Prior to my first visit to Gran Canaria two years ago, I had slightly dismissed the Canary Islands. I thought of this destination as somewhere people went for fly and flop all inclusive holidays and not somewhere for boutique adventurers.
I was very wrong. One of the pleasures of having a travel blog is being able to find out about destinations that have been given incorrect reputations – and discovering that they are actually hidden gems.
When it comes to things to do on Lanzarote the list is very long. In addition to the activities such as scuba, snorkelling, sailing, cycling etc that you would expect on any island holiday there is a long list of things that are unique to Lanzarote that you must not miss when you visit.
Here are 14 things to do on Lanzarote that you must not miss – plus a couple that I didn’t get to visit (Covid) that I would love you to check out for me when you go.
14 Things to do on Lanzarote You Must Not Miss
Table of Contents
- 1 14 Things to do on Lanzarote You Must Not Miss
- 1.1 1. Sleep in A Yurt
- 1.2 2. Eat your body weight in fresh seafood, mojo, potatoes and more
- 1.3 3. Take a drive through a Volcano
- 1.4 4. Eat Chicken cooked in a Volcano
- 1.5 5. Enjoy the local wine
- 1.6 6. Eat on the beach at Casa de la Playa
- 1.7 7. Have a Seafood Lunch at El Golfo
- 1.8 8. Visit the Salt Pans
- 1.9 9. Watch the waves breaking at Los Hervideros
- 1.10 10. Visit a Stylish Cactus Garden
- 1.11 11. Get a Mojito from a VW van
- 1.12 12. Jameos Del Agua Caves
- 1.13 13. Enjoy the Amazing Views at Mirador Del Rio
- 1.14 14. Explore Charming Teguise
- 2 Places I couldn’t visit on Lanzarote – But Maybe you Can
- 3 How to Get to Lanzarote and How to get Around
1. Sleep in A Yurt
Did you think yurts are just for those on the Mongolian plains? Yurts are one of the hottest trends in cute boutique hotels across the world and Lanzarote has some absolutely stunning yurts at Eco Finca de Arrieta.
Located in the north of the island just near the lovely coastal village of Arrieta, Eco Finca de Arrieta is owned by local couple Michelle and Xavier and is part of their Lanzarote Retreats accommodation business.
The couple actually did go to Mongolia to investigate yurts and brought them back to Lanzarote.
I enjoyed my stay at Eco Finca de Arrieta so much that I wrote an entire blog post about why I think it is the best place to stay in Lanzarote. Find out more about the yurts and why I decided that Eco Finca de Arrieta was the best place to stay in Lanzarote in my post.
2. Eat your body weight in fresh seafood, mojo, potatoes and more
The food on Lanzarote is fantastic! We ate so well during our stay there – every meal was outstanding.
Let’s start with the fantastic potatoes on the island. I was expecting great fish but the potatoes were a pleasant surprise. On Lanzarote potatoes are served “wrinkled”. The wrinkling is caused by salt. The potatoes are cooking in very salty water and when dried out they wrinkle.
Papas arrugadas are generally served with mojo – another highlight on Lanzarote. I first discovered mojo when I visited Gran Canaria a couple of years ago and loved it.
Mojo is a sauce that is served with bread, potatoes, fish and well pretty much everything on Lanzarote. Most restaurants will have their own version. Mojo is generally available as red or green and its base is peppers and garlic.
Of course, you should enjoy as much mojo as you can whilst in Lanzarote. I also highly recommend popping into one of the local supermarkets and buying mojo in its spice form to take home. It is a brilliant marinade for meat and fish or an addition to most sauces/casseroles etc.
And then there is the fish. The fresh fish in Lanzarote is outstanding. I generally ordered fish of the day for most meals. Most restaurants will serve the fish whole, fillet it for you and add in some wrinkled potatoes.
Sea Bream is quite popular – some of the fish unique to the area which you may want to try are barracuda, wreckfish and blue butterfish.
Limpets are molluscs that come in their own shell and are quite popular on the island. In restaurants they are generally served, of course, with mojo. Limpets come in both black and white.
I had never tasted Limpets before. I didn’t mind them – they reminded me of escargot as a comparable taste. Quite frankly everything tastes good with mojo on it.
I have saved the best for last when it comes to food in Lanzarote – Pulpo. I am a big fan of grilled octopus and I was delighted to find that it was very common on Lanzarote.
Pulpo is generally served slightly chargrilled on the outside and very tender on the inside for a delicious contrast in texture and taste.
Octopus is available all year round and is of course served with mojo and wrinkled potatoes.
3. Take a drive through a Volcano
One of the top attractions on Lanzarote is Timanfaya National Park. The unique landscape of this Lanzarote national park includes dormant volcanoes, lava fields, cones and salt marshes.
The park was created by 100 volcanoes erupting between 1730 and 1736. The last eruption was in 1824 and no more are expected at this time. No one actually died during the eruptions of the volcanoes.
However, the amount of ash and smoke produced was so severe that the sun disappeared for some time. Three villages and some very fertile land were rendered uninhabitable by the eruptions.
It is still considered too dangerous for tourists to freely explore the park so you will need to join a tour to find out more about it. Trust me, once you see the hairpin turns you will be glad you aren’t driving! Plus limiting humans’ exploring has minimised erosion in the park.
Timanfaya National Park covers almost one-quarter of the surface area of Lanzarote and is located in the southwest of the island. Upon entry to the park there is a small office that will take the entry fee for the park. This office is the Taro de Entrada and is located on the LZ-67.
There is also a visitor’s centre located in Mancha Blanca which has an exhibition. However, you do not need to visit the this centre to visit Timanfaya National Park.
Continue driving through the park until you reach Islote de Hilario. This is the car park for both independent travellers and tour coaches – it also has fantastic views over the park.
Included in the fee to the entry park is your ticket on a coach which takes tourists around the park. Coaches leave the park approx every 20 minutes.
The coach trip lasts for about 30 minutes. There is a commentary in English, Spanish and German. The coach does stop for some of the views but you are not able to leave the coach at any point of the tour eg you will need to take photos from inside the coach.
When the coach returns to Islote de Hilario, the guides run some demonstrations of the intense heat just under the ground by pouring cold water which turns quickly into steam. These demonstrations take place around the front of the El Diablo restaurant.
NB: The other option for exploring Timanfaya National Park is to take a guided walking tour.
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4. Eat Chicken cooked in a Volcano
One of the highlights of visiting Timanfaya National Park is the stunning El Diablo restaurant. Perched on top of Isolte de Hilario, this modern restaurant was designed by Lanzarote born architect and artist Cesar Manrique.
The restaurant is completely enclosed in glass which offers both panoramic views of the park as well as a slight feeling of lightness or low gravity.
This restaurant takes full advantage of its unique location by using the heat of the volcano as its oven. It is possible to visit the “volcanic oven” and see for yourself chickens and other items (El Diablo is best known for its volcanic chicken) being cooked by the natural heat from the earth.
And as if that wasn’t enough the views are absolutely jaw dropping – and at their most magnificent at sunset.
5. Enjoy the local wine
Considering its location just 80 miles from Africa, the wine industry is necessarily the first thing that pops to mind when thinking of Lanzarote. But wine production on Lanzarote dates back to the 15th century.
Many of Europe’s vineyards were destroyed by the plague in the 19th century but Lanzarote escaped. So they are their own roofstock and quite unique.
The key white grapes of Lanzarote are Malvasia, Moscatel and Diego. Red grapes are listan negro and syrah. These are light, drinkable wines that are perfectly suited to the warm climate – and generally very reasonably priced.
El Grifo has a wine museum where you can learn more about its history and the production process. There are some great views of the volcanic vineyards on its lovely grounds.
And of course there are wine tastings which are included in the price of the ticket. El Grifo is best known for its whites but also has reds, sparkling and rose.
6. Eat on the beach at Casa de la Playa
Casa de la Playa is located at the bottom tip of the lovely Northern village of Arrieta – and also the restaurant closed to the fantastic Eco Finca de Arrieta where I stayed in Lanzarote.
Arrieta is a very cute, small town filled with whitewashed houses and located right on the coast with beaches. If you are approaching Arrieta from the south of the island, Casa Playa will be the first thing you see on your right-hand side.
Casa de la Playa looks like a casual little restaurant with white plastic tables and chairs on the beach – and a bar. However, before I even headed to Lanzarote I was told by several people that this was the restaurant that I needed to visit.
And then I found out that this is where the owner of Eco Finca de Arrieta has dinner most nights when his wife is away. No wonder we ended up eating here twice!
We headed down to Casa Playa on our first night in Lanzarote – it was a 5-10 minute walk from Eco Finca de Arrieta. This is exactly the place that you want to head to the first night of an island holiday – on the beach, facing the waves, seafood, local wine – perfect.
The service was quick and friendly – and the restaurant was very busy. Great value tasty local wine. But wow the food!!! We started with perfect padron peppers and pulpo.
Wow the octopus! I then had octopus at every meal on Lanzarote. Char grilled, so tender inside, smeared with green mojo – it was outstanding.
As was the seafood platter that we had for main. A mixture of langoustines, limpets, calamari, prawns, fresh fish – wow. We would have paid a fortune for this in London.
We enjoyed Casa Playa so much that we returned for our last meal. By this point, our stomachs were a little worn out from so much eating (we had come from locked-down London) so we tried their signature seafood soup – another fantastic meal.
7. Have a Seafood Lunch at El Golfo
Located in the south west of the island, El Golfo is a small beach village located near the salt pans and Los Hervideros. This small village consists of just a few streets of white washed homes trimmed in bright colours – plus quite a few seafood restaurants located on or near the water.
Several restaurants have seating literally on the beach – but we chose to visit Casa Rafa based on some online research. Casa Rafa is located just off the beach and has some fantastic views of the sea.
We ordered local wine and the fish of the day and had a lovely leisurely lunch watching the waves roll in whilst our friendly server filleted freshly caught and just grilled fish at our table. A perfect lunch.
8. Visit the Salt Pans
Salt was once one of Lanzarote’s key exports. Salt was used as a preservative for the island’s lucrative fishing industry. However, once refrigeration became widely available demand reduced.
There is still one working salt manufacturer on Lanzarote, Salinas de Janubio. It is located on the road between Playa Banca and Yaiza.
The salt pans can be seen from the road and are quite photogenic – particularly in the right light.
If you’re particularly interested in salt production it is possible to take a guided tour of the facility.
9. Watch the waves breaking at Los Hervideros
Just a few minutes up the road from the Salt Pans are the stunning Los Hervideros. Watch the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash into the lava cliffs of Lanzarote.
Los Herivederos is literally on the LZ-703 road. This stretch of road makes for a spectacular drive – you won’t be surprised to read that this is where many car ads have been filmed.
There are also several lay bys to pull the car in and go for a walk across the lava cliffs and take some stunning photos and video footage.
10. Visit a Stylish Cactus Garden
I quickly realised that I was going to really enjoy every attraction linked to Cesar Manrique and his unique style on Lanzarote. For me, the highlight was the amazing Jardin de Cactus.
This was actually Manrique’s last work on the island. He took a run down quarry area and transformed it with around 4,500 specimens of 450 species from 13 cactus families from 5 continents.
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The mix of the greens of the cacti, the blue of the sky and the dark volcanic soil makes for some stunning photos. There is also a windmill for even better photos.
Wander around the small paths in the garden and bring a camera with a full battery.
Jardin de Cactus is located in the north east of Lanzarote about 10km south of Arrieta.
11. Get a Mojito from a VW van
Located just a few yards from Casa Playa along the beachfront in Arrieta is a VW van serving up some tasty mojitos that can be enjoyed sitting on the beach – perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail.
12. Jameos Del Agua Caves
Jameo means the opening of a lava tunnel and Jameos Del Agua is how Cesar Manrique envisaged that should be. Manrique transformed part of the Mount Corona volcanic system on Lanzarote into a restaurant, bar and nightclub that looks like something from a James Bond movie.
Enter Jameos Del Agua via a staircase and head into a unique restaurant. Walk through a lava tunnel to a very cool bar, large funky swimming pool and nightclub set up.
Jameos Del Agua is located in the north east of the island. It is open most days for tourists to visits but if you would like to eat or dance there do check their website for availability.
13. Enjoy the Amazing Views at Mirador Del Rio
Another stunning Cesar Manrique creation, the Mirador is mostly camouflaged behind rock. From the car park it is difficult to determine what to expect from Mirador del Rio but it is a whole different story inside.
Located at what is almost the top point of Lanzarote, Mirador Del Rio has jaw dropping views over the eighth Canary Island La Graciosa.
The building is home to a coffee shop with extraordinary views as well as a very cute gift shop.
14. Explore Charming Teguise
Lovely Teguise is the oldest settlement in the Canaries having been founded in 1402. This hill top town was also the capital of Lanzarote for 450 years.
This lovely town is full of white washed buildings, pedestrianised streets, cute shops and great restaurants. Teguise is home to one of the most popular markets in Lanzarote which is held on Sundays.
We had an outstanding meal in Teguise at La Cantina. La Cantina is located in a historic building and is a restaurant, a litle shop and a hidden outdoor bar.
The menu is tapas based (they also do fantastic looking hamburgers and sandwiches) and we had an outstanding meal which included tomatoes with local cheese, scallops, padron peppers and mushroom croquettes (the highlight).
Places I couldn’t visit on Lanzarote – But Maybe you Can
I visited Lanzarote in 2020 so several of the island’s attractions were closed. Here are a few of the attractions that I wasn’t able to visit that looked great. If you are able to visit these do drop me an email and I will add in your views to this post.
- Charco Verde or Charco de los Clicos means Green Lagoon. This green lagoon sits in a volcanic crater not far from El Golfo and sounds very photogenic.
The road to the lagoon was being repaired when we visited and well, we couldn’t be bothered parking and walking if I’m honest. Have a look and let me know if that was a bad decision.
- The Cesar Manrique Foundation was the artist’s home and garden. It is located just outside Teguise. Unfortunately, we didn’t check the opening hours on this and planned it for our last day and missed it. It looks fantastic.
- The Cesar Manrique Museum and Home in Haria were closed due to Covid during our visit.
- Museo Atlantico is Europe’s first underwater sculpture museum. This does require scuba diving, of which I am not a fan. Do let me know if it is worth getting suited up to visit.
How to Get to Lanzarote and How to get Around
Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands and part of Spain. The Canary Islands are south west of Spain and north west of Africa, directly in front of the coast of Morocco.
Lanzarote is the most south easterly of the Canary Islands and covers just 800 square kilometres.
The island has fantastic connections to Europe’s main cities with direct flights to 19 of Europe’s 25 largest capitals. In particular it is easy to get from London to Lanzarote with direct flights out of Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton. The flight takes approximately four hours.
Lanzarote’s Cesar Manrique is located just outside Arrecife, Lanzarote’s capital. Arrecife is on the western side of the island.
Nowhere is particularly far on Lanzarote due it its size. Whilst there is a bus system I would highly recommend hiring a car. It is easy to find your way around the island (and it is well signed).
The majority of roads are in good condition but some can be quite windy such as heading up to Haria.
Lanzarote Retreats covered the cost of my accommodation, airport transfers and car hire. I covered the costs of my flights, meals and everything else. As always, my views are my own.
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