Lanzarote is in the same time zone as London (GMT). It also puts the clocks backwards and forward for British Summer Time in March and October at the same time as the UK - hence there is never a time difference between the UK and the island.
Not all that much is known about the Island's early history, because most archaeological evidence has either been buried under lava or carried off by raiders. The Phoenecians were there, followed by the Romans. The Arabs then settled the island, the French explored it, and the Spanish conquered it.
The island thrived for a while by producing cochineal, an expensive, crimson dye taken from the carapace of a scale insect that lives on cactus. Cochineal is used for dying fabric, decorating china, in cosmetics, and as a food colouring.
The eruptions in 1730-1736 covered a quarter of the island's surface, destroying its most fertile farmland and eleven villages. Still, visitors marvel at how stone walls and semi-surrounds are used to capture moisture to grow crops elsewhere on this decidedly desert island.
The coherence and beauty of the island's cultural and tourist centres is largely the legacy of the local artist César Manrique (1919-1992). He also played a key role in having the island declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993.
Lanzarote islanders speak Spanish (Castilian) with a distinct Canary Island accent and some vocabulary not found on the Spanish mainland.
Lanzarote's principal economic activity is tourism, and a large proportion of tourists are from Ireland and the U.K. so most people working with tourists can speak at least some basic English.
Most restaurants offer menus in Spanish, English, and German. Although, do remember that this is a Spanish speaking island and try not to get too flustered if the local people cannot understand you. Many residents speak some English or German as a second language, but it helps inmensely to speak slowly and using simple words/grammar when not being able to speak Spanish.
The island's only airport is just to the west of Arrecife, with the airport designator code ACE. In addition to the charter flights that serve Lanzarote from Northern Europe, there are scheduled flights operated to some of the other Canary Islands, to the Spanish mainland and to a few international locations, most notably London (Gatwick).
Some of the airlines serving Lanzarote (ACE) include: Iberia, Spanair, AirEuropa, EasyJet, Binter, Monarch, Thomsonfly, Thomas Cook, Hapag Lloid, Air Berlin, Jetair, Lauda Air, Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Jet2.
Bus and taxi are good value on the island. Car hire is also relatively cheap and is the best option for discovering the remote wilderness regions. It only takes about 40 minutes to cross the entire island from North to South by car, and about 25 minutes across.
Lanzarote tends to be a bit windy, and often a bit more in July, making motor scooters or bicycles a little difficult and risky.
The Airport is served only by a small bus that stops at both terminals to the city of Playa Honda and the Capital Arrecife, so it would be necessary to go there to connect to other destinations by BUS. Buses leave about twice per hour daily for most of the day, except for Sundays when there is a reduced schedule. Check ARRECIFEBUS for bus schedules (bus line 23). As in 2006, bus fare from the airport to Arrecife is about 1€ and from Arrecife to Puerto del Carmen about 1.5€. A Taxi ride from the Airport to Puerto del Carmen can range from 12€ to 24€. And around 30 Euros to the resort of Playa Blanca at the south of the island.
Drive from Yaiza along the LZ-704 to El Golfo on the west coast, where there are a couple of black sand beaches and a long row of restaurants along the shore. From there head south along the coast road LZ-703, stopping at the lookout, the Charco Los Clicos, and Los Hervideros. Continue past the salt pans at the Laguna De Jaunubio then return to Yaiza along the LZ-2.
The beaches. There are also water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, parasailing and canoeing. There is also a water park (with bus service from Puerto del Carmen), a Zoo Park (Guinate Park), an aquarium-type park and a wild-west themed animal park (Rancho Texas). You can also take submarine trips from Ports in Puerto del Carmen and Puerto Calero. One of the island's most enjoyable things to do is relax, lie at the beautiful beaches during the day and enjoy a nice meal in the evening. There is an array of shops ranging from digital hardware shops to bazaars but be wary, you can get a good bargain if you can haggle a little with the shopkeepers. Don't worry, these guys are well used to people asking for a better deal than what they are offering.
Try Scuba Diving from Costa Teguise, Playa Blanca or Puerto del Carmen. Lanzarote offers some of the best diving in Europe.
The local cuisine is typical of the Canary Islands:
Restaurants noted for local cuisine:
However, it is worth noting that in many of the resorts there are very few true Canarian restaurants. Most of those present tend to focus on English food (English fried breakfast, Roasts etc). If you are going on a package holiday it would be a huge saving to pay the extra for all-inclusive, especially if you're not likely to travel far from the resort. Self catering can be quite difficult in resort areas; the supermarkets open at 8am, siesta between 1pm and 4pm and close at 9pm, making it quite difficult to plan in advance.
There are many non-traditional places to eat out in the main resort towns, serving a wide range of food such as Greek, Chinese, Indian, and Mexican.
Lanzarote has a broad selection of hotels and other forms of holiday accommodation. Most hotels are clustered in and around the major resorts of Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca and Costa Teguise.
The tap water is treated sea water, brackish, and not recommended for drinking. Try to drink bottled water, which is affordable.
There are many bars in the tourist areas, in particular Irish bars in Puerto del carman.
Alcohol is very cheap in supermarkets. A 1 l bottle of San Miguel is around 1€, and a can of beer as little as €0.50. However, in bars and clubs, the same beer would cost around €3.50. There is no duty on alcohol purchased in Lanzarote (other than VAT at 5%) so restaurants tend to make a lot of their money from the selling of alcohol at a significant - but to foreign vistors seemingly imperceptible - markup. Again, if a package exists which is all-inclusive, it might be a good idea to pay the little bit extra in the long run.
Supermarkets vary greatly in price the most expensive are Netto (about 25% more expensive), then Hiperdino supermarkets, these are the larger ones and tend to have good local produce at reasonable prices,lastly there are SPAR stores.
Watch out for the cost of fresh fruit and veg as this has to be transported refrigerated by ship from afar and can be expensive, a fresh pineapple can cost 8 euros.
Some prices (supermarkets):
Can of coke: €0.60,
Some prices (Restaurants):
Coke (200ml): €2,
While a generally safe country, as always beware of pickpockets and keep hold of any personal belongings. There are local police stations in all major cities and somewhat frequent police patrols around the streets. Emergency service phone number is the European standard "112".