This post is part of a paid campaign to promote the Balearic and Canary Islands, as part of their #SpanishIslands Campaign. Although all views are my own and I have not been instructed what to include.
Do you ever go on holiday, do a load of research on things to do and then suddenly realise that you’ve only got a couple of days left and spent most of the trip lying in the sun doing nothing much at all? Well that’s exactly what I’ve done in Lanzarote and I have absolutely no regrets at all – I loved my week of relaxation! But there was a lot I wanted to see, so I decided to plan an ultimate Lanzarote road to see as much as possible in one day. I’ll admit it was a bit of a fail in that I didn’t manage many of the stops before it got dark (it’s January), but I had a great day regardless. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Lanzarote and don’t have much time, here’s my ultimate one day road trip, with a few caveats below.
Although this post is an ultimate one day road trip, I wouldn’t actually recommend trying to do everything here in one day – I certainly didn’t manage it and there wouldn’t be much enjoyment in rushing through everything just to tick it off the list. Instead, you could split it into the north and south of Lanzarote, or just pick out the things that appeal to you the most and focus on those. Where there’s something that I personally think shouldn’t be missed off a ‘things to do in Lanzarote’ list I’ve pointed this out below.
Before I get into the post, I’m going to mention a bloke called César Manrique. He was a famous artist, architect and activist from Lanzarote and had a huge influence on how the island looks to this day. For example, you’ll notice in Lanzarote that (with a couple of exceptions) there are no buildings taller than five stories and all buildings are white with blue, green or brown shutters depending on where you are in the island. This was all down to César Manrique! The reason that I mention him is that a lot of the things to do in Lanzarote featured in this blog post are works of Manrique, so you’ll see his name mentioned throughout.
And finally before we get started, if you’re visiting Lanzarote you might want to read about where to find the best tapas in Playa Blanca, which you can do here.
Where to Start Your Ultimate One Day Lanzarote Road Trip
I’ve designed the route starting and ending in Playa Blanca, but it’s a round trip so you can adjust it to start and end wherever works for you. The beauty of Google Maps is that you can add multiple stops, so you can easily add them all in and change the order depending on where you’re starting from.
If you’re hiring a car, it might be that you start from the airport (Arrecife) as this is often where you can find the cheapest car hire. I hired a car for the day from Playa Blanca harbour using Cabrera Medina, so started here and drove north via Femes – a beautiful little town where you can stop for an excellent steak, cheese and onion sandwich for breakfast from a little cafe called Casa Juan. It’s on your left hand side directly after the mini roundabout and has always been a favourite of my boyfriend’s family, who live in Playa Blanca.
Driving from Playa Blanca in the south of Lanzarote up to the north of the island, you’ll reach the Museo Lagomar after about 40 minutes. Lagomar is a house that used to belong to actor Omar Sharif, who fell in love with the house whilst filming on the island and bought it. He then lost it in a game of Bridge to British developer Sam Benady who, unknown to Sharif, was also a champion bridge player.
If, like me, you’re obsessively nosey when it comes to beautiful houses then you’ll love this place, which features labyrinths, beautiful caves which have been refurbished using wood and artefacts from local shipwrecks, a rocky oasis featuring local flora amongst patios and cascades, and even an indoor lake. There are art exhibitions within the house and the museum also sponsors emerging talents on the island. It’s a great first stop on your Lanzarote road trip and definitely not to be missed when planning things to do in Lanzarote.
Jardín de Cactus
From Museo Lagomar, continue north to the next stop on your ultimate Lanzarote road trip: Jardín de Cactus. I absolutely loved this cactus garden, and it doesn’t take long to wander around it, making it the perfect stop on a longer road trip and one of my favourite things to do in Lanzarote. Jardín de Cactus is the last of César Manrique’s work in Lanzarote, and is home to around 4,500 specimens of 450 different species, of 13 different families of cactus, from five continents. It’s wonderful to walk around, and you can climb up inside a windmill where Canarian cornmeal used to be ground.
There’s a restaurant at Jardín de Cactus but I didn’t eat there so I can’t comment, and there are also plenty of toilets which again makes it a great road trip stop!
Jameos del Agua
Not far from Jardín de Cactus (about a 10 minute drive) you’ll find two caves. The first of these that I visited on my road trip was Jameos del Agua, which features an impressive looking restaurant (again I didn’t eat here so can’t comment), a cafe (where I did have a sandwich which hit the spot and was much more reasonably priced than expected) and an underground lake.
Jameos del Agua is another legacy of César Manrique, who transformed what used to be debris of a volcanic tube with lava flowing from Volcán de la Corona into a design that would create harmony between nature and art. Jameos del Agua is also well known for being home to thousands of tiny, white, blind crabs called Munidopsis Polimorpha. They’re only about 1cm in size, but create quite the spectacular blanket of white dots across the lake!
If I’m completely honest, I was slightly disappointed by Jameos del Agua compared to the other attractions I visited on this ultimate Lanzarote road trip. If you have plenty of time then definitely go and see if, but if you’re looking to prioritise I would definitely choose the next stop over this one when planning things to do in Lanzarote.
Cueva de Los Verde
Across the road, about a two minute drive from Jameos del Agua, is Cueva de Los Verde – and the highlight of this ultimate Lanzarote road trip for me. It’s another cave, but it’s much larger and deeper than Jameos del Agua. You can only visit as part of a guided tour, but this is included in your entrance fee and they run every 15 minutes in English and Spanish. You follow your guide into the cave along narrow paths into large open areas, including an event space where concerts often take place. The entire cave was absolutely spectacular and there’s even a surprise in the cave which I won’t ruin for you!
It’s important to note that there was a lot of uneven ground and bending down where the cave ceiling was low, so if you have a dodgy back or knees this might not be suitable for you. Otherwise, 100% do not miss this off your list of things to do in Lanzarote.
If you continue north for another 10 minutes, you’ll reach a rather striking beach called Caletón Blanco. There’s a short track leading to a car park on your right hand side, where you can park up and walk over to the sea. It’s not really a sunbathing kind of beach – it’s incredibly rocky – but the black volcanic rock against the white sand lends itself to stunning contrasts, making it a prime photo spot. Make sure you’re wearing sensible shoes and/or have good balance if you’re walking over the rocks to the sea!
Continue just a few more minutes north and you’ll reach the town of Orzola. We didn’t spend much time walking around here as the weather decided to turn, but we did have one of the best lunches I’ve had in Lanzarote! I highly recommend that you build Los Gallegos restaurant into your Lanzarote itinerary, particularly if you are a fan of enjoying fresh fish and a glass of white wine whilst looking out over the sea. Obviously lunch is the most important of things to do in Lanzarote, right?!
We ordered the fish of the day, Red Snapper, for two which was served on a huge metal plate in the centre of the table with Canarian potatoes and some of the best mojo sauce I’ve ever tasted. The portion size was incredible, as was the fish itself, with hardly any of those horrible tiny fish bones – I was absolutely blown away by this meal if I’m honest! Oh and a bonus, there’s a parrot on the way to the toilets, although I couldn’t get him/her to speak to me.
Mirador del Río
A 15 minute drive up a very windy road is Mirador del Río. I will admit that it was closed when I got there, but I was still able to admire the stunning vista from the road, so it certainly wasn’t a wasted trip. Mirador del Río is another of César Manrique’s architectural creations, once again designed to combine art and nature. It’s basically a gorgeous panoramic viewing point hidden in the hillside, and definitely worth a stop on your road trip when planning things to do in Lanzarote.
César Manrique’s House
Now that you’ve seen the north of Lanzarote, it’s time to start heading back down south. About 20 minutes away from Mirador del Río is César Manrique’s House – told you I’d be mentioning him rather a lot! I haven’t personally been here, as I ran out of time on my road trip and didn’t get the chance on any of the other days of my trip, but speaking to others it sounds like it’s definitely worth the visit. According to my boyfriend Billy, you should choose Manrique’s house over Museo Lagomar, Omar Sharif’s house when planning things to do in Lanzarote.
Manrique built his home himself, re-using and adapting a run-down farmhouse. You can view the rooms and studio where he created his art, and there are two large courtyards where his personal belongings are displayed. If you’re this far through this blog post you’ll be well aware of how great an impact Manrique had on Lanzarote, in which case I doubt you’ll want to miss this!
Timanfaya National Park
If you started your road trip super early and you’re blessed with the long days of summer, you might be able to fit Timanfaya National Park in to your ultimate Lanzarote road trip. By the time I got there, it was pitch dark and driving through the national park wasn’t a particularly nice experience. Lucky for you, I’ve been there before so I can still tell you all about it! If you’re splitting this ultimate Lanzarote road trip into the north and south of the island, I’d recommend grouping Timanfaya with the remaining stops as a south island road trip.
Timanfaya National Park is a result of almost continuous volcanic eruptions which took place between 1720 and 1736, and again in 1824. As a result of Lanzarote’s dry climate, the landscape has hardly changed in almost 300 years and the rugged terrain and lack of vegetation make you feel like you’re on the moon! Or Mars? I’m not too clued up on my planets.
Included in your entrance fee is a bus tour, which will take you through the Montañas del Fuego, which translates to Mountains of Fire. You’ll also see some really cool demonstrations of straw being dropped into shallow pits and immediately igniting, and cold water being poured into a hole in the ground and instantly gushing back out as steam. The volcano is dormant, but temperatures of up to 610°C have been recorded at a depth of 13 metres, and up to 277°C at just 10cm deep! Pretty hot eh?
Finally, if you fancy another meal break on your road trip, don’t miss the El Diablo restaurant where you can eat food cooked by the volcanic geothermal heat by way of a large grill over a deep pit in the ground!
El Golfo and El Lago Verde
If you’ve split your road trip into north and south and fancy some lunch after your visit to Timanfaya (if you didn’t eat at El Diablo), the town of El Golfo is a great stop. This quaint fishing village has some excellent fish restaurants with views over black sand beaches and out to sea. My favourite is Costa Azul, where the fish is cooked to perfection and the views are magical. It will take you about 45 minutes to drive from Timanfaya to El Golfo, but the road takes you through the national park so the drive is beautiful in itself.
If you’re stopping in El Golfo, it’s worth adding El Lago Verde to your list of things to do in Lanzarote. This is a green lake right next to El Golfo, caused by high levels of sulphur in the water, and is surrounded by black sand and a spectacular volcano which has been collapsing over time and created a crater where the lake sits. It’s free to enter and the contrasting colours make for some great photographs!
From El Golfo and Charco de los Clicos, continue driving south along the coast for beautiful views, and make a quick stop at Los Hervideros for more mesmerising examples of the power of nature and erosion. This is another of my favourite things to do in Lanzarote, so I had to include it on the ultimate Lanzarote road trip.
Los Hervideros translates to ‘boiling pots’ and consists of a series of underwater caves resulting from the solidification of lava and erosion. Water is forced into the caves with such power that it looks like the sea is boiling, and you can walk around pathways and balconies that have been carved into the cliffs to watch the natural display.
We’re almost back to Playa Blanca where the ultimate road trip begun, but there’s one last stop to make! Half an hour away from Los Hervidos, on the way back to Playa Blanca, is Los Charcones, a two km haven of unspoilt, natural pools. If it’s still warm (either you’ve split this road trip in two or missed out several of the stops) you can end your day with a swim in the pools, or simply sit and admire them with a good book or whilst reminiscing about your day. Los Charcones is definitely one of the more relaxing things to do in Lanzarote and the perfect end to an ultimate one day road trip!
So there you have it, a big old trip around the island, starting in Playa Blanca and ending back up there after a ten minute drive back from Los Charcones.
There are of course plenty of other things to do in Lanzarote which I haven’t covered, so I’d love to hear about your experiences of the things I’ve both included and missed out. And if you’ve enjoyed reading about Lanzarote, you might also enjoy my Gran Canaria posts which you can read here and here.