Get your bearings
Spain’s seven Canary Islands rise out of the Atlantic off the west coast of Africa, 1,500km from mainland Europe. The differences between the islands are a constant surprise. Lively beach resorts and unspoiled interior regions draw holidaymakers all year round to the largest islands of Tenerife
and Gran Canaria
. Volcanic Lanzarote
is the driest island and nearest to Africa. Outdoor activities and the simple life are the attraction of sandy Fuerteventura
and green, tranquil La Palma
, the most westerly.
The largest of the Canary Islands is green and cultivated in the hilly north. Farms, vineyards, gardens and Spanish colonial towns are scattered throughout. In the capital, Santa Cruz,
there’s fine art and culture. The west coast resort Puerto de la Cruz
has family attractions like Loro Parque
zoo. Southern Tenerife enjoys warm sunshine year-round and has the widest choice of Canary Island hotels. Its beach resorts range from lively Playa de las Americas
to stylish Costa Adeje
. Dominating the island, majestic snow-tipped El Teide
is Spain’s highest mountain. For a complete contrast, take an excursion to see primaeval Canarian forest on the little neighbour of La Gomera
All the diversity of holidays in Canary Islands is found in Gran Canaria. Sun, sea and sand dunes attract visitors to vibrant south coast resorts Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas
and charming Puerto de Mogán
marina. In the island’s centre, a wild mountain landscape rises from dense pine forest and fertile valleys. In the north enjoy pretty unspoilt villages like Teror
and diverse plantlife from cacti to palm forest in the Jardín Botánico Canario.
Museums and culture are concentrated in the Canary Islands’ largest city, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Pristine white villages among dark, twisted volcanic rocks, all under dazzling blue skies, give the most easterly of the Canary Islands dramatic visual appeal. The red-crested volcano Timanfaya
dominates western Lanzarote. A nightclub in a cave is just one of a string of imaginative attractions created by artist Cesar Manrique
. Vineyards growing in the volcanic wastes produce surprisingly elegant white wines
. Small resorts with pale sandy beaches – sporty Costa Teguise
, sandy Playa Blanca
and family-favourite Puerto del Carmen
– run along the south coast.
Fuerteventura, El Hierro & La Palma
The big island of Fuerteventura
has long sandy beaches and some of the best-value Canary Island hotels. This is the place for windsurfing and watersports. At the other end of the archipelago, little El Hierro
and mountainous La Palma
ripple with the dramatic petrified lava shapes of volcanic eruptions. With a wetter climate, they’re the greenest islands and are traced with paths through dense laurel woodland. For more sunshine, stay on their south-west shores.