Imagine an archipelago of islands set adrift off the coast of Africa, an oasis that boasts superb beaches and perennial warmth, which is also home to the world’s second-largest Carnival, award-winning wines, and Spain’s highest mountain.
Well, imagine no more, as the Canary Islands, now in a safe travel corridor with the UK, is set to welcome Brits for some much-needed winter sun. But forget any preconceptions of mages of sunburned Brits, dodgy fried food and all-things tacky, and read on for what these islands really have in store.
What are the best Canary Islands?
The eight main islands are so varied that picking out one to be ‘best’ is an impossible task. Whatever your travel style, there is an island that will suit your desires. Whether you just want to soak up the sun on a beach, explore nature, or get active, there’s something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the main five islands.
For a little bit of everything: Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest of the Canaries, and also the most popular. While the southern strip of the island is a swathe off tourism development, the rest of the island is a diverse and remarkable place to visit.
In February, Carnival takes over the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and inland you’ll find the incredible Teide National Park, complete with a volcano, and the highest peak in Spain. Sample the seafood and excellent wines in picturesque towns like Garachico and La Orotava. Tenerife has it all!
For wind-sport lovers and beach bums: Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura is a parched desert-like escape whose east coast is the main attraction, where the shifting sands of Corralejo and Jandia blown in on the Saharan breeze. You'll find volcanoes to climb, little whitewashed inland villages and the delicious Majorero cheese, best enjoyed grilled with a little palm honey.
Corralejo, in the north, is the stand out resort and a big contributor to making Fuerteventura one of the best Canary Islands. Tourists can mingle with locals, surfers and windsurfers from all over the world. There are little tapas bars, fancy restaurants and beaches right in town.
The main resort Morro Jable is home to an amazing 4km beach, but be aware there are stretches where clothes are most definitely optional.
For a spread of landscapes: Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria offers more scenic diversity than any of the other islands, placing it high on the list of the best Canary Islands.
There are the epic sands of Maspalomas in the south, the subtropical forests of the interior, rugged mountains and, in Las Palmas, the most beguiling of the island capitals with its buzzing nightlife and sandy beaches.
For the cool Canaries: Lanzarote
Lanzarote is the most aesthetically pleasing of the Canaries, mainly thanks to César Manrique, a visionary architect who stamped his architectural style on local projects and fought against the construction of high-rise buildings.
You'll find an otherworldly volcanic escape in Timanfaya National Park, while the island of La Graciosa is a laidback road-free hideaway. Lanzarote’s most attractive resort is family-friendly Playa Blanca in the south, with the main attraction the famous white-sand beaches that give it its name.
For jaw-dropping scenery: La Palma
The entire island has been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve for its swathe of remarkable scenery: some parts are dramatically volcanic and others lush rainforest.
Caldera de Taburiente National Park where the finest views of the archipelago can be seen from Roque de los Muchachos at 2396m. You can drive most of the way up and then ramble around this volcanic mound on foot.
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