Top Ten Canary Island Attractions

Top Ten Canary Island Attractions

       The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The islands include (from largest to smallest): Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este, Roque del Oeste and Isla de Lobos. The archipelago’s beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Teide National Park and Mount Teide (the 3rd largest volcano in the world), make it a major tourist destination, with over 12 million visitors per year, especially Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. The islands have a sub-tropical climate, with long hot days in summer and cooler days in winter. Due to their location close to the equator yet away from tropical storms and location above the temperature inversion layer, these islands are ideal for astronomical observation. For this reason, two professional observatories, Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, have been built on the islands. The capital for the Autonomous Community is shared by the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas. From 1833 until 1927, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the only capital, yet Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been the largest city in the Canaries since 1768, except for a brief period in 1910. The 3rd largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna on Tenerife. During the times of the Spanish Empire the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to America because of the favorable easterly winds.

  1. Santa Cruz de Tenerife


    Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital (jointly with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), 2nd most populous city of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands and the 21st largest city in Spain, with a population of 222,417 (2009). Located in northeast quadrant of Tenerife, about 210 kilometers (130 mi) off the northwestern coast of Africa within the Atlantic Ocean. Between the 1833 territorial division of Spain and 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands, until 1927 when a decree ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands be shared, as it remains at present. The port is of great importance and is the communications hub between Europe, Africa and Americas, with cruise ships arriving from many nations. The city is the nerve center on domestic and inter-island communications in the Canary Islands. The city is home to the Parliament of the Canary Islands, the Canarian Ministry of Presidency (shared in a four-year term with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), one half of the ministries and boards of the Canarian Government, (the other half being located in Gran Canaria), the Tenerife Provincial Courts and two courts of the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands. Its harbor is one of Spain’s busiest being important for commercial and passenger traffic, as well as for being a major stopover for cruisers en route from Europe to the Caribbean. It also has one of the world’s largest carnivals. The main landmarks of the city include the Auditorio de Tenerife (Auditorium of Tenerife), the Santa Cruz Towers (Torres de Santa Cruz) and the Iglesia de la Concepción. The city is a melting pot of diverse cultures that give it a cosmopolitan character. The largest distinct communities have immigrants from: Latin America, Africa and Western Europe. In recent years the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has had a significant aug bizarre constructions, the horizon (Skyline) is the sixth in height across the country, only behind Madrid, Benidorm, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao.
    Links: Top Ten Concert Halls, Top Ten Architectural Works by Santiago Calatrava, Top Ten Sculptures by Igor Mitoraj, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cruz_de_Tenerife,
  2. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

    Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the political capital, jointly with Santa Cruz, the most populous city in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands and the 9th largest city in Spain, with a population of 383,308 (2010). Las Palmas is the largest city of the European Union outside Europe. It is located in the northeast part of the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, about 150 km (93 miles) off the northwestern coast of Africa within the Atlantic Ocean. Las Palmas enjoy a subtropical climate, with mild to warm temperatures throughout the year. According to a study carried out by Thomas Whitmore, director of research on climatology at Syracuse University in the United States, Las Palmas enjoys “the best climate in the world.” It was founded as city in 1478, considered the de facto only capital of the Canary Islands until the 17th century. Today, the city is capital of Canary Islands with Santa Cruz and home to the Canarian Ministry of Presidency (shared in a 4-year term with Santa Cruz de Tenerife), one half of the ministries and boards of the Canarian Government, (the other half being located in Tenerife), Gran Canaria Provincial Courts and two courts of the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Palmas_de_Gran_Canaria,
  3. San Cristóbal de La Laguna

    San Cristóbal de La Laguna is a city and municipality in the northern part of the island of Tenerife in the Province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, on the Canary Islands (Spain). The city is 3rd most populous city of the archipelago and 2nd most populous city of the island. It is a suburban area of the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Starting in 2003 the municipality started an ambitious Urban Plan to renew this area, that was carried out by the firm AUC S.L. The city was the ancient capital of the Canary Islands. La Laguna is physically part of the city of Santa Cruz, as both cities and municipalities, form a single large urban center, which is in the process of consolidating their union with other populations. It is home to the University of La Laguna which is home to 30,000 students; these are not included in the population figures for the city. La Laguna is considered to be the cultural capital of the Canary Islands. Also there is in the habit of being calling the “City of the Anticipated ones”, for having been the first university city of the archipelago. Its economy is business-oriented while agriculture dominates the northeastern portion of the city. The urban area dominates the central and the southern parts. Tourism covers the northern coast. The main industry includes some manufacturing. The industrial area is made up of the main subdivisions of Majuelos, Las Torres de Taco, Las Mantecas and Las Chumberas. In this city one finds the legendary house of Catalina Lercaro spectrum, as well as the incorrupt body of sister Sor María de Jesús, and the Christ of La Laguna. Another emblematic building of the city is the Cathedral of La Laguna, which is the catholic cathedral of Tenerife and his diocese. In 2010 after a survey, La Laguna was listed as the city with the best reputation in the Canary Islands and the third no provincial capital city of Spain with the best reputation, but behind Gijon and Marbella.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Crist%C3%B3bal_de_la_Laguna,
  4. Teide National Park

    Teide National Park is a national park located in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain). It is centered on 3,718m Mount Teide, the highest mountain of Spain and the islands of the Atlantic, it is the 3rd largest volcano in the world from its base. It was declared a National Park on January 22,1954, making it one of the oldest national parks in Spain. Another volcano located in the park (next to the Teide) is the Pico Viejo, the 2nd largest volcano in the Canary Islands. Since the end of 2007, it has also been one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. Midway up the mountain are the telescopes of the Observatorio del Teide. Territorially, it belongs to the municipality of La Orotava. Teide is the most visited National Park in Spain, with a total of 2.8 million visitors, according to the Instituto Canario de Estadística. The Teide is the most famous natural icon not only of Tenerife but also of all the Canary Islands.
    Links:  National Parks, Top Ten African National Parks, Top Ten Volcanoes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teide_National_Park,
  5. Garajonay National Park

    Garajonay National Park is located in the center and north of the island of La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands. It occupies 40 square km (15 square mi) and it extends into each of the municipalities on the island. The park is named after the rock formation of Garajonay, the highest point on the island at 1,484 m (4,869 ft). It also includes a small plateau whose altitude is 790-1,400 m above sea level. The park provides the best example of laurisilva, a humid subtropical forest that in the Tertiary covered almost all of Europe. It is also found on the Azores and the Madeira Islands. Laurus azorica, known as Azores Laurel, or by the Portuguese names Louro, Loureiro, Louro-da-terra, and Louro-de-cheiro, can be found in the park, as well as Laurus canariensis, known as Canary Laurel. Most humid and protected valleys oriented to the North have the richest and complex forests. It is called valley laurisilva, a true subtropical rainforest where the largest laurel trees can be found. At the south the forest is mainly a mix of beech and heather, species adapted to the less humid atmosphere. Other attractive of the National Park is the massive rocks that are found along the island. These are former volcanoes whose shape has been sharpened by erosion. Some, like the “Fortaleza” (“fortress”) were considered sacred by the aborigins, as well as ideal refugees when attached. The park is crossed with a large network of footpaths, being trekking one of the main touristic activities in the island. Many of the species are endemic to the islands, and harbor a rich biota of understory plants, invertebrates, birds and bats, including a number of endemic species.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten African National Parks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garajonay_National_Park,
  6. Links: Top Ten Volcanoes, Attractions, African Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canary_Islands,

Recommendations for Cruising Around the Canary Islands