10 Experiences You Can’t Miss Out on the Canary Islands

Welcome to the Canary Islands If you have come this far, it’s because you are wondering what there is to know about the archipelago and how to go about it. Want some hints? Take note.

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The highest mountain in Spain projects its imposing shadow, the largest in the world cast over the sea. A silhouette that grows progressively while the height of the sun changes, either at dawn or at dusk. In the morning, we can enjoy the shadow projected toward the island of La Gomera, while in the afternoon it extends toward Gran Canaria. This is a disquieting, clean, stark shadow in the shape of a perfect triangle, which has even attracted the attention of NASA. Mount Teide does not have this perfect triangular shape, because its crater is irregular, but its shadow is a disturbing sight that defies reason. So there are few experiences comparable to feeling on top of Mount Teide, so close to the sky. 

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“Happiness can be achieved through food, so we carry around happiness,” says chef Erlantz Gorostiza. This maxim makes Tenerife, with its six Michelin stars, a constellation with a Canary denomination that generates happiness. The prestigious gastronomic guide has set its sights on this island with recognition of the quality and excellence of five restaurants, and six stars that have also been maintained in the organization’s annual reviews. In the last edition, for the first time, two new stars were added for the neighboring island of Gran Canaria. Two stars that have also fallen on the same municipality: Mogán. The Canary Islands has thus transformed into a constellation with its own name and identity in the firmament of Spanish haute cuisine. 

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Hundreds of thousands of people gather every year in the Canary Islands to enjoy this festival, which is celebrated in a diverse way in the two capitals of the Canary Islands: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The carnival of the city of Tenerife is considered one of the most important in the world, also declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest. In 1987, some 250,000 people visited its streets, breaking the Guinness record for dancing to the music of Celia Cruz. Since then, attendance figures have continued to rise: In 2019, 400,000 people gathered on Piñata Saturday, the most important day of the carnival. The most important and popular festival in Tenerife involves a hundred carnival groups - comparsas, murgas and other musical groups - who flood the streets in a spectacle of light, sound and color, one of the most eagerly awaited performances being the gala of the choosing of the Queen. Also the residents of the island, along with the tourists who visit, participate en masse with varied and original costumes, making the carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife a unique party in which fun is guaranteed for several weeks.  

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The figure of the brilliant artist César Manrique is found in all corners of Lanzarote. His comprise numerous works that, as always in the case of the creator, highlight his organic character by integrating perfectly with nature, and his is the house in which he lived from the mid-80s until his death in 1992. Located in the north of the island, in the middle of the Haría palm grove, visiting Manrique’s house means discovering the most personal side of this multifaceted artist who worked there practically until the end of his days. In this house Manrique found the tranquility he was searching for in his last years, and once again demonstrated his enormous sensitivity and good taste. It’s worth a visit. 

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The quality of the sky in La Palma is one of the great attractions of the island, making it a perfect destination for so-called “star tourism” or “astrotourism.” To precisely promote interest in its sky and stars, a network of astronomical viewpoints has been developed at different strategic points of the island’s geography, permitting visitors to contemplate the stellar scape. Each viewpoint is equipped with explanatory panels on different topics related to astronomy, such as the constellations, the planets and the moon, as well as the simulation of the equinoxes and solstices. Thus, the visitor is invited to tour the island in order to discover them. The astronomical interest of La Palma is such that, since 1985, it has boasted the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory. Located at 2,400 metres above sea level, its privileged location - with a clean, stable and turbulence-free atmosphere - has made it one of the most important astrophysical observatories in the world.  For its part, the capital of Gran Canaria also intensely lives out its carnival, to such an extent that the streets of the city are filled with “masks” that dance to the sound of the lively carnival music. Parades, competitions, concerts, popular festivals... and, of course, its own gala to anoint the Queen, as well as the most eagerly awaited event that has acquired enormous international renown: the Drag Queen Gala in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. 

A real show worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime. Will you be one of the lucky ones? 

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The stories in La Gomera are told under the mist that advances in the leafy forest of Garajonay National Park. There, the different species of laurel forest observe how life has evolved since the Tertiary Age, fed by the coolness of the trade winds and the so-called “horizontal rain” that wets a mountain range in whose interior a thousand legends are forged. All shades of green can be perceived in the range, and above all, the greenness of hope, since this temple of nature was for centuries a source of food for the inhabitants of what is also known as “Columbus Island,” due to the passage of Christopher Columbus on his way to America. Its peculiarities have made it a unique place in the world that, in addition to being a National Park, has been recognized by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site and, with the rest of the island, a Biosphere Reserve. It is essential not to miss a walk through this humid prehistoric forest. 

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El Hierro is the westernmost of the eight islands comprising the Canary archipelago. A small natural paradise declared a Biosphere Reserve with an infinite number of attractions, which can be enjoyed all year round thanks to the exceptional climate of the Canary Islands, characterized by scarce rainfall and an average annual temperature with little variation. There are so many things to see in El Hierro...natural pools among them. The following always appear on any list about the best places on the island: Charco Azul, Los Sargos, Charco Manso, Tamaduste... peaceful shelters in which to enjoy a relaxed bath in the calm and transparent waters of the Atlantic Ocean. 

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This small Atlantic island, with barely 700 inhabitants and 29 square kilometers, part of the Natural Park of the Chinijo Archipelago, is a real paradise. The eighth island of the Canaries since 2018, it is also the last to join the European continent. But La Graciosa is not and should not be known only for this, but above all for being an idyllic place to disconnect, away from the rush and noise of the cities, thanks to its wonderful lonely beaches of fine white sand and turquoise waters like La Francesa, and its enigmatic landscapes like the Yellow Mountain volcano. These are tranquil space to intensely feel that which they call “the spirit of grace.” 

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The Canary Islands have a unique and surprising natural wealth. And the waters that bathe them are the best example: you can find at least 30 different species of cetaceans, some resident and others just passing through. The concentration of so many whales, dolphins, killer whales, sperm whales, rorquals and other species is a major tourist attraction. Few places in the world can boast of this gift of nature. In Europe, of course, there exists no other place with such diversity. The oceanographic characteristics of these Atlantic islands, with depths of up to 3,000 metres, are key: the fact that they are located on the border between the cold waters of the north and the tropical waters of the south attracts animals comfortable in both habitats. And who would not like to see them up close? Because, definitely, the magic that occurs when the fin of any of these animals appears on the surface of the water is unsurpassed. 

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Yes, we know that Instagram has become an open canvas where people from all over the world share the most enchanting settings on the planet; a unique opportunity offered by this social network to discover beautiful places beyond the most touristic and crowded itineraries. The Canary Islands are, without doubt, one of the most photogenic places in the world, given their diversity and the spectacular nature of their landscapes, many of which are intact and preserved from the human footprint. The archipelago also has a multitude of beaches where you can let yourself be carried away by the pleasant idleness, enjoy a dip, do water sports, walk along the sea shore... or have your picture taken in idyllic spots that will lead to admiration on social networks. Whether it’s the dune fields, fine beaches of golden sand, or landscapes of volcanic rock and black sand, there is no doubt that you should head for the Canary Islands. Places like Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas, Las Canteras, Corralejo, El Cotillo, Jandía, Papagayo, Famara, Cofete, La Francesa, etc. are well known and always rank among the best beaches in Europe. Although beyond these exceptional landscapes there are dozens more photogenic sites to photograph and make poses in the Canary Islands, as well as where to rest and enjoy... which in the end it is what it’s all about, right?