What is the Best Canary Island to Visit? Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Island for Your Next Holiday

First published on October 12, 2023 and last updated on May 31, 2024

The Canary Islands, nestled off the African coast, form a Spanish archipelago that beckons tourists with its sun-kissed allure, pristine beaches, and laid-back ambiance. With seven main islands vying for attention, choosing the ideal destination can be a dilemma. So, let’s unravel the charms of the Canary Islands and pinpoint the standout features of each.

Understanding the Canary Islands

The seven Canary Islands are:

  • Tenerife
  • Gran Canaria
  • Lanzarote
  • Fuerteventura
  • La Palma
  • La Gomera
  • El Hierro

Tenerife, the largest jewel in this Atlantic crown, pulsates with life. Its vibrant nightlife and sought-after resorts make it a magnet for those seeking both excitement and relaxation. Meanwhile, Gran Canaria, adorned with dramatic sand dunes, invites you to explore its diverse landscapes, a testament to nature’s artistry.

Venturing to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura unveils an otherworldly beauty, as their volcanic landscapes stand in stark contrast to the azure waters that embrace their shores. The architecture, too, bears the mark of this unique environment, creating a visual symphony that enchants every visitor.

For those with a penchant for tranquility, the trio of La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro offer a different rhythm. Less populated and developed, these islands invite you to experience the unhurried charm of their landscapes. Nature lovers will find solace here, surrounded by the unspoiled beauty that characterises these less-traveled corners.

Yet, beyond the landscapes, the Canary Islands breathe history and culture. Influences from Spain, Africa, and Latin America weave a rich tapestry that colours the local way of life. The cuisine is a delightful fusion, featuring fresh seafood and unique Canarian specialties that tantalise the taste buds.

In essence, the Canary Islands stand as a versatile haven for all kinds of travellers. Whether you’re a sun-seeker, a hiker, or a culture enthusiast, they promise an experience that resonates with the beat of your own adventure.

Tenerife

As the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a haven for both adventure seekers and those yearning for a blissful beach retreat. Its diverse terrain unfolds like a captivating novel, with pristine beaches meeting rugged mountains, creating a symphony of experiences.

At the heart of Tenerife’s allure stands the majestic Teide National Park, home to Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak. The journey to its summit, accessible by a cable car, promises a panoramic spectacle that etches the island’s beauty into memory. Hiking enthusiasts can traverse a network of trails, unveiling the island’s unique flora and fauna along the way.

For sun worshippers, Tenerife’s coastline offers over 70 kilometers of sheer bliss. Whether your preference is golden sands or black volcanic beaches, the island caters to every taste. Playa de las Teresitas, with its crystal-clear waters and palm-fringed shores, stands as a testament to Tenerife’s coastal splendor.

As the sun sets, Tenerife transforms into a vibrant playground. Its nightlife, pulsating with energy, invites you to dance into the early hours. And let’s not forget the cuisine – Tenerife tantalises taste buds with delights like papas arrugadas and gofio, offering a delicious immersion into its culinary heritage.

In essence, Tenerife is a symphony of adventure, relaxation, and culture. Its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, and lively nightlife weave together to create an experience that lingers in the heart long after you’ve left its shores. It’s no wonder Tenerife stands as one of the most sought-after destinations in the Canary Islands.

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria, the third-largest of the Canary Islands, where every moment is a celebration of sun-soaked beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and a nightlife that comes alive under the stars.

At the heart of Gran Canaria’s allure lies Playa del Ingles, a vibrant resort town that beckons with its bustling energy, where the golden sands meet the azure waters, creating a haven for beach lovers. Here, a myriad of restaurants, bars, and shops line the streets, offering a delightful blend of tastes and experiences.

Venture a bit further, and the landscape transforms into a mesmerising spectacle at the Maspalomas Dunes. Stretching for miles along the coast, these sand dunes paint a picture of endless beauty. Whether you choose a camel ride through the undulating sands or simply soak in the panoramic views, the experience is nothing short of enchanting.

Sand dunes of Maspalomas, Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria, Spain

For the water enthusiasts, Gran Canaria is a playground of aquatic adventures. Dive into the depths with scuba diving or snorkelling, ride the waves with surfing, or harness the wind with windsurfing – the options are as boundless as the ocean that surrounds the island. And for a touch of luxury, embark on one of the best boat trips in the Canaries, from dolphin watching tours to private yacht charters.

In essence, Gran Canaria is a paradise for those seeking sun, sea, and sand. Whether you’re lounging on the beach, exploring the island’s natural wonders, or dancing the night away, Gran Canaria opens its arms to every kind of wanderer. It’s a destination where every dream of an idyllic escape becomes a vivid reality.

Lanzarote

Lanzarote, the eastern jewel of the Canary Islands, where a mesmerising blend of volcanic wonders, sun-kissed beaches, and perpetual warmth create an idyllic haven for seekers of relaxation and adventure.

At the heart of Lanzarote’s allure stands Timanfaya National Park, a testament to the island’s volcanic legacy. Geysers, hot springs, and lava fields paint a surreal canvas, inviting visitors into the captivating drama of the Earth’s forces. A guided tour, culminating at El Diablo restaurant, where culinary magic unfolds using the volcano’s heat, adds a taste of the extraordinary to the experience.

Descending into the depths of Lanzarote unveils the Cueva de los Verdes, a subterranean marvel shaped by volcanic forces over 3,000 years ago. Guided tours lead through underground lava tubes, where a play of lights illuminates the awe-inspiring formations. The journey extends to Jameos del Agua, a natural pool born from ancient eruptions, completing a journey through time and nature.

But Lanzarote’s enchantment isn’t confined to its depths. The island boasts some of the Canary Islands’ most beautiful beaches, and Playa Blanca, nestled on the southern coast, is a shining example. Here, sandy shores meet azure waters, providing the perfect backdrop for sun-soaked relaxation. Surrounding restaurants and bars offer a delightful pause to savor the moment and the views.

Lanzarote is a symphony of natural beauty and adventure. Its unique volcanic landscape, stunning beaches, and perennially warm weather beckon travellers to a destination that seamlessly blends the extraordinary with the serene. It’s no wonder Lanzarote stands proudly as one of the Canary Islands’ finest gems, waiting to be discovered and cherished.

Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura, the second-largest jewel in the Canary Islands’ crown, where stunning beaches, crystalline waters, and astunning landscapes await every adventurer and beach enthusiast.

With over 150 kilometres of coastline, Fuerteventura emerges as a haven for those who seek the sun-drenched embrace of sandy shores. Corralejo Beach, nestled in the north, stands as a testament to paradise, boasting fine white sand and turquoise waters that invite leisurely swims and sun-drenched repose. It’s also a playground for water enthusiasts, offering prime conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing, where the breeze and the waves dance in harmony.

Further south, Sotavento Beach unfolds with a long stretch of golden sand, lapped by the azure waves. Here, swimming and sunbathing become art forms, and the beach also doubles as a canvas for windsurfers and kitesurfers to showcase their skills.

Yet, Fuerteventura’s allure extends beyond its shores. The island’s landscapes are a canvas of contrasts, and Corralejo Natural Park captures this essence. Protected sand dunes and volcanic rock formations create a playground for exploration, beckoning hikers to unravel the island’s natural beauty.

For those with a thirst for history, Fuerteventura reveals its cultural tapestry through museums and historic sites. The Betancuria Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography stands as a portal to the island’s past, weaving a narrative that speaks to the soul of its history and culture.

Fuerteventura unfolds as a destination of limitless beauty, where pristine beaches, captivating landscapes, and a rich history and culture converge. Whether you seek the tranquility of sun-soaked shores or the adventure of exploring nature’s wonders, Fuerteventura invites you to embrace the extraordinary.

La Palma

La Palma, affectionately known as “La Isla Bonita,” where nature unfolds in all its splendor, and the skies open a celestial canvas for stargazers.

For nature lovers, La Palma is a paradise, anchored by the Caldera de Taburiente National Park. This haven for hikers and enthusiasts showcases Spain’s most exquisite natural beauty, featuring volcanic landscapes, lush forests, and crystalline streams. Trails wind through this idyllic landscape, offering everything from serene walks to challenging treks that reward the intrepid with sweeping vistas of the island.

Elevating La Palma’s allure to celestial heights is the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, a beacon for astronomers worldwide. Perched atop the island’s highest peak, it unveils some of the clearest skies on the planet, a celestial tapestry for stargazing enthusiasts.

Beyond its natural wonders, La Palma unveils a rich cultural tapestry. Historic towns and villages beckon exploration, with the capital city, Santa Cruz de La Palma, standing as a testament to colonial charm. Its well-preserved architecture and vibrant, colourful houses narrate tales of a bygone era.

La Palma is a destination that weaves a unique and authentic Canary Islands experience. With its lush landscapes, volcanic beaches, and a celestial spectacle that enchants stargazers, the island lives up to its moniker – “The Beautiful Island.” Whether you seek the embrace of nature, cultural exploration, or the cosmic wonders above, La Palma invites you on a journey of discovery and enchantment.

La Gomera

La Gomera, the serene gem nestled in the western embrace of the Canary Islands, where lush green forests, rugged landscapes, and tranquility define the essence of this laid-back haven.

At the heart of La Gomera’s allure lies the UNESCO World Heritage site, Garajonay National Park. A natural sanctuary, it unveils a unique ecosystem adorned with laurel forests and a rich tapestry of flora and fauna. Hiking through this park becomes a journey through time and nature, where every step is a communion with the island’s stunning scenery and the crisp embrace of fresh air.

The waters surrounding La Gomera offer a different kind of spectacle. Whale watching becomes a mesmerising adventure as the island sits in the migration path of majestic species like pilot whales and sperm whales. A boat tour provides a front-row seat to observe these creatures in their natural habitat, adding a touch of magic to your island experience.

For those inclined towards history and culture, La Gomera’s museums and historic sites offer a window into the past. Columbus House stands as a testament to the island’s role in history, as an important stop for Christopher Columbus on his historic journey to the Americas.

La Gomera, with its small population and relaxed vibe, is a haven for those seeking a more laid-back and nature-focused holiday. Its stunning scenery, unique ecosystem, and rich historical tapestry make it a destination that beckons with an irresistible charm. Whether you’re hiking through ancient forests, watching whales in their majestic grace, or exploring the echoes of history, La Gomera invites you to unwind and connect with the beauty of the natural world.

El Hierro

El Hierro is where rugged landscapes, pristine wilderness, and a celestial spectacle invite outdoor enthusiasts and stargazers alike.

As the smallest and least developed of the Canary Islands, El Hierro unfolds its charm in the raw beauty of its terrain. Outdoor enthusiasts find solace in its rugged and wild landscapes, a playground for exploration and adventure. The island’s reputation as one of the world’s best stargazing locations is well-earned, thanks to its clear skies and minimal light pollution, offering a celestial canvas for those who gaze upward.

El Hierro’s unique ecosystem is a testament to its commitment to preservation. Nature reserves and protected areas dot the island, inviting visitors to explore volcanic terrains, hike through lush forests, and plunge into crystal-clear waters. Amidst this bounty, rare and endemic species find a sanctuary, including the elusive El Hierro Giant Lizard.

Despite its small size, El Hierro boasts a rich cultural heritage, woven into the fabric of traditional festivals and celebrations that grace the island throughout the year. For a deeper dive into history and culture, the Bimbache Cultural Centre stands as a beacon, offering insights into the island’s past.

El Hierro is for those in search of a unique and authentic Canary Islands experience. Its natural beauty, diverse ecosystem, and cultural richness captivates the heart of every traveler. Whether you’re hiking through untamed landscapes, or marvelling at the stars, El Hierro promises an experience that transcends its size, making it a must-visit destination for those who seek the extraordinary.

Choosing the Right Island for You

In summary, the Canary Islands present a diverse range of experiences, each island offering its unique charm and attractions. The best fit ultimately depends on the preferences of the individual traveler.

Tenerife stands as the pinnacle for those craving a lively atmosphere with abundant nightlife and entertainment options. Gran Canaria, too, offers a vibrant nightlife scene coupled with stunning natural landscapes and outdoor adventures.

Families with children might find Lanzarote appealing, with its array of family-friendly attractions, including water parks and theme parks. Fuerteventura, with its expansive sandy beaches and calm waters, is also a family-friendly haven.

For those in pursuit of a tranquil and secluded holiday, La Palma and El Hierro emerge as serene escapes. Perfect for nature lovers, these islands boast hiking trails and scenic vistas that offer a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The Canary Islands cater to travellers of all ages and interests. With a delightful year-round climate, beautiful beaches, and diverse landscapes, this archipelago truly has something for everyone.