Tenerife, Lanzarote or Fuerteventura? How to find the best Canary Islands holiday this winter
You’ve probably seen footage of the volcano on La Palma, but the eruptions have only – briefly – closed its airport, with the seven other Canary Islands very much open.
With no need for the double vaccinated, or under-12s, to test on the way out the Canaries are an enticing prospect for a winter sun escape, whether you seek a beach break, adventure or art.
Fuerteventura – the best beaches
This sinewy isle is draped with a beach at every turn and they’re the stuff of glossy brochures. The Corralejo Dunes look more Caribbean than Canarian. Corralejo is the pick of the resorts too, as it’s still a Canarian village with a more authentic vibe than Caleta de Fuste or Morro Jable. It’s home to a string of white sand wonders, but for sands entirely to yourself hike west towards the fishing village of El Cotillo. Numerous white sand coves are punctuated by craggy volcanic rocks and views to Lanzarote.
After a £1m revamp, Corralejo’s Bahiazul Villas & Club offers the best of both worlds: luxury self-catering with the services of a hotel. Villas sleeping six from €232.
Tenerife – the all-rounder
The largest Canary isle has it all – the Unesco World Heritage town of La Laguna, the world’s second biggest carnival after Rio, a mountain (Teide) almost three times higher than Ben Nevis and world-class seafood.
A string of sultry southern beach resorts in the south caters to more than six million sun-seeking Europeans a year, leaving the rest of the island blissfully untouched. In Siam Park and Loro Parque you also have two of Europe’s top family attractions.
Hotel Botanico offers old-world luxury in the quieter northern resort town of Puerto de la Cruz. It reopened in August after renovations and has a great spa and Thai restaurant. Doubles from €220 (£188).
Gran Canaria – the adventure playground
With its remarkable scenic diversity, from the sweeping sand dunes of Maspalomas, through to thick laurel forests and rugged, bare mountains, the Canarios hail Gran Canaria as the “Continent in Miniature”; the whole island is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve.
The capital, Las Palmas, is a vibrant port city with hints of Rio in its carnival, sandy beach boulevard and laid-back vibe.
The most popular resorts are in the south, with hikers drawn inland to the Tamadaba Natural Park. The isle is great for road cycling and mountain biking; professional teams train here. As do football teams. In the water, it’s surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding alongside stand up paddleboarding.
Seaside Hotels operates the family-friendly Hotel Palm Beach (doubles from €217) and the even more luxurious Grand Hotel Residencia, both by the Maspalomomas dunes (doubles from €355).
Lanzarote – the chic choice
This is the most chic of the Canaries, thanks to visionary local architect César Manrique – the Canarian Gaudí – who conjured up waves of striking buildings and viewpoints, while preventing high-rise hotels. Whitewashed villages such as Teguise and Haria still feel timeless, as do the vineyards where Malvasia vines have been grown since the days when Shakespeare eulogised “Malmsey”.
The H10 Rubicon Palace is the best hotel in the relaxed southern resort of Playa Blanca; doubles from €132.
La Gomera – the hiker’s haven
Stick on your boots and catch the ferry from Tenerife. The capital of San Sebastian de la Gomera’s claim to fame is that it was the last place Columbus stopped en route to the Americas.
The real treasures lie inland as Garajonay National Park spreads its beautifully bucolic tentacles, including some of the best-preserved laurel forests: more Jurassic Park than theme park. A gruelling, but deeply rewarding option is a village-to-village self-guided hike with Macs Adventure (eight days from £755pp excluding flights).
Parador de la Gomera is a stately wooden dame with epic views out over the Atlantic and back to Tenerife’s Teide. Doubles from €130.
El Hierro – the final frontier
You have to really want to get to El Hierro, the western Canarian outlier. It’s almost three hours by ferry from Tenerife, or a flight from Tenerife’s less used northern airport. The effort is repaid with an island different to the rest of the archipelago.
Valverde is the only inland capital, and at 600m it is often referred to as “The Village Above the Clouds”. The fishing village of La Restinga offers boat-fresh seafood and a nearby interpretation centre, which investigates the 2011 eruption that came within metres of creating another Canary Isle.
Parador de El Hierro is fittingly for El Hierro, at the end of one-way road to the end of the world. Great sea views and doubles from €115 .
La Graciosa – the Crusoe isle
The “newest” Canary Island was designated in 2018. This is proper holiday adventure as you bash across the Atlantic from Lanzarote. Tarmac roads are replaced by sandy tracks on La Graciosa, 4x4s eking around the “streets” of the only village, Caleta de Sebo.
Breaking off into the wilds, cycle to the northern volcanoes. Real Robinson Crusoes will spy the distant rough necklace of islets just to the north, accessible on private boat trips if you want to sail even further off the tourist map.
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