Canary Islands: What to Know about Lanzarote

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Kings Pool

By Jill Franz

Lanzarote is a beautiful island with an amazing climate that lasts all year-round. Whether you are going there for the first time or for the tenth time, there are a few must-knows about the Fire Island.

If you are going there for the first time or for the tenth time, there are a few must-knows about the Fire Island.

The Southern Tour

First and foremost, the best place to visit has to be Playa Papagayo(Pic 1). This national park with its seven beautiful beaches, is simply something one has to see to understand. With the variety of beaches and the sparkling pure blue waters, it’s hard to know where the sky stops and the water starts. Shockingly entrance is only €3 per car (well it was when I lived there!) and it gives you free entry all day to all seven beaches.

A vital tip is to make sure to have a good packed lunch or picnic basket ready as there is only one place to eat and it is more expensive than the normal places on the island, and tends to be very busy! However, it does overlook the most beautiful of beaches (which is my personal favorite), and is very tourist friendly, yet manages to retain a quiet atmosphere and serve good food.

The cliffs at Famara Beach, Lanzarote, Canary Islands. photos by Jill Franz.
The cliffs at Famara Beach, Lanzarote, Canary Islands. photos by Jill Franz.

Another good thing is that it is literally five minutes from Playa Blanco, which has far too many restaurants (with all sorts of food from Chinese to Irish to Indian to typical Spanish) to choose from. It is recommend to spend a day, if not two, at Playa Papagayo, as it is really worth it and is just so, so beautiful.

Also, the further south one travels on the island, the hotter it is, meaning that Playa Papagayo will be very hot! This is due to the two climates on the island. Therefore, the further north one goes, the colder it gets. And cold, as in jeans and a top cold as it can be very cloudy up north!

The Northern Tour

It is definitely recommend saving a day to go visit the north of the island and preferably a Saturday! That way one can catch the Haría market, which is really quaint and gives an idea of what life on the island is actually like away from the tourist areas which populate the majority of the south. When doing the northern tour, one should definitely visit Jameosdel Agua and Mirador del Río.

Typical Canarien food
Typical Canarien food

These two are super cool and really pretty too! One can also visit Jardín de Cactus (cactus garden) (Pic 4)and Cuevas de los Verdes, an underground cave (Pic 5). Both are very cool and interesting, however, considering each national tourist centreis around €8 for entrance,these two are not must-see’s unless one is an avid cactus gardener or a serious cave fanatic.

One thing that is well worth the visit however is Timanfaya National Volcano Park (Pic 6) Once in the national park there is a bus tour that leaves every thirty minutes. As tourists are not allowed freely roam the grounds of Timanfaya, this bus tour is a great insight into the history of how the volcano park was formed and the emergence of what Lanzarote is today, as well as a great adventure through the volcanoes themselves.

The Middle of the Island

If one is in the middle of the island then Teguise (not Costa Teguise which is a coastal tourist resort) is a quaint village to visit, and like Haría, shows what the locals and life on the island is really like. This area is perfect for couples looking for a quiet retreat, or for families who would rather stay away from the tourist destinations.

However,Teguise has no beach nearby, therefore, it is strongly recommended especially during the hot summer months, to choose a village that has a beachin the vicinityto cool off.

Another village worth mentioning would be Arrieta. It is located in the north of the island where there are many affordable summer apartments andis directly on its own private beach. It is the perfect destination for those with a family orthose who would rather stay away from the holiday-package destinations.

Getting around by car

Arrieta Beach, Lanzarote. Red flags indicate it's not safe for swimming
Arrieta Beach, Lanzarote. Red flags indicate it’s not safe for swimming

The island of Lanzarote is very easy to manuevre, is extremely well sign-posted and has excellent roads. Therefore if one is more of the sight-seeing type and wants to visit the north and south of the island,then it is strongly recommended to hire a car as the cost of a taxi will be expensive.

Cars are for hire directly at the airport with the cost of hiring a car for five people, for a week around €300, petrol included. There is the option of hiring bicycles however, don’t kill yourself! The island is extremely hilly (it is a volcano after all) and in the heat only those who regularly train in the climate are up to the task –which is why it is a favourite destination for the Ironman competition.

Note of warning:

The majority of beaches are tourist friendly and are fine to swim in. However, beaches such as Famara, which has a stunning cliff view, is rather dangerous to swim in even for the experienced swimmer due to rip-tides and sinking sands. Therefore, the beach is used mainly by surfers.

It is also recommended to keep an eye on the tourist centre website to see what beaches are safe to swim in. Often algae or jellyfish come in on certain tides and the beaches are closed for precautionary reasons.

If a red flag is flying and the beach is open then tourists are advised not to enter the waters. Lifeguards are only on duty at peak tourist times and between 9am and 6pm, during the week at major beaches.

Food and Drinks

leche leche, coffee with evaporated milk in the Canaries.
leche leche, coffee with evaporated milk in the Canaries.

The island has a large variety of food available, sadly, a vastmajority of it is German or Irish food as it is often joked that the Germans and Irish make up two-thirds of the population, with the native-Spanish only being a third themselves.

However, if one wants to taste some of the native foods then papasarrugadas (sea-salted baby potatoes), lecheleche (a sweet expresso coffee) and Mojos, (red, green and white sauces that are used to dip bread into) is a great way to start!

Personal top favorite beaches
1) Playa Papagayo
2) Arrecife
3) Arrieta
4) Famara
5) Costa Teguise

Playa Papagayo beach
Playa Papagayo beach

Review of Playa Papagayo from TripAdvisor

Timanfaya National Park

Official island tourist site

La Voz (the local newspaper which will inform you if the waters are safe to swim in, as sometimes in the winter months there can be algae in the water)

Lanzarote37°

Jill FranzJill Franz is a writer who lives in Ireland. She spent six months living in Lanzarote.

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