Reasons Why You Should Visit Lanzarote, Canary Islands

The wondrous Jameos del Agua, with its lava caves, sculptures and more, is just one reason to visit the island of Lanzarote
The wondrous Jameos del Agua, with its lava caves, sculptures and more, is just one reason to visit the island of Lanzarote | © Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy
Lilly Graves

Visiting Lanzarote is like leaving Earth. From its volcanic, lunar landscapes and Mars-like sands to its delicious wine and seafood, there are countless reasons to visit this Canary Island. Here are the top ones.

With its white, cubic architecture set against undulating volcanoes and lava fields, Lanzarote delivers a visual feast like no other. Part of the Canary Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Morocco, the island is known for its vineyards, rocky hiking trails and cultural attractions (thanks to artist César Manrique), as well as beaches, water sports and tapas. It’s also home to charming boutique hotels that are a great bet for travellers looking to avoid package tourism. Here are the top reasons why you should put this unique, year-round destination on your bucket list.

1. There’s an array of unspoilt beaches

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Playa del Reducto beach, Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, Europe
© Peter Forsberg / Europe / Alamy

In Lanzarote, there’s a beautiful black, golden or white-sand beach for every mood and location. Even on the south coast, where holiday resorts are located, popular beaches like Playa del Reducto (in Arrecife) have been awarded Blue Flag status for their cleanliness and safety. To the north, the beaches are long and windswept, with black sands on Playa de Famara and crashing waves that draw surfers and kiteboarders. Then there’s Caletón Blanco with soft white sand and shallow splash pools that are great for families. Meanwhile in the south, Playa Papagayo offers a string of golden-sand coves interrupted by volcanic rock.

2. Lanzarote has alien landscapes


Timanfaya National Park landscape, Lanzarote Island, Canary Islands, Spain
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy
Lanzarote’s volcanic topography is otherworldly and sometimes extreme. To get up close, head to Timanfaya National Park, which was created from a series of eruptions in the 18th century. The colourful yet vegetation-free area is made up of volcanic soil, which was once used by NASA to test the moon buggy. Then, you can feel like you’ve visited Mars in the Montañas del Fuego, or Fire Mountains, an area of approximately 100 volcanoes. Explore a network of trails for hiking and cycling, or go for a camel ride at Echadero de Camellos. Aside from the island’s lunar landscapes, you’ll find jagged coastlines and occasional microclimates lush with palm trees. The entire island has been declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve with a focus on conservation.

3. It’s a prime spot for diving and snorkeling

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dh PUERTO DEL CARMEN LANZAROTE Holidaymaker divers on dive boat launch. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.
© Doug Houghton Islands / Alamy

Lanzarote is blessed with clean, crystal-clear ocean water, providing excellent visibility to see a vast selection of sea life for scuba divers and snorkellers. Beginner divers can pick between several schools offering PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) courses, while experienced divers can enjoy various locations around the island like Charco del Palo and Puerto del Carmen. One must-visit spot is an underwater sculpture museum called Museo Atlantico, located 12m (39ft) below the surface, which scuba divers have access to. As for snorkelling, Playa de Papagayo’s five beaches provide calm, almost emerald-green water, while Playa del Jablillo is known for its low tide. Another snorkelling spot for novices is Playa Chica. The water is safe and warm for optimal underwater viewing.

4. It's home to unique architecture

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Jameos del Agua, Cesar Manrique, point of interest - FPRR1B
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy

Lanzarote’s unique architectural style is largely due to the avant-garde designs of Spanish artist-architect César Manrique, who spent much of his life on the island. Also a nature activist, Manrique was influential to the island’s growth and success and helped lobby to keep developments sustainable, low-rise and traditional. (Expect a lot of charming whitewashed homes here; billboards are also forbidden.) Manrique also helped create and curate many of the island’s most impressive art and cultural attractions, like Jameos del Agua, a series of lava caves, plus public sculptures, gardens and even a restaurant. A must-see is Manrique’s former home, dubbed the Volcano House and one of the island’s most popular tourist spots.

5. It offers charming boutique accommodation


Alondra Villas & Suites_5678c494
Courtesy of Alondra Villas and Suites / Expedia

Again, thanks in part to Manrique’s conservation efforts, buildings higher than two storeys are not allowed in most places on the island. One exception is the south coast, where holiday resorts are located. But it’s not difficult for travellers looking to keep with Lanzarote traditions to book a room in one of the whitewashed, eco-friendly boutique hotels sprinkled around the island. Consider Alondras Villas Y Suites, which has 42 villas, mostly with private pools; Casa Camella, a luxury villa and cottage located in the countryside with an ocean view; and Palacio Ico, a charming nine-room hotel surrounded by cobblestone streets in the historic town of Teguise.

6. Lanzarote is great for water sports

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Spain Canary Islands Lanzarote Costa Teguise PLAYA DE LAS Cucharas WINDSURFING
© Universal Images Group North America LLC / DeAgostini / Alamy
As one of the Canaries’ windiest islands, Lanzarote has a lot to offer surfers, kayakers, windsurfers and kiteboarders. Numerous breakers on its beaches mean lots of great places to learn surfing, especially on Playa de Famara, where there are options for lessons. You’ll also be entertained there by kiteboarders showing their skills on the water while you watch from dry land. Windsurfers can find lessons and equipment on Playa de las Cucharas in Costa Teguise, which has ideal conditions for beginners and advanced windsurfers. Less windy beaches provide stand-up paddleboarding rentals, like Playa Flamingo, which remains calm from manmade breakwaters, as well as the shallow waters of Caleton Blanco. Kayaks can be rented on several beaches, such as Playa Blanca.

7. You can eat a meal cooked over lava

Restaurant, Seafood

Spain, Canary islands, Lanzarote island, Timanfaya National Park or Montanas del Fuego, the restaurant El Diablo uses a grill located above a volcanic chimney
© Hemis / Alamy

Given the volcanic soil and tough growing conditions, Lanzarote’s quality food options may come as a surprise. Of course, the surrounding waters provide fresh seafood such as shrimp, squid, boquerones (anchovies), dorada (sea bream) and vieja (parrotfish). On land, goat herds lend themselves to local stews and delicious white cheeses, which can be found in most markets. When looking at a menu, check out Canarian favourites like papas arrugadas. These local potatoes are boiled in salt water that turns skins wrinkly and are dipped in mojo sauce: either spicy red or garlicky green. There are plenty of casual tapas bars, chiringuitos (beach shacks) and restaurants to choose from, but don’t miss El Diablo in Timanfaya National Park, which grills food from a large 400C (752F) volcanic hole in the ground.

8. Lanzarote has a festival dedicated to wine...

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Wine tasting at Bodega EL Grifo, vineyard at La Geria, Lanzarote island, Canary islands, Spain, Europe
© Helmut Corneli / Alamy

When planning a trip to Lanzarote, consider timing it around one of the island’s many concerts, sports matches or carnivals. One event you won’t find anywhere else is the Lanzarote Wine Run each June, drawing a few thousand contestants who run or walk 7.5mi (12km) through the wine region, stopping along the way to taste tapas and wine from local producers. At the end of the trail, there’s a celebration called the Traditional Cuisine Festival. If you want to skip the exercise, then simply head to the festival to sample an assortment of food, wine and beer. It’s free to enter and open to everyone.

9. ...and its wine picks up volcanic flavours

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Vineyards and craters in volcanic soil dug to protect grape vines from the wind in La Geria, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
© Arterra Picture Library / Alamy

You may be surprised to learn that the Canary Islands’ desert climate can grow grapes. Lanzarote produces white, red and rosé wines, but the Malvasia Volcanica is the variety that stands out for its history and artisan farming methods. After a series of volcanic eruptions in the 18th century destroyed wheat crops, farmers dug through the ash in search of fertile soil and discovered that grape vines could grow when planted in the soil. This began the movement of planting vines in distinct, conical ditches surrounded by semi-circular lava stone walls to protect them from the winds. Wine is still produced this way today. Set up a private tour or vineyard walk with Wine Tours Lanzarote to see (and try) it for yourself.

10. You can take day trips to neighbouring islands

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Fuerteventura Island, tourists walking on sand dunes in Parque Natural de Corralejo, Spain, Canary Islands
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy

Looking to do a little island hopping? Lanzarote is in close proximity to next-door Canary Island Fuerteventura, which is accessible via a 30-minute ferry from Playa Blanca. Many visitors head to Parque Natural de Corralejo to see the expansive sand dunes, or they have lunch in the two neighbouring surf towns called Lajeres and El Cotillo, teeming with laid-back hipsters. A more remote day trip from Lanzarote is to the island of La Graciosa, northeast of Lanzarote and less crowded than the rest of the archipelago. Orzola Port offers 20 daily ferry crossings to La Graciosa, taking 25 minutes. Pack a picnic and explore the island on foot or bicycle (rentals are available), especially the soft-sand beach and turquoise shallows of Playa de las Conchas.

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