Lanzarote’s just 125km off the southwest coast of Africa and the most surprising Canary Islands.
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.
Cheap, direct flights from the UK to Lanzarote year round take just over four hours.
Known as the ‘island of endless spring’, temperatures range between 24˚C in January to 35˚C in July and August.
The island has both golden sand and black lava beaches.
Lanzarote’s Montañas del Fuego volcanos are dramatic but, unlike Tenerife’s Mount Teide, they don’t create afternoon cloud cover.
The vast lunar landscape of Timanfaya National Park is almost entirely unchanged since the last volcano erupted here in the early 19th
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.
The island’s west coast is fantastic for year round surfing and has some of Europe’s best kids’ surf camps and schools.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Arguably the loveliest beach on Lanzarote, certainly the least crowded, Papagaya is even more magical as part of a catamaran family day cruise. Catlanza
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
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
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
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.