Last updated on February 17, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Canary Islands

The best Canary Island

This is one of the most atypical archipelagoes in the world, with extreme differences in scenery and weather between the islands, although so close to each other.

It comes as no surprise that you may find it difficult to understand what is the best Canary Island for your holiday.

The choice is based on your type of trip: travelling with family or as a couple, looking for beaches, for surfing, hiking or any other activity that you have in mind.

I tried to cover most of the scenarios, however, please leave a comment and I will reply in no time.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

You can read also

The famous and beautiful Papagayo Beach
The famous and beautiful Papagayo Beach – Lanzarote

The Best Canary Islands to visit – in a nutshell

Here below a quick list of the most common questions and answers

If you keep reading, however, you will discover even more information about the different islands, with the most relevant links. 

  • Best Canary islands for beaches: Lanzarote has probably the most incredible and unique beaches. Tenerife has also some spectacular ones, with both white and black sand.
  • Best Canary islands for families: Grand Canaria is the best choice. There are plenty of fantastic resorts with good facilities for kids. AirBnbs are also available. The choice is wide. Tenerife is also a good option, however, you need to be selective on the area as this is an island famous for its nightlife too.
  • Best Canary islands to visit for holidays: if you are after a holiday package then be sure you will find it in any of the 4 most famous islands. It all depends on the activities that you have in mind.
  • Best Canary islands for couples: Lanzarote is the most spectacular and romantic of all. If you are also looking for some action and drinks then Tenerife is a good choice.
  • Best Canary islands for surfing: Fuerteventura and Lanzarote have the best spots for surfing. Plenty of choice for both summer and winter
  • Best Canary islands for diving: the best condition for diving in the Canary Islands is between April and October. There are literally good diving spots everywhere. It’s down to personal preference. Lanzarote have many protected marine parks. The tiny and remote island of El Hierro is also famous for its Diving Natural Park, with over 10 diving centres in the small village of La Restinga. 
  • Best Canary islands for nightlife and party: Tenerife is the most famous spot for nightlife in this archipelago. Playa Las Americas is world-famous for its late hour clubs and Costa Adeje is a great spot for more mature tourism, with plenty of dining and drinking places, without the loud part of it.
  • Best Canary islands for hiking: Lanzarote has unique scenery not only in this archipelago but in the whole world. The Natural Parks of Los Volcanes is an incredible place with the many calderas that, looked from above, create a “Swiss Emmental cheese” landscape. There are plenty of hiking tracks and in the afternoon why not swim at the beach ;). La Palma is also a great island for hiking with amazing Natural Parks
  • Best Canary islands for relaxing: La Palma and El Hierro are both very relaxing islands, a bit stuck in the past. To reach them you need a local flight from Tenerife/Gran Canaria, or a ferry boat. It will be a relaxing stay with genuine local restaurants and cafes. English is not as widely spoken as in the other islands.
  • Best Canary islands for winter sun: The Grand Canaria is the most popular island for the winter sun, especially for North Europeans. In fact, the months between December and February are part of the so-called Scandinavian Season. In the south of the island, temperatures are averaging around 20C and the sun is more common than anywhere else in the Canary Islands.
  • Best Canary islands for cycling: Lanzarote and La Palma offer both great sceneries. La Palma is better if you are looking for a more authentic experience, however, watch out on the poor condition of the concrete on the roads, especially on the descents.
  • Best Canary islands for walking: they all offer great walking possibilities. Lanzarote does offer also great sceneries in the Los Volcanes Park with mostly easy walks
  • Best Spanish island for windsurfing and kitesurfing: Fuerteventura is well known around the world for both windsurfing and kitesurfing with world tours stopping during July and August, the months with the best wind consistency.
  • Best Canary islands for honeymoon: Lanzarote is a great option if you are looking for a dramatic and romantic landscape. Tenerife is a good alternative if you are after an exclusive resort.
  • Best Canary islands for singles: if you are after some nightlife then Tenerife is a great option. Book your accommodation at Playa Las Americas, with nice beaches and plenty of bars for the night. Lanzarote is instead ideal if you are looking for a more relaxing time with some walks along the lovely beaches or in the Los Volcanes Natural Park.
  • Best Canary islands for Christmas: the island where you get more of a Christmas feeling is Grand Canaria. Stay in the south for better and warmer weather, however, visit the capital Las Palmas for more of a local touch on Christmas Day. This period of the year is considered to be high season, book well in advance.
  • Best Canary islands for snorkelling: these islands are not super famous for snorkelling. The coastline is steep and therefore you will not see that much. In saying that, there are some lovely spots as Lobos Island, a protected nature reserve just 15 minutes from the north coast of Fuerteventura (plenty of boats go there). The island of El Hierro is also another good option
  • Best Canary islands for golf: there are plenty of options in all of the islands, however, the most popular courses are in Grand Canaria and Tenerife
  • Best Canary islands for shopping: Las Palmas in Grand Canaria is the only real city in the archipelago. You will find shopping centres as well as shopping areas inside the city.
  • Best Canary Islands for luxury: Grand Canaria and Tenerife have the highest concentration of luxury hotels
  • Best time to visit the Canary Islands: this is a part of the world with great weather all year-round. In saying that, there are differences between the islands based on the month you plan to visit. Read below more on the weather and the best ilands.

The Canary Islands list

In this Canary Island list, I cover the most famous islands in the archipelago.

As you know these islands are off the coast of Africa and they have a subtropical climate, that can be quite dry or humid based on where you go.

Spanish islands off the coast of Africa - Canary Islands
Spanish islands off the coast of Africa – Canary Islands

Interestingly enough, they are located 2,000km south of Madrid and just 100km off the Moroccan coast.

They are part of Spain since the 15th century, however, they still have a few festivals inspired by the original inhabitants, the Guanches.

La Fiesta del Charco in Gran Canaria is probably the most popular event.

The archipelago is made of 8 main islands of which 4 very popular with tourism: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

You can access all of them with direct flights, including low-cost airlines.

The remaining 4 islands, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa, are less popular with tourism and you will have more of a local experience.

Tenerife

Tenerife is the biggest of all the Canary Islands with 2 international airports, one in the north and the busiest one in the south.

Most of the popular resorts areas are in the south of the island where usually you can expect sunny warm weather also in the winter months (20-22C on average), with just a few uncommon hours of rain.

The south has also the most spectacular beaches, some with white silky sand and others with black volcanic sand.

This part of the island has resorts for families a well as for a romantic stay or for a week of intense nightlife (Playa de Las America is a world-famous destination for parties)

For a more characteristic and local experience head north where you will find many villages and towns only marginally impacted by mass tourism.

The weather in summer is also cooler, compared to the south coast, which makes it ideal for visitors that do not stand high temperatures well over 30C

However, I would not suggest this area in winter because you will experience quite likely rain every second day.

You should check out this Full Guide on Tenerife that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday and when to visit the island

Read Reference Guide to Tenerife

Sunset on Tenerife
Sunset on Tenerife

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is arguably the best Canary island for families thanks to the shallow water beaches of the south coast.

It is in this area that you will find most of the resorts and towns of the island, all with a nice relaxed vibe.

If you are travelling with kids then Arguineguin and Puerto Rico are two fantastic family destinations.

The “Little Venice” Puerto de Mogan is instead a popular place for couples, very charming and romantic.

You can also find some nightlife in Gran Canaria, mainly in Playa del Inglés, however, on a much smaller scale if compared with Tenerife.

You should check out this Full Guide on Gran Canaria that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday and when to visit the island

Read Reference Guide to Gran Canaria

Maspalomas dunes
Maspalomas dunes

Fuerteventura

This is the best Canary Island for water sport, namely surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.

July and August are the best months if you are passionate about wind sports. 

The PWA Windsurf World Cup is planned in Sotavento, in the Costa Calma; similarly for kitesurfing. 

Corralejo is the tourist centre of the island, the most popular town to stay in, where you can experience also the best nightlife, although far from the Tenerife parties.

Winter, between December and March, is the best period for surfing when you can experience the best regular waves.

Fuerteventura can be a good destination also for families with kids, however, you need to be very careful in selecting the right resort area that has to be repaired from the wind, otherwise, it can be uncomfortable to stay on the beach.

Public transportation is well organised, considering it is a good size island.

It mostly works as a hub and spoke network with centre in Puerto del Rosario, the capital, a good place to stay if you want to visit the island without renting a car.

You should check out this Full Guide on Fuerteventura that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday and when to visit the island

Read Reference Guide to Fuerteventura

The beautiful Morro Jable bay
The beautiful Morro Jable bay

Lanzarote

Lanzarote is hands down the best Canary Island for hiking thanks to the spectacular and unique landscape.

The Los Volcanes Natural Park is a real wonder of nature and walking through the calderas is an experience by itself.

There are only a bunch of locations in the world with such unparalleled scenery.

Cycling is also a popular activity as you can imagine. Riding through the winding roads of this volcanic area is a dream come true.

In Lanzarote, you will also find one of the best centres in the world to prepare a triathlon.

And if you want to try some surfing you can always head to Orzola and La Santa for a few good breaks.

Definitely an island full of action, however, you can also find relaxed spots for families and romantic towns for couples

You should check out this Full Guide on Lanzarote that I wrote with all the info about the best areas to stay based on your type of holiday and when to visit the island

Read Reference Guide to Lanzarote

The famous calderas of Lanzarote
The famous calderas of Lanzarote

La Palma

La Palma is the wildest “brother” of this Spanish archipelago, with amazing walks all around and up to 1000km of well-signed tracks.

It is one of the two best Canary islands for hiking, together with Fuerteventura.

It has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 2002 thanks to some of the most outstanding natural wonders of the world.

The Volcano route, in the heart of the island, is recognised as one of the best hikes on our planet for its spectacular landscape.

The Caldera de Taburiente National Park is a volcanic caldera, millions of years old, where you can trek in an amazing forest between waterfalls.

Looking for snorkelling and some beach time? Go to Puerto Naos where you can experience the volcanic black sand.

La Palma is also very famous for star glazing, thanks to its high peaks (up to almost 2,000m). 

You will be able to see stars not only above you but also down to the horizon line.

And if you are after a relaxing stay, be sure that La Palma has still no sign of mass tourism, not even in the peak season.

La Palma is also a great spot for road cycling, however, you should pay extreme attention to the quality of roads, sometimes not the best.

The capital of the island, Santa Cruz de La Palma, is an old town with still beautiful authentic colonial architecture that will take you back to the 17th century.

This is where you can book your accommodation, rent a car and explore La Palma.

El Hotelito 27 is one of the most beautiful and authentic hotels in town (see photos here)

Carefully designed with a charming vision, this accommodation offers wide bedrooms right in the centre of Santa Cruz. Parking is included.

Check price at El Hotelito

Los Tilos - La Palma
Los Tilos – La Palma

El Hierro

El Hierro is highly recognised as the best Canary Island for diving.

There are 46 dive sites to explore around the island, with the small town of La Restinga the epicentre of the diving movement.

Similarly to La Palma, also El Hierro is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve with amazing natural wonders that go beyond the underwater world.

Spectacular walks and trekking all around, an island which is perfect for every traveller looking for action.

If you are thinking about a diving holiday then stay in La Restinga where you can find more divining centres than houses (overstating, but up to a point 🙂 )

This is where you will find that nice vibe of people interested in the underwater world.

The Varadero Apartment has one of the best views from the wide terrace (see photos here)

This is a 1 bedroom serviced apartment that can host up to 3 people with all you need for your stay.

Check availability at Varadero

 
Scuba diving in El Hierro
Scuba diving in El Hierro

Best time to visit the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are located on the Tropic of Cancer line. 

This means that you can experience consistent nice weather all year round.

The temperatures are usually within the 20-30C range.

In summer it can get even hotter than 30C but the nice sea breeze is always there to cool down the weather

In winter you may experience some rain, usually in the late afternoon. On rare occasions, you may have constant rain for more than one day

Best Canary Islands in December, January, February and March

These are all great months to visit the Canary Islands; also called the Scandinavian season, popular with people from North Europe

It is mildly warm with day average temperatures of 20-22C, sometimes up to 26-28C.

At night, however, the weather can be a bit chilly with temperatures approaching the single digit.

During the day it’s usually warm enough to lie down at the beach.

What about the sea? It’s not as warm but not as cold either with a temperature of around 20C. You can definitely swim in it.

As a rule of thumb, the souther you go the warmer it gets. 

In this respect, Gran Canaria and Teneriffe are a better bet.

Moreover, stay on the south coast of the above Canary islands for more consistent warm sunny days.

Christmas and New Year are considered peak season. 

Best Canary Islands in April, May, October and November

These are in my opinion the best months to visit the Canary Islands.

Especially May and November are not as popular which means better choice and price in accommodations, besides a better service overall.

April is considered mid-season and the Eastern week can be quite busy, especially in the south of Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

These are great months in all of the Canary Islands.

Sunny, warm, not as popular with tourism and overall cheaper.

You may experience some coolish wind from the north. For this reason, I suggest again to stay on the south coast of your island of choice.

Best Canary Islands in June, July, August and September

This is the peak season everywhere you go.

Temperatures can go well above the 30C.

If you suffer from the hot weather then try to book on the north coast of Gran Canaria and Tenerife, usually cooler and quieter.

July and August in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote can be quite windy. Two great islands for windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Families with kids should avoid the most famous windy beaches and look for more sheltered towns (read my guides for more info)

El Hierro, La Palma as well as La Gomera are the most relaxing places to stay, almost untouched by mass tourism

Corralejo Natural Park
Corralejo Natural Park

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Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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