The things you don’t know about the Canary islands: What to do, what to visit, and what shouldn’t be missed during your Canary isles’ vacation
Do you know that Europe can boast of a real tropical paradise? Despite the region being mostly located in the Northern Hemisphere, there is a place on the map which is a real gem and acquired the status of the sunshine center of Europe. This is the Canary Archipelago, a group of 7 islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They became an iconic place for European travelers, and their charm should be felt by everyone who loves nature’s beauty, comfort, and tropical island vacations. So, are you already intrigued? Here we go with our Canary Islands guide!
Table of contents
- An Overview of Canary Islands Map: the Main Islands and Cities
- Some Facts About Canary Islands You Should Know
- The Best Destinations on Canary Islands to Get on Vacation: 5 Gems in a Crown of Canaries
- The Best Ideas for Vacations: What to Do on the Canary Islands
An Overview of Canary Islands Map: the Main Islands and Cities
Let’s start with a small geography lesson to understand where the Canary Islands are. This group of islands emerged as a part of old volcanoes thousands of years ago. Some of them are still active volcanoes, by the way. Just a couple of years ago, for example, the island of La Palma and its inhabitants suffered from the eruption of the volcano Cumbre Vieja, which led to mass evacuation of the population. Fortunately, volcano activity in the Canary Islands happens rarely, so it’s quite a safe tourist destination today.
When you look at the Canary Islands’ map, you can see that the archipelago is located closer to the North-West coast of Africa. Yet its territories belong to Spain. The archipelago is located in a subtropical climate zone, and this makes it comfortable for living and visiting all year long. Just imagine, the Canary Islands have over 200 sunny days a year!
The landscape of the Canaries is amazing in its diversity. Due to the volcano’s origin, there are lava fields and high mountains, an exceptional coastal area with sandy beaches, and unique caves. As for the fauna, it is a real planet in miniature there! The islands are a homeland for endemic species, lots of tropical birds, rare lizards, turtles, sea mammals, and marine inhabitants. Even the name of this archipelago refers to a bird species, Serinus Canaria (Atlantic canary).
Some Facts About Canary Islands You Should Know
If we have already mentioned some facts about the Canary Islands, let’s continue with them. What’s so special in the Canaries?
- It’s the second most popular tourist destination in Spain (only Catalonia accepts more tourists than the Canaries). Each year, more than 9.6 million tourists visit the islands.
- As a tourist spot, the Canary Islands are a leading tourist research host with 2 reputable universities researching the tourist industry located there.
- Among the must-visit events on the Canary Islands are local holidays devoted to each island’s holy patron. For example, in Tenerife, it is the 2nd of February, when Our Lady of Candelaria is honored. The same holidays are celebrated on each island.
- The Canaries’ carnival is the most spectacular and popular event in the region. It attracts millions of tourists annually.
- The Canary Islands have two capitals at once – Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The Best Destinations on Canary Islands to Get on Vacation: 5 Gems in a Crown of Canaries
Probably, after all these facts, you are interested in where to go to the Canary Islands. We won’t leave you without answers, be sure! The archipelago consists of 7 islands, and the most popular tourist spots are the following ones.
The island of Tenerife is the biggest and the most popular among the Canaries. It’s the place of luxurious beach resorts, and for active tourism appreciators, it is also the best direction because the highest volcano of the archipelago also is on Tenerife.
The best resorts on the island are located on its southern and western coasts. The best Blue-flag honored beaches of Tenerife are as follows:
- La Arena Beach – a perfect place for family vacation and diving enthusiasts.
- Las Vistas Beach is the hot spot for water sports lovers.
- San Telmo is famous for its unique natural pool created by tides.
Besides beach vacations, Tenerife offers other unique opportunities for tourists.
- Do not miss a chance to hike to Mount Teide, 3,718 meters high, the third largest volcano in the world.
- Take an excursion by boat along the island’s coast to watch hunchback whales.
- Enjoy the wildlife and exceptional sites of the Biosphere Reserve Rural de Anaga, located a short drive from the capital. You can admire the mountain landscapes, swim in one of the secluded bays, stroll in the shade of laurel trees, watch birds up close, ride a horse or bike, and go diving
Gran Canaria Island
The island of Gran Canaria is the center of nightlife on the Canaries. Its reputation as a place for great parties makes it a real competitor to another party center in Spain, Ibiza. Besides, Gran Canaria is well-known for its fishing options, watersports diversity, and 17-kilometer-long resort zone Maspalomas.
The best beaches of Gran Canaria are namely Maspalomas, which consists of 6 deluxe resorts, Amadores Beach – the best place for family vacations with kids, and Las Canteras, a hotspot for divers and fishing lovers.
As for natural sites worth visiting, Gran Canaria hosts the following ones:
- Spectacular sand dunes of Maspalomas, which form a fantastic landscape.
- Historical Agaete is one of the most beautiful cities on the island. Its Church of Concepción, the Huerto de las Flores garden, and the Maipes necropolis are must-sees of the island.
This island is the best idea to visit for lovers of active traveling. It is often called the island of fire-breathing mountains. There are over 300 volcanoes which form a cinematic landscape. Besides, Hollywood film directors also appreciated Lanzarote’s sites and you can see them in cult movies like Exodus: Gods and Kings, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, and The Clash of Titans.
As for beach vacations on Lanzarote, the best places to enjoy it are Playa Blanca, Puerto Del Carmen, and Caleton Blanco.
The best ideas for visiting this Canary Island are:
- Take an excursion to the Timanfaya National Park with its lava fields and lunar landscapes.
- Enjoy wine degustation in one of the local wineries where wines made of endemic grape species are made.
La Palma Island
La Palma is the most romantic place in the Canaries. This island is famous for its combination of high volcanoes, rich forest areas, spectacular waterfalls, and beaches. It’s a perfect stargazing spot which makes La Palma a must-visit for couples and honeymooners.
We recommend you to stay at its Bryana Alta beach area where incredible sunrise and stargazing opportunities are available.
For appreciators of active tourism, La Palma offers also something special:
- Visit the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, located at an altitude of 2396 meters above sea level to watch the stars.
- Get the trip to the Volcanoes Road – the best hiking trail on the island which connects the central and southern parts of the island.
La Gomera Island
This island is protected by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. It’s the best destination for those who love nature beauty and loneliness at once. It is not a crowded place without deluxe beach resorts, but its fascinating beauty traps the hearts of visitors. Here you have an exceptional opportunity to visit the following sites:
- Garajonay National Park – onePark – one of the few places in the world where virgin laurel forests have been preserved.
- Unique Los Organos lava sites, which resemble the pipes of the organ. They can be seen from the boat during a boat trip around the island.
The Best Ideas for Vacations: What to Do on the Canary Islands
Besides natural sites, great beach vacations, and parties, there are lots of ideas about what to do in the Canary Islands. Here we share a couple of them.
- Visit the local carnival. The brightest and the biggest holiday time in the Canary Islands is between February and March. The fanciest celebrations are held in the two islands’ capitals, yet each island and municipality also celebrates it.
- Visit La Laguna, the ancient capital of the island Tenerife – a historical and university site. This historical center has a wealth of residential buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries.
- Stay at Valle Gran Ray on La Gomera. This town offers multiple observation decks to take incredible photos, a beautiful natural park to visit, and secluded comfortable beaches to enjoy calm ocean waters and sandy shores.
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The diversity of landscapes of the Canary Islands makes this archipelago one of the most famous Atlantic tourist destinations. And it is not occasionally, as the Canaries offer the greatest pleasure, the brightest emotions, and the most memorable impressions from their visit.