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09-01-2023 | Frank Jansen

Cycling on Lanzarote: eight things you need to know

Renowned for their cycling appeal, Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the go-to Canary Islands for many. Yet, having explored these islands extensively, I ventured to Lanzarote this year. The experience was nothing short of remarkable. In this article, I delve into key questions and share valuable tips for cycling in Lanzarote.

Cycling in Lanzarote

1. What kind of island is Lanzarote?

Lanzarote ranks as the fourth largest among the Canary Islands, trailing behind Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Fuerteventura in size. The island's area is roughly half that of Gran Canaria.

Like its counterparts, Lanzarote's origin is volcanic, a trait prominently visible across its landscape. The island features a multitude of extinct volcanoes, solidified lava flows, and black sand beaches. Its last volcanic eruption occurred in the early 19th century.

Home to about 156 thousand residents, Lanzarote's capital is Arrecife. The island exudes a more quaint and tidy ambiance compared to Gran Canaria and Tenerife. You'll notice its cleanliness and the lack of rundown high-rise hotels. Unlike Playa del Ingles, Lanzarote doesn't have concrete-packed towns.

2. How is the terrain?

Lanzarote presents a hilly terrain, sans the towering mountains found on Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Expect to accumulate around 750 meters of elevation over a 50 km ride, and approximately 1000-1200m+ for a 75 km journey. While challenging, it's manageable. The landscape is also ideal for endurance training, a factor that attracts triathletes.

The island's inclines are generally moderate and not excessively steep, offering a pleasant climbing experience. Basic cycling gears are sufficient for these gradients.

3. How are the roads?

Though not abundant, Lanzarote's roads can be explored entirely in a week by an avid cyclist. Repeating some routes, possibly in reverse, is enjoyable. Major roads are well-maintained, and motorists generally maintain a safe distance from cyclists, which is often not the case elsewhere. The condition of smaller roads varies; it's advisable to use street view when planning to include them in your route.

Noteworthy are the vias ciclistas scattered across the island, where cyclists are prioritized, though cars are also permitted.

Scenic Lanzarote roads

4. Where are the most famous climbs located?

The island's notable climbs are situated at its extremities. On the east, there's a scenic ascent to an observatory/weather station, the highest cyclable point at 595m. The observatory is visible from nearly everywhere on the island. The 10 km/600m+ climb from Tabayesco via LZ-207 and LZ-10 rarely exceeds a 9% gradient, offering stunning views and impressive hairpins. The climb to the Mirador of Orzola is also remarkable.

On the opposite side, the challenging Femès climb awaits. This short but steep incline averages 12%, with sections reaching up to 20%. Note that cycling here is technically prohibited and undertaken at one's own risk.

Explore Lanzarote's cycling landscape with our 5 meticulously crafted routes. Download them for free on Komoot.

Another must-ride is the LZ-67, traversing the Timanfaya National Volcanic Park. This road is arguably one of Europe's most unique, frequently featured on Instagram. The straight, gently sloping road cuts through an otherworldly landscape of solidified lava, bordered by numerous volcanoes. For an optimal experience, ride from north to south to enjoy a tailwind and a thrilling descent, where speeds can easily reach 70 km/h.

5. What is the weather like in Lanzarote?

The climate in Lanzarote mirrors that of the other Canary Islands. During winter, daytime temperatures hover around 20 degrees Celsius. Arm warmers may be useful for early starts, but they're not essential. Year-round, short sleeves are the norm for cycling in this pleasant weather.

However, wind is a significant factor to consider. Known as the windy islands, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura often experience strong winds. While Tenerife and Gran Canaria also have windy days, their mountainous terrains provide some shelter. Lanzarote lacks such high mountains, leaving it fully exposed to the wind, which typically comes from the northeast. This can be factored into route planning. Expect average wind speeds of force 5, with gusts reaching up to force 6. If you're bringing your own bike, it's advisable to leave high-profile wheels at home.

The famous LZ-67 in Lanzarote
Photo: the famous LZ-67.

6. What else is there to do besides cycling?

Lanzarote offers a variety of activities, albeit on a smaller scale compared to Gran Canaria and Tenerife. In Puerto del Carmen, visitors can enjoy an animal park, and near Costa Teguise, there's a water park (closed in winter). Excursions to the nearby island of La Graciosa are popular. The island boasts beaches with both white and black sand. The Timanfaya Volcano Park is a must-visit. Other activities include paragliding, water sports, dolphin watching, golf, diving, shopping, wine tasting, and savoring fresh fish at local restaurants. While several villages dot the island, they offer limited entertainment.

7. What is the best base for cycling?

Given Lanzarote's modest size, a bike tour around the island covers about 170 km with a 2400m+ elevation gain, so your base location is flexible. I found Costa Teguise to be an excellent choice, particularly for its central location. However, Arrecife and Playa del Carmen are also viable options.

8. Where can I rent a bike?

My personal choice was Free Motion in Puerto del Carmen, a familiar company from my time in Gran Canaria. In the same area, you'll find Bike Sensations. In Costa Teguise, options include Vulcan Bikes and TriBike. Max Huerzeler, a renowned rental company with numerous branches in Mallorca, also has a presence there. There's certainly no shortage of choices for bike rentals.

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