Lanzarote is famous as a great holiday destination packed with fun activities and family-friendly resorts. But what about outside of the tourist villages? What is there, and is it worth hiring a car in Lanzarote to discover it?
The simple answer is yes it is, and in this post, I will give you 7 reasons you need to get excited to explore Lanzarote in your own car and then some advice about driving in Lanzarote and hiring a car.
But let’s start with the fun bit.
7 reasons to hire a car on your visit to Lanzarote
1. Renting a car in Lanzarote by far the best and most flexible way to discover the island
Lanzarote is a stunning landscape with moonlike volcanic fields, expansive caves, alienesque wineries, and jaw-dropping viewpoints. The only way to really appreciate this wonderfully rare landscape is by getting out there.
2. Public transport on the island is somewhat scarce
If you need to go from a to b, grabbing the bus is fine, but you are restricted to their times. However, if you need to get from a to b to c, you’re in for some long waits in random villages.
3. The roads are quiet and well sign-posted, so it is easy to navigate
This makes driving a relaxing experience, the polar opposite of almost anywhere in the UK on a Friday afternoon.
4. Car hire is cheap
Hiring a car for the week can even work out as better value than paying for airport transfers. Often the longer you rent, the better value it gets, so a car may be €40 for one day, but just €120 for a whole week. If you figure that transfers can cost about €30 each way, and you had planned to hire a car to make a day trip during your holiday, that would be 30 + 30 + 40, a total of €100. If you hire the car for a whole week, it’s only a little more, and you’ll have the freedom to tour the island whenever you want. It’s definitely worth crunching the numbers before you go.
By having a car, you can get out and explore Lanzarote on your terms. If you wake up and fancy a day by the pool sipping on gin and tonics, do it, explore tomorrow.
6. You can reach cute little villages and markets
This means you can escape the resort towns and not have to rely on the same tourist shops as everyone else. You may be able to find some unique souvenirs or even a Spanish supermarket.
7. If you are visiting places on your own time, they are less likely to be crowded
This is in contrast to bus tours where there is literally, a busload of people everywhere you go
OK, so I hope that has whetted your appetite for exploring the beautiful island of Lanzarote, now let’s talk a little more about the logistics.
If you need more to convince you, be sure to check out my Things to do on Lanzarote post where I highlight loads of the best places to discover.
What’s it like Driving in Lanzarote?
As Lanzarote is part of Spain, it is essential to have a bit of knowledge about the Spanish driving laws and how it may affect you. While in general, Spain is quite a relaxed place, and the Canary Islands even more so, that is no excuse for getting a ticket for not obeying the law.
In general, I found the driving standard to be quite high and was very comfortable. As the Lanzarote roads tend to be quite quiet, this is great if it is not too intimidating if you are not used to driving on the right-hand side of the road and worry you may feel uncomfortable.
What’s better, is when you are sightseeing in Lanzarote by car, you will most likely be on the smaller roads rather than their main motorway, that means it will be even quieter.
Lanzarote Speed Limits
There are two main motorways in Lanzarote, both starting in the capital, Arrecife. The LZ-1 head North and connects to Orzola, where you can catch the ferry to La Graciosa, and the LZ-2 heads South ending in the popular resort town of Playa Blanca. The speed limit on these motorways is 120 kph (80 mph). However, there are stretches past towns where it will be reduced, so still, keep an eye out for signs as speed traps are quite common.
When you are in towns and villages or built-up areas, the limit is 50 kph (30mph), and on all other roads, unless stated otherwise, the speed limit is 90 kph (56 mph).
Is it illegal to drive in flip flops in Spain and other Spanish Driving Laws
Technically, yes it is illegal to drive in flip flops. According to the law, driving without ‘proper’ clothing or footwear could diminish the driver’s capacity to control the vehicle and as a result, net you a tasty €200 fine! However, the chances of you being caught are quite low, unless you are also driving without a shirt on, something else that can make you fall foul of this law.
A couple of other driving laws to be aware of, driving with one hand or an arm outside of the vehicle can lead to a fine of €100. Also, taking your eyes off the road while having an argument may well be another €80!
If you want to read some other lesser know rules of Spanish driving, this is an excellent article from Expatica.
Aside from speed limits, as a tourist driving in Spain, it’s like driving anywhere else in the world. Behave yourself, obey the rules, and you will be fine. There are no crazy signs in this country that will have you scratching your head, wondering what it means.
I will point out that seatbelts are of course required by law, I still don’t understand why people choose to drive without one, and as you should expect driver must not use mobile phones while driving. Another thing worth knowing is that drivers must carry their passports with them at all times.
What is the drink drive limit in Spain? Spanish drink driving laws
As you know by now, Lanzarote is part of Spain, so the Lanzarote drink drive limit is the same on the island as they would be anywhere else in the country.
The drink drive limit in Spain is 0.5 milligrams of alcohol in your blood per millimetre of blood. That is less than in the USA and UK, which is 0.8mg and is the equivalent of one small beer or a very small glass of wine.
Obviously, alcohol affects everyone differently, depending on weight, and many other factors, some are more tolerant than others, but it is undoubtedly best to just not drink if you are driving. If you decide to play with fire and are caught driving while over the limit, just know that it will be a hefty €500 fine waiting for you if you do. If you decide to go all out and end up with blood alcohol levels of over 1.2mg, that will jump up to €1000 and potentially up to 2-years in prison. While Lanzarote is an island born out of the flames, this is a kind of fire you do not want to be messing with.
Drug driving in Spain
For those of you who look for highs in different places, you may be interested to know that recent law changes mean that the Spanish Police no longer have to prove that drugs influenced a person driving. All it takes is a saliva test, and if the results show the presence of drugs in a drivers system, they will be hit with a €1000 fine regardless if the drugs impaired their driving or not.
Car hire in Lanzarote
The process of renting a car in Lanzarote is pretty simple. I would always recommend booking your car in advance to have confidence in availably. It is common, especially at peak tourist periods, that all the best value cars are booked, so you may end up spending a little more than you might expect.
Having said that, on my recent visit with my family, we didn’t have anything booked and managed to get a great deal on a car from local company Cicar. We were visiting in October though, so it was not peak times.
What I loved about the company is that there was no fuss. One thing I detest about hiring a car is when they try to sell you insurance that costs about 4 times as much per day than you paid for the actual rental. And then if you turn it down, they give you that kind of look that I thought only parents could pull off. The “I’m going to let you do this but you really shouldn’t, and you’ll regret it when you mess it up” kind of look.
When it came to Cicar Car Hire, there was none of that, it was a simple rate of around €20 per day for a mid-level car (they started at €15 per day) and that included 100% fully comprehensive insurance, no excess, unlimited mileage, a second driver and even a baby or child seat included. All of these are usually an extra fee per day for mainstream car hire companies.
Child car seat laws Spain
As I’ve mentioned the car seat, let’s just talk about the law too.
Children under 12 years old or under 135cms (4 foot 4) are required to use a booster seat. Most car hire companies will have these available, however, sometimes there will be a fee involved. It’s also worth knowing that children are also not allowed to ride in the front seat. If you get stopped by the Police and are not adhering to these rules, you may well receive a fine.
What do I need to hire a car in Lanzarote?
When picking up your car, you will need to present a valid driving license, your passport and you also need to be over the age of 23 to hire a car in Lanzarote. Some companies may take a swipe of a credit card or cash as a deposit that will be returned when you take the car back.
Even though the majority of cars include fully comprehensive insurance, it’s worth checking the vehicle for any obvious defects before you leave. I had a small dent in my car, I tried to show them, but they really didn’t care. Still, it made me feel better.
Be sure to check the fuel policy before you pull away. Some have a full to full policy, others just bring it back with as much as you left with. They make a note of how much fuel is in the car on the form you sign before you take it away.
Just be aware that there are some reports of scams when it comes to fuel for hire cars. A company name that regularly comes up to avoid is Gold Cars. There are plenty of stories of them charging people to fill a car at twice the price you would expect to pay for petrol in Lanzarote after agreeing to a different policy when hiring.
We hired twice with the “bring it back with what you left with” policy and had no issues with Cicar.
Lanzarote petrol prices
This brings us nicely onto the petrol prices in Lanzarote. If you are visiting from the UK, you may be pleasantly surprised and think the price is low, however, from the US the opposite will probably be in effect and you think it is expensive.
You can expect to pay in the region of €1.30 per litre for petrol and €1.20 for diesel. To covert that for my American friends that is €4.92 per gallon of gas or €4.54 per gallon of diesel.
Car hire in Lanzarote without a credit card
This is something that comes up quite a lot, hiring a car without a credit card. Yes, it is possible, and in fact, we did it. When we got our car at Cicar with no reservation, we just had to pay upfront, and we were good to go.
Obviously, without a card, it would be hard to reserve a car online before you go, but you can give them a call or drop them an email with the details on their website.
There may be other companies that will hire a car without a credit card aside from Cicar, but this is the one that I know about.
Places to visit in Lanzarote
Alright, so now you know that yes you should hire a car, no you can’t drive in flip flops and what you need to hire that car. All that is left is to take a look at some of the places you can visit.
For a full rundown of what to see in Lanzarote, as well as opening times and prices, you should really check out my Lanzarote guide here, but here is a quick list of some highlights:
- Take a tour of Timanfaya National Park
- Go to the North of the Island and grab a coffee at the gorgeous viewpoint of Mirador del Rio.
- Learn about the life of César Manrique, the guy almost built tourism in Lanzarote single-handedly. There are a few museums around the island and the lovely cactus garden.
- Visit the black beaches of El Golfo
- Shop at the Teguise Market which takes place every Sunday and is the most popular on the island.
How long does it take to drive around Lanzarote?
And that brings us to our last question that everyone wants to know. You have your car, you have your must-see sites, but how long does it take to get there?
We were staying in Playa Blanca in the far South of the island. To get to Mirador del Rio, pretty much as far as you can get, took us a little over an hour to get there using the main road. If you wanted to take the scenic route, it’s still only an hour and a half end to end.
Is it worth hiring a car in Lanzarote? Final thoughts
So there you have it. I hope you now agree with me that the answer is a resounding yes.
How about you, have you visited Lanzarote before? Do you have any tips to share or adventures you went on with your car in Lanzarote, be sure to let me know in the comments and share your advice.
Still not convinced?
Check out some of the available tours in Lanzarote with Get Your Guide.