Lanzarote holidaysThe sample prices are per person based on two people travelling!
With three-quarters of the population of Lanzarote being Spanish, Castilian, a form of Spanish, is the official and most commonly spoken language here. The accent and dialect has been described as being similar to South American Spanish. Irish and Britons make up just over six per cent of the population and many bar, restaurant, hotel and shop owners in Lanzarote (particularly in tourist areas) often speak several languages, particularly English and German.
As part of Spain, Lanzarote uses the euro. Money can be changed at most banks and large hotels. Banks are generally open weekdays, from 08:30 to 14:00, and ATMs are widely available, particularly in the large resort areas. A mix of cash, ATM withdrawals and credit cards is a good strategy for managing holiday funds. Visitors may need to show photo ID when using credit cards.
Tourists travelling from countries in the European Union do not need a visa for entry to Lanzarote. Most other travellers with a return ticket may stay up to 90 days in Spain, including in Lanzarote, without a visa. Travellers should ensure that their passports are valid for at least six months past the planned date of arrival.
Lanzarote, located in the Atlantic Ocean, just east of the Canary Islands, enjoys a mild climate, with temperatures averaging from 20 to 29°C. Winds from nearby Africa keep the island relatively dry, with average rainfall being just 86mm, falling mainly in winter. Lanzarote originally captured hearts as a winter sun destination, but similar year-round conditions mean July and August visitors benefit from long days, while February and March tourists can enjoy the spring blooms. Tourist low seasons are May and June and September and October, when visitors can enjoy the subtropical climate without the crowds.
Most visitors fly from Spain or one of Europe’s or Britain’s major cities to Lanzarote International Airport (ACE) at San Bartolomé, about 5.5kms from the capital, Arrecife. Lanzarote is quite remote, so travellers coming from anywhere apart from the Canary Islands or Europe will probably need to fly to Spain, Britain or Germany first.
easyJet, Monarch, Ryanair and Thomas Cook all fly regularly from London to Lanzarote. Spainair, Iberia and Air Europa have flights from Madrid to Lanzarote for passengers travelling from Spain, while Air Berlin, Lufthansa and Condor offer flights to Lanzarote from Berlin, Germany. Flights departing from London Gatwick or London Luton airports take about 3 hours, 30 minutes to reach Lanzarote.
Budget carriers regularly offer cheap flights, particularly for those willing to fly at unsociable hours. Lanzarote has two peak seasons: July to August and December to January when many families use school holidays to take beach vacations or escape the winter cold. The best savings are available during the low season months of April, June, September or October. Visitors can use taxis, buses, transfer shuttles or rental cars to get from Lanzarote’s airport to their accommodation.
Access via air is generally the most common and most efficient means of getting to and from Lanzarote. However, travellers wishing to arrive by boat could try the weekly ferry departing (usually on Tuesday) from Cádiz harbour in the south of Spain. The journey takes between 30 and 35 hours.
At just 24kms by 65kms, Lanzarote is a small island with quite good roads, so it is easy to get around by bus, taxi or hire car. However, the island tends to get windy, particularly when the trade winds blow in July, so motorbike, scooter and bicycle hire, while available and affordable, can sometimes be unattractive transport options. Despite this, cycling remains popular on the island, and there are a number of dedicated cycle paths.
There are no flights between Lanzarote destinations, with Lanzarote International Airport used for arrival from mainland and European destinations as well as for hopping between the Canary Islands. Travellers need to use bus, taxi or rental car services to access the rest of Lanzarote from the airport.
Buses are a cheap and popular means of getting around Lanzarote. Small buses connect the airport with the main bus station in the capital, Arrecife. From here, Arrecife bus services go to most points on the island and are cheap, with the longest trip from Arrecife to Playa Blanca. A reduced service operates on Sunday.
For drivers over 21, car hire is an affordable and practical option. Most major car hire chains have a presence in Lanzarote so travellers can easily arrange car hire online or from the airport or hotels. Petrol is cheaper here than in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. The main roads tend to be well maintained and well signed, with minimal traffic and plenty of parking, even in the large towns.
Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote, is an enticing town where holidaymakers can spend the day exploring historic sites or enjoying the beautiful beaches. After dark, visitors can relax over tapas then party the night away in one of the city’s many clubs or bars.
About 13kms from Arrecife is Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote’s original tourist town, built around an old harbour and renowned for its pubs, restaurants, nightlife and annual Carnival. With over five kilometres of golden sandy beaches, Puerto del Carmen is the ideal host for the yearly Iron Man sporting competition.
Next is Playa Blanca, literally ’white beach’, one of Lanzarote’s newer tourist resorts. Originally a small fishing village, Playa Blanca is particularly popular with British tourists looking to relax or visit nearby natural wonders such as El Golfo’s green lagoon or the cliffs at Los Hervideros.
Dominated by its luxury yacht marina, Puerto Rubicón is located in the resort district of Playa Blanca. Home to five-star hotels, restaurants and upmarket shopping, this is where the rich come to play. Alternatively, visitors can sample traditional Canary Islands favourites or pick up local handicrafts at the Wednesday or Saturday markets.
Costa Teguise is a purpose-built resort attracting visitors keen on recreation, particularly water sports or golf. Tourists can enjoy the seafront promenade or fine dining in the Playa Bastian area, home to a calm water beach which is popular with families. Costa Teguise also hosts music festivals and a windsurfing competition.
The north of Lanzarote is known for its many islets, particularly Isla Graciosa, which can be reached by boat from Orzola harbour, Lanzarote’s northernmost town, famed for its seafood. Dotted with attractive cottages and without paved roads, Isla Graciosa makes a great daytrip for walkers.
Arrecife has two castles: the larger Castillo de San José overlooking the harbour and the older and smaller Castillo de San Gabriel, on an island at the harbour entrance. The former is home to the International Museum of Contemporary Art, boasting works by artists such as Miro, Picasso and Lanzarote-born sculptor and architect César Manrique. The museum can be reached by causeway and houses both an archaeological and ethnographic museum.
Dominating the square of Arrecife old town is the attractive two-tone parish church of San Gines, named for the city’s patron saint. The photogenic building is the focal point for religious festivities, and daily fruit and fish markets can be found in nearby streets.
Easily accessed from Puerto del Carmen, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Timanfaya National Park is a must for visitors. The multicoloured volcanic landscape, which can be explored by bus, camel or on foot, is an otherworldly experience and a photographer’s dream. Another volcanic attraction is the cave system in the north, which includes underground lakes, lava tubes and grottos at Jameos del Agua and the famous Cueva de Los Verdes (Green’s Cave).
In Lanzarote’s far north lies the domed scenic lookout of Mirador del Rio, designed by late local artist and architect César Manrique on a site used historically to watch for unwanted boat landings. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of Isla Graciosa and the straits of El Rio from here.
Another project of the visionary Manrique, the Jardin de Cactus (Cactus Garden) near Gautiza displays over 1,000 varieties of cactus against a volcanic landscape complemented by sculptures, fishponds and a restored windmill, views of which can be enjoyed from the garden café.
Lanzarote offers the expected range of resort style entertainment, from upmarket bars and fashionable nightclubs, to traditional bars frequented by locals. In addition to the usual nights out enjoyed by holidaymakers, the whole island regularly comes to life during the many local and regional religious celebrations, which often feature colourful costumes, parades, music, food and fireworks.
The Spanish love to dance and the capital city, Arrecife, has some of the liveliest entertainment on Lanzarote. Calle José Antonio is the main nightclub street with most of the hippest venues. Like in most of mainland Europe, people in Lanzarote tend to dine late, so dancing and partying also tends to start late, from 23:00 onwards. Le Calle Disco (Puerto del Carmen) pub has live music and Discotecas Tropicana (Arrecife) is popular with dancing locals.
Puerto del Carmen is probably Lanzarote’s busiest nightspot, catering largely to the preferences of visitors. This means a large selection of nightclubs playing everything from old rock to techno as well as sports pubs and trendy bars, restaurants and cafés are on hand.
A quieter scene exists at the resorts of Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise but there are still loads of options, and evenings along the beaches are usually bustling and vibrant, especially during the peak seasons.
The small casino at Puerto del Carmen has gambling, restaurants and bars like Ned Kelly’s Irish bar, which often feature live music. Unique music venues like the Jameos del Agua and Cueva de los Verdes auditoriums, both set in volcanic caves, offer a memorable night out.
The cuisine of Lanzarote is an inviting combination of North African, Latin American and Spanish influences which reflect the island’s location and heritage. Seafood, stews and spicy sauces feature heavily, as well as local meats such as goat and rabbit. For those who prefer something apart from traditional Canarian fare, the many restaurants cover most options, from European to Mexican, Thai and Chinese.
A typical meal on Lanzarote begins with the famous papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes) which are small, skin-on potatoes cooked whole in sea water. This dish is typically served with mojo, a garlic, vinegar and olive oil based sauce that comes in the milder green parsley and coriander version (mojo verde) or the hotter chilli and pepper red form (mojo rojo). Gambas al ajillo - prawns served sizzling in garlic, olive oil, herbs and chili, is another popular starter.
Traditional main dishes include vieja al la plancha, which is a grilled local fish, and puchero, a meat, potato and vegetable stew thickened with chickpeas or lentils. Vegetarians may encounter some difficulty as even safe sounding options like vegetable soup could contain bacon. However, Lanzarote produces high quality goats’ cheese which is well worth a try. Spanish tortillas and paellas are also common fare.
Gofio is a flour made from ground maize that often features as a dough like accompaniment to main meals or is sweetened as a dessert. Another traditional dessert is bienmesabe, a type of almond and honey flan. Lanzarote also produces its own high quality wines and many menus prefer to focus on local and mainland Spanish wines than their better known French counterparts.
Lanzarote made its name as a beach destination with boundless beautiful spots at which to enjoy the sun. Playa Blanca has three sandy beaches with good amenities: the small Playa Blanca (the area’s namesake), the eastern Playa Dorada and the western Playa Flaminga. Those staying at Costa Teguise may like Playa del Jablillo, a sheltered beach with good snorkelling. Playa Chica at Puerto del Carmen is known for water sports such as diving, jet-skiing and snorkelling.
A boat trip to spend a day wandering around the sandy paths of picturesque Ilsa Graciosa makes an ideal escape for couples. Lagomar restaurant in Omar Sharif’s old house, designed by César Manrique, is popular for romantic drinks or dinners. Located on top of a cliff at Oasis de Nazaret, central Lanzarote, is a quiet nook to enjoy the dreamy cave scape of this part of the island with its lake, pools and gardens.
Playa Blanca makes a good base for family holidays, with its white sandy beaches and plentiful family-friendly resorts. Most attractions are an easy daytrip away, whether the family prefers national parks like Timanfaya Volcano Park or theme parks such as Rancho Texas. This Wild West themed family attraction on the main road between the airport and Puerto del Carmen is where families can enjoy pony rides, exotic animals like white tigers, a farm animal petting zoo, birds of prey and sea lion shows, canoeing and the opportunity to pan for gold.
Lanzarote is also a magnet for active holidaymakers. Cycling is popular as the volcanic terrain and frequent wind offer some of the most challenging rides in the world, with the spectacular views from the top of climbs such as Mirador del Rio more than compensating for the effort. Water sports are a major draw - visitors can join a surf school, ride the winds through kite-surfing or windsurfing, or venture beneath the waves for a diving adventure.