Forget the raver Tenerife, the sandy Fuerteventura and the bustling Gran Canaria. Lanzarote is the Canary island that you don’t expect. The first feeling you get when you step out of the plane here is that you’ve landed on the moon. A pleasant, warm, tropical moon. With its volcanic surface, up-and-down roads and dazzling white houses, it won’t take time until you realise that this isn’t your typical touristy island.
In fact, in an extension of just 60km there’s plenty to see and do, from sleeping in a eco village to visiting a famous artist house, from taking a picture on top of a volcano to eating fresh fish on a oceanic shore. So if you’re planning a trip to Lanzarote and don’t want to laze around inside a touristic village, here’s the guide for you, with tips from real island insiders. So rent a car or a motorbike and start discovering with us.
What to see & what to do in Lanzarote
Fundacíon César Manrique
Taro de Tahíche – C/ Jorge Luis Borges, 16, 35507 Tahíche, Lanzarote + 34 928 843 138
This is a name that you will find EVERYWHERE around the island. So, first things first: who is César Manrique? Figuratively – but not that much – speaking, he’s the man who designed Lanzarote’s landscape.
Born in Arrecife in 1919, this matter-centred artist was a contemporary “informalist” whose art was deeply connected to geology. After three expositions in New York, he returned to his native island in the mid 60s, and started a series of spatial projects that would have turned Lanzarote in a natural work of art.
The Fundacíon was originally his house, built right inside a lava coulee, a mix of craters and pinnacles originated from a volcanic eruption in 1730. That’s exactly the type of art you should expect from Manrique: a human artefact that flows right into the work of nature, taking inspiration from it and simultaneously enhancing it. Rooms with the typical geometries and whimsical details of the 60s are engraved into volcanic depressions, pools without borders resemble subterranean lakes, and black rocks pour down the glass windows. Here nature is art, and art is nature.
Casa Museo de César Manrique
Calle Elvira Sánchez, 30, 35520 Haría, Lanzarote +34 928 84 31 38
César Manrique’s second house is a straight-out-of-a-dream combination of rustic materials, 60s furnishing and tropical vibe. Here’s where the artist spent his last years, and stepping inside the house means taking in a piece of his life. Wood and stones are the counterpart of velvety rugs and posh pink bathrooms; the pool could perfectly fit in a movie about Andy Warhol and pop art; and dozens of perfumes bottles – as well as spirits – are left untouched on their glass tables.
But Manrique’s life was not only about enjoying the luxury life. Immersed in the palm grove of the garden there’s his artistic studio, where he spent most of his daytime. Paint splashes, curious utensils, refined chemical tools: while inside, it’s impossible not to be moved by the artist’s passion for his work and for the land he contributed to turning into a masterpiece.
Museo Agrícola El Patio
Calle Echeyde, 18, 35558 Teguise, Lanzarote +34 928 52 91 34
If you want to travel back in time to XIX century Lanzarote, here’s the place for you. As Managing Director German Barreto would tell you, “El Patio will show you how the island was before being touched by tourism”.
Here you will discover the life and the house of a campesino, a farmer who cultivated onions, cereals and tomatoes and breaded goats, chickens and camels. Something radically distant from today’s “weekend agriculture”, as Barreto would call it.
You will discover how a windmill works, a machine that perfectly balances functionality and aesthetics. And after being fascinated by all the original utensils in the ethnographic museum, you could also taste some local Malvasia and goat cheese at the Bodegón, nowadays pubs’ precursor.
As Barreto explains, the final aim of El Patio is dual. “On one hand, this restored historical space can show to visitors the reality of the island without false speculations; on the other hand, it could help reminding to Lanzarote’s inhabitants what their origins are and how much they should be praised.”
Timanfaya National Park
Tinajo, Lanzarote +34 928118042
Also named Montañas de Fuego (Fire mountains), the Timanfaya National Park is the epitome of a moon-like landscape. Originated from the volcanic eruption of 1730, this 200-square-kilometre lava-covered area features 25 dormant craters, and the most other-worldly shapes you can think of.
Enjoy the park on special vehicles rented in place, and maybe stop for lunch at El Diablo restaurant. Designed by Manrique (would you have ever guessed?), dishes at this panoramic place are cooked using the heat coming from the earth. Do we need to say more?
La Agachadilla, 23, 35570 Uga, Lanzarote +34 629 37 22 20
This is an hidden gem, out of the touristic routes. Not far from the breathtaking Playa Blanca and Costa Papagayo, Finca Uga is a massive farm that enclose an entire ecosystem inside its walls.
Once a month the Finca opens its breeding farm and greenhouses for visits, and the animal and vegetal variety here is astonishing.
Canarian black pigs are the stars of the Finca, with their spa-like enclosures that features classical music pouring down the speakers.
Dromedaries, goats, cows and chickens are just some of the other guests of the Finca, which also hosts vast greenhouses full of tomatoes and tropical fruit, as well as the most colourful flowers you can think of.
Jameos del Agua
Carretera Arrecife-Orzola, S/N, 35520 Haria, Lanzarote +34 901 20 03 00
César Manrique strikes back. He transformed a giant volcanic cavity into one of the most spectacular places in the world. Scenic steps carved in black basalt descend towards a vast natural pool, covered by a semi-open cave. The water is pristine blue, sometimes punctuated by small albino crabs, symbol of the place.
Around the pool, seats and tables have been created into the rocks, with orange and white pillows scattered around. Rest here for a moment, maybe sipping on a cocktail or listening to some light music.
And speaking of music, another cave of this area has been transformed in a fully functioning auditorium. Right inside the hardened lava flow. Is it mind blowing enough?
Museo El Grifo and volcanic vineyards
Lugar de El Grifo, 35550 San Bartolomé, Lanzarote +34 928 52 49 51
Driving around the island you’ll probably notice many curious stone semi-circles punctuating the igneous landscape. They’re called Zocos, and they’re built to protect Malvasia vines from the wind (it can be quite strong here). This type of grape is the most common in Lanzarote, and from it are obtained sweet and dessert wines.
One of the most prolific wine regions of the island is La Geria, where also a lot of bodegas (wine cellars) are situated. One of them, El Grifo, houses a really well equipped wine museum, complete with XIX and XX century machinery and wine making tools.
While walking around the museum and its garden, take your time to admire the ancient vines that have resided here for more than a century. With a glass of house wine in hand, let your eyes wander around the rocky yet pleasant hills around, with all the tidy zocos brushed by the wind. That’s called relax.
Mirador del Rio
35500 Lanzarote +34 901 20 03 00
A lookout onto the sea canal (rio) that separates Lanzarote from the minor island of La Graciosa.
Again, the wise hand of César Manrique transformed an already stunning observation point into a outstanding work of art. Caved into the tip of a mountain, the Mirador offers cozy couches where to sit and admire the Atlantic Ocean from a semi-circular glass wall. All in a atmosphere that combines rocks, plants and a 60s-era design.
Windsurfers in Famara
Lanzarote is a hidden paradise for all surfers and windsurfers, thanks to the oceanic winds that never actually stop all year long. One – if not the best – spot to enjoy these sports is Caleta de Famara, on the northern-east side of the island. The long beach with golden sand could be compared to a miniaturised California. If you don’t feel like trying the surfboard or the kite, don’t worry: you can comfortably sit on the dunes and take pictures of the tricks and acrobatics without risking life and limb.
Where to eat in Lanzarote
La Geria 3, 35570 Yaiza, Lanzarote +34-928 173115
Artistic and ironic posters at the walls, dim light and the feeling that nature doesn’t stop outside the pub/restaurant doors, thanks to trees ad plants popping inside. Must: octopus tapas and a glass of Moscatel, the local dessert wine.
Los Aljibes de Tahiche
Calle Bravo Murillo 6, 35507 Tahiche, Lanzarote +34 610 454 294
A design environment (César Manrique is back at it) where the igneous desert meets artisanal beers. Canarian and Argentianian barbecue accompanied by goat cheese and a refreshing pale ale can be savoured while surrounded by cactuses and vintage barrels.
Av. Guanarteme, 100, 35558 Tiagua, Lanzarote +34 928 52 98 56
The go-to place if you want to eat in thorough Canarian fashion. Praised by locals, this restaurant with traditional and simple interiors will serve you tapas as you have never tasted before. After a warm welcome made of goat cheese and a shot of Malvasia, right on the restaurant’s steps, the menu awaits with oceanic fish tapas, grilled meat, chorizo and many other delicacies. Just a couple of reminders: the host and the staff speaks little English, but they’re ready to make themselves understandable. And mostly, remember that a meal doesn’t end if you haven’t poured yourself a glass of two of Ron y miel on the house. So be sure you aren’t going to drive afterwards!
Avenida Lomo De Los Señores 9, 35560 Tinajo, Lanzarote +34 619 239 095
As the name says, this is the perfect place if you crave grilled fish or meat. With wooden interiors that create a familiar atmosphere, and with a view over La Santa and Famara, Grillen mixes north European vibes with the warmth of a tropical island. The menu constantly changes, but one thing always remains: the high-quality ingredients that only local fincas and Canarian fishermen can bring to the table.
Calle Caleta de Campo, 16, 35542 Punta Mujeres, Lanzarote :+34 928 84 81 76
If you are organising a romantic dinner while on Lanzarote, this is your place. Grilled Atlantic fish, fresh of the day, with the ocean waves at a couple of metres from your seat. Tasty appetisers made of local ingredients, rustic yet deeply cozy atmosphere and a bottle of fine wine to cheer to new beginnings. You’ll feel as if you and your loved one were completely alone on this tropical island.
Where to sleep in Lanzarote
Hotels with lousy international breakfast and tacky touristic villages? In Lanzarote you can have so much better. We warmly recommend to stay in family-run fincas, where you’ll get comfortable and stylish accommodation, a full immersion in the natural elements of the island and the best local food.
Camino el Oratorio, 14, 35572 Tías, Lanzarote +34 665 46 85 38
Grillen’s partner, Richard and Tarnya Norse Evans, also own this charming finca close to La Geria. If you want to discover why this place could be described as magical and why two designers from London left everything to come and open their business in Lanzarote – in true César Manrique style – check out their story here.
Finca de Arrieta
Calle Caleta de Campo, 16, 35542 Punta Mujeres, Lanzarote +34 928 84 81 76
Born from the dream of a windsurf teacher and the design talent of his wife, Finca de Arrieta is a proud example of completely self sufficient eco village. The perfect place to combine clean energy and luxury accommodations.
The place hosted an aljibe – literally a water tank – when Tila and Michelle Braddock decided to turn it first into their family residence, and later in today’s eco village (leaving friends and locals bewildered, to say the least). But they soon realised that the island’s electricity was really too expensive.
That’s when they decided to completely go “off-grid”, unplugging from regular energy supplies and building those solar panels and wind turbines that are now fully functioning. They also built their own well, together with a water reuse system that doesn’t waste water coming from showers and dish washing, but conveys it directly to the plants of the village. Fun fact: some of the village’s accommodations have palm trees INSIDE the shower. This also means that all the Finca’s complementary soaps and cremes are totally eco-friendly.
In the Finca’s program of recycling/separations is included using food scraps to feed the animals, from chickens to a cuddly donkey, the kids favourite. As for kids themselves, there isn’t a set of rules to restrict their behaviour: all parents have to do here is make them respect the environment.
Speaking of accommodations, together with cottages and apartments, Finca de Arrieta’s signature features are the yurts.
Original of Mongolia, yurts are silk lined tents built to isolate from both cold (in Mongolia temperatures drop as far as -40 C) and hot weather (they get ventilated by rolling the sides and opening the roof). With their extremely exotic appearance, completed by Indonesian and Moroccan interiors, they’re appealing not only for nomad life enthusiasts, but also for all those high-end professionals who wish to spend some time unplugged from a chaotic life. Adding to the comforts, every yurt has its own fully equipped kitchen, bathroom and private small yard.
As many other places in Lanzarote, Finca de Arrieta reflects one of César Manrique’s fundamentals: keep it as natural as possible. That’s why some of the accommodations come with a hybrid car to be used during your stay. Moreover, Tila and the staff move around with super slick micro electric cars.
Even commerce here seems to follow the “as natural as possible” precept. Guests can buy food and travel essentials at the Honesty Shop, where prices are on display but there’s no cashier or controller. You just leave the right amount of money in a box. It goes without saying that the Honesty Shop is only for honest clients.
As Tila Braddock would put it: “Lanzarote owns the peace of paradise. You can come here to train, to party, to write. In fact, Lanzarote can be anything you want it to be.”