Desperate for a glimpse of the sunshine after Britain’s never-ending winter? Lanzarote’s ace card is that it has year-round warm sunshine – making it the perfect sunny short haul destination during Europe’s cold season. Or so they said…We went in March and it was freezing both in and out of the water, blowing a gale and raining most days. Needless to say, we were not amused (especially as this was our second go at it, after losing a passport the day before flying…but that’s another story). So what to do in Lanzarote when it rains? If you should be so unlucky to get the same iffy weather on your family holiday to this Canary Island, here are some toddler-friendly activities that will keep them happy in the rain. Of course you can do them when it’s sunny too!
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1. Visit Lanzarote’s Mountains of Fire – Timanfaya National Park
This place is about as close as you can get to experiencing landing on Mars. The spectacular multi-coloured rocky landscape of Timanfaya National Park – largely unchanged since the volcano’s last eruption in the 1800s – resembles coloured sand art on a gigantic scale. It’s extremely popular so you may end up queueing in your cars to get in, but it’s well worth the wait. A coach will transport you around the park (included in the entry fee as you can’t just wander freely for environmental reasons), or you can take a tour on a camel (!) or in an electric Renault Twizy Quadricycle – so a varied range of options there. Marvel at the underground heat bubbling just a few metres below the surface – dry brush catches fire straight away and little geysers are produced from pouring water into a bore hole. Lunch is just as exciting, eat at El Diablo restaurant and watch your Canarian meal being cooked on geothermal heat over a giant hole! The restaurant is a 360-degree panoramic glass affair – the perfect way to fuel up on this other-worldly day out.
The Timanfaya National Park is open seven days a week from 9am until 5.45pm.
Prices: Adults: € 10, Children (7 to 12): € 5. 20% off from 3pm onwards. Note that payment by card at the cash desk at the entrance is not accepted, due to difficulties in connecting to the internet in this natural area.
Animals + water park = a no-brainer for drizzly day entertainment with kids. Again, we drove here in our hire car, but the park actually runs a FREE bus service! You can check out the list of bus stops here. There are dozens of exotic animals to coo over, all set against a Texan desert-ranch-style backdrop, which is quite fun given the desert-like nature of the surrounding Lanzarote landscape. Spot sleeping crocs, performing sea lions, white tigers, eagles, parrots, birds of prey, farm animals and lots more before hitting the water park for some splash-tastic fun. There’s a huge swimming pool with fountains and sunbathing area, water slides and a splash park with Wild West vibes. Prepare yourself if you’re there in March though – the water was chiiiiiiilly.
The park is open everyday from 9.30am-5.30pm.
Price: Adults €30, Children (3-12yrs) €22.
Located in the north of the island, visiting this Cesar Manrique-designed clifftop structure feels a bit like entering some kind of James Bond layer. Surrounded by a vast rocky expanse, this lava-integrated, ex-military lookout post blends into the clifftop effortlessly, hiding a smooth, whitewashed cafe within its walls. Sip on a smoothie while gazing at stupendous views over the dramatic coastline and nearby Graciosa Island. There are viewing points outside the cafe with jaw-dropping panoramic vistas – just be warned it can be a wee bit nerve-racking on the outside edge if you’ve got unruly toddlers in tow as the wall is quite low (see pic below). To see more of Manrique’s work, head to Guatiza to see his cactus garden, the grotto at Los Jameos del Agua, or his stunning house, built on a lava flow, at Tahiche. If you plan on visiting several attraction points in Lanzarote, ask to buy a multi-ticket.
El Mirador del Rio is open from 10am-5.45pm everyday and until 6.45pm in summer until 30 September.
Price: Adults €4.50, Child (7-12yrs) €2.25.
4. Seek out the sun in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote
We were staying at Finca de Arrieta on the north-eastern side of the island (our original accommodation in the south had fallen through). Maybe it was our imagination, but it seemed a lot windier and colder up there than in Playa Blanca. As a result, we spent the majority of the week hopping in our hire car and driving down south in order to try and get a dose of vitamin D, so if you can get to the southern end of the island, this might improve your chances of non-rain. Playa Blanca is one of the most popular tourist spots on the island, where you’ll also find sandy beaches (as the name suggests), plus loads of restaurants, bars, shops, hotels and entertainment for kids, so even if it is still gloomy down this end, at least there are more indoor options.
5. Just drive
If it really is too cold to be outside, a road trip is well worth it – the scenery in Lanzarote is mind-blowingly beautiful and highly photogenic in a very other-planetary way. The landscape, with its varying rock colours, dramatic mountains and vast expanses of emptiness, contrasted with whitewashed, flat-roofed buildings is really quite spectacular. Find an authentic Canary Island take-away on your return journey (there is a really nice, family-run pizza take away in Arrieta called Pizzeria La Artesana Arrieta) and hunker down in your apartment, out of the howling breeze.
6. Drink through the bad weather
Under normal circumstances, this would be my answer to an evening spent having to whisper everything to your partner to avoid waking a poorly toddler who is asleep in your single room apartment, while the rain lashes outside in place of your anticipated balmy evening sun. However at the time I was 31 weeks pregnant and while the odd glass was an option, getting rat-arsed was not. In different circumstances, I’d recommend hitting the Sangria hard to alleviate some of the non-sunny holiday disappointment.
7. Hit the beach anyway
While you might be layered up to the max in hoodies, raincoats and any other vaguely warm item you brought (my suitcase mainly consisted of summer dresses and skimpy vests – I certainly had not believed it would be so cold and rainy and had packed accordingly), your toddler won’t care a jot about the weather. They’ll be happy as Larry playing in the waves and digging in the sand, and if you can construct some kind of windbreak, you’re (almost) laughing.
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