Seven unmissable things to do in the Canary Islands on your holiday

Wondering whether holidays in the Canary Islands are the right choice for you? We’ve compiled a list of seven of the very best things to do, one for each of the seven Canary Islands

Whether you are drawn to the crystalline water of a white sand beach or the dramatic volcanic landscapes, the Canary Islands are always hiding something else up their sleeves that will amaze you. Thanks to their strategic location off the coast of Africa, this small group of islands enjoys all-year-round sunshine. This makes it an ideal destination 365 days a year. Forget about the 18-30s party reputation that the islands have earned themselves. That has long been left in the past. Nowadays tourism on the islands focuses on being sustainable and enjoying the natural beauty of the Canaries. There are so many things to do in the Canary Islands that will take you far away from the tourist hotspots. So, if you want a beach break or are on the hunt for the latest artisan finds, read on to discover our top 7 suggestions for an unmissable trip to this volcanic paradise. 

Seven experiences for seven Canary Islands

Situated in the Atlantic Ocean, the Canary Islands have plenty to recommend to visitors. But perhaps the most outstanding feature of this cluster of islands, whose people have their own distinctive accent and vocabulary, is that the climate remains mild and warm throughout the year. However, Canary Islands’ weather can sometimes change without warning in certain areas and at certain altitudes. There are seven islands: Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. They vary in size, and each has its own distinct character. This archipelago isn’t far from the coast of Africa. Still, it is so relatively close to mainland Spain that you could catch a last-minute flight and land on any of the islands within a couple of hours ready to enjoy Canary Islands sightseeing (four and a half hours from London, five from Berlin or six from Stockholm).

Did You Know? The Canary Islands were formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago? Tenerife is home to the volcano Mt. Teide, Spain’s highest mountain measuring 3718 meters in height

1. What to see in Canary Islands: Visit biosphere reserves and enjoy starry nights

Five of the islands have been declared Biosphere Reserves. They have more than 250 kilometres of beach, and light pollution is controlled. The sky is so clear and bright that it’s protected by the Sky Quality Law of the IAC (Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics).

The Canary Islands have three Starlight Reserves, areas in which the quality of the light at night (along with other cultural, scientific, natural or landscape features) is a top priority, and you’ll be blown away by the incredible stars. It is truly a Canary Islands must-see. Climb the highest point in Spain, Mt. Teide in Tenerife and view 83 of the 88 officially recognised constellations. Or, for the romantics out there, why not charter a yacht to gaze at the stars and enjoy a luxury dinner while you do so. 

Holidays in the Canary Islands don't just involve trips to the beach. Izaña Observatory, Tenerife.

2. Canary Islands points of interest: National Parks

The islands have no less than four National Parks, meaning there is no shortage of things to do in the Canary Islands for anyone who loves exploring the great outdoors.

La Palma has the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, Lanzarote has the Timanfaya and La Gomera has the Garajonay National Park. Last but not least, Tenerife has the Teide National Park which, apart from being the most famous, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the centre of the island, 15 kilometres in diameter and rising to a height of 3,718 metres, Teide is the highest mountain in Spain. Roam Teide like a true explorer, and the reward, apart from a feast of Canarian cuisine of papas con mojo, (Canarian wrinkly potatoes with a delicious sauce) on your return, will be the views of the Las Cañadas ridge and the Pico Viejo volcano. If you’re lucky and the sky is clear, you can even see the other islands. 

Did You Know? On the island of La Gomera, the local people have their own dialect which they use to communicate with each other by whistling. This is called ‘El Silbo Gomero’

3. The best beaches in the Canary Islands

You could choose your Canary Islands beach on the basis of its location or its surroundings… or based on the colour of its sand: golden, red, or even black.

Benijo beach, in Tenerife, is of volcanic origin and is truly spectacular, not only because of its dark-coloured sand but also because of the unique landscape in which it’s set.

The same may be said of Charco Verde on La Palma. Small, with sand as black as coal, it’s family-friendly and attractive in every sense of the word.

And if you’re on Lanzarote, do not miss Papagayo beach, with its fine golden sand, tempting turquoise waters and views of Fuerteventura. Going to the beach is one of the top Canary Island activities and you will not be short of choices.

Uncover the must-see things to do in the Canary Islands and enjoy fun in the sun all year round. 

4. Exciting things to do in the Canary Islands: water sports

There are more things to do on the Canary Islands beaches than just sunbathe, read or enjoy a picnic under your umbrella. You can also go walking, swimming, diving or surfing in the Canary Islands. If you’ve been surfing for a while, in the northwest of Lanzarote you’ll find El Quemao, where the wave is a succession of deep, fast tubes.

If the perfect long wave is what you’re looking for, you will find it at Derecha de Lobos, to the north of Fuerteventura. In Tenerife, practice windsurfing at El Medano, one of the Canary Islands’ top things to do or surfing at Taganana. If you really want to discover the underwater world, the Museo Atlántico in Lanzarote is Europe’s first underwater art museum, made up of pH-neutral concrete sculptures created by the artist Jason de Caires Taylor.

5. Canary Islands cuisine

If you’re a food lover, you might find it difficult to decide what to do in the Canary Islands every time a meal rolls around, as there’s so much choice. You will find the best Canarian cheese, made of goats’ milk, in Fuerteventura, La Palma, Gran Canaria and El Hierro. They all have dairies which are well worth a cheese-tasting visit. A visit to Lanzarote’s wineries is another of the best things to do in the Canary Islands. They have their own appellation of origin and some exceptionally good bodegas to delight visitors’ taste buds.

Surprisingly, Palma honey comes from La Gomera, and Fleur de Sel from La Palma.

And if you’re looking for the famous papas arrugás (‘Canarian wrinkly potatoes’, a traditional Canarian dish), order them in Tenerife.

Finish your culinary odyssey by sampling some of El Hierro’s quesadillas and raising a glass of Gran Canaria rum.

Be sure to try the typical dishes that make up the Canary Island cuisine. Papas con mojo

6. Canary Islands’ best places to visit: discover other-worldly landscapes

Unless you have plans to visit the moon, the closest thing to a lunar landscape you’ll ever see is at Vilaflor, Tenerife. A thirteen-kilometre trek, with a difficulty rating of medium-high, will make you feel like Neil Armstrong. Wear comfortable footwear and suitable clothing, as the hike takes five hours. The appeal of this landscape is in its culture as well as its geography, as it was envisaged by the multidisciplinary artist César Manrique, a native of Lanzarote. Manrique left his mark with miradores (viewing points), gardens, cultural centres…The Canary Islands culture is thriving, and you can also see his work during your holidays in the Canary Islands on the island of his birth (such as at the Cactus Garden), on Fuerteventura (the Mirador de Morro Velosa), on Tenerife (the Parque Marítimo), on La Gomera (the Mirador del Palmarejo) and on El Hierro (the Mirador de la Peña).

7. The best places to visit Canary Island: Hotels in the Canaries

Last but very much not least, you need to prioritise relaxation when you’re on your holiday. The hotel you choose plays an important role in determining whether you have a wonderful time or whether your whole holiday is a disaster.

To leave you with a good impression and eager to return as soon as you have a few consecutive days of holiday leave, we have three suggestions, all close to the Canary Island tourist attractions, of course.

The first is the Occidental Margaritas hotel on Gran Canaria, at the Playa del Inglés, one of the most popular beaches on the island. The second is the Fuerteventura Beach Resort on Fuerteventura, with the biggest spa on the island. Next, you have Barceló Tenerife, a beachfront hotel with 8 outside pools and an artificial lake for kayaking. The last is for those holidaying without children, the Barceló Teguise Beach – Adults Only on Lanzarote, a totally refurbished hotel with a relaxing U-Spa on the beachfront at Las Cucharas.

Discover our best places to visit in the canary islands for your holidays. Barceló Margaritas