The Canaries are so much more than dreamy beaches and year-round sunshine. At their nearest point just 100 kilometres from the African coast, these volcanic isles treasure snow-capped mountains, semi-deserts and Spain’s highest peak. Plus world-class wines and a surprising collection of cutting-edge art.
Though encompassing many smaller islands and islets, the seven main islands are Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Graciosa, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro. Each claiming their own unique set of charms.
Tenerife still receives the lion’s share of visitors thanks to its oversized beaches, outstanding water sports and array of family-friendly resorts. The capital, Santa Cruz, hosts the world’s second biggest carnival in February each year, and for the adventurous, there’s the colossal Mt Teide to climb. Just 40 miles east lies Gran Canaria, a popular hiking destination with miles of marked walking trails criss-crossing its rugged interior. It’s also known for its black- and white-sand beaches, and the huge abstract sculptures of Martín Chirino.
Still further east, Lanzarote and its dramatic landscape of volcanoes and solidified lava was awarded UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status in 1993. Born through fiery eruptions, the island’s Timanfaya National Park remains its star attraction. Meanwhile, wind-swept Fuerteventura lays claim to some of the finest beaches in the archipelago, as well as a whole host of wind-driven water sports.
For those seeking a quieter escape, the sleepy islands of La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera will entice you with their untrodden beaches, fishing villages, tumbling waterfalls and serene pine forests.