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A Complete Guide to Visiting the Canary Islands in Spain

  • Post last modified:October 25, 2023
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Have you ever heard of the Canary Islands in Spain? This 7 island archipelago is one of the most underrated areas on the planet.


While most islands are known for their beaches, these ones are just so much more. Want to hike to the top of a volcano? How about get lost in a foggy jungle? Looking for adventure? What about having a weekend of beach and partying? Well, the Canary Islands in Spain have it all.


We spent a full two months exploring all 7 of the main islands, as well as 2 smaller ones. Each island has its own charm, and is worth a visit, which is why we're going to help you choose which of the Canary Islands is best to visit for you! Let's jump right in to everything you need to know about visiting the Canary Islands in Spain.

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Where are the Canary Islands in Spain?

Spain has two sets of main islands- the Balaeric islands, and the Canary Islands. While the Balaeric Islands are located right off the coast of mainland Spain, the Canary Islands are actually a bit further.


The archipelago of the Canary Islands in Spain is actually located off the north western coast of Africa. This is great because they are still part of Spain, but experience much better weather than the mainland.

where are the Canary Islands in Spain

Even though they are part of Spain, the Canary Islands are located off the coast of Africa.


How to Get to the Canary Islands in Spain

Despite their odd location, the Canary Islands in Spain are actually quite accessible. You can reach them by flight, ferry, and cruise ship.


Flying to the Canary Islands in Spain

Many cities throughout Spain, as well as all over Europe have direct flights to the majority of the islands. The two cheapest and easiest islands to get to are Tenerife and Gran Canaria, but there are also plenty of other countries with direct flights to the islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and La Palma.

flying to the Canary Islands

Flying into or out of Tenerife gives you the most stunning views.

Flight Tip: With Skyscanner you can put from "your city" to "Spain", and then compare the flights for different islands. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates the different islands!

Search for a flight to the Canary Islands:

Taking a Ferry to the Canary Islands in Spain

Another way to visit the Canary Islands is by ferry. Although it is much more common to take ferries within the Canary Islands, there are ferries that go from the mainland to a few of the different islands.


Ferries go from Huelva to both Gran Canaria and Tenerife a few times a week, and take about 32-34 hours. Tickets for foot passengers start at 121 euros and for cars start at 345 euros.


We personally think that flying is much easier when it comes to visiting the Canary Islands in Spain. However, if you aren't a fan of flying, then this mini cruise may be for you.

Ferries getting around the Canary Islands in Spain
Armas Navierras
ferry for getting around the Canary Islands in Spain

All of the islands are connected by ferry.


Cruising to the Canary Islands in Spain

Due to their location, it is actually very common for cruise ships to stop in the Canary Islands.


Many will stop there on Transatlantic Crossings, usually going from Miami to Europe or vice versa. These happen usually in the spring when ships are relocating from the Caribbean to Europe for the summer, or in the fall when ships are heading back to the Caribbean for the winter.


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Cruise ships usually stop for just a day in a few different islands, the most popular ones being Tenerife and Gran Canaria, but also sometimes Lanzarote and La Palma. There are also local European cruise lines that stop in the Canary Islands on a more regular basis.

cruising to the Canary Islands in Spain

A lot of cruise ships stop in the Canary Islands during Transatlantic crossings.


Entry Requirements for the Canary Islands in Spain

When visiting the Canary Islands, the restrictions to enter are the same as mainland Spain. Here are a few things to keep in mind. 


Visa Requirements for the Canary Islands in Spain

There are many citizenships that can enter Spain visa-free. Travelers from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland can enter with zero restrictions, while those that don't need a Schengen visa can visit for up to 90 days in a 180 day period.


The 90/180 Rule

It's important to note that the 90 days are valid for all countries in the Schengen area, For example, if you spend 20 days in Italy (also part of the EU), you will then only be able to spend 70 days total in Spain within that 180 day period.


We use the Schengen visa calculator, which is helpful for those planning on traveling in and out of the EU for a long period of time.


Schengen Visas

For those that are planning on staying longer, or those that are from a country that don't get visa-free access, they will need to in fact apply for a Schengen Visa. Check out the list of countries that need to get a Schengen Visa so that you can know if you'll have to get one or not.


Covid Entry Requirements for the Canary Islands in Spain

When we visited the Canary Islands in Spain in February, Covid tests were still obligatory. The good news is, that now all restrictions have been lifted! There are no extra requirements to enter Spain due to Covid, and masks are no longer necessary unless in a medical facility or on public transportation.

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Local Adjustments for the Canary Islands in Spain

Whenever you travel somewhere new, there are things that you may forget about. These could be different from where you are coming from. Here are a few of the local adjustments to keep in mind while traveling to the Canary Islands in Spain.


What Language Is Spoken in the Canary Islands?

The official language in the Canary Islands is Spanish. However, the Spanish in the Canary Islands is a little different than the Spanish spoken on the mainland. They speak much faster, and can be a bit more difficult to understand, They actually share more in common language-wise with the Caribbean than they do with Spain.


Do People Speak English in the Canary Islands?

Many of the islands have a big influx of German and English tourists. Because of this, you'll find that the more touristy areas have a lot of signs and menus in multiple languages, as well as many English and German speakers.


What Currency is Used in the Canary Islands?

The currency used in The Canary Islands is the same as the rest of Spain, which is the euro. Most places takes credit card, so you won't need to carry too much cash on you, unless you are taking public transportation.


Outlets in the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands use the same plugs as the rest of Europe, which are plug types C, E, & F. The standard voltage in The Canary Islands is 220V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.


Can You Drink the Water in the Canary Islands?

When you go to restaurants in the Canary Islands you will never receive tap water. Many say that you can't drink it, or they simply won't offer it. However, we drank plenty of tap water throughout the Canary Islands in Spain, and it is perfectly safe to consume.


Tipping in the Canary Islands

The tipping culture in Spain is pretty much inexistent. If you are traveling around the Canary Islands it is not common to tip, unless it is a very nice restaurant, or has excellent service. If this is the case people will usually leave one or two euros.


However, when you visit some more touristy areas like the south of Gran Canaria or Tenerife, it is much more common for people to leave 10% or for there to be a service charge on top of your bill.


What is the Nicest Canary Island to Visit ? Comparing Each of the Different Canary Islands in Spain

We'll be honest- there is not a single part of the Canary Islands in Spain that we did not enjoy! Each island has its own beautiful landscapes and overall atmosphere to it. We're going to share a bit about each island, so you can choose which of the Canary Islands is best to visit for you.


Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

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Canary Islands in Spain Pin
Canary Islands in Spain Pin

Tenerife

Tenerife is the biggest and most popular of all of the Canary Islands in Spain. It is the most well connected to the rest of the islands, as well as with other cities throughout Spain and the rest of Europe.


In the north of Tenerife there is a national park full of greenery. In the south, there are a ton of touristic parties happening, and the capital is in the middle, which is Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Tenerife is home to the famous Teide Volcano, which is so grand, that it can actually be seen from a few other islands in the area!


driving in Tenerife
Playa Las Teresitas, what to do in Tenerife
above the clouds in Tenerife, Canary Islands in Spain

Tenerife is famous for its enormous volcano, El Teide.

The island of Tenerife is great to visit for all types of travelers from families to young party goers. It is home to the famous Carnaval in February, and has a great mix of landscapes from black sand beaches to green mountains.

Are you wondering what to do in Tenerife? This Canary Island is one of the most popular, and the major hub to get around the rest of the Canary Islands in Spain.Whether you're looking for the best beaches in Tenerife, to the hidden photo spots, we've got you covered! We've

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Book a place to stay in Tenerife:

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Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is another one of the islands that kind of has a bit of everything, and in our opinion, is the most well rounded.


The island of Gran Canaria has mountains, forests, beaches, caves, natural pools, and even sand dunes that will make you feel like you are in the middle of a desert! The north is where the capital is, and is perfect for young backpackers or those working and traveling.


Caves of Valeron, Gran Canaria, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
sand dunes of Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Gran Canaria, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain

Gran Canaria has a wide variety of landscapes.

The south is full of more families and partiers of all ages. There is truly something for everyone in Gran Canaria, and a wide variety of activities for all types of travelers.

Book a place to stay in Gran Canaria:

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La Palma

The island of La Palma had a huge volcanic eruption in 2021, and it definitely suffered from lack of tourism. However, now the island is back, and there are plenty of great reasons to visit.


La Palma is located in the north west of the archipelago. Because of this it isn't quite as visited as Tenerife or Gran Canaria, but it does attract a lot of German travelers.


Poris de Candelaria, La Palma Island
Santa Cruz de la Palma, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
La Palma, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain

La Palma has natural pools, colorful towns, and a village built into a cave!

Some of our favorite things about La Palma are the steamy volcano, lush green parks, salt flats in the south, and one of the most beautiful views above the clouds. La Palma also has a super cute capital city, and a fishing village built into a cave!

Book a place to stay in La Palma:

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Lanzarote

Lanzarote is truly unlike any of the other Canary Islands. This island has over 100 volcanos, and even a volcanic winery!


This windy island is great for surfers, and also has a variety of other cool landscapes like caves and natural pools. Lanzarote is home to a famous artist called Cesar Manrique, and you can enjoy various venues throughout the island like a cactus garden, museum, house, and cavern.


Timanfaya National Park, places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Volcano in Lanzarote, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Montaña Colorada, things to see in Lanzarote, Canary Islands in Spain

Lanzarote has over 100 volcanos!

Lanzarote is located in the far north east of the archipelago, but is also very close to the islands of Fuerteventura and La Graciosa, giving you an endless amount of things to do.

Book a place to stay in Lanzarote:

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Fuerteventura

Looking for the best beaches in the Canary Islands (and in Spain)? Well, Fuerteventura is largely plain, with very little greenery. However, it is home to stunning Caribbean-like beaches, and one of our favorite natural pools.


While many other islands have a lot of Germans, Fuerteventura is home to a big influx of Italians on the island. Head to popcorn beach in the north, the window caves along the western coast, or the beautiful beaches in the south.


beaches in Fuerteventura, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
Popcorn Beach
Sotavento, beaches in Fuerteventura, best places to visit in the Canary Islands

Fuerteventura has the best beaches in the Canary Islands.

Fuerteventura is between Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, and is also super close to Isla de Lobos, which is the perfect day trip to check out.

Book a place to stay in Fuerteventura:

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La Gomera

If you like hiking and lush greenery then La Gomera is the place for you. This tiny round island is super underrated, and only really popular with Germans and hippies, who have fallen in love with its beauty.


The entire center of the island is a national park, and will make you feel like you've teleported to another country. La Gomera is full of hidden gems like epic viewpoints, black sand beaches, and a private restaurant built into a cave.


Visiting the Canary Islands in Spain
renting a van in La Gomera, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain
driving around the island of La Gomera

The island of La Gomera has the best views of El Teide in Tenerife.

We rented a van here and truly fell in love with this beautiful island. Situated just west of Tenerife, it has the best views of El Teide Volcano, and is a great getaway from the larger and more popular island that more tourists flock to.

Have you ever heard of the island of La Gomera? It's one of the smallest of the Canary Islands, but is super underrated!Image an island where you can have the chance to stroll through fairytale forests, lounge on a black sand beach, or eat in a cave restaurant all within

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Book a place to stay in La Gomera:

Booking.com

El Hierro

This is the smallest of the principal Canary Islands, and the least visited. However, we absolutely fell in love with El Hierro.


It is super easy to get around, and can actually be hiked across in just 10 hours! El Hierro has gorgeous views, epic waves, and the world's smallest hotel. There is zero nightlife, but it is a great getaway to experience some of the best hidden gems that the Canary Islands has to offer.


La Maceta, pools in El Hierro
El Hierro, best places to visit in the Canary Islands
Mirador la Llania, El Hierro, best places to visit in the Canary Islands in Spain

El Hierro is a tiny but underrated island.

El Hierro can only be reached by coming from the islands of Tenerife or Gran Canaria. If you want a quiet getaway, then this is definitely the right island for you.

Book a place to stay in El Hierro:

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La Graciosa

Now that you know all about the main islands to visit, here are two other islands that you can visit as day or weekend trips from the other islands.


La Graciosa as a whole is a protected park, and can be visited for a day trip, or for a few days from the island of Lanzarote.