Which is the best Canary Island for your holiday trip?

Unless you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to tour the whole archipelago, when you decide to visit the Canary Islands in Spain for the first time it will invariably take you some time to discern which island in the Canaries suits your interests and preferences best. Aside from the fact that they all originated from volcanic activity and common features such as their gastronomy and sub-tropical climate, it is safe to say that each Canary Island is a micro-world in itself, with its own pace and way of living, its unique landscape and its distinguishing lifestyle.

In this post, we are going to help you find out which is the best Canary Island to travel to according to your taste. For instance, water sports lovers and surfers normally choose Fuerteventura for their trip, while those seeking a peaceful retreat typically go to Lanzarote; Tenerife caters to the needs of luxury travellers and offers a wide choice of travel experiences and, on the other hand, Gran Canaria is more nature and culture-oriented. The minor islands in the Santa Cruz Province –El Hierro, La Gomera and La Palma- are primarily visited by hikers, adventure travellers, wine lovers and astronomy students.

All that being said, we must admit that we would lie if we did not acknowledge that all of them have something to make everyone happy, and so backpackers, vacation lovers, urban travellers, beach addicts, foodies, digital nomads, children and adults can find their small piece of paradise on earth regardless of the corner of this Spanish archipelago they land in. However, if your holiday trip will last for just a few days or a week in such a way that there won’t be too much time to explore, let us help you discover which the best destination in the Canary Islands is for you.

Gran Canaria

The municipalities in northern Gran Canaria preserve the charm of old customs and traditions related to architecture, gastronomy and handicrafts, so roaming its small towns and quarters is an ideal plan for the early mornings. Museums, theatres, shopping malls, city hotels and the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium await in its buzzing capital, all within short distance of Las Canteras, considered as one of the best urban beaches in the world, although if the typical island retreat is what you are after, you will certainly find it in the south: Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas and its popular dunes and Puerto de Mogán are some of our recommendations. If you are into walking tours and nature trips, know that there are hiking trails all over the island.

Lanzarote

Lanzarote is probably the island of the Canaries in Spain where the volcanic origin of the archipelago becomes more evident: lava stone deserted landscapes are common, creating a beautiful contrast with the small white houses and the pristine sea waters bordering them. For a beach trip, go to Playa del Papagayo, Costa Teguise, Playa Blanca or Famara, but do not forget to make time for a visit to Jameos del Agua, the Cesar Manrique Foundation, Timanfaya National Park or the Cactus Garden.

Tenerife

For many, Tenerife is the best Canary Island for a tourist trip due to the wide range of hotels and resorts catering to holiday goers and beach lovers located in Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes, Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz, for instance. Luxury travellers who appreciate VIP hospitality and parties may consider staying at the Hard Rock Tenerife hotel. This island is the largest one in the archipelago, and in turn home to the highest peak in Spain –Mount Teide-, in such a way that it combines different landscapes and even distinct climates.

Fuerteventura

Anybody who has visited Fuerteventura before is already acquainted with the fact that it is the place to go in the Canary Islands for water sports and surf lovers. Furthermore, the Corralejo Dunes National Park has been declared a Protected Natural Reserve of the Biosphere, and it is a mandatory stop when touring this island. With some other highlights like the Oasis Wildlife Park in the south, Fuerteventura is eminently residential and offers both self-catered apartments for visitors and 5-star hotels like the Gran Atlantis Bahia Real; for something in between, we recommend the coastal zone of Costa Calma.

La Gomera

Taking a trip to La Gomera can be a great choice knowing that, as one of the minor islands in the Santa Cruz Province of the Canaries, beaches such as Playa de Santiago, San Sebastián or Valle Gran Rey are considerably less crowded than the ones in the capital islands. Other highlights of a visit to La Gomera could be Garajonay Natural Park, a boat excursion for whale spotting or a hike up its green mountains.

El Hierro

El Hierro is the smallest of the Canary Islands and so we recommend that you include it as part of a tour to make the most of your trip. That being said, as a 100% sustainable island it is worth visiting but most of all worth taking care of. Take advantage of this opportunity to put responsible tourism into practice and enjoy its small towns, swim in its natural seawater pools, and climb to its many viewpoints to soak in the views of stunning protected virgin landscapes.

La Palma

As was the case with La Gomera, the beaches in La Palma island are hardly ever crowded and mostly frequented by locals: some of the best ones are Nogales, Charco Verde and Bajamar. La Palma or “the beautiful island” -as it is commonly referred to- invites you to immerse yourself in nature and tradition, as it boasts vast green areas, several viewpoints and the most typical canarian houses with their characteristic balconies. Some travellers schedule their trip to La Palma only to visit its Astronomical Observatory in Roque de Los Muchachos.

La Graciosa

For a long time, La Graciosa was considered just an islet of less than 800 inhabitants, but its unique beauty has finally led it to be recognised as the eight island in the archipelago of the Canary Islands, even attracting tourists to its lands. If you are planning a trip to La Graciosa in the Canaries, you may choose to stay either in a holiday apartment or in a hotel at the municipality of Teguise –Lanzarote– only one kilometre away.

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A trip to La Palma in the Canary Islands: SPC airport and the astronomical observatory

Even though it is not one of the main islands in the Canarian archipelago of Spain, La Palma Island in the Atlantic Ocean has its own unique allure: its volcanic origin turns out to be perfectly compatible with exuberant vegetation featuring local species and astounding landscapes. Furthermore, the “isla bonita” -as it is commonly referred to- is home to the Observatory of Roque de los Muchachos, which accommodates one of the most technologically advanced telescopes in the world. For these reasons, La Palma is not only a destination for those who enjoy hiking and sunbathing, but also for astronomy lovers who want to fulfil their life-long dreams.

For disambiguation purposes, it must first be clarified that La Palma Island neither is nor belongs to Las Palmas province, as many tend to mistake one term for the other or believe they are the same place. La Palma belongs to the Santa Cruz de Tenerife province, and is located in the western half of the archipelago, while Las Palmas is the eastern province of the Canary Islands, comprising Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. It has nothing to do with Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands either.

Flying to La Palma airport in Spain: terminals and airlines

The airport in La Palma island has only one terminal and its assigned IATA code is SPC. You may fly to La Palma from other airports in the archipelago by booking your flight with regional airlines, yet there are also domestic and international connections available from many European cities, namely Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin (Schönefeld and Tegel), Brussels, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Stockholm (Arlanda), Frankfurt, Hamburg, Helsinki, London (Gatwick), Madrid, Munich, Oslo, Stuttgart and Zurich.

Some of the airlines flying to La Palma in the Canary Islands from cities across Europe include Germania, Tui, Condor, Easyjet and Vueling. Eurowings and Transavia have codeshare agreements with the aforementioned companies to cover such routes.

How to get from La Palma airport to the Astronomical Observatory in Roque de los Muchachos

The Astronomical Observatory in La Palma is situated on the highest point of the island, right next to Caldera de Taburiente National Park. If you travel to La Palma, chances are that you will be staying in the capital city (Santa Cruz de La Palma), less than 30 minutes away by bus, or in Tazacorte or Los Llanos de Aridane, both municipalities about 40 minutes away by car. However, should you need to go straight from the airport to Roque de los Muchachos, you will need to rent a car or else take a taxi for this journey, which costs around 50 euros and lasts 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Passenger services in La Palma airport

You must always arrive in time for check-in and boarding, but take into account that this one is a small terminal building and so you are advised not to arrive too early (that is, four hours earlier than your departure time). There are cafeterias with snacks, take-away food and drinks both in the public and restricted zones, a duty free shop and a local-products store for your last-minute souvenirs in the boarding area. Passengers may use the free WiFi connection provided by Aena, the business centre and a kids playground. The car rental offices are located in the arrivals hall.

Accommodation in the island of La Palma in Spain

Travellers who are looking for a different sort of paradise can also enjoy the perks of booking their hotel in a less-crowded sunny destination. Check out our recommended hotels in La Palma: a beach resort in the Canary Islands, the “Sol La Palma” in Puerto Naos, and a 4-star hotel in the municipality of Breña Baja (H10 Taburiente Playa).