With year-round sunshine, silky beaches, and valley-to-mountain countryside, the Canary Islands have something for everyone. The eight islands, which, at their closest point, are only 100km off of the African coast, also have fantastic food, charming white-washed villages, and scenic hikes around volcanoes.

Best of all, they’re just over a four-hour flight away. So, to inspire your next trip, here are seven of the best things to see and do in the Canary Islands.

1. Explore Teide National Park, Tenerife

Explore Teide National Park, Tenerife

Mount Teide is Spain’s tallest peak and one of the highest volcanoes in the world. It last erupted in 1909 and is still active today. But don’t let that put you off! Teide is safe to explore and remains one of Tenerife’s most popular tourist attractions.

The easiest (and most sustainable) way to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site is to take one of the many organised group excursions which collect passengers from major towns around the island. You’ll learn about the unique geology and history of Teide National Park as you head towards the volcano itself.

The most popular way to climb Mount Teide is by cable car – but you can go on foot if you’re up for a challenge! You might well want to bring a fleece though as Teide reaches an impressive 3,178 metres.

Once at the visitor centre, you can explore trails with an audio guide, hike past smouldering sulphurous fumaroles, and enjoy stunning views.

Teide overlooks a lunar-like landscape where, in the spring, between the rust-red lava tongues and cones, the rocky outcrops are dotted with wildflowers. On a clear day, you can spot the islands of La Gomera, La Palma, El Hierro, and Gran Canaria, poking out in the distant blue Atlantic.

If you’re feeling fit, there’s also the option of a one-hour hike from the visitor’s centre up to the crater.

2. Experience the charm of Las Palmas’ Old Town, Gran Canaria

Experience the charm of Las Palmas’ Old Town, Gran Canaria

Culture vultures and foodies will enjoy the authentic Spanish vibe of Gran Canaria’s capital city, Las Palmas.

Las Palmas is the Canary Island’s largest city and its Old Town, Vegueta, isn’t one to miss. Vegueta is the original settlement from which Las Palmas was born, and things haven’t changed much since Christopher Colombus stopped off here in 1492 during his trip to the West Indies.

Step back in time as you wander Vegeuta’s charming cobblestone streets and squares, which are lined with historical buildings. In the main square, Plaza de Santa Ana, white-washed houses hug the historic Town Hall, Bishop’s Palace, and the splendid twin-towered Santa Ana Cathedral.

If you climb to the top of the cathedral, you’ll be rewarded with eye-popping views over Las Palmas. Look out for the green bronze Dogs of Plaza de Santa Ana, which have sat as guardians of the square and its cathedral since the 19th century.

Then, meander down one of the lanes running off the Plaza, stopping off in a bodega or little restaurant for some tapas and a glass of wine. Or, you could head to Vegueta’s colourful market – which dates back to 1863 – and pick up some delicious Iberian ham and cheese.

From £1,099pp - Highlights of the Montenegro Riviera

Soak up the incredible scenery and charming culture of Montenegro on this 7-night holiday. Located just south of Dubrovnik, this gem offers sandy beaches, forest-cloaked mountains and crystal-clear lakes.
Flights and transfers are included on this fully guided and all-inclusive adventure.
Price and availability accurate as of 9:00am 24th May 2024.

Book now with Travel Department

3. Explore the life and work of César Manrique, Lanzarote

Explore the life and work of César Manrique, Lanzarote

Lanzarote might be best known for its beautiful beaches, but there’s much more to this wild, palm-fringed island. If it’s a taste of Spanish culture you’re after, you might be interested in learning more about the island’s most famous son, César Manrique (1919-1992).

The renowned multi-faceted artist and architect was born in Lanzarote and left his artistic stamp throughout the island. Manrique was inspired by Lanzarote’s lunar-like, rocky landscape and his series of urban and architectural projects were designed to express harmony between humans and nature.

Manrique had clear expressions on what houses should look like: white-painted with green or blue windowsills and never exceeding four levels – a trend which can be seen throughout many buildings in Lanzarote.

The artist had two strikingly different homes of his own too. Both were transformed into museums following his death and are well worth a visit.

Casa del Volcán (or, the Volcano House), where Manrique lived for 20 years from 1968 to 1988, sits in the middle of a volcanic lava flow left by 18th-century eruptions. Today, it houses the César Manrique Foundation, displaying much of the artist’s finest work. The building itself is a magnificent work of architecture and an example of man and nature working in harmony. A series of tunnels carved through lava connect the rooms of the underground floor.

His second home, Palm Grove House, is a converted farmhouse in the lush village of Haria, where Manrique lived and worked until he died in 1992. Here, you can admire the building’s unique blend of traditional Canarian materials with modern design; and step into the artist’s separate studio which, preserved just as Manrique left it, offers a glimpse into his creative process.

While Lanzarote is most associated with Manrique, his work can also be seen in Tenerife, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, and La Gomera.

4. Enjoy the beauty of Corralejo Natural Park, Fuerteventura

Enjoy the beauty of Corralejo Natural Park, Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is the second largest Canary Island. While some of the island is quite developed, there are pockets which remain untouched, such as Corralejo Natural Park.

This unspoilt reserve covers a large section of the northeast of Fuerteventura and is perfect for both beach-goers and adventure seekers.

In the park’s north, honey-coloured dunes tumble down to an azure ocean (the dunes are so vast that they can be seen on satellite images of Fuerteventura!). If it’s a wide empty beach with (almost) no one else on it, this is the place to come.

To the south, the opposite awaits: a volcanic, dramatic landscape formed of rugged rocks and ochre clay, which is ideal for hiking. Climb the 300 metres up the Red Mountain volcano for incredible views across Lanzarote and La Graciosa across the water.

The charming town of Corralejo is just a short 5km drive away, where you can enjoy a cooling drink and tapas overlooking the sea in its bustling marina. There are also watersports, sunloungers, and organised boat trips to the local uninhabited Island of Lobos, which is fantastic for snorkelling and bird watching.

Get a great deal on your next holiday

Looking to book your next getaway? Here’s a selection of the best travel deals on Rest Less today.

From £231pp – Holidays to Crete* >

Greece | Flights and Accommodation Included | Book with TUI

From £699pp £1,279 – Adventure through Portugal* >

7 Nights | Flights & Accommodation Included | Lisbon – Porto | Book with Exoticca

From £1,099pp – Highlights of the Montenegro Riviera* >

Fully Guided | 7 Nights | Flights and Transfers Included | Book with Travel Department

Prices and availability accurate as of 9:00am 24th May 2024.

Or see all travel deals

5. Go dolphin and whale watching

The Canary Islands are a gift for nature lovers – particularly when it comes to dolphin and whale watching.

El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Gomera, and Tenerife are among the best islands for dolphin and whale watching. Though, Tenerife’s southwest coast is particularly popular for the protected marine strip Teno-Rasca. Up to 22 different types of whales and dolphins have been spotted here – and pods of pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins live here all year round.

Due to its location and climate, it’s possible to see whales and dolphins year-round in the Canary Islands. However, the winter and spring months (specifically November to February) are your best bet at seeing these magnificent creatures, as this is when they migrate through the waters.

Most dolphin and whale watching tours last roughly three hours and operators can be found in the majority of harbours.

6. Get your walking boots on in La Gomera, La Gomera

Get your walking boots on in La Gomera, La Gomera

If you enjoy an active holiday, head to La Gomera to experience a hike with a difference.

La Gomera may be the third-smallest Canary Island, but it’s also greener and undoubtedly one of the best for a hiking holiday. La Gomera has verdant terraced fields, banana plantations, lush subtropical valleys, mysterious forests, and picturesque ravines, which locals once communicated over using Silbo Gomero – an ancient whistling language.

The trails here are accessible and clearly marked, and there are options for all abilities. The 5km or so hike from La Gomera’s capital San Sebastián to the gorgeous beach of Playa de la Guancha takes about 1.5 hours – and you can look forward to a refreshing dip in the sea when you arrive.

Or, to really immerse yourself in nature, you might like to try Las Cruces: a stunning, highly recommended circular route that’ll take you through the ancient forests of Garajonay National Park.

Search over 2,000 holiday deals

Whether you’re looking for a last-minute getaway, city break or the trip of a lifetime – our travel section has over two-thousand deals from top providers, with options to suit all budget levels.

Find my next holiday

7. Kick back on the Canaries’ best beaches

With warm weather year-round and an endless selection of beautiful beaches, the Canary Islands are an ideal destination for sunseekers. Each island’s coastline has a unique charm, which makes selecting the best beaches something of a fool’s game.

But the good news is that whether you’re after dramatic dunes, snorkelling-friendly waters, or a calming, sandy cove, there’s something for everyone in the Canaries.

In Fuerteventura, the soft, golden sands of Sotavento Beach stretch nine kilometres and offer bliss for beach lovers seeking solitude. On La Palma’s east coast, three charming coves linked by boardwalks make up the Blue Flag Los Cancajos Beach, which is carpeted in beautiful black sand.

For snorkelling and swimming fans, Lanzarote’s Papagayo Beach is a top pick. Then, in Tenerife, Teresitas Beach is a delightful, sheltered bay with a protective breakwater that ensures gentle swimming. This manmade beach is covered with fine golden sand shipped over from Africa – ideal for kicking back on a sunny afternoon, mojito in hand.

Final thoughts…

From sun and sea to nature and culture, the Canary Islands tick a lot of boxes. Whether you see yourself hiking through the lush countryside of La Gomera, exploring the Old Town of Vegueta, or whale watching in Tenerife, we hope this list has inspired you.

For further reading, head over to the travel section of our website. Here, you’ll find everything from adventure holidays and European breaks to cruises. Or, you can browse the latest travel deals.

What are your favourite things to do in the Canary Islands? What activities from our list appeal to you most? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.