When it comes to winter sun destinations, it’s pretty hard to beat the Canary Islands. Boasting spring-like climes all year round, they provide a very welcome reprieve from the blustery winds and persistent rain of the UK’s winter. Below, I’ll give you a broad overview of the islands, as well as a brief introduction to some of their top holiday destinations.
The Canary Islands – an overview
Volcanic in origin, the Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Known for having one of the best climates in Europe, their average annual temperature is 21 degrees C, and they receive roughly 3,000 hours of sunshine a year – that’s a lot of time to sunbathe in!
The seas are similarly balmy, having an average annual temperature of between 18 and 23 degrees C. These spring-like conditions have made these islands an understandably popular place for winter sun holidays and cruises (you can find out more about the latter on this website). Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria prove particularly popular year after year, and we’ll take a quick look at what each has to offer below.
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is an ever-popular holiday hotspot – it’s one of those places with an undeniable mass appeal. This is largely because what it has to offer is so varied – think a culture-filled capital, a stunning national park and a coastline adorned with beautiful beaches.
Indeed, if you have more than relaxing on the sand in mind, then Tenerife won’t disappoint. One of the best places to head to if you like the sound of walking is Teide National Park, which is home to Spain’s tallest volcano – Mount Teide. If you’re feeling energetic, you can take a guided walk to the top; alternatively, the cable car can do the legwork for you. Either way, you’ll get some great views.
There are also plenty of golf courses in Tenerife, including Golf del Sur and Golf Costa Adeje, as well as theme parks for families and the cultural capital city, Santa Cruz.
While all the Canary Islands can claim gorgeous landscapes as one of their attractions, Lanzarote’s really stand out. This is largely because much of its terrain is almost lunar-like in its appearance – a phenomenon that’s down to its volcanic origins.
As you might expect, discovering this is one of the highlights of any trip here. Timanfaya National Park is the best place to do so, though to explore it fully you must remember to organise your visit through one of the local Visitors Centres. Doing so isn’t hard and is certainly well worth it – the otherworldly-looking lava fields stretch all the way out to sea.
Lanzarote is also famous for its associations with the artist and architect Cesar Manrique, who was born on the island. To learn more about the man and his work, head to the Cesar Manrique Foundation, which is set up in his former home. He built this himself, using five natural volcanic bubbles as the main rooms – something that introduces you to his key ethos of harmony with nature.
Last on my list is Gran Canaria, another attraction-packed island that boasts that all-important good weather. What’s great about this destination is that it offers quite different kinds of holidays – for those keen to throw themselves into the bustle of the city, for example, there’s the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
If, however, you fancy spending some quiet time in beautiful, natural surroundings, you’ll no doubt welcome the news that the western part of the island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that’s packed with pretty beaches, glorious countryside, forests full of canary pines (a native tree species) and great walking routes.
Can’t decide between the three islands? Well, that’s the beauty of the cruise option – you could really pamper yourself and visit all three!