There’s plenty to see and do in this beautiful port city that goes well beyond the seafront. Arrecife’s vibrant and colorful streets include historic buildings, elegant boutiques and small cafes that merge into a delight island atmosphere.
Character restaurants, bars, and hotels have also helped turned this once small fishing village into the urban and contemporary capital of Lanzarote it is today.
While tours to waterparks, the Cactus Garden, Timanfaya, Rancho Texas, etc. are available with pickups in Arrecife, do note that they are located throughout Lanzarote and only included in our Lanzarote Tours list.
While many prefer to taking a scenic walk through Arrecife, the tourist train offers the easiest access to city attractions in the shortest amount of time.
City Sightseeing Train
The train starts from Charco San Ginés offering hop-on, hop-off access to all the major tourist attractions and points of interest. A multilingual audio commentary is also available for those who wish to stay aboard or learn prior to visiting.
Places to Visit
While the iconic César Manrique most definitely had a hand its design, you’ll find many attractions in Arrecife that date back to long before he was born.
Two castles can be found along the coastline in Arrecife with both containing important local museums and throngs of tourists.
Castillo de San Gabriel
The San Gabriel Castle sits the center of Arrecife and out to sea along Calle Punta de la Lagarta. The Puente de Las Bolas drawbridge leads the way and is named after the balls that stand upon its pillars. The fortress itself was constructed in 1599 to defend against pirate attacks and within the castle, you’ll find a History Museum for both Arrecife and Lanzarote.
Castillo de San José
The San José Castle was built overlooking the port in the 18th century and is now often used as a concert hall. Inside you’ll find the Museum of Modern Art (MIAC) along with a bar and restaurant which can be visited separately from the art exhibitions.
Museums can be found in Arrecife in castles, city streets and by the seaside. Whether you’re into art, history or even aeronautics, there is an abundance of options to choose from.
Fundación César Manrique
The former home and studio of César Manrique were built upon a lava flow with artistic brilliance and oneness with nature being present throughout. A volcanic rock bubble swimming pool along with artworks by Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró are the main attractions. While technically found a few kilometers outside of Arrecife off the LZ-1 near Tahiche, the Cesar Manrique Foundation is must-see as it exemplifies the grand designs he had for Lanzarote.
Museo Arte Contemporaneo
The International Museum of Modern Art showcases collections from the 1950s through to the 1970s. It includes several Cesar Manrique pieces as well those from other internationally acclaimed artists within the 18th-century setting of Castillo San José.
Museo de Historia
Found within Castillo de San Gabriel, the History Museum of Arrecife contains a few small exhibits on Lanzarote geology and its pre-Hispanic military equipment. There is also some info on the islands flora and fauna while the castle property itself offers photographers a panoramic view of the seafront promenade.
La Casa Amarilla
The Yellow House on León y Castillo was built in the 1920s as the former headquarters of Lanzarote Administration. Restored and renovated in 2002 for tourism, it now contains exhibits focusing on the knowledge and ethnographic history of Lanzarote. The historic building facades with green and ochre glazed tiles make it one of the most recognizable structures in town.
The Aeronautical Museum building at Lanzarote Airport is the actual pre-1970 airport terminal before tourism took over the island. Inside the art-deco structure, exhibits cover the early days of manned flight when Lanzarote was a stop-over for transatlantic pioneers. Aviation enthusiasts and those with time on their hands prior to departure make up the bulk of its visitors.
While you’ll find many sculptures from César Manrique around town in its parks and roundabouts, the works of many other artists and architects can be found throughout the city.
Iglesia de San Ginés
Built in the 17th-century, the San Ginés Church was a tribute to the island’s patron saint of the same who was originally from Cuba. The bell tower and Mudéjar-style ceiling make it both an interesting and historic landmark that appears more modern than it’s dark whitewashed volcanic stones would suggest. It’s easily visited when walking around Charco San Gines or the La Recova Market.
Gran Hotel Rooftop
If you want a stunning view of Arrecife and El Reducto Beach, the terrace Pool Bar atop the Arrecife Gran Hotel is the place to be. You’ll find many tourists lounging in the Balinese beds and comfortable furniture during the day and even more at night when they have DJs and live concerts.
Barco Telamon Encallado
While some may call the Temple Hall Shipwreck a decades-old eyesore, photographers tend to enjoy its unusual location. Found across from Playa de Barlovento and near the Arrecife Port, it captures quite nicely at sunset. Divers will also enjoy the marine life that has made their home in and around the wreck.
Quiosco de la Música
Located near Castillo San Gabriel and beside Jose Ramirez Park, this Music Kiosk is a replica of an old seafront bandstand. It was rebuilt for tourism in the 1960s, and surprise, surprise, it now currently houses one of Arrecife’s Tourist Information Offices.
Estatua de Heraclio Niz Mesa
The enormous statue of Heraclio Niz Mesa welcome visitors to the pedestrian shopping district of Calle del Leon y Castillo with a friendly smile. The touristic photo op, however, has a much more interesting backstory which begs to be discovered.
If you think the capital city that’s also the closest one to the airport would not have an amazing beach… you’d be wrong! To the delight of many tourists, the beautiful golden sand of Playa del Reducto is accompanied by calm waters from a sheltered reef. Numerous bars and restaurants are located nearby and many people come to relax after doing their shopping.
Being that it’s the capital city of Lanzarote, you’ll find an there is no shortage of things to do in Arrecife. Unlike its neighboring resort towns of Playa del Carmen and Costa Teguise however, you’ll find this area to be more urban and contemporary.
If you’re wondering where Lanzarote locals come to shop and party, you’ve found it.
With a local population of over 55,000 on this small island, you can expect to find a lot of shopping opportunities here. If you’re looking for the unique items or the best deals in Lanzarote, Arrecife is the place to shop.
La Recova Market
Hidden away in the city center and only accessible by small passageways, this unique little area contains a bevy of artisan craft shops. On weekdays you’ll also find a fresh food market and a second-hand market on weekends.
The Saturday morning market can be found along the pedestrian streets between Leon y Castillo and Charco San Ginés. Items for sales include traditional crafts and handmade goods along with fresh produce.
Scenic Walks and Parks
There are plenty of places to see, as well as relax in Arrecife that are away from the beach.
Charco de San Ginés
In the heart of Arrecife, César Manrique turned a sleepy fishing village into a bustling pedestrian quarter. This natural seawater lagoon is filled with picturesque little fishing boats while surrounded by palm tree promenade and footbridge. Modern apartments, historic buildings are merged with tapas bars, cafes, and restaurants. A Saturday Market bring even more crowds as does the El Aguaresío alleyway which leads to the San Ginés Church.
Amidst the decent number of yachts, you’ll find a wide selection of shops, bars, restaurants, and a small food market. The marina is also known for its popular late-night bar and music scene. Many even start the night off watching a movie under the stars at the 6D Cine.
Parque José Ramírez Cerdá
José Ramírez Cerdá Park is a hidden gem along Avenue la Marina near the entrance of Castillo San Jose. It contains a tiny cafe, a children’s play area and an artist’s garden where you’ll see an enchanted fountain surrounded by mosaic shards and organic shape trees. The path leads to the Music Kiosk tourism office and beyond to an open-space boardwalk with shaded sea-view benches with beautiful bougainvillea growing up the sides.
Temático park can be found at the far end of the beach on the West side of Playa del Reducto, and directly opposite Cabildo de Lanzarote. Inside you’ll find the Arrecife Skate Park, along with many open areas with green grass along with a gazebo to get out of the sun. There is also children’s play area and exercise equipment along with a few picture worthy sculptures and gardens.
Parque Islas Canarias
While Islas Canaries Park does have a few minor sculptures, it’s just a grassy open area on Calle Dr. Rafael González with some benches and a small children’s playground. It can be a place of rest while heading toward San Jose Castle, but more importantly, has 900 underground parking spots making it convenient for those visiting the Gran Hotel and Casino Club Náutico.