The capital city of Lanzarote since 1853, Arrecife is a focal point of the Canary Islands. Although you might be disappointed if you’re expecting a barrage of culture, Arrecife is still a beautiful location and remarkably tranquil compared to other parts of the island.

Previously a small fishing village on the site of El Charco de San Gines, Arrecife was only formed as a proper city in the 19th century due to its expanding port and highly productive fishing fleet. Early in its history, the settlement was plagued by pirates, meaning fortifications were quickly established and now constitute the core areas of cultural interest on the island.

While Arrecife’s rather bizarre one-time label as ‘the Venice of the Atlantic’ may be wide of the mark, it’s still a wonderful place to stay if you’re looking to explore Lanzarote, the Canary Islands or simply relax under the sun.


The pirate threat may have disappeared but, charmingly, the El Castillo de San Gabriel and El Puente de Las Bolas 17th century fortifications can still be seen on the periphery of the city coast looking out on the Atlantic and are worth a visit.

Other former fortifications have since been converted, such as the now Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum (rebuilt after the original fort was burnt by a pirate prior to an invasion attempt). Within the museum are artefacts and information pertaining to the Gaunche, the original inhabitants of Lanzarote.

More impressive is the site of El Castillo de San José which, although built in 1779, was converted into the International Museum of Contemporary Art in 1975. Hosting a fine selection of 20th century painters, the Museum is an absolute must-see.

Considering its history, the El Reducto and El Cable beaches (Blue Flag standard) are naturally one of the main attractions. As well as providing opportunities for sailing, surfing, windsurfing and swimming, parks looking onto the site can be found.

For another glimpse into Arrecife’s past, El Charco de San Gines lagoon in the city centre is surprisingly picturesque.

Arrecife enjoys a number of festivals. The first of the year is the Arrecife Carnival, typically held during January or February for a week and containing live music, floats and a firework display. Events include the election of a ‘Carnival Queen’ and the more curious ‘burial of the sardine’. The city’s patron, San Gines, is celebrated in August with another festival containing sailing competitions, music and a fun fair. Both these events are located around the area of the Recinto Ferral.


Arrecife is one of the best places to shop in Lanzarote, with the Calle Leon y Castillo and Calle Real offering the best in local crafts and clothing. Alternatively, the Spinola Shopping Arcade can be found in the city and the El Hiper Shopping Centre is a short distance on the way to nearby Tahice.

The fruit and vegetable market is held daily on the Calle Liebre, while an arts and crafts fair takes place each Wednesday. The largest street market in Lanzarote, La Villa de Teguise, opens its doors every Sunday morning in the small village of Teguise some 4 km away.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Being tourist-friendly, local cuisine can be found alongside foreign alternatives including Italian, Mexican and Chinese. Naturally seafood is emphasised, with dishes including mussels, limpets and Canarian stew.

Recommended for the local cuisine is the Restaurant El Padre Grande on Calle Jose Antonio, but the beaches also enjoy a selection of restaurants.

Arrecife is packed with bars and has its fair share of tourists. However, there tends to be less of a home-from-home atmosphere compared to other parts of the island, allowing some of the local culture to shine through instead.

Tourist Information

Arrecife Tourist OfficeParque Jose Ramirez CerdaArrecifeLanzarote35500Tel: +34 928 811


Arrecife is served by Arrecife/Lanzarote Airport, just 5 km from the city centre. International and domestic connecting flights are available to limited destinations on the continent and in Spain. Buses and taxis can be taken from the airport.

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