Arrecife became the capital of the island in 1852 and is now home to 54,000 people, nearly half of the... total of 135,000 people living on Lanzarote – including both locals and immigrants. And Arrecife is definitely the most hectic, bustling place on the island. In recent years, the government has been reengineering the town to make it more attractive to tourists. The beach promenade has been lovingly landscaped, and the charming pedestrian zone is perfect for a stroll and a spot of shopping.
After a hectic morning shopping in the streets of the island's only city, you can head for the city park for a bit of peace and quiet. Here, you can either stroll through the floral gardens or simply relax on a bench under the eucalyptus trees. The 400-year-old fortress Castillo de San Gabriel, which was restored in 2005, is a short walk over the Puente de las Bolas (ball bridge) and which houses the island’s archaeological museum today.more
City: La Graciosa in/near Lanzarote Category: Sightseeing
The island of La Graciosa, meaning 'the graceful one', is just a 20-minute ferry ride from Orzola and... certainly lives up to its name. The island (500 inh.) is virtually untouched by tourism and remains unspoilt in terms of nature. So it is perfect for those who are happy with simple accommodation rather than a hotel with all the amenities. You can find your way around the island on foot or by bike. King Juan Carlos declared La Graciosa a nature reserve in 1986. Any plans to expand tourism on the island have, fortunately, been quashed. There are a few restaurants right next to the harbour in the main town, Caleta del Sebo.
If you decide to spend a few days in one of the two bed and breakfasts on the island, you must not be afraid of your own company. The little island is a perfect destination for individual tourists seeking peace and quiet, or for day-trippers who like wonderful deserted beaches. The Playa del Salado is the most charming beach on the island which scores much more highly than even the most idyllic beach on Lanzarote. Incidentally: it takes about eight hours to go around the island on foot.more
Until 1852, Teguise was the official capital of the island, then Arrecife, which is just 6 mi (10 km)... away, was named capital of Lanzarote. Teguise is the oldest town on Lanzarote and looks back on several centuries of history. The city was founded in 1418 in what were thought to be the safe foothills of the Riscos de Famara mountain range. But it was not spared from numerous pirate attacks, the Callejón de la Sangre, or 'blood alley", is a reminder of those days of attacks and plundering.
But this is not the only direct encounter with the past visitors to the island will have, monasteries, palaces and wonderful squares are just crying out to be visited. If you are not particularly interested in the historic buildings, the Sunday market makes a bit of a change. If you want to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this place, you should go to Teguise on a weekday.more
The two little beaches at the Playa Blanca holiday resort are very sheltered, making them perfect for... families and also, increasingly, water sports fans. The consistent light breeze makes it perfect for windsurfing, but you do need to be careful with the unpredictable Atlantic currents. But sports like beach volleyball, pedalo riding and jet skiing could be on the agenda. The bars and shops along the promenade also sell all sorts of cold drinks, ice cream and snacks, so you need not go without while you're on the beach.
The beautifully designed promenade along the sea front is the perfect place for a stroll, especially at lunch time or late in the evening. But you can also get away from it all here. Just a short walk from the resort, beyond the harbour, are the famous, deserted parrot beaches.more
The Jameos del Agua volcanic crater is one of the main attractions on the island and an absolute must... for anyone holidaying in Lanzarote. This system of caves can be found in the north of the island at the foot of the Monte Corona volcano. The Jameos del Agua is part of a 7 km long underground tunnel system, the largest volcanic cave on Lanzarote. It came about after an eruption of the Monte Corona volcano, when the lava shooting out of the volcano met the cold sea water. "Jameos" was the name give to the two large openings which formed after the eruption.
This unique natural phenomenon was largely ignored until the 1960s, and was sometimes even misused as a rubbish tip. However, in 1969, the system of caves was creatively and fascinatingly redesigned by architect César Manrique. Since then, a restaurant, a bar and even a nightclub have been built in the underground caves. Folk groups perform on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings before the restaurant opens (7 pm-11.30 pm, reservations on 928848024). The underground 600-seater auditorium also offers very good acoustics.more
With its 66 mi² (170 km²), the Timanfaya is the largest lava field in the word. It originated out of... volcanic eruptions in the years between 1730 and 1736. To satisfy touristic expectations, the lava fields are called fire mountains. A total of 30 volcano crates characterize this unique landscape, which arguably belongs to one of the most exciting and fascinating sites all over the Canary islands and Lanzarote. Since 1974, a protected area comprising 20 mi² (50 km²) belongs to the national park and resembles a lunar landscape.
The drive with the park bus along the ordinary route exposes the visitor to bleak slopes, enormous crater holes and multi-colored lava formations. Depending on the time of day, one can witness the most spectacular interplay of different colors, which one would not necessarily expect to see in a dark lava landscape such as this: grey-brown to black, yellow, reddish or even glowing.more
City: El Golfo in/near Lanzarote Category: Sightseeing
Because of the intense green colour of the water, the inhabitants of the nearby fishing village El Golfo... sometimes call the lagoon Lago Verde (green lake). Since the place has proven to be such a popular destination for visitors, it is, albeit only visually, protected by a white string cord. It is recommended to stay on the headland between El Golfo and the lagoon in order to take in the sight from above. Alternatively, when coming from the north, it is worth having a look at the black lava beach, which separates the lagoon from the sea.
The lagoon developed on the edge of a landslide of lava dome and, with its tuff, offers a wide variety of colorations, from brown, black, green, orange to yellow and ocher. El Golfo is an ideal spot to enjoy a glass of wine or even a meal consisting of freshly caught fish, preferably while taking in the sunset. The restaurants are located to the right and left of the village's only and relatively narrow main street parallel to the coastline.more
An obligatory visit to the former house of Lanzarote's most famous son is not confined to lovers of art.... After all, it was César Manrique himself whose architectural and landscape-based ideas had the strongest impact on the image of his island and several other Canary islands.
Five interconnected volcano bubbles constituted the base of his house, and at first, it is difficult to grasp the immense spaciousness of the area. Manrique's credo of merging the human with nature is nicely illustrated here, and many of the cozy corners in his house are enough to make visitors withdraw there and rewind. However, besides taking in the scene visually, visitors are only left with the alternative of exploring museum objects under the strict surveillance of the museum's staff. Manrique's large private collection of paintings in his former studio is one of the many things to explore further.more
The immense natural spectacle, which is approximately 2.5 m (4 km) north of El Golfo, displays the enormous... power of the ocean in its constant interplay with regular winds: both have collectively managed to perforate the black and bulky lava. The water powerfully splashes onto the lava, then begins to foam, creating a sensation similar to that of standing under the shower before finally being pulled out of the nested lava caves. One almost feels like standing close to an overboiling steam boiler.
At the apex of the deep fjord a narrow and secured lava bridge allows you to be even closer to this spectacle - although you will invariably become wet through the splashing water. Heading south and staying on the coastal road will lead to another and even bigger stretch of black lava rock formations, followed by an array of smaller black-sand bays.more
In 1974, César Manrique constructed this wonderful viewing platform, which offers an unobstructed view... of the offshore island La Graciosa, in the northern part of the island. The enormous panorama window does not fail to disappoint. La Graciosa lies in front of the viewer, outstretched in all its beauty. The steep faces of the 2,200-ft (670 m) high Risco de Famara, which rises slightly above the small Salinas del Río and its pink-colored, shimmering salty water, is directly underneath the Mirador.
Although one can only drink a cup of coffee or a drink at the bar itself, and the few tables in the whitewashed room look rather forlorn, the area around the fireplace is very cozy. A small shop is located on the floor above and sells books as well as memorabilia from Lanzarote. This is also the way to the roof of the Mirador and the highest viewing point.more
Because of the increasing popularity of the perhaps most beautiul natural beaches on the island, they... have finally been declared a conservation area. The access to the beaches has since been heavily regulated, especially at the expense of tourists arriving with motor vehicles. Moreover, big rocks are placed close to the beach in order to prevent cars from parking close to the protected area. This enables the previously constrained natural habitat to regenerate and also offers more to enviornmentally friendly travelers.
Several bays with stretches of fine sand and surrounded by rocks are characteristic of the Papagayos: Playa de Mujeres (1,300 feet or 400 m long, with a snack bar), the small and rather deserted Playa de Caletón, the usually busy Playa del Pozo, which includes a small archaelogical area, the Playa de la Cera as well as the Playa de Papagayo with a nice restaurant overlooking the beach are all around 1,000 ft (300 m) long. Finally, the 300 ft (100 m) long Playa de Ouerto Muelas includes a camping site. There is also the Playa de Congrio (with a nudist area), which, while being a flat sloping beach, is exposed to strong surf.more
City: Puerto Calero in/near Lanzarote Category: Sightseeing
The museum possesses one of the most important collections in Europe on wales and dolphins and displays... the results of 20 years of research projects and examinations. Experts provide guided tours and familiarize visitors with the animals and oceanic waters by showing them images, life-sized illustrations, models, skeletons or introducing them to certain sounds. The museum also includes an outdoor area and four exhibition halls, one of which is explicitly devoted to the preservation of sea mammals around the Canary Islands.more
City: Puerto del Carmen in/near Lanzarote Category: Sightseeing
Puerto del Carmen is the number one tourist destination on the island. More than half of all the tourists... who come to Lanzarote stay here, as it has everything a holidaymaker could wish for. During the day, there are the mile-long beaches of Playa Grande and Playa de los Pocillos with their fine golden sandy beaches and brightly coloured parasols offering welcome shade. At night, the streets around the pretty beach promenade Avenida de las Playas are buzzing with people. The streets are lined with shops, bars, discos and restaurants.
If you're suffering from homesickness, you are likely to find a wide selection of food from your home country, as the chefs have adapted to meet the requirements of their international guests. But there are also plenty of bars offering local delicacies. The restaurants in the heart of the old village come particularly highly recommended, especially if you can eat outside and soak up the lively atmosphere.more
The Cueva de los Verdes is right at the top of the Lanzarote tourist popularity charts. The system of... caves provides an impressive picture of the prehistoric past, even to non-geologists. In the 15th to 17th centuries, the islanders used the caves to shelter from pirate attacks. Numerous finds from this period, which will not be exhibited until further notice, provide a lively testimony to the history of the caves.
Unlike the Jameos del Agua, which has been given a more architectural feel, the Cueva de los Verdes has been prepared for tourists in harmony with nature. The various chambers of the caves are indirectly lit by colourful light installations by Jesús Soto, a friend of César Manriques. This subtle yet impressive display goes perfectly with the sounds of the Gregorian chants which accompany visitors through the caves. An auditorium has been constructed in a large chamber which distinguishes itself with the unique acoustics. Between October and April, concerts are staged at irregular intervals. The programme and tickets are available from tourist information offices at Playa Blanca, Puerta del Carmen and Costa Teguise.more
City: Punta de Mujeres in/near Lanzarote Category: Sightseeing
On the way from the Jameos del Agua towards Cueva de los Verdes, a small path will appear, after approximately... 200 ft (60 m), on the left side of the road. It is recommended to leave the car at the Jameos. The small path leads into the stoney landscpape and is surrounded by Verode and Tabai shrubs, which are among the many typical plants of this island. The Quesera is on a scarcely visible small mound. Those who do not find it immediately should not worry about getting lost though, since the road is not far away. Relatively large basaltic rocks are aligned in such a way that they display creases. The exact purpose of this, similar to other ritualistic practices and sites on the island, remain unclear. However, its name derives from its similarity with whey processing when making cheese (Spanish: queso). Perhaps animals or milk were sacrificed here, with the plea for rain.more
City: Los Valles in/near Lanzarote Category: Sightseeing
The most beautiful view of the wide, agriculturally rich valley of Los Valles can be enjoyed from the... same-named mirador. The lookout point used to be an old farming estate, which was then renovated and transformed into a popular destination for visitors. The place also frequently attracts locals from the nearby village Los Valles, who come here for a drink or a game of cards (they tend to use the first room to the right in the complex of the many small cottages). The restaurant treats its visitors to a wide array of local dishes, but alternatively, one can also drive all the way to the parking area in order to take in the spectacular view. Underneath the Mirador, a historical estate is currently being transformed into a homestead museum.more
The exposed Quesera de Zonzamas, also known as Quesera de los Majos, is based on a plateau approximately... 1.2 mi (2 km) west of Tahíche in the direction of San Bartolomé. It has kept up well and is still in very good condition. In one segment, deep creases were carved out of the stony ground. Although the exact purpose of this practice is unclear, it can be assumed that it served ritualistic purposes. After all, the Quesera is located within a settlement which was surrounded and demarcated by a wall.
The 15th-century ruin Castillo de Zonzamas is only 0.6 mi (1 km) further towards San Bartolomé. Steles and idols, which have yet to be fully explored and examined in detail, have been found here and future plans to open up a museum called Museo de Zonzamas are currently under way.more
City: Salinas de Janubio in/near Lanzarote Category: Sightseeing
The only functioning salines on the island were constructed in 1920, at a time when salt was one of the... most important sources of conservation. However, as a consequence of refrigerators and freezers becoming a household item in the 1950s and 1960s, the huge amounts of salt which had previously been produced (up to 100,000 t annually at the Salinas de Janubio alone) were no longer in demand. Since the 1960s, more and more salines were shut down - quite tragic, given their deeply ingrained cultural importance for the region.
Because of this, it was decided to reopen the salines, and today, they cater primarily to the local population and produce approximately 2,000 t of the mineral-rich and aromatic salt a year. When you visit, feel free to take a bag of salt with you. The Janubio salines, which are officially protected as a historic monument, are a great site for beautiful sunsets, which can be observed from the restaurant overlooking the landscape (El Mirador).more
Glistening in white, a small church stands at the center of this little farming village known for its... great panorama. The church, rebuilt in 1733, is adorned by two entrance portals made out of red volcanic rock. The church has a long and narrow nave, with several votive boats depicting rescued fishermen.
The central altar displays a sculpture of the first bishop and patron saint of Lanzarote, San Marcial, who is commemorated in an annual event around July 7th, when the plaza in front of the church transforms into a festive setting full of music, dance and processions. Whoever wishes to follow up this experience with a visit to one of Femés' many good restaurants, should make sure to book a table well in advance. Femés is also known for its tasty goat cheese, which is produced in the region and sold in a small village shop close to the church.more
The interior of the historical Castillo San José, which was originally constructed in 1779, was rebuilt... and enlarged by César Manrique in the years between 1974 and 1976. In a style typical of this artist, Manrique designed the rooms for the museum as well as a restaurant. He was especially interested in catering to the touristic gaze, which would appreciate the mutual interplay of architecture and nature. Particularly beautiful is the spiral staircase leading down to the restaurant and through the cistern.
The long and arched entrance hall only offers space for a selection of the plethora of work made by contemporary Spanish and Canarian artists. However, the appearance and effect of the exhibited pieces are mesmerizing. The main hall includes works by internationally renowned artists such as Juan Miró, Manolo Millares and of course César Manrique himself.more
The construction of this three-bay and relatively small looking church in Yaiza occurred between 1690... and 1698 and was built above a former hermitage. However, it was not before 1728 that the church officially became a parish church, where weddings and baptisms could be held.
The contrast between the outside of the building, which is glistening white, and the inside, which is richly adorned, is quite stark. The mudejar ceiling in the choir room is particularly beautiful. Apparently, it is the only one in Lanzarote which, from its very beginning, was intended to be full of colors. The red, blue and yellow-colored ceiling displays a mirror in the middle, which contains putto-adorned medaillons and inscriptions, all of which underline the worshiping of Mary. The high altar is adorned with a brocaded Virgin Mary, who is decorated with a meticulously constructed silver crown.more
During the age of secularization in the 19th century, the monastery San Fransisco, which dates back to... 1590, came up with the plan to create a museum for sacred art. Nonetheless, the building and renovation process was lengthy and required a lot of effort. Today, the collection includes over 70 pieces of art from several monasteries, churches and chapels based in the region around Teguise.
One of the special features is the collection of Christ figures (Spanish: Cristus populares) from the 18th and 19th century. A small, 8-inch (20 cm) crucifix from the age of Renaissance is arguably one of the most special treasures in the collection. The two other naves are equally beautiful. Besides their precious mudéjar ceilings, they include wonderfully restored altar walls on their narrow sides. The retable to the right displays simple wood carvings: chubby-faced figures as well as sumptuous arrangements of fruit.more
The green valley close to the ocean, between the Mirador de Haría and the Arrieta, is absolutely stunning... and especially popular among hikers. The 3.7-mile (6 km) path is relatively easy to walk on. The northern part of the path can only be accessed via a dusty road, which is why those without a cross-country vehicle should refrain from using this road. The path leads along a dry barranco. In short, this is an ideal path for those who simply want to enjoy nature and look at the marvelous and interesting flora.
The path contains many surprises, such as several palm trees, a few almond trees and even fig trees, hidden behind protective walls. The lapili-covered fields of the sparsely populated valley are all terraced, and it is here where the tasty and small lentils, potatoes and corn are grown. Aromatic and wild arugula can also be found here, but should not be eaten in excess.more
The ideal place for the transition from surfing, sailing or diving to an evening drink. The view from... the terrace over the yachts in the harbour is accompanied by the famous Cafe de Mar sound which originates from the Ibizan institution of the same name. The atmosphere here is completely different and not only suitable for young people.more
Haría is the most northerly community on Lanzarote and 'developing' in terms of tourism, which is what... makes the area so captivating. Most of the population here are involved in agriculture and have a relatively peaceful life away from the tourist centers. So it is the perfect destination for holidaymakers who want to know a bit more about the original nature of Lanzarote.
You can sample typical regional snacks and drinks in one of the cafes on the Plaza León y Castillo, the main square in Haría. The square only comes to life on a Saturday morning (10 am-2 pm) when African souvenir sellers, craftsmen and organic farmers set up their stalls. If you find a souvenir you want to take home, then make sure you haggle over the price. The inconspicuous graveyard on the eastern edge of the village is the last resting place of the island's most famous son, architect César Manrique. He is in a simple grave which is easy to recognize by the large chunk of lava which bears his name.more