Lanzarote is an extraordinary island off the coast of Morocco. One of the Canary Islands archipelago that is part of Spain, Lanzarote covers approximately 850 square kilometers and lies less than 200 kilometers off the coast of Morocco. Formed by fiery volcanic activity, Lanzarote, with its countless volcanic cones, barren landscapes and ancient lava flows, is a wondrous place to visit. Aside from the otherworldly volcanic landscapes, you’ll find picturesque whitewashed villages, sandy beaches, vineyards and numerous ‘miradors’ with breathtaking views. The best way to visit these places in Lanzarote is to hire a car and embark on a road trip to explore the island. I’ve created this guide to give you an idea of where to go and what to see in Lanzarote on easy road trips around the island.
Self-drive day trips in Lanzarote
This Lanzarote self-drive day trips guide contains links to three services I often use myself and can recommend: Booking.com (for hotel bookings), Rentalcars.com (for car hire) and GetYourGuide (for easy-to-book tours). If you make a booking via one of these services, I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me to maintain my blog and share more travel experiences with you.
I’ve created three driving routes that cover the northern, central and southern areas of Lanzarote. For the purposes of this guide, each route starts and ends in Arrecife. On the map above, I’ve also marked my favourite beaches (yellow pins), the best places to visit in Lanzarote (purple pins) such as towns, viewpoints (miradors) and other attractions, and some of the Lanzarote wineries I’ve visited (blue pins). Each route can easily be done as a day trip.
Driving in Lanzarote is easy – the roads are good and there’s little traffic – so you can literally explore the island at a relaxed pace. In addition, it makes economic sense to hire a car instead of paying separately for transportation to/from the airport and tours. Pay attention to the road signs, make sure you drive in the right lane, don’t drink and drive and you should be good.
Northern Lanzarote route: cacti, lave tubes and incredible views
Arrecife is the capital of Lanzarote. From its harbour, ferries connect Lanzarote with other Canary Islands as well as the European and African mainland. The old town, with its narrow streets, is a delight to explore. Another attraction is the 18th century Castillo de San Miguel (now an art museum).
Jardin de Cactus
From Arrecife, follow the LZ-18 road to Costa Teguise. There’s a variety of beaches (including the sandy Playa de las Cucharas), hotels, restaurants and shops. Search for hotels in Costa Teguise.
Continue to the Jardin de Cactus (Cactus Garden). Built in an old quarry, the Jardin de Cactus is a Cesar Manrique creation (more on him later). The garden, designed in the shape of an amphitheatre, houses more than 10,000 cacti from around the world as well as beautiful volcanic stone sculptures.
Jameos del Agua
From here, follow the LZ-1 road northwards to one of the coolest places in Lanzarote: Jameos del Agua. Along the way, you can opt to stop at the natural rock pools in laidback Punta Mujeres, a lovely place for a drink and cheap and plentiful tapas (at the Pool Bar Pichon).
The Jameos del Agua, is for me, one of the island’s most fascinating attractions and a must see in Lanzarote. The Jameos is a striking combination of geology, architecture and design. The island’s most famous artist/architect, Cesar Manrique, built a visitor centre complete with a restaurant, bar, one of the most amazing auditoriums I’ve ever seen and a museum inside what used to be a gigantic lava tube. Visiting the Jameos del Agua is definitely one of the best things to do in Lanzarote!
Get acquainted with the works of Cesar Manrique – as you explore Lanzarote, look out for more examples of his amazing creations.
Across the LZ-1 road, you’ll find the wondrous Cueva de los Verdes, a 3,000-year-old lava tube. The tube extends for 6 kilometers above sea level and for another 1.5 kilometers below the sea (the world’s longest submarine lava tube). Join a tour to explore the cave and learn about the island’s geology.
Mirador del Rio
You can continue northwards along the coast on the LZ-1 or take the shortcut to the LZ-201 and continue to the next attraction: the Mirador del Rio. Another Cesar Manrique creation, this viewpoint, neatly blended into the cliff-face, offers breathtaking views of the imposing cliffs and of La Graciosa island across the strait.
From the mirador, return to the LZ-201 road and follow it southwards to Haria. Located in the Haria Valley or ‘Valley of a Thousand Palms’ (find out about the origins of this name in the town), this stunning whitewashed town contrasts sharply with the barren volcanic landscape. Stop for a stroll around this lovely town, have a drink at the main square (Plaza Leon y Castillo) and visit the quaint church at the plaza.
This is also popular area for hikers and there are various viewpoints in the surrounding mountains for spectacular views. The viewpoints accessible by car are Rincon de Haria and Valle de Malpaso.
The last stop on this northern route is Teguise. The former capital of Lanzarote, Teguise is a quiet town that bursts to life on Sundays (9am – 2pm) when it hosts the largest market on the island. There’s lots of fresh produce, wines, arts and crafts. The wonderful atmosphere makes the market a great place to visit on Sunday mornings.
Central Lanzarote: the wild coast, Martian landscapes and unique vineyards
Caleta de Famara
From Arrecife, take the LZ-20 – LZ-30 and LZ-402 roads to Caleta de Famara. This windy beach, with its long arc of golden sand, is a popular destination for surfers and kitesurfers. Backed by imposing cliffs, it’s one of the most scenic beaches (in a wild sense) on Lanzarote.
Timanfaya National Park
Continue along the wild, windswept coast towards La Santa (another surf spot) before heading to the Timanfaya National Park. One of the most popular places to visit in Lanzarote, Timanfaya consists of 25(!) volcanoes and expansive lava fields. Drive up to the visitor centre and leave your car there to join a bus tour of the park.
It’s a surreal experience touring the park. As you pass volcanic cones in a multitude of colours, old lava flows and intriguing rock formations, you might think you’d just landed on Mars! Back at the visitor centre, watch the guide ‘create’ a geyser and other cool stunts. You can also opt to go on a 4-hour guided hike through the park (advance bookings required).
From the national park, continue to Uga and further to La Geria (on the LZ-30 road). Located on the edges of the Timanfaya National Park, La Geria is the premier wine-producing region in Lanzarote. What makes it especially intriguing is its black, ashy landscape and horshoe-shaped rock walls which protect the vines.
There are various bodegas (wineries) worth stopping at for a tour and/or wine-tasting. I can recommend Bodega La Geria and Bodega Rubicón. I also enjoyed the wine-tasting/tapas experience at La Bodeguita del Tablero. Don’t miss the local favourite, Malvasia, or the Moscatel varieties.
AD: Looking for a cheap (up to 8x cheaper than high street banks), transparent and fast way to send money abroad? I use Wise and can highly recommend it!
If you’d like to learn more about the history of wine-making in Lanzarote, continue along the LZ-30 to El Grifo, a bodega with an interesting museum.
Southern Lanzarote: a green lagoon, salt flats and beaches
From Arrecife, follow the LZ-2 road to Charco de los Clicos. Also known as El Golfo, this green lagoon is a fascinating place to visit. The unusual colour of the lagoon is created by a type of algae found in the water. Backed by the eroded walls of a crater and contrasting sharply with the black beach, El Golfo is certainly an incredible sight.
From here, continue to Los Hervideros, further down the coast. This viewpoint is a popular place to visit due to its breathtaking views of the rugged coastline. Spend some time here to enjoy the sights and sounds of huge waves crashing into the volcanic cliffs and caves. There’s a trail here which leads to other viewpoints and a lava field.
Salinas de Janubio
Head further south towards Salinas de Janubio, a patchwork of colourful salt flats. It’s a great photo stop and there’s also a shop which sells different types of salt.
After all that driving, it’s time for the beach! Some of Lanzarote’s best beaches are found in this area. From Salinas de Janubio, follow the LZ-2 to Playa Blanca. This bustling beach community offers many accommodation options and a plethora of restaurants, bars, cafés and shops. Search for hotels in Playa Blanca.
For something more secluded, head for the beaches of the nearby Costa de Papagayo. It costs a few euros to enter the park but once inside, you have a choice of five beautiful beaches! Playa Papagayo is the most famous (and crowded) of the lot. My favourite is Playa Mujeres.
I hope you find this Lanzarote guide helpful. Hire a car and explore this amazing island. These three driving routes will take you to all the best places in Lanzarote!
Note: this post is brought to you in collaboration with iambassador and the Spain Tourist Office. As always, all views mentioned above are mine, and mine only.