Capital of Lanzarote since the middle of the 19th century, Arrecife is a nautical city that has served as an important point of defence throughout history. Nowadays it's the administrative and commercial heart of Lanzarote.
After stealing the capital from Teguise in 1847, Arrecife managed to bring together the political and economic power of the island. Its privileged location on the east coast of Lanzarote made it one of the main connections with the rest of the islands of the Canary archipelago, with a port only surpassed in passenger and cargo volume by the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Despite its exponential growth, Arrecife is a different city compared to other capitals, as it has managed to preserve its beach culture and its quiet and welcoming character provided by the small port towns.
What to see and do in Arrecife
In the area closest to the sea we find Arrecife's pleasant seafront, the most popular area of the city. As we dive deeper into the old town, we find historic streets with a seafaring flavour, museums and old buildings, among which the Church of San Ginés, the Casa de la Cultura or the Casa de los Arroyo stand out.
Castle of San José
Built in the bay to protect the island from pirate attacks, the Castillo de San José now houses the International Museum of Contemporary Art.
Located in the old part of town, Calle Real is one of Arrecife's main shopping strips. It's lined with shops and restaurants, making it one of the most pleasant and complete areas for strolling and shopping in Lanzarote.
San Gabriel Castle
The Castillo de San Gabriel is a small fortification built during the 16th century to protect the island from pirate attacks. It now houses the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum of Lanzarote.
El Charco de San Ginés
This quiet inlet of the sea was the first fishing village on the island. After being remodelled by César Manrique, the area was filled with bars and restaurants and then became one of the city's main landmarks.
Las Bolas Bridge
Built in the 16th century as a drawbridge giving access to the Castle of San Gabriel, the Puente de las Bolas is one of the most emblematic symbols of Arrecife and one of the most photographed spots in the city.
Stretching out over the capital as a half a mile strip of golden sand surrounded by a beautiful seafront, Playa del Reducto is one of the best beaches in Arrecife.
Arrecife showcases several restaurants serving delicious typical Canarian dishes washed down with mojo picón, as well as numerous businesses specialising in fresh fish and seafood. To accompany these delicacies, there is nothing better than one of Lanzarote's excellent Denomination of Origin wines.
If you like street markets, you have several options in Arrecife. On Wednesdays and Thursdays the city's weekly street market takes place next to the Charco de San Ginés, while on Saturdays you can visit the tourist market where you can find handicrafts and buy typical Lanzarote products.
Thanks to its location in the centre of the island, Arrecife is an excellent starting point to discover the main tourist attractions of Lanzarote. Moving northwards, we find places of interest such as the Cueva de los Verdes, the Jameos del Agua or the Mirador del Rio.
To the east lies the Timanfaya National Park, a land of lava and ashes that make up the most volcanic area of the island, while if we head south, we'll find impressive beaches of incomparable beauty.
How to get to Arrecife
The most common way to get to Arrecife is by car, as most visitors choose to hire a car to get around in comfort.
As the capital of Lanzarote, Arrecife is the city with the best connections on the island, so if you're not planning to hire a car in Lanzarote, you won't have a problem getting to Arrecife by bus.