The Canary Island of Lanzarote is diverse: with a vibrant coastline buzzing with tourist resorts and a starkly desolated interior puckered by historic activity from the 300 or so extinct volcanoes. There are (of course) superb beaches, established facilities and plenty of activities to try but as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, Lanzarote has somewhat of an edge over the other Canary Islands! Watch the steam eruption from the might Timanfaya and ride a camel over the desolate moonscapes that have inspired movies.
Puerto del Carmen
The largest resort in Lanzarote is the perenially popular Puerto del Carmen which is centered around the pretty harbour. The best way to get around and explore your surroundings is by hiring a car, cycle or moped. There is a 6km stretch of pristine golden beach, which is backed with a great selection of restaurants, bars and clubs. The best beach is the Puerto Calero marina, which holds an internationally recognised Blue Flag. There are also casinos and great shopping facilities in Puerto del Carmen. Watersports enthusiasts can try their hand at surfing the awesome north Atlantic waves, scuba diving, snorkelling and safari diving.
Perfect for: couples and groups looking for a lively atmosphere
More laidback than Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca, aka white beach, is set around a graceful arcing beach lined with a promenade boasting family friendly shops and restaurants. Swim and sunbathe by day and stroll the pretty marina by night, taking in the lavish yachts. Again, as you’d expect, there are excellent surfing, boating and scuba diving facilities. Playa Blanca also has more going for it in terms of historic sights and adventure activities. Climb the local Montana Roja Mountain which is a fairly easy trek, with incredible island-wide views from the top. Take in the old castle, Castillo de las Coloradas and admire the Faro de Pechiguera. It’s also a relatively short journey to the eerie, yet fascinating Timanfaya National Park, which is an absolute must!
Perfect for: couples and solo travellers looking for laidback adventure
The video below shows the very touristy (but very entertaining) Steam Eruption at El Diablo in the Timanfaya National Park proving just how hot Lanzarote is!
On the east coast of Lanzarote lies Costa Teguise where the golden beaches are lined with tropical palm trees and set amidst low level whitewashed properties. This is the newest resort on the block, only established in the 1980s and the ambience is definitely more laidback and centered around the beaches and day activities, rather than the nightlife. There is one definite lure in this town – the surfer dudes, drawn to the incredible waves off Las Cucharas beach. There are also pockets of culture and heritage too, such as the historic capital of Lanzarote, Teguise which has a lively Sunday market. Check out the museum dedicated to local artist Cesar Manrique who actually designed most of the island (apart from Arrecife), gawp at the sea creatures up close at the Lanzarote Aquarium and enjoy the traditional Spanish ambience in the Pueblo Marinero square.
Perfect for: cultural and surfing enthusiasts looking for laidback charm
The busy town of Tias actually overlooks Puerto del Carmen, but is just far enough out of the way to attract fewer tourists, which makes it excellent value. There is a large British ex-pat scene that has flocked here to soak up the small authentically Spanish bars and restaurants. Tias is one of the oldest and most important towns on the island dates back to at least 1493. The most important sight is the stunning Church of Candelaria which dates back to 1796. There is also a golf course, municipal theatre hosting jazz and folklore events. The Los Pocillos and Blanca (Grande) beaches are both Blue Flag holders. Don’t miss the museum dedicated to the Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago who died here in Tias in 2010.
And if you’re here in June, you’ll catch the Tias fiestas, which starts with the festival of San Antonio in the first two weeks and ends with the vibrant Festival of San Juan which the whole island celebrates with large bonfires which belch out smoke across the island.
Perfect for: cultural and tranquil getaways whilst still relatively close to the action
The capital city of Lanzarote since 1852, Arrecife is cosmopolitan and vibrant and is brimming with cultural and historical hotspots. From its roots as a 15th century fishing village, Arrecife quickly grew to offer superb shopping facilities, luxury hotels and a pristine golden beach at Playa del Reducto. This is the one spot on the island where the buildings rise above the regulation palm tree height. Main sights include the Castillo de San Gabriel which is reached by causeway over on the Islet of the English. Admire the square tower of the Iglesia de San Ginés, aka Church of Saint Genesius and admire the artwork on display in the Castillo de San Jose Museum, located within the fortress of the same name.
Perfect for: history and culture and a great base to explore the other Canary Islands
The purpose built modern resort of Matagorda lies on Lanzarote’s east coast and offers a safe beach-focussed resort. In fact the Matagorda beach has a highly coveted Blue Flag and is set alongside a promenade. Tourism here is low key with a good selection of cafes, restaurants and shops.
Perfect for: beachbums and families looking for a relaxed pace