Last updated: 10:49 AM ET, Thu August 25 2022
Patalavaca beach, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

Canary Islands

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Tenerife, Canary Islands
Tenerife, Canary Islands (Photo by Dan Callahan)

The Canary Islands are seven Spanish-owned islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Made up of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro, these islands are often considered the bridge between Africa, North America, South America, and Europe. With seven different islands come a diverse range of geographical features, giving tourists a wide array of activities to choose from.

Tenerife is home to the Teide National Park, where tourists can see the third highest volcano in the world. Nature-lovers can also enjoy the Teno Rural Park, El Médano Beach, and Anaga Rural Park. For a more traditional vacation, visitors can see the Spanish architecture of La Laguna, the islands oldest town, visit the cafés and shops of La Orotava and splash around Siam Park, Europe’s biggest water park.

Beach, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
PHOTO: A beautiful beach in Gran Canaria. (photo via Barcelo Hotel Group)

Gran Canaria is practically its own miniature continent with its volcanic landscapes, 60 kilometers of beaches, extensive pine forests and lovely Macaronesian flora. The Dunes of Maspalomas are changed daily by the wind, giving beachgoers a new experience with every visit, and the golden Las Canteras beach is considered one of the best urban beaches in Europe. The Nublo Rural Park, the largest natural area on the island, houses 30 villages and a Biosphere Reserve. The Painted Cave’s 24 years of excavation formed a natural museum and archaeological park. For shopping and tasting the local food, visit the coastal village of Puerto de Mogán, the harbor-side village of Agaete, and the historic Gothic-era village of Vegueta.

The coast of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands
PHOTO: The coast of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. (photo via alcalamiguel/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Lanzarote offers a unique landscape that can be compared to a lunar surface, particularly at the volcanic Timanfaya National Park. Wine-tasting at one of the many local wineries is a must, located at the protected vineyards of the La Garia wine region. To the north lays La Francesa Beach, the only inhabited islet in the Chinijo Archipelago; to the south is Papagayo Beach, with water as calm as your hotel’s swimming pool. Explorers can visit the volcanic Green Caves, the black beaches of the Green Lagoon, and explore the relationship between art and nature at Jameos del Agua or the Mirador del Rio viewpoint.

Fuerteventura gives beach-lovers over 150 kilometers of beach to relax on. The Costa Calma beach is 10 kilometers of white sand and turquoise waters, while the Cofete beach is the most famous virgin beach of the Canary Islands. Sheltered by a natural reef, La Concha beach is perfect for scuba diving, and through the desert landscape of the Corralejo National Park lay some of the island’s most idyllic beaches. To get away from the beach, visit the archaic city of Betancuria for its museums and 15th century architecture.

Santa Cruz de La Palma
PHOTO: Santa Cruz de La Palma, the capital city of La Palma island on the Canary Islands (Spain). (photo courtesy iStock / Getty Images Plus / Dominic_Dahncke)

La Palma is perfect for nature-lovers and hikers with over 1,000 kilometers of paths through imposing volcanic landscapes and dense forests. Visitors might consider camping out on this island, as the clear weather and strict light pollution laws make camping under the stars quite the experience. When not exploring the waterfalls of the La Caldera de Taburiente National Park, navigating through the tall trees of the Los Tilos forest, hiking along the 1,932 meter Volcano Route or laying along the black sand beaches of Puerto Naos, tourists can go back in time and visit the quaint old town of Santa Cruz de La Palma.

La Gomera is the island for tourists who enjoy living the literal high life. Here, guests can look out over the expansive Valle Gran Rey, get an impressive view of nature from the Los Roques viewpoint, and visit the spectacular Los órganos Natural Monument, a massive sea cliff made of vertical lava pipes that give it the appearance of a gigantic church organ. Even the island’s grand jewel, the town of Agulo, is settled on a natural platform to ensure tourists are up high enough to get a view of the island’s natural beauty.

El Hierro is the completely self-sustainable and offers free Wi-fi throughout the island. With the La Restinga Marine Reserve and 46 different dive sites, this island is perfect for scuba diving. A particularly popular spot is the natural pool, Charco Azul, located in the beautiful El Golfo valley. When not scuba diving, tourists can visit the Frontera Rural Park to see rare trees that grow up to 8 meters tall.

The Canary Islands experience lots of sunshine and mild temperatures. Summer temperatures on the islands average between 66°F to 73°F, making for a perfect summer getaway. As a part of the EU, the Canary Islands are just a few hours’ flight from all major European cities.