Visiting Lanzarote – Cheap Winter Sun
- Cheap Travel
- Family Travel
Visiting Lanzarote – Cheap Winter Sun
If you’re looking for some cheap winter sun, Lanzarote might be the place for you. Can you believe it was cheaper to spend four nights in Lanzarote than it was for a mid week trip to Centre Parcs in the UK? It was on discovering the extortionate prices at Centre Parcs that we started looking for an alternative abroad. For just £50pp return we could fly to Lanzarote, famed for its lovely winter weather and dramatic volcanic backdrop. Given it was the start of November and we live in the UK, we were definitely ready for some cheap winter sun!
Another great option is Gran Canaria, check out this post to see how we found it in November.
Mirador del Rio viewpoint
Where to Stay in Lanzarote?
There are three main resort towns that tourists tend to visit.
Puerto del Carmen: The most popular tourist town on the island with 60% of tourists choosing it as their base. Located only 15 minutes from the airport, it is great if you want to hop off the plane and get straight into holiday mode. You can travel easily between here and Playa Blanca using the 161 bus. It is great for cheap self catering apartments, for all inclusive resorts you are best looking to Playa Blanca. There are many more restaurants and bars here with a more lively vibe.
Playa Blanca: Due to its geographical position on the island, Playa Blanca is known for being less windy and generally warmer than the more northern towns above. Playa Blanca is where we decided to stay. It is mainly made up of all inclusive resorts and is better if you are looking for a quiet peaceful holiday. We were able to find this beach front family hotel with kids pools and an entertainment programme for just £65.50 per night (£262 for the 4 nights). This got us a one bedroom apartment with sofa bed and kitchenette. The hotel offers all inclusive packages, but we opted to go self catering.
Costa Teguise: Busier than Playa Blanca but quieter than Puerto del Carmen. It is a man made resort built on completely flat terrain, so great for anyone with mobility issues. Due to its geographical location it is one of the windier towns on the island, which draws in wind and kite surfers. It also has some great trails for mountain biking.
Lanzarote’s airport is in Arricife, the islands capital. You can find some great out of season flights with options as low as £30 return. With winter temperatures still in the 20’s it is the perfect place for some cheap winter sun. Use our ‘Start your Journey” feature to search for a trip to Lanzarote. Searching for a whole month will allow you to find the cheapest dates to travel.
Once at the airport you can either get the bus or a Taxi to your hotel. The bus is a really convenient and budget friendly way to get around. As you leave the baggage collection area, follow the signs for the bus. The bus stop is right outside the terminal doors and has a big screen telling you when the next bus will be.
Puerto del Carmen – a 15 minute drive south from the airport. A taxi will cost you around €12 or you can get the 161 bus for €2.
Playa Blanca – a 30 minute drive or 50 minute bus ride south from the airport. A taxi will cost you around €45 or you can get the 161 bus for €3.30. We took the bus and found it to be a convenient and easy service.
Costa Teguise – a 15 minute drive north from the airport. A taxi will cost around €20.
Tips for getting the bus in Lanzarote
Make sure you have small change. You cannot pay via contactless payment and they don’t accept large notes.
Use Google maps to find the nearest bus stop to your hotel. Enter Arricife Airport to (hotel name) and then select the public transport route to find the bus number and number of stops.
Check out this TikTok showing how we got the bus to Playa Blanca.
3 days in Lanzarote – What to do?!
Lanzarote is a small island, just 60km from north to south with a driving time of around an hour and a half. Wherever you choose to base yourself, it is easy to see a lot of the island either via bus or by hiring a car.
We were based in Playa Blanca which I would definitely recommend. We were staying at the Grupotel Flamingo beach, right by Flamingo beach. There are a few restaurants on the beach front, with many more at the harbour around a 15 minute walk away.
Have a look around the hotel with me in this TikTok video.
Day One – Relax!
We always like to schedule a day to do very little. Most people can relate to getting caught up in an extremely busy life and the stresses that come with it. We all deserve a day to be present. Spend a day relaxing by the pool, having a leisurely lunch by the beach, swimming in the sea. This is especially great if you have kids. Make some sandcastles together and enjoy the basic (and free) things a holiday has to offer. We are guilty of not always having the time to play and be present with our son, holidays are the perfect excuse to do whatever it is he fancies doing. We bought some bread, cheese and ham and made a picnic to enjoy by the pool. This saves money and is always a novelty for little ones.
Day Two – Papagayo beach hopping.
Papagayo beach is located on the south coast of the island and is the most famous and popular in Lanzarote. This little cove with its crystal clear emerald water and dramatic volcanic backdrop is the perfect place to spend the day. Close to the famous cove are 5 other great beaches to explore.
A boat tour to visit the beach would have cost our family £150 for a 5 hour all inclusive trip. These can be organised from many tourist counters or from your hotel. We didn’t want to spend that much money so decided to go off piste!
Getting the bus and then beach hopping towards Papagayo beach.
If you are staying in Playa Blanca, the number 30 bus runs through town and towards a place called Los Colorades. The bus was €1.40 each way. From Los Colorades you can use google maps to see how you get to the start of the trail that leads to the beaches.I have attached a map of the area below, the red pin indicating where you will get off the bus and where you will start the walk to the first beach, Playa Mujeres. The walk is steep in places with loose rocks, it requires good mobility and a comfortable pair of shoes. The views along the trail are fantastic and you can stop at a variety of beaches along the way. (Note some of these beaches are nudist beaches but there was a mix of nude and none nude visitors).
Driving to Papagayo Beach
There is a huge car park at the top of Papagayo beach, as well as another at Playa Mujeres. Practically you could drive and park there, however we were warned not to do this with a hire car. The road to the car parks it a rough dirt track, and car hire companies ask you stick to tarmac roads. We were told that car hire companies send people to these car parks looking for their cars, and handing out fines to anyone that has driven the car there. I am unsure how true this is, and we didn’t seen anyone checking whilst we were there – but we didn’t want to risk it. (Plus the walk and beach hopping ended up being a really great day out).
Eating at Papagayo Beach
There are two restaurants at the top of the beach.
Be Papagayo – This is actually one of the top rated restaurants on the island. The setting is beautiful with great views over the beach. The pricier of the two food options at the beach. Starters range from €7.50 – €15.90 and mains ranged between €10.20 and €55! Soft drinks were around €3 and beer around €4.
Casa el Barba – A more budget friendly option with similar amazing views. We had brought a packed lunch but were gagging for a drink after all the walking. The service was really fast and the prices are really reasonable. We had two large beers, a soft drink, an apple juice and a portion of chips for €15.90.
Getting down to the beach
There are stairs leading down to the beach with a hand rail at the side. The only toilets around there are in the restaurants, so if you do stop for a drink make sure you factor in a toilet stop too! There are no shops or places to pick up water, towels, hire parasols etc – so make sure you bring everything you need.
Day Three – Hire a car.
On our final full day we decided to hire a car. We looked into an ‘island tour’ excursion. It was £140 for us all and stopped at 4 places (Timanfaya National Park, Mirador del Rio view point, the green caves and Jameos del Agua). Car hire was only £45 for the day, so we decided to create our own tour.
Note: Excursions don’t run on Sundays, so this is a great time to hire a car as there will be less people at attractions.
1 day self drive Lanzarote Itinerary
Are 3 days in Lanzarote really enough to see all of the highlights? I think so! We managed to see all of the below points of interest within one day, setting off at 9.30am and returning home at 6pm.
Los Charcones Natural Pools
We started our day at this hidden gem. Only a short drive outside of Playa Blanca. There were only a couple of other people there and we are told it is rarely really busy as the island excursions don’t stop here. A perfect spot for relaxing or taking a dip.
Natural Pools at Los Charcones
El Golfo is a small seaside town home to the famous green lagoon. There is a carpark with a restaurant (that was closed on Sunday), it is easy to park up and take a short walk to the viewing platform where you can admire the lagoon. The vivid green lake set a short distance from the blue sea with the red and black volcanic backdrop is really quite special. The terrain on this island is so unique. The lagoon is formed in an old volcano crater and gets it’s green colour from the algae living in there.
El Golfo lagoon
Timanfaya National Park and the Fire Mountains
This volcanic national park is one of the must visit sites whilst on the island. The park is entirely made up of volcanic soil and is the result of almost 6 years of continuous volcanic eruption from over 100 volcanoes that took place between 1730 and 1736. The last eruption was in 1824.
On arrival you buy your tickets and then drive to a car park by the visitor centre. We paid €24 euros to get in (€12 per adult). Children aged 7 – 12 are €6. Once your car is parked you can go and watch the ‘geothermal experiments’. A residual chamber of magma makes the ground here extremely hot, first you are handed stones from the floor which I dropped instantly due to them being so hot! They then put some dry grass into a shallow hole which instantly bursts into flames, the next experiment shows them dropping water into a pipe in the group. The water instantly vapourises due to the intense heat and erupts out of the pipe with a loud whoosh!
Your ticket price includes a 25 minute coach tour around the fire mountains, an area closed off to public vehicles. The landscape is amazing, I have never seen anything like it before. They call it mars on earth, and it is exactly what I would imagine mars would look like. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip here.
Timanfaya national Park
Chicken cooked on a Volcano?!
After the experiments and tour you can visit El Diablo restaurant and see them cooking meat using geothermal heat. A metal grid is placed over a deep hole, it is the first time I have seen food BBQing on a volcano!
The views from the restaurant are fantastic. The building was designed by the famous Lanzarote born architect César Manrique, whose name pops up a lot given he designed most of the major landmarks on the island. The food is a little pricey, but when will you ever get to eat Volcano cooked chicken every again?! Half a chicken was €14 and Sirloin Steak was €18.50. I had a chicken sandwich in the smaller cafe area of the restaurant for €7.
Mirador del Rio viewpoint
After the national park we drove the 54 minute journey up to Mirador del Rio viewpoint. There is a carpark at the entrance to another of César Manrique’s architectural creations. For a €5 fee you can enter and enjoy this fantastic view. Being tight, and always looking for a way to save money, we went looking for a free alternative. I mean it’s a view… you can’t gate keep a view!
If you leave the car park and head down the road to your right, you will see the sea. Walk a little further and this famous view comes into sight. We did have to climb over a wall into an area saying “do not enter” – stay away from the cliff edge and enjoy the view from a far (or pay the €5 entry fee!)
Mirador del Rio view
Green Caves / Jameos del Agua
These two famous spots are close to the view point. We skipped the Green Caves and chose Jameos del Agua as we were running out of time. This was probably the wrong decision as we were very underwhelmed.
Jameos del Agua is another of César Manrique’s creations. This volcanic tunnel has been transformed into an “artistic creation in harmony with the environment and nature.” – It is €10 each to get in and honestly, in my opinion it isn’t worth it. It is a beautiful area but we must have spent 10 minutes there. You essentially descend some stairs into a restaurant area, view a lake within the tunnel, cross a bridge taking you through the tunnel. At the other side is another bar and some stairs leading up to the famous pool – which you can’t swim in.
Jameos del Agua
Our self drive tour of Lanzarote ended up being much better value than doing the excursion. We paid £45 for the car hire, spend £10 in petrol, £21 to enter the national park and £18 to enter Jameos del Agua – so £94 for the day trip. We had the added bonus of being able to visit El Golfo and the natural pools, which weren’t included on the excursion. Having a car means you can stay in each place for as long or as little as you like. This is great when you have little ones who may become unpredictably unhappy at any moment!
This was a fantastic cheap winter sun break. Having a full 3 days in Lanzarote meant we had time to relax and explore. Hiring a car on the final day meant we could cover all of the islands highlights really easily. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone looking for a long weekend away this winter.
Basic cost of the trip excluding food and drink
Flights and hotel – £137.30pp
Apartment £262 / 3 = £87.30pp
Bus to and from the hotel: £6pp
Activities – £109 in total
Day one: £5 on a bucket and spade
Day two: £10 on bus tickets
Day three: £94 on our self drive island tour.