What places are in the canary islands: 20 Top Attractions & Places to Visit in the Canary Islands
10 Experiences You Can’t Miss Out on the Canary Islands
Welcome to the Canary Islands If you have come this far, it’s because you are wondering what there is to know about the archipelago and how to go about it. Want some hints? Take note.
See the impressive shadow of the Teide
The highest mountain in Spain projects its imposing shadow, the largest in the world cast over the sea. A silhouette that grows progressively while the height of the sun changes, either at dawn or at dusk. In the morning, we can enjoy the shadow projected toward the island of La Gomera, while in the afternoon it extends toward Gran Canaria. This is a disquieting, clean, stark shadow in the shape of a perfect triangle, which has even attracted the attention of NASA. Mount Teide does not have this perfect triangular shape, because its crater is irregular, but its shadow is a disturbing sight that defies reason. So there are few experiences comparable to feeling on top of Mount Teide, so close to the sky.
Pleasing the palate on the “Michelin Islands”
“Happiness can be achieved through food, so we carry around happiness,” says chef Erlantz Gorostiza. This maxim makes Tenerife, with its six Michelin stars, a constellation with a Canary denomination that generates happiness. The prestigious gastronomic guide has set its sights on this island with recognition of the quality and excellence of five restaurants, and six stars that have also been maintained in the organization’s annual reviews. In the last edition, for the first time, two new stars were added for the neighboring island of Gran Canaria. Two stars that have also fallen on the same municipality: Mogán. The Canary Islands has thus transformed into a constellation with its own name and identity in the firmament of Spanish haute cuisine.
Attend the Carnival, at least once in your life
Hundreds of thousands of people gather every year in the Canary Islands to enjoy this festival, which is celebrated in a diverse way in the two capitals of the Canary Islands: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The carnival of the city of Tenerife is considered one of the most important in the world, also declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest. In 1987, some 250,000 people visited its streets, breaking the Guinness record for dancing to the music of Celia Cruz. Since then, attendance figures have continued to rise: In 2019, 400,000 people gathered on Piñata Saturday, the most important day of the carnival. The most important and popular festival in Tenerife involves a hundred carnival groups – comparsas, murgas and other musical groups – who flood the streets in a spectacle of light, sound and color, one of the most eagerly awaited performances being the gala of the choosing of the Queen. Also the residents of the island, along with the tourists who visit, participate en masse with varied and original costumes, making the carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife a unique party in which fun is guaranteed for several weeks.
For its part, the capital of Gran Canaria also intensely lives out its carnival, to such an extent that the streets of the city are filled with “masks” that dance to the sound of the lively carnival music. Parades, competitions, concerts, popular festivals… and, of course, its own gala to anoint the Queen, as well as the most eagerly awaited event that has acquired enormous international renown: the Drag Queen Gala in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
A real show worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime. Will you be one of the lucky ones?
Visit the creations of César Manrique
The figure of the brilliant artist César Manrique is found in all corners of Lanzarote. His comprise numerous works that, as always in the case of the creator, highlight his organic character by integrating perfectly with nature, and his is the house in which he lived from the mid-80s until his death in 1992. Located in the north of the island, in the middle of the Haría palm grove, visiting Manrique’s house means discovering the most personal side of this multifaceted artist who worked there practically until the end of his days. In this house Manrique found the tranquility he was searching for in his last years, and once again demonstrated his enormous sensitivity and good taste. It’s worth a visit.
Admire the best of the heavens
The quality of the sky in La Palma is one of the great attractions of the island, making it a perfect destination for so-called “star tourism” or “astrotourism.” To precisely promote interest in its sky and stars, a network of astronomical viewpoints has been developed at different strategic points of the island’s geography, permitting visitors to contemplate the stellar scape. Each viewpoint is equipped with explanatory panels on different topics related to astronomy, such as the constellations, the planets and the moon, as well as the simulation of the equinoxes and solstices. Thus, the visitor is invited to tour the island in order to discover them. The astronomical interest of La Palma is such that, since 1985, it has boasted the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory. Located at 2,400 metres above sea level, its privileged location – with a clean, stable and turbulence-free atmosphere – has made it one of the most important astrophysical observatories in the world.
Breathing (and dreaming) in Garajonay Park
The stories in La Gomera are told under the mist that advances in the leafy forest of Garajonay National Park. There, the different species of laurel forest observe how life has evolved since the Tertiary Age, fed by the coolness of the trade winds and the so-called “horizontal rain” that wets a mountain range in whose interior a thousand legends are forged. All shades of green can be perceived in the range, and above all, the greenness of hope, since this temple of nature was for centuries a source of food for the inhabitants of what is also known as “Columbus Island,” due to the passage of Christopher Columbus on his way to America. Its peculiarities have made it a unique place in the world that, in addition to being a National Park, has been recognized by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site and, with the rest of the island, a Biosphere Reserve. It is essential not to miss a walk through this humid prehistoric forest.
Take a dip in a natural pool
El Hierro is the westernmost of the eight islands comprising the Canary archipelago. A small natural paradise declared a Biosphere Reserve with an infinite number of attractions, which can be enjoyed all year round thanks to the exceptional climate of the Canary Islands, characterized by scarce rainfall and an average annual temperature with little variation. There are so many things to see in El Hierro…natural pools among them. The following always appear on any list about the best places on the island: Charco Azul, Los Sargos, Charco Manso, Tamaduste… peaceful shelters in which to enjoy a relaxed bath in the calm and transparent waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
A day at La Graciosa
This small Atlantic island, with barely 700 inhabitants and 29 square kilometers, part of the Natural Park of the Chinijo Archipelago, is a real paradise. The eighth island of the Canaries since 2018, it is also the last to join the European continent. But La Graciosa is not and should not be known only for this, but above all for being an idyllic place to disconnect, away from the rush and noise of the cities, thanks to its wonderful lonely beaches of fine white sand and turquoise waters like La Francesa, and its enigmatic landscapes like the Yellow Mountain volcano. These are tranquil space to intensely feel that which they call “the spirit of grace.”
Watching cetaceans (in the most respectful way)
The Canary Islands have a unique and surprising natural wealth. And the waters that bathe them are the best example: you can find at least 30 different species of cetaceans, some resident and others just passing through. The concentration of so many whales, dolphins, killer whales, sperm whales, rorquals and other species is a major tourist attraction. Few places in the world can boast of this gift of nature. In Europe, of course, there exists no other place with such diversity. The oceanographic characteristics of these Atlantic islands, with depths of up to 3,000 metres, are key: the fact that they are located on the border between the cold waters of the north and the tropical waters of the south attracts animals comfortable in both habitats. And who would not like to see them up close? Because, definitely, the magic that occurs when the fin of any of these animals appears on the surface of the water is unsurpassed.
Or just brag about the beaches with your people
Yes, we know that Instagram has become an open canvas where people from all over the world share the most enchanting settings on the planet; a unique opportunity offered by this social network to discover beautiful places beyond the most touristic and crowded itineraries. The Canary Islands are, without doubt, one of the most photogenic places in the world, given their diversity and the spectacular nature of their landscapes, many of which are intact and preserved from the human footprint. The archipelago also has a multitude of beaches where you can let yourself be carried away by the pleasant idleness, enjoy a dip, do water sports, walk along the sea shore… or have your picture taken in idyllic spots that will lead to admiration on social networks. Whether it’s the dune fields, fine beaches of golden sand, or landscapes of volcanic rock and black sand, there is no doubt that you should head for the Canary Islands. Places like Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas, Las Canteras, Corralejo, El Cotillo, Jandía, Papagayo, Famara, Cofete, La Francesa, etc. are well known and always rank among the best beaches in Europe. Although beyond these exceptional landscapes there are dozens more photogenic sites to photograph and make poses in the Canary Islands, as well as where to rest and enjoy… which in the end it is what it’s all about, right?
How to Have It All in Europe – Canary Islands, Spain
When most consumers think about European vacations, their minds first go to the greats: London, Paris, Rome. They picture historic sites and cobblestone streets, museums and moody skies. They agonize over the question, “Should I go to the beach, like I really, really want to … or should I traipse around an iconic city, like I also really, really want to?”
In truth, they can have both … if they choose their destination wisely! Although some of Europe’s beaches and coastlines are legendary like the French and Italian Rivieras, there are many, many parts of the great Continent that give travelers the best of both worlds.
Welcome to the Canary Islands edition of below-the-radar places where you can have city, sun, sand … and everything in between. Now on sale with flights with United Airlines!
CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN
Set west of northern Africa, off the shores of Western Sahara, south of Morocco, these islands in the Tenerife Sea (which got a shout-out by Ed Sheeran) are hauntingly unique. Although it’s technically a part of Spain, its culture is distinctly Canarian. Part of that means you’ll hear English in most restaurants, shops, and hotels, due to its popularity as a beach destination for Europeans … and Americans in the know. And similar to the Caribbean, they also have a lot of colonial history with unique spins of their own, and volcanic features that make it a nature-lover’s retreat.
For an old-timey feel, visit Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a seaside town on Grand Canary Island that was founded all the way back in 1478. This city was Spain’s first foothold in its westward expansion and as such, is a shining example of why this is nicknamed “Fairy Tale Island,” boasting features like a 16th century cathedral; 15th century Casa de Colon, one of Columbus’s stopovers before sailing out to the New World; and museums like the Museum of the Canary Islands, featuring pre-Hispanic culture. There are modern urban aspects to this city, too, to round it all out, but if you’d prefer to stay in the days of yore, the historic quarters of Santa Lucia de Tirajana and Aguimes, Fataga, Teror, and Arucas are musts.
Or, visit the former capital of the Canaries, San Cristobal de la Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s an architectural enthusiast’s Reniassance and Neoclassical dream come true. This is located in the main island of Tenerife, and served as an inspiration for the wall-less cities that were build in the American colonies. With a parish church that dates back to 1496, you can learn more about how it came to be in the History and Anthropology Museum in Casa de Lecaro, which was erected in 1593. With its perfectly preserved layout, you’ll be literally walking around an ancient city of the past in the present.
In La Palma, their Old Town lives on in Santa Cruze de la Palma, an ideal place for ogling 15th century wealthy merchant homes that remain preserved and pristine. As a former port and stop before the colonies, this was actually the third largest port in Europe, trailing only after Antwerp and Seville. You’ll find unique Flemish religious art across this city, along with architecture to match.
On Fuerteventura, you won’t find and old city, but they do also have an Old Town: Betancuria. This island is mostly for beach-goers, but for those who need a break from leisure (who are these people?), there’s this landmark town that was founded in 1404. A short stroll through this faith-forward heritage site offers a peek at the importance of religion back in the days of its founding.
The Canary Islands are well documented as a beach destination for savvy Europeans, magical with its thrilling landscapes of dramatic mountains and rainbow waters. As a matter of fact, its reputation as a seaside retreat stems all the way back to the 19th century, when its soothing climate and environs-“Change of Air,” as it was prescribed—became famous as cures for all manner of chronic ailments, from “melancholia” to gout, to peaceful way to battle the horrors of consumption.
Today, the R&R is promises is of a far more lighthearted nature, and is just as effective for restoring our “humours” or sense thereof. With eight islands surrounded by the purest of blue whale blues, you needn’t step far to find your remedy.
On Tenerife island, all the touristic hubs are on the south side, beneath Teide National Park, the most visited park in all of Europe and the highest peak on that continent, too. In fact, most of the calmer beaches lie to that direction on most of the islands, including Gran Canaria. But trace an outline around the islands as the dolphins, orcas, and whales just off the coast do, and you’ll find yourself enchanted by quiet pockets of peace, on dark volcanic sand, light golden granules, wild adventurous waves, small coves, and natural ponds and pools that promise salt water without the current.
La Palma is better known for hiking in its lush greenery as a Biosphere Reserve and certified Starlight Reserve status, best experienced at Roque de los Muchachos Astrophysical Observatory. In fact, it was the first Starlight Reserve in the entire world! However, that doesn’t mean it lacks the earthen charms of the other islands. Along with beaches that range from family-friendly to those with strong currents, there are also interesting natural pools in volcanic rocks, like Charco Azul and La Fajana.
For something totally different, head to The Different Island, Lanzarote. In fact, it’s often compared to Mars, thanks to a raw and otherworldly landscape. The geography is made up of lava fields, volcanic rocks, black and red earth, and deep blue seas; its alien-ness is further emphasized by the novelty of silence. A truly peaceful place for centering, balancing, and reconnecting with oneself, this biosphere reserve island offers touristic beachfront resorts, rural villages with villas and boutique hotels, and volcanoes galore to explore. For waterfronts, don’t miss pristine Papagayo Beach, one of the most popular beaches on Lanzarote on the calm south side, whose white sands, circular shell shape, and perfectly still emerald green waters lull you into lost hours on its white sands.
From here, you can also day trip to La Graciosa, “A Little Treasure” for even more remote unwinding. It’s another beachy island and so small that it has no paved roads at all. However, that shouldn’t stop you from renting a bike as so many others do, to explore every beach. No cars are allowed, but bicycle rentals and four walking trails are plenty.
Then there’s Fuerteventura’s wide expansive plains, studded with cacti to remind you of how close you are to the world’s most famous desert. The Sahara’s sands blow generously to this isle, which is what’s given it its nickname of The Beach of the Canary Islands. It’s low-key and unhurried … unless you’re chasing waves or wind, in which case, let the exhilaration loose! But unlike the other Canary Islands, there’s no big city in this region that embraces coastal living. Instead, picturesque towns, rolling hills, and over 93 miles of wide expanses of sand offer more to do than you have vacation days.
Secrets Lanzarote Resort & Spa and Secrets Bahia Real Resort & Spa from the Inclusive Collection, part of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, are ideal ways to take advantage of perfect year-round temperatures in those destinations.
The first offers a location in Puerto Calero Marina, close to Papagayo Beach and the volcanic Timanfaya National Park. The multilingual front desk can set you up to go to either, both, and back again, if you can pull yourself away from the romantic deep blue views of the ocean just below the hilltop resort. It’s also near the charmingly whitewashed, lively town of Puerto del Carmen for as close to an urban feel as you can get on an island known for quiet peace and solitude. This is where you’ll find nightlife and shopping, which makes Secrets Lanzarote an ideal position between all of these different vacation vibes in the most relaxing, least noisome of all the Canary Islands.
The second, a regal, palatial resort newly renovated as of 2021, is a graceful addition to a stretch of Atlantic beachfront and Saharan sands backed by amazing mountains that tower behind it. It’s at the tippy top north end of Fuerteventura in a popular resort area offering views that are absolutely exquisite. This sprawling Spanish Mediterranean low-rise resort curves around a golden bay and commands a wide vista of ocean and Isla de Lobos directly in front of everywhere you stand. Gorgeous hallways that feel like a modern palace, elegantly appointed rooms, and Natura Bisse® spa are all par for the course, but what makes it extra special is that it provides right-there access to Parque Natural de Corralejo and Volcanes de Bayuyo. This is the very oldest island of all the Canary Islands, so those sparse wilds are worth exploring.
Or, take the whole family to Tenerife itself, and stay at Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa, whose Arabic-style architecture and views of La Gomera island punctuate a stunning seafront. It doesn’t get much farther south than this tip of the island, which means calm beaches perfect for the littlest guests of this luxurious family-friendly property. Set on Costa Ajeje, one of the most exclusive touristic regions in Tenerife island, it’s also near Siam Water Park and Aqualand and its dolphinarium, as well as other resorts that have staked a claim in this high-demand neighborhood.