Or rather, Lanzarote does not reflect the classic island ideals at all.
Lanzarote is the black of lava lapilli, it is the horizon dotted with volcanic craters, it is a black road that flows in a black landscape. Lanzarote is the wave that breaks on the rocks of The Hervideros, is the constant wind that blows al Mirador del Rio and in Cala di Famara.
Lanzarote is raw and elegant at the same time.
With this article I will not dwell on the beaches or on the social life of Lanzarote. Mine was a journey to discover natural beauties of the whole island, a very intense journey although of a few days.
If you want to discover the soul of this beautiful Canary Island, well, I think you ended up on the right article. Let's find out what to do and above all what to see in Lanzarote.
Lanzarote: some information before the itinerary
This island is part of the Canary archipelago, the 7 Spanish islands a few kilometers from the coast of Morocco. Lanzarote, together with Fuerteventura, is the geologically oldest and most interesting from a landscape point of view. The time zone is one hour behind Italy. The temperature is always pleasant and, together with the constant wind, it is a prerogative of the Canaries.
I visited Lanzarote at the end of January and the temperature was between 15 and 20 degrees. Despite the mild temperature, the wind lowers the perceived one. It is always good to have a jacket with you, more or less heavy depending on the period. Lanzarote has also been home to many of the artist's works César Manrique which has left indelible marks and has interpreted the beauties of the island in its own way.
Lanzarote is very well organized from a tourist point of view. They have been established i CACT, that is centers of art, culture and tourism.
I CACT are 9 and you can discover them here: http://www.cactlanzarote.com/
Or you can directly download the app from the android or IOS store and use it on the go. As for tickets, there are solutions that include visiting several CACTs in order to save money.
We can divide the visit to Lanzarote in two itineraries, one that touches the entire northern part and one that explores the southern part, assuming to start from Puerto del Carmen.
Where to sleep in Lanzarote?
Puerto del Carmen represents the ideal base to sleep in and from which to explore Lanzarote. It is the most experienced place on the island. There are clubs, restaurants and some discos. Sure, Puerto del Carmen is quite touristy, but it's a good place to start.
In this regard I recommend the hotel where I stayed. It is a residence with new and very clean apartments, swimming pool and entertainment for the little ones. It is an excellent solution for those who want to visit Lanzarote with their children. At the same time it is also perfect for those who, like me, prefer to enjoy a trip to the maximum and only need a reference point to sleep in. Take a look at HOTEL THB FLORA .
If, on the other hand, you want to read about advice also according to the areas, you can read my article on -> Where to stay in Lanzarote
What to see and what to do in Lanzarote: the NORTH
The north part of Lanzarote is more linked to the works of César Manrique, while the south, south / west part is more suitable for immersing yourself in the lunar landscapes of this beautiful Canary Island.
The Monument to Campesino
The artist César Manrique characterized Lanzarote with his works. It was closely linked to the relationship between man and nature. Despite a poor figure like the "farmers”(The peasants of Lanzarote) was neglected by artists, César Manrique, precisely because of his connection with nature, valued it and paid homage to it through this work.
The monument is exactly in the geographical center of the island of Lanzarote, in the town of San Bartolomé. Protecting him is the Monumento a la Fecundidad consisting of water tanks per boat. The way they are combined recalls the balance and the shrewdness in the management of the water with which the campesino of Lanzarote, with his hard work, collects life from the difficult volcanic soil.
Next to the monument it is also possible to visit the peasant museum, open every day from 10.00 to 17.45 with free admission.
Do you want to take a tour to discover César Manrique? .
Visit the Jardin de Cactus
Continuing from the monument of the campesino towards the north-east, you cross the typical barren territory of Lanzarote. It goes into the interesting town of Teguise and, following along the coast, you can reach a very characteristic place in Lanzarote: the Jardin de Cactus.
What is this? It is a work of César Manrique. A large oval * with terraces in which they are present more than 4500 cacti of over 450 different species. Cacti from all over the world, from the smallest to the giant ones, from the funny ones to the elegant ones. Here in Lanzarote they coexist in this large cactus-only garden.
In this regard, right on the road from Teguise to the Jardin de Cactus, near Teguise, on your left you will see a particular landscape. Very porous volcanic formations that the wind has modified. Just by touching them they crumble. A characteristic place where you can stop and take a walk. Rofe is also extracted from these rocks.
Returning to the Jardin de Cactus, it is definitely a must see place in Lanzarote. It is not something to be missed, but it is a pleasant stop along the itinerary. I would have appreciated there were some more explanations for each cactus, in reality there is only the name and the origin. The garden is well kept and clean. There is a small restaurant / bar where you can have a drink with a "view of the cacti".
Hours and prices:
- Open every day from 10.00am to 17.45pm.
- € 5,8 for adults - € 2,9 for children aged 7 to 12.
A few kilometers from the gardens, still heading north, we find the Jameos del Agua. Unfortunately, I think it is the most tourist attraction on the island, as well as very crowded.
It is an intervention by César Manrique aimed at creating a sort of symbiosis between the beauty of nature and the artistic creation of man. Seen in this light, the Jameos del Agua also has its why, but being a natural formation I would have liked to see it without the strong business they have created around it.
The Jameos del Agua takes its name from the large underground lake that was created inside a volcanic tunnel formed during the eruption of the Monte de la Corona volcano.
The Jameos is closely related to the Cueva de los Verdes. It too belongs to the same tunnel whose length measures almost 6km, of which 1km and a half under the sea.
The three underground lakes (Jameo Grande, Jameo Chico and Jameo Redondo), being below sea level, were formed thanks to infiltrations. A special feature of these lakes are the little blind crabs, symbol of the Jameos del Agua. 1 cm long, they dot the seabed and stand out thanks to their white color due to the lack of pigmentation.
Hours and prices:
- Open every day from 10.00 to 18.30, Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10.00 to 24.30.
- 9,5 euros for adults (20% discount from 15 to 19) - 4,5 euros for the reduced.
Discover all the tours that include the Jameos del Agua -> click here
Explore La Cueva de Los Verdes
Continuing along the itinerary to discover all there is to see in Lanzarote, a short distance from the Jameos del Agua is the Cueva de Los Verdes which is none other than part of the Jameos tunnel itself.
La Cueva de los Verdes unlike the Jameos del Agua remained almost untouched. Tourists are accompanied inside the caves by the CACT guides. 1 km walk a few meters below the ground. On the surface the constant and impetuous wind of Lanzarote, a few meters below the muffled silence of the caves.
The route inside the Cueva de Los Verdes is very suggestive and reminded me of the route I took in the splendid Cueva el Soplao in Cantabria in Northern Spain.
The lights give an orange hue to the cave and it is a pleasure to walk through it. For those who do not like indoor places, know that, apart from some passages where you have to get down, for the rest of the cave is large and does not oppress the visitor. Suffice it to say that at the end of the Cueva de Los Verdes they have created a sort of auditorium complete with a piano.
Hours and prices:
- Open every day from 10.00am to 18.00pm.
- 9,5 euros for adults (20% discount from 15 pm) - 4,75 euros for the reduced.
Be amazed at the Mirador del Rio
Making sense of a plane ticket to Lanzarote is very simple: it would be enough to name the Mirador del Rio. I really mean it, the Mirador del Rio is worth the full price of the ticket, as they say. You will be amazed by the view of the small island La Graciosa in front of the northern tip of Lanzarote.
A viewpoint still work of the artist César Manrique.
From the outside you can't get any idea how the view is. The entrance to the Mirador seems rather anonymous. Instead, once inside you find yourself indoors in the restaurant with an immense window that allows you to stand and stare in amazement at the island of La Graciosa.
Why Mirador del Rio? Because the small strip of sea between Lanzarote and La Graciosa looks like nothing less than a small stretch of river. Its name is precisely “el Rio”, hence the “Mirador del Rio”.
The structure consists of the bar / restaurant room, but the best part is to go out on the outdoor walks and have fun photographing the spectacular panorama in front of you, that is La Graciosa.
Hours and prices:
- Open every day from 10.00am to 17.45pm.
- 4,75 euros for adults - 2,40 euros for the reduced.
It is also possible to take a 6 hour excursion to La Graciosa -> discover the tours available
Go surfing or kitesurfing at the Caleta de Famara
Another thing to see in Lanzarote is this cove topped by the highest mountain on the island (about 600 meters). To get to the Caleta de Famara from Mirador del Rio you have to travel about 30 minutes by road passing through the white city of Haria. I advise you to take the road that I show you on the map because after Haria the road begins to climb and you arrive at some respectable viewpoints.
La Caleta de Famara is one of the most beautiful beaches in Lanzarote. It is a continuous, incessant breath of wind. After all, there will be a reason why it is popular with kitesurfers. If you love this sport or surfing, the Caleta de Famara is the ideal place to have fun.
The itinerary on what to see in the north of Lanzarote ends with the Caleta de Famara. If you have time to dedicate to it, there are several museums that may be interesting: the Museo de la Pirateria in Teguise, the International Museum of Contemporary Art in Arrecife or, better still, the César Manrique Foundation in Tahiche.
What to see and what to do in Lanzarote: the SOUTH
If seeing "Lanzarote north" means retracing the works of César Manrique, see "Lanzarote south" it's like discovering incredible landscapes that nature has given to this island.
I believe that the south / south-west part is the best, but this is a personal judgment dictated by the fact that I prefer to be amazed by natural beauty rather than man-made beauty. Matter of taste.
Let's start the itinerary, always starting from the sparkling Puerto del Carmen.
Take the Lanzarote wine route
You will wonder which vines can exist and can survive on arid and difficult soil like that of Lanzarote ...
Well yes, it's all there an area of Lanzarote famous for its wine and its cellars. This is an area that you can see from the road that leads from Yaiza to the monument of the campesino.
The road runs through the classic lunar landscape of Lanzarote, right and left the vines. They are grown inside small hollows protected by lava stone barriers. Malvasia wine is produced in and around Masdache There is the El Grifo Wine Museum.
I have two tips for you:
- If you have time, do a tasting in one of the cellars of Lanzarote.
- Get lost (with due caution) inside one of the dirt roads that start from the main road and wind through the various vineyards.
L'Eremita de los Dolores and the hike in the Natural Park
A white church with a black profile with the background dominated by the volcanoes of the natural park. The Hermit de Los Dolores is the most visited church in Lanzarote. In front of the church there is a large parking lot, a meeting point if you have planned a trekking on the volcanoes together with an agency.
I told you more about it in this post:
Visit the Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote: among the volcanoes of the Canaries
Trekking, or rather the excursion among the craters of the park, is an experience to do absolutely in Lanzarote.
Visit the Timanfaya National Park
Timanfaya park is the National Park. It can visit only through the bus ride which starts from the visitor center and runs along a road between the most beautiful and important craters of Lanzarote.
In the national park you cannot take any walks, you cannot touch the territory with your hand. It is a beautiful experience, but also quite a tourist one.
I don't pause too much to talk about Timanfaya because I talked about it in the article that I linked to you a few lines ago, but know that it is part of the CACT of Lanzarote and the bus tour is included in the entrance ticket.
Hours and prices:
- Open every day from 9.00am to 17.45pm.
- 10 euros for adults (20% discount from 15 pm) - 5 euros for the reduced.
Discover excursions to the National park of Lanzarote on Getyourguide .
Discover El Golfo and its village on the ocean
From the national park take the road to Yaiza passing through the volcanoes. On the one hand La Geria (the wine area), on the other the Timanfaya; I let you imagine the beauty of these places.
Once in Yaiza, proceed to El Golfo, a very small town that shyly overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. A small town and a few restaurants directly on the sea. In its simplicity it is very beautiful!
An advice: discover it at sunset and have a fish dinner in one of the seaside restaurants.
El Golfo is famous not so much for its village, but more for il green lake located on the sea south of the town. As soon as you take the road that descends towards El Golfo, on the left you will find a large parking lot, from here starts the short path that leads to the recess on the sea.
Around 1730 it happened the last eruption in Lanzarote which lasted 6 years with more intense phases and others less intense. In the locality of El Golfo, the lava, meeting the sea, solidified into a particular formation that resembles an amphitheater. Due to some infiltrations, the sea water emerged creating the current green lake. The particular color of this famous lake of Lanzarote is given by the plant organisms that populate its waters.
On a beautiful sunny day you can appreciate the contrast between the green of the lake and the black of the beach.
You can see El Golfo both from above and from below. In this case it cannot be accessed from the town, but a few hundred meters further along the main road; the problem is parking. I show you the point on the map.
If there is a point of Lanzarote that can perhaps sum up its "soul", this certainly is The Hervideros and the coast overlooking the sea up to the Pechiguera lighthouse.
A cliff beaten by the waves of the sea. The roar of the water against the rocks is the soundtrack to the volcanic landscape behind it. Los Hervideros perhaps contains the essence and history of Lanzarote where nature has taken and continues to take its course and we, like it or not, are just its guests.
The salinas de Janubio
Many recommend seeing this part of Lanzarote and its salinas at sunset; actually they are not wrong. During the sunset, the classic colors of the Lanzarote area take on even more fascinating shades and the Salinas area is ideal for interpreting this Canary Island from a photographic point of view.
Around the salt flats there are several viewpoints. I recommend that you visit more than one because in each one the way in which the light modifies the landscape is different.
A stop at the Pechiguera Lighthouse
Lighthouses have always intrigued me, perhaps because of their desolation or perhaps because I see them alone in front of an ocean that could suddenly become their worst enemy.
However, the Pechiguera Lighthouse disappointed me. It seems neglected and left in disarray in an obvious way. The area in front of the lighthouse is rocky and the way the waves break on the coast of Lanzarote always leaves room for some nice shots.
The southern beaches of Lanzarote and Playa Blanca
Among the things to see in Lanzarote, how to forget the beaches. They are not really the main objective of a trip in the winter season, but as soon as spring begins, Lanzarote and its mild temperatures welcome tourists ready to discover its beaches.
The south coast, as I told you, is made up of many small coves that overlook the sister Fuerteventura. Among the best known coves, or better Playa we find: Playa Bianca e Papagayo Beach.
Playa Blanca represents almost the entire coastline from Las Coloradas to Faro Pechiguera, a series of beaches. In reality the name derives from a small beach in the center of the coast.
Visit Playa Papagayo
Playa Papagayo deserves a special mention, located in the extreme south of the island of Lanzarote. IS one of the most photographed spots on the island of Lanzarote; when you see it you will find out why. It is simply spectacular, even if you can only appreciate its colors on a sunny day.
The sand of Playa Papagayo is soft and white, its particular shape allows it to be more sheltered from the winds.
Getting to Playa Papagayo is simple, but you have to travel a few kilometers on the dirt road. Having become a protected area, the area of the various Papagayo beaches is subject to the payment of an entrance fee of 3 euros. You will proceed on dirt roads and you can take several detours to reach the various coves, including the main one of Punta Papagayo.
Some information on other CACTs and cumulative tickets
As I told you at the beginning of the article, I concentrated my visit to Lanzarote on the natural aspects. I have not seen all the CACTs of the island and I have not included in the itineraries:
- The Atlantic Museum, the first submarine museum in Europe.
- Casa Amarilla in Arrecife.
- The International Museum of Contemporary Art (MIAC).
There are discounts for cumulative tickets. In each CACT you will be able to read and purchase the single entrance or multiple entries.
* Sincere thanks to the Lanzarote Tourist Board for providing me with access to all CACTs.
Here is a video about Lanzarote. Credits: Simone Lucchini