Looking for that winter sun?
If you’re doing your homework on winter sun destinations this year, the Canary Islands are pretty hard to beat. The seven islands lie just off the north-west coast of Morocco, each with its own unique ‘personality’. From charming little towns to stunning beaches and cultural landmarks, the diversity of the islands means there’s something for everyone. They all have a few things in common, though: there’s plenty of winter sun, sea, sand and laid-back Spanish culture to soak up.
Here’s a brief run-down of six things to do when visiting the Canary Islands.
Relax on the beaches of Fuerteventura
If you’re chasing the winter sun, chances are you’ll want to spend some time on the beach. Fuerteventura’s shores are said to be the best in Europe: the closest island to North Africa, its white, sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s also a haven for water sports enthusiasts and, unlike its neighbouring isles, Fuerteventura is relatively flat – perfect if you enjoy a gentle bike ride.
Sample Canary cuisine
A good way to immerse yourself in the culture of a holiday destination is to sample the local cuisine. The food in the Canary Islands takes influences from Spanish and African cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh vegetables and fish. The Canary speciality of Sancocho Canario – a salted fish in a spicy sauce – is a must-try.
Visit Santa Cruz in La Palma
A perfectly charming Canary town, wander around the cobbled streets of Santa Cruz, La Palma’s capital. The views are dominated by Cumbre Vieja Volcano and other dramatic landscapes, and the town is made up of manor houses, palaces, churches and colourful houses - many of which date back to the 16th century. Santa Cruz has been declared a ‘Cultural Asset’, and it’s certainly easy to see why.
Explore Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
Created by a volcanic eruption, the Timanfaya landscape now covers around a third of Lanzarote. Visitors can feel the heat of the dormant volcano while walking over the moon-like terrain of the Montanas del Fuego (Fire Mountains). They also offer 25-minute camel rides, for a truly unique way of seeing the park.
Dolphin and whale spotting off Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest of the islands and perhaps the most popular winter sun destination for European travellers; known as the ‘island of eternal spring’ for its excellent year-round climate. Other than visiting the third largest volcano in the world, there’s another way of getting up-close-and-personal with nature: hop on a boat excursion and you are almost guaranteed to spot the resident whales and dolphins swimming between the waters of
Tenerife and La Gomera.
Walk through the Maspalomas Sand Dunes in Grand Canaria
You’ll feel like you’ve entered a different world when you step out onto the spectacular 400-hectare stretch of sand dunes along the coastline of Grand Canaria. The area was given the title of ‘National Park’ 20 years ago, and you can only cross it via foot (or camel).
If you’re planning a trip to the Canary Islands this winter, don’t forget your sun cream! Another thing to tick off your to-do list is ensuring you have the right travel insurance in place.