This article will give you an overview of The Canary Islands, but if you want to read the detail on a particular island, click that island on the menu.
The Canaries are an archipelago of 7 main islands, located just 100 KM off the coast of The Sahara Desert in Africa. Geographically, we are in Africa, but we are part of Spain, and therefore the European Union, although we are outside the customs zone, which means goods here are duty free.
- The currency is the Euro
- The time zone is GMT
- The language is Spanish, although English is widely spoken
- The best time to visit is all year round!
- No visa required for EU citizens
- Emergency healthcare covered by European EHIC
The seven islands in order of size are are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. There are six smaller islands off the north coast of Lanzarote, only La Graciosa is inhabited.
Mainly due to the weather, The Canaries are one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, welcoming more than 12 million visitors each year to enjoy the beaches, gastronomy and attractions.
The islands have their own government, based in Tenerife, and each island has a Cabildo and a President.
The population is around 2.2 Million, with over 300,000 being foreigners.
Canary Islands Climate
Although the islands are quite close together, there are distinct micro climates, with El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera lying to the west in the gulf stream. As a consequence, those islands have much more moisture and are heavily forested. The other islands have a desert climate and vegetation is much more sparse.
The climate in general has often been described as the best in the world. The ocean and the trade winds serve to moderate both the summer and winter, meaning the islands are a genuine all year round destination for sunshine.
Summer daytime temperature average almost 30 degrees, and even in mid winter, the daily average is around 18 degrees.
The Canary islands average over 300 hours of sunshine per month in summer, falling only to 180 in winter. There is almost no rainfall in the summer, and even in mid winter you are unlikely to see more than 5 days rain in any given month.
The trade winds provide welcome relief from the heat in the summer months.
The ocean around the islands is consistently through the year, reaching about 24 degrees in summer and falling to 19 degrees in mid winter.
The Canary Islands have 4 of Spain’s 13 national parks, with Teide, Spain’s highest mountain, being the most visited of all.
Then others are Timanfaya in Lanzarote, Garajonay in La Gomera and La Caldera de Taburiente in La Palma.
There are eight airports on the islands serving inter-island and international flights. There are also extensive inter-island ferry services, as well as a regular ferry service to the Spanish mainland.
Roads on the islands are excellent, and there are good bus links on each. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive.
There is a huge fleet of hire cars on the islands and prices are very low.
The Canary Islands are also a huge cruise destination, with ships from all over the world calling in, particularly in the winter months.
The resort areas offer a full range of international style food, from burger joints to world class cuisines. The local cuisine is a mix of Spanish and Mediterranean, featuring a range of tapas dishes and amazing, locally caught sea food.
In country areas, you’ll find rich estofados, free range rabbit dishes, and locals use Gofio, milled grain flour to create everything from desserts to dumplings.
Gran Canaria and Tenerife have acres of land growing local fruit and vegetables, and Canary Wharf in London was named for the islands as the entry point for Canarian bananas.
There are large herds of goats on the islands, and they are used both for meat and their milk, and the local goat’s cheeses tend to be served very fresh, with bread and sauces.
There is a strong wine growing culture in all of the islands, with some vineyards being over 100 years old. The best wines are the whites, and the dessert or sweet wines from The Canaries are among the world’s best, winning prizes regularly around the world.
Another speciality of the islands is Ron Miel – Honey Rum, which is made from locally produced rum and honey.
The two main breweries on the islands are Dorada and Tropical. They both make a range of beers, including dark beers, but their staple is a light, lager style beer. In recent years, craft breweries have become popular.
Read about each of the Canary Islands