Spain Guide

 puerto calero 1146737 1920

Lanzarote Tourist Attractions Things to Do

For such a small island Lanzarote offers a huge range of fascinating places to visit and sights to see. There are ancient castles and fortresses, museums and art galleries, cactus plantations and some of the world's most extraordinary volcanic fields and caves.

The biggest tourist attraction is undoubtedly the Jameos del Agua at the heart of the incredible cave system known as the Cueva de los Verdes. The caves lie at the foot of the Corona volcano in the north of the island. The volcano last erupted more than 3,000 years ago creating an intricate network of caves, tubes and tunnels which connect the mountain to the sea.

The word "jameos" refers to the lava bubbles created when an accumulation of gases caused parts of the tunnel ceiling to collapse. Lanzarote's most famous son, the artist and sculptor Cesar Manrique, used the bizarrely beautiful natural architecture of the cave system to create one of the most unusual visitor centres on the planet.

Manrique was the grand master of combining nature's art with his own genius to produce works of awe inspiring beauty. Los Jameos del Agua was his first major architectural project and has drawn international acclaim since its completion in 1968.

The centrepiece is a beautiful, azure lake inhabited by an extremely rare species of blind, albino crab which has become the symbol of Los Jameos. There are bars and a restaurant beside the lake and a nearby volcanic cave has been transformed into an astonishing concert hall with wonderful acoustics and seating for 500.

The Jameo Grande is a roofless volcanic bubble, 100 metres long and 30 metres wide, leading into a magnificent garden with a large swimming pool. A dance floor and two bars built into natural hollows in the rock provide the island's most unusual nightclub.

If the Jameos give you a thirst for more of Manrique's work, visit the Mirador del Rio lookout point at the northern tip of the island. The artist created an opening in the top of the mountain, 500 metres above sea level, to house a restaurant with a domed ceiling. The views of the sea and the islands of La Graciosa and Montaña Clara will take your breath away.

The Cesar Manrique Foundation at Tahiche, on the east coast, is the island's most important cultural centre a great piece of art in itself and home to a collection of Manrique's work.

The artist also weaved his special magic around the 18th century castle of San Jose, at the island's capital of Arrecife, to create the Museum of Contemporary Art. He donated works from his private collection to the museum which houses treasures from many legendary artists including Picasso and Miro.

One of Manrique's last great projects, before his death in 1992, was to transform an old quarry in the north east corner of the island into a beautiful cactus garden.

A visit to the Timanfaya national park in the south is a must. The park was created out of one of the world's greatest ever volcanic eruptions which started in 1730 and continued for six years, spewing thousands of tons of molten rock into the air. The fields of twisted petrified lava and volcanic cones are like something out of a sci fi movie. You can hire a camel to explore the park and eat a meal cooked on a volcano powered barbecue.

Some of the craters of the Montaña de Fuego (Mountain of Fire) are still active and the temperature just a few centimetres below the surface is 400C. Pour water on the rock and it will evaporate immediately.