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Family day trips on Lanzarote!

The Canary Islands are the perfect holiday destination during the cold European winter season. Living in Southwest Germany, Basel airport is an ideal gateway to most of the Canary Islands as easyjet is flying to most of the islands on very affordable airfares. Due to the fact that our kids are still quite small (2 and 5) we decided to aim for the rather small Lanzarote Island. It only takes about an hour from the southern beaches to the northern lookout and the island offers a big variety of things to do for all of our family members. The calmer beaches in the south and east are sandy beaches and more family friendly than the very windy and sometimes rocky beaches on the west coast.

We found a lovely private villa at the southern tip around Playa Blanca through HomeAway. Accommodation on Lanzarote is still very affordable and our villa at Playa Blanca was a great access point to several family friendly beaches including the famous Playas de Papagayo. It was also only a 15 Minute drive to the Hervidores, El Golfo, the Lago Verde and about 20 Minutes to the breathtaking Parque National de Timanfayo.


Day trip 1: Playas de Papagayo

The famous Playas the Papagayo consist not only of the most popular Playa da Papagayo but in total of 5 different lovely sandy beaches with turquoise water and rather flat entries (picture: Playa de las Mujeres). There are many different ways to explore these beautiful beaches. The first time we took the dirt road all the way down to the last parking next to Playa de Papagayo. There is a less bumpy access if you drive up Playa Blanca residential area all the way towards Playa Afe and take a left turn towards the end of the road. There is a park entrance fee of 4 Euros per car.

Playa de Papagayo is the most popular of the 5 beaches and there are 2 restaurants on top of the hill with stunning views onto the beach. They are a bit dearer than the ones in town, but the food is quite good and the views are definitely worth it. There are only very view toilets up there.

At low tide you can hike back to town along the beaches all the way from Playa del Pozo to Playa Blanca which takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I walked with my 5 year old from Playa Mujeres all the way to Playa Dorada and she loved it. Of course we had to stop two times for ice cream on the way for motivation purposes.

The most fun and spectacular way to explore this area with kids is to get a return ticket taking the new Waterbus to Playa Papagayo from either the harbor at Playa Blanca or the Marina Rubicon. It has a glass bottom viewing area and they feed the fish on the way out, so the kids can view them being fed. We even got to see a barracuda. Our highlight was the personal drop-off  and pick-up with the zodiac at Playa de Papagayo (included in the fare). Check out their time-table online, when we where there they did two runs in the morning and two in the afternoon leaving you enough time to explore the beaches before returning back with the Waterbus or even doing the hike back to town. It did cost around 15,-€ return per adult. Definitely one of our most fun days out as a family.


Day trip 2: Treasure hunting around El Golfo, Lago Verde (Charco de los Clicos) and Los Hervidores

We did this lovely combination as a 1/2 day trip from Playa Blanca but you can easily stretch it to a relaxing full day trip when adding the Salinas de Janubio (lovely restaurant with amazing sunset views) and taking a walk at the Playa de Janubio. El Golfo is one of the prettiest villages on the island with several great fish restaurants. The beach is black with volcanic pebbles allover – all along this side of the coast you can go gemstone treasure hunting with the kids. Have a look at the black sand, there are tiny particles of green gems all polished smooth by the sea and glistening in the sunshine. The pebbles along the shoreline have splodges of green dotted in them.

At the entrance of  El Golfo you can take a short walk to the lookout for Charco de los Clicos, watch how the green of the lake changes his colors on a half cloudy day – fantastic. A beautiful view onto El Golfo and the coast can be enjoyed from the small hill above the restaurant of the parking. During our visit the street down to Charco de los Clicos was unfortunately closed.

On the way back from El Golfo we stopped at Los Hervidores. It can be quite windy (almost stormy) on this side of the island and the waves are splashing very powerfully against the cliffs. Los Hervidores translates to “boiling pot” and you can definitely feel the power of the water along the various pathways on the cliffs and watch the water boiling below. Before sunset the turquoise of the water perfectly highlights the soot black color of the volcanic cliffs. Along the road you can take short walks down to the shoreline where you can find olivin gemstones. My daughter really enjoyed these small treasure hunts for glitter jewels.


Day Trip 3: Parque National de Timanfayo

The fire mountains are the most impressive landscape on Lanzarote. You can only explore the center via a bus tour at the national park of Timanfayo. You will have to drive there with the car (during the holiday seasons you might have to wait for an hour as parking space is very limited) or take the public bus, or alternatively ride there (with older children) by bike. The streets are very narrow and there is no bike path, but drivers are used to cyclists along the roads. There is a presentation of hot water fountains shooting out of the ground and the natural volcanic barbecue are a first highlight for the kids when arriving at the park. The restaurant is lovely and also a creation of the Lanzarote artist César Manrique. The food is quite good for such a touristy place.

The kids love the camel rides just before the take-off to the national park entrance. They take about 15 minutes and are just a walk up a small hill. The rides are one of the few ways to explore the national park outside the car or bus. If you wait until the end of the camels work day you can see them walking in a long caravan all the way back home trough the lava dessert to their home base in Uga. An amazing view especially close to sunset.


Day trip 4: César Manrique explorer route

The island of Lanzarote is César Manrique’s most important work of art. His work and influence have marked the external aspect of the island and it is a must do to go out on at least one day trip to explore his greatest constructions. The natives say that he has “made” Lanzarote. I have never heard of Manrique before but after our holidays I have to admit that I am a big fan of his way of integrating nature into his art and architecture by letting it float into his beautiful simple creations. Here are some of our favorites:

Jameos del Agua

The grotto of his Jameos del Agua construction with its famous natural Auditorio is a peaceful place where you can hear birds chirping and admire the albino crabs in the water. They can usually only be found deep underground, and my little boy loved watching them in the almost black waters. There is a restaurant for dinner at the beginning of the grotto and a nice bar at the end where you can enjoy the views into the grotto.

Mirador del Rio

On the North tip of the island you can admire one of his greatest works of harmony between nature and architecture – the Mirador del Rio. A great lookout at the top of a rock face overlooking the gracious island of La Graciosa. They have a delicious little coffee place in the hall built into the rock itself, a small gift shop and a lookout point with stunning views.

La Fundación César Manrique

This former house of Manrique in the Taro de Tahiche is a unique beauty and built into the volcanic landscape overlooking the rough structures of bluish-black lava. Especially the lava bubbles create an amazing living area and our kids loved exploring all of them.




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