Volcanic landscapes, underground caverns, barren beaches, and black vineyards, at first glance, you wouldn’t believe Lanzarote was in Europe, let alone that it’s one of Spain’s most visited holiday destinations. The Canary Island, set off the coast of West Africa, is as topographically distinct as it is artistic. Looking for the perfect 4 day Lanzarote itinerary? You’re in the right place.
Anchored by the rugged Timanfaya National Park, a rocky outcrop created by volcanic eruptions in the 1730s, Lanzarote is an island of unique experiences. Nature, towns, beaches, and vineyards that can only be found in the Canaries draw over three million tourists a year, despite Lanzarote’s lowly population of just 160,000.
With some of the highest year-round temperatures and sunniest weather in Europe, its popularity comes as no surprise. Still, if you only have four days on the island, our guide is here to help. From the lively resorts and their beaches to the volcanic wineries and cactus gardens, Lanzarote is waiting. Let’s get into it.
Day 1: Arrecife and Puerto del Carmen
With just four days to kill on Lanzarote, having one central base is the best way to manage your time, and the popular resort town of Puerto del Carmen on the south coast is a perfect choice. Known for its sandy beaches like Playa Matagorda and Playa Grande, as well as its quaint old town harbor, beachside promenade, and lively nightlife, not to mention the characteristically Martian inland landscape of Rancho Texas Park and Zoo, there is tons to explore here.
You’ll want to spend a full afternoon watching the boats bob in the bay at El Varadero, strolling the Avenida de la Playas and its boutiques and bars, and enjoying a sumptuous seafood meal of grilled prawns or octopus carpaccio at a restaurant on the promenade. But not before you’ve devoted the first half of the day to Lanzarote’s capital.
When arriving, you’ll fly into César Manrique-Lanzarote Airport, located near the capital of Arrecife. Puerto Del Carmen is located just 10-minutes from the airport – one of the reasons it makes such a convenient base. Still, bustling Arrecife, the commercial and administrative heartland of Lanzarote, is worth experiencing.
Arrecife is busier than Puerto Del Carmen, but this means there’s a lot to see. In the old quarter, you’ll find San Ginés Church with its Mudéjar-style ceiling, soaring bell tower, and 17th-century facade. Art lovers will revel in the architecture and collection of fine works housed in Agustin de la Hoz, a private residential home-turned-cultural center, and gallery where private piano concerts are hosted among Spanish art. There’s also Castillo de San José, an 18th-century fortress remodeled by César Manrique to become the International Museum of Contemporary Art with abstract works by Picasso Tapias and Miró as well as modern sculptures.
Shoppers can head to Calle Real, one of the city’s main streets, for boutiques and restaurants, and if time allows, check out Arrecife Gran Hotel, the tallest building in the city. The roof offers great views of the capital and beyond and is a great place to enjoy a quick coffee before heading to Puerto del Carmen to check in to your accommodation.
What time you arrive in Lanzarote will determine how long you have in each city, but you can always dedicate more time to the capital when you fly home. Once you’ve got your bearings in Puerto del Carmen and familiarized yourself with the town, enjoy a dinner on the promenade and watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean before winding down for your first full day of adventure.
Day 2: Le Jardin de Cactus, Jameos del Agua, and Playa de Los Pocillos
With the international airport named after him and a host of artistic accolades to his name, you can’t go to Lanzarote without checking out some of César Manrique’s Cabrera’s attractions. The Spanish artist, sculptor, architect, and nature activist is one of Lanzarote’s most famous former residents. Manrique is the point of reference for contemporary art in the Canary Islands and he’s left a powerful mark on his native Lanzarote.
Born in Arrecife in 1919, Manrique attended the San Fernando Fine Arts Academy in Madrid. He might have been influenced by the abstract works of Picasso and Matisse, but Manrique’s most undeniable inspiration was the island on which he was born. Manrique’s work is not only housed in galleries, homes, and historic sites across Lanzarote, but he’s also responsible for the sea of white buildings that predominate the architecture on the island.
Using white facades as mirrors to reflect the sun away from properties and thus keeping the interiors cool, the artist used Lanzarote’s climate to shape his architecture. He also utilized lava formations when other designers would manipulate concrete and steel and he harnessed lairs from the caves and tunnels left by molten magma.
Manrique wanted to transform Lanzarote into a cultural destination, rejecting modern developments and high-rise hoardings. You can see Manrique’s work at every turn and Lanzarote is a portfolio to the talented artist, but your first full day on the island can be dedicated to some of his more recognizable installations.
Le Jardin de Cactus, literally “the cactus garden” in English, is nestled in the village of Guatiza on the east coast. The garden sits in a former quarry where volcanic sand lapilli was extracted to spread over agricultural areas to help hold moisture. Le Jardin de Cactus is home to around 4,500 individual cacti and 450 different species hailing from five continents. Flanked by an amphitheater of dark stone and the dazzling 19th-century Gofio Windmill, the winding paths, and different tiers are a joy to wander.
There’s even an on-site restaurant serving unique delicacies like cactus juice and a cactus burger, along with tapas and drinks to be enjoyed on its elegant terrace. Le Jardin de Cactus is open from 9 am until 6 pm, perfect for a morning stroll before the day starts to really heat up.
Next, we recommend seeing Jameos del Agua, another spectacle conjured by César Manrique and dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world” by Rita Heyworth. When one of Lanzarote’s volcanoes erupted in the 18th century, it produced a 6km lava flow into the Atlantic, bestowing Lanzarote with its sparkling black sand beaches. In the process, as the lava hardened externally, the lucent molten river continued to flow within forming a lava tube. Los Jameos del Agua is part of these tunnels into the ocean which now house a saltwater lagoon, serving as a natural habitat to twelve endemic species including blind white crabs who have adapted to the darkness of their subterranean home.
The site was Manrique’s first architectural feat, as he turned Jameos del Agua into a cultural center and volcanic arcadia in 1966, merging his love for nature and art. Concerts and events take place in the caves, utilizing its incredible acoustics. Day to day, visitors can enjoy the on-site restaurant and garden of palm trees which line a bright turquoise artificial pool.
The series of lava caves are some 15-minutes up the coast from Le Jardin de Cactus and just next door to Cuevo de Los Verdes which also deserves a visit if time permits. Also formed from the eruption of the Volcan de la Corona, this lava tunnel can be explored in the company of a guide. It’s one of the longest in the world, extending to the ocean, and has served as a place for residents of Lanzarote to escape pirate attacks and freak weather.
Manrique is an important part of the island and learning about his legacy while taking in Lanzarote’s volcanic history is as important as it is exciting. Head back down to Playa de los Pocillos to finish your day with a sunset stroll on the beach. Watch the sun dip behind the mountains as the sky glows orange. Playa de Los Pocillos is a great place to spend an hour before heading to dinner, especially if you’re based in Puerto del Carmen.
Day 3: El Grifo Winery, Playa de Papagayo, and Playa Blanca
Looking at Lanzarote’s landscapes you might find it hard to conceive that grapes can grow here, but they do, and Lanzarote’s local wine is certainly worth talking about. Lanzarote’s vineyards are punctuated by dark mounds of volcanic ash which actually soak up a lot of the moisture from dew and any occasional rainfall. Rather than inhibiting the vines, this gives Lanzarote’s grapes a distinct earth flavor, and where better to savor them than at a wine tasting?
There are plenty of wine tours on offer on the island to take you from Bodegas Vega de Tuco with its sweet white wines to boutique vineyards with their homemade goat’s cheese and full-bodied reds. Yet, we recommend El Grifo winery, or Bodegas El Grifo as it’s locally known, the oldest winemakers in the Canaries and one of the ten oldest in Spain. Some of their grapevines date back to the 19th century.
You can enter the winery for 15 euros, with a guided tour of the cellars and museum included in the price. You can also stroll the vineyard, purchase a wine tasting tour at the bar and go home with your own bottle as a souvenir.
Next, Playa de Papagayo is a must-see and a well-deserved way to spend a relaxing afternoon on Lanzarote after some busy days exploring. Located in the southwest of the island, it’s widely regarded as the most beautiful beach in Lanzarote with its clear turquoise waters and isolated setting. You have to venture down a long dirt track to reach it, but there are plenty of parking opportunities once you do and the clifftop restaurant overlooking the beach is the perfect place to enjoy lunch after you’ve worked up an appetite from all the sunbathing and swimming.
Lanzarote’s southernmost town of Playa Blanca is the newest resort on the island and is just 20 minutes from Playa de Papagayo. Meaning “white beach” in Spanish, it’s quieter and more upscale than Arrecife and the popular Costa Teguise, with a yacht-studded marina, pedestrianized boulevard, and atmospheric bars. Soak up the slow pace of the town and enjoy a seafood meal overlooking the bay to finish off your day.
Day 4: Volcan El Cuervo, Timanfaya, and Haría
Lanzarote is a big cycling destination with its crazy scenery, meandering hills, and convenient cycle routes. After a slow finish to your third day, it’s time to get your heart racing before your holiday draws to a close, and cycling around the Volcan El Cuervo is sure to do it. There are plenty of cycle tours to book if you’re not a confident biker, but the trails are easy enough to navigate without a guide once you’ve rented a bike nearby. Rental stores can be found all over the island, especially on the outskirts of Caldera de Los Cuervos.
The volcanic crater is barren and rugged but loop trails and info panels will lead the way. You could even get your hands on an electric bike if you want some help with the steep paths. Volcan el Cuervo is dormant, but this means you can walk inside the crater while you learn about the history and geology of the region. The paths are strewn with volcanic ash, but you can also walk the trail if you’d rather.
The Volcan el Cuervo is located on the edge of Timanfaya National Park, which covers about a quarter of the island. The park is the result of eruptions that occurred between 1720 and 1736. You can’t explore the park alone but a tour bus takes visitors further in, down the narrow, steep roads where guides give interactive demonstrations to show just how hot the fiery pits below the surface are. Grab lunch at the restaurant, El Diablo, where they use geothermal heat in the kitchen, and you’ll be able to say you’ve eaten a meal cooked by a volcano.
Calder de Los Cuervos is located right in the center of the island, which means you need to cross back through Haría, where Lanzarote’s volcanic tunnels are concentrated, in order to make your way up to the last point of order on our itinerary. The small but beautiful village in the north is a great place to drive through and one of the lushest thanks to its mountainous setting. Aptly dubbed the valley of a thousand palm trees, the villagers of Haría planted two palms for every girl born during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The result is a carpet of palm trees dotted with quaint churches, traditional houses, and amazing viewpoints.
Drive along Serpentine de Haria for the best panoramas of the valley from above, but it’s also worth stopping in the village for a coffee. Finishing off our itinerary, in the far northeast of Lanzarote, is Mirador del Rio. Topping off César Manrique’s contributions to the island, the viewpoint was cultivated by the artist to draw attention to the small island of La Graciosa and the Chinijo Archipelago that visitors can look over from the edge of Lanzarote.
It tends to get a bit windy up here, but it’s worth it. The viewpoint is open until 18.45 in summer. Head down in time to enjoy a final supper in Haría.
How can you get around Lanzarote?
Lanzarote can quite easily be navigated by bus, with an affordable and reliable public bus service connecting many of the popular destinations. Yet, if time is of the essence, we recommend hiring a car to get around the island. You can pick one up at the airport and the roads are well-maintained and easy to navigate, giving you the most freedom for your trip.
How many days do you need in Lanzarote?
You could spend months in Lanzarote and still be surprised by this mesmerizing and unique island, but we recommend at least seven days to make the most of it. You can squeeze a lot in just a few days, and if you’re island hopping between the Canaries, four days is the perfect amount of time to spend on Lanzarote. Still, if you prefer your holidays at a slower pace, one week will allow you to really enjoy the island.
How much do you need to budget for a holiday to Lanzarote?
Lanzarote is neither cheap nor expensive. Some things can cost more than mainland Spain like travel and day trips, but it’s generally an affordable place for accommodation and food and a great alternative to the Balearics and other archipelagos in the Med if you want to save some money. You should budget around €109 ($110) per day in Lanzarote, including accommodation, based on other travelers’ expenses.