The Spanish Canary Islands are an archipelago of seven islands located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the west coast of Africa. All volcanic in nature, they promise surreal landscapes and black sand beaches. With warm weather year round, not to forget flavorous Canarian cuisine, going there is always a good idea (Sorry Paris).

The thing is, most tourists do not expect more of these islands than sunny and sandy beaches. Totally understandable, especially if you´re going there on holiday to unwind from the stresses of urban life. But in case you´re looking for cultural activities as well, do not disregard the smaller island of Lanzarote. Surprisingly, it has the most to offer.

In this respect, the island’s great historical and artistic heritage dating as far back as to the 15th century, endowed it with some remarkable monuments, castles and houses. There´s also a good number of museums as well as art galleries, and it is the proud home of some famous Lanzarote artists who clearly left their mark behind. You´ll become more familiar with all of that as you continue reading through this article.

César Manrique´s house in Lanzarote

Cesar Manrique foundation

Thank you Frank Vincentz  for sharing this picture of César Monique’s House – View more on Wikimedia

César Manrique (1919-1992) is an iconic Lanzarote artist, architect and sculptor who is said to have “made” the island. The essence of his work is to create harmony between nature and art. His home, now turned into The César Manrique Foundation, is the perfect example of his artistic vision as he built it on the remains of a lava flow from an eruption that occurred on the island in the 1700s. The house has two levels: an internal lower part which consists of the natural formation of five volcanic bubbles transformed into an amazing habitable space, and an external upper part inspired by traditional Lanzarote architecture.

Additional tip: Want to see more houses by Manrique? Then we recommend you also visit Lagomar museum, what once used to be the residence of actor Omar Sharif and now is one of the most exclusive properties of the Canary Islands.

  • Address: César Manrique´s house, Jorge Luis Borges, 10, Tahiche, Las Palmas
  • Admission: €8 for adults, free for children under 12
  • Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 Monday to Saturday, 10:00-15:00 Sunday
  • Phone: 928 84 31 38

Jameos del Agua

Jameo del agua

Thank you @damartingarcia for sharing this picture from Jameos del Agua with us – Explore more on Instagram

Created in 1968, this is César Manrique first work. It is basically a grotto composed of volcanic tubes that came into existence when lava solidified. Inside, exotic and native Canary Island nature blends in harmoniously with his art: quirky furniture, sculptures, a lush garden, a swimming pool, a restaurant, bars built into volcanic rocks and even an auditorium where concerts are held regularly. There is also an art shop you can stop by as well as a little museum that tells the volcanic history of the Canary Islands.

  • Address: Carretera Arrecife-Orzola, Punta Mujeres, Las Palmas
  • Admission: €8 for adults, free for children under 12
  • Opening hours (daytime): 10:00-18:30 Monday to Sunday
  • Opening hours (night time): 19:00-2:00 Tuesday, Friday and Saturday
  • Opening hours (restaurant): 19:30-23:30 Tuesday, Friday and Saturday
  • Phone: 928 84 80 20

José Saramago´s house

jose saramago house

José Saramago (1922-2010) was a Portuguese writer who went into exile on the Spanish island of Lanzarote. His work, most of which contained hidden meanings, had been criticized by the Catholic Church as religiously offensive. It was not till 1992 when one of his novels got banned in Portugal that he decided to retreat disheartened into exile. More than two million copies of his books have been sold in Portugal alone, and his work has been translated into 25 languages.

His home is where he spent the last 18 years of his life. You´ll get to explore his taste in art such as his appreciation for 16th century Spanish painter Juan Ramirez or recently deceased Portuguese artist David de Almeida, the study room where he used to write, the library he frequented every morning and the garden where he used to contemplate. The tour ends in a gift shop where you can purchase some of his books or other souvenirs such as pens and notebooks.

  • Address: Los topes, 3, Tias, Las Palmas
  • Admission: €8 for adults, free for children under 16
  • Opening hours: 10:00-14:30 Monday to Saturday
  • Phone: 928 83 30 53

San Bartolomé

San Bartholome

Thank you Sailko for sharing this picture of San Bartolomé View more on Wikimedia

San Bartolomé is a small town and the most authentic to the history of Lanzarote. From historic buildings to unusual wineries, there are many cultural activities for you to pick from. This is why we recommend you spend the day there and discover it as you go. Here are just a few suggestions:

Casa Ajei is a rectangular shaped colonial house built in 1720. Its brick red roof suggests Arabs had influenced its architecture. Tawny in colour, the structure stands out as it is unlike any of the ubiquitous white buildings on the island. If you visit, make sure to go inside as the location is nowadays used for Lanzarote art exhibitions.

  • Address: General Franco, s/n, San Bartolomé
  • Opening hours: 17:00-22:00 Monday to Friday
  • Phone: 928 52 29 74

South of the town, there´s an area called La Geria, sprinkled with small country houses typical of the Canary Islands. The area is most famous for its unusual vineyards as grapes are grown in holes dug in the soil and covered with volcanic stones to protect them from the windy conditions. El Grifo’s wine cellar is open to the public, in case you feel like indulging in a degustation.

  • Address: La carretera LZ-30, Kilometro 11, San Bartolomé
  • Admission: €3, wine-tasting inclusive
  • Opening hours: 10:30-18:00 Monday to Sunday
  • Phone: 928 52 40 51

Monumento del Campesino is a 15-meter sculpture by César Manrique paying tribute to the farmers of Lanzarote. It is located by the Casa-Museo del Campesino where you can find a traditional Canarian restaurant, a museum that celebrates Canarian agriculture as well as an artisan shop.

  • Address: Carretera Arrecife Tinajo, San Bartolomé
  • Admission: free
  • Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 Monday to Sunday
  • Phone: 928 52 01 36

Casa del Mayor Guerra used to be a top military official´s house dating back from the 18th century and is today turned into a museum. The building is square with a stone exterior and a wooden balcony portraying the remarkable architectural heritage of Lanzarote. Inside you´ll find an exhibition hall commemorating the island´s history from pre-Hispanic times to the present 

  • Address: Doctor Cerdeña Betencourt 17, San Bartolomé
  • Admission: €3 adults, €1.5 children
  • Opening hours: 10:00-14:00 Monday to Friday
  • Phone: 928 52 23 51

Housed in the old cellar of an 18th century traditional Canarian building, the Museo Etnográfico Tanit pays tribute to the lifestyle of the ancient inhabitants of this island. You´ll come across all sorts of goods from antique furnishings, farming tools, a collection of pottery and stones, traditional colourful costumes to traditional musical instruments such as the timple. You can also purchase traditional Lanzarote products from the artisan shop of the museum.

  • Address: Constitucion 1, San Bartolomé
  • Admission: €6 adults, free for children under 14
  • Opening hours: 10:00-17:00 Monday to Friday, 10:00-14:00 Saturday
  • Phone: 928 52 06 55

El Castillo de San Gabriel

Castillo de San Gabriel

Thank you Stedewa for this picture of EL Castillo de San Gabriel – View more on Wikimedia

In the northeast of Lanzarote on a tiny island called Islote de los Ingleses (isle of the English) sits the Castle of San Gabriel, built in 1571 to prevent pirates from reaching the land. But Algerian pirate Morato Arráez was able to seize the fortress and ordered to burn it down. The castle was later rebuilt in 1666. Today it can be accessed by foot through one of two connecting bridges.

  • Address: Antiguo Muelle Comercial de Arrecife, Las Palmas
  • Admission: free
  • Opening hours: 10:00-13:00 and 16:00-19:00 Tuesday to Friday, 10:00-13:00 Saturday
  • Phone: 928 81 17 62

 Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo – Castillo de San José

Castillo de San Jose

Thank you Ies/L Teguise for this picture of Castillo de San José – View more on Wikimedia  

Located in the old military fort of Castillo de San José, in the port of the capital Arrecife, the museum was an initiative by César Manrique in efforts to promote modern art. The castle was in ruins before Manrique decided to personally direct its remodelling back in the 70s. Inside you can expect to find the works of Canarian artists such as Millares, Lasso and of course Manrique. You can also end your visit with some traditional Canarian cuisine in a restaurant located on site.

  • Address: Castillo de San José, Av. Puerto Naos, s/n, Arrecife, Las Palmas
  • Admission: €2.5
  • Opening hours (museum): 11:00-21:00 Monday to Sunday
  • Opening hours (restaurant): 11:00-01:00 Monday to Sunday
  • Phone: 928 81 23 21

Mueso del Emigrante Canario – Castillo de Santa Barbara

castillo de santa barbara lanzarote

Thank you Frank Vincentz  for sharing this picture of Castillo de Santa Barbara – View more on Wikimedia

Located in the fortress of Santa Barbara on top of a mountain overlooking the former capital Teguise, this museum provides an insight into the history of Lanzarote´s emigration patterns caused by the major volcanic eruptions of the 1730s, which got a quarter of the island submerged in a sea of lava. With soils no longer good for farming, many fled to a new life abroad in Central and South America.

  • Address: Castillo de Santa Barbara, Montaña de Guanapay, Teguise
  • Admission: €3 for adults, €1.5 for children
  • Opening hours: 10:00-15:00 every day except for Saturdays
  • Phone: 928 84 50 01

Iglesia de San Ginés

Iglesia San Gines

Thank you yeowhatzap for sharing this picture from of the church – View more on Flickr

Located in the charming Plaza de Las Palmas, this church was built in 1574 and later became dedicated to San Ginés, patron saint of Arrecife, today capital of Lanzarote. It is not hard to be overcome by its simple charm: a whitewashed exterior set against dark volcanic stones. Inside the ceiling is made out of dark wood in Mudéjar style (partly gothic, partly Islamic style). You´ll also find sculptures of San Ginés in Baroque style as well as a famous statue of Virgen del Rosario brought in all the way from Cuba.

  • Address: Plaza de las Palmas, Arrecife
  • Admission: €3 for adults, €1.5 for children
  • Opening hours: 10:00-13:00 and 17:00 to 20:00 Monday to Sunday
  • Mass: every evening at 19:30
  • Phone: 928 81 23 51

 

On a last note: The history of Tenerife is also interesting. We recommend you pay it a visit, too!

 

Looking for a hotel in Lanzarote? These attractions are just a short drive away from the IBEROSTAR Lanzarote hotel, a perfect spot for a couple´s holiday. The hotel also offers transportation. Make sure to ask for more information at the desk upon arrival.