Lanzarote is one of the Spanish Canary Islands which lies just 125km from mainland Africa and more than 1000km from mainland Spain. Its closest neighbour is Fuerteventura which is only 11km away. Only around 140,000 people live permanently on the island with tourism being the island’s primary income source and agriculture the only other sector. Whilst the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote might not be the most attractive, its mild year round climate ensures the arrival of millions of sun-starved visitors every year.
Volcanic activity has created an almost moonlike landscape on the island with many notable geological features of which the Túnel de la Atlántida is the best known. This 7km long volcanic tunnel includes the striking features of La Cueva de los Verdes and Jameos del Agua. Visitors needn’t worry as the last recorded volcanic eruptions of note were in the 1730s so the island is now considered to be dormant.
When to Visit Lanzarote
The weather in Lanzarote is usually very mild with average annual temperatures around 21°C and the average annual rainfall only 14cm. Summer highs of over 32°C are common and winter temperatures can fluctuate between 15°C and 25°C. As Lanzarote is in the path of the North Atlantic trade winds there is often a pleasant breeze which is most welcome on those really hot summer days. Without these winds the island’s temperatures would be similar to those in the Sahara.
Lanzarote is the closest of the Canary Islands to the Sahara and sometimes experiences hot, sandy winds which appear like a descending fog which covers everything in its path with a layer of orange coloured dust. It’s great for the island’s car wash businesses!
Map of Lanzarote
Lanzarote airport lies just 5km south-west of Arrecife, the island’s capital and 10km north-east of Puerto del Carmen which is the island’s main resort. Thanks to the island’s all year round sunshine around 5½ million passengers go through the airport each year. Most of the tourists come from northern Europe arriving on the many budget airlines that serve the island. International flights arrive at Terminal One whilst the older Terminal Two deals with national and inter-island flights.
On arrival at Lanzarote Airport you’ll be spoilt for choice with regard to getting transport to your resort. If you’ve booked a package you might well have reserved the airport transfer as part of the holiday. Whilst this is the easiest option and ensures peace of mind when booking just check how many stops the tour company’s bus will make before arriving at your hotel. There’s nothing more annoying when you’ve just arrived in the sun after an early morning flight from Northern Europe to find that you have to sit on a coach for ages waiting for fellow passengers to be dropped off before you.
Lanzarote Airport Transfers
On such a small island the transfer time should be very short. Here’s a list of transfer distances from the airport to main resorts just to give you an idea how close you’ll be to your final destination:
- Puerto del Carmen – 10km
- Puerto Calero – 13km
- Playa Blanca – 33km
- Costa Teguise – 15km
So really you shouldn’t be travelling for more than 15 minutes on arrival if you’re going to Puerto del Carmen, Costa Teguise or Puerto Calero. Playa Blanca might take up to 40 minutes on a direct transfer.
Bus Transfers: If you plan to use public transport there is a bus station at the airport with services to Arrecife, Playa Honda, Puerto del Carmen and Playa Blanca. If you need to change bus in Arrecife and are travelling wit luggage and/or children then this becomes a very inconvenient way to travel and could involve a significant wait in the island’s capital.
Taxi Transfers: Whilst there are taxis outside the international arrivals terminal the queues can be quite excessive when a number of flights arrive within a short time. This is another major annoyance after your flight. Prices tend to be fairly steep considering the short distances (about €23 to Puerto de Carmen and €50 to Playa Blanca).
Private Transfers: For sure the best option is to pre-book a private transfer from Arrecife Airport and have a vehicle and driver waiting for you on arrival. This ensures peace of mind during your flight, provides good value and avoids the hassle of having to wait in a taxi queue in the soaring heat. You can book transfers to all destinations on the island.
Lanzarote Airport Car Hire
Considering the cost of taxis these days it’s not a bad idea to rent a car at Lanzarote airport on arrival. On our last visit to the island we found that a return taxi fare to Playa Blanca was about the same price as renting a car for the week. Of course there’s the additional cost of having to fill up with petrol on returning the car but considering the short distances in Lanzarote this cost is negligible. As well as providing transport to your accommodation, renting a car is a great idea for those visitors who want to see something of the island during their holiday.
Where to Stay in Lanzarote
Puerto del Carmen near the airport is the island’s top resort whilst Playa Blanca in the very south of the island and Costa Teguise just north of Arrecife are the other main resorts. An upmarket option is the stylish marina at Puerto Calero which is only 5km along the coast from Puerto del Carmen. Here you’ll find some of Lanzarote’s best accommodation along with a small selection of excellent restaurants.
Nightlife in Lanzarote
The island’s liveliest nightlife is in Puerto Del Carmen which is packed with bars and restaurants. One of the most popular places is the Centro Atlantico which hosts numerous live music venues. Some of the liveliest parts of Playa Blanca, Lanzarote’s 2nd main resort, are the Centro Comercial Papagayo and the Centro Comercial Punto Limones but these aren’t as lively as Puerto Del Carmen. Other resorts tend to be quieter still.
If you’d rather enjoy a more typically Spanish time in the evenings you should head into Arrecife. Recommended areas include Calle Jose Antonio or the Avenida de Fred Olsen close to the Playa del Reducto.
Best Beaches in Lanzarote
Whether you’re travelling with young children or you’re an adrenaline junkie waterspouts enthusiast, there are so many beaches in Lanzarote that you’ll be able to find just the right one for your needs. Some favourites include:
Family Beaches: Not surprisingly Playa Grande in Puerto Del Carmen is the busiest in Lanzarote. It is a long, sandy beach with excellent facilities which is overlooked by a long promenade which is home to many of the resort’s shops, bars and restaurants. Two of the other busiest beaches are Playa Blanca and Playa Dorada on the south coast which are also family favourites thanks to their calm waters where children can swim safely.
Just east of Puerto del Carmen is Playa de Los Picollos which is a popular windsurfing beach. A little further uptake coast is Playa de Matagorda is ideal for swimming and wind surfing but isn’t the quietest of places as it’s near the runway of Arrecife airport.
With calm waters and golden sand, Playa del Reducto next to Arrecife is a good choice for families with children. This beach is accessible by local bus but if you are making your own way there by car there are plenty of car parking spaces. A short walk from the eastern edge of the beach leads to El Charco de San Gines, a pretty lagoon surrounded by restaurants where local fishermen leave their small boats.
Right on the very north coast is Playa del Caletón Blanco with its fine, white sand and shallow waters. The formation of the volcanic rock provides lots of little sheltered bays which are great for swimming and sunbathing. The beach is accessible by local bus and parking is available for hire cars.
Watersports: With 6km of huge breakers, Famara Beach in the north of the island is superb for experienced wind-surfers. Adjacent to the beach are sand dunes with the sight of mountains in the background. The nearby village of Famara is home to a small selection of restaurants, bars and cafes.
Another beach in the vicinity of Famara is La Playa del Risco which is one of the most beautiful on the island but also one of the most inaccessible. To get there you need to park at Las Rositas near Ye then walk the historic Camino de los Gracioseros down to the beach. This is a challenging hike in both directions and one not to be taken lightly.
Off the Beaten Track: Located on the island’s southern tip within the Monumento Nacional de los Ajaches is the beautiful Playa del Papagayo which is made up of a series of small coves which have fine white sands and crystal clear waters. Although not easily accessible, these beaches are amongst the most popular in Lanzarote. Some of the beaches are designated as naturist beaches, most notably Caleta del Congrio. Bus #30 from Playa Blanca drops passengers off within a 20 minute walk of the beach, otherwise you can travel by car to Playa Mujeres or Playa del Pozo then walk between beaches.
Visitors who want to explore more of Lanzarote should rent a car at the airport and plan some half-day trips around the island. There are a few smaller resorts and a scattering of interesting little villages such as Tias and Yaiza around the island as well as the volcanic Timanfaya National Park.
A few places worth visiting include the following:
César Manrique Foundation
Cesar Manrique is an architect and artist from Arrecife who wanted to enrich the natural beauty of the island. His works of art can be seen all over the island including the caves in the north and the Mirador del Rio. When you travel around Lanzarote you’ll see many steel structures known as ‘Wind Toys’ which were created by Manrique. Many of his creations are on display in his former home in Taro De Tahiche which is built into the natural cave bubbles resulting from volcanic eruptions.
El Golfo is a volcanic crater. Today it is reduced to half of its original size and filled from underneath with water from the sea, a splendid lagoon of emerald green. The greenness of the water comes from the algae living there and makes a fantastic contrast against the black sands of the beach. Make sure you stop off on your way to El Golfo to take a look at Janubio and its salt flats.
Los Jameos Del Agua
Created almost 3000 years ago, the bubbles of lava from volcanic eruptions left these stunning caves beneath Monte de la Corona. César Manrique developed these caves and now parts of them are used to house all manner of concerts and ballet performances with a seating area for over 600 people.
The Mirador del Rio
The Mirador del Rio is located in the north of Lanzarote and is 500 metres above sea level. This area throughout history has served as a look out post for the island, ever on guard for invading pirates. On a really clear day you can spot two smaller Canary Islands, Montana Clara and Alagranza. The not so small island of Graciosa is always visible as it is only one kilometre away. In this area there are more than twenty varieties of plant which are only found on the island of Lanzarote.
La Cueva de Los Verdes
Theses caves are part of the extensive underground tunnels, one of which is over 7 km in length, and throughout history and invasions of pirates they provided the perfect shelter and look out points for the natives of the island, known as Guanches.
The Guinate Tropical Park
The Guinate Tropical Park is shadowed by the Monte Corona in the north-west of the island. The park consists of beautiful gardens, waterfalls, lagoons, exotic birds and other animals which make for a great day out for all the family.