The seven municipalities of Lanzarote
Lanzarote is divided into seven municipalities, each with its own distinctive character.
In the centre of the island, the municipality of Arrecife, is the bureaucratic, commercial and cultural centre of island life.
Known by locals as el Puerto (the port), ferries leave for the other islands and the Spanish mainland, and cruise ships are regular visitors. Less touristy than other parts of the island the city has modern buildings, a good selection of shops plus an attractive boulevard which runs along the sea front to the 18th century castle of San Gabriel that protects the entrance to the old port.
The majority of Lanzarote’s population live and work here, and it is one of the few places on the island where there are traffic jams at rush hour.
The northern end of the island belongs to the municipality of Haria. Here the land is amongst the most fertile of the island and the green hills are lined with terraces which were once a principal source of agricultural produce but are now largely disused.
The town of Haría is one of the most tranquil of the island, and its narrow streets and white washed houses have not much changed for more than a century. César Manrique so loved the town that he came to live here whilst his house above Arrecife was being finished.
With the northern port of Órzola as a gateway to the Chinijo archipelago and the sheltered beaches of its south eastern coast Haría is a place for those who like the more tranquil and traditional side of island life.
Find out more about César Manrique
and the Chinijo archipelago
The Municipality of Teguise, which occupies the central part of the island, has both the large tourist resort of Costa Teguise on the southern coast and the old capital of the island, Teguise itself, in the centre of the island, overlooked by the 17th century fortress of Santa Barbara.
The former capital is now a charming town of whitewashed houses with one of the finest examples of Canarian stately architecture at the Casa Museo Palacio Spínola, the former palace and residence of the island’s governors.
On Sundays traditional dances and concerts take place in the square in front of the church, whilst the market itself has a wide range of goods on sale, from locally produced wine to clothing.
At bustling Costa Teguise on the coast there are fine beaches and a large concentration of hotels and restaurants. In complete contrast, on the northern side of the island in Caleta de Famara, the laid back former fishing village is now popular with surfers and kite surfers.
Find out more about surfing
The municipality of Tinajo has one of the widest ranges of landscapes on the island, from rich agricultural land beneath rolling hills and dormant volcanic cones, to the rugged rocky coastline. The village of La Santa, is home to Club La Santa, an internationally renowned sports centre and resort where top world athletes, cyclists and sportsmen come to train.
The central town of Tinajo has some fine examples of the island’s traditional architecture. There is a peaceful Sunday market with some of the finest local produce on sale, from delicious tiny wild potatoes to smoked, dried fish and octopus. Close by in Mancha Blanca each year one of the most popular and important festivals takes place at the church of St Dolores, Lanzarote’s patron saint.
She is said to have saved much of the island from the lava flows, which stopped just short of the church here and is widely revered by islanders with as many as 50,000 Conejeros making the pilgrimage to the church in September.
Find out more about Lanzarote events
Just south of Tinajo, the municipality of Tias has one of the largest tourist areas of the island at Puerto del Carmen. Here large hotels and hotel complexes lie beside more than 6 kilometres of beaches, coves and secluded inlets.
The Avenida Maritima runs above the beaches and is a favourite for joggers, cyclists and those simply out for a stroll. The calm sheltered waters of the coast here are perfect for windsurfing and sailing, and there are many excellent dive spots close to the beaches and coves. In the hinterland small pretty villages still retain their traditional character with whitewashed houses surrounded by neat plots of carefully tilled vegetable gardens. La Geria is also home to one of the major wine producing areas on the island.
Find out more about Lanzarote beaches
In the municipality of San Bartolomé the black fields of picón or volcanic gravel, are lined with distinctive curved walls protecting the carefully tended Malvasia vines.
The rich soils here are perfect for all kinds of vegetables, including Batatas (sweet potatoes) for which the area is famous, so much so that the inhabitants of the municipality are known as Batateros.
The village of Mozaga, in the centre, has the Casa Museo Al Campesino designed by César Manrique, where traditional crafts and building styles of the island are beautifully displayed. On the coast, Playa Honda has wide long beaches and residential areas but no tourist accommodation.
Find out more about Lanzarote wine
and the Centres of Art, Culture and Tourism
in San Bartolomé
The southern most municipality of Yaiza contains two of the most recent tourist resorts of the island at Puerto Calero and Playa Blanca, which until only recently were sleepy fishing villages. Now some of the largest hotels on the island have been built here with state of the art services and facilities, from spa treatments and health centres to marinas with luxury yachts and deep sea fishing boats for charter. At the southern most tip the natural reserve of the Monumento Natural De Los Ajaches towers high above the sea and has many species of flora and fauna which are endemic to the island.
The beaches here at Punta del Papagayo are secluded and sheltered, with some nudist beaches in the hidden rocky coves. The hills above are popular with mountain bikers who can follow many trails which lead into the interior on old shepherds paths. Inland, the town of Yaiza is a charming small village, which more than once has been selected as the most beautiful village in Spain, its graceful old houses and squares set beneath rolling hills. The municipality also has at its centre the Timanfaya National Park with a dramatic skyline of dormant volcanoes and vast fields of lava which stretch down the sea.
Find out more about nature reserves
and Timanfaya National Park
Find out more about Lanzarote history & geography