Canary Island holidays: From Lanzarote to Tenerife and Gran Canaria, which is best for you?

Sunshine? Plenty. Average daily high temperatures are in the 20Cs throughout winter. Flight time? Four hours and 30 minutes — half the journey to Florida (and, anyway, you can’t go there due to travel restrictions).

Are we welcome? Yes! The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has just made the Canaries a ‘travel corridor’. 

So there’s a green light to go, quarantine-free both when you arrive on one of its islands and when you return.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has just made the Canaries a ‘travel corridor’. Pictured is Papagayo beach in Lanzarote

Authorities are even promising medical assistance should anyone fall ill from Covid on their holiday (see hellocanaryislands.com).

Add to this that beaches, walking trails, golf courses, boat trips and other attractions are up-and-running — what are you waiting for?

But which island is for you? Here’s our guide to the Canaries…

ALL-ROUNDER TENERIFE

Tenerife, pictured, is the biggest island in the Canaries. It's extremely family friendly and has some beautiful blonde beaches

Tenerife, pictured, is the biggest island in the Canaries. It’s extremely family friendly and has some beautiful blonde beaches

Tenerife is the biggest, most varied, island. Sure, it has some lively (some say tacky) resorts, but there are quieter, more sophisticated places, too.

It’s extremely family friendly. Jungle Park, with its animals and educational nature shows, is just one of the wear-’em-out options. And kids will love the beaches: although the island is volcanic, there are beautiful blonde beaches all around.

Delve into the interior to enjoy nature: take a cable car up Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain (12,198ft); hike the spectacular Masca Gorge; or drive through a lush landscape strewn with banana plantations. Foodies love Tenerife, too. There are no fewer than four Michelin-starred restaurants (one has two stars).

Less wallet-busting are the traditional Guachinches, where local wine and food are served, tapas style.

Where to stay

Luxury: Ritz-Carlton Abama has first-class dining, a beach and seven pools; seven days from £908pp B&B, including Gatwick flights and transfers in December (sovereign.com).

Budget: Casablanca Apartments in Puerto de la Cruz has a shared pool, plus a beach is 20 minutes away on foot; a week from £434pp, self-catering, including Gatwick flights and transfers in November (tui.co.uk).

GORGEOUS GRAN CANARIA

Gran Canaria is known for its great variety of landscapes. Pictured is the island's capital Las Palmas, which is well worth a wander

Gran Canaria is known for its great variety of landscapes. Pictured is the island’s capital Las Palmas, which is well worth a wander

About 60 miles east of Tenerife, Gran Canaria is often referred to as a ‘continent in miniature’ thanks to its great variety of landscapes.

Like Tenerife, there are superb sandy beaches, as well as giant sand dunes at Maspalomas. Inland, meanwhile, expect an oasis of palm trees and subtropical foliage.

It’s easy for visitors to learn about the island’s past at Pueblo Canario, an interpretation of a traditional Canarian village with costumed singers and musicians.

Las Palmas, the island’s capital, is well worth a wander, particularly around the interesting historic districts of Vegueta and Triana.

Where to stay

Luxury: Lopesan Baobab Resort, near Maspalomas, is a family favourite, with a kids’ club, golf course, tennis and bike rental; a week from £714pp B&B, including flights and transfers in January (britishairways.com).

Budget: Koala Garden Suites, also in Maspalomas, has simple self-catering studios and apartments with a shared pool; a week from £160 pp, including Stansted flights and transfers in December (mercuryholidays.co.uk).

LOVELY LANZAROTE

Lanzarote, pictured, is colourful, with dazzling blue skies and pale and dark-sand beaches

Lanzarote, pictured, is colourful, with dazzling blue skies and pale and dark-sand beaches

In the far north-east of the Canaries, Lanzarote feels surprisingly unspoilt.

Much of this is down to local architect and artist Cesar Manrique, who campaigned against high-rise developments and himself designed some eye-catching attractions — one of the finest being the amphitheatre-like Cactus Garden.

Lanzarote is colourful, with dazzling blue skies, pale and dark-sand beaches, simple white houses, a black ash soil and emerald green foliage.

Yet in Timanfaya National Park, site of a volcanic eruption in the 1730s, little vegetation grows at all due to the ground heat and sulphurous chemicals seeping out. To demonstrate how hot it is below, guides throw water into crevices and steam rises.

Meanwhile, at El Diablo restaurant, food is cooked on grills heated by the volcano. Jameos del Agua is another absolute must-see. It’s a weirdly wonderful place with its gardens, lake and caves — which are inhabited by blind, albino crabs.

Where to stay

Luxury: Five bedroom Villa Xian in Playa Blanca has a heated pool; a week from £2,459, including flights (jamesvillas.co.uk).

Budget: Cinco Plazas Apartments, a short walk from Puerto del Carmen beach, have a restaurant, two pools and a splash pool; an apartment with kitchenette and terrace from £386 pp for a week, including Gatwick flights and transfers in December (firstchoice.co.uk).

FUN IN FUERTE

Fuerteventura, pictured, is the windiest island in the archipelago. Unsurprisingly, the surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are excellent

Fuerteventura, pictured, is the windiest island in the archipelago. Unsurprisingly, the surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are excellent

Just south of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura is the windiest island in the archipelago — but don’t let that put you off.

Its cooling breezes can be a distinct advantage in the warmest months and, unsurprisingly, the surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are excellent.

As are the beaches, including some nudist options.

The island is famous for its salt and its goats cheese. See how both are made at the Salt Museum and the Majorero Cheese Museum.

At the Atalayita Archeological Interpretation Centre, aboriginal houses once owned by the indigenous Mahos are built into caves in the lava wall.

Traditional crafts still thrive on Fuerteventura. The Sculpture Park in the capital, Puerto del Rosario, features more than 100 regularly changing outdoor exhibits by local artists.

Where to stay

Luxury: A one-bedroom villa with private pool and terrace at Bahiazul Villas & Club in Corralejo from £756 pp for a week, with Manchester flights in December (jet2holidays.com).

Budget: Apartamentos Puerto Caleta have a pool and are close to the sandy beach in Caleta de Fuste; a week from £272 pp self-catering, with Bristol flights in December (easyjetholidays.com).

PEACEFUL EL HIERRO

El Hierro is a tiny island to the south-west of Tenerife. Pictured is the El Golfo Valley on the island, where pineapples grow

El Hierro is a tiny island to the south-west of Tenerife. Pictured is the El Golfo Valley on the island, where pineapples grow

This tiny island to the south-west of Tenerife was once thought to be at the edge of the world.

It’s reached by ferry or plane from Tenerife (no direct UK flights) — and it’s the quiet choice for the Canaries.

Everything is eco-friendly. The farming is organic. Most cars are electric. A hydroelectric plant provides renewable energy.

Its stark, volcanic landscapes are laced with forest trails including those through the El Golfo Valley, where pineapples grow.

At Frontera Rural Park there are more than 300 juniper trees, twisted into weird and wonderful shapes by the wind. Enjoy black sand beaches and the sea water pools in lava rocks found at Charco Azul — great for swimming for adults and kids.

Where to stay

Luxury: Parador de El Hierro is traditional Canarian in design, with a seawater pool, rocky black beach in front and mountains behind; a week from about £1,240 pp B&B, including flights and 2½ hour ferry crossing from Tenerife (expressionsholidays.co.uk).

Budget: Casa Tia Lucila is a self-catering property for two in the countryside, with ocean views; a week from £1,020 pp in December including flights to Tenerife, flights to El Hierro and car hire (cachet-travel.co.uk).

PRETTY LA PALMA

Little La Palma, pictured, is a a UNESCO biosphere reserve and a hiking heaven. It is a three-hour ferry crossing from Tenerife

Little La Palma, pictured, is a a UNESCO biosphere reserve and a hiking heaven. It is a three-hour ferry crossing from Tenerife

What it lacks in glitz, little La Palma (nickname Isla Bonita — or ‘beautiful isle’) makes up for in natural attractions.

The whole island is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and a hiking heaven, with 620 miles of paths to explore. The volcanic land, to the northwest of Tenerife, is softened with a blanket of green forest, giant ferns, streams and waterfalls. Explore it by car, or take a boat trip to see whales and dolphins.

As night falls, look up at the stars, which seem to shine brighter here than almost anywhere. Visit the island observatory for a closer look.

La Palma is not known primarily as a beach destination but there are plenty of uncrowded black sand stretches if you fancy a swim.

Getting to La Palma requires a flight or three-hour ferry crossing from Tenerife.

Where to stay

Luxury: Hacienda de Abajo is a tasteful characterful hotel for adults only; a week from about £1,210 pp B&B, including flights and ferries (expressionsholidays.co.uk).

Budget: El Cerrito offers spacious apartments near a beach, an easy bus ride from capital Santa Cruz; a week in December from £844pp, self-catering, including flights, transfers and ferries (cachet-travel.co.uk).

CANARY ISLANDS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

The giant sand dunes at Maspalomas on the island of Gran Canaria

The giant sand dunes at Maspalomas on the island of Gran Canaria 

British travellers must undergo a test on arrival or present a negative result from a test taken within 48 hours of departure. 

A straightforward public health form at spth.gob.es must also be completed 48 hours before departure.

On completion, you will be sent a QR code to be scanned on arrival.

You do not have to quarantine on arrival or on return to the UK. See gov.uk for more details.

When arriving in the Canaries, you will have your temperature taken. If it is above 37.5C, you will be given a medical assessment.

Tourists have complimentary medical cover for Covid provided by the Canary Islands, including medical expenses and repatriation.

Masks must be worn outdoors (including on beaches) and in enclosed spaces by adults and children aged over six, but they can be taken off during exercise/bathing in the sea.

You are expected to keep a social distance of 1.5 metres.

Airlines flying to the Canaries include Ryanair, Jet2, Easyjet, British Airways and Tui.

Tui, Britain’s largest travel company, resumes flights on Saturday after a gap of 89 days.

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