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What to do in Lanzarote – volcanoes, vineyards and whitewashed villages

Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the Canary Islands and sits in the Atlantic Ocean about 125 km off the west coast of Africa. It’s a small island with remarkable volcanic landscapes, beautiful beaches and good weather pretty much all year round. So, what to do in Lanzarote? Quite a lot actually…

What to do in Lanzarote

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The best things to do in Lanzarote

Lanzarote might be small but it punches well above its weight in terms of sightseeing. As well as wineries, white-washed villages, luxury villas and national parks, it’s home to some unique visitor attractions. If you want to know what to do in Lanzarote you’ve come to the right place.

When I visited I discovered a small island big on unusual and fascinating sights. At just 60 km (37 mi) long and 25 km (16 mi) wide, it’s ideal to explore by car. You can get around pretty much all of the island in a day or two which means you’ll have plenty of time on the beach or by the pool as well as all the other things to do in Lanzarote.

There’s something in Lanzarote that’ll appeal to everyone from art lovers to outdoor enthusiasts, nature buffs and wine connoisseurs. Water lovers are taken care of too with scuba diving, snorkelling and sailing. Here’s what to do in Lanzarote for every kind of traveller.

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César Manrique’s legacy

Lanzarote’s famous architect, César Manrique, had a major influence on the island’s planning regulations. He lobbied successfully to make sure that any new buildings are in keeping with the island’s traditional colours, style and with no high rise buildings.

Because of this, the coastline has no tower-blocks which gives the island a more traditional Spanish feel than some of the other Canary Islands like Tenerife or Fuertaventura.

Manrique’s ethos was to combine art and nature in a unique way and on a sustainable level. He was an eco warrior of sorts and well ahead of his time. Visiting some of the César Manrique attractions were top of my list of things to do on Lanzarote so that’s where I’m going to start.

I want to extract harmony from the earth to unify it with my feeling for art – César Manrique

The cactus garden and windmill

What to do in Lanzarote if you love plants? A visit to the Cactus garden, even if you’re not that into cacti, is a fun way to fill an hour ot two. It’s also a fabulous place to photograph.

The Jardin de Cactus is a César Manrique creation built into an old quarry; a perfect example of architecture integrated into the landscape. You’ll find it in the north of the island between Mala and Guatiza.

Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote
Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

The garden houses over 7,500 cacti from around the world and has been established for over 25 years which means some of the cacti are now pretty big.  

The dark grey lava stone used to build the walls and terraces make a nice contrast to the prickly plants. The cacti are interspersed with volcanic stone sculptures and there are Manrique design touches throughout from quirky cactus-shaped door handles to unusual signs for the toilets.

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Most of the cactus garden is explored by walking along sloping pathways and ramps but there are some steps which are quite steep so not suitable for everybody.

Curved wooden stairs inside the windmill take you up to the top to see its workings and there are wonderful views across the gardens from its base. There’s a cafe and gift shop selling souvenirs and, unsurprisingly, cacti.

Windmill Lanzarote
            Windmill at Cactus Garden, Lanzarote

César Manrique’s Jardín de Cactus is open every day from 10:00 to 17:45, it costs €5.80 per adult and €2.90 per child (7-12 years). Discounts for residents apply.

Jameos del Agua

Los Jameos del Agua is inside a lava tube. The volcanic tunnel was formed when Volcano La Corona erupted three to four thousand years ago. The idea of exploring a lava tube was a definite must-see for me.

A  ‘Jameo’ is a volcanic cave made of lava rock and has a collapsed roof. There are many of these caves, or tubes, on the island but del Agua is probably the best known. It’s located in the north of Lanzarote and is part of the Atlantida cave system.

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Jameos del Agua
The lake at Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

Artist césar manrique had the idea of turning the ‘jameos’ into a visitor centre with restaurant, museum, tropical gardens, swimming pool and 600 seat auditorium. All this within a lava tube makes a very unique Lanzarote attraction.

Underground Lagoon

When we arrived we made our way down a spiral staircase to an underground salt-water lagoon, Jameo Chico, (small Jameo) which has crystal clear waters.

Tiny, blind albino crabs (Munidopsis Polimorpha) live in the lagoon. They’re are the symbol of Jameo Agua and dot the floor of the lake like a starry sky. Look closely you’ll see thousands of the ‘glow in the dark’ crabs.

A walk alongside the lake through the lava tube brings you to a garden of plants and a vivid turquoise pool which a solitary palm bowing over it. The lagoon is picture postcard perfect.

A 600 seater auditorium, added in 1987, is a venue for concerts and festivals and takes up the whole of an underground lava bubble. You can take a look during the day but I imagine going in the evening for a concert would be wonderful. The acoustics are pretty amazing in there.

Opening hours at Jameos del Agua are every day from 10:00 to 18:30 and special opening from 19:00 – 01:00 Saturday and Tuesday.  The restaurant is open from 11:30 to 16:30 and the cafeteria from 10:00 to 18:30. It costs €9.50 for Adults and €4,75 per child (7-12 years). 

Mirador del Rio

El Mirador del Río is an observation point sitting high up on the Risco de Famara, in the north of the Island.  It’s barely visible from the outside as it’s been integrated completely into the volcanic lava cliff face. Of course it’s another César Manrique creation.   

At an altitude of 474 metres it’s home to some spectacular views – the Archipiélago Chinijo Nature Reserve, Graciosa Island, Famara Cliff and down the North West coast of the island.

Famara Cliff
Famara Cliff – one of the best things to do on Lanzarote

Inside the building are two white cavernous rooms, the curved, smooth walls contrast with the dark porous texture of the volcanic lava outside.  Two huge picture windows open out onto the incredible view but I preferred to enjoy it from the outdoor terrace.

The island of La Graciosa is separated from Lanzarote by a narrow strip of sea called “El Río” (The River) and it’s this that gives its name to the observation point. There are good views from the terrace of the Famara Cliff and the red-coloured “Salinas del Río” of “Guza”, the oldest salt mines in Lanzarote.

If you’re looking for spectacular views then this is one of the best things to do on Lanzarote.

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Famara Cliff
View of Famara Cliff from the terrace of Mirador del Rio, Lanzarote
Across El Río to Graciosa Island
View cross El Río to Graciosa Island

Mirador del Rio Opening Hours: 10:00 to 17:45 Summer opening hours (15 July to 15 September): 10:00 to 18:45 Closes at 16:45 on 24 and 31 December

Admission is €4.75 for adults and €2.70 for children – reductions apply for Canarian residents

Rent a car and explore Lanzarote

All three of the above attractions are near to each other on the north side of the island so it’s worth planning to see all of them on the same day.

We hired a car and got around all the sights in this post in one day – it’s the way to go if you like to explore independently. Car rental was extremely affordable at around €50 and as it’s a small island we didn’t spend a fortune on fuel, in fact it came to under €14. So with four of us in the car the total cost was less than €16 per person to get around the whole island. The best part of renting a car is stopping when something catches your attention – you can pull over and check it out and I can assure you we did!

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Buy your map of Lanzarote to help with your journey.

Lanzarote Tours and Excursions

What to do in Lanzarote if you don’t want to drive? Well that’s easy too because there’s a huge choice of excursions, day trips and tours available. If you’re arriving by cruise ship there’s a choice of day tours of the island too.

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La Geria – Lanzarote’s Vineyards

Lanzarote has a wine-producing tradition that began as far back as the fifteenth century. Heading towards the centre of the island on the road from San Bartolomé to Playa Blanca you’ll find La Geria.

It’s an area of vineyards and wineries in the shadow of a brooding volcano range. It’s one of the more unusal sights in the Canary Islands and if you’re a wine lover this is one Lanzarote attraction you won’t want to miss.

La Geria wine region
Lanzarote Vineyards

The vineyards in Lanzarote aren’t like any you’ll have ever seen before. A massive eruption in 1730 lasting six years covered this part of the island in thick, black volcanic ash and put a stop to any cultivation except for the grapevine. 

Zocos and Bodegas

Each vine is grown in a round hollow and surrounded by a small crescent-shaped wall called a Zocos. These protect the vines from the near-constant winds. There’s little rainfall in Lanzarote and the volcanic ash preserves soil moisture around the plant ensuring it has enough water to grow.

I went in February when the vines weren’t sprouting yet but it was still worth visiting. The sight of row upon row of Zocos sitting in seas of black sand was surreal. There are plenty of bodegas to stop at for a tapas lunch, and of course the wine is excellent…

The César Manrique Foundation – Casa del Palmeral

The César Manrique Foundation is Manrique’s former home, Taro de Tahiche, and is located a ten-minute drive from Arrecife.

Manrique took an organic approach and built his home into an old lava flow which is made up of five underground cavern rooms set in natural volcanic bubbles. Each bubble is connected to the next by underground tunnel and the whole creation completed in 1968. The sunken garden and courtyard are calm spaces with traditional Canarian features.

The foundation also houses the best art gallery on the island with a modern art collection, including drawings by Picasso and Miro. There’s another gallery for smaller exhibitions, a shop and cafe too. 

Admission: €8 adults, children under 12 €1. Open: 10.00-18.00 Monday to Saturday, 10.00-15.00 Sunday

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Timanfaya National Park

I’ve saved the best until last. The volcanoes and lava fields of Timanfaya National Park were the most breathtaking of the things to do on Lanzarote.

Covering an area of over 51 square km in the south west of the island these are the same volcanoes that blew their tops in 1730 covering La Geria wine area in black ash and small pebbles of lapilli.

Volcano at Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
Volcano cone at Timanfaya, Lanzarote

Lanzarote’s Volcanoes – Fire Mountains

A group of over 100 volcanoes, Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) and their massive rippling lava fields make up Timanfaya National Park. It’s the main focus of Lanzarote’s UNESCO biosphere reserve.

If you want to know what to do in Lanzarote for outdoor enthusiasts this is the one thing not to be missed.

Intense heat rages under the earth here. We watched as a park ranger poured a bucket of water into a small hole in the lava. It burst back out seconds later in a plume of hot water and steam. You wouldn’t want to get too close.

What to do in Lanzarote
Geyser spout at Timanfaya, Lanzarote

To protect the unique flora and fauna from trampling boots visitors are not allowed to walk unescorted. If you’re really keen to explore you can take the Ruta de Tremesana, a three-hour walk, with a park ranger. It’s advisable to book ahead as they get busy.  

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El Diablo Bus Tour

El Diablo buses leave from the nearby car park every 20 minutes for a tour around the volcano craters and lava field. The cost of the bus is included in your entry fee. Pre-recorded commentaries in  Spanish, English and German tell interesting facts about the area and you’ll pass some spectacular views of the craters and landscape. 

Once the bus tour starts passengers are not allowed to alight so any photographs you want to take will have to be taken from the bus. The ones below were all taken from the bus so it is possible to get some good shots.

Tip: Sit next to the window on the right hand side of the bus for the best views.

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Timanfaya National Park
Open volcano crater at Timanfaya
Volcanoes at Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Lava Fields in Timanfaya National Park

The road ribbons through the lava field which, in places, looks as though it’s only just solidified from its cascading, bubbling path towards the coast. The scenery we passed was incredible with steep slopes of grey and black around the gaping mouths of the cones.

Rust, orange and maroon peaks contrasted with ochre sands while scrubby plants clung to the slopes of picon. The driver navigated some pretty tight bends to get the best views into some of the peaks. 

Lanzarote's Fire Mountains
Volcanoes at Timanfaya
Fire Mountains – probably the best thing to do on Lanzarote

Timanfaya National Park is located in the west of Lanzarote, off the LZ-67 between Yaiza and Tinajo. Enter at the gate and continue on to the visitor centre, Islote de Hilario, which is about 1 km up the road. There are fabulous views over the landscape.

If you don’t have a hire car you might want to consider a day tour of Timanfaya National Park.

There’s an exhibition located in Mancha Blanca which you’ll find further along the LZ-67. You may want to visit when you’ve finished your visit to the park.

The park is open daily from 10.00 – 17.45.  The El Diablo buses cost €10 adults and €4 for children.  Worth every last cent.

Tip: If you plan to see more than two of these sights during your stay you might want to buy a combo ticket for a group of attractions and save a few euros. As you’ve seen there’s quite a list of things to do on Lanzarote so a combo ticket will help you budget.

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Ready to plan your holiday to Lanzarote?

So, now you know what do in Lanzarote. If you have any questions drop me a dm on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you. If there are any other things to do on Lanzarote that should be on our list let us know in the comments below so we can visit next time.

Read about more Spanish islands…

Menorca 25 reasons to visit Menorca Majorca A world of Wander at Iberostar Grand Portals Nous and Gourmet Dining at Iberostar Grand Portals Nous.  Why Tenerife is a great island to visit in January and why you should visit North Tenerife.

Planning a Lanzarote trip? Save it for later…



Thursday 27th of August 2015

What a great post. I'm planning a trip to Lanzarote next month and really couldn't find the best information on it. Love the post and the photos. Thanks for sharing. Did you happen to do the 3 hour hike? What was it like? I would love to photograph some sights from the park, but being on a bus wouldn't allow that. Thanks!

Suzanne Jones

Thursday 27th of August 2015

Hi Sheri, we didn't do the hike as we didn't have time - I'd have loved to though. Some of the photos in the post were taken from the bus. I had to watch for reflections but they didn't come out too badly. Thanks for stopping by and glad the post was useful :)

Travelbunny Highlights 2014 | The Travelbunny

Thursday 13th of August 2015

[…] from ice to fire and some winter sunshine on a work trip as I took a group of incentive winners to Lanzarote in The Canary Islands.  I’ve visited Tenerife and La Gomera but this was my first trip to the […]


Thursday 26th of February 2015

Indeed, this beautiful place is under-rated. Thanks for sharing! :)

Suzanne Jones

Thursday 26th of February 2015

Isn't it just! Thanks for reading :)

Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

Tuesday 26th of August 2014

Never been to Lanzarote - love how incredible the volcanic scenery looks - I never realised it had landscape like this!

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 26th of August 2014

The landscape was amazing - there are a couple of other sights I'd liked to have seen but was working so didn't have time.


Tuesday 26th of August 2014

The volcanic landscape looks really dramatic - a bit like you'd imagine being on another planet! I don't know a great deal about the Canary Islands but looks like there's a lot to see beyond the obvious beachy/package holiday side you might normally think of.

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 26th of August 2014

There were other sights I'd liked to have seen - a luminous green lake, other lava tubes and some of the old villages. Sadly I only had one day to check out the island.

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