The Canary Islands, a beautiful Spanish archipelago located off the coast of northwestern Africa, is a group of seven volcanic islands each known for their very different landscapes and terrain. The seven islands are Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro.
For one week, I stayed on the beautiful island of Gran Canaria in the capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The Canary Islands are quite undiscovered when it comes to tourists visiting from North America, which intrigued me even more. Every city, including the capital was quite quiet throughout the day and I only ran into tourists from other parts of Europe, Australia and a few from Northern Africa.
If you’re looking to travel to a place that has great weather, beaches galore, relatively small crowds, amazing people and lots of history and culture, than make sure you book a ticket to the Canary Islands and explore this stunning archipelago.
Here are my top 10 reasons why you need to visit the Canary Islands.
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Delicious Food & Drink
If you love food (and who doesn’t?), you’ll be in culinary heaven once in the Canary Islands. I always tell people that in order to gain a unique and authentic travel experience, you NEED to eat the local food at any chance you get as the cold beers flow in the restaurants and the jovial locals make you try a shot of the local rum. Local produce such as cured dry meats, flavourful cheese, crusty breads, fresh seafood and the best olives you’ll ever eat are just some of the delectable treats waiting for you in the Canarias. With an array of choices on all the menus, how can one even choose what to try? Some of my favourite foods I tried were the green peppers, Pimientos de Padron, Spanish egg and potato omelet, Tortilla Española or my absolute weakness, papas arrugadas, which are boiled wrinkly potatoes that are always served with mojo rojo (a spicy red salsa) and mojo verde (a savoury green salsa made with either coriander or parsley). Some other great foods to try are Gofio (toasted grain flour) served with large red onion slices for scooping up, Queso Asado, a local Canarian smoked goats’ cheese, usually lightly fried or baked in the oven to perfection and of course, an array of delectable meats and fresh seafood. Oh, and churros…eat the churros. You won’t go hungry, trust me!
Variety Of Islands To Visit
The Canary Islands each have their own unique landscapes and vibe. If you want to feel like you are on another planet, visit Fuerteventura. Looking for an island that has greenery, views, insanely twisty roads and a hip capital city? Hit up Gran Canaria. If you are searching for some solitude and very little crowds, then go to La Gomera. If you want sprawling resorts and parties, then go to the most popular tourist island of Tenerife. With so much variety between these islands, why not visit a few during your stay by breaking up your holiday on two, or three different islands. With cheap flights and ferries, they are all easily accessible from one to the next.
Read more: Welcome To Fuerteventura
The Canary Islands are filled with tiny beautiful villages just waiting to be explored. Make sure to visit some of these hidden gems during your visit, roam the colourful streets lined with typical Canarian style architecture and pop into the local restaurants to indulge in some great tapas.
It’s Cheap & Affordable
Every traveller knows that the art of getting a good deal while overseas feels like winning the lottery and while in the Canary Islands, you will feel like you’ve won the ultimate traveller jackpot. The Euro goes a long way over in the Canary Islands compared to western European countries and cities, so if you’re looking to score a deal on accommodations, food, activities and more, then the Canarias is the place for your next international vacation.
Something For Everyone
Whether you’re a beach going sun lover, an adventure junkie, or a travelling foodie, the Canary Islands has something to appease any sort of traveller. Take a free walking tour one day, hit up a local rum distillery the next, eat your weight in tapas, and then lounge on one of the hundreds of sandy beaches that this remarkable archipelago has to offer. If adventure is your game, take a boat out on the water, try your hand at parasailing, and even visit the sand dunes at Maspalomas and visit the nude beach, if you dare.
Read more: Things To Do In Las Palmas De Gran Canaria
Great For Motorcyclists
For the ultimate adrenaline rush, why not ride a motorcycle in the Canary Islands. Gran Canaria showcases beautiful scenery, epic flowing roads and has motorcyclists enjoying sunny year-round riding conditions. If you do head to the islands to ride, I suggest an intermediate to advanced level of riding because of the technical terrain and dangerous curvy roads with sheer cliff drops into the Atlantic Ocean. I rented my motorcycle from Canary Ride Motorcycle Rentals based in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Their motorcycle fleet includes some incredible machines for any style rider that wants to experience the twists and turns that Gran Canaria’s roads have to offer, such as the Ducati Multistrada 950, Yamaha Tenere 700 and the Honda Africa Twin 1000. Canary Ride also offers day tours, or you can rent on your own to explore the island at your leisure. You can also take their bikes on the ferries, so you can explore the surrounding islands as well.
Laid Back Attitude
If you are a person that likes to rush around and get prompt service at restaurants, then maybe Canary Islands isn’t for you. The Canarian lifestyle is a slow paced and easy going one, which will have you feeling relaxed in no time. Late morning wake-ups, long lunches and late suppers followed by late night beers and tapas are all part of the Canary Islands vibe. Throw your schedule out the window and enjoy the carefree slow flow of Canarian culture.
Its Beautiful Climate & Scenery
The Canary Islands are known for its sunshine and stunning views. Gran Canaria for example, which is the third largest island in the Spanish archipelago, only has about 20 days of rainfall a year and an incredible 3,000 hours of sunshine annually, making it one of the sunniest places in the world. Add in its year-round spring and summer temperatures, and it’s one of the best places to visit. Gran Canaria is considered the “mini continent” of the islands due to its diverse climate, terrain and topography, which draws many European holiday makers year after year. Make sure to drive the GC-200 in a car, or by motorcycle, to witness some of the most sublime coastal views in the world.
Easy To Get Around
During my recent visit to the Canary Islands, I decided to rent a lovely apartment in the heart of the bustling urban capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. I wanted to be close to the beach, walking proximity to the sites and restaurants and close to accessible public transit and my apartment’s location had checked all the boxes. The apartment was situated a block away from the beautiful golden sands of Playa de Las Canteras (Las Canteras Beach) and boasted great views of the Atlantic Ocean and mountains right from my balcony. I stayed in an older residential building, which was filled with locals, rather than tourists, which made my stay feel way more authentic. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is an incredibly walkable city, but if the weather isn’t ideal for walking, or the distance you want to travel within the Las Palmas region is a little more than you’d want to walk, then you can hop on one of the blue buses run by the company called Global to get around to surrounding areas outside of the main city limits. If you are travelling within Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, then make sure to hop on the local yellow buses called Guaguas , which Canarians pronounce wa-wa. If you want to visit the other islands, you can hop on a ferry, or if you’re feeling adventurous, do what I did and take a cheap day trip flight to the neighbouring islands and rent a car and explore.
History fanatics will be happily impressed with all of the sites located throughout the Canary Islands. Betancuria is nestled within the inner valleys of Fuerteventura and was once the old capital city of the island and was declared Parque Natural de Betancuria (Betancuria Natural Park) due to its incredible biodiversity, beautiful landscapes and its historical significance. Within the mountains and far away from the coast, Betancuria has survived the passage of time and has retained the charm and beauty of over 600 years ago. In Arucas on Gran Canaria, San Juan Bautista Cathedral Arucas is home to the largest Neo-Gothic cathedral on the island and is covered in gorgeous details, both inside and out. Its construction took many years and started in 1909 and was officially completed by 1977. Teror is considered to be the religious centre of Gran Canaria, so visiting Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pino should most definitely be on your list of places to visit. Teror’s main fiesta is in honour of Our Lady of the Pine. Every year on September 8th, pilgrims will walk on foot to Teror from the island’s capital city Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The pilgrims will carry offerings to the Virgin in exchange for praying for something they want in return. Last, but certainly not least, step back in time in Vegueta, which is home to some of the most historical parts on Gran Canaria. Casa de Colón (Columbus’ house), is an impressive colonial styled mansion situated in the heart of Vegueta, which once belonged to the first governors of Gran Canaria and was where Columbus stayed during his stops in the Canary Islands en route to the Americas.
Read more: A Day Trip To Teror On Gran Canaria
Read more: A Day Trip To Arucas On Gran Canaria
If you have never heard of the Canary Islands, has this post convinced you to visit these hidden Spanish island gems for your next vacation? If you’ve been to the Canarias, which islands did you visit and what did you do there? Let me know in the comments below! xo