“This wasn’t a strange place; it was a new one.” - Paulo Coelho
The Canary Islands are famous for their mild climate and diverse geography. From arid and volcanic to lush and verdant, these Spanish islands are full of natural wonders and many great places for hikers. Whether you’re participating in water sports or visiting Spanish colonial buildings, the Canary Islands have something for everyone so let’s head to the Atlantic!
Learning Spanish Before Your Trip
The Canary Islands are part of Spain so Spanish is the main and official language so before you book your flights, you might want to take some Spanish lessons.
Even though there are some touristy parts, places like La Gomera and El Hierro are relatively quiet and in these places, you’re not as likely to find people who are used to tourists and speaking English. To avoid problems and misunderstandings, it’s a good idea to learn some Spanish. Of course, Spanish can be useful across the rest of Spain and Latin America and, to be fair, learning a bit of the language before you go is a good idea before you go anywhere as you’ll be able to enjoy your trip more once you get there. What better way to make the most of your trip to these wonderful places than breaking down the language barrier? Find out more about visiting Spain's main islands
Discovering the Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco. They’re classified as two provinces, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
There are 7 main islands:
- La Gomera
- Gran Canaria
- El Hierro
In a single trip, you can enjoy everything from a miniature Sahara to tropical forests and volcanic landscapes. This is also a great part of the world for those who love hiking and there are many excellent trails. Certain islands are seemingly uninhabited while others are filled with tourists so a trip to the Canary Islands can offer a lot of variation from white sandy beaches to isolated creeks covered in black volcanic rock. If you love nature, you have to go to the Canary Islands. If you're looking for a typical beach holiday with the kinds of attractions that most tourists go for, you'll want to stick to the bigger islands like Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, and Fuerteventura. However, for a more authentic brand of tourism, we recommend going to the smaller islands of El Hierro and La Gomera. Check out our article on visiting Majorca
Tenerife, a Surfer’s Paradise
This island is home to no less than 35 surfing spots. Snorkelers can also enjoy the water as they observe turtles, rays, and tropical fish. You can also enjoy Siam Park, one of the most popular waterparks in the world.
In Tenerife, you can visit excellent beaches like Tacoronte and Taganana or head to popular cities like Santa Cruz or La Laguna. These cities are home to a lot of colonial architecture with coloured facades and wooden balconies and after a walk around town, you can stop in a guachinche for a bite to eat. You have to try the fabada, a bean stew that’s popular across Spain and very much so on the island of Tenerife. You can also head up Teide, the world’s third-largest volcano. There are plenty of great places to walk along the coast, especially on the volcanic coast by La Candelaria and Los Cristianos. There are also picturesque villages like Masca, which has some breathtaking views. The view of the vegetation is worth the effort it’ll take to get up there. Finally, those who like partying will love the Carnaval de Tenerife, the second-largest in the world after Rio de Janeiro. Tourists from all over the world flock to the island in February to enjoy colourful costumes adorned with feathers, sequins, and tassels. Check out our guide to visiting Ibiza
Fuerteventura and Its Otherworldly Landscapes
The reddish lunar landscape of Fuerteventura has earned it the nickname “the Red Island”. This wild landscape is home to a lot of nature as can be seen in its famed Oasis Park, a nature reserve with over 3,000 animal species and a sublime botanical garden. It’s one of the best-preserved nature reserves on the planet. The village of Pàjara is home to many colourful flowers including bougainvillaea, hibiscus, and oleander.
Surfers will also tell you that this is the place to be for surfing or kitesurfing. The Playa Barca beach on the south of the island plays host to turquoise waters that would make you think you were in Thailand. This is a great place to discover the coastline by boat or through diving. The landscape changes drastically once you reach Anjuy. There are ochre, brown, and golden rocky craters. You’d think you were on the surface of the Moon. As you continue your trip, you’ll come across chalk caves and red earth before you find yourself back at the ocean. Here, the sand has mixed with volcanic rock and is black, contrasting spectacularly with the cobalt sky and turquoise waters. You can head to the Entallada lighthouse for some excellent views. On your way to the centre of the island, you should stop at La Oliva and Malpais de La Arena, a breathtaking area formed by volcanic activity. As you’ll have gathered, Fuerteventura is a land of contrasts and many colours that you won’t soon forget! Check out our guide to visiting Menorca
Grand Canaria, Spring Eternal
You can’t leave the Canary Islands without visiting Gran Canaria. The second-most populated island in the archipelago is home to Las Palmas, a popular destination for cultural visits and shopping. Don’t forget to visit the colonial district of Vegueta to the south of the city and visit:
- Columbus House
- Santa Ana Cathedral
- The Canarian Museum
- The Palacio Episcopal
- The Vegueta Market
Don’t forget to visit the Las Coloradas area of town with its beautiful coloured houses and palm trees. Triana is home to many bars, restaurants, and shops, which is where you can party in Gran Canaria. Once you’re out of the city, you can visit Maspalomas. You can travel there by camel across the sandy dunes to the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy one of Gran Canaria’s more unusual activities. On the way back, stop at Fataga, one of the island’s most beautiful villages. There are beautiful typical white houses surrounded by orchards. Many artists come here for inspiration. The town of Agüimes is home to a lot of small shops and local traditions. For those travelling with the family, kids will love the Cocodrilo Park where they can see crocodiles, turtles, lizards, and alligators at the largest reserve in Europe. Looking to make the most of the island’s nightlife? Head to Playa del Inglés, a beach resort with luxury hotels, bars, and clubs. The sun loungers will be waiting for you on the beach the day after if you overindulge. Your first trip to the Canary Islands won’t be your last as thanks to low-cost flights and last-minute bookings, you can enjoy these islands for a good price. Don’t forget to place the following on your itinerary:
- Lanzarote and the volcanoes.
- Walking around the vegetation on La Palma.
- Hiking to La Gayria volcano.
- Tasting local wines and produce.
- Roaming the paths of La Gomera.
- Stargazing from the viewpoints across the archipelago.
Of course, you might want to learn some Spanish before you travel to the Canary Islands. Are you ready to give it a go? If you're looking to brush up on your Spanish or learn some useful expressions before you go, you could always enlist the help of one of the many talented and experienced tutors on Superprof! No matter where you live, you should be able to find a tutor to teach you Spanish face-to-face, online, or in a group. Each type of tutorial has its pros and cons so think carefully about which option would be best for you. Face-to-face tutorials are tailored to the students, allowing them to learn exactly what they want and what they need to learn. While these are normally more expensive than the other types of tutorials, they're also the most cost-effective as you can guarantee that every minute of the lesson is spent teaching you what you need to know. For those on a budget, group tutorials are a good solution, especially if there are a few of you going on a trip and you all need to learn Spanish before you do. While you won't be able to enjoy tailored tutoring, you will be able to share the cost of the tutor's time with the other students in the class. Finally, if you can't find any tutors working nearby, you can always opt for online tutorials. Since the tutor doesn't need to travel, they'll usually charge less than they would for a face-to-face tutorial and with subjects like foreign languages, online tutorials can be just as effective.
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