Family holidays to the Canary Islands

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For a start it’s a UNESCO protected biosphere and, outside the capital Arrecife, mostly just big beaches, wild volcanic landscape, little towns, eco-resorts, organic faming and viticulture. Sounds a little too sedate for a family holiday?

Not at all. The easternmost Canary’s a world surfing capital, cycling legend, home to stunning art and architecture and one of the most spectacular natural playgrounds in Europe.

Why go on holiday to the Canary Islands

  • Direct flights

    Cheap, direct flights from the UK to Lanzarote year round take just over four hours.

  • Endless spring temperatures

    Known as the ‘island of endless spring’, temperatures range between 24˚C in January to 35˚C in July and August.

  • Beaches

    The island has both golden sand and black lava beaches.

  • Volcanos

    Lanzarote’s Montañas del Fuego volcanos are dramatic but, unlike Tenerife’s Mount Teide, they don’t create afternoon cloud cover.

  • Timanfaya National Park

    The vast lunar landscape of Timanfaya National Park is almost entirely unchanged since the last volcano erupted here in the early 19th

  • Rich history

    Lanzarote was home to Spanish architect and artist César Manrique whose conservation efforts in the 1970s and 80s contributed to the island’s current standing as a protected UNESCO biosphere.

  • Surfing

    The island’s west coast is fantastic for year round surfing and has some of Europe’s best kids’ surf camps and schools.

Where to go and stay in the Canary Islands


Arrecife has the distinction of being the only place in Lanzarote where buildings are taller than palm trees – it was built before César Manrique’s successful, late 20th century campaign for vernacular, low-rise architecture. But it’s still a charming island capital with a long, elegant seafront, interesting restaurants, designer shops and several historic monuments and museums.

  • Home to the island’s main airport and a busy cruise port, Arrecife’s good for nightlife and water sports on big, golden Playa del Reducto.
  • Visit for: Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo, La Recova Market, Playa del Reducto and del Cable and Charco de San Ginés lagoon.
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Puerto del Carmen

This is the Lanzarote resort that could make you doubt the island’s biosphere credentials. It’s relentlessly touristy, very busy in summer and the first choice for party loving teens and twenty somethings. That said, the beaches are fantastic and the town’s packed with lively, fun activities for older kids. It’s also the area for good value package holidays, all-inclusive family hotels and larger holiday villages.

  • Six kilometres of golden, sandy beaches are the main attraction in Puerto del Carmen. Playa Grand’s great for younger kids and Playa Chica’s the best on Lanzarote for water sports.
  • The resort’s busy bars, clubs and tourist restaurants are mainly in and around Las Playas Avenue and Varadero. The historic town harbour’s charming for seafood restaurants and tapas bars.
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Playa Blanca

The southernmost tip of Lanzarote was once only the preserve of more adventurous visitors heading to famous Papagaya or for the ferry to Fuertaventura. Today it’s one of the prettiest resorts on the island and perfect if you want gorgeous beaches, good restaurants and easy access to the dramatic west coast and charming mountain towns and villages.

  • Four and five star beachfront resort hotels and a several holiday developments with family self catering villas and apartments.
  • The main resort beach Playa Blanca is blue flag.
  • Stunning, isolated and paradise Papagaya Beach is a short drive from Playa Blanca.
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Costa Teguise

Lanzarote’s third largest resort was purpose built in the 1970s under the guidance of Cèsar Manrique. It’s lively and family orientated with the island’s only waterpark and five beaches.

  • Wide choice of places to stay from budget apartments to large holiday villas and three, four and five star resort hotels.
  • The resort’s main beach, Playa Cucharas, has the best windsurfing conditions on Lanzarote.
  • Secluded Playa Ancia and Playa Jabillo are good for swimming and Playa Bastian is famous for year-round, sheltered sunbathing.
  • Teguise, the ancient capital of Lanzarote, is 15 minutes drive from the resort. This lovely, historic town with its elegant architecture and cobbled streets is well known for its huge Sunday morning market.
  • Costa Teguise is 15 minutes drive north of Arrecife and the least sheltered of the island’s resorts: refreshing in summer but not the best choice for winter sun holidays.
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Said to be the island’s loveliest village, Haria is 30 minutes drive inland south east of Arrecife. Sitting in the Valley of 1000 Palms against the backdrop of Lanzarote’s highest mountain range, Risco de Famara, it’s famous for lush green gardens, traditional architecture and breathtaking walking and cycling routes.

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What do and see with kids in the Canary Islands

  • Timanfaya National Park

    In the mid 18th century over 100 volcanos erupted across a 50km stretch of Lanzarote. The devastation was immense and left behind a unique, lava strewn landscape which is now Timanfaya and Los Volcanes National Park. You can see the park by tour bus, but the camel train trek is a fantastic adventure for older kids. Timanfaya National Park

  • Cèsar Manrique Foundation, Tahiche

    This beautiful villa and gardens is a fitting tribute to the man who shaped modern Lanzarote and explains his fascinating life and work on the island and beyond. Cèsar Manrique Foundation

  • La Graciosa

    Sitting just off the far north coast of Lanzarote this gorgeous little, car-free island is a fun day trip. Take a picnic, play on the beaches or bring your bike and go exploring. Daytrip from Orzola to Graciosa

  • Aquapark, Costa Teguise

    The only waterpark on the island isn’t on the same scale as some of the Asian or US monsters, but there are plenty of big chutes and slides for older kids and splash-pad fun for toddlers. Aquapark

  • Scuba diving, Playa Chica

    Several of the dive sites at Playa Chica in Puerto del Carmen are wade-into and Lanzarote Dive School has PADI Discover Scuba courses for over 10s. PADI Discover Scuba

  • Super Snorkel, Costa Teguise

    Somewhere in between snorkelling and scuba diving is the fun of Super Snorkel for kids of eight and over in the clear, marine rich waters of Costa Teguise. Native Diving

  • Cruise to Papagaya Beach

    Arguably the loveliest beach on Lanzarote, certainly the least crowded, Papagaya is even more magical as part of a catamaran family day cruise. Catlanza

  • Lava Tunnel Tours

    Lanzarote’s crisscrossed with a huge network of underground lava tunnels, some as deep as 60m. Discover what lies beneath with experienced guides on tours of between one and five hours. Lava Tunnel Tours

  • Volcano Treks

    You aren’t allowed to wander around Timanfaya on your own, but you can set foot on the spectacular lava landscape on a Volcano Trek with a registered guide. Volcano Treks

  • Cycling Tours

    Lanzarote isn’t level but well surfaced roads, dozens of thrilling routes and the island’s respect for bikes more than makes up for a few steep climbs. Lanzarote Cycling

Educational value for kids

  • Take the guided tour of Timanfaya and spend some time at the excellent park visitor centre.
  • Visit the island’s Aloe Vera plantation, Lanzaloe, for a free tour of this fascinating eco-project.
  • Surf School Lanzarote in Famara on the island’s north west coast is one of the best surf schools in Europe and has three-five day beginner courses for kids.
  • Drive up to the Mirador del Rio in the Risco de Famara mountains. At 497m high it’s the island’s ultimate lookout and the only way to see Playa El Risco and the Salinas salt pans.
  • Spend some time at the Pirate Museum just outside Teguise, kids will like the tall tales and it’s a great place to learn about the history of Lanzarote’s original capital.
  • Visit Palacio Spinola in Teguise, once known as the Inquisitor’s House it contains the deepest, darkest tales of Lanzarote’s past and lets kids see how life was lived on the island in the 18th and 19th
  • A browse round Castillo de San José in Arrecife is fun for the historic fortress itself, but the biggest draw is the surprisingly good international contemporary art collection.

Getting about the Canary Islands with kids

Unless you plan to spend your entire holiday at one resort, think about hiring a car in Lanzarote. Public transport around the island’s good for all the main towns. But if you want to explore the interior, visit Sunday markets and spend some time discovering more remote villages and hidden away beaches, driving is the way to go.

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