The Canary Islands are home to a wealth of natural beauty from looming volcanos and lush pine forests to sandy coves and miles of white beaches. Though most visitors tend to favour the islands of Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, the lesser known islands of La Gomera, El Hierro, Fuerteventura and La Palma are not to be overlooked. Each island has its own unique appeal and offers visitors stunning scenery and immersive actives.
The islands are renowned for their consistently good weather and dramatic landscapes, making them the perfect year-round destination for a relaxing, sun soaked holiday. Aside from the seafront resorts and golden sands, there is an abundance of prehistoric sites, museums and outdoor activities to be explored across all seven islands. Hike the meandering trails and mountain treks that criss-cross the islands or scuba dive the warm waters and marvel at the diverse species of fish, while adrenaline seekers can indulge in kitesurfing, windsurfing and surfing which are all big activities on the islands.
If art and architecture is more your thing then look out for the emblematic wooden balconies, leafy patios and brightly painted facades that line every street. Fans of surrealism should head to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, home town of world-acclaimed painter Óscar Domínguez, or explore the abstract sculptures of Martín Chirino and César Manrique which are a highlight of trips to Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.
Did you know?
The active Tenerife volcano of Mount Teide is the highest peak in the whole of Spain. Measuring 12,195 ft. from its ocean floor base, Mount Teide is also the third highest volcano in the world after Hawaii’s Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.
The Canary Islands obviously have a very heavy Spanish influence throughout, and gastronomy and the arts are an enormous part of their culture. The language, cuisine, and music are still rather unique however, with influences from the Caribbean and South America ever present due to centuries of emigration. There is no official religion of the Canary Islands, and many stricter customs have now given way to more modern and liberal manners, with most of the inhabitants adopting a live-and-let-live attitude. However, tradition remains strong throughout the islands with hospitality, chivalry and courtesy being important aspects of society.
Food and Drink
Although the food on the Canary Islands shares much in common with that of the Spanish mainland, there are several distinctions that make their cuisine unique. Taking inspiration from Latin American and nearby Africa, a staple of Canarian cuisine is papas, a potato, garlic, cumin and paprika dish which is served with nearly every meal. Fish soups and goat meat are also very common, and local Spanish wines and spirits are of the highest quality and best value. You will find an abundance of fresh produce on the menu with Bananas, tomatoes, avocados and papayas all grown locally and widely consumed throughout the islands.
The archipelago enjoys a rich history dating all the way back to the 1st century, when Roman explorers first came across the islands. Although many ruined buildings were discovered and fleeting encounters made, not much is known about the indigenous people of the Canary Islands, and it wasn’t until the 14th century that Europeans started to settle on the islands. Accepting their first European monarch, Jean de Bethencourt, in the 15th century, the Canary Islands began to prosper as a result of their cultivation of sugar cane and wine and became a stopover for merchants leaving the New World. The following years saw many challenges for control of the Canaries including Nelson’s attack on Santa Cruz in 1797 and island rivalries which split the Canaries into two provinces in 1927. Perhaps the most notorious period in the Canary Islands’ history came when General Franco occupied, and took control of the islands, using them as a launchpad for the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. After the establishment of a democratic constitutional monarchy in Spain, autonomy was granted to the Canary Islands in 1982, with the first autonomous elections held the following year.