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Overview

The seven Canary Islands are a favorite winter retreat for northern Europeans, who gather in the beach resorts. Leave the beaches to find gracious colonial cities, lively local festivals and spectacular natural landscapes spotlighted by ten of Spain's national parks. Gran Canaria is at the center of the volcanic archipelago; it and Tenerife account for the most tourism. Fuerteventura is the largest and unlike the other two lush tropical islands, is almost barren and desert-like. Lanzarote, only 60 miles from the coast of Africa, is a lunar landscape left by seven years of volcanic eruptions in the 1700s. But it is also one of the most ...

The seven Canary Islands are a favorite winter retreat for northern Europeans, who gather in the beach resorts. Leave the beaches to find gracious colonial cities, lively local festivals and spectacular natural landscapes spotlighted by ten of Spain's national parks. Gran Canaria is at the center of the volcanic archipelago; it and Tenerife account for the most tourism. Fuerteventura is the largest and unlike the other two lush tropical islands, is almost barren and desert-like. Lanzarote, only 60 miles from the coast of Africa, is a lunar landscape left by seven years of volcanic eruptions in the 1700s. But it is also one of the most appealing, a virtual gallery of work by Spanish artist César Manrique, who transformed volcanic caves into stunning living spaces. Highlights are the 35-mile crater of Tiede (Spain's tallest mountain), the still-smoldering Timanfaya, Gran Canaria's wild mountainous interior, the dunes of Maspalomas and world-class diving off Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.

Barbara Rogers
About the Expert

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers has written or coauthored more than 30 guidebooks, including The Portugal Traveler, Drive Around Portugal, City Spots Munich, City Spots Helsinki, City Spots Stockholm, Eating New England, and the Maine section of Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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Now Happening in Canary Islands

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: A Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara.
  • Language: Castilian (Spanish), Catalan, Galician, Basque
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall | Rainfall | Daylight
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The islands are known as the land of perpetual spring. Carnival season (January-February) is the most colorful.