Lanzarote is a Spanish island created by vulcano eruptions. It is part of the Canary islands, the most easterly and the 4th largest island of the group with a population of approximately 150,000 people.
We spent 4 full days in the island and we had time to cover almost everything. We rented an apartment close to San Bartolomé through Airbnb and a car for the entire days we stayed in the island. It is totally recommended to rent a car since there's few public transports in the island.
Our first day was spent in the north side of the island, visiting in first place the Mirador del Rio, an artistic viewpoint and coffee embedded in a cliff. From here the views are awesome and it is possible to admire La Graciosa, a small inhabited island close to Lanzarote. Close to Mirador del Rio (6 km) there is the Mirador del Guinate, another place with great panoramic views, although less touristic. The road between these two viewpoints is great and we stopped several times to take pictures.
We haven't visited La Graciosa but it only takes around 25 minutes from Orzola by ferryboat - you can find all the information about the ferries and this small island here. Orzola is the most northern village in Lanzarote and is a peaceful fishing settlement well known by its seafood restaurants. The beaches nearby are also beautiful and calm, perfect to walk!
After Orzola we decided to visit Cueva de los Verdes, one of the longest volcanic tunnels in the world formed about 4,000 years ago when the Montaña La Corona erupted and where locals used to hide from pirates and raiders throughout its history. Visits are all guided so you need to wait outside for a group but they do it frequently (we waited less than 10 minutes). If you are claustrophobic (like me!) you can wait outside and appreciate the silence and peace while everyone goes down. Otherwise it is a 30-45 minutes visit through tunnels and caves.
Nearby you can visit Jameos del Agua, also part of this 6 km long lava tube. Jameo means large openings in the tube that was formed when parts of the roof collapsed due to volcanic gases. César Manrique built here a cultural attraction, with the goal to bring together Nature and tourists, fusing art with natural beauty. Inside we found several natural lakes, a special and rare type of crabs, beautiful footpaths, a museum, a bar and an auditorium.
Our second day was spent at the Timanfaya National Park (also known as "Montañas del Fuego"). It is the most popular attraction in Lanzarote so be prepared to see much more tourists than in any other part of the island (1 million people per year!). This national park is home of several volcanoes offering awesome views. The route followed by the visitors (inside a bus) was originally defined by César Manrique, and it has several stops along the way to take pictures and appreciate several types of landscapes. There is also a commentary through the tour which helps to understand the history and the nature of this national park. The tour takes around 1 hour but you may need to wait until having a bus with available places for you (for us it was less than 10 minutes). In the car parking you can find a store with some "recuerdos" from the park and Lanzarote.
Close to Timanfaya National park you can visit two great places: Los Hervideros and El Golfo. Los Hervideros is a rugged volcanic coastline full of sea caves and cliffs produced by the solidification of lava and erosion. El Golfo is a half-submerged volcano with a green lake at the foot (lagoon covered with minerals and micro-organisms). Incredible places not to be missed!
In the same day we decided to explore the south coast and its famous landscapes and beautiful beaches. From the national park to Playa Blanca we drove around 20 km which took us less than 45m (google maps says 20 minutes but we stopped to take pictures and appreciate the views). Playa Blanca is one of the most important touristic resorts in Lanzarote so we didn't stay for more than 1 hour and we went to Costa de Papagayo, a collection of small beaches in the middle of high cliffs and only accessed by unpaved road. It is a protected area and there is a small fee to use the road but it worth the cost and time!
In the end of the afternoon we drove through La Geria valley, Lanzarote's main wine growing region, declared as a protected area. The landscape is unique, with more than 10,000 funnel-shaped hollows with one vine per hollow and semicircular walls around them. We made a visit to one of the wineries: Bodegas El Grifo - since we didn't reserve before, we had to make the no-guided tour with the possibility to taste one of the wines and visiting the museum.
We started our third day visiting César Manrique Foundation, a completely ecological house created within a series of volcanic bubbles in harmony with the land. According to Manrique, "a perfect symbiosis between man, art and nature". Although there are some features from the traditional architecture in Canarias, most of the house is so original that will make you to stay and live there.
We also visited the famous Cactus garden, 30 minutes driving from our apartment. This place was also developed through the guidance of Cesar Manrique and it's home of over 10,000 different plants. We are not specially fans of plants so we saw this place really quickly, but I believe it is more interesting for people who appreciate plants and/or cactus.
After the Cactus garden we drove around 15 minutes to explore a bit of the coast, including Punta Mujeres and Arrieta, small fishing villages less crowded than most of Lanzarote's places, but with great views and restaurants to eat grilled fished. Probably if it was today, we would rent an apartment in this are instead of San Bartolomé, we loved it!
Our fourth day started with a guided tour inside Saramago's house, the Portuguese nobel-prize of literature. I think we were not expecting such a simple and small house for such a famous person. As dog lovers we liked the detail of having a bed for the dogs below his desk! We also enjoyed a great portuguese coffee in his kitchen and terrace with garden and ocean views. The tour was great and we totally recommend it!
After Saramago's house we drove around 20 km until Teguise town where we were surprised by the Carnaval celebrations. So we had the opportunity to enjoy the parade full of local people and tourists, colors and music. Close by we visited the Pirate Museum, inside Santa Barbara's castle, which offers a fascinating historic overview of life in Lanzarote in the 16th and 17th centuries. The views from the castle are also nice but it was too windy and cold to stay longer.
We finished our trip visiting the city of Arrecife, Lanzarote's capital, and the coast nearby (Playa Honda, Puerto del Carmen) which we were not particularly interested. In fact although these places still show a bit of its old town charm, they are full of tourists that ruined a bit of the character and life of the towns. The proximity to the airport and the hotels/resorts built destroyed part of these cities/villages so we decided not to spend more than an afternoon exploring them.
One thing we liked (but you need to understand well Spanish) was the Arrecife History Museum. It is based in a castle on the waterfront of Arrecife and inside one can understand better the History of the island, including maritime, military and heritage. We also visited the Museum of International and Contemporary Art inside San Jose castle, an old historical fortress. Although the exhibition is nothing special, they have a great restaurant/bar inside where we stayed for a while drinking a coffee and reading.
After visiting Arrecife we went to the airport to catch our plane back to Madrid.
Next trip: who knows? Probably Berlin, Germany!
- Main costs: Flight from Madrid through Ryanair (90€/person/return), renting an apartment (55€/night/2 bedroom apartment), renting a car for 5 days (58€/VW Fox or similar)
- Attraction costs: We bought the 6-centre discount card that includes Mirador del Rio, Cueva de los Verdes, Jameos del Agua, Jardín de Cactus, Castillo de San José, Montañas del Fuego (30€/person) - if you buy tickets separately you spend around 36€/person
- Other attraction costs: Bodegas del Grifo (5€/person non-guided tour), Casa José Saramago (8€/person guided tour), Piratas Museum/Santa Barbara Castle (€3/person)
- Renting an apartment through Airbnb - Get a 35€ of discount if using Airbnb for the first time here!
- Renting a car - We always use rentalcars.com to search, compare and book a car before the trip. In this trip the cheapest fare was Orlando (the only inconvenient was that the pick up was outside the airport but they had a person to pick us in the terminal and then get us to the car)