Arrecife, Lanzarote was our first port of call on our Christmas P&O cruise. Despite it being December the weather was pleasant. Here is our guide to Arrecife.
Guide to Arrecife
Short (very short) history on Arrecife
Arrecife started life as a small fishing village back in the 15th century. It still has a pretty marina that was dotted with colourful fishing boats. The name Arrecife originates from the black reefs which boats could hide behind from sudden pirate attacks
Arrecife continued to develop and grow its trade between the old and new worlds. This prosperity meant that Arrecife became a target for pirates. In 1571 a notorious pirate Dogan almost destroyed the small town in his plundering. In 1574 Castillo de San Gabriel was constructed to protect the town. It was attacked and as a result had to be rebuilt. This is now a museum dedicated to the town’s history and well worth a visit. Towards the end of the 16th century the first church was constructed.
Overview of Arrecife
At one time Arrecife was described as being the “Venice of the Atlantic”. There must have been a drastic change or that person must have had one too many glasses of local wine because Arrecife is about as far away as you can get from Venice. For one, I didn’t really notice any pretty waterways, stunning architecture or wandering gondoliers – unless they were hiding in one of the local bars. Apart from the pretty sea lagoon Arrecife isn’t the most appealing on the eye. A mix of buildings with peeling paint gives the town a slight run down air. However, look carefully and you will find a mix of good shops, boutiques and pleasant cafes. This is a working town that does not rely on tourism for its money and that is its charm. It’s not heavily populated with tourists and it still retains its character, albeit slightly weary character.
Shopping in Arrecife
The main shopping street is León y Castillo. This is a pedestrianised area and, therefore, makes the shopping experience much more relaxed. You will see a range of shops offering duty free shopping: shoe shops, clothes, tobacco specialist, perfumes and jewellery etc. Off the main street are lots of little nooks filled with cafes and coffee shops and it is very popular with locals catching up with their friends.
Where to drink and eat
As I mentioned above there are lots of coffee shops and cafes on León y Castillo. However, if you want to have a coffee with a view then head back to the lagoon. It’s just a stone throw away from the shops and offers a lovely setting for coffee. Despite being in the more touristy part we still found our coffee really reasonably priced and it was a good cup of coffee too. Sit outside the cafe or one of the many restaurants and enjoy the pretty scene. The food in Arrecife tends to be influenced by mainland Spain and you will find a lot of fish on the menu.
When to go
You can go to the Canary Islands at any time of the year and it should be warm. In December it tends to be sunny with an average temperature of 22C. However, you might want to pack some light long sleeve tops as it can get windy.
Arrecife was nice for a one day visit. However, I wouldn’t want to stay any longer. If you plan on visiting Lanzarote then I would focus on visiting some of the sights that surround Arrecife. Hire a bike and cycle round some of the vineyards or explore Timanfaya national park
What would you add to our guide to Arrecife?