Arrecife Lanzarote

Guide to Arrecife, capital of the island of Lanzarote, Canary Islands.

Aerial View of Arrecife - Photo by James MitchellArrecife - Castillo - Photo by James MitchellArrecife - El Charco - Photo by James Mitchell

Towns of Lanzarote - Arrecife

Arrecife Lanzarote - Tourists arriving on flights to Lanzarote often assume that they are landing in the capital city - Arrecife. But in fact this bustling conurbation is some 3 km away from the airport of the same name, which is in fact in a part of the island known locally as Guacimeta.

Arrecife took over the mantle of island capital from Teguise back in 1852. And is today a bustling city, home to just under half of the islands total population of 127,000 people.

Arrecife doesn’t boast that much in the way of classic colonial architecture - although it does have its high points. Such as the atmospheric El Charco area, a small lagoon known locally as The Puddle, which is located in the heart of the city and which makes a good spot for a stroll or a bite to eat. Especially after a bout of serious shopping in the main retail precinct of Calle Leon y Castillo which runs along the north end of the lagoon.

A series of narrow streets run off from El Charco towards the church of San Gines (the patron saint of Arrecife´s fishermen). Which is set in a small pretty square that’s the religious heart of the capital and the focal point for many of the islands most important fiestas and festivals. Close by - just behind the modern fish market on the seafront lies the recently reopened La Recova - once a vibrant food market and now host to a number of small stalls as well as a decent little café.

The city also boasts two castles - which were built during the 16th and 18th centuries - to fortify Arrecife against repeated pirate attacks. Today the Castillo de San Jose, which is located some 2km away from El Charco, is home to the Museum of International and Contemporary Art (open daily 11.00-21.00) Featuring a small collection of classic works by artists such as Picasso, Miro and Manrique as well as a very stylish restaurant.

The older fortification dating from the 1590´s, the Castillo San Gabriel (open 08.00-14.00 Monday to Friday), houses a small museum exhibiting examples of Guanche art and artifacts. And is located at the foot of Calle Leon Y Castillo right by the sea. And at the start of a very attractive promenade which runs right along the front - past the recently opened 5 Star Arrecife Gran Hotel (the only high rise hotel in Lanzarote) and on to the city’s very own beach, Playa del Reducto. In fact this path can now be taken all the way along the coast as far as Puerto del Carmen.

Visitors to the capital should bear in mind that shops in the capital observe traditional Spanish opening hours. Which means that the streets are bustling between 08.00 and 14.00 and 17.00 and 20.00. But deserted between 14.00 and 17.00. At the weekends they open Saturday mornings only. Regular bus services run to Arrecife from all of the islands tourist resorts.

Arrecife - The Gran Hotel - Photo by James MitchellArrecife - The Modern Art Museum - By James Mitchell

Things To Do


Arrecife can´t be touched when it comes to a spot of serious clubbing Spanish style. The capital boasts a growing number of stylish lounge type venues - such as Bar Linde in Calle Canalejas. As well as a fine array of late night venues, such as Tsunami and El Panaderia in Calle Jose Antonio.


The El Almacen Cultural Centre in Calle Jose Bethencourt was founded by Cesar Manrique as a meeting place and exhibition space for island based artists. And still plays an important role in the artistic life of the island today. El Almacen also regularly screens classic and cult English language movies.


Arrecife has the best selection of shops on the island and is the place to head for if you’re in search of some serious retail therapy. Internatioal brand names sit side by side with local favourites.


Explore the El Charco area and visit the Museum of International and Contemporary Art.

(Photos on this page by James Mitchell)

Arrecife Links: Arrecife Map - Arrecife Weather

Nearby Places: Puerto del Carmen - Costa Teguise

Attractions: Jameos del Agua - Timanfaya National Park - Isla Graciosa

Other Places: Guatiza - Haria - Orzola - Playa Blanca - Playa de Papagayo - Yaiza

Related: Fuerteventura - Tenerife - Gran Canaria - La Palma - El Hierro - La Gomera - Builders