Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote, is a world away from the resort towns commonly associated with this Canary Island. As well as being home to one of the island’s finest beaches and a clutch of historical buildings, it is also one of the best places to stay if you are exploring Lanzarote by public transport.
Are you curious to discover what to do in Arrecife?
Based on first-hand experiences from a 2-week visit to Lanzarote, this is where I can help. Whether you are visiting on a day trip or staying for two weeks, here is my pick of the best things to do in Arrecife.
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Map of the Must-See Sights in Arrecife, Lanzarote
If you find it helpful to map it out, here’s a free map showing the locations of these fabulous things to do in Arrecife. If it helps, you can use it as a self-guided walking tour of Arrecife.
For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.
Best Things to Do in Arrecife, Lanzarote
1. Soak up the sun on Playa del Reducto
Lanzarote’s best beaches aren’t confined to its resort towns. Arrecife’s curvaceous Playa del Reducto ranks amongst the best on the island.
With half a kilometre of pristine golden sand and safe and calm water, it is the perfect spot for relaxing and taking a cooling dip in the sea. Stately coconut palm trees only add to its appeal and it is flanked by a pleasant seafront promenade.
2. Find the building that upset César Manrique
It’s difficult to miss the hotel that so incensed Lanzarote’s favourite son that it led to the imposition of strict building regulations across the island.
54 meters in height, Arrecife Gran Hotel & Spa is the tallest building in the capital and the tallest on the island. It so upset Manrique that he returned from New York to ensure that no other building could blight Lanzarote’s landscape.
Take the lift to the Blue 17 on the hotel’s top floor for the views across to Playa del Carmen.
3. Visit Castillo de San Gabriel
Castillo de San Gabriel is located on a small islet (Islote de los Ingleses) at the end of Arrecife’s main shopping street, Leon y Castillo.
You reach the castle via one of two parallel bridges, the oldest of which is Puente de las Bolas, a small drawbridge named after the cannon balls used to repel pirate attacks. The second is a more recent Franco-era bridge.
This sturdy stone fortress, dating from the 16th Century, replaced an earlier wooden structure that was razed to the ground by Berber pirates. Today it houses a small ethnographic museum, Museo de Historia de Arrecife.
4. Take a peek at Quiosco de la Música
Arrecife has its own Quiosco de la Música. This wooden bandstand is a replica of one from the 1950s.
You’ll find it in front of Arrecife’s Casa de la Cultura Agustín de la Hoz.
5. Watch the boats bobbing in Charco de San Ginés
There are few more relaxing things to do in Arrecife than to take time out at Charco de San Ginés.
Follow the promenade a short distance east and cross the road, and you’ll reach a pretty tidal lagoon. Charco de San Ginés is lined with blue-shuttered white buildings, many of which are restaurants.
This scenic harbour was remodelled by César Manrique and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Venice of the Atlantic.’ It’s the perfect place to stop for lunch.
A traditional market is held here every Wednesday and Thursday.
6. Pray for good weather at Iglesia de San Ginés Obispo
Dating from 1667, this triple-nave church was built on the site of a 16th Century hermitage. It is dedicated to Saint Ginés (Saint Genesius of Clermont), Arrecife’s patron saint.
Built from local lava stone, it features Tuscan-style columns, a Neoclassical bell tower and a 17th-century statue of Saint Ginés.
Iglesia de San Ginés is located in an attractive square that is lined with colonial buildings and filled with the sound of birdsong.
7. Stroll through Arrecife’s historic centre
The narrow streets around Iglesia de San Ginés form the hub of Arrecife old town. I recommend exploring a few of the streets radiating from the Church of San Ginés but the most well-known of these is an alley known as El Aguaresío (I stumbled upon it by chance).
This photogenic street connects Charco de San Ginés to the church. On Saturdays, a traditional market spills into it from the Plaza de las Palmas.
8. Try the local brew at El Camarote Nao
If you follow the promenade towards the marina, you’ll come across El Camarote Nao.
Lanzarote has a burgeoning craft beer industry and this chilled place serves some of the best. If you are not sure what to go for, opt for their tasting of four beers
Nao beer bar is open from 6 pm until 11 pm, Tuesday – Saturday. On Friday and Saturday, it is also open between 12 pm and 4 pm.
Psst! They also deliver to the UK and Ireland.
What to Do in Arrecife: Cultural Activities
The final two places to add to your Arrecife itinerary are located a short distance from the city’s main tourist attractions but are good rainy-day activities.
9. Explore the history of Lanzarote at the Museo Arqueológico de Lanzarote
Housed in the 20th Century mansion of doctor and architect Fermín Rodríguez Bethencourt and his wife Manuela García Parrilla, Lanzarote’s archaeology museum covers the island’s history from the early settlers through the Spanish conquest and numerous pirate raids.
NEED TO KNOW
Recent online comments suggest that his museum may be closed for renovation.
10. Immerse yourself in contemporary art at Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo.
Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo is another brainchild of César Manrique.
The 18th Century Castillo de San José had fallen into disrepair and in 1975 Manrique directed its renovation and founded this Museum of Contemporary Art. Within the former fortress’s sturdy stone walls is a collection of paintings, sculptures and drawings by internationally acclaimed artists, including César Manrique himself.
The well-regarded restaurant and coffee shop at the foot of the fortress offers views of Puerto de los Mármoles through its floor-to-ceiling windows.
How to get to Arrecife
Planes land at César Manrique-Lanzarote Airport (ACE), also known as Arrecife Airport, four miles west of the capital. Bus No. 22 will bring you directly from the airport terminal to Arrecife in 30 minutes. This service operates every half-hour.
As Arrecife is the hub for the bus service on Lanzarote, you shouldn’t have a problem getting here by bus from your resort town. IntercityBus Lanzarote is the island’s operator and the price of a bus ticket, bought from the driver, depends on the distance travelled.
GOOD TO KNOW
If you are taking a day trip to Arrecife by bus, alight at the Intercambiador, which is located on the seafront at Playa del Reducto.
If you are arriving by car, come off the ring road at the airport (western) end of town and leave your car in the large car park at the end of the beach.
READ THIS NEXT: How to Explore Lanzarote by Bus: Essential Tips, Popular Routes and Fares
Getting Around Arrecife
As this is a compact city and very walkable, you won’t need to use city transport. Perfect for hitting the highlights of Arrecife in one day.
Where to Stay in Arrecife
Although I based myself in Costa Teguise, I would be very tempted to stay in Arrecife if were to revisit Lanzarote. Here are a few places that I have picked for myself
5***** Charco loft
This huge apartment is in an excellent location, has views to die for and excellent reviews.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
Arrecife Gran Hotel & Spa
Next to Arrecife’s lovely El Reducto Beach, this 5-star hotel offers a spa and panoramic views.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
Places to Visit Outside Arrecife
Of course, there is much more to this Canary Island than Arrecife. To get some ideas of other places to visit on the island, check out my guide to Lanzarote, but here are my top recommendations.
VISIT TIMANFAYA NATIONAL PARK ON AN ISLAND TOUR
As it is not served by public transport, I took joined full-day tour to visit Timanfaya National Park. This tour also included Jameos del Agua, Cueva do Los Verdes and Mirador del Rio.
>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
CACTUS GARDEN (JARDÍN DE CACTUS)
Designed by César Manrique, Lanzarote’s Cactus Garden is set in a volcanic crater and has more cacti than you can shake a stick at.
LA GERIA WINE VALLEY
Learn more about viniculture on Lanzarote by joining a Wine and Vineyard Walk with Wine Tours Lanzarote.
READ THIS NEXT: 18 Best Places in Lanzarote to Visit in One Week
Is Arrecife Worth Visiting?
There is no better place in Lanzarote than Arrecife to experience a real slice of island life.
If you want a holiday away from Lanzarote’s resorts, there’s a lot to be said for making this your base. Arrecife has an excellent beach, rich history and unbeatable transport links.