Whether you’re planning a romantic couple’s holiday, family summer vacation or a trip with your friends, the Canary Islands has it all – sun-drenched weather, world-class attractions and a wonderfully laid-back yet vibrant lifestyle. Over nine million people travel here each year from all corners of the globe to enjoy the bright sunshine, top class attractions and delicious cuisine. When it comes to a breakdown of the numbers, Tenerife boasts the most visitors, followed closely by Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. With their closest point just 100 kilometres away from the coast of Africa, the islands have a distinctive cultural scene, and picturesque landscape dotted with volcanic formations and jagged coastline. If you’re looking for the right island for a tranquil holiday, opt for a less known island such as La Palma or La Gomera, which are set apart by their quaint fishing villages, fragrant pine forests and unspoiled beaches.
Top resorts in Canary Islands
Puerto de la Cruz
Caleta de Fuste
Top hotels in Canary Islands
Alborada Beach Club
Costa del Silencio, Tenerife
Playa de las Americas, Tenerife
Gran Castillo Tagoro Family & Fun
Playa Blanca, Lanzarote
Castillo Beach Park
Costa Caleta, Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura Beach Club
Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura
Costa Teguise, Lanzarote
Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura
Blue Sea Costa Teguise Gardens
Costa Teguise, Lanzarote
As the days grow shorter, who doesn’t start dreaming of a winter break in the sunshine? Either a short flight somewhere warm and sunny for a weekend escape, or perhaps somewhere further afield with gorgeous tropical beaches on which to soak up the…
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Spanish
- Time Zone: GMT +0
- Average flight time: 4h 25m
Sometimes the touristy bits just won’t do and once you have visited them all, you want to keep exploring more. After you’ve spent the better part of the day on the beach, it’s time to discover the hidden gems – local bits hidden within popular travel…
When to go
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The Canary Islands comprises four closely linked yet contrasting main islands: Lanzarote, Gran Canria, Fuerteventura and Tenerife. These are known as ‘The Big Four’ thanks to their stellar reputation as world class holiday destinations rich with culture, heritage and top attractions. Tenerife boasts the Parque Nacional del Teide, one of the most beautiful attractions of the Canary Islands showcasing a part desert area, lush forest and volcanic mountain. There’s a cable car that takes visitors from the bottom to the summit of the mountain, travelling up to 1,200 metres in less than 10 minutes. At the top, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the volcanic valley beneath and far off islands, giving you a bird’s eye view of this area of stunning natural beatuty. All on the one island, you’ll find two distinctive and contrasting areas that sit on either side of it. The capital, Santa Cruz, lies at the island’s northeastern end. Santa Cruz boasts the bustling port and the Auditoria de Tenerife, a Moorish tribute to the Sydney Opera House that showcases its own vibrant live performances. Across Gran Canaria you’ll find some of the world’s most spectacular city beaches, ideal for those that want to go shopping and snorkelling in the same day. The clear and tranquil waters here are perfect for strolling along the promenade, going for a surf or taking a dip.
Wine and Dine
Thanks to its oceanic location, the Canary Islands offer some of the best seafood dishes in the region, all of which are best enjoyed with a chilled Spanish beer, glass of full bodied wine and adventurous liqueurs. The authentic food here is all about flavoursome dishes featuring tender, smoky tasting fried squid, slow cooked stews and gently chargrilled fresh vegetables. The traditional Vegueta district of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is home to the Cerveceria y Pico Te lo Dije Perez, which boasts a menu of more than 100 different beers and simple, yet delicious tapas dishes including Spanish omelette and aioli. If you’re looking for a more spectacular place to dine, try the Bodegas Rubicon in Lanzarote. This restaurant is the perfect place to impress your loved one with a special meal, and is housed in a winery that overlooks the mountainous Timanfaya National Park, so you can enjoy breathtaking views as you dine. Tenerife has a couple of Michelin starred restaurants, including the El Rincon de Juan Carlos in Los Gigantes, a great restaurant to experience Michelin approved food at affordable prices.
If you’re feeling a bit frazzled from work and are looking forward to a family summer holiday, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Canaries are one of the best European holiday destinations for a fuss free family holiday with plenty of fun. There’s so much here to keep all the family entertained that you can simply get up and go each day, and stumble across plenty of fun activities to put a smile on your little ones’ faces. For those with adventurous little rascals, the long stretches of beach are ideal for burning off some energy. Kids will love splashing in the shallow, calm waters, hunting for shells and building sandcastles, while you’ll love the sun-drenched weather as you get some rest and relaxation on a sun lounger. There’s a huge range of water sports to enjoy as a family, perfect if you’re an active, outdoorsy family. If you’re more laid-back and enjoy cultural attractions, Lanzarote has two quaint family retreats at Finco de Arrieta and Finca Malvasia. These two cool family retreats have picturesque whitewashed cottages, vineyards dotting the horizon and lush tropical gardens to explore. Tenerife has a number of golf courses including Cento Golf Los Palos and a number of crazy golf courses, so all the family can work on their swing amidst beautiful surroundings.
Action and Adventure
The dramatically rugged coastlines of the Canary Islands are the perfect setting for a huge variety of water sports, from swimming and paddleboarding to jet skiing and windsurfing. Adrenaline junkies flock here from all around the world for the Canaries’ top-class water sports facilities. The distinctive tropical coastline of Lanzarote boasts scenic coral reefs beneath the surface of the emerald waters, an unforgettable way to get up close and personal with the marine life. Further inland at Timanfaya National Park there’s a range of striking volcanic landscapes just waiting to be explored, while some areas of Tenerife even offer camel rides across the desert. If you’re keen to leave the beach and try something that really gets your blood pumping, hop on a quad bike to explore the spectacular lunar-style landscape.
Life's a Beach
As you’d expect from a group of islands that are surrounded by the Atlantic on all sides, the main focus of the Canary Islands are the beaches. Tenerife is distinguished by its dark and dramatic volcanic sands, drawing in visitors from all over the world for sunbathing and swimming. Tenerife’s El Bollulo is tucked away in the north close to Puerto de la Cruz, and is the darkest beach in colour and the most volcanic. Here you’ll find a secluded shack bar amidst the rocks, the ideal place to enjoy a chilled beer and a fresh seafood dish as you watch the scenic sunset. If you’re looking for tranquil beaches that get you away from the hustle and bustle, Fuerteventura is the best choice of the Canary Islands. The huge Corralejo beach, spanning 10 kilometres in length, is a great place to relax and unwind as you take in views of the ocean. The beach is close to a nature reserve featuring sea birds and sand dunes, perfect for spotting rare birds. Lastly, take a trip to Lanzarote’s Famara Beach, nestled in a mountainous landscape, if you’re more of an active beach dweller and enjoy windsurfing and paragliding.
The best way to describe the nightlife of the Canary Islands is tranquil by day, vibrant by night. While the sandy golden beaches and tranquil blue waters paint a sedate picture by day, at night, these islands are one of the main party centres of Europe. If you love your nightlife loud and proud, Playa de las Americas is without a doubt the best place for you, with the latest beats and club classics pumping out of bass-rich sound systems. Some of the world’s best known DJs play here at Tramps nightclub, so you’re in with a chance of rubbing shoulders with the stars if you’re heading out clubbing. For a more laid-back experience, there’s La Laguna, where you’ll find an intimate atmosphere and live music far away from the crowds of tourists. Elsewhere on the Canary Islands you can enjoy a more upmarket nightlife experience with a live show, drinks and dinner in polished package at Garbo’s, on Gran Canaria. This venue is known as ‘Broadway in the middle of the Atlantic’ thanks to its classic cabaret feel and high production values. Pacha Gran Canaria is one of the most popular nightclubs in the Canaries, thanks to its cutting edge dance beats and oh-so-stylish atmosphere. If you’re looking for a traditional Spanish feel, try Neon Dancing, a well established club with a 30 year history that specialises in authentic Latin vibes.
The best Canary Island for couples is really a matter of opinion, depending on your tastes and interests. With stunning golden beaches, clear blue waters and a world class tourist industry, the whole area of the Canary Islands is well suited to romantic couples holidays. The scenic landscape and layout of Tenerife seems purpose built for couples, with dramatic volcanic landscapes, long expanses of golden sand and inviting warm waters. In spite of its popularity as a tourist destination for couples, there are many tranquil resorts in Tenerife, ideal for those looking for a quiet romantic getaway. Tenerife’s balmy climate makes it the best option for couples that like things hot, as during the summer months, the mercury rarely drops below 27°C and even during winter, average temperatures don’t drop below 21°C. For something a little more off the beaten track, opt for the small island of La Palma for a springtime retreat. If you head there during January or February, you’ll find striking blooming plants and mild weather, perfect for taking long strolls through the thick forest areas and exploring the jagged volcanic landscapes. La Gomera, Tenerife’s smaller neighbouring island, boasts a collection of mountains, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and verdant national parks, a memorable experience for outdoor loving couples.
The Canary Islands are a great destination for a cultural holiday, with a distinctive mix of traditional Spanish heritage and elements of North African culture, due to the islands’ close proximity to Morocco. The language here has been influenced by Spanish, as well as Caribbean and South American dialects. The islands’ status as a kind of cultural melting pot of lots of contrasting cultures makes it a fascinating place to immerse yourself in tradition, the arts and the unique gastronomy of the area.