Apart from Timanfaya, the work of César Manrique and the Papagayo Beaches, what places and villages in Lanzarote should I visit to get to know the essence of the island?
The selection of the 10 places you will see below follows a maxim: to show you the idiosyncrasy of the most authentic Lanzarote, beyond the usual tourist routes.
Here we go!
1) Femés: the village of Mararía sheltered by the Ajaches
In Femés there are as many or more goats than neighbours. They graze along the length and breadth of the Ajaches Natural Monument, the first tectonic complex to emerge from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean millions of years ago, and are a sign of the identity of this small village nestled in the foothills of the ochre and pinkish mountains that define the area.
WHAT YOU SEE:
- The architectural ensemble of the church of San Marcial del Rubicón.
- The views of Playa Blanca and Fuerteventura from the Femés viewpoint.
- The cheeses of Quesería Rubicón (map).
- The Teide from Femés. In certain weather conditions (clear and cloudless days, with hardly any wind) you can see El Teide (Tenerife) and the silhouette of Gran Canaria from the top of Femés.
2) Punta Mujeres: Casa Carmelina and its natural pools
On the coast of the beautiful Malpais valley in the north of Lanzarote lies one of the most picturesque villages of the island: Punta Mujeres.
It was built at the beginning of the 20th century, where a few families who were dedicated to agriculture and fishing settled. However, it was not until well into the 1970s that it acquired its peculiar physiognomy, when the family sagas of the time, with more time for enjoyment, built the network of natural pools so characteristic of this area of Lanzarote.
WHAT YOU SEE:
- Each and every one of its pools. From north to south of the town. A must-have: swimming costume, bikini…
- Bar El Pichón (map). Traditional fish and stews just a stone’s throw from the town’s main swimming pool.
- Casa Carmelina. Among the hamlet of Punta Mujeres, the Carmelina stands out, whose terrace is freshness and colour, synthesis and photosynthesis…
3) El Charco de San Ginés: the excuse to add Arrecife on your tour
Together with the historic network of its coastline, the Charco de San Ginés is the jewel in Arrecife’s crown. The old seafaring character remains anchored in its riverside and the particular architecture and colourful surroundings.
WHAT YOU SEE:
- El Aguaresío. Alley that connects the Charco de San Ginés with the church and the rest of the old part of the capital.
- Ginory’s mythical sandwich (map).
- In the night. The same place, the same walk…but at night. .
4) Uga, the camel village
The rural world of the island has one of its points of reference in this small southern village, halfway between two titans of nature: Timanfaya and La Geria.
It is home to the largest camel community in Europe.
WHAT YOU SEE:
- The Hermgeita (map) and the Agricultural and Livestock Market (every Saturday).
- Any of Casa Gregorio’s stews (map).
- The Camel Trail. The path that connects Uga and the Echadero de Camellos de Timanfaya is at the exit of the village. A real spectacle to watch the slow parade.
5) The Tuneras Valley of Guatiza and Mala
The splashes of soft green colour were a balm for the economy of Lanzarote during a good part of the 19th century. The cultivation of the prized cochineal, the small insect that populates the tunera and from which the dye is obtained, occupied the island’s economic activity.
WHAT YOU SEE:
- The Cactus Garden Mill. We promise that this will be the only foray from the usual guidebook suggestions on the island. But the truth is that going into the mill allows us to get to know another essence of the island, the milling of millet (corn) to obtain gofio (a basic nutrient for centuries to avoid starvation). The journey through cacti from all over the world, as well as being a pleasure in itself, places the visitor in a strategic position to admire the landscape of the cactus fields of Guatiza and Mala.
- Cactus Burger. The raw material for this original burger is taken from a cactus plantation in Teguise: 50% cactus, the other 50% potatoes, onions and millet. Served on tomato bread, goat yoghurt sauce with smoked cheese and rocket. Since 2017 it has been part of the culinary offerings of the Cactus Garden restaurant.
HIGHLIGHT: Another traditional cultural example can be found about 3 kilometres from Guatiza towards the coast: the salt pans. In this case, the Guatiza salt flats, which still maintain a certain level of activity.
6) Guanapay Castle: "The pirates are coming!"
The four fortresses, located at strategic points on the island, served as lookouts against the continuous pirate attacks that Lanzarote had to suffer for centuries.
This one we have selected, at the top of the Guanapay Mountain, occupies a privileged location for viewing the Vega de San José and the Risco de Famara, but also for descending the hill and walking along the cobbled streets of one of the 100 most beautiful villages in Spain, the old capital of Lanzarote, Teguise.
- Castillo de Guanapay (map). Currently undergoing renovation, its interior houses the Museum of Piracy. Its history.
- Castillo de San José (map). Converted by César Manrique into the International Museum of Contemporary Art, it is one of the best places to contemplate the Arrecife marina. Its history.
- Castillo de San Gabriel (map). Barely two kilometres from the previous one, in the centre of the capital, it forms part, together with the Puente de las Bolas, of the city’s main historic fabric. Its history.
- Castillo del Águila o de Las Coloradas (map). On the edge of the sea, on the southern border of Lanzarote, at the Rubicon, where the conquest of Lanzarote and the Canary Islands began. Its history.
7) Ye, living under the dominion of the Crown Volcano
Ye is one of the small northern villages living under the dominion of the Crown Volcano. Thousands of years ago, its crater spilled huge amounts of malpais that outlined thousands of hectares colonised by lichen, a cheerful little flower of soft green that sprouts from the solidified lava.
WHAT YOU SEE:
- Mama Trina’s Mojos and jams. In a traditional manor house at the entrance to the village of Ye is the Bodega Los Almacenes (map) where you can taste Juan Carlos Viñoly’s jams and mojos, following the recipe book of his mother, Mamá Trina.
- Sunsets. To the west of the village on the edge of the Risco de Famara you can find a place to sit and watch a dreamlike sunset.
8) Yaiza, historic southern town
The town of Yaiza was founded in the 16th century, together with Femés and Uga, due to the constant pirate attacks by the Berbers that cut short the first Rubicense town on the coast of the current Playas de Papagayo.
Its agricultural and livestock farming tradition has left its mark on Yaiza, which over the centuries has suffered various challenges, including the collapse of the world in the form of the eruptions of Timanfaya and the consequent diaspora: the number of 869 inhabitants registered in 1733 dropped significantly, to barely a quarter, with only 210 inhabitants in 1737.
WHAT YOU SEE:
- The Church and the Remedios Square.
- The Benito Pérez Armas House of Culture.
- The mythical garbanzas of the Stop. Since 1890 serving its legendary garbanzas and wines. Some people get off the plane on their annual trip to Lanzarote and the first thing they do is visit the Stop and ask for them…
- El Lomo del Cura. The then parish priest of the village, Don Andrés Lorenzo, used to climb to the top of the hill that protects the Plaza de los Remedios in Yaiza every day to check the effect of the eruptions of Timanfaya on the immediate surroundings. MAP.
9) Playa Quemada: Mystique on black chime
Between its few winding asphalt roads emerge the buildings linked to the coast, pristine white with their doors, windows and shutters in soft green and blue.
Playa Quemada is a huge and enviable gateway to the sea. Great because of the infinite Atlantic on its horizon, with Isla de Lobos and the Corralejo dunes of Fuerteventura in oasis format appearing in the viewfinder, and enviable because it occupies the most sheltered cove in Lanzarote from the wind.
WHAT YOU SEE:
- Its beaches. Normally solitary, they are a haven of peace.
- Seaside restaurants strong. Fresh fish and rice dishes are the speciality of the restaurants located by the sea.
- Wake up. One of the best sunrises on the island is at Playa Quemada. Ascend its southern hill, don’t forget your thermos of coffee and enjoy the sunrise of the new day.
10) El Patio Agricultural Museum
A glimpse into Lanzarote’s not so distant past can be obtained at the Ethnographic Museum El Patio, located halfway between various forms of agricultural cultivation, the fruits that take root in lapilli or jable, and through which numerous examples of the island’s goat sector pass.
- WHERE: C/ Echedey, 18, Tiagua (MAP). OPENING HOURS: 10:00 to 17:30 (Monday to Friday); 10:00 to 14:30 (Saturday); closed on Sundays. PRICE: 5 euros.
- Food. Conclude your route at the Museum’s tasca-despensita, the terrace is a great place to open your mouth with some cheeses and volcanic malvasías.
If you have come this far, let us tell you that since 2013 we have been travelling around Lanzarote in search of its essence so that you can enjoy it like a local.