8 things to do in the Canary Islands

Rich forests, rugged cliffs, archipelago, volcanoes, tropical weather on one island, snowfall on another, my research was leading me to the conclusion that the Canary Islands would make a great holiday destination.

The Canary Islands is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The islands were formed by ancient volcanoes and shaped by the winds from the Sahara desert.

The Canary Islands were on my bucket list when I was living in London. Tenerife is a hot destination for Pommies running from the horrors of English weather to soak up the sun and party.

I never made it much further than San Fermin. I blame it on the Sangria.

Tenerife was only island I ever heard about from the Canary Islands and not being sure whether this would be an ideal destination for me, I decided to research the things you can do in the Canary Islands.

I’m kinda happy with what I discovered are 8 great things to do in the Canary Islands

1. Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Timanfaya National Park
Photo: blinkingidiot

The lunar landscape of the Timanfaya National Park was created by a volcanic eruption that covered about a third of the island in the 1700’s.

You can hike through the Fire Mountains (Mountains del fuego) and experience the heat of the dormant volcano. At the beginning of the park guides will demonstrate the power of the heat by setting a bush on fire and creating artificial geysers shooting up into the air.

An interesting way to see the park is by taking a 25 minute camel ride. We recommend this tour here. 

For more ideas about things to do on that road trip, planning information, beautiful photos, and practical maps to help you plan your travels, check out ZigZag On Earth’s eBook: Explore and Photograph Lanzarote

2. Catamaran sailing to Papagayo Beaches, Lanzarote

Catamran sailing Papagayo on Lanzarote
Photo:  palestrina55

Go luxury catamaran sailing to the golden beaches of Papagayo on Lanzarote. You can relax with drinks and fresh fruit as the boat sails to Papagayo. The Captain and crew are happy for you to help trim the sails and take the helm- could be interesting to see where I end up taking us.

Lunch is served on board at the beaches and coves where the anchor is dropped for swimming, snorkelling and Jet Ski rides. If you are lucky you will see dolphins and pilot whales on the sail back. Grab your tickets for this excursion here.

I love the sound of this relaxing day on the water and it reminds me of sailing around the Greek Island of Paros in the same way.

3. Mount Teide and Las Canadas National Park, Tenerife

Mount Teide is one of the largest volcanoes in the world. You can walk to the summit through the National Park exploring pine forests, giant craters and a lunar landscape.

Kalyra is mad on volcanoes so I think she will love getting this close to one. We may have to get the cable car up to the summit with her though! If it is a clear day you will get to see some of the other Canary Islands.

4. Maspalomas Sand Dunes , Grand Canaria

Gran Canaria Maspalomas Sand Dunes
Gran Canaria Maspalomas Sand Dunes Photo: Directline holidays

Enter a different part of the world through a spectacular 400 hectares stretch of sand dunes along the coastline of the island of Grand Canaria.

The sand dunes were designated a National Park in 1994 and you can only cross by foot or camel. The dunes also provide a habitat for a number of rare plant species, some of which can only be found in the Canaries – somehow they manage to survive in this arid environment alongside lizards and rabbits.

5. Island of Lobos, Fuerteventura

Island of Lobos Fuerteventura
Photo:  guillenperez

Tranquillity and natural beauty is how this island off the coast of Fuerteventura, a short boat ride from Corralejo, is described.

The island of Lobos is a nature reserve and offers the chance to spot plants and birds not found anywhere else on the planet, surprising given its desert and volcanic landscape. It’s popular with day trippers and families and you can camp on the island for three nights with authorization. It’s an escape to crystalline waters and beautiful hidden bays and corners of serenity.

6. Santa Cruz La Palma

Santa Cruz La Palma
Photo:  Neneonline

Santa Cruz in La Palma is a beautiful seaside town with palaces, manor houses, churches and colourful balcony homes dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. This is the main port of the island and the capital city and is surrounded by rugged and steep topography

Santa Cruz has been declared a Cultural Asset (historical-artistic site). I’d enjoy a day discovering why as I wander through its narrow cobbled streets, stopping at holes in the walls for lunch and maybe doing a little shopping.

7. Garajonay National Park, La Gomera

Canary Island National Park
Photo: Directline Holidays

I love to take my children to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I think its important they get to understand our planet and why it needs to be protected.

The Garajonay National Park, in La Gomera has one of the largest continuous areas of Laurel forest, a habitat that has almost disappeared from southern Europe and North Africa. The park has streams and springs which help give it lush vegetation that is not typical of the Canaries.

8. Canary cuisine

Papas Arrugadas
Papas arrugadas with mojo sauce Photo: jlastras

Food is a big part of any destination you experience. Of course the Canaries will have much of the Spanish influence but they also have their own unique dishes.

A favourite Canary favourite is Sancocho Canario, a salted fish, usually white, in a “mojo” sauce a spicy sauce that has a red and a green version. Of course I’m all about the mojo.

Papas Arrugadas – “Wrinkled potatoes” are a popular side dish consisting of small potatoes boiled in salt water until soft, leaving the potatoes with wrinkles and with a salty crust.

What is it about islands and rum? Trust me I am not complaining, I can often be found with a mojito in my hand, particularly at sunset. So it seems as if the Canary Islands will cater to my rum obsession with their own speciality honeyed rum. I may even live it large a little and try thee banana liqueur and see how high the mojo goes then!

Plan Your Trip to The Canary Islands

We’ve been traveling 20 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights, and car rental. Below are our preferred partners. If you book through these links, we do receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps us continue to provide inspiring and helpful travel content for free on this site.

Booking accommodation in the Canary Islands

Booking flights to the Canary Islands

  • Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).

Booking a Car Rental in the Canary Islands

  • RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.

Tours in the Canary Islands

More posts about the Canary Islands and Northern Africa

26 thoughts on “8 things to do in the Canary Islands”

  1. Martin Pietrzak

    We absolutely loved the Canary Islands. We saw the majority of the places you mention but our son hands down adored the Loro Parque on Tenerife. What an amazing experience for the family.

    1. I was really contemplating putting that one on the list but then I thought since we can go to zoos anywhere I wanted to aim for more unique experiences. Now I wish I had put it on the list. Well it’s on mine now for when we visit eventually! Thanks for the tip

  2. Great post, Caz! I had no idea that the Canaries had so much to offer – my general perspective as a Brit is that the islands are just a package holiday resort destination, so I’m pretty surprised by everything on offer here! Timanfaya National Park sounds amazing, as does Santa Cruz La Palma. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. I had the same impression! So I was really glad to discover just how much is on offer. I’m actually pretty keen to get over there now. They really sound beautiful and unique

  3. I’m thrilled you might come to the Canary Islands!!! Yay! I know that you know how much I love it here, and how very different most of the archipelago is from the usual European perception. I like that folk from other continents usually see it differently! Please ring if you come!!!!!

  4. What a great introduction to the Canary Islands…I LOVE any island that’s rugged and unspoilt and this sounds like it’s just the ticket…been meaning to visit!

  5. Hi,
    I’m Irish and have been living on La Gomera for the past 12 years. I write a blog in English blog with information, news and more – all about the island of La Gomera: http://lagomera1.blogspot.com
    Maybe you could post the link for your readers ?

  6. Interesting list Caz, I didn’t know that all of those things were possible on Las Canarias. Did you get a chance to hear the silbo by chance?

  7. Hi Caz,
    We are taking a fred olsen cruise on 20th Dec hich will sail from Tenerife, La Palma, La Escata, La Gomera and then Arrecife in Lanzarote.

    Unfortunately we only have 1 day at each island (9am to 6pm). Please can you recommend the absolute must sees? We are more interested to see nature, water and the towns.

    I have a long list and very confused which one to book:
    a. Tenerife: Loro Parque and Las canada & Teida.
    b. La Palma: Saltpans and north of island.
    c. La Gomera: Jardin Tecina and Los Organos
    d. Arrecife: Fire ountains and James del Agua.

    I think i amreally short on time and would appreciate a help from you or your readers.
    nish (oxford).

  8. Wow. 😉 Finally a travel “to do list” which I have fulfilled 100% 😉 Or maybe we have the same taste. We have spent 5 months on Gran Canaria 2008 and then visited Tenerife,La Gomera, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote in 2013 in a huge canary islands hop on hop off trip ;)) We have been a little bit dissapointed from the Isla de Lobos, but otherwise i totally agree with you…to mention some other tips, La Geria vineyards Lanzarote, Loro Parque Tenerife, Roque Nublo/Firgas/Terror in Gran Canaria 😉

  9. Seeing the sunrise at Mount Teide was an incredible experience for us, definetely recommend to anyone, though a healthy hike needed in the dask of the morning before the sunrise=)

  10. Have you guys been to Fuerteventura? It was one of those island that had always been on my traveling plan but had somehow never visited. But after reading this other article from https://www.canaryislandsinfo.co.uk/fuerteventura/places/ makes me more willing to do some last minute changes on my travel list. they say that the waves in Costa calma and Playa de Sotavento would make a perfect for surfers and many water activities. And if your not into some water ation I’m very sure that theirs a lot more to do in this fine island.

  11. Canary Islands hit with beach bums, happy hikers and culture vultures.Great place to spend together as a family in Canary Islands.The volcanic landscape of Mount Teide National park really looks like something out of Interstellar and looking forward to visit Canary Islands and will definitely hitch a camel in Maspalomassand dunes.

    Thanks for lovely post and pics.

  12. The Canary Islands offer some of the most unique landscapes in the world. I can vouch for Tenerife – with Mount Teide (tallest mountain in Spain) dominating the island and allowing the south coasts to enjoy warm temperatures and Sunshine even during the winter months.
    Besides Mount Teide with its beautiful sculptured volcanic landscape , other highlights of the island include the Anaga Rain Forest and the spectacular Masca / Teno area.
    Visited the much smaller island of Lanzarote – more laid back, less traffic, nice volcanoes, lovely old capital town and could do some mountain biking.
    Thanks, your guide will encourage me to visit the other islands that make up this amazing Archipelago

  13. Making our first trip to Gran Canary in August. As a big fan of wine and rum, I’m looking forward to exploring around the island to see how they producer theirs, but also kicking back with some tasty local cocktails. Did you visit any wineries or distilleries?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top