If you visit Lanzarote, you must see the incredible Timanfaya National Park. It is one of only 15 National Parks in the whole of Spain and has a phenomenal alien atmosphere. Before you visit, read through our Ultimate Guide to Timanfaya National Park.
About Timanfaya National Park
The Timanfaya National Park location is in the southern part of Lanzarote along the provinces of Tinajo and Yaiza.
The park was founded in 1974 to preserve the unique geological nature, flora and fauna.
It covers an area of approximately 51 square kilometres, but access is heavily restricted. It is surrounded by the 102-sq-km Parque Natural de Los Volcanes to the south, east and north.
The park is rare geologically due to the lava having created craters, hollows and tubes bursting in all directions. Deep underground is the Cueva de Los Naturalistas, over 1.5 kilometres long, formed by a lava flow and is one of the longest in the world.
This hostile environment is too harsh for most plants. Still, lichens show their resilience by being relatively abundant. You may just see a Gallotia, a small lizard that has inhabited the island for over 20 million years.
How to Get To Timanfaya National Park?
Using a hire car from Arrecife, take the LZ-2 and stay on this road until turning off onto the LZ-67. You can access the LZ-67, which connects Yaiza and Mancha Blanca from the North or South.
The ticket office for visiting the Montañas del Fuego in the Timanfaya National Park is just off this road and well signposted. When you turn off the LZ-67, continue the 2km road to the Hilario Islet, where you will find the parking area.
Be aware that at peak times and in summer months, there can be substantial waits to gain access to the car park, sometimes up to two hours! If you come from the North the traffic jams tend to be less, so that could be an option.
There are no direct bus connections, but you can catch the Line 60 bus from Arrecife to Yaiza, which takes around 40 minutes and costs about €3. If you are based in Playa Blanca, the Line 161 bus from Estación Playa Blanca will get you to Yaiza in about 14 minutes.
You can get a taxi from Yaiza, which will take about 10 minutes and cost around €18. There is a benefit in using this method as taxis do not have to queue at the entrance. A Taxi can drop you off at the ticket kiosk, saving a lot of waiting time during peak periods.
If you are driving, it is 22 minutes by car from Playa Blanca and about 30 minutes from Arrecife, not including queuing time.
How to Visit the Timanfaya National Park?
There has been confusion about what is included in the ticket price and how to get tickets. Let me clear this up for you.
Ticket prices are € 12 for an Adult and € 6.00 per Child from 7-11 years. Tickets must be purchased online before visiting and be printed. The ticket office at Timanfaya National Park will not accept digital tickets.
You can book well in advance on the website, in fact, nearly a year ahead.
If you intend to visit multiple attractions during your stay in Lanzarote. In that case, I recommend buying tickets from the official ticket office, where you can get discounts for booking numerous attractions.
You can also download official audio guides in MP3 format to listen to on mobile phones during your visit to the site after purchasing tickets.
The total duration of the visit is one and a half hours, with around 40 minutes being the bus trip around the National Park. For your information, you cannot get off the bus during the tour.
Included in the price are two short “shows” which highlight the heat just underground by pushing branches into a hole that spontaneously combust and an example of how water turns into geysers.
There is also a demonstration of how food can be cooked by the volcano’s heat, which is how the on-site restaurant cooks its food. Should you choose to eat in the restaurant, this is NOT included in the ticket price.
Opening hours are: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Last visit 16.00H), and research has suggested the best place for the most stunning views is the right side of the bus. No, don’t thank me, all part of the job!
What Do the Devil Signs Symbolise?
The Devil, or “el Diablo” is the symbol for the Timanfaya National Park and was designed by Cesar Manrique, the famous Lanzarote-based artist. The signs are dotted around the entry points to the park at Yaiza, the Mancha Blanca Visitor Center and the Islote de Hilario.
So what is the story behind the devil with a 5-pointed fork raised above his head?
The legend behind the symbol goes like this. A wedding took place on September 1, 1730, in the town of Timanfaya. The groom was the son of a wealthy family, and the bride’s family worked to cultivate healing plants.
During the celebration, a massive explosion shook the earth and rocks and lava began to rain down, destroying everything in its path. The guests and the townspeople started to run for shelter, but the young couple were not so fortunate.
A large rock from the volcano came crashing down and crushed and buried the bride. To save his bride, the groom took a 5-point fork to move the large stone and save his bride. When he finally pushed the rock, he realised that his new wife had died.
In sheer desperation and despair, he took his wife’s body, clung to the fork, and ran through the valley seeking help. However, unfortunately, he couldn’t find anyone to assist.
Some villagers could see the young man on a hill in the moonlight despite the ash and smoke. He raised the 5-pronged fork above his head in anguish, and the witnesses sighed in sorrow, “poor devil.”
The young bridegroom then disappeared into Lanzarote’s fiery landscape.”
The legend continues with the blood that the young woman shed. Where her blood dropped, some plants began to grow, and they were named after the couple. Aloe Vera – The names of the two young people, Aloe him and Vera her.
That is the legend of El Diablo and the sad story of how the devil sign became the symbol of the National Park.
Where to Eat In Timanfaya National Park?
César Manrique designed the restaurant with incredible volcano views through the panoramic windows and a “volcano grill” to cook the food directly over volcanic heat.
The restaurant, unfortunately, has very mixed reviews, with many guests complaining about poor quality food and slow service.
This is a “gimmicky” restaurant in a very touristy location. If you want to tick it off as a bucket list item, go and enjoy the views. If you want a great gastronomic experience, it may be better to go elsewhere.
El Golfo on the coast has some excellent restaurants on the seafront and is 20 minutes away, or head for Yaiza, 11 minutes away, as the town has a selection of places to eat.
Alternative Ways to Visit Timanfaya National Park
I understand that an arranged bus tour is the easiest option for most people on a time-limited holiday. Still, there are other ways to enjoy Timanfaya National Park.
Your journey will begin at the Echadero de Cabellos (Camel Farm) to the park’s eastern border.
You will have to make your own way there as there are no shuttle buses or other means to get to the farm.
Camels are easy-going, friendly, and superbly adapted to the terrain and climate. If you want a memorable 20 minutes, take this tour.
For €22, you get one camel, capable of carrying two people. Now, for any “chubsters” out there, it is okay. A fully grown camel can comfortably carry up to 450kg. Although it would be cruel to make it carry that weight just because you like your food too much.
If you have a child under 4 years old, they can ride for free if you carry them on your lap, but please don’t drop your child off as camels are pretty tall.
The ride lasts about 20 minutes and gives you an unhurried opportunity to view the fantastic scenery. When you have finished, spend a few minutes in the small museum and learn some more about camels.
Despite the bus tours often being advertised as the only way to see the Timanfaya National Park, this is not true. This is a slight cheat as the Natural Park of the Volcanoes is not technically of Timanfaya, more an extension of it.
There are two routes which can be accessed on your own or via hiking tours arranged by the government that are guided in English.
This is a short route of 3 km that runs through a restricted area of the National Park and, therefore, must be done with a guide and previously obtaining a place. To do this, you must go to the Mancha Blanca Visitor Center or book online via the government site.
This is one of the most unique routes as it runs along the coast, where the sea and the lava come together. It starts from the North of the town of El Golfo and is about 6 km long, although it can be extended.
Unlike the previous route, this can be done with or without a guide. If you decide to do it on your own, remember that it has some difficulty and you must be well equipped.
El Cuervo Volcano Trail
A simple route with which you can access the interior of the crater of this volcano. The route is 1.5 km from the car park, so you can choose to return on the same route or do a circular route around the volcano (a total of 4.5 km approx).
Caldera Blanca Trail
Probably the most complete route of all, with which you will ascend to the top of the crater with the largest diameter in Lanzarote. It is about 11 km, but be careful because it is somewhat demanding, and the wind up there blows quite strongly.
Please walk only on the already marked trails on all the routes and do not even think about breaking or picking up volcanic stones.
The Visitor Centre of Mancha Blanca
Would you like to do something really cool? How about experiencing a volcanic eruption in Timanfaya
This free interactive centre is a few kilometres North, heading towards Mancha Blanca. The centre has parking, is accessible for people with mobility issues, and is open daily from 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
The 30-minute presentation sums up the dramatic volcanic events which shook Lanzarote in the 18th Century.
Using the latest hi-tech multimedia equipment, you are shown the inner workings of a volcano, and you get to experience a simulation of a volcanic eruption, including the noise and smoke.
Definitely worth half an hour of your time, especially as it is free.
Where to Stay In Timanfaya National Park?
There is no accommodation within the national park. El Golfo is close to hand and makes an excellent base to explore Timanfaya.
El Golfo has a small selection of privately rented accommodation and the 3-star El Hotelito Del Golfo.
Yaiza and Uga have a small selection of private accommodations. Still, La Asomada and Mácher are flush with some high-quality top, reviewed accommodation and are only 18 minutes from the National Park.
Timanfaya National Park in popular culture
Timanfaya National Park has been the backdrop to several films and TV shows.
The Wrath of the Titans (2010), with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson y Ralph Fiennes, Doctor Who (2014) and Black Mirror (2017) all used stunning scenery to enhance their cinematography.
It is reputed that Apollo astronauts were given pictures of the area to provide them with an idea of what the moon may be like when they landed on it.
Continuing the space theme, the European Space Agency have visited the park many times to study the landscape and train for possible future missions to Mars.
Timanfaya National Park has astonishing beauty and a dark side showing nature’s raw power. The area has something for everyone, camel rides, hiking, eating volcanic cooked food and some of the most alien views on the planet.
There are very few places like this on earth, so if you get the chance to visit, make sure you don’t miss it.