This Spanish archipelago lies off the north-west coast of Morocco, on the exposed tips of a vast volcanic mountain range beneath the Atlantic Ocean. The irresistible combination of Moroccan and Spanish flavours, plus year-round sunshine and a wildly varied topography primed the Canary Islands for over-tourism throughout the 1990s, and they’ve struggled to shake off their bad rep as package-holiday destination ever since. But travellers who look past these dated assumptions are rewarded with an idyllic cluster of wildly diverse islands waiting to be rediscovered.
The varied scenery of the islands is spellbinding: Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and their neighbours have otherworldly volcanic landscapes, lush pine forests, secret rocky coves and swathes of sand dunes. Permanent good weather, historic towns, a calendar of unusual festivals and superlative cuisine and local wine mean there is really no bad time to visit. Travellers can bed down in stylish beach hotels, agriturismo Airbnbs, remote bohemian yurts and cliff-hugging private villas. Whether you’re a dedicated road cyclist keen on discovering remote corners of Gran Canaria, an architecture buff obsessed with César Manrique’s structures across Lanzarote or a nature-lover seeking out new species of wildflowers in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of tiny El Hierro, there is a Canary Island for every traveller.
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