Partially re-posted from Conde Nast
8 Best Canary Islands to visit
May 18, 2020
This Spanish archipelago lies off the North-West Coast of Africa, Morocco, on the exposed tips of a vast volcanic mountain range beneath the Atlantic Ocean with black and white sand beaches. These irresistible Islands offer a beautiful combination of the Moroccan and Spanish flavors, with a year-round sunshine dazzling over the diverse natural scenery landscapes. Opposite to many expectations, the Canary Islands are immensely rich in both original art and architecture, with enormous abstract sculptures of Martin Chirino that are impossible to miss on Grab Canaria and Cesar Manrique’s inspired interventions that pop up all over Lanzarote Island. The varied scenery of the islands is fascinating, with Tenerife Island having the highest peak on the Canary Islands, getting up close to these volcanoes brings you closer to the very essence of the archipelago and allows you to understand and enjoy its personality, flavor, traditions, and culture. These volcanic islands are a true testament to the forces of nature. Its hallmarks can be seen in the spectacular lunar landscapes, which surprise you with the amount of life they harbor, a good example being the vine crops used in the production of the exquisite Canarian wines.
Tenerife, The largest of Spain's Canary Island
The island of Tenerife is part of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife province, which includes La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro. As the largest and most developed of the Islands, Tenerife is the island of a thousand experiences. Tenerife Island has the third-highest volcano in the world at 3,718 meters, situated at the Teide National Park- Mount Teide. The Teide National Park, Teide Observatory – The largest Solar Observatory in the world, and La Laguna’s old-town with its colonial structures boasts several UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE in the Canary Islands. Tenerife, as a unique city, also offers a great variety of options, exclusive accommodations, nature, and science all just waiting to be discovered. Get Lost in nature, relax on the beach, hike Mount Teide, go shopping, walk on the old-town cobbles, and have fun at a theme park. Fill yourself with energy and an endless selection of activities but, above all, the Art In Voyage team can never let you leave Tenerife without trying the food, Sit on a terrace with sea views and taste the local shrimps, what a delicious experience.
Fuerteventura, The Second Largest on Canary Islands
The second largest of Spain’s Canary Islands sits in the Atlantic ocean just 60 miles off the African coast. Discover a pristine coastline with emerald green waters and over 90 miles of white sand beaches. Between beach and beach, the island’s offers a must-visit cheese-making traditional factory as one of the island’s designation of origin of Majorero cheeses. From the sandy beaches with majestic Mount views and sand dunes to the old towns, explore Betancuria Old Town – Once the island’s capital, it’s now its main cultural attraction with an archaeological museum that shows you how its ancient inhabitants lived and at the Atalayita Village, The Archaeological Interpretation Center is the island’s most significant historic site, with ancient aboriginal houses built into lava-formed walls.
A multi-faceted favorite with travelers who want to combine some dedicated beach action with mountain hikes and visits to historical towns, the third-largest island in the archipelago is arguably the most diverse of the lot. Gran Canaria is a fantastic family destination with almost 40 miles of beaches and a Biosphere Reserve in the west. It’s a miniature continent where you’ll find things to do that make every day special. Sail out to watch whales, walk in the Canary pine forests, have fun at a water park, wander its shopping streets, visit museums, or… just relax on a beautiful beach. A new landscape every day. This surprising mix of desert and oasis in south Gran Canaria is a unique and beautiful natural area with a huge range of ecosystems. The dunes, constantly molded by the wind, change their appearance every day and are one of the main attractions in the area.
La Gomera, the second-smallest of the main islands in Spain’s Canary Island chain. Devotees swear this is the most authentic Canarian island, a pint-sized delight with some of the best cuisine in the archipelago dished out of backstreet tavernas, a vibrant craft scene and a lingering local lingo – Silbo Gomero – comprised of whistling sounds that carry messages up to three miles to neighboring villages. San Sebastián is the island’s capital, where restaurants serve watercress soup and fiery papas arrugadas (Canarian wrinkly potatoes), and potters can be seen spinning traditional ceramics in open-air workshops. For an island that measures just 22 miles from east to west, it somehow packs in 400 miles of dedicated trails, and it was awarded World Biosphere Reserve status in 2011.
The least developed, second-smallest, and most South-Western of the eight main Canary Islands, El Hierro is beloved by responsibly minded travelers for its small-scale, largely family-run enterprises, undulating hillsides dotted with wildflowers and for being entirely self-sufficient with renewable energy. Criminally overlooked, El Hierro is romantic, remote and a haven for hikers, kayakers, snorkelers, and surfers. As a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, more than half of the island is pristine wilderness, and forward-thinking regulations prohibit the construction of buildings higher than two floors.
The greenest island in the archipelago, La Palma is dedicated to nature, its black-sand beaches spared the mass development of the larger islands with their white sands. Canarians call the island ‘La Isla Bonita’ (the Pretty Island), and the capital Santa Cruz de La Palma is an architectural delight, with a 16th-century old town lined with grand, balcony and whitewashed manors and residences. In 1983 La Palma was the first Canary Island to be designated a Biosphere Reserve, and it remains one of the quietest spots in the Canaries, the choice of travelers who prefer low-key luxury and natural abundance over the glitz and glamour of the island’s big sisters.
The unique landscapes form a valuable ecosystem that is recognized internationally. It’s an ideal environment to relax and lose yourself among the volcanoes, lava tubes, and pristine beaches. Stop and take in in the peace: You’ll feel like you’re visiting another world. This has always been the Canary Island of choice for those looking for a holiday less ordinary. Geologically extreme and culturally unconventional, Lanzarote has a lunar landscape that is characterized by 300 volcanic cones and faintly apocalyptic blackened lava fields, where volcanic vineyards offer a completely unique experience of wine tourism. The Timanfaya National Park – Another world. This recent volcanic landscape has some of the most spectacular views in the Canary Islands. The almost complete lack of vegetation, the rugged lava formations and the range of colors, from red, ocher and orange to black, take your imagination to places you never even dreamed of.
It was only in 2018 that Spain’s General Commission of the Autonomous Communities of the Senate declared this dinky rocky outcrop with no paved roads and just 700 permanent residents the eighth official Canary Island. Reached from Lanzarote by a half-hour ferry, La Graciosa is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, making for uncrowded beaches, a smattering of modest guesthouses and restaurants, and dirt roads that can only be navigated by foot, bike and the occasional four-wheel drive.