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The best things to do in the Canary Islands

03 April 2016 ( 17 October 2018 )

From leisurely bike rides to challenging hikes through Mount Teide National Park, we highlight the best things to see and do in the Canaries.

Panorama of the mountainous regions of the Canary Islands
Panorama of the mountainous regions of the Canary Islands

Thanks to Tenerife’s status as one of the top tourist destinations in Europe, and TV series documenting the high jinks of youthful Brits abroad, the Canary Islands are all too often dismissed as a place for the young and reckless. However, nothing could be further from the truth!

So many things to do in the Canary Islands

This cluster of volcanic islands has all the geographical diversity and sunshine of the Caribbean, but it has the advantage of being even closer to home. So, perhaps it’s time you learned some little-known facts about what the islands have to offer, to help plan future tours, day trips and holidays. 

Discover the Canary Islands for beautiful beaches and year-round sunshine. Find out more here

Mountains and more on Tenerife

Tenerife boasts a lot more than thriving resorts for families and twentysomethings. Mature holidaymakers can find plenty of delightful distractions, including leisurely bike rides along the coast.

Enjoy a hike through Mount Teide National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and take the cable car to enjoy breathtaking views from Mount Teide itself.

If you love wildlife, you're in luck. Whales and dolphins feed in warm waters around the island, so join a boat trip to watch them in their natural habitat. 

See the lunar landscapes of Lanzarote

Nowhere is the explosive volcanic past of the Canary Islands more evident than in Lanzarote. Eruptions in the 18th and 19th centuries left a large part of the island scorched and covered in ash. 

The awe-inspiring lunar landscape that was forged in those flames is now known as the National Park of Timanfaya.

Everyone should witness the Mountains of Fire in this region – they are a reminder of Earth before modern life, and the haunting beauty of the area has seen it become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Discover the lunar landscapes of Lanazrote on a cruise with Saga. 

Explore the fantastical forests of La Gomera

Home to the National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Garajonay, La Gomera nurtures a unique ecosystem that is seldom seen in Europe. 

The protected laurisilva forests at the heart of the island support lush vegetation that has otherwise disappeared from southern Europe due to climate changes and deforestation.

Almost permanently cloaked in clouds and mist, the forests are relics of prehistoric ecosystems and home to many rare species of flora and fauna. 

If you should take a step into the mossy, mystical wilderness, you will find it is like travelling back in time or walking into another world.

Booked your holiday? Protect it from the moment you buy Saga's Travel Insurance.

Enjoy the relaxingly remote El Hierro

The sheer volcanic cliffs of El Hierro prevent a sizeable airport from being based on the island, and this fact has the pleasant side-effect of taking the island off the radar of many a holidaymaker. 

Yet, with clean idyllic beaches and magnificent mountain scenery, the Isla del Meridiano is a getaway destination you should not miss.

The smallest Canary Island, El Hierro boasts a mountainous plateau that offers incredible views of the region’s cliffs, forests and craters. 

As the area is largely unspoiled by mass tourism, the locals still rely on traditional industries, offering you a snapshot of the historic cultural activities in the archipelago if you visit.

Witness the delightful diversity of Gran Canaria

Known as pequeño continente, or “small continent”, the island of Gran Canaria is blessed with incredible ecological and climatic diversity. You can travel by car from views of snow-dusted mountain peaks to desert-like sand dunes in a matter of minutes.

Gran Canaria’s subtropical climate is perfect for growing exotic fruits and plants, and the island’s harbours reap rich bounties of fish as well. 

With plunging cliffs and bleached white beaches along its stunning coastline, this isle is a spectacular site to savour for many different reasons.

Discover Gran Canaria with Saga. 

See the bountiful beauty of La Palma

Known as La Isla Bonita, or “Pretty Island”, La Palma is quite possibly the jewel in the crown of the Canaries. The landscapes on offer include verdant vegetation, stunning natural springs and a wealth of volcanic vistas.

The most picturesque sight on La Palma is the National Park of Caldera de Taburiente, one of the largest volcanic craters in the world. 

The volcano cavity, which has a perimeter of nine kilometres, is covered in thick forests teeming with life. Looking down on the crater from the surrounding mountains offers an inspiring view.

Visitors who are intent on enjoying scenic holidays should also tour the coves and crystal waters of the eastern coastline, or take in the pretty ports and beaches on the west. 

The island is home to the International Astrophysical Observatory, which is the site of one of the most important telescopes in the world.

Things to see and do on a Canary Island cruise.

Take a cruise to the Canary Islands

Impressed by the variety of appealing islands? Explore the diversity of the Canary Islands the easy way with a Saga cruise; even if all you want to do is laze around on the beach all day, our cruises have something to suit different types of traveller.

Discover the Canary Islands for beautiful beaches and year-round sunshine. Find out more here

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.