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. This Lanzarote tourist information provides key information for visitors on getting there, holiday resorts and recommended things to do and see.
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.
César Manrique 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
Located on the south-east coast of Lanzarote, near Arrecife Airport, Puerto del Carmen is the island’s original holiday resort. It is well equipped with accommodation, bars and restaurants and is home to the beautiful beaches of Playa Grande and Playa Chica. This is the island’s liveliest resort with plenty nightlife so is better suited to a younger crowd rather than families. The resort has a number of live music events or you could head into Arrecife for some typical Spanish nightlife.
Located right on the island’s south coast, some 33km from the airport, Playa Blanca is Lanzarote’s most popular resort for family holidays. It has a fine range of accommodation to choose from, plenty restaurants and bars and is home to a number of family-friendly beaches including Playa Flamingo, Playa Dorada and Playa de Papagayo. The main hub of nightlife in Playa Blanca is in the Centro Comercial Papagayo and the Centro Comercial Punto Limones although the nightlife here is quite low key compared to that of Puerto Del Carmen.
Located 15km north-east of Lanzarote Airport, Costa Teguise is another popular destination for families visiting the island. The resort’s tourism infrastructure is well established and some of its nearby beaches include Playa Bastián and Playa del Jablillo which are safe for young children. The nightlife is very tame in Costa Teguise so revellers would be advised to take a short taxi ride to Puerto del Carmen for late night action.
Lying 7km inland from Puerto del Carmen, this is one of the oldest villages in Lanzarote. Its history can be traced back to the time of the native Guanches people before the Spanish took control of the land. Volcanic eruptions in the early eighteenth century forced farmers from nearby villages off their land and some resettled in Tias which promoted agricultural development in its environs. Nowadays the village is home to a number of foreign residents as well as attracting a growing number of holidaymakers. Some of these include golfers who choose to stay near the modern Lanzarote Golf Course which lies between Puerto del Carmen and the village of Tias.
Other Places to Stay: Less well-known resorts on the island include the small resorts of Caleta de Famara which is ideal for surfing and the sleepy village of Playa Quemada which has hardly been touched by tourism.
Where Are the 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:
Best Beaches For Families
Playa Grande: 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.
Playa de Los Picollos: 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.
Playa Flamingo: Situated in Playa Blanca, this is one of the best beaches on the island. This stunning coastline features golden sands and crystal clear waters, making it perfect for swimming and diving. The beach is well-protected and supervised, ensuring a safe swimming experience without strong currents so it’s ideal for children.
Playa Dorada: Located near Playa Flamingo, Playa Dorada is another golden, sandy beaches which is considered as one of the best beaches in Lanzarote. Protected from strong winds, the sea here is calm, crystal clear and the sand feels like powder. From the beach, you can enjoy a stunning view of Fuerteventura in the distance. Boat trips to the nearby Lobos Island and dolphin watching excursions are popular from Playa Dorada. The beach is another popular choice for families with children.
Playa del Papagayo: This famous beach is also located close to Playa Blanca within the Monumento Nacional de los Ajaches. It 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. 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. There are boat trips from Puerto Calero to the Papagayo Beaches for tourists staying up the coast in Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise.
Playa del Reducto: This is the urban beach of Arrecife, the island’s capital. It has calm waters and golden sand making it another good choice for families with children. Playa del Reducto is accessible by local bus from Puerto del Carmen but if you’re making your own way there by car there’s plenty parking available. 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.
Playa del Caletón Blanco: Located on the very north coast this beach is known for 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.
Playa de las Conchas: If you take a day trip to the island of La Graciosa you should visit this tropical paradise which lies on its north-west coast. This beautiful beach with its soft, white sand and patches of low vegetation tends to have relatively calm, clear waters. Off the coast you can see the uninhabited islands of Montaña Clara and Alegranza which are part of the Chinijo Archipelago.
Lanzarote Tourist Information: Top Attractions
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.
Some of the best things to do in Lanzarote include the following:
Timanfaya National Park: Located in the south-west of the island this national park is one of the island’s most visited attractions. It is home to spectacular volcanic landscapes which resulted from eruptions in the 1730s. Whilst you can drive to the park you aren’t permitted to enter in hire cars and must take the official bus tour around the park. Alternatively, you can book a tour of the Timanfaya National Park from your resort which includes other popular sights in the south of Lanzarote such as the green lagoon of El Golfo.
El Golfo: 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.
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.
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.
Unusual Things to Do in Lanzarote
Learn to Surf
Famara Beach: 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.
Playa de la Canteria: Situated near the village of Òrzola on the north coast, this is a mecca for experienced surfers seeking the perfect wave. Non-surfers can enjoy the golden sandy beach and natural landscapes but it is often very windy here and swimming can be dangerous.
La Playa del Risco: 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 You 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.
Attend the Annual Carnival Festival
Carnival is one of the biggest festivals in Lanzarote, typically taking place in February or March. The carnival celebrations span over a couple weeks and include colourful parades, dances, concerts, competitions and street parties. Participants dress up in elaborate costumes and masks. Each year has a different overarching theme. The festivities kick off with the Opening Parade in Arrecife, Lanzarote’s capital. Other key events include the Burial of the Sardine parade signifying the end of carnival and the Grand Parade in Puerto del Carmen featuring extravagant floats. Carnival is a lively time to experience the island’s vibrant culture and party spirit.
Explore the Island’s Remarkable Vineyards
Lanzarote is home to a vineyard landscape known as La Geria which is characterized by hundreds of circular, crescent and linear pits dug into the volcanic soil. Each contains a vine planted below ground level. This ingenious cultivation system developed in response to the island’s challenging climate and terrain.
The vineyards sit atop solidified lava flows that erupted between 1730-1736 from the Montañas del Fuego, destroying the once-fertile farmland. Over time, through tremendous effort, farmers transformed the barren lava fields into productive vineyards. The porous volcanic soil acts as a sponge, absorbing moisture from the sparse rainfall and ocean mists. The circular pits protect the vines from the strong winds and retain moisture for the dry periods.
With an average year-round temperature of 18-23°C and little rain, grape cultivation in Lanzarote exemplifies an impressive partnership between humans and nature. Farmers manually dig holes up to 3 metres deep and 6 metres wide, shielded by short stone walls. The demandingly physical work persists from the early days when only camels assisted the labourers.
The growing season mirrors the island’s climate. Buds appear in mid-March, signaling the start of spring. Farmers meticulously prune off excess shoots to optimize plant growth. Due to the weather, the harvest commences in late July, the earliest in Europe. It is a ceremonial process done completely by hand.
The vineyards occupy around 2,000 hectares divided into 7,500 plots, mainly along the LZ-30 road known locally as the “Golden Mile.” Since 1993, Lanzarote has held a Designation of Origin status overseen by a regulating council. This guarantees the quality and typicity of the island’s highly esteemed wines.
The yields are very low but the wines are prized for their full personalities. They focus primarily on whites like dry, sweet, semi-sweet, semi-dry and sparkling. The signature Canary grape varieties are Malvasia Volcanica and Listan Negro, praised for their balance, flavor and aroma. Other grapes used include Moscatel, Diego and Breval.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Weather Like in 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!