Lanzarote holidays

Experience Lanzarote

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

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 14km 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 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 natural wonders such as El Golfo's green lagoon or the cliffs at Los Hervideros.

Dominated by its luxury yacht marina, Puerto Rubicon 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 and 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 day trip for walkers.

The Timanfaya National Park remains a firm favourite, offering visitors the chance to explore a unique landscape, which has been likened to the surface of Mars. Camel-rides across the Park are a popular attraction and there are some superb views to be had from the El Diablo restaurant. Here, chefs use natural, geothermal heat from a dormant volcano to serve authentic Canarian food.

To get a glimpse of what Lanzarote was like before the tourism boom, a trip to Playa Quemada is highly recommended. A small fishing village, it is located at the foot of the Monumento Natural de Los Ajaches and continues to uphold many local traditions. There are three restaurants in the village.

Top Landmarks

Arrecife has two castles: the larger Castillo de San Jose 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 Cesar 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 after 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.

An exceptional volcanic attraction is the cave system in the north of Lanzarote. This includes underground lakes, lava tubes and the grottos at Jameos del Agua. The equally famous Cueva de Los Verdes (Green's Cave) is to be found in the Haria region, offering an underground concert hall.

In Lanzarote's far north lies the domed scenic lookout of Mirador del Rio, designed by late local artist and architect Cesar 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 Guatiza 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 cafe.

Entertainment

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, the whole island regularly comes to life during the many local 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 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 cafes are on hand.

A quieter scene exists at the resorts of Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise, however, there is still plenty to do. Evenings along the beaches are usually bustling and vibrant, especially during the peak seasons.

The small casino at Puerto del Carmen has gambling, and restaurants and bars in the area often feature live music, with Ned Kelly's Irish bar a popular haunt. Unique music venues like the Jameos del Agua and Cueva de los Verdes auditoriums, both set in volcanic caves, offer a memorable night out.

Dining Out

The cuisine of Lanzarote is an appealing combination of North African, Latin American and Spanish influences. Seafood, stews and spicy sauces feature heavily, as well as local meats such as goat and rabbit. However, 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 chilli, is another traditional 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. A traditional dessert is bienmesabe, a type of almond and honey flan. Lanzarote also produces high-quality wines.

Beach

Lanzarote's beautiful coastline and temperate climate are the reasons why it has made its name as a popular beach destination . Playa Blanca has three main sandy beaches with good amenities: the small Playa Blanca (the area's namesake), Playa Dorada in the east and the Playa Flamingo in the south west. 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.

Romance

Wandering around the sandy paths of picturesque La 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 where holidaymakers can enjoy the dreamy lake, pools and gardens of the magical caves .

Family

Playa Blanca makes a good base for family holidays, with its white sandy beaches and 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. The latter is a Wild West themed family attraction where families can enjoy pony rides, white tigers, a farm animal petting zoo, birds of prey, sea lion shows, canoeing and the opportunity to pan for gold.

Adventure

Lanzarote is also a magnet for active holidaymakers. Due to the volcanic terrain and frequent wind, cyclists will find some of the most challenging rides in the world here, with spectacular views from the top of climbs such as Mirador del Rio. 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.

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Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

With three-quarters of the population of Lanzarote being Spanish, Castilian is the official and most commonly spoken language here. The accent and dialect have been described as being similar to South American Spanish and includes some words and phrases that are not found on the Spanish mainland. Irish and Brits make up just over six percent of the population and many bar, restaurant, hotel and shop owners in Lanzarote (particularly in tourist areas) can speak several languages. However, it is well worth visitors learning a few simple phrases, as hoteliers, restaurateurs and shopkeepers tend to look kindly upon those who make even the most basic of attempts.

Currency

As part of Spain, Lanzarote's currency is the euro. Money can be changed at most banks, which are normally open on 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. But keep in mind that visitors may need to show photo ID when using credit cards. For those who are uncomfortable carrying large sums of money alongside their passports, many of the major hotels in Lanzarote are happy to change money, although the rate of exchange might be slightly lower. Notes are available in a range of denominations, from five to five hundred euros, while coins are available between one and 50 cents.

Visas

Lanzarote is one of 26 countries that are signatories to the Schengen Agreement. This states that residents from countries that have signed the agreement are free to travel through Schengen Area borders, without a visa. As a result, tourists travelling from countries in the European Union do not need a visa for entry to Lanzarote. These rules apply to certain other countries that have not signed the agreement, which includes the UK. Most other travellers with a return ticket may stay up to 90 days in Spain, including Lanzarote, without a visa. Travellers should ensure that their passports are valid for at least six months past the planned date of arrival.

Climate

Lanzarote is a holiday hotspot for those wanting to escape the grey skies and chill of home. The island has few clouds and glorious temperatures that hit on average 25°C during the summer months. Winters are still a balmy 19°C, though, while humidity levels stay reasonably stable throughout the year. The south of Lanzarote is far drier and calmer than the north, enjoying as much as 2,500 hours of sunshine throughout the year.

Main Airports

Most visitors fly from Spain or one of Europe's major cities to Lanzarote International Airport (ACE) at San Bartolome, about 6.5kms from the capital, Arrecife. Lanzarote is considered to be 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.

Flight Options

There are regular flights from London to Lanzarote. Many European airlines have flights from Madrid to Lanzarote for passengers travelling from Spain, while German airlines offer flights to Lanzarote from Berlin, Germany. Flights departing from London Gatwick or London Luton airports take about 4 hours to reach Lanzarote.

Travel Advice

Budget carriers regularly offer cheap flights to the island, 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.

Other Transport Options

Access via air is 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 Cadiz harbour in the south of Spain. The journey takes between 30 and 35 hours.

Getting Around

At 37 miles long by 12 miles wide, Lanzarote is a small island and easy to get around by bus, taxi or hire car. Motorbike, scooter and bicycle hire are affordable and cycling remains popular on the island, and there are a number of dedicated cycle paths.

Bus

Buses are a cheap and popular means of getting around. 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. A reduced service operates on Sunday.

Air

There are no internal flights on the island, with Lanzarote International Airport only used for arrival from the 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.

Car

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.

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FACTS

  1. Lanzarote is named after Lancelotto Malocello, a sailor who visited the island in the 14th Century.
  2. Lanzarote has been used as the backdrop for many feature films and TV Shows, including When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Moby Dick and Dr. Who.
  3. As the oldest of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is thought to be over 180 million years old.
  4. The island's earliest inhabitants originally came from Africa. Known as the Moja, they arrived in 5BC.
  5. The prevailing religion in Lanzarote is Roman Catholicism.
  6. Lanzarote experienced volcanic eruption for the six years between 1730 and 1736. The last took place in 1824.

FACTS

  1. Lanzarote is named after Lancelotto Malocello, a sailor who visited the island in the 14th Century.
  2. Lanzarote has been used as the backdrop for many feature films and TV Shows, including When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Moby Dick and Dr. Who.
  3. As the oldest of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is thought to be over 180 million years old.
  4. The island's earliest inhabitants originally came from Africa. Known as the Moja, they arrived in 5BC.
  5. The prevailing religion in Lanzarote is Roman Catholicism.
  6. Lanzarote experienced volcanic eruption for the six years between 1730 and 1736. The last took place in 1824.

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