Activity holidays in Canary Islands for villa lovers

The Canary Islands are simply filled with excitement and adventure. Located off Africa’s north-western coast, this Spanish archipelago packs in diverse landscapes perfect for thrill seekers.

Alongside top-tier weather, the island comprises picturesque beaches ideal for water sports, like surfing and jet skiing. When you stay in a property near the coastline you’re able to really make the most of the scenery on offer, so without further ado, here’s why activity holidays in Canary Islands are so well suited to villa lovers. Let’s start with the largest island of the archipelago, Tenerife…

Tenerife

There are some otherworldly landscapes just waiting to be explored in Tenerife, so why not hire a car to help uncover the island’s more distant hotspots? Staying in a villa means you can pack bigger pack lunches – that way you’ll have all the more energy for when you’re exploring.

Activity lovers can delve into the Anaga rainforest and up into the Anaga mountains. Alternatively, venture to Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, and the surrounding Teide National Park. Take the cable car to the upper station and marvel over the panoramic views of Tenerife, or wander through the park at your own pace. Once you’re there, enjoy a few pre-made sandwiches and replenish for the trip back down.

Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is packed with inspiring cycling routes. Get ready to brave big climbs – your efforts will be rewarded with stunning backdrops at their summit. This is where holiday rentals come into their own, allowing you to keep your beloved bicycle inside each night and get it ready for the coming day’s ride.

Head to the northern tip of the island and cycle amongst pretty towns like Corralejo and La Oliva. As well as dreamy strips of sand, you’ll encounter desert roads worthy of a Wild West film. For off-road delights, cycle to the rugged Jandia Natural Park. Otherwise, Lobos Island, a small islet north of Fuerteventura, is worth visiting if you fancy a spot of snorkelling or scuba diving.

Lanzarote

Similar to the other Canary Islands, Lanzarote is full of plenty of activities for many different preferences. Beat the crowds at the restaurants and prepare a delicious packed lunch beforehand so you can stay at places for longer.

First up, get your snorkels at the ready and dive beneath the ocean to see the Museo Atlántico. Situated 12 metres underwater, it’s made up of a collection of submerged sculptures which you can swim around at your leisure.

When you’re back above sea level, take a walk around the renowned Timanfaya National Park. You’ll come across geyser displays and a restaurant that uses geothermal heat from a volcano to cook your food! You can explore the park by foot, but if you’re in search of a truly memorable day out, hire a camel to take you around. Not only will this save you the effort of walking, it’ll make for a few unbeatable photo opportunities!

Activity holidays in the Canary Island guarantee many things – scenery, thrills and unrivalled experiences being but three of them. With that all in mind, take a look at some holiday rentals across the archipelago.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Walking holidays in Lanzarote – spectacular routes for villa holidays

Lanzarote’s rugged coasts and otherworldly national parks are made for walking. Whether you’re on a family getaway or an intrepid hiking adventure with your partner, this Canary island gem’s spectacular interiors stretch from the shores of Playa Blanca on to the Timanfaya National Park, then northwards to the Mirador del Rio and back again. To put it simply, walking holidays in Lanzarote open you up to the best of Spain’s allures beyond the mainland.

Timanfaya National Park


Image by Son of Groucho, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

When most people think of Lanzarote, the arid Mars-like hills and volcanos of Timanfaya National Park are the first images that spring to mind. It’s a far cry from the idyllic beaches which line popular towns like Playa Blanca and Matagorda, but still equally tranquil in its own, perhaps more wild, way.

Unescorted walking isn’t permitted here, but there are a number of tours which you can easily book onto. Buses run frequently from El Diablo, an unusual restaurant that grills food using volcanic heat, to the Ruta de los Volcanoes. This will take you through the vast craters of Montanas del Fuego (aka the “Fire Mountains”) – a spectacle in their own right.

The Ruta de Tremesana tour runs a few times a week, taking participants across lava fields with commentary from a supervisory ranger. It’s geared towards walkers with moderate fitness levels, and it’s recommended that you bring sturdy boots which you feel comfortable in, along with a good supply of water. Luckily, Timanfaya National Park is just a short drive from Playa Blanca and easily accessible from the island’s other hotspots.

Mirador del Rio

For something a little tougher, hike to the clifftop structure named Mirador del Rio. Start by driving to the village of Ye, situated just north of Corona Forestal Nature Reserve. It takes around an hour and a half to get to Ye from the island’s southern tip, so drives here and back are easily achievable within a day.

From Ye, you can park and walk to all the way to the Mirador del Rio viewpoint. The walk itself is littered with panoramic vistas looking over the Atlantic Ocean, but keep your eyes on the path ahead and save yourself for the far-stretching scenery yet to come.

Mirador del Rio’s tip is like something out of a James Bond movie, complete with a café and bar which overlook La Graciosa, a volcanic island located around two kilometres from Lanzarote. In true Bond fashion, order a martini (shaken, not stirred) and soak up the Canarian vistas before heading back.

Playa Blanca

You don’t need to go to rural regions to enjoy walking holidays in Lanzarote. Start from the Playa Dorada beach in Playa Blanca, then follow the promenade towards the harbour and along the nearby coast. Continue along until you reach the lighthouse, then make your way back to the bustling bars and restaurants that make up this coastal town.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can always continue towards Punta del Papagayo, the southernmost tip of Lanzarote. It’s a 10-kilometre walk, though, so you might want to arrange for a taxi to take you back into town. The area surrounding Playa Blanca is both beautiful and simplistic. You can step out the front door of your villa and wander aimlessly along the shoreline, simply letting the cool Atlantic breeze wash over you as you take in this rich, varied setting.

Take the next steps in planning your Lanzarote walking holiday and look at some of the properties Villa Plus offers on the island.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Hidden gems of Lanzarote

Lanzarote is diverse in every sense of the word. Many people travel here with their sights set on Arrecife, but after arriving you’ll immediately realise there’s far more to this beguiling island. Villa holidays in Lanzarote open you to a whole new world of adventures, here’s where you’ll find them all…

Discover a new side to Lanzarote
Image by Roman Pfeiffer, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Papagayo Beaches

Get off the beaten track and visit the side of the island left out of most tour brochures. A short drive from Playa Blanca are the beaches located on Lanzarote’s southern coast. They’re surrounded by volcanic hills, making for a series of pristine sands looking over the Atlantic Ocean. Lanzarote’s unique biosphere means that even a simple walk to the beach exposes you to otherworldly landscapes – perfect for Instagram or Facebook!

Enjoy the rugged beauty of the Canary Islands
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Mirador del Río

The best thing about villas in Lanzarote, is they’re never far from viewpoints which are worth travelling for alone. Travel to the north to Mirador del Río, an iconic hilltop viewpoint nearly 500 metres above sea level. Walk along dusty mountain roads, bypassing quiet villages before reaching the summit. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the straits of El Rio and the coastline surrounding it. Once you’re back in the comforts of your villa holiday rental, put your feet up and enjoy a well-earned glass of wine.

Museo Atlántico

Lanzarote’s Underwater Museum, also known as Museo Atlántico, is an underwater sculpture museum on the island’s southern seaboard. Divers are given guided tours of the statues made by sculptor Jason deCaires, famous for his underwater models. As well as being one of Lanzarote’s most recent star attractions, the Museo Atlántico’s works focus on eye-opening, poignant issues, like the migration crisis. The museum is located in protected waters, 15 metres underwater. After a visit here, you’ll never say museums are boring ever again!

Timanfaya National Park

Lanzarote is the byproduct of years of volcanic activity – this becomes clear when visiting Timanfaya National Park. Formed hundreds of years ago as by lava and molten rock, this region is every bit as arid as it was days after the eruption. Walking through here is as close as it gets to prehistoric times, minus the dinosaurs and flaming molten rock! The park is accessible from southern Lanzarote towns such as Matagorda, yet is a far cry from their bustling bars and restaurants.

Matagorda Beach

Although Lanzarote’s climate is renowned for sun and generally fair weather, it’s gifted with Atlantic waves which are perfect for windsurfing. Matagorda attracts surfers of all levels, and has a wealth of instructors to get help you get your feet on the board. If you’re already experienced, there are rental agencies are available to kit you out. Tackling these waves works your appetite, so once you’re home be sure to cook up a storm in your self-catering villa.

Whether you’ve planned your trip months in advance, or simply fancy a last-minute holiday to Lanzarote, the island caters for all tastes. Delve a little deeper, and you’ll uncover a side to this Canary gem adored by many.

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By Ciaran Brooks. A former history graduate, Ciaran Brooks’ love for old stories has led him around the world. A self-confessed adventurer, he fell into travel writing after his blog chronicling his year in Thailand was picked up by a national paper.

Your Guide to Lanzarote

In many ways, Lanzarote wrote the book when it comes to the classic beach holiday. Even with four decades as one of Europe’s premier tourist destinations behind it, Lanzarote is still able to surprise and delight. The third-most populated and fourth-largest Canary Island offers miles of pristine beaches, a starkly beautiful volcanic interior, as well as a vibrant island culture.

Relax on Lanzarote's many beautiful beachesImage by simonturkas, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY SA 2.0)

With such a well-established tourist industry and pleasant year-long climate it can be tempting to while away the days lounging by the pool. And while you should always make time for relaxation on holiday, venturing beyond the resorts and waterparks will reveal a richly cultured and uniquely beautiful island.

Visit craters, towering massifs, sand dunes, otherworldly volcanic plains, and sky high viewpoints that will take your breath away. These natural wonders inspired the work of famed local son, Cesar Manrique, who helped to meld the look and style of Lanzarote’s major tourist attractions with the island’s landscape. Lanzarote may be the home of the package holiday, but that doesn’t mean that any two holidays to this beguiling island need to be the same.

Lanzarote offers the perfect self-catering holiday
Image by wiseguy71, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY SA 2.0)

Arrecife

Less than 150,000 people live on Lanzarote, and over fifty thousand of them live in the island’s capital Arrecife. Literally “reef” in Spanish, Arrecife takes its name from the reef that surrounds the city’s coast. Very much a working city, Arrecife is less tourist focused than the resort towns of Costa Teguise and Playa del Carmen, but it is still packed with plenty to do.

Visit the Castillo de San José and enjoy the collection of modern art housed in an 18th century fortress.  Alternatively, take a walk to the 16th century Castillo de San Gabriel fort. Found on a small man-made island at the end of a causeway connected to the harbour, the fort houses a museum which chronicles the history of Lanzarote.

Costa Teguise

The island’s former capital remains a popular tourist hub. Located around the scenic central beach, Teguise was designed and built with tourism in mind. That means the town is well-served and amenity rich, making it the perfect place for a holiday. While typifying a Canarian resort town, it lays claim to a long and storied history dating back 500 years. The town also boasts a very large Sunday market, ideal for bargain hunters and those looking to take a piece of Lanzarote home with them. Teguise is well stocked with first-rate restaurants and has a popular aquarium, too.

Another site you should see is the Cesar Manrique Foundation. Here you can explore Manrique’s house, located in several volcanic bubbles and designed by Manrique himself. You can learn all about the man and his legacy of preserving Lanzarote’s culture in the adjoining museum.

Puerto del Carmen

Lanzarote’s main tourist town is the first port of call for new tourists to the island. Over a million people a year make their holiday plans in Puerto del Carmen, and when you see the beautiful seafront and range of things do it is easy to see why. While it certainly has a package-holiday vibe, you can enjoy a taste of the real Lanzarote by taking a stroll from the Old Town to the El Varadero harbour.

Playa Blanca

A more tranquil corner of Lanzarote, Playa Blanca is where people come to get away from it all. Located on the southern tip of the island and within sight of Fuerteventura, the town is a marked contrast from the noisier tourist towns of Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise.

It also has the highest temperatures on Lanzarote and due to its local geography, it is more sheltered from the wind than anywhere else. However, it is the beautiful Papagayo beach that is the biggest draw to Playa Blanca. The warm emerald green water of the beach its perfect for a dip, and provides a safe place for children to enjoy a little snorkelling.

La Graciosa

La Graciosa is a small island found off the north coast of Lanzarote. With only a few hundred inhabitants this is as quiet a slice of Canarian life as you’ll find. The island’s serene beaches are also some of the finest anywhere in the Canaries. The ever popular La Francesca Beach is the most scenic of all with crisp white sands, blue seas and breath-taking views of Lanzarote across the water.

Marvel at the natural beauty of Lanzarote
Image by alfaltendorf, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY SA 2.0)

While always worth a visit, most tourists know La Graciosa from the incredible views of it from the famous Mirador del Rio. The Mirador del Rio viewpoint was designed by Cesar Manrique and affords incredible views over La Graciosa and the Atlantic Ocean. It also has a café bar where you can enjoy a drink while you take in the unbeatable vista.

Things to do with the kids

Lanzarote is an island bursting with kid-friendly activities. As a well-developed tourist destination, it should come as no shock that there is no end to the family-friendly fun on offer.

Submarine Safari

The biodiversity in the waters surrounding the Canary Islands are among the archipelago’s finest jewels, and thanks to Submarine Safari you can see them up close. Kids are sure to marvel at the adventure of boarding a submarine, and the chance to see the marine ecosystem beneath the waves will entertain and educate them, and you!

Timanfaya National Park

Away from the beaches, Lanzarote’s landscape presents a different kind of beauty. Thanks to the island’s volcanic history, there is a magically otherworldly interior to explore. The best place to do this is Timanfaya National Park which is replete with incredible geological formations like craters, volcanic tunnels, sand dunes, and ash covered plains. For an even more unique experience that the kids will love, tour the park on a Camel Safari!

Aqua Park Costa Teguise

There’s nothing kids enjoy more than making a splash, and Aqua Park Costa Teguise is the perfect place to do it. With sections designed for toddlers, and plenty of slides and flumes for older children, the whole family can have fun at this popular water park. There are even sun beds for the adults to relax on while the kids go wild. Just make sure you don’t forget your sunscreen as the time will fly!

Rancho Texas

It might not be the most authentic Canarian experience on the island, but Rancho Texas is certainly among the most fun. With both a water park and a zoo on offer, there is plenty to entertain kids of all ages. Located in Puerto del Carmen, Rancho Texas remains one of the most popular tourist attractions on Lanzarote and lets you enjoy a flavour of the Wild West. Be sure to visit on Country Night and try your hand at lassoing and country dancing while you tuck into the buffet BBQ!

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family-focus, and she is in the midst of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Why a holiday let is ideal for a Lanzarote break

Lanzarote has been a go-to package holiday destination for years. You pick a resort, you choose all-inclusive or half board, and right away you have a hassle-free holiday ready for you. But is staying in a catered resort really the best way to experience the Canaries?

Well, Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape is ripe with opportunities for adventure, from hiking over craters to exploring lava tunnels to scuba diving off the coast. Choosing a self-catered holiday let on this Canary Island is an ideal way to make the most of these opportunities during your trip. Here’s four reasons why…

See Lanzarote for yourself
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1. You’ll have more freedom

Without the limitations set by resort mealtimes, you’ll have much more freedom when it comes to your holiday itinerary. Whether you want to be up and out at sunrise, or enjoy a brunch after a long lie in, you won’t be missing out on any pre-paid breakfasts.

Visit Lanzarote on a self-catering holiday
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Furthermore, holidaying in a resort might tempt you to stay in one place or just lounge in comfort by the pool. In rental accommodation, you’re more likely to venture further afield and see everything that Lanzarote has to offer. With gorgeous scenery and interesting attractions wherever you go, it would be a shame not to explore!

2. You can get a taste for local cuisine

Lanzarote is bursting with restaurants that you’ll miss out on if you’re staying in catered accommodation. From rustic Canarian eateries like Meson La Frontera in the village of Haria, to sophisticated dining in La Tegala near Puerto del Carmen, there are loads of places to enjoy Lanzarote’s finest food.

If you don’t feel like eating out, you’ll also have a well-equipped kitchen in your rental home. Head to the nearest supermarket to buy ingredients and you can cook your own meals. Whether you make familiar favourites from home, or experiment with local dishes like papas arrugadas, cooking is the perfect option if you fancy a night in.

3. The money you save can be spent on experiences

The chance to bag a cheap holiday in Lanzarote is one of reasons why this island is so popular with visitors, and with holiday rentals, there is plenty of scope for great bargains. The base cost of a self-catering villa is a fraction of a hotel. This makes holiday lets ideal for longer holidays, or trips for families or large groups.

Best of all, you can spend the money you’ve saved on experiences that you’ll remember. Why not hire bikes and enjoy the island’s cycling routes? Or go for a camel ride in Timanfaya National Park? There are plenty of memorable ways to enjoy the island.

4. You can unwind in comfort at the end of the day

After an action-packed day, you can return to your villa to relax in luxury. Lounge by your private pool, or sip drinks on the terrace in the evening sun. Instead of being crammed into a hotel room, you’ll have plenty of space – which is particularly great if you’re travelling as a family.

By Arianne Fabrice, a travel journalist who specialises in the popular resort destinations in and around Europe. Having worked for some of Paris’ premium travel mags, she’s recently moved into English-language publications.

Best drinks for your self-catering holiday to Lanzarote

If you want to sample the authentic flavours of Lanzarote, there are some well-loved local drinks you simply must try. The most satisfying part about a self-catering trip is that you’re in charge of your own menu, all day, every day. You’re not limited to whatever’s on offer in a hotel bar, and to top it off you’ll get more drinks for less money!

Whether you want to cool down with some beer on the terrace of your Canarian villa, or mix up cocktails to sip in your seafront garden, Lanzarote has some delicious drinks to choose from. Here are a few to add to your list:

Enjoy a carajillo in Lanzarote
Image by Vvillamon, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY SA 2.0)

Carajillo

This Spanish specialty is served widely in Lanzarote, and is simply to recreate in your rental apartment kitchen. A carajillo is a black coffee with a dash of spirit in it. Brandy is the usual choice, but you’ll also find varieties with whiskey and rum, so take your pick when making your own!

Rum

Rum is the Canary Islands’ favourite spirit, and there are lots of ways you can enjoy it even if you don’t want to add it to coffee in your carajillo. Arehucos Oro is a golden-coloured rum made in Gran Canaria. Whether you’re drinking it neat, or mixing it into a cocktail, look out for this one in local supermarkets.

Ron Miel is another popular drink in Lanzarote. This rum mixed with honey is easy to drink and perfect if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.

Wine in Lanzarote

Oenophiles will love experiencing something a little different while learning about Lanzarote. Winemaking has a long history in the Canaries, but you won’t find any traditional vineyards here. To protect the grapes from strong winds, they’re grown in small craters called ‘zocos.’

A glass of Lanzarote wine
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The volcanic earth on Lanzarote allows wine producers to cultivate grapes using a special method called ‘enarenado.’ Since everything is done carefully by hand in this process, you know you’re getting top quality wine.

For a real taste of Lanzarote, try some of the wines produced from the Malvasia grape. These sweet dessert wines are an alternative way to finish a meal in your Lanzarote villa. Bodegas, small shops owned by local wine producers, are the best place to purchase the island’s finest wines.

Beer in Lanzarote

The island might not have any big breweries of its own, but Lanzarote is certainly not short on beer. Due to the hot weather here, a chilled pint won’t stay cold for long, so the most suitable way to buy beer is in ‘botellines’ – little bottles. This is definitely something to remember if you’re planning to sit with a beer on your sun-soaked balcony!

Tropical and Dorada are two popular brands of beer on the island, and both are brewed on neighbouring Gran Canaria, which means you won’t be missing out on Canary Island flavour. Dorada is refreshing and sweet, and Tropical is light with just a hint of citrus. Both are an ideal way to wet your whistle in the Lanzarote heat.

By Shaun Fraser, a former drinks rep, who now focuses on writing about his favourite tipples from Europe and beyond. He credits his good nose to a previous life as a sommelier.