Best Things to Do in the Canary Islands: Top 12 Attractions to Visit

by Saad Backup
Best Things to Do in the Canary Islands
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Are you thinking about visiting the Canary Islands soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in the Canary Islands. These diverse sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Welcome to the Canary Islands—an enchanting archipelago where things to do in the Canary Islands encompasses more than just basking on sun-kissed shores and in crystalline waters. Imagine embarking on a hike through the otherworldly expanse of Teide National Park, an experience that transports you to another realm. As time progresses, picture yourself savoring local wine while witnessing a fiery sunset from a café perched on a cliffside. Here lies a destination whose diversity matches its breathtaking beauty.

The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa, are a dream come true for travelers seeking an all-encompassing vacation. From the bustling markets of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria to the serene beauty of La Gomera, there’s a slice of paradise for everyone. And let’s not forget the islands’ rich history and culture, which weave a fascinating tapestry of experiences that go beyond the typical beach holiday.

So, are you ready to discover the best things to do in the Canary Islands? Buckle up, because this is going to be an unforgettable journey. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in the Canary Islands.

The best things to do in the Canary Islands right now
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Best Places to Visit in the Canary Islands

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in the Canary Islands? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this idyllic vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Canary Islands places to visit.

Are you looking to explore volcanic landscapes? Or would you prefer seeking relaxation on pristine beaches or thrilling water sports? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in the Canary Islands can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in the Canary Islands that you should know about.

1. La Gomera

If you’re wondering about the best things to do in the Canary Islands that offer a break from the beach, look no further than the enchanted forests of La Gomera. This island is a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering trails that meander through ancient laurel forests shrouded in mist. The experience is nothing short of magical.

Garajonay National Park is the crown jewel of La Gomera. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park is a labyrinth of lush greenery, babbling brooks, and towering trees that seem to touch the sky. The air is filled with the sweet scent of damp earth and foliage, creating an atmosphere that’s both calming and invigorating.

For those who crave a bit of adventure, various trails range from easy walks to challenging hikes. Each path offers its own unique experience, whether it’s a panoramic view of the island or a close encounter with its diverse flora and fauna. It’s one of the coolest activities in the Canary Islands to those who love to be enveloped by nature.

Don’t forget to listen for the unique whistling language of La Gomera, known as “Silbo Gomero,” as you hike. This ancient form of communication can carry messages across the deep ravines and thick forests, adding an extra layer of mystique to your journey.

Lose Yourself in the Melodic Rustle of Palm Trees in La Gomera and experience the best things to do in the Canary Islands
Lose Yourself in the Melodic Rustle of Palm Trees in La Gomera and experience the best things to do in the Canary Islands

2. El Hierro

When it comes to unique places in the Canary Islands, El Hierro takes the cake, especially for diving enthusiasts. This lesser-known island is a diver’s paradise, boasting crystal-clear waters and an abundance of marine life. The island’s underwater volcanic formations create a surreal landscape that’s unlike any other.

Mar de las Calmas, a marine reserve on the island, is a hotspot for divers. The calm, protected waters make it an ideal location for both beginners and experienced divers. Here, you’ll encounter a myriad of sea creatures, from colorful parrotfish to elusive rays. The biodiversity is simply astounding.

What truly sets El Hierro apart is its commitment to sustainability. The island aims to be 100% renewable and has already made significant strides in wind and solar energy. Even underwater, you’ll notice the effects of these conservation efforts, with healthier coral reefs and more vibrant marine life.

Do you prefer to stay dry? The island offers plenty of other activities. From hiking trails that offer panoramic views to quaint villages that give you a taste of traditional Canarian culture, El Hierro is one of the best places in the Canary Islands when looking to escape the crowds and connect with nature.

A serene beach scene on El Hierro, with calm blue waters and rugged cliffs
A serene beach scene on El Hierro, with calm blue waters and rugged cliffs

3. Gran Canaria

Foodies, rejoice! One of the Canary Islands things to do is indulging in the local cuisine, and Gran Canaria is the place to do it. The island is a melting pot of flavors, blending Spanish, African, and Latin American influences into a culinary experience you won’t forget.

Start your gastronomic journey with “papas arrugadas,” a traditional dish of wrinkled potatoes served with a side of mojo sauce. The sauce comes in two varieties: red and green, each offering a unique kick that will tantalize your taste buds. Don’t miss out on sampling fresh seafood like grilled octopus or the island’s specialty, “vieja,” a type of parrotfish.

Have a sweet tooth? “Bienmesabe” is a must-try. This almond cream dessert is a staple in Canarian households and is often enjoyed during celebrations. Pair it with a glass of local Malvasia wine, and you’ve got yourself a meal to remember.

Gran Canaria is also home to several food markets where you can sample a variety of local products. The Mercado del Puerto in Las Palmas is a popular choice, offering everything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses. It’s one of the Canary Islands places to visit for a true food lover.

Thrilling outdoor adventure as a person mountain bikes through Gran Canaria's rugged terrain
Thrilling outdoor adventure as a person mountain bikes through Gran Canaria’s rugged terrain

4. Fuerteventura

When it comes to must-see in the Canary Islands, the beaches of Fuerteventura are a non-negotiable. Known for its golden sands and turquoise waters, this island is a paradise for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts alike.

Corralejo Beach, located in the north, is a haven for windsurfers, thanks to its consistent winds and expansive shoreline. Are you more into relaxation? The southern beaches like Costa Calma offer a tranquil setting perfect for sunbathing and swimming. The island’s beaches are also renowned for their cleanliness, earning them numerous Blue Flag awards over the years.

The allure of Fuerteventura’s beaches goes beyond the surface. The island is home to several protected areas, including the Corralejo Natural Park, where you can explore unique sand dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s a surreal landscape that adds an extra layer of magic to your beach day, and one of the unique things to do in the Canary Islands.

As the sun sets, the beach bars come alive with the sounds of live music and the clinking of cocktail glasses. It’s the perfect way to end a day in this sun-kissed paradise.

Sunset view of a serene beach in Fuerteventura, with gentle waves rolling onto the shore
Sunset view of a serene beach in Fuerteventura, with gentle waves rolling onto the shore

5. Lanzarote

Wondering what to do in the Canary Islands that’s a bit out of the ordinary? Welcome to Lanzarote. This island is a geological marvel, boasting landscapes that are often compared to the moon’s surface. The Timanfaya National Park is the star of the show, offering a surreal experience that feels like stepping onto another planet.

The park is home to the Montañas del Fuego or Fire Mountains, a series of volcanic peaks that were formed during the 18th century. A guided tour will take you through the park’s most iconic spots, including the Islote de Hilario, where you can witness geothermal demonstrations that showcase the Earth’s immense power.

Lanzarote isn’t just about its volcanic landscapes. The island is also known for its unique vineyards, where grapes are grown in individual pits, protected from the wind by stone walls. A visit to La Geria wine region is a must for any oenophile. Here, you can sample the island’s famous Malvasia wines, which have a distinct, volcanic terroir.

As the day winds down, consider heading to the coastal town of Playa Blanca. With its charming marina and array of seaside restaurants, it’s one of the best places to go in the Canary Islands for a romantic evening.

Unwind in serenity on the shores of Lanzarote. Golden sands and crystal-clear waters offer pure relaxation
Unwind in serenity on the shores of Lanzarote. Golden sands and crystal-clear waters offer pure relaxation

6. La Palma

For a taste of adventure intertwined with tranquility, La Palma becomes a must-see in the Canary Islands. Often known as “La Isla Bonita” or “The Beautiful Island,” it showcases a fusion of lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and tranquil beaches.

Start your journey at the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, a massive volcanic crater filled with pine forests and waterfalls. The park is a hiker’s paradise, offering trails that range from leisurely walks to challenging treks. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, one of the world’s leading astronomical observatories. The views from here are nothing short of breathtaking, both day and night.

The island’s beauty isn’t confined to its natural landscapes. The capital city of Santa Cruz de La Palma is a gem in its own right. With its colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and vibrant markets, it’s one of those cool destinations in the Canary Islands that captures your heart instantly.

As you stroll through the city, make sure to stop by the Plaza de España, where you’ll find the stunning Church of El Salvador, an architectural marvel that dates back to the 16th century. La Palma offers a rich tapestry of things to do in the Canary Islands that are hard to forget.

Lose yourself in the vibrant local culture, where rich traditions and warm hospitality create unforgettable memories
Lose yourself in the vibrant local culture, where rich traditions and warm hospitality create unforgettable memories

7. Garajonay National Park

Where to visit in the Canary Islands to feel like a step back in time? The Garajonay National Park is the place to be. Located on the island of La Gomera, this park is home to one of the world’s few remaining laurel forests, a type of subtropical forest that existed millions of years ago in Europe and North Africa.

The misty atmosphere and the dense greenery make you feel as if you’ve entered a fairy tale. The park offers a variety of trails for all levels of hikers, from short walks to full-day excursions. One of the most popular routes is the El Cedro circuit, which takes you through the heart of the forest and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

What truly sets Garajonay apart are its legends. The park is named after the tragic love story of Gara and Jonay, akin to a Canarian Romeo and Juliet. Their tale is deeply woven into the island’s culture, and you’ll find references to it throughout your visit.

Garajonay offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. It’s one of those essential places in the Canary Islands where you can lose yourself in the magic of the moment.

A panoramic view of Garajonay National Park's rolling hills covered in a blanket of greenery
A panoramic view of Garajonay National Park’s rolling hills covered in a blanket of greenery

8. Santa Cruz de Tenerife

For an enchanting blend of culture, music, and the best things to do in the Canary Islands, immerse yourself in the magic of the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This annual extravaganza, held in the capital city of Tenerife, ranks among Spain’s most significant carnivals.

From the colorful parades to the elaborate costumes, the Carnival is a feast for the senses. The festivities kick off with the election of the Carnival Queen, followed by a series of parades, concerts, and dance performances that take over the city streets. It’s a time when locals and tourists alike let their hair down and celebrate life to the fullest.

The highlight of the Carnival is the “Cosos,” a grand parade featuring floats, dancers, and musicians that winds its way through the city. The “Entierro de la Sardina,” or the Burial of the Sardine, marks the end of the Carnival with a mock funeral procession that’s as humorous as it is symbolic.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is not just a party; it’s a cultural phenomenon that captures the essence of the Canarian spirit. Truly one of the most captivating Canary Islands

Colorful buildings in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, showcasing its rich history and lively atmosphere
Colorful buildings in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, showcasing its rich history and lively atmosphere

9. El Médano in Tenerife

El Médano in Tenerife, a seaside town is a haven for surfers, boasting top-notch waves across the archipelago. No wonder it’s among the best things to do in the Canary Islands.

The area is renowned for its consistent winds, making it not only a hotspot for surfing but also for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Several schools and rental shops line the beach, so you can easily get your hands on all the gear you need. Plus, instructors are readily available to guide you through the basics or help you master that tricky maneuver you’ve been working on.

El Médano isn’t just about riding the waves. The town itself is a charming mix of local culture and laid-back beach vibes. After a day in the water, you can relax at one of the many beachside cafés, savoring the local cuisine and watching the sun dip below the horizon.

El Médano is one of the coolest activities in the Canary Islands, offering a blend of sport, relaxation, and local culture.

Discover the windswept beauty of El Médano in Tenerife, where golden sands meet azure waters under a clear blue sky
Discover the windswept beauty of El Médano in Tenerife, where golden sands meet azure waters under a clear blue sky

10. César Manrique Foundation in Lanzarote

Art and nature seamlessly blend at the César Manrique Foundation in Lanzarote, making it one of the best places in the Canary Islands that you simply can’t miss. Located in the artist’s former home, this foundation showcases not just Manrique’s art but also his architectural genius.

Built on a series of volcanic bubbles, the house itself is a masterpiece. As you wander through, you’ll find rooms built into volcanic caves, a garden adorned with Manrique’s sculptures, and a pool that looks like it’s been lifted straight from a dream. It’s a vivid example of how Manrique’s work harmonizes with the natural beauty of the Canary Island making it one of the coolest things to do in the Canary Islands.

The foundation also hosts rotating exhibitions of other artists, so there’s always something new to see. And don’t forget to visit the gift shop, where you can pick up prints, books, and other memorabilia to remember your visit.

For art lovers and those interested in architecture, a visit to the César Manrique Foundation offers a deep dive into the cultural fabric of the Canary Islands. It’s not just a museum; it’s an experience that encapsulates the creative spirit of this incredible archipelago.

Exterior view of César Manrique Foundation's unique architecture surrounded by lush gardens
Exterior view of César Manrique Foundation’s unique architecture surrounded by lush gardens

11. Island of Lobos

Ahoy, adventure seekers! Where to go in the Canary for a sailing trip? The uninhabited Island of Lobos. Just a stone’s throw away from Fuerteventura, this tiny island is a sanctuary of untouched beauty.

The boat ride itself is a treat, offering panoramic views of the turquoise waters and the Fuerteventura coastline. Once you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a different world. The island is a nature reserve, home to rare bird species and a variety of marine life. Snorkeling here is a must-do, with crystal-clear waters revealing an underwater paradise.

The island also features a lighthouse that’s worth the hike for the breathtaking views it offers. From the top, you can see the entire island and even catch a glimpse of neighboring Lanzarote.

Lobos offers an escape from the more touristy spots, perfect for those who love the sea and solitude. It’s one of the coolest activities in the Canary Islands, perfect for a day of exploration and relaxation.

Explore Hidden Caves and Coves on the Island of Lobos. Adventure awaits around every corner
Explore Hidden Caves and Coves on the Island of Lobos. Adventure awaits around every corner

12. Icod de los Vinos in Tenerife

On the hunt for unique places in the Canary Islands? Explore Icod de los Vinos in Tenerife. This charming town is home to the Drago Milenario, an ancient dragon tree believed to be up to 1,000 years old. While the age is a subject of debate among botanists, there’s no questioning the tree’s awe-inspiring presence. With its gnarled branches and umbrella-like canopy, it stands as a living monument to the island’s rich natural history.

Walking around the tree feels like stepping into a fairy tale. The park surrounding the Drago Milenario is equally enchanting, filled with endemic plants and offering panoramic views of the town below. It’s a perfect spot for photography or simply soaking in the atmosphere.

Don’t just make it a quick photo stop; Icod de los Vinos has more to offer. From the Church of San Marcos to the Butterfly Garden, this town is a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. It’s one of those Canary Islands attractions that captures the essence of the archipelago—diverse, ancient, and endlessly fascinating.

Unveiling the natural wonders of Icod de los Vinos
Unveiling the natural wonders of Icod de los Vinos

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in the Canary Islands

Looking for more content on the top things to do in the Canary Islands? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the Canary Islands:

What’s the Best Time to Visit the Canary Islands?

The Canary Islands are a year-round destination, thanks to their subtropical climate. However, for sun-seekers, the summer months from June to September offer the warmest weather.

Which Canary Island is best to explore?

The best island in the Canary Islands will depend on your personal preferences. Here’s a quick rundown on some of my favorites:

  1. Tenerife: This is the most populous and diverse of the Canary Islands. It’s home to Santa Cruz, a bustling city with plenty of cultural activities. The island also features Teide National Park, where you can explore Spain’s tallest peak, Mount Teide. Tenerife is great for those who want a mix of beach, nature, and nightlife.
  2. Gran Canaria: Known for its diverse landscapes, Gran Canaria offers everything from lush forests to desert-like dunes. The island is a hit among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The capital, Las Palmas, offers a mix of cultural activities, including a historic old town.
  3. Lanzarote: Famous for its volcanic landscapes, Lanzarote offers a unique, otherworldly beauty. The Timanfaya National Park is a must-visit. The island is also known for its beautiful beaches and water sports like windsurfing.
  4. Fuerteventura: Best known for its stunning beaches, Fuerteventura is the go-to island for water sports like windsurfing, kite surfing, and sailing. It’s less mountainous than the other islands but offers its own arid, desert-like beauty.
  5. La Palma: Known as “La Isla Bonita” (The Beautiful Island), La Palma is less touristy and offers lush landscapes, stunning waterfalls, and beautiful hiking trails. It’s a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is perfect for those looking for a quieter, nature-focused trip.
  6. La Gomera: This is the place to go if you’re looking to escape the crowds. Known for its ancient forests and hiking trails, it’s a quieter, more relaxed island with fewer tourist amenities.
  7. El Hierro: The smallest of the Canary Islands, El Hierro is known for its unspoiled natural beauty and is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s ideal for those looking for solitude and an off-the-beaten-path experience.

How Do I Get Around the Canary Islands?

Public transport is reliable, but renting a car gives you the freedom to explore hidden gems. Ferries are also available for island-hopping adventures.

Rugged volcanic terrain of the Canary Islands, featuring rocky formations, arid plants, and a clear view of the horizon
Rugged volcanic terrain of the Canary Islands, featuring rocky formations, arid plants, and a clear view of the horizon

Are the Canary Islands Safe for Tourists?

Absolutely. The Canary Islands are one of Spain’s safest regions. Just exercise the usual caution, and you’ll have a worry-free trip.

What Languages Are Spoken in the Canary Islands?

Spanish is the official language, but English is widely understood in tourist areas.

What are the Canary Islands best known for?

The Canary Islands are best known for their diverse landscapes, ranging from volcanic terrains and lush forests to pristine beaches. They’re a hotspot for outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, and diving. The archipelago is also famous for its year-round pleasant climate and vibrant local culture, including festivals like Carnival.

Is it worth going to the Canary Islands?

Absolutely, venturing to the Canary Islands is undoubtedly worthwhile solely for their breathtaking natural beauty. Catering to adventure seekers, beach enthusiasts, and culture aficionados alike, these islands offer something for everyone. The consistent mild climate ensures an ideal escape at any season, while the extraordinary landscapes leave an indelible mark. Here are some of the key features that make the Canary Islands famous:

  1. Beaches: With a variety of beaches ranging from golden sands to black volcanic shores, the Canary Islands are a beach lover’s paradise. Popular beaches include Playa del Inglés in Gran Canaria and Playa de las Américas in Tenerife.
  2. Volcanic Landscapes: The islands are of volcanic origin, and this is evident in their dramatic landscapes. Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park and Mount Teide in Tenerife are prime examples.
  3. Outdoor Activities: From hiking and mountain biking in lush forests to water sports like windsurfing, scuba diving, and sailing, the Canary Islands offer a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts.
  4. Carnivals: Tenerife hosts one of the world’s largest carnivals, second only to Rio de Janeiro. The event is a riot of color, music, and dance.
  5. Unique Flora and Fauna: The islands are home to unique species of plants and animals, including the Canary Island date palm and the critically endangered Canarian Egyptian vulture.
  6. Stargazing: Places like La Palma are renowned for their clear skies, making them ideal for stargazing. In fact, the island has been designated a Starlight Reserve.
  7. Cultural Heritage: The islands have a rich history influenced by indigenous Guanche culture, Spanish colonization, and African and Latin American influences, evident in their architecture, cuisine, and festivals.
  8. Year-Round Pleasant Climate: Known as the “Islands of Eternal Spring,” the Canary Islands enjoy warm, sunny weather throughout the year, making them a popular destination for sun-seekers.

Concluding Thoughts on Exploring the Canary Islands

And there you have it, a whirlwind tour of the best places to go in the Canary Islands. From the bustling markets of Gran Canaria to the serene beaches of Fuerteventura, this archipelago is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, or someone who just wants to kick back and relax, the Canary Islands have something for everyone.

So why wait? Pack your bags, book that ticket, and set sail for an unforgettable journey. The Canary Islands are not just a destination; they’re a state of mind, a slice of paradise that will leave you yearning for more.

The best things to do in the Canary Islands for all types of travelers
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