Canary Islands: which one is the best to visit?

canarias

Who has never dreamed of living a neverending spring? Enjoying the sun all year with access to the beach, enjoying a nice warm weather… If I tell you that we have that in Europe, I am sure you won’t believe me. But you can actually find it in Spain, a few hours flight from Madrid. And it was my daily life for over a year before I moved to the capital city of the country. I lived in the Canary Islands, and I knew and I would miss them when I left.

The Canary Islands are a an autonomous community of Spain located off the Saharan coast, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They consist of seven islands, divided into two provinces as follows:

Las Palmas: Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura

Santa Cruz: Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro

Las Palmas and Santa Cruz are the respective capital city of the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife, which are the two largest, but also the two most populated and the main centers of activities of the islands.

Let’s discover the seven of them:

 

Gran Canaria

Everybody have probably already heard the name of this island as it is one of the main tourist destinations of Spain. With a population of 850,000, including 400,000 for its capital Las Palmas, Gran Canaria is far from being a desert island. Whether you are a city dweller, nature lover, mountain or beach traveler, sportsperson or cultural visitor, you will not be bored if you decide to go there. Gran Canaria is an island with different landscapes: a mountains and green area in the center (although it is not the most wooded island due to deforestation of the colonial era), cliff reliefs in the west and north, and a small desert in the south. This southern part of the island (Maspalomas, Puerto Rico, Mogan) with its warm weather all year long and its beautiful beaches is the most popular for tourists, but I can only advise you to discover the whole island of Gran Canaria .

The main sites to see are the Dunes of Maspalomas, the historic center of Las Palmas including the Casa de Colón (the most visited museum in the Canary Islands retracing the passage of Christopher Columbus on the island before conquering the American continent) and the cathedral of the Canary Islands, the Roque Nublo with its summit the Pico de las Nieves culminating at 1,949 meters, the church of Arucas (real cathedral) or the Alfredo Klaus auditorium located on the beautiful urban beach of Las Canteras. This is the island where I lived, and I will tell you more about it on this blog!

Gran Canaria

Tufia beach, Gran Canaria

 

Gran Canaria

Maspalomas dunes, Gran Canaria

 

Gran Canaria

Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria

 

Gran Canaria

Arguineguin, Gran Canaria

 

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria

Roque Nublo, Gran Canaria

 

Lanzarote

Also part of the province of Las Palmas, Lanzarote is located in the north-east of the Canary Islands. It is known as the island of volcanoes because of the lava layer that covers a large part of its area after a long period of eruptions during the eighteenth century. The traces of this recent volcanic activity can be seen in the national park of Timanfaya in which lunar-like landscapes can be observed.

The city of Arrecife, capital of the island, is also worth a visit: the contrast between its white houses and the black volcanic rock stone is very aesthetic. In the center of the city you will find its most famous viewpoint: the Charco de San Gines, an arm of the sea around which most of the local activity is concentrated.

Do not miss the winery of La Geria, the Papagayo beach (real paradise), the works of the artist César Manrique (his foundation, the Jameos del Agua, the Mirador del Río), the salt works of Janubio, or the point of view to the tiny island of La Graciosa (which you can also visit if you have the time!).

You will find many 360º pictures like this one one this blog, click and drag in any direction, or rotate your phone to see all of it!

 

Lanzarote

Charco de San Gines, Arrecife, Lanzarote

 

Lanzarote

Arrecife, Lanzarote

 

Lanzarote

Famara creek, Lanzarote

 

Lanzarote

Timanfaya national park, Lanzarote

 

Lanzarote

Los Hervideros, Lanzarote

 

Fuerteventura

Third main island of the province of Las Palmas, Fuerteventura is a real desert: if you are looking for crystal clear waters and white sand, you will love its landscapes! The climate is hot, but the winds that cross the island make it bearable: you should even plan to find beaches protected from the wind to be able to bathe (not easy to think of it because it does not show on the pictures!). The visit of the island will consist mainly in the visit of its natural parks, Corralejo and Jandía, which are spectacular: it is probably the island where I took my most beautiful shots of Canarias. Its small capital city Puerto del Rosario and the historic center of Betancuria are also worth visiting.

As for the beaches, the most beautiful ones are Costa Calma in the south-east, and Cofete in the south-west. Finally, if you have some time, cross the water to the Isla de Lobos, small island off Fuerteventura on which you will feel like a Robinson.

Fuerteventura

Corralejo natural park, Fuerteventura

 

Fuerteventura

Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura

 

Fuerteventura

 

Fuerteventura

La Concha beach, Fuerteventura

 

Fuerteventura

Cofete beach, Fuerteventura

 

Tenerife

Tenerife, capital of the province of Santa Cruz, is known as the island of eternal spring thanks to its mild and pleasant climate, constant throughout the year. With its 2,000 sqm and 900,000 inhabitants, it is the largest and most populated island of Canarias. Dominated by the Teide mountain, seated in the middle of the national park of the same name, Tenerife has the highest peak of Spain, with an altitude of 3,718 meter. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is the picturesque city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the island’s second city after its capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Capital city where takes place every year one of the main carnivals in the world… You will definitely not get bored in Tenerife!

In addition to its abundant nature and picturesque towns and villages, the island is known for its beaches (the most important being Los Cristianos and Las Américas) visited by no less than 5 million tourists each year. And if you want to avoid crowded beaches, you can still sunbathe in Las Teresitas, beach of the city of Santa Cruz, and explore the hinterland.

Tenerife

Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

 

Tenerife

Tenerife

San Cristobal de la Laguna, Tenerife

 

Tenerife

Las Teresitas beach, Tenerife

 

Tenerife

El Teide, Tenerife

 

La Palma

Of all the Canary Islands, La Palma is the one for which I had the biggest crush: I understand why it is known as La isla bonita (“the beautiful island”). Its capital is Santa Cruz de La Palma (not to be mistaken with Santa Cruz de Tenerife!), a city whose historic center is worth seeing. It is the island with the second highest relief: its central mountain, the Roque de los Muchachos, is 2,426 meters above sea level. It also has the largest volcanic crater in the world at its center, in the national park of La Caldera de Taburiente. The island is small but has a lot of relief and it takes a while to go around. The roads of the island are very well maintained and allow to appreciate its abundant nature by visiting it all. Stop near the forest of Los Tilos for a walk, its atmosphere is almost magical.
La Palma is also an astrotouristic destination: it has one of the largest international observatories, in Roque de los Muchachos, and it is protected from light pollution so that the observation of the stars is not hindered. I can’t wait to go back to La Palma!

La Palma

La Palma

La Palma

Santa Cruz de la Palma

 

La Palma

La Palma

Roque de Los Muchachos, La Palma

 

La Gomera

Time seems to have stopped on the island of La Gomera: perhaps because of the laurisilva, mass of prehistoric vegetation that can be obsverved in the Garajonay National Park, which once covered the tropical areas of the globe and that has been preserved on the island thanks to its temperate climate. Perhaps it is also the silbo gomero (“whistling of La Gomera”) that can be heard through the mountains: this language inherited from the aborigines of the island allows the inhabitants who practice it to communicate from one side of the island to another without a mobile phone! All reliefs, the island of La Gomera has many different landscapes, which can be admired while walking around it since you will find there more than 600 kilometers of paths.

Do not miss on the island: Los Roques natural monument, Los Organos natural monument, the Gran Rey valley.

La Gomera

Los Roques natural monument

 

La Gomera

La Gomera

La Gomera

 

El Hierro

El Hierro, the westernmost part of the Canary Islands (and also of whole Spain), is also the smallest of the seven islands and the least populated since it has just over 10,000 inhabitants. The capital of the island is Valverde. This small triangular land is actually the emerged part of a volcano, which experienced its last (underwater) eruption between 2011 and 2012. With its varied landscapes: lush nature, rocky cliffs, fertile lands, volcanic areas and transparent waters, the island is classified as a biosphere reserve by the UNESCO (they all are). As for the fauna and flora, you can see giant lizards (usually reaching 60 centimeters), as well as Phenicia junipers which are often bent by the wind: they are the symbols of the island.

It is also interesting to note that El Hierro is entirely energetically self-sufficient thanks to the use of renewable energies, one of the main interests of its government and inhabitants.

The main points of interest of the island are the Frontera rural park, La Peña belvedere, Garoé and Charco Azul. We will go discover them in a futurepost.

El Hierro

El Hierro

El Hierro

El Hierro

 

Have you decided to which island will your next trip take you? Or do you want to visit them all after reading this post? I must admit that I would definitely visit the seven of them again, as I learned to love the peculiarities of each one. And I will do so, taking you with me on each trip through posts full of information and tips so that you can organize yours at best afterwards. Are you following me?


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