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Though closer to the western coast of Africa than Europe, the Canary Islands are actually a part of Spain and the closest island to Africa is lovely Lanzarote. On a Mediterranean cruise to Lanzarote, you’ll get to spend the day on an island that is so awe-inspiring with its terrain that it has been featured in many movies. Much of Lanzarote’s most intriguing views were created as the result of volcanic activity on the island. Lanzarote is home to a national park with a unique rocky landscape created by volcanic eruptions hundreds of years ago, as well as interesting caverns to explore that were formed by an underground river of lava. In addition, you’ll find whitewashed villas, relaxing beaches, and excellent dive spots a short distance offshore.
That national park with the landscape formed by volcano eruptions is Timanfaya National Park. It is the island’s top tourist attraction and we make it easy to visit by offering shore excursions with experts who can tell you more about the park and surrounding island. In addition to the rocky terrain, the skyline of Timanfaya National Park is a wondrous sight for visitors since it may look like just your normal mountain range, but is actually several volcanoes stretching out across the horizon. This volcanic area of Lanzarote makes up one quarter of the island’s surface.
The first thing you need to know about the Jameos del Agua is the name César Manrique, who was a local artist and architect from Lanzarote. The second is that Jameos del Agua is the setting of a series of caves on the northern end of Lanzarote created by a collapsed lava tunnel. These caves combined with Manrique’s creative eye resulted in an exciting Art, Culture, and Tourism center that is often said to be Manrique’s best work. Within the cave system is a natural lake that is home to the albino crab; the only place you can find such a crab. A café is located next to the lake that is a peaceful place to relax with a coffee and take in the view. Manrique’s addition to the natural surroundings of the cave include a manmade lake next to a garden of palm trees and an interactive museum about the island’s volcanoes. There is also an auditorium built inside the cave that provides incredible acoustics and is the setting for many types of concerts and events.
Another site to see along the same lava tunnel that gives Jameos del Agua its interesting surroundings is Cuevas de los Verdes – or, the Green Caves. In this area of the tunnel, the lava created a nearly 4-mile long volcanic tube that dates back to the eruption of the Monte Corona volcano that happened 5,000 years ago. The Green Caves cover over a mile of this tube and has been turned into an underground trail that is lit a shade of green and feels mystical to walk through.
Another César Manrique site on Lanzarote is the Monumunto, a sculpture located in the heart of Lanzarote´s countryside as a tribute to the island’s farmers and their strong resilience. It is next to the Museo del Campesino, which features exhibits on agriculture and also is home to an underground restaurant and shops featuring local crafts.
By this point you may be quite intrigued by César Manrique and want to learn more about him. You can do so in during a cruise to Lanzarote by visiting the artist’s former home, which is an art display in and of itself. Manrique’s home was built over a hardened lava flow and is a stunning display of whitewashed exteriors, palm trees, volcanic rock, and aquamarine pools. Within the home is a museum of Manrique’s paintings and sculptures. It also has works by other artists, including Picasso.
Most of the most popular beaches to visit in Lanzarote are located along the southern coast of the island, so if you’re looking for a day of sun, surf, and sand during your Lanzarote cruise, head south. The Puerto del Carmen area is located on the southeast side and are family-friendly beaches with lots of water sports activities and water conditions that are generally safe for swimming. Along Puerto del Carmen’s beaches runs the 4-mile Avenida de las Playas promenade, which plays host to lively bars and restaurants, shops, dance clubs, and even an amusement arcade.
Playa Blanca is another popular beach resort area of Lanzarote and stretches across the southern coast of the island. The actual Playa Blanca beach (also called Central Beach) is great for families with children due to its clean waters and facilities. Nearby Playa Blanca are the golden sands and shops of Playa Flamingo and the white sands and swimmable waters of Playa Dorado.
For a more adventurous beach outing, head to Punta del Papagayo. Also located along the southern coast a short distance from Playa Blanca, Punta del Papagayo is a walking trail that requires a small fee to access. That trail takes you to secluded coves and beaches along six separate stretches of sandy shoreline.
If you don’t have time to take a ferry to La Graciosa, which is the nearby tiny island neighbor of Lanzarote, take a journey up to the Mirador del Rio. It is a former naval gun battery that was created by Manrique and has a nature-inspired design. Today, it serves as a tourist attraction located on a high point along the northern coast of the island. It gives you a bird’s eye view of La Graciosa as well as the gorgeous teal sea spanning out in every direction toward the horizon.
If you find the cactus to be an interesting plant that is becoming to behold, then a visit to the Cactus Garden in Guatiza during a cruise to Lanzarote will be a great way to spend your time and will provide you with plenty of photo ops. The garden celebrates the many facets of cacti and the prickly plants flourish under the hot sun of the Canary Islands. The garden has over 1,400 different cacti species to learn more about.
Lanzarote may appeal to you with its volcanoes, artworks, and beaches, but make some time to try some local culinary delicacies, too. Many of the dishes you’ll find in Lanzarote are influenced by popular Spanish recipes, but you’ll also find elements of African and Latin American cuisine, too.
Tapas are a great way to try a variety of flavors during a cruise to Lanzarote, since tapas are small plates of food brought to you that are generally shared by the entire table. Watch out for spicy peppers added to the plates if you don’t have a high spice tolerance!
Another traditional menu item to try is a stew made with spiced meat and vegetables. Rabbit stew is a local favorite. Being an island, fish is an in-demand culinary dish on Lanzarote and you can also find it prepared in a stew (a local specialty is the sancocho made with salted seabream) or more commonly steamed or grilled. For a local fish favorite, try the parrotfish (locally called vieja) cooked in oil and vinegar and served with its scales still on!
Want more traditional favorites? Try the wrinkled potatoes that are boiled in salty water with the skins left on, giving them a wrinkled appearance and hence their name. Mojo sauce is a common side to dip the potatoes in; choose the green one for a more mild sauce as the red one is typically more spicy. One more common side dish you’ll often see is gofio, which is a bread made with toasted maize, wheat, and barley and has a similar consistency to polenta.
For dessert, local goat cheese fried and topped with honey is a tasty treat, as is bienmesabe, a sugary almond cream made with eggs.
For drinks, the local wine is an excellent thing to try if you like sampling new vino. The wine in Lanzarote gets a unique earthy flavor thanks to it being made with grapes grown on the volcanic soil of the island. If liquor is your drink of choice, rum is the most popular Canarian spirit. You also may like to try the Cobana for a tropical flair to your drink since it’s a yellow banana liqueur.
The culture of the Canary Islands is rich in art, music, and dance, which is visible through the incredible sculptures and building designs found on the island as well as the many festivals held throughout the year. Lanzarote played a big part in Canarian culture since the town of Teguise was known during colonial times for its musical instruments and traditional dances, and was often considered to be the most important town of the Canary Islands archipelago during that time. San Bartolomé is another town on Lanzarote that helped shape the culture of the island due to its folklore music and dance traditions.
Today, Lanzarote is still big on music and every year it mixes with art and nature when festivals, such as the famous Visual Music Festival, take place within Jameos del Agua and Cueva de los Verdes.
Your cruise ship will pull into port at the Muelle de Cruceros Pier. It is about a 15 to 20 minute walk to the city center of Arrecife. Along the way, you’ll pass souvenir shops, a supermarket, restaurants, a tourist information desk, and car rental facilities. Shuttle buses are also available, which take about five minutes and drop passengers next to Charco San Gines, which is close to the shopping area of Calle Real and lots of eateries.
When visiting Lanzarote, cruise passengers have several options for how to get around.
Though it’s a small Canary Island, Lanzarote still has a great bus system that can take you to most parts of the island, though it might take a while depending on the route. You may hear the buses referred to as 'guaguas,’ which are the local name given to them. You can purchase tickets at the bus station or from the driver once on the bus for most routes.
A faster way to get around is via taxi, which are typically pretty easy to find by the port and in Arrecife. Taxis in Lanzarote are white with a number on them and a light on top; if the light is green it means the taxi is available.
You can also visit nearby sites by ferry. Multiple daily ferries are offered to La Graciosa from Órzola Harbor. Ferries are also available to other popular Canary islands, including Fuerteventura, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria.
The Canary Islands are known for being an excellent place to shop and Lanzarote is no exception. The Canary Islands are a free trade zone within the European Union meaning you can find goods that have a lower VAT rate than other countries in the EU.
Before you go too crazy shopping, though, check what you can bring with you if ending your trip in the EU since there are strict limits to how much you can bring back with you, particularly for alcohol.
While shopping in Lanzarote, you can often find great deals on jewelry, clothing, and electronic items. Perfume and liquor are also popular things to find there due to lower prices – just make sure you plan in advance to get it safely home without breaking in your suitcase!
The best area to shop in Lanzarote is often considered to be the capital city of Arrecife, with an emphasis on the street of Calle Leon y Castillo and its side streets. The area around Calle Leon y Castillo has shopping bazaars with a wide variety of items at good prices.
When visiting villages on the island, keep an eye out for small shops selling local craftwork, including pottery, baskets, lacework, embroidered items, and jewelry. Locally made straw hats and rag dolls in national costume are also great souvenirs. To find a large selection of traditional wares, head to Casa Museo del Campesino in the town of Mozaga.
When at the markets and bazaars, haggling is expected so don’t be afraid to try to strike a bargain.
Lanzarote is part of Spain, meaning the currency accepted on the island and the rest of the Canary Islands is the euro. You can find ATMs dispensing euros in the port city of Arrecife. Many businesses also take major credit cards, like Visa and Mastercard, though smaller businesses may only accept cash so it’s good to double check before ordering food or some other service if a credit card is accepted if you don’t have any cash on you.
For tipping at restaurants, it’s customary to leave 5% to 15% of the total bill for your server, with 10% being the most common amount left for good service. Service charges are rarely added to the bill in Lanzarote, but if one is then an additional tip isn’t expected. Some restaurants also automatically bring you bread and Mojo sauce and then add the charge for it to the bill; if you don’t want it, you can refuse it when it’s brought over (though it’s a good way to try the Canary Island’s famous Mojo sauce!).
When ordering drinks in bars and cafés, you often sit at a table to order if it is a Canarian-style establishment. It is normal to just leave loose change leftover from your bill (i.e. less than a euro) for a quick one-drink visit. But if you stay awhile or order several drinks, then the typical 5% to 15% (with 10% being the norm) is expected.
If hiring a taxi, the normal tipping custom for taxis in Lanzarote is to round up to the nearest whole note (what a euro bill is called), but never more than 10%.