If you are travelling to Arrecife in Lanzarote, the following information may help by giving you an overview of the resort and the surrounding area.
If you want to catch a more modern and metropolitan side of Lanzarote, then visit Arrecife [pronounced “array-see-fay”], the island’s capital. Here you will find a lively port city, shaped both by its seafaring past and its current, rapid regeneration.
Arrecife is home to around half the island’s inhabitants and was the birthplace and childhood home of the modern artist Cesar Manrique. However, Arrecife was developed long before Manrique made his rulings about island architecture and it is the only town on Lanzarote with multi-storey modern buildings, including the landmark eight-storey 5 star Arrecife Gran Hotel standing on the waterfront which is Lanzarote’s tallest building.
Arrecife also boasts shopping galore, beaches, parks, promenades, nightlife and lots of hustle and bustle. It has many delightful pretty corners and several important sights including a seawater lagoon.
The city was once, rather optimistically, described as ‘The Venice of the Atlantic’ and an Arrecife holiday offers little in terms of classic colonial architecture, never mind gondoliers or waterways!
Beaches in Arrecife
Playa del Cable
For Arrecife’s second sandy beach, you will need to follow the waterfront road pst del Reductor for approximately 2km to the residential district of El Cable which fronts onto the sea and has its own 300m-long beach.
Playa del Reducto
This is Arrecife’s main beach and forms a sandy sweep along the shoreline close to the Capital’s centre which has been awarded an EU Blue Flag for cleanliness and water quality. Here you will find facilities such as toilets, showers, phones and wheelchair access. Just across the road you will find a selection of Arrecife hotels, several bars and restaurants.
Arrecife does have good hotels and makes an ideal base for exploring Lanzarote and certainly has some of its own places of interest to visit.
Shopping in Arrecife
Arrecife’s main town centre shopping street is Calle Leon y Castillo [known locally as Calle Real] which runs down towards the waterfront. Wide, busy and crowded with people, it is the very heart of Arrecife. There are a few familiar international chains as well as streets lined with smaller local shops. El Mercadillo located in Calle Leon y Castillo, is Arrecife’s simple shopping centre which you will find a diverse range of supermarkets, boutiques, perfumeries and jewellers, leatherware specialists, craft shops and stores selling electrical goods at discount prices.
Leon y Castillo – All the major towns of the Canary Islands seem to have a street or plaza named Leon y Castillo and Arrecife is no exception as its main shopping street bears this name. Where did the name come from? It originates from 2 brothers who contributed a lot to the islands during their careers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Fernando Leon y Castillo was a diplomat and politician who rose to the position of Foreign Minister of Spain and while in his job, he was able to obtain many dispensations for the islands. His brother, Juan, was an engineer and designed many projects in the Canaries. Their family home in Gran Canaria is now a museum.
Sightseeing in Arrecife
Castillo de San Gabriel – San Gabriel Castle
Built in 1590 to protect Arrecife’s harbour. It was originally built of wood but was burnt down by Berber pirates and was eventually replaced in 1572 by a building of honey coloured stone and stands a few metres offshore on the reef that gave Arrecife its name – Islote de los Ingleses. You will be able to gain access via an attractive causeway and contains a small archaeological museum which displays local historic items, including Guanche art. Outside you will be able to see a couple of old cannons.
Location: Avenida Generalisimo Franco
Open : Tuesday to Friday 10:00-13:00 and 16:00-19:00 and Saturday 10:00-13:00 Closed Sunday and Monday
Castillo de San Jose – San Jose Castle
This can be found approximately 3km out of town and is a little waterfront fortress which is entered on a drawbridge. It was completed in 1779 and 2 centuries later, Cesar Manrique installed the International Museum of Contemporary Art. There is a roof terrace with great views and downstairs there is an imaginative glass-walled restaurant and bar.
Location: Carretera de Puerto Naos
Open : Museum – 10:00-21:00 Castle – 11:00-24:00 Restaurant – 13:00-23:00
The Charco is an inlet from the sea forming a small lagoon of sea water in the centre of Arrecife. Today, it is encircled by a walkway lined with palm trees, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. According the legend, St.Gines lived as a hermit beside the water, and a fishing village grew up around his hermitage.
Iglesia de San Gines – St.Gines Church
This little 18th century church built of dark volcanic stone and bright white paint and capped by a belfry, has been restored and honours Arrecife’s patron saint – St Gines. The interior of the church is also full of interest. Simple black columns lead to round arches of red volcanic material. The dark wooden ceiling is crafted in Mudejar style and the painted pulpit with its spiral staircase is also made of wood. Today, it is the focal point for the local fiestas and celebrations.
Location: Plaza de San Gines
Open: for religious services only
Arrecife’s town centre reaches down to the sea in a lovely waterfront area with shaded gardens and a promenade. The walkway extends as far as the causeway to Castillo de San Gabriel.
ARRECIFE – MAP
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