Looking for some inspiration for your Canary Islands trip? Then check out these 10 amazing places that are highly worth adding to your itinerary.
The Canary Islands are known mostly as a beach holiday destination, but they’re also blessed with beautiful towns and spectacular nature, as I will show you here. For even more travel inspiration, don’t miss my guides to Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma, and more!
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1. Mt. Teide, Tenerife
It’s impossible to miss Mount Teide when you’re on Tenerife. This 3,715 m (12,188 ft) tall volcanic mountain can even be seen from the other Canarian islands. Its summit is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic, making it a truly epic sight.
You can hike up Teide, though reaching the very peak requires a mountaineering licence, so the true summit is best left for the most adventurous. That said, a cable car will take you nearly to the top, from where you have incredible panoramic views of Tenerife’s central crater.
2. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The capital city of Gran Canaria is vibrant and surprisingly cultural, encompassing a faintly Miami-like modern section along several city beaches, as well as an authentic colonial-era historic core.
Perhaps because of seeing mostly images of Gran Canaria’s southern mega-resorts, I had not expected Las Palmas to have such an easy charm. Historic squares such as Plaza de Santa Ana reminded me of Andalucia, while the modern sections offer all manner of parks, entertainment, and conveniences. It’s a perfect base from which to explore Gran Canaria.
From Las Palmas, it’s just a stone’s throw to some of the best bits of Gran Canaria, including the mountainous center and the rocky beaches in the northwest. If you’re looking for a local vibe and easy access to outdoor activities, then Las Palmas is simply an amazing city.
3. Garajonay National Park, La Gomera
The cloud forests of La Gomera are a must-see if you’re island-hopping around the Canaries. Clouds get trapped inside the small island’s central crater, where they give rise to the most lush fairytale-like forests. Trees are utterly covered in moss, the ground is covered in ferns, and bunches of lianas hang from many of the branches. It’s truly one of the best hiking areas of the Canary Islands.
Hiking through Garajonay National Park is deeply calming as the cool air, bird chatter, and rippling creeks create an almost meditative effect. It’s the closest you may experience to hiking through a rainforest in Europe. Visiting this UNESCO protected area is highly recommended and can even be done as a day trip from neighboring Tenerife.
4. Astronomical Observatories, La Palma
Who knew that La Palma is one of the world’s best locations for star-gazing? I certainly didn’t — at least, until I went there and realized that astronomers the world over come to La Palma to study the universe.
Many large telescopes can be seen near the summit of the Los Muchachos peak on La Palma, some of which can be toured during the day. The astronomical complex is something to behold even from the outside, appearing like a science fiction scene among the red rocks and snowy patches near La Palma’s highest point.
You can also book a stargazing tour with a local astronomer to observe celestial objects from one of the many official stargazing locations.
5. Anaga Mountains, Tenerife
The Anaga national park is easily one of the most amazing places to visit on the Canaries. Relatively few tourists make it here to Tenerife’s northeastern point, as most stay in the resorts clustered around the opposite side of the island. This is a pity, as the Anaga Mountains are so different from the rest of Tenerife it may as well be a destination in its own right.
The highly protected area is a sanctuary of biodiversity and offers some of Tenerife’s most stunning vistas. A road trip through Anaga is a must. If you’re a walker, you will also find numerous hiking trails snaking through this dramatic landscape. You can learn much more in my explorer’s guide to Tenerife.
6. Porís de Candelaria, La Palma
This place is the definition of a hidden gem; it is literally hidden, as it takes a (somewhat hair-raising) zig-zaggy mountain road down to the coast to find it. Porís de Candelaria feels like a secret pirate cove, with cave walls surrounding you almost all around.
It’s a favorite spot with locals who built small wooden summer houses into the rocks. While it’s tucked away on La Palma’s west coast, it’s worth making it all the way there, as it’s one of the most epic locations on the Canaries.
7. Santa Cruz de La Palma
The capital of La Palma is much less of a city than it is a quaint seaside town, no doubt charming you from the moment you arrive. It has one of the best-preserved historical cores, with cobblestone streets and traditional colonial era buildings, typified by their wooden balconies filled with flowers.
Santa Cruz has an easy charm and makes for a perfect base from which to explore La Palma, the Canarian island with the moniker ‘La Isla Bonita’, or the beautiful island. If you enjoy exploring a historical town, then it is one of the best choices on the Canary Islands.
8. Hermigua, La Gomera
The valley of Hermigua, on the unspoiled island of La Gomera, is so picturesque it’s worth staying there for the sunsets alone. Since La Gomera always lacked flat fertile lands, it is much less developed than other Canarian islands, and so it’s an amazing place to go if you like a gentler kind of rural tourism.
Hermigua is dotted with small-scale banana farms and surrounded by imposing mountains, often part-shrouded in clouds, giving the valley a mysterious feel. Two museums can tell you more about the indigenous culture of La Gomera and a number of lovely restaurants can introduce you to several Canarian culinary treats. I loved staying in Hermigua valley and its incredible views of Mt. Teide in the distance.
9. San Cristóbal de la Laguna, Tenerife
This town is the oldest settlement on Tenerife, giving proof that this island is not just about modern beach resorts, but has plenty of charm and culture to offer as well. I loved exploring La Laguna as it reminded me very much of towns I’ve visited in Mexico and Guatemala; this is no coincidence, as La Laguna very much formed the template for later cities built in the New World.
La Laguna oozes charm with its colorful low-rise buildings and its many cafe terraces where you can sit and watch the world go by.
10. Roque Bentayga, Gran Canaria
This imposing rock formation at the center of Gran Canaria is not just an obvious target for a hike, but it is also an archaeological monument. It was once the site of a sanctuary built by the indigenous Guanche people, and it’s where the final battle with Spanish conquistadors took place. There is a small museum giving insight into this history.
The views from the pinnacle are simply spectacular. It’s worth staying in the nearby mountain town of Tejeda, where sunset and sunrise show Gran Canaria in its most brilliant light.
Need more inspiration?
The above 10 places were among my favorites on the Canary Islands. I didn’t have the chance to visit every one of the islands, but I hope to come back one day to explore more islands such as El Hierro and Fuerteventura.
If you’re looking to get inspired for your Canaries trip, there are several other articles to read:
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