By Rachel Lankester, founder Magnificent Midlife
It was such a delight when holidays abroad finally became possible after Covid. When travel restrictions eased, we decided to visit somewhere we’d never been before, the Canary Islands. We wanted some sunshine and warmth in February! While there we did a couple of island road trips and here’s one that includes several of the very top things to do in Lanzarote.
Our base was a lovely hotel in Corralejo, at the northern tip of Fuerteventura. The town was a bit touristy but also a lovely port, and we loved being able to walk along the beach and round the bay. It was wonderful.
We stayed near the ferry port and were keen to also go and explore the island next door, Lanzarote. Both islands are spectacular – each very different but amazing. I think there is more to see on Lanzarote despite it being a bit smaller – the landscape is more diverse than on Fuerteventura.
We struggled to find a hire car to take on the ferry but eventually managed to get one from Wendy’s on the main tourist drag. We hired the car for two days – we did the entire island of Fuerteventura where we were staying on the first day and then a tour of Lanzarote, on the second.
This is the road trip we did on Lanzarote. It would be perfectly doable if you are already on Lanzarote, it’s just that we started from the ferry terminal in Playa Blanca from Fuerteventura. The inspiration for both this one day road trip and the one on Fuerteventura was the findingupendi.com blog. We almost followed her itinerary to the letter (except for Timanfaya and Arriete) and it was really brilliant.
It only cost an extra €10 to take the car with us on the ferry. It cost us €131 return on the Fred Olsen express. There is another ferry company, Armas which runs every other hour when the Fred Olsen ferry isn’t running. I think the cost of each is pretty much the same although the Fred Olsen is perhaps slightly more expensive and it is a faster boat. On the findingupendi.com blog we had read there would be flying fish to see but sadly we didn’t see any.
When we arrived on Lanzarote at Playa Blanca, our first stop was to Los Hervideros. Finding Upendi describes this place as looking like Mars or Mordor and we thought it was a great description. It’s a totally volcanic landscape right on the sea quite unlike anything else. My husband who has been to Iceland in the summer said it wasn’t dissimilar to there.
It’s not far from the ferry terminal and well worth a trip, take the LZ-2. When we went in February 2022, the coast road was closed because a sinkhole had opened up in it! But you could still see a lot of the landscape before the sinkhole and you could also approach Los Hervideros from further up the coast via the road to the next stop (El Golfo) on our itinerary, to avoid the sinkhole.
El Lago Verde
As it wasn’t far to Finding Upendi’s next suggested stop, we decided to go there too. Unfortunately we didn’t realize it was right next door to El Golfo village and we initially missed the footpath to El Lago Verde, the green lake, and doubled back on ourselves unnecessarily. The car park was also cordoned off because there was a film crew on the beach below.
As you enter El Golfo, the footpath is on the left just before you enter the village. It’s a two minute walk to look down on the green lake which was fun. Probably not worth a trip just by itself, but in addition to Los Hervideros, then definitely.
Timanfaya National Park
Next we headed north towards the Timanfaya National Park. This place would have been worth the trip to the island all by itself – it is just incredible. The park is 51.07 square kilometres (19.72 sq miles) and made up entirely of volcanic soil. There is one active volcano, Timanfaya, and several dozen others dotted around the landscape. Follow the signs to the Montañas de Fuego (fire mountains), which takes you up to the top of the active volcano and is where the tourist buses stop.
If you’re coming from Playa Blanca and you reach the Park tourist centre, you’ve gone too far for the Montañas de Fuego turnoff. We did that! The tourist centre has an interesting exhibition and toilets, but if you’re pushed for time, I’d leave it out. Ignore the touristy camel rides and carry on to the Montañas de Fuego entrance on the left hand side.
You pay to drive into this area and then you queue to get up to the top. We arrived around 11 am and had to wait a very long time in the car queue. Be aware that you are not allowed out of your car whilst in the queue. When we came down at about 2.30pm there was no car queue at all. So my guess is go very early in the morning or in the afternoon. Obviously that will also depend on what time of year it is, in terms of how much heat there is to contend with.
At the top you’ll find a big car park, a restaurant, toilets, several ongoing demonstrations of the heat generated by this active volcano and some buses that take individual travelers on a bus tour around the top of the mountains. If you’re not on a tourist bus you can only access this area by getting on one of these buses. We didn’t realize this but I asked someone if there was a way to go where the tourist buses appeared to be going and he told me to get on this other bus parked closest to the restaurant area. That guided tour which lasts about 50 minutes, is included in your ticket price so do not miss it. It is incredible.
Arrieta – for lunch
We then headed north to our next stop Cueva de los Verdes. We were hungry as it was already well into the afternoon.
We stopped off at Arrieta on the east side of the island and at its northernmost edge, in the old fishing harbor, found the Bar Cafeteria El Pisquito, where we had a delicious lunch of freshly caught fish on a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea. It was next door to the rather strange Casa Juanita, known locally as The Doll’s House.
Cueva de los Verdes
We were following Finding Upendi’s advice again with our next destination. She also recommends Los Jameos del Agua but we didn’t have time for both so we chose Cueva de los Verdes, which is a group of underground tunnels and caves. We paid €10 each for our tickets and waited for the tour to commence.
I’m claustrophobic at the best of times and as we waited to descend into the network of tunnels and caves, I found my anxiety levels rising. I realised that the tour group was going to be 50 strong. I feared that with that many people potentially between me and getting back above ground if I had a problem while on the tour, I wouldn’t be able to get out quickly enough. The tour was also about 1 km in length!
I climbed down the steps to start the tour and the guide immediately said we needed to duck to go through the first entrance and that I’m afraid was that. I decided in that moment I just couldn’t go with the group. So my poor husband went by himself and I sat out above ground. I did get a refund!
It was about an hour before he reemerged. When he told me what I’d missed and showed me the photographs I felt very stupid. He said there were only a couple of places where he’d had to duck down and usually the ceilings were high.
I’ve been to similar places in other countries and been fine. I think it was because there was so many people that I got anxious. Covid has had an impact too. I’ve never liked crowds but am even more overwhelmed by them now – especially in small spaces.
So here are some of my husband’s photographs from what appeared to be an incredible series of volcanic tunnels and chambers, including an underground concert hall! So if you get there, don’t be like Rachel – take a deep breath and go inside! You won’t regret it as I did!
Mirador del Río
Next we headed to the viewing point Mirador del Río. From there, as Finding Upendi says, you can see the Famara Cliffs and all of the Archipielago Chinijo, which is a group of 5 islands: Alegranza, La Graciosa, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste. They are all protected as part of a Natural Reserve for marine life and birds. La Graciosa is the only one that is inhabited – about 700 habitants.
The Mirador building itself was closed and it was cloudy when we arrived, but the views were spectacular and we got some great photos. It really felt like we were at the end of the world!
We’d wanted to stop by Orzola in the northeast too but there wasn’t time. From Mirador del Río, we headed back south following the coast road mainly all the way back to Playa Blanca to catch the 8pm ferry back to Fuerteventura. We’d been booked on the 6pm boat, but I was able to call and change our reservation very easily from the cave while hubster was underground.
The sunset as we descended the hill into Playa was gorgeous. Having started out on the 07.50 ferry from Corralejo, we managed all of this in just 12 hours. I’d love to go back. Hopefully one day.
You may also like Things To Do In Fuerteventura – A One Day Road Trip and Top Tips For Travelling Solo and Walking In Midlife
Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond.