15 Best Things to Do in Canary Islands, Spain

The Canary Islands have been one of the popular destinations in Spain among tourists for several decades now. When you think of the Canary Islands, Spain’s furthest territory from the European mainland, images of a thriving nightlife, long beaches shaded by all-inclusive hotels and drunk British tourists will pop to your head, probably due to the fact that that’s the way the main islands are—Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote.

The other three — El Hierro, La Gomera and La Palma—are not exactly a sun-and-sea destination, but they are renowned for their nature and culture. Still, even these haven’t escaped mass tourism and all the negative aspects that come with it.

One of the many things about traveling is meeting other people and sharing stories. And I thought I'd share a gem of a place out in the Canary Islands of Spain to inspire a few of you other travelers.

Those that are looking for another vacation spot or a new place to venture to, look no further than the Canary Islands. While the islands are officially a part of Spain, the culture is a bit different, and so is the location. Geographically, the Canary Islands are much closer to Africa than to mainland Spain.

Because of this, you will find amazing weather and interesting local foods when visiting the Canary Islands. The climate of the Canary Islands guarantees high temperatures and an ideal time, whatever the date on the calendar. Here is an essential guide for first-time visitors.

Being an archipelago, the Canary Islands consist of seven different islands and they have wildly different shapes and structures. You will find everything from mountains and green areas to volcanoes and deserts.

If you're visiting Spain, a trip to the Canaries should always be considered. The islands are truly amazing if you are into natural attractions, and almost all tourists are very impressed when they visit. Aside from that, you will find some of the best beaches in the world!

The two islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the most inhabited islands and also the most popular ones among travelers. It helps that they have international airports - and aside from providing nice beaches and great weather, these two islands also offer many interesting side activities.

Tenerife's main city, Santa Cruz, is a great place to go. The same can be said for Las Palmas, the main city of the Gran Canaria island. Both cities are historic and great to visit. But with that said, most of the main attractions in the Canaries are related to nature - so it is highly recommended to explore the more unknown parts of the islands if you intend to visit. But more about that later.

The name speaks for itself but this can be very much misleading! As the birds have been named after the islands and not the other way around, now these birds are not the yellow little fliers that pops up in your mind but the Latin translation of Islas Canarias. Monk seals which means the sea dogs. These are the inhabitants of Macaronesian Islands.

These islands have been formed due to volcanic eruptions since the 14th century. Mount Teide is the highest range in the Spanish territories. The islands enjoy their own micro climate which can be moist moon deserts or verdant rainforests. Seawater which harbours in the lake of El Golfo crater glows green due to the presence of algae, this creates an elegant view contrasting to the dark surroundings of volcanic rocks.

This particular island is blessed with two capitals which are equally active, one being Santa Cruz and the other is Las Palmas. These islands are a great location for a getaway from the busy casual days.

Things to do in Canary Islands

Here are the best things to do in the Canary Islands:

1. Siam Park

Dotted with spectacular world-class beaches and manmade ones with the sand imported from Sahara, Spain’s Canary Islands are always the best choice for a family outing. Especially, Tenerife Island, which is the largest of the group offers wide-range of holiday experiences. Housing the world’s largest water park and most visited national park, this island offers thrilling water slides and wave pools.

It is a great place for children. The amazing shark tank and the activities like paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkeling gift the best vacation ever for the kids.

2. Mount Teide

This island has so much to offer. Pristine beaches - mostly black sand, volcanoes, the TALLEST mountain in Spain (Mount Teide), some of the best hiking trails, and some amazing city life with international restaurants and even the charming coastal villages for a nice getaway. Tenerife is also the second best place in the entire world for stargazing.

3. Playa de Benijo

Tenerife is one of the most famous wedding destinations in Spain for its natural landscapes, but above all for the high quality of its beaches. On this Spanish island you will find all kinds of coastline, both for lovers of nature in its purest state, for those who like water sports or those who want to rest quietly and spend a day with the family. Some of the most recommended beaches in your visit to Tenerife are for example the Playa de Benijo.

4. Playa de la Arena

One of the most unique landscapes of the island is located in the town of Taganana and where you will surely fall in love with its views. The Playa de la Arena, in Tacoronte, a coast of black sand is a highly recommended visit with the family. Playa del Socorro, in Los Realejos, is characterized by being perfect for surfing in Spain, but also perfect for those who want to rest.

5. Playa Jardín

Playa Jardín or San Marcos Beach is of volcanic origin with its unique black sand, in addition to its beautiful natural landscapes. You cannot miss the opportunity to practice water sports such as windsurfing or the south on coasts such as El Cabezo Beach or Punta Blanca Beach.

But for diving lovers, visit coastal areas such as the Los Gigantes cliffs, the Palometa or Carbonero, perfect regions for the practice of this sport and to discover the beautiful marine biodiversity of Tenerife. If you want to enjoy a pure and natural Tenerife in a hidden corner full of flavor and charm.

Garachico is your ideal place at the northwestern end of the Isla Baja, between the sea and a long slope that rises vertiginously, with a spectacular climate of eternal spring. The urban landscape of Garachico reinforces the idea of walking before a Canary Islands that was. You can go jumping between the rocks and even reach the open sea to bathe.

These volcanic stones, the same that once buried a large part of what was this town, today represent part of the essence of Garachico.

6. Plaza de España

Most likely, you will be staying close to either Santa Cruz in Tenerife, or Las Palmas in Gran Canaria: Simply because they have the widest selections of hotels and holiday apartments. If that is indeed the case, you can enjoy those cities by checking out the local monuments, museums and nearby beaches. Santa Cruz has a famous carnival.

El Hierro, one of the smaller islands, also offers some great sights along with scuba diving. Head up to Mirador de la Peña to see some unique architecture and to get a great view out over the Atlantic Ocean. Fun fact: El Hierro was once believed to be the westernmost location in the world!

7. Teide National Park

But you will definitely find the best attractions when getting out of the main cities and into the nature. On the island of Tenerife, you should visit the Teide National Park. Teide is a giant volcano, usually with the top covered with snow. For another dramatic view, visit the Los Gigantes cliffs which is a great place to watch the sunset - and among the most popular things to do in the Canary Islands among tourists.

8. Roque Nublo

The Canary Islands are a great destination for the family. Besides beautiful beaches there is more to experience and see as the island of Gran Canaria is lined with an interesting and long history. A day trip and city tour of cozy Las Palmas is recommended! In Las Palmas you can take a guided tour and learn about locations used in films such as Allied with Brad Pitt, Grand Piano with Elijah Wood, popular The Titan and the great classic Moby Dick.

The small town of Teror is also worth a visit, particularly because of the beautiful architecture. The streets are filled with cobblestones and the houses are incredibly colorful. Make that way, go to the Meloneras and enjoy luxurious days at a beautiful hotel. Meloneras is for those who want that little extra.

If you prefer, in La Oliva you can practice any of the water sports offered, such as surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing or bodysurfing during your Europe beach honeymoon.

If you're looking for a natural sight in Gran Canaria, check out Roque Nublo, a large stone that has been shaped by the wind throughout the years. The rock is about 80 meters tall, and if you’re feeling up for it, you can actually climb it!

In the island of Gran Canaria, you should absolutely see the majestic Cathedral of Acuras. It is huge, and it is one of the few things that will be reminiscent of the northern part of mainland Spain.

In the Chinijo archipelago there’s an island that managed to stay intact despite having all the qualities of its more famous neighboring islands? That’s La Graciosa (which means the pretty one), a 29 km² (11 sq mi) island just less than a mile away from Lanzarote.

Since there are no paved roads and because of the very restricted accommodation offering (just a handful of spartan apartments in Caleta del Sebo, the only settlement, so forget about luxury and comfort), the island is still a very well-hidden gem in a not-so-hidden archipelago.

The only way to reach La Graciosa is by ferry from Orzola, the Northernmost settlement in Lanzarote. In order to get around, you can either hire a (quite expensive) taxi jeep, or rent a bicycle, which due to the limited extension of the island is the best choice.

La Graciosa offers several opportunities: from untouched sandy beaches to hiking in the volcanoes, to interacting with a genuine local population that is always ready to help and willing to have a friendly conversation. The best thing about a week-long vacation in La Graciosa is that you can detach yourself from the world and detox yourself from technology.

In a country like Spain, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world where almost every inch of the coast has been settled by the Brits and where it’s easier to find a place offering English breakfast than a restaurant that cooks paella, a place like La Graciosa is a secret getaway from mass tourism in Spain.

Playa La Francesa, the most famous beach, has the most pristine waters you can think of. Between 11 AM and 3 PM during the summer it’s assaulted by tourist boats from Lanzarote that stop in front of it to allow its passengers to swim. In the early morning and after the last afternoon boat has left, it becomes your private paradise.

Playa Montaña Amarilla can be reached with a 10 minute’s walk following the coast from La Francesa. It’s a small sandy bay at the base of a tall, vertical, orange cliff, and it’s easily the most beautiful natural spot of the island. You can walk on the flat rocks at the base of the cliff for a few hundred meters, until you reach the Southernmost point of the island.

Playa del Salado is the closest to Caleta del Sebo, as well as the longest of the island. It’s a lagoon-style beach with shallow waters and it’s heavily affected by the tides.

9. Montaña Clara

Playa de las Conchas is the only beach on the Western side of the island. It’s a large sandy area that lies at the feet of a volcano. You can easily arrive on top, as its slopes aren’t very inclined. With its huge waves and constant wind, this beach is perfect for surfers and windsurfers. It’s also an amazing spot to see the sunset. The inaccessible Montaña Clara Island lies just a few miles in front of this beach.

10. Roque de los Muchachos

No matter where in the Canaries you are, you should set aside one night to stay awake until the next morning. Due to its location and high mountains, you can see the stars very clearly on most nights. Professional astronomers regularly travel to the Canary Islands. Be sure to visit the Teide Observatory or the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory if you are into astronomy.

11. Parque Natural de Corralejo

Corralejo in the province of La Oliva is located in Fuerteventura in the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands. In summer the extensive beaches of fine sand that cover the region concentrate most of the population. The best dates to travel to Corralejo correspond with the low season.

Among the centers of greater agglomeration is the Parque Natural de Corralejo, from where the excursions to the Lobos island depart.

12. Fuerteventura

To finish, nothing better than an approach to the varied gastronomy of Fuerteventura. Most of the typical Canarian dishes are based on fish, among which the traditional sancocho stands out.

13. Timanfaya National Park

From the north of Fuerteventura, when visiting Corralejo you can take a ferry to Lanzarote. If one of the most emblematic natural sanctuaries in the world, such as the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador or the Marine Park of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia escape from your possibilities, do not despair.

Lanzarote, in Canary islands in addition to being a Biosphere Reserve, has the Timanfaya National Park and boasts the Biosphere Responsible Tourism certification. 100% Sustainable tourism.

Lanzarote is a whim of nature, molded gracefully by a volcanic past and the right hand of man. The lunatic image of the Timanfaya National Park, the Jameos del Agua, the Cueva de los Verdes, the Mirador del Río stands out.

14. Playa del Ingles

Gran Canaria has dozens of well-known films produced - much because of its beautiful climate, great hotels and fantastic landscapes. Scenes from "Black Mirror" was created in the middle of the island's heart and beautiful village - Tejeda. Several Scandinavian productions have also used the Gran Canaria as a shooting location.

Playa del Ingles is a wonderful resort with beautiful promenade and an equally great nightlife. Here you get much holiday for the money.

15. Caldera de Taburiente National Park

The caldera is about 10 km across, and in places the walls tower 2000 m over the caldera floor. The highest point is the Roque de los Muchachos on the northern wall, at 2426 m altitude, which can be reached by road. The telescopes of the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory are situated very close to the summit.

Facts about the Canary Islands

• Despite being far away from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands are a Spanish territory. Historically, the islands were an important stopover during the age of discoveries. Due to the location in the Atlantic Ocean, the islands are considered a bridge between the continents of Europe, Africa, North America and South America.

• Travelers headed for South America would usually stop in the Canary Islands in the past. Some chose to stay, and that became the foundation of the current Canary population.

• The Canary Islands have a bit over two million permanent inhabitants. Spanish heritage is most common with around 80% of the population being Spaniards. Around 20% of the population is foreign-born. It’s common to meet Colombians, Venezuelans, Moroccans, Cubans and Portuguese people on the islands.

• Spanish is the official language, but the accent is quite different than in mainland Spain - and it almost sounds like a Venezuelan accent!

• Ever since the conquest of the islands, Roman Catholicism has been the dominant religion, although several other religions have gained popularity in recent years.

• Most tourists come from the United Kingdom and Germany. There is also a fair share of Spanish visitors coming in from the mainland, although they are classified as domestic tourists and not foreign travelers.

• Overall, it is estimated that the Canary Islands get around 15 million visitors per year, with Tenerife and Gran Canaria being the largest contributors to this number.

However, Spain has a lot to offer, so be sure to read up on other nice destinations as well. The mainland cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are among the best.
Kalyan Panja