Scented pine forests, haunting volcanoes, lunar-like landscapes, secret sandy coves, miles of Sahara-style dunes, beach-hugging resorts – the beautiful, unique Canary Islands wear many tantalising hats.
Marvel at the pine-forested peaks of Gran Canaria’s mountainous interior, the tumbling waterfalls of La Palma or the subtropical greenery of La Gomera’s Parque Nacional de Garajonay. Then contrast all this lushness with the extraordinary bare flatlands flanking Tenerife’s El Teide, the surreal party of colours glittering across Lanzarote’s lava fields, the gentle flower-filled hillsides of El Hierro, and Fuerteventura’s endless cacti-sprinkled plains. The Canary Islands' near-perfect temperatures mean that, year-round, you can soak up fantastical, varied landscapes otherwise only found by crossing continents.
The Great Outdoors
It's this very diversity that makes outdoor pursuits such an easily accessible and key pleasure of the Canaries. Hike the many footpaths criss-crossing the islands, from meandering coastal trails to challenging mountain treks to tranquil forest walks; go diving or snorkelling in blissfully warm waters inhabited by more than 350 species of fish (and the odd shipwreck); or pump up the adrenaline by riding the wind and the waves – kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing and paragliding are all big here. Then slow things down with horse rides, boat trips, kayaking and paddle-boarding jaunts or beachfront yoga.
Art & Architecture
Contrary to many expectations, the Canary Islands are immensely rich in both original art and architecture – sometimes you just need to know where to look. The spectacular surrealist canvases of world-acclaimed painter Óscar Domínguez grace his Tenerife homeland; the enormous abstract sculptures of Martín Chirino are impossible to miss on Gran Canaria; and César Manrique's inspired 'interventions' pop up all over Lanzarote (and beyond). Everywhere, seek out the emblematic wooden balconies, leafy internal patios and cheerily painted facades that typify vernacular Canarian architecture, and pop into charming palm-shaded churches, many of which date back several centuries.
Or Just Relax...
If your perfect trip is all about that enticing combo of R&R, the Canaries are the ultimate destination. The most obvious spot to kick back on is the beach, and you'll be spoilt for choice – from Fuerteventura's soft rolling dunes to Tenerife's sandy golden arcs to Isla Graciosa's wild blonde strands. Yoga, meditation, massages and a world of other self-care therapies abound across the archipelago, and thalassotherapy is something of a local speciality. Alternatively, nothing soothes the soul like relaxing over a tropical cocktail or a glass of local wine as the sun sinks into the Atlantic.