By this time, you may already know that I have visited Lanzarote as a family, including two children of four and twelve. That is why my 7 day tour in Lanzarote had lots of activities but at a relaxed pace; and included not only quite a few beaches but also a few museums, a walk, car rides and plenty of time to enjoy the volcanic landscape of the island.
Now, if I left Tenerife with the certainty of being a perfect island for lovers of trekking more demanding, from Lanzarote I left with the feeling of being an island less geared towards Nature. It seemed, as it were, a destination for all kinds of travelers. From the compulsive holidaymakers to those who are looking for a bit of culture, a bit of architecture and a pinch of beach. Eclectic, therefore.
In this article, I come to suggest Things to do in Lanzarote finding a balance that allows a pleasant and interesting trip for all the elements of the family. Here are my suggestions of places to visit in Lanzarote.
Things to do in Lanzarote
#1 River Viewpoint
As the name implies, the Miradouro do Rio is a viewpoint overlooking the island of La Graciosa, one of the smallest in the Canaries and which integrates the so-called Chinijo Archipelago. And from nowhere, the view over the Graciosa is as majestic as the varandins conceived by César Manrique in the Miradouro do Rio.
Once parked the car, nothing prepares the visitor to the almost invisible building that is behind a facade brightly disguised in the volcanic stone. A perfect symbiosis between the architecture and the natural landscape of Lanzarote. It's beautiful; is powerful. It is Manrique in all its splendor.
Even though I am not a specialist in architecture, I have for myself that the Miradouro do Rio is one of the most emblematic works by César Manrique in Lanzarote.
#2 Papagaio Beach
Tucked between cliffs, Praia do Papagaio is an incredibly attractive beach. It is close to Playa Blanca, on the southern tip of Lanzarote, and access is via a very poor road which, surely, distances many (but not all!) Potential vacationers.
The waters were crystalline and almost without waves, with shades to remind the waters of the Adriatic. The sand is small but beautiful and relatively fine sand. And, at the top of the escarpment, two beach bars that served to support the bathers with food, ice cream and drinks - and a place to protect themselves from the sun.
All in all, I have for myself that the Beach of the Parrot is the best beach in Lanzarote. It is, therefore, mandatory presence in any list with suggestions on what to do in Lanzarote.
#3 Jameos of water
Another masterpiece by César Manrique, Jameos of Water is another space perfectly integrated in the space anarchy of the volcanic rocks that dominate the landscape of Lanzarote. It is a beautiful space with a surprising value: it includes an extraordinary "natural" auditorium - pass the contradiction!
It does not have to be at the top of your priorities, but it is certainly worth the visit.
#4 Visit the Haría market (Saturday)
Haría is one of the most beautiful places in Lanzarote. Rural and traditional, with whitewashed houses surrounded by lava fields, Haría is a place as quiet as it is authentic; and even vibrant in its own way! Especially on Saturday, when there is a small but lively street market.
For my part, I am a fan of villages like Haría. It was no coincidence that where I stayed in Lanzarote; and I'm sure it was the best choice (for my travel style).
#5 House José Saramago
José Saramago is the most famous Portuguese writer; and the only one to this day to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. The house of Lanzarote where he lived, worked and died is nowadays transformed into the José Saramago House-Museum. It is in the small village of Tias and, as it should be, I went to visit it.
The tour is guided by an enthusiastic Spaniard of the work of José Saramago. It speaks of the Portuguese writer and his wife, Pilar del Rio, with great tenderness and knowledge. A very enriching moment that I highly recommend (even the kids liked!). It is more an experience to include in things to do in Lanzarote.
The Casa José Saramago has website official in www.acasajosesaramago.com.
#6 Visitors Center and White Spot Interpretation (Timanfaya)
Visiting the Visitors and Interpretation Center of Mancha Blanca, already in the Timanfaya National Park, was the high point of a day in lava tones.
Educational and informative, the center explains the volcanological phenomena that occurred in Lanzarote, through panels with well-made infographics. There's also an almost continuous feature film that I really enjoyed watching.
The less well-done part was, for me, curiously, one of the most popular attractions of the center: an underground space that allegedly simulates a volcanic eruption. Honestly, I did not find anything exciting. Everything else, I loved it! For those who want to know a little about the volcanic history of Lanzarote, it is a must visit. Preferably before being put into the dispensable bus tour in Timanfaya.
#7 Walk to Crow's Volcano
I have a four year old son who is fascinated by volcanoes. When he learned that there were volcanoes on Lanzarote, he was immediately thrilled to see the island. "But are the volcanoes awake?" He asked, hoping he could see a volcano pouring lava.
Make small trail of crow volcano it was a way of allowing him to approach the crater of a volcano; and more than that, to enter it. The ride through the lava fields surrounding the crater is incredibly beautiful; and has no difficulty (apart from the absence of shadow). It was one of the best things we did in Lanzarote!
#8 Cave of the Greens
The Cueva de los Verdes emerged after the eruption of the Corona Volcano, and, in the words of the CACT - Centers of Art, Culture and Tourism of Lanzarote, is "one of the most impressive hidden wonders in the depths of Lanzarote."
“There are not many places that bring together as many areas of interest for Lanzarote's cultural and natural heritage as Cueva de los Verdes, a unique mythological-looking cave full of legends and a beautiful and extraordinary landscape”, in CACT.
To be honest, I was afraid that my youngest son (four years old) was afraid; but none of this happened. The visit to the cave was interesting and good humored, albeit with a group too extensive for my taste. It is "a journey to the center of the Earth" with a captive place on my list of things to do in Lanzarote!
#9 Cactus Garden
Last project of César Manrique in Lanzarote, the Jardin de Cactus is a unique and fascinating space. It is in the village of Guatiza and houses about 4.500 specimens of 450 distinct species of cacti and succulent plants.
The integration of the buildings with the surrounding natural environment is one of the most striking aspects of César Manrique's architectural work. And in the Cactus Garden this is evident. As in other projects by the Canarian artist, from the outside one can hardly imagine what the interior hides in a kind of amphitheater. This, of course, is beyond the iconic, towering windmill - whose whitewash contrasts superbly with the blackness of the stone.
It is another indispensable visit.
#10 César Manrique Foundation
The César Manrique Foundation was installed in the house where the artist lived and worked. It was built on the lava fields of Tahíche, in another example of the perfect harmony between the building and Nature.
I was struck by the way the house is "docked" in the lava; the common spaces that seem to have been carved out of the rock; and the spectacular outdoor area where you can pontificate a small swimming pool. All stunning and incredibly harmonious.
#11 Vineyards in La Geria
The vineyard landscape of La Geria is unique and visually stunning. For those who like, like me, wine regions such as Douro Vinhateiro or Pico Island, it is a delight to realize that, although there are so many different ways to produce wine, in all of them it is the passion of men that turns activity into art.
The way La Geria vineyards are built to withstand natural elements (such as wind) is pure art. And they are incredibly beautiful. I resort again to borrowed words:
“How can the dry island of Lanzarote produce its excellent white and sweet wines? The answer is 'geria', a conical hole dug in natural layers of volcanic gravel several meters deep, in the center of which a vine is planted, and on whose edge a half-moon of rocks is placed to protect against the wind. . Row after row of these perfect hollow spaces tinted with green, ocher and black produce a unique landscape in the world, which has helped justify UNESCO's declaration of Lanzarote as a Biosphere Reserve. ”
#12 Punta Mujeres
Punta Mujeres is a small fishing village located in the north of Lanzarote. It is very close to two major attractions of Lanzarote (Cueva de los Verdes and Jameos It is therefore easily reachable.
In addition to the fishermen's houses (some turned into local accommodation - I even considered staying in one of them), Punta Mujeres has some pools that are said to be very good for swimming. Unfortunately, every time I went there it was full tide and strong swell, so nothing advisable for swimming (let alone with children).
Anyway, it was the fishing village atmosphere that attracted me to Punta Mujeres. Be sure to meet her during your trip to Lanzarote.
#13 Mara Mao Museum
Surely the most bizarre attraction of this compilation of ideas to do in Lanzarote, the so-called Mara Mao Museum is virtually unspeakable. A compilation of statues, objects like morbid dolls or old computer screens, and inexhaustible creative freedom that is hard to understand.
The museum is actually closed to the public. But most "works of art" are on the outside of the building, visible from the street. I, for my part, and despite the limitations of understanding places like this, I appreciate getting to know the work out of the box of creative minds. That's why I recommend Mara Mao. Seeing is believing.
#14 Green Pond (El Golfo)
The Green Charco, also known as Charco de los Clicos, is a landscape curiosity located on the black sand beach of El Golfo, near Yaiza.
It is the crater of an ancient volcano that, when partially submerged in the ocean, gave rise to a small lake of green color (apparently, fruit of algae that inhabit the bottom). It is a beautiful chromatic contrast, visible from the viewpoint of El Golfo.
#15 Salinas de Janubio
With a landscape classified as “of high architectural and cultural value”, the Janubio salt flats are located by the sea, in a lagoon created by volcanic eruptions that created a lava barrier facing the sea.
The Janubio salt pans were built in the late 19th century and throughout the ages have always been an essential element of Lanzarote's economy. Not least because they are the largest salt flats in the Canaries.
Nowadays they continue to produce the so-called “white gold”, although the tourist potential is not negligible. To catch a glimpse of the salt flats in all their visual splendor, try to visit them (or at least watch them from the road) at dusk.
#16 Caletón Blanco Beach
As in other Canary Islands, such as Tenerife, visitors tend to overlook the northern side of the island, focusing on staying in the southern seaside resorts. They are very bad.
It turns out that Caletón Blanco is one of best beaches in Lanzarote; especially for those traveling with children. It is a small beach near Órzola, at the north end of the island, very beautiful and easily accessible.
The proximity of Haría, one of the best villages where to sleep in Lanzarote; the absence of crowds; the charm brought about by the rocky surroundings; and the calm waters of the natural pools formed at low tide, which allow the kids to play safely, made me visit her more than once during my screenplay in Lanzarote.
#17 Famara Beach
The beach of Famara is not a beach like the others. Forget families on the water to swim and think about ... wind. Very windy. All the time. In such a way that, not being good for swimming, is the best beach in Lanzarote for lovers of surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing. Surfers paradise.
That said, the beach of Famara beach is one of the longest on the island, and the landscape surroundings make up for the trip. It is located within the Natural Park of the Chinijo Archipelago, between the village of La Caleta de Famara and the base of the imposing Cliff of Famara.
All in all, it's another of Lanzarote beaches which is worth knowing.
Map: what to visit in Lanzarote
Note: this list about what to do in Lanzarote does not include what is probably the most popular attraction on the island. And the reason is simple: for me, to visit Timanfaya by bus with more 50 people is a horrible experience. Let me go on foot, as in the Teide National Park in Tenerife, and I will be the first to recommend it.
How to get to Lanzarote
There were no direct flights from Portugal to Lanzarote, I opted for buy a cheap flight from Ryanair from Madrid. The ticket cost me 75 € per person, round trip, luggage included.
To get to the Spanish capital, and as we were during school holidays, I took the opportunity to drive for three days, and then visit the villages of Salamanca, Avila and Segovia. On the return from Lanzarote, I landed in Madrid and drove straight to Oporto.
Where to rent a car
Normally I usually search for cars at RentalCars, which almost always offers the best prices; but in the case of the Canary Islands there is a rent-a-car place I have used and strongly recommend, called Cabrera Medina. They are cheap, uncomplicated, have offices at airports and insurance provides total peace of mind. I recommend!
During the week I spent in Lanzarote, I always left by rental car. I paid a total of 115 € for seven days of rental, including all risk insurance and no deductible. A bargain, therefore.
If your flight departs too early, the key delivery process is very simple. Just park the car in the park drop-off from the airport and leave the keys in the office (preferably within the envelope provided). If you want to compare prices with other companies, see RentalCars options using the link below.
Where to stay
For much more detailed information on the best regions of the island to spend the night, see the text on where to stay in Lanzarote. Anyway, if you want to do a beach vacation I recommend the very nice Apartment El Pueblo and the most luxurious Villa Estaca (Playa Blanca); or the resorts Sightseeing e R2 Bahia Kontiki (Punta del Carmen).
If, instead, you prefer more rural environments - as in my case - consider staying in Haría or Teguise. In particular, see the guesthouses House Las Vistas ou Rustic house Villa Lola Y Juan (Haria); or the B & B La Mimosa (excellent value for money) and the charming (but more expensive) Sightseeing (Teguise).
For other accommodation options, for all tastes and prices, please see link below.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.