea, sand and sun. However, the island also has some world-class natural sites, the best of which is the Timanfaya National Park.
All of the coastal resorts have a decent array of dining and drinking establishments. Puerto del Carmen is the centre of attention, especially after dark, when the Avenida de las Playas kicks into party mode. More sedate scenes are also readily available on the island, in resorts like Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise.
Ten things you must do in Lanzarote
- The top attraction on Lanzarote is the Timanfaya National Park. It is actually the third most-visited park in Spain, and once you step out of the tour bus and onto the outlandish volcanic moonscape, you will understand why. Watch geysers erupt like clockwork, take a camel trek from bottom to top, or eat some volcanically cooked fish. Come early to avoid the crowds.
- Many consider the Punta del Papagayo the most beautiful beach in the Canary Islands. Actually there are six little beaches strung together, each featuring crystal clear water, soft sand and amazing views over to Fuerteventura. Most people stop at the Playa de las Mujeres, but don't expect any amenities at this refreshingly undeveloped stretch of coast - bring everything you need.
- The wine region of Lanzarote is called Geria, and it makes a wonderful day outing whether you really enjoy drinking wine or not. Quaint bodegas (wineries) dot the landscape, offering tastings of the local reds and whites, along with tours of their vineyards. Rent a car or hire a driver and enjoy a day off the beach.
- The Playa Blanca's Marina Rubicon defines the concept of kicking back on Lanzarote. A series of wooden pontoons float in the manmade ponds surrounded by little bakeries and boutiques. It is exactly the kind of place to sit down and have a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, watching life trickle by.
- If it is a serious view you are after, look no further than the Mirador del Rio. This aesthetically designed vantage point sits atop the Famara Cliffs, some 475 metres / 1,560 feet above the sea below. A structure built by one of the island's more famous designers feels like the interior of a ship, with lookouts that feature views encompassing the entire Chinijo Archipelago.
- Head underground for a day in the Cuevas de los Verdes, a series of subterranean grottoes created thousands of years ago during one of the more active volcanic eras of Lanzarote. Follow the tunnels for over a mile as they wind through chambers and lava flows, past dramatic rock formations.
- Jameos del Agua may well be the most memorable house you will ever set foot in. Famous native-born architect Cesar Manrique took the natural volcanic landscape that is connected to the Cuevos de los Verdes and transformed five of the grottoes into a magical living environment. Inside this complex is an auditorium, bars, a restaurant and a saltwater lagoon open to the public.
- Another impossibly stylish piece of design and architecture is Lagomar, the former home of actor Omar Sharif. It is really a set of rooms and passageways carved directly into and onto the rock cliffs above the village of Oasis de Nazaret. The structure bulges out of the natural volcanic landscape, blending seamlessly into its surroundings. Inside Lagomar, a bar, restaurant and museum have replaced the actor's residence, which is now one of the island's top tourist attractions.
- Another Cesar Manrique masterpiece is the Cactus Garden, the effort of Lanzarote's leading designer to make an old quarry above the town of Guatiza into something special. More than 1,000 species of cacti are integrated into circular platforms spread throughout the quarry. Paths lead visitors on a tour past some very odd plants.
- Lanzarote's sole repository of European classical culture is found in the Museum of Modern Art. If nothing else, the Castle of St. Joseph, where the collection is displayed, is worth checking out. Inside this 18th-century fortress in Arrecife is a decent little exhibition of artwork by Picasso, Botero, Miro and a few others.