Canary Island holidays
Situated off the coast of western Africa, the Canary Islands comprise seven individual islands – Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. This Spanish archipelago draws in holidaymakers for its otherworldly landscapes, Atlantic views and, being part of Spain, heavenly gastronomy. Canary Islands holidays take you across the region, from Tenerife’s national parks to Lanzarote's lunar-like landscapes.
Just because the Canary Islands are blessed with natural attractions, doesn’t mean they’re without their fair share of urban charm. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria’s capital, is chock-full of museums, fortresses and eateries, while sophisticated Santa Cruz (Tenerife's capital) is built around boulevards and wide avenues that link elegant squares and parks.
The Canary Islands' beauty lies in their diversity, catering for sun worshipers and culture vultures in equal measures. Take a look at our round-up of Canary Islands destinations and fuel your wanderlust…
Fuerteventura is the second largest of Spain’s Canary Islands and is known, amongst other things, for its pristine beaches. If you can prise yourself off them, here’s what else there is to do. Corralejo Natural Park Located in northern Fuerteventura, Corralejo Natural Park and its desert dunes will give you a taste of the island’s wilder side. It’s home to the biggest dune spread in the Canaries, alongside volcanic landscapes typical of the area – there’s even a solidified lava stream! Keep your eyes peeled for houbara bustards, too, who frequent the park throughout the year.
On the west of the island, you’ll find the small town of Betancuria. Its population is miniscule, but there’s still no shortage of things to do which’ll give you a sure-fire way of traditional Canarian ways of living. Within the town, you’ll find Casa Santa Maria, a 17th-century country house with lush gardens and artefacts from centuries long since passed. As well as watching traditional craft sessions, you’ll also have the opportunity eat in the charmingly rustic and impressive restaurant.
This islet is situated just north of Fuerteventura and is accessible by boat. Head here to see local flora and fauna, or spend some time on the island’s main beach, the Playa de la Concha, renowned for its clear waters.
The largest of the Canary Islands packs in natural and manmade charms in abundance. Take your pick from a range of must-see places. Teide National Park A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tenerife’s Teide National Park makes for an unrivalled insight into the wrath of the Canaries. For a start, there’s the colossal Mount Teide itself. You can catch a cable car to the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with views all the way over the park. Bring a camera and capture some of the panoramic magic forever.
The city of Santa Cruz has attractions that span far and wide, but perhaps one of its most popular is the lavishly named Basilica of the Royal Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Candelaria. Inside, you’ll find a colourful mural behind the altar. Outside, the building maintains a neoclassic appearance typical of Tenerife architecture. Otherwise, visit the Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre, the island’s natural history museum, also including artefacts from the indigenous Guanche culture.
Located just outside of Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife’s Loro Parque zoo is home to a rainbow spectrum of wildlife, including dolphins, sea lions, orcas, gorillas, lions and parrots, amongst other species. It also houses the largest population of penguins outside of the Arctic – these little charmers are well worth checking out for their lovable waddles alone.
Like Tenerife, Lanzarote’s otherworldly landscapes and stunning Canary vistas draw in tourists across the year. Here are a few top picks for when you’re there. Mirador del Rio You won’t be short of dramatic scenery on Canary Islands holidays, but the view from the Mirador del Rio is among the best. Roughly translating as “lookout point”, this vantage point presents walkers with golden Atlantic panoramas quintessential to the island. It was previously used to spot invaders – of which the Canaries had plenty – but these days its touristy nature dispels any notions of prior conflict.
Timanfaya National Park
Lanzarote’s most renowned attraction, Timanfaya National Park’s Mars-like plains are about as close as you’ll (probably) get to setting foot on the Red Planet. Walk amongst the dormant volcanoes and cones on roads which wind their way around them. To take your trip to the next level, consider taking a camelback tour of the park – if nothing else, you’ll likely get plenty of good photos of you and your new humped companion.
Amongst Lanzarote’s more unusual attractions, El Golfo is the home of Lanzarote’s famous Green Lagoon – a lake made up of trapped sea water. Unlike other lakes, though, the Green Lagoon is a bright and verdant colour, thanks to its high algae concentration. Take a day to make your way around the lagoon before exploring the various walkways and pebbly beaches of El Golfo.
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