Heads up: some of the links on this site are affiliate links. If you click and make a booking or purchase, I’ll make a commission (at no extra cost to you). I partner with companies I personally use and the $$ goes towards creating more awesome, free travel content.
Lanzarote is an island that makes you feel like you’ve landed on the surface of Mars. It’s incredibly unique, and the closest experience I could liken it to is my trip to Santorini. There’s something I really love about volcanic landscapes – they’re so dramatic and different to anything you’d typically see while traveling.
Part of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote has always been a popular destination for British tourists due to its warm climate and year-round sunshine. Most visitors flock to the tourist resorts of Puerto del Carmen, Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca, which boast sandy beaches, although if you’d like to get more off the beaten path there are plenty of other towns and villages where you can rent an Airbnb or stay in a local guesthouse.
César Manrique is a name you’ll hear a lot all over the island; the visionary artist who helped create and design many of the island’s best cultural attractions. During your stay I’d highly recommend visiting the most notable ones, including Jardin de Cactus, Jameos del Agua and Mirador del Rio.
Here’s my suggested itinerary for four days in Lanzarote:
Day 1: Arrecife and Costa Teguise
When flying into Lanzarote you’ll land at César Manrique-Lanzarote Airport near Arrecife. You’ll want to hire a car in Lanzarote and the best place to do so is from the airport (read tips about renting a car in Lanzarote further along in this article).
Arrecife is Lanzarote’s capital, so it’s definitely worth spending half a day wandering and exploring the city. In the heart of the city you’ll find Charco San Gines, a seawater lagoon filled with fishing boats and surrounded by bars and restaurants. Pay a visit to Castillo de San Gabriel – a stone castle built on an island called “Islet of the Engish”, which offers beautiful views over the Atlantic.
Art lovers will enjoy Castillo de San José, which is a historic fortress that was remodelled by César Manrique and turned into a museum of modern art. Here you can see various abstract art forms, including works by Picasso Tàpies and Miró, as well as various modern sculptures. (Opening hours 11am to 6pm).
If you want to do some shopping, visit Calle Real, which is one of Arrecife’s main streets, where you’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants. And if time permits, pay a visit to Arrecife Gran Hotel, which is the tallest building in Arrecife. The hotel’s roof terrace offers the best views over the city and beyond, so this is the ideal place to grab a cocktail and relax after a day of exploring.
For my first night in Lanzarote I stayed in Costa Teguise at Hotel Grand Teguise Playa, which cost me € 87.50 for one night. Costa Teguise has existed as a resort town since the 1980s and is known for its sandy beaches and wide array of hotels and restaurants. After a morning exploring Arrecife, spend the afternoon in Costa Teguise just relaxing on the beach or by the pool.
If you’re looking for something to do besides waterports and sunbathing, you can visit nearby attractions such as Costa Teguise Aquapark and Lanzarote Aquarium. Restaurants that are well-reviewed include Corner Restaurant, Habana 6, Dolmen Restaurant, Ohana and N°10 Gastrobar.
Day 2: Jardin de Cactus & Jameos del Agua
On your second day on the island I’d recommend visiting some of César Manrique’s attractions. My first stop for the day was Jardin de Cactus, which is a cactus garden located in the village of Guatiza, inside a former quarry. The garden has around 4,500 specimens of 450 different species of cactus. They come from five continents!
The cactus garden has numerous pathways and tiers that you can walk around and admire the many different types of cacti. At the back of the garden you’ll see windmills perched on a hill, which were used to grind cornmeal back in the 19th century. You’ll also find a restaurant serving snacks, drinks and tapas on an elegant terrace. If you want something a bit different, try their cactus burger!
After you’ve visited Jardin de Cactus I’d recommend also seeing Jameos del Agua, which is one of the #1 things to do in Lanzarote and also designed by César Manrique. The Jameos del Agua is a volcanic tube formed by the eruption of the Volcán de la Corona. Inside you’ll find a natural saltwater lagoon, which is home to twelve endemic species, including white blind crabs, which get their color due to pigmentation caused by the darkness of their habitat. It’s strictly forbidden to throw coins or other objects into the lagoon, so don’t do it!
Inside the cave there’s also a restaurant, if you feel like grabbing some lunch. Often concerts and other events take place, taking advantage of the cave’s incredible acoustics. Outside the cave you’ll find a garden of palm trees and a bright turquoise and white artificial pool that looks so striking against the burnt orange and black volcanic landscape of Lanzarote.
After visiting these two places I drove to Oasis Surf House, which is where I stayed for 2 nights of my trip. This place is gorgeous and I would go back in a heartbeat! If you’re the type of person who wants a more intimate experience and likes to avoid the big tourist hotels, this B&B guesthouse might be for you. Since I was traveling by myself I stayed in a dorm room, but the guest house also has 5 guest rooms suitable for singles, couples, friends and families. Shared rooms are 25 euros, while private rooms range from 55 euros to 85 euros.
Located on a mountainside in a quiet rural village called Sóo, Oasis Surf House has stunning views over Lanzarote and boasts a pool, outdoor BBQ area, sunny breakfast room and free parking. Whilst there are no restaurants in the village of Sóo, there are several choices in nearby Santa and Famara.
I had a beautiful meal at a restaurant called Verde Mar in La Santa, but unfortunately this is now closed. Other well-rated options include Alma Tapas & +, El Barquillo, Amendoa and Bar. Tapas El Quemao.
Day 3: Playa de Papagayo & El Grifo Winery
Located in the southwestern part of Lanzarote, Playa de Papagayo is the most beautiful beach on the island, boasting beautiful, clear turquoise blue waters. You have to drive down a long dirt track to get there but once you’re there there’s plenty of parking. At low tide you can walk around the rocks and take some incredible photos of the beach looking back to the shore. If you get hungry here’s also a restaurant in the cliff where you can grab lunch and admire the ocean views. Plan on heading out early and spending the best part of a day there, before driving to El Grifo winery in the afternoon.
Bodegas El Grifo is the oldest winery in the Canaries and one of the ten oldest in Spain – some of the grapevines at the winery date back to the 19th century! Wines in Lanzarote get their flavor from the island’s unique volcanic climate of fire, wind and rock. Entry to the winery costs 15 euros and includes a guided tour plus access to the museum. You can also walk through the pre-phylloxera vineyard, buy wine in the gift shop and purchase a wine tasting in the wine bar.
Museum and Store opening hours:
- Monday to Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Wine-Bar El Grifo:
- Monday to Sunday from 12:00 to 19:00.
Day 4: Timanfaya National Park & Puerto del Carmen
One absolute must-do activity in Lanzarote is Timanfaya National Park, which is the result of volcanic eruptions that occurred between 1720 and 1736. It covers about a quarter of the surface of Lanzarote!
When you arrive at the park you’ll park near the visitor’s center, before hopping on a bus tour that will take you through the park on the Ruta de los Volcanes. This narrow road winds through the park and takes you past some of the most spectacular sights. Ordinary cars aren’t allowed on the road and it takes some exceptional driving skills to maneuver a bus on such a narrow, steep road.
After the bus tour, guides demonstrate the intense heat of the earth below by dropping straw into a shallow pit and watching it ignite. They even demonstrate how hot the subsurface temperatures are by cooking sausages!
The park’s restaurant, El Diablo, uses this geothermal heat for cooking, so you can eat food that’s been cooked by the heat of the volcano.
After discovering Timanfaya National Park, spend the afternoon in the town of Puerto Del Carmen, which is conveniently close to the airport. Located on the southeast coast of Lanzarote, this resort town is home to sandy beaches such as Playa Chica, Playa Grande and Matagorda. Spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach and walking along Avenida de las Playas, which is lined with shops, bars and restaurants. Seafood here is great – I enjoyed some delicious prawns and octopus carpaccio at a restaurant on the promenade.
Getting Around Lanzarote
I’d recommend you hire a car in Lanzarote to get around because then you have the freedom to go anywhere you want. While you can book tours and use the island’s bus network, it’s just easier and more convenient to hire a car, plus you can get to some of Lanzarote’s more remote beaches and attractions. Best of all, car rentals are really cheap, often cheaper than booking transfers to and from the airport.
A few things to note:
- In Lanzarote people drive on the right hand side of the road
- It’s best to pick up and drop off your car from Arrecife Airport
- You need to be over 23 years old to hire a car in Lanzarote
- Driving laws are the same as in the rest of Spain
After doing some research on forums before I went, I discovered it’s best to book with a local car rental company, such as AutoReisen. They are cheap and I didn’t have to deal with long lines at the car rental desks. Plus, everything is included, including full insurance, free booking/cancellation and no rip-off petrol rules. You also get a free additional driver included!
With big-name insurance companies you often have to pay for insurance on top, but with companies like AutoReisen the price includes everything and there are no expensive surprises. Renting a car with them was a breeze and I drove around the island in a cute little Fiat 500.
As someone from the UK who’s not used to driving on the “other” side of the road, I found driving in Lanzarote relatively easy, since the island is well sign-posted, well-paved and there aren’t very many cars on the road. On one occasion I had to drive down a bumpy dirt road to get to the beach, but the main roads are in very good condition.
Price of car rentals in Lanzarote: Expect to pay around 15 euros per day.
Weather & Climate in Lanzarote
Due to their location off the west coast of Africa, the Canary Islands tend to have mild, warm weather all year round, making them perfect for tourists wanting to escape the cold European winters.
Lanzarote’s climate is almost desert-like and the island is subject to trade winds coming from the northeast, which are particularly welcomed by surfers looking to catch some good waves. Temperatures average around 21 °C (70 °F) in the winter months of January and February and reach around 29 °C (84 °F) in August and September. If you choose to visit between December and March definitely bring a jacket as temperatures can drop at night.
The island only experiences around 200 millimeters (8 inches) per year, and if it does rain, this is usually between the months of October to March. If you’re the sort of person who wants really hot, guaranteed scorching sunshine, you’ll probably want to visit in the summer, but Lanzarote also has a pleasant climate all year round.
Where to stay in Lanzarote
As mentioned within my post, I stayed at the following places:
Hotel Grand Teguise Playa – Located on the beachfront in a quieter part of Costa Teguise, the Hotel Grand Teguise Playa features three bars, two restaurants and three outdoor pools, including two saltwater and one freshwater. I loved the lush foliage in the lobby and waking up to a beautiful pool/ocean view!
Oasis Surf House – I personally really enjoy the intimate, quieter vibe of small guest houses. Oasis Surf House is located in a tiny village on the north coast of the island and I loved waking up to the incredible views! I found this guesthouse really easy to meet people since they did a group BBQ in the evening where I could chat with other guests. All in all I had a wonderful time here.
A final word:
Lanzarote turned out to me one of my most memorable solo trips an I’d highly recommend it if you’re a solo traveler. I felt very safe and enjoyed driving around the island exploring the scenery, beaches and attractions. Definitely don’t just stick to the resorts – try to hire a car and explore the island, it’s worth it!