Are you planning a trip to The Canary Islands and wondering which island is the best for you? Well this Canary Islands guide has you covered. This travel guide will explore the unique attractions and give you a quick overview of the seven Islands.
About the Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago (group of islands) consisting of seven main islands:
- Gran Canaria
- La Palma
- La Gomera
The Canary Islands are renowned for their stunning beaches, incredible landscapes, rich culture, and delicious cuisine, these islands have something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a holiday in Spain, the Canary Islands are perfect. Each island offers a unique experience – from the bustling tourist hubs of Tenerife and Gran Canaria to the remote, untouched beauty of La Gomera and El Hierro, there is an island to suit every traveller’s taste.
I find it hard to choose which island I love the most. Having been to Tenerife, it holds a special place in my heart. But the smaller, less-known islands such as La Gomera and Hierro sound gorgeous.
Why Visit the Canary Islands?
The Canary Islands are stunning and have diverse landscapes, ranging from deserts and volcanic mountains to lush forests and beautiful beaches. They are also home to a vibrant local culture, with a strong Spanish influence mixed with their own distinctive Canarian traditions, making them an ideal destination for those looking to explore somewhere different.
Best Time to Visit the Canary Islands
Thanks to their mild, subtropical climate, the Canary Islands are a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit is generally between May and November, when the weather is at its most pleasant and the likelihood of rainfall is low. During the peak summer months of July and August, as well as the winter holiday season, the islands can become quite crowded, so it is advisable to book well in advance if you plan to travel during these times.
Tenerife: The Island of Eternal Spring
Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is known for its diverse landscapes, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife. Dominated by the towering Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak, Tenerife offers loads of activities and attractions for visitors. Whether you prefer the quiet villas in Tenerife or somewhere more social like a hotel, there’s something to suit all tastes.
Top Attractions in Tenerife
- Mount Teide National Park: Home to Spain’s highest peak, this UNESCO World Heritage site offers breathtaking views and a unique lunar landscape. A cable car takes visitors up the mountain, where they can hike to the summit (permit required), or simply enjoy the stunning vistas.
- Siam Park: This Thai-themed water park in Costa Adeje is one of the best in Europe, with thrilling slides, a lazy river, and a huge wave pool.
- Loro Parque: Located in Puerto de la Cruz, this world-class zoo and marine park is home to a diverse range of animals, including dolphins, orcas, and parrots.
- Masca: This picturesque village is nestled in the mountains, offering stunning views and challenging hiking trails.
- Garachico: This charming coastal town is known for its natural rock pools and well-preserved historical architecture.
Best Beaches in Tenerife
- Playa de Las Teresitas: This golden-sand beach near Santa Cruz is one of Tenerife’s most popular, offering calm waters and stunning views of the Anaga Mountains.
- Playa de Los Cristianos: This popular beach in the south of the island boasts fine sand and a wealth of bars, restaurants, and shops nearby.
- Playa de Las Vistas: Located in Los Cristianos, this expansive beach is perfect for families, with calm waters and plenty of amenities.
- Playa Jardín: Situated in Puerto de la Cruz, this black sand beach is surrounded by beautiful gardens and offers plenty of facilities, including sunbeds and umbrellas.
Gran Canaria: The Miniature Continent
Gran Canaria is often referred to as a “miniature continent” due to its diverse landscapes, you can find forests, volcanic mountains, golden beaches and more here. It has a lively capital, Las Palmas, and a rich cultural heritage. Gran Canaria offers a taste of everything the Canary Islands have to offer.
Top Attractions in Gran Canaria
- Maspalomas Dunes: These dramatic sand dunes in the south of the island are a must-visit, offering a desert-like landscape and stunning views of the surrounding area.
- Roque Nublo: This iconic rock formation is one of Gran Canaria’s most famous landmarks and offers a challenging hike with stunning vistas.
- Palmitos Park: A botanical garden and zoo located in the south of the island, Palmitos Park is home to a diverse range of animals and plants, as well as a spectacular dolphin show.
- Teror: This charming town in the north of the island is known for its beautiful architecture and lively Sunday market.
- Puerto de Mogán: Often referred to as “Little Venice,” this picturesque fishing village is famous for its colourful houses and network of canals.
Best Beaches in Gran Canaria
- Playa de Amadores: This large, crescent-shaped beach on the southwest coast offers golden sand and calm waters, making it perfect for families.
- Playa de Las Canteras: Located in Las Palmas, this bustling urban beach is popular with locals and tourists alike, offering a lively atmosphere and plenty of amenities.
- Playa de Puerto Rico: This sheltered beach in the south of the island is a suntrap, with golden sand and a range of water sports on offer.
- Playa de Güigüí: This remote, black sand beach is only accessible by boat or a challenging hike, making it perfect for those seeking solitude and unspoiled nature.
Lanzarote: The Lunar Island
Lanzarote, the easternmost of the Canary Islands, is known for its unique volcanic landscapes, stunning beaches, and the work of local artist César Manrique, who had a significant influence on the island’s architecture and attractions. With its otherworldly beauty and vibrant arts scene, Lanzarote is a must-visit for those seeking something different.
Top Attractions in Lanzarote
- Timanfaya National Park: This UNESCO-listed park is home to a dramatic volcanic landscape, with guided tours available to explore the unique geology and learn about the island’s volcanic history.
- Cueva de los Verdes: This incredible lava cave system offers guided tours through its subterranean galleries, showcasing the power and beauty of Lanzarote’s volcanic past.
- Jameos del Agua: Designed by César Manrique, this stunning attraction combines natural beauty with art and architecture, featuring an underground lagoon, a concert hall, and a unique garden.
- La Geria: Lanzarote’s wine region is known for its unique method of growing vines in volcanic craters, producing distinctive Malvasia wines that can be sampled at various bodegas throughout the area.
- Playa Blanca: This bustling resort town in the south of the island offers a range of restaurants, shops, and a marina, as well as access to the beautiful beaches of Papagayo.
Best Beaches in Lanzarote
- Playa de Papagayo: This series of stunning coves in the south of the island offers crystal-clear waters and golden sand, perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
- Playa de Famara: A surfer’s paradise, this long, sandy beach on the northwest coast is known for its strong winds and impressive waves.
- Playa de Las Cucharas: Located in the resort town of Costa Teguise, this popular beach offers a range of water sports and amenities.
- Playa de Los Pocillos: This expansive, golden sand beach in Puerto del Carmen is perfect for families, with calm waters and plenty of facilities nearby.
Fuerteventura: The Windy Island
Fuerteventura is known for its stunning beaches and world-class water sports opportunities. With its strong winds and crystal-clear waters, the island is a haven for surfers, kitesurfers, and windsurfers. There are charming fishing villages that offer plenty for those looking for a more laid-back experience.
Top Attractions in Fuerteventura
- Corralejo Natural Park: Home to the impressive sand dunes, this protected area is perfect for exploring on foot or by buggy, offering lovely views of the surrounding landscape.
- Cofete Beach: This remote, windswept beach on the southwestern tip of the island is known for its wild beauty and secluded location, making it perfect for those seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience.
- Betancuria: The island’s former capital, Betancuria is a charming village with well-preserved historical architecture and a fascinating archaeological museum.
- Isla de Lobos: This small, uninhabited island off the coast of Fuerteventura is a nature reserve, offering pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkelling and diving.
Best Beaches in Fuerteventura
- Playa de Sotavento: This stunning, 17km-long stretch of golden sand on the southeast coast is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, with world-class conditions for windsurfing, kitesurfing, and surfing.
- Playa de Esquinzo: Known for its turquoise waters and fine sand, this beautiful beach in the south of the island is perfect for sunbathing and swimming.
- Playa de El Cotillo: This small, sheltered beach in the north of the island offers calm waters and a laid-back atmosphere, ideal for families and those looking to relax.
- Playa de La Concha: Located in the fishing village of El Cotillo, this crescent-shaped beach boasts golden sand and calm waters, making it perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
La Palma: The Green Island
Often referred to as “La Isla Bonita” (The Beautiful Island) and “La Isla Verde” (The Green Island), La Palma is the most north-westerly of the Canary Islands and has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its remarkable scenery and diverse landscapes. From its dramatic volcanic peaks and lush forests to its charming coastal villages and black sand beaches, La Palma offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors.
Top Attractions in La Palma
- Caldera de Taburiente National Park: This stunning park is home to some of the most breathtaking views in the Canary Islands, with dense forests, deep ravines, and towering peaks providing a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
- Santa Cruz de La Palma: The island’s capital is an attractive, history-rich town, with a mix of traditional and modern architecture, making it an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area.
- Roque de los Muchachos: The highest point on La Palma offers incredible views of the archipelago and is a popular spot for stargazing, with several observatories located nearby.
- La Cumbrecita: This stunning viewpoint offers panoramic views of the Caldera de Taburiente and is a great starting point for various hiking trails.
Best Beaches in La Palma
- Playa de Puerto Naos: This black sand beach on the west coast of the island is one of La Palma’s most popular spots, with a lively promenade and a range of amenities nearby.
- Playa de Tazacorte: Another black sand beach, Playa de Tazacorte offers calm waters and a charming fishing village atmosphere, with several excellent seafood restaurants lining the shore.
- Charco Verde: This small, secluded beach in the southwest of the island is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy the island’s natural beauty.
- Playa de Los Cancajos: Located close to Santa Cruz de La Palma, this black sand beach boasts crystal-clear waters and a range of facilities, making it an ideal spot for families.
La Gomera: The Hiker’s Paradise
La Gomera is the best canary island for hiking. It’s known for its dramatic terrain, ancient forests, and fascinating history. With its mountainous landscape and steep cliffs, the island is a haven for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, while its unique cultural traditions make it a fascinating destination for those looking to immerse themselves in local customs.
Top Attractions in La Gomera
- Garajonay National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Garajonay National Park is home to the island’s ancient laurel forests, as well as a network of well-marked trails for hikers to explore.
- San Sebastián de La Gomera: The island’s capital is a charming, historical town with a bustling port and a rich colonial heritage.
- Valle Gran Rey: This picturesque valley in the west of the island offers stunning views and a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, whale-watching, and snorkeling.
- Los Órganos: A dramatic cliff formation on the island’s north coast, Los Órganos is best viewed from a boat tour, offering a unique perspective on the island’s volcanic history.
Best Beaches in La Gomera
- Playa de Santiago: This black sand beach in the south of the island is one of La Gomera’s most popular spots, offering a range of amenities and a lively atmosphere.
- Playa de Valle Gran Rey: Located in the picturesque valley of the same name, this expansive beach offers golden sand and calm waters, perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
- Playa de Hermigua: This secluded, pebble beach is ideal for those seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience, with its dramatic cliffs and crystal-clear waters.
- Playa de La Cueva: A small, black sand beach near San Sebastián, Playa de La Cueva offers a peaceful retreat with stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
El Hierro: The Unspoiled Island
El Hierro, the smallest and most remote of the Canary Islands, offers a off-the-beaten-path experience for travellers seeking solitude and unspoiled nature. There are dramatic cliffs, volcanic landscapes, and charming fishing villages. El Hierro is a haven for divers, hikers, and those looking to escape the tourist crowds.
Top Attractions in El Hierro
- Valverde: The island’s small, inland capital offers a friendly atmosphere, with a range of bars and restaurants serving local cuisine.
- El Sabinar Forest: Home to ancient juniper trees twisted and shaped by the wind, this unique forest is a must-visit for nature lovers.
- Mirador de La Peña: This stunning viewpoint offers panoramic views of the island, as well as a restaurant designed by famed architect César Manrique.
- Frontera: This picturesque coastal village is known for its excellent diving opportunities, as well as its delicious seafood restaurants.
Best Beaches in El Hierro
- Playa del Verodal: This remote, black-sand beach offers a peaceful retreat and is considered one of the island’s best spots for swimming and sunbathing.
- Tamaduste: A small village on the northeast coast, Tamaduste offers a sheltered bay for swimming and snorkelling, as well as several seafood restaurants.
- La Maceta: A series of natural pools on the island’s west coast, La Maceta offers a unique swimming experience in crystal-clear waters.
- Charco Manso: Another series of natural pools, Charco Manso is located on the island’s east coast and is perfect for a refreshing dip in the clear waters.
Island Hopping in the Canary Islands
One of the best ways to experience the full diversity of the Canary Islands is by island hopping. With regular ferry connections between the islands, it’s easy to explore a few of the Islands during your trip.
Which is the best canary island for hiking?
La Gomera is the best canary island for hiking.
What continent are the Canary Islands in?
Geographically speaking the Canary Islands are in Africa, but they are part of Spain. They are in Europe and the European Union.
Get ready to explore the Canary Islands
As you can see, the Canary Islands offer something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing beach vacation in Tenerife, an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Lanzarote, or a peaceful escape in La Gomera, the Canary Islands are a dream destination just waiting to be explored. So pack your bags and set sail for this extraordinary archipelago, and discover the magic and beauty of the Canary Islands for yourself. Hope you enjoyed my guide to the Canary Islands!