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Published On: Tue, Nov 19th, 2019

Take a winter break in the Canary Islands of Spain

Winter is upon us and with it cold and dreary weather, rain, sleet or snow. Why not take a break and get away from it all? The Canary Islands, or Islas Canarias, are part of Spain and are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa. Summers are beautiful there, and winters are mild, making the islands the perfect winter getaway. 

The following are among the most popular Canary Islands for winter birds to visit, along with some intriguing facts about each.

photo/ MW via pixabay

  1. Tenerife – The Island of Spring

Constant moderate temperatures and striking scenery make Tenerife a wonderful destination. With its volcanic landscapes, Tenerife is the largest of the islands and the most popular in terms of tourism and its capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is an exciting destination, full of excellent restaurants, hotels and other attractions.

The island has excellent beaches which range from golden sand to striking black, volcanic sand. As for the temperatures, summer sees an average and comfortable high of 29 °C (84 °F) in Santa Cruz, while the city’s winter temperatures average at around 15.8 °C (60.4 °F). For anyone living in a cold, northern country, this is heaven!

The volcanic landscapes of the island are dominated by Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain and the third-largest volcano in the world. Teide nestles in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Teide National Park, and a fascinating place to explore. Admittedly you will often see a sprinkling of snow on Teide’s peak, but down at ground level, all is warm and comfortable.

Of interest to note, Mount Teide has featured in popular music and film in the past and famously starred in the 1966 film “One Million Years B.C.” This fact has been revealed more recently, and anyone that viewed the 1994 film adaptation of the Stephen King story “The Shawshank Redemption” will remember the famous poster of Rachel Welch standing against the background of the national park and advertising the film. It featured in Andy Dufresne’s prison cell, where it covered the tunnel he spent much time digging to make his eventual escape. There was much discussion following the film’s release as to how Andy could have reattached the poster to the cell wall and why prison staff had no idea how he did it.

  1. Gran Canaria – Land of the Brave

Gran Canaria (or Great Island in English) is the third-largest island in the Canary Islands and a popular stop-off point for cruise ships on their way down the coast. Like Tenerife, the island is of volcanic origin and the weather is mild and pleasant all year round. The island’s capital is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a popular destination with great beaches, restaurants and thriving nightlife. Maspalomas is another major destination on the island with beautiful beaches and rolling sand dunes. 

For those with a love of golf, Gran Canaria is an ideal place to tee off in the winter months, with eight magnificent golf courses, located evenly throughout the island. Designed by experts and professionals, these courses are said to be among the best in Spain and where golf players of any skill level can enjoy a tranquil and relaxing game in a striking landscape.

An interesting historic note about this and the other islands in the archipelago is that they were originally populated in around 500 BC by a North African people known as the Canarii, which is how the name came about and had nothing to do with small yellow birds! The Canarii people had their own name for Gran Canaria – Tamarán, which translates as the “Land of the Brave.”

  1. Lanzarote and the Timanfaya National Park

Next to mention is Lanzarote, another island famous for its volcanic landscape and beautiful beaches. The Timanfaya National Park features a striking volcanic landscape, formed by eruptions in the 1730s. It is possible to explore caverns, formed by underground rivers of lava, in the Cueva de los Verdes. Dining and music can be enjoyed in Jameos del Agua, set in a volcanic cave system.

Among the island’s museums is the fascinating home of the renowned Lanzarote-born artist César Manrique. Manrique spent time in New York and on his return, designed and built his home in Tahíche. This is no ordinary house, as it is shaped and bedded in a sea of lava, with rooms built in lava bubbles and passages running between. Manrique’s art can be seen hanging in his studio in the house. These days his home, and the organization surrounding it, is known as the Fundación César Manrique

Lanzarote is unique among the Canary Islands due to the fact that no high-rise hotels stand on its coastlines. Fundación César Manrique can be thanked for that fact – the not-for-profit cultural institution not only celebrates the artist himself. It also promotes the land use and the protection of the environment of Lanzarote, keeping any developments sustainable and true to the Canarian nature of white-washed architecture. Manrique’s art can also be seen throughout the island.

Take a winter break in the Canary Islands this year – you will find yourself returning regularly to enjoy the wonderful climate and the unique qualities of each island.

Author: Anne Sewell

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