A Trip to the Canary Islands
What to see and do on the islands of eternal spring in the Atlantic
Each of the Canary Islands offers a unique experience. In a single travel, you can visit either one of the islands or all of them. They’re don’t offer only excellent environment if you want to relax by the sea, but are also great for exploring with their volcanoes, charming villages and the most unusual contrasts. You can learn more about the archipelago in this article that’s full of travel tips.
The Canary Islands are comprised of eight large islands: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, Gomera, Hierro and Graciosa, and a bunch of small islands and reefs. They’re part of the Spanish territory despite their proximity to the African continent. You can travel by ferry, ship or airplane from island to island.
Travel tips for Tenerife
The largest of the islands and also the most populous is Tenerife. It has two airports, one in the north and one in the south. Tourism is well-developed, which means you won’t be lacking anything during your trip. You should start exploring the island’s capital, Santa Cruz, a city that boasts a concert hall inspired by the Sydney Opera House. One of the world’s largest carnival festivals takes place there in February. The main unwinds during the night when people dance until morning wearing costumes. The island’s main historical sights can be found in San Cristóbal de la Laguna, which will delight you with its splendid beaches and a minster. You can just feel the charm of bygone days while taking a walk in the city. It’s time for some relaxation, so head to the Loro Parque on the northern coast, one of the best animal parks in the world. There you’ll find penguins, dolphins, a sea lion show and much more. Keep an eye out for the world’s largest collection of parrots numbering around 400. You can buy the ticket online and save yourself standing in the queue. Next in line is a trip to the mountains, offering travellers a completely new world – the Teide National Park. You can climb almost to the top of Spain’s highest mountain, Teide volcano (3,718m), with a cable car and enjoy the panoramic view over the kingdom of craters and lava.
Climb down to the valley all the way to the coastal town of Candelaria, known for its church with the Black Madonna, the guardian of all the islands. Nearby, in Güímar, real pyramids can be found that were made out of lava. Go and explore their secrets. Head to the southern coast on a Viking ship that will take you among dolphins and whales, as well as the mysteries of famous sailors. Vital for tourism, Playa de las Americas is part of an important tourist resort in the southern part of the island. A point of interest for travellers are the Teno mountains with the Masca village, a place where time seems to have stopped. What else can you do in Tenerife? I recommend going on a ten-hour tour of the neighbouring island of La Gomera by boat. Once there, you can explore the green island that’s been lost in time. Head to the island’s capital, San Sebastián, and visit the church where Christopher Columbus sent up a prayer before he embarked on his voyage. Afterwards, you should take a trip to the Garajonay National Park. It prides itself on its unique vegetation comprised by laurel trees and tree heaths. Don’t forget to visit the picturesque and diverse valley full of gorges and waterfalls, the Valle Gran Rey. If you’re itching for a walk, then the banana plantations in the Hermigua valley, charming villages and the Roque Cano rock outcrop are a perfect choice. You’ll be constantly surrounded by the traditional whistling language of the locals. To top it all off, head to the volcanic beaches for a swim.
What can you see in Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote?
On the other side of Tenerife, you’ll find Gran Canaria, a diverse island offering everything from verdant meadows to sand dunes. The island’s capital is Las Palmas and its Museo Canario is worth visiting. Knock yourself out while exploring the labyrinths of Vegueta, a neighbourhood full of historical colonial houses and streets, where the foundations of the city’s heart were first laid. I recommend staying at the Lua Lua Hostel, a bright and cosy house in the city centre.
A trip to Teror and Vega de San Mateo is a must for travellers who love villages with a soul. It’s especially worth visiting the lively Sunday markets. Teror is the island’s major place of pilgrimage while Vega de San Mateo is its agricultural centre. The result are two markets packed with souvenirs, homemade products, delicious fruit, vegetables, nuts, and spices. The road leading outside the capital is enormously picturesque, as it winds through the island’s most important agricultural areas. The southern part is different. You can ride camels there and cross the sand dunes on your way to Maspalomas.
A bit west are Fuerteventura in Lanzarote, two islands that are, despite their proximity, quite distinct from one another. Volcanic eruptions in the 18th century have given Lanzarote its distinct and contrasting appearance. The volcanic period also gave rise to the area that is now home to the rich Timanfaya National Park. You can learn more about the park by taking a half-day tour that includes camels, wine, geothermal energy and volcanic sand. The island’s sights also include villages dotted with white houses with blue or green windows. Steep cliffs and underwater lava tubes in the northern part of the island invite you to explore them. Take a ferry to discover the neighbouring island, La Graciosa. You’ll be awaited by crystal-clear water teeming with marine life and full of sandy beaches. You can go hiking around the island and the only permanent settlement, the village of Caleta del Sebo.
Fuerteventura is a desert island and a true paradise for travellers where you can take a rest and relax. The island’s name translates to “strong wind”, and the island truly is a paradise for all those who love water sports. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, but there are also other natural landmarks, such as sand dunes in the Corralejo National Park. All those who like to enjoy good food can visit the artsy villages of Lajares with its tapas and Betancuria with its goat cheese. The town of Oliva hides its own aloe vera factory. Fifteen minutes away with a ferry is the Isla de Lobos, an island with numerous experiences for travellers anxious to explore. Twelve eight-kilometre walking trails will take you on a journey to the centre of the island. The trails wend their way past lonely lighthouses and wetlands all the way to volcanic hills. You might also encounter one of the numerous bird species that live there.
Undiscovered pearls of the Canary Islands
The western part of the Canary Islands holds two other large islands – La Palma and El Hierro. They’re not as frequented by tourists, so they’re particularly interesting for travellers who like to get away from other tourists. La Palma is also known as the beautiful island as it’s definitely impressive with its dramatic landscapes, volcanoes, deep forests, black sandy beaches and the colonial capital of Santa Cruz de La Palma. The capital was once one of Spain’s most important port cities and it has still retained some of the characteristics from bygone days. A volcano erupted near the region of Fuencaliente 40 years ago, leaving black soil, thermal springs and salt pans. El Hierro, the smaller of the two islands featured in the Hierro TV series, is an even better choice if you’re looking for a quiet nature getaway. More than half of the island was declared a natural park as the island’s nature is as diverse as it gets. You can spot streams of solidified lava and steep cliff on the coast, making it hard to reach the ocean. Inland is full of Canary Island pines, laurel trees, eucalyptus and chestnut trees.
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