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Which is the best Canary Island to visit?

by Lisa Stentvedt
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Wondering which is the best Canary Island to visit for your holiday? Then I wrote this guide for you!

The Canary Islands are a group of Spanish islands located off the coast of Africa and are popular among European tourists for their year-round warm temperatures, stunning beaches, and rich volcanic landscapes.

As I have mentioned in pretty much every single post I have written about the Canary Islands, they are especially popular amongst Scandinavians. In fact, I grew up going on package holidays to Tenerife and Gran Canaria, and have since explored more of the islands.

With eight islands to choose from, deciding which Canary Island to visit can be difficult. Therefore, I’ve put together a guide to help you choose the best island for your next Spanish getaway.

The main five Canary Islands people travel to are Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Palma – and these are the ones I will focus on in this guide.

The remaining three; La Gomera, La Graciosa and El Hierro, are popular destinations for day trips from the other islands.

A palm tree in the foreground with a natural pool and the ocean in the background. The sky is turning yellow in the distance, as the sun is setting.

Why visit the Canary Islands?

The main reason people visit any of the islands is the weather and temperature. While the rest of Europe is layering up in winter, the Canaries are just chilling (or rather, warming) with average temperatures of about 22°C (72°F) in the winter months.

On my most recent winter trip to Tenerife, we had days when it was as hot as 26 degrees Celsius in the sun (79 Fahrenheit)!

So, escaping the cold is easily the main reason people visit the Canary Islands. They are all perfect for this, but when it comes to which is the best Canary Island for you, there are plenty of reasons to visit each one.

By this I mean; if you think the Canary Islands are all the same, think again. Each have their own pros and cons (which is why I’m writing this guide to which one you should visit).

Fancy lounging on a sandy beach? Head to Fuerteventura. More of a nature lover? La Palma, with its lush forests, is calling your name. Want a combo of night life and historic sites? Tenerife’s your ticket. Just want to hit the clubs? Gran Canaria might be your best bet.

9 reasons to visit the Canary Islands

Before we dive into the “island selector”, below are the top reasons people visit the Canary Islands. If any of these are tempting, you have come to the right blog.

  1. Sunshine Galore: The Canary Islands are like the friend who always brings the sunshine to a party, literally. They boast an average of 300 sunny days per year. So, pack your reef-friendly sunscreen and get ready to soak up the rays!
  2. Beaches for Days: With a wide variety of beaches, ranging from golden sands to black volcanic shores, you’ll feel like you’re hopping between different planets, not just islands! If this is what will sway your vote, hop over to my guide to the best beaches in the Canary Islands.
  3. The Food: Paella, anyone? And don’t get me started on the Tapas. The local cuisine here is a mouthwatering fusion of Spanish and African influences. Your taste buds will thank you.
  4. Local Wine: Obviously this is one of my top reasons to go anywhere, From the vineyards of Tenerife to the hand-selected wine from the other islands – plenty of restaurants serve great Canary wines with their food!
  5. A Hiker’s Paradise: If you’re a fan of lacing up your boots and hitting the trails, then you’re in luck. The Canaries offer a spectacular topography that’s just begging to be explored.
  6. Diverse Wildlife: Admire the rare birds, dive alongside colorful fish, or just marvel at the myriad of unique flora. If you’re a nature lover, this is your dream destination.
  7. The Night Sky: With almost zero light pollution, the Canary Islands offer one of the best stargazing experiences on the planet. It’s like a nightly fireworks show, but without the noise and smoke!
  8. Friendly Locals: Last, but not least, the warm and welcoming nature of the locals is the cherry on top of this vacation sundae. They’re the type of people who’d give you their last slice of pizza, and that says a lot!
  9. Great Diving: If you are anything like me, you love to go diving when on holiday. I have found that the Canary Islands have some of the best diving in Europe! Seriously, when I went diving in Fuerteventura I even saw the luminescent bio-plankton for the first time!

So, get ready for an unforgettable trip where you’ll enjoy everything from lounging on the beach to hiking up a volcano, and remember, what happens in the Canary Islands, stays in the Canary Islands (except the tan, that comes back with you!).

Regardless of which one of the Canary Islands you choose, you’ll have a great time. Now, let me help you pick the best Canary Island for your trip!

Which is the best Canary Island to visit?

If you’re considering a visit to Spain and wondering whether to include the Canary Islands in your itinerary, allow me to provide some insight.

The Canary Islands offer more than just sandy beaches and abundant sunshine. Each island possesses its own unique charm, beckoning you with its distinctive allure. It’s akin to a delightful assortment where every island showcases its splendor.

So, prepare your luggage, apply some sunscreen, and get ready to be captivated by the remarkable beauty of each island in this sunny Spanish archipelago.

Below I try to go into a little more detail about each island, to hopefully help you make the choice!

Below that I have answered a few more specific questions, like “which is the best Canary Island for families”, couples etc. Find this in the FAQ section!

Why visit Tenerife?

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is a paradise known for its vibrant nightlife, stunning beaches, and breathtaking volcanic landscapes. This captivating island is home to Spain’s highest mountain peak, Mount Teide, which stands majestically in its national park.

Embark on an unforgettable journey as you explore Tenerife, where you can indulge in a lively holiday experience with an abundance of nightlife options, vibrant bars and restaurants, a vast selection of picturesque beaches, and a plethora of opportunities for an active outdoor lifestyle.

Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or a perfect blend of both, Tenerife offers an enchanting escape that will leave you yearning for more.

Personally, I prefer staying on the north side of the island, where they have beautiful vineyards stretching from the mountainside of Teide down to the ocean (and places to visit for wine tastings). However, lots of people love the south, so figuring out where to stay in Tenerife isn’t always straight forward.

The towns in the north are quieter (I recently stayed in Puerto de la Cruz), but there’s also more winds and changing weather compared to the south of the island.

Need more details? Here you go: Where is Tenerife Island?

The view of a town on Tenerife, one of the best canary islands to visit. This is Los Gigantes, with white roofed buildings lining the hillside all the way down to the dark blue ocean.

Top 5 Activities and Things to do in Tenerife

  1. Visit Mount Teide at night: This nighttime tour takes you up Mount Teide for an unforgettable startgazing experience!
  2. Swim in natural pools: A swim in the stunning natural pools of Garachico or Puerto de La Cruz is a must.
  3. Get high (altitude, people, altitude): Take a cable car to the peak of Mount Teide. It’s the highest point in Spain – now, that’s what I call a natural high! This is one of the most popular things to do in Tenerife.
  4. Join the bird gang: Visit the Loro Parque zoo, home to over 300 species of birds. Just don’t start a bird gang war, it’s not West Side Story.
  5. Go wine tasting: Visit a local winery in the Orotava Valley. This is where you’ll find most Tenerife wineries, and is worth a visit – a tour like this includes 2 wineries and dinner!

Browse some of the highest-rated Tenerife activities here:

Why visit Gran Canaria?

Nestled between Tenerife and Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria is a vibrant and diverse island that offers so much more than meets the eye. It is perhaps the most popular amongst the Canary Islands, in large part because it is the most affordable to visit.

Flights to Gran Canaria are frequent (both chartered and scheduled flights), and there are several tourist-welcoming towns around the island.

With its bustling nightlife, all-inclusive resorts, and stunning beaches, it’s a haven for those seeking a beach-centric vacation. It is also ideal for those that want to go somewhere sunny, but not venture too far from home.

I say this, because in the restaurants in Playa del Ingles you’ll find menus in central European and Scandinavian languages. You’ll also find lots of people from your home country there (if you are from the Nordics, Germany or UK).

The Playa del Ingles/Maspalomas area is the most popular destination on Gran Canaria, with lots of great things to do.

Gran Canaria boasts incredible natural reserves, providing endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. From exhilarating hikes and scenic treks to thrilling mountain biking trails, there’s no shortage of adventure here.

Whether you’re basking in the sun on the golden sands or exploring the rugged beauty of the island’s hinterland, Gran Canaria offers a little bit of everything for every traveler.

The El Cabron Marine Reserve on Gran Canaria. This is a photo of black, volcanic rocks along the shore, with the ocean to the right of the image and blue skies above.

Top 5 Activities and Things to do on Gran Canaria

  1. Sunbathe on Playa de Las Canteras beach: It’s not a successful vacation until you’ve got a sunburn to prove it, right? (Just kidding, folks, don’t forget your sunscreen!)
  2. Go on a Boat Tour: A morning catamaran cruise is the perfect way to spend a few hours, and includes snorkeling, kayaking and lots of time to relax on the boat.
  3. Stroll through Vegueta, the old town of Las Palmas: This place is as steeped in history as your average British tea. From the architecture to the landmarks, you’ll find enough Instagrammable spots to last a lifetime.
  4. Hike in the Tamadaba National Park: There’s nothing like a hike to make you appreciate that double-decker cheeseburger you plan on gobbling down later.
  5. Dive in El Cabrón Marine Reserve: Explore a whole new world under the sea, and the El Cabrón is one of the best dive spots on the island (read about my experience here!).

Below are a few more popular tours on Gran Canaria:

Why visit Fuerteventura?

With over 150 stunning beaches and a year-round sunny climate, Fuerteventura is the epitome of relaxation. The island not only offers pristine shores but also boasts some of the most breathtaking beaches on the islands. From the powdery white sands to the crystal-clear turquoise waters, every corner of Fuerteventura exudes tranquility and natural beauty.

There is also some great diving to be done there, so those (like me) who love going diving on holiday will be happy.

Additionally, Fuerteventura is less commonly visited than Tenerife and Gran Canaria, so if you prefer a more quiet island with less tourists, this is your best choice.

The island is also a haven for water-sports enthusiasts. With its strong waves and favorable wind conditions, Fuerteventura is a mecca for kite-surfing and wind-surfing. It also offers fantastic opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving, as mentioned above.

Whether you seek serenity on the shores or adventure in the water, Fuerteventura has it all. This captivating island is a treasure trove of natural wonders, inviting you to immerse yourself in its beauty and create unforgettable memories.

Personally, I think Fuerteventura is my favourite of the Canary Islands.

A small pitcher of local white wine, and a glass with white wine next to it. In the distance you can see the ocean slightly blurred out.
I sure enjoyed myself on Fuerteventura!

Top 5 Activities and Things to do on Fuerteventura

  1. Catch a wave: Fuerteventura is a surfer’s paradise, with waves suitable for both beginners to seasoned pros. So, grab a board, slap on some sunscreen, and ride those waves like you’re in a Beach Boys song!
  2. Climb a Volcano, because why not? If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a character in an adventure movie, then here’s your chance. Hike up to the peak Calderón Hondo, Fuerteventura’s most famous volcano.
  3. Go diving: With crystal clear waters all around Fuerteventura, snorkeling and scuba diving are must-do activities. As mentioned above, I saw the luminescent plankton when diving here!
  4. Relax in the Sun at Cofete Beach: This serene, untouched beach is perfect for those who love long, romantic walks. Or for those who just want to laze around while getting a tan.
  5. Try the Local Food: Fuerteventura has a mouth-watering array of local seafood dishes. Plus, every meal can be paired with the island’s own famous goat cheese. So, put on your stretchy pants and get ready to eat your way across the island!

Why visit Lanzarote?

Lanzarote, a unique and eco-friendly destination, captivates visitors with a rather otherworldly moon-like landscape. The island consists in large part of a contrast of black and golden sandy beaches, creating a picturesque scene that is truly one-of-a-kind.

Not only is Lanzarote a paradise for beach lovers, but it is also a haven for wine enthusiasts (like me). The vineyards in La Geria, nurtured by the volcanic soil, produce some really great wines.

Imagine savoring a glass of exquisite wine while gazing at the breathtaking scenery, truly an experience that indulges the senses.

If you’re seeking a perfect blend of sightseeing, outdoor adventures, and the finer things in life, Lanzarote is the ultimate destination. Like Fuerteventura, it is also slightly quieter than Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

A photo of sun loungers on a beach in Lanzarote with several palm trees scattered throughout. In the back you can see the ocean.
Puerto del Carmen on Lanzarote, courtesy of Roderick Mintjens

Top 5 Things to do and Activities on Lanzarote

  1. Chasing Sunsets at Timanfaya National Park: This Martian-like landscape will make you question whether you took a wrong turn and ended up on a space mission. It’s a must-see, just remember to keep your Martian jokes to a minimum; the park rangers have heard them all.
  2. Paddleboarding in Playa Blanca: Paddleboarding is popular all over the Islands, and Playa Blanca is the perfect place for it.
  3. Exploring Cueva de los Verdes: One of the longest volcanic tunnels in the world – for all you claustrophobics out there, now’s the time to face your fears! Or have a panic attack. Up to you.
  4. Go on a Buggy Tour: Explore the bare landscape on an open-air 4×4, perfect for those who like a bit of speed and adrenaline.
  5. Winery tour at La Geria: Show your classy side! Wine tasting at La Geria is like speed dating, but with wine. Find your perfect match without any awkward small talk, just lots of sipping and spitting.

Why visit La Palma?

La Palma, also known as “La Isla Bonita” (The Beautiful Island), is a hidden gem that captivates nature enthusiasts and avid hikers alike.

The island has beautiful forests with a diverse flora and fauna, winding roads that offer scenic vistas at every turn, and awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes. La Palma truly embodies a natural paradise like no other.

As you explore the island, you’ll encounter the majestic beauty of the largest volcanic crater in the world, a sight that will leave you in awe of Mother Nature’s power and artistry.

Beyond its natural wonders, La Palma beckons those seeking solace and tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of crowded tourist destinations. This is perhaps the best Canary Island to visit if you want less crowds.

Imagine yourself unwinding on pristine beaches, listening to the soothing sounds of crashing waves, and basking in the gentle caress of the island’s warm sun. With its peaceful ambiance and serene setting, La Palma offers a truly rejuvenating escape, allowing you to reconnect with yourself and the natural world around you.

Whether you’re an adventure seeker yearning to conquer challenging trails or a soul in need of serenity, La Palma promises an unforgettable experience that will leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul. Embark on a journey to this enchanting island and immerse yourself in its captivating beauty – a paradise waiting to be discovered.

A cave on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands. There is a walkway to the right of the image leading into the cave, and green and white water swirling in the background entering the cave.

Top 5 Things to do on La Palma

  1. Stargazing: Don’t be surprised if you start to feel like an astronaut on your off-duty hours. With some of the clearest skies in the world, stargazing is a must on La Palma!
  2. Hiking in Caldera de Taburiente National Park: For those who like their walks on the “wild side,” this park offers stunning volcanic landscapes that will have your Instagram followers green with envy!
  3. Visiting Roque de los Muchachos Observatory: One of the most popular activities on the island, and perfect for science fans.
  4. Explore the Black Sand Beaches: Pack your sunnies, beach towel, and a good book. Leave the white sand expectations at home and embrace the gothic beach vibes!
  5. Wine Tasting: What’s a holiday without a little wine? And by “little,” I mean exploring La Palma’s vineyards until you can tell your Tinto from your Rosado with just a sniff and a squint. Don’t forget to bring a designated driver (mine is usually my friend Ida who doesn’t like wine).

So, which is the best Canary Island?

As you can see, each of the Canary Islands has its unique characteristics and appeals to different types of travelers. Whether you’re looking to party in Tenerife or relax on the serene beaches of Fuerteventura or delve into the culture on Lanzarote, there’s an island for everyone. Choose the canary island that best suits yours needs and start planning your next Spanish adventure.

Canary Islands FAQ

Below are the most frequently asked questions I have gotten about the topic. Of course, if the question you are asking is which of the Canary Islands is the best for you to visit, I recommend scrolling back up and reading the post again.

Which is the best Canary Island to visit for families?

For families, your best best is the beaten path found on the south of Tenerife or Gran Canaria as a whole. There are plenty of child-friendly hotels on the islands, with kids pools, kids clubs and entertainment aimed at the younger crowd.

Which is the best Canary Island to visit for couples?

For couples, any of the Canary Islands will do, but I recommend Fuerteventura or even Lanzarote. These are a little less busy than the others, and perfect for a romantic getaway!

What is the most visited Canary Island?

Gran Canaria is the most visited Canary Island, with 3,8 million yearly visitors.

Which Canary Island is the best non touristy?

Fuerteventura is my favourite Canary Island to visit because it is less touristy.

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