Timanfaya National Park

Wherever you’re staying in Lanzarote, a trip to Timanfaya National Park is an absolute must. You’ll find this unique volcanic landscape in south-west Lanzarote, spanning 20 square miles of mind-blowing lunar landscapes. It stretches from the Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) to the sea, featuring amazing rock formations that were created when the volcanoes started erupting in 1730.

Today, the whole of Timanfaya National Park is covered in volcanic soil, creating a landscape that’ll make you feel like you’ve gone to the moon. This is one of the island’s most popular attractions, welcoming around a million visitors every year.

Things to see

For centuries, the land here was used for farming. But in the 1700s a huge volcanic eruption changed this part of Lanzarote forever. This area  is home to more than 300 semi-dormant volcanos, known as the Montañas de Fuego (fire mountains), and just 10 metres beneath the surface temperatures can reach a sizzling 600°C. This is definitely not the place for walking around in flip-flops. The island is nicknamed the ‘Land of 1,000 volcanoes’ but don’t worry, they’re mostly quite small and pretty quiet, and there haven’t been any big eruptions for a long time.

The colours of the landscape are incredible; you’ll see an amazing blend of dark slopes covered in fine black volcanic gravel (otherwise known as picón) and grey and maroon folds of volcanic rock. Timanfaya National Park is also a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Even though it may look barren, the park actually has plenty of flora and fauna; keep an eye out for colourful lichen and fig trees. If you’re lucky, you might even spot falcons drifting overhead on the lookout for something tasty for their lunch.

You’ll also find a visitor centre on the road between Yaiza and Tinajo, where you can learn all about the history of this part of the island. Interactive exhibits show how this magnificent landscape has developed over time. When you’re done with the exhibits you can stop off at the gift shop and pick up a souvenir or two.

How to explore the park

It’s important to keep in mind that exploring Timanfaya National Park is regulated, and you’re not allowed to walk around the park unescorted. This is because the rocks are fragile and there’s the possibility of collapsing lava tubes and gullies.

You can make your way through the landscape by hopping on the bus tour that goes around the park. Buses leave from the El Diablo restaurant every 20 minutes. If you’d rather explore on foot, you can join the guided walking tour of the Ruta de Tremesana. Bear in mind that the walking tours are really popular, so it’s best to book your spot in advance.

Where to eat

With so much to see, it’s easy to spend a whole day at Timanfaya National Park, so you’re bound to get hungry. You can grab a bite to eat at the Restaurante El Diablo, a glass-walled restaurant where the chefs use 450-degree geothermal heat to cook; that’s right, there isn’t an electric cooker in sight, it’s all done using Mother Nature’s very own gas burners. Take your pick from a choice of grilled fish and meat dishes, while you take in the glorious panoramic views of the breath-taking volcanic landscape. It’s a particularly beautiful spot when the sun sets.

How to get there

The park is located between the villages of Yaiza and Tinajo. If you’re driving, it takes around half an hour from Puerto del Carmen, and approximately  45 minutes from Playa Blanca. You can also take the bus tour from El Diablo restaurant; they leave every 20 minutes from Ruta de Los Volcanes, and they follow a narrow road that twists and turns through the craters of the Montañas del Fuego.

You should give yourself a minimum of two hours to explore Timanfaya National Park. The park is open daily from 9am and you’ll need to pay admission.