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Warmed by the currents of the Gulf Stream, the Canaries benefit from year-round sunshine

The Canary Islands are a diverse little archipelago with two things in common: great weather year-round and some of the best beaches in Europe. They are Spain's most far-flung territory, sitting just off of the coast of northwest Africa.

Tenerife, the largest of the islands, is renowned for its diverse landscape of lush forests, mountains and dark volcanic beaches. Or perhaps you'll plump for Gran Canaria, best known for its stunning swathe of sand dunes.

Lanzarote has a distinctive lunar-like landscape and nowhere are the Canaries' volcanic origins more evident than here. Then there's Fuerteventura, whose seemingly never-ending beaches are gloriously uncrowded. Oh, decisions, decisions . . .


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Culture and history

The main religion in Spain is Roman Catholic, which accounts for around two-thirds of the country, along with a small minority of Muslims.

When meeting new people, a handshake is the common greeting among men, and a kiss on the cheek between women - the number of kisses can vary, so prepare yourself for two or even three!

You'll also find that the Spanish eat much later than we do in the UK, with lunch between 2-3.30pm and dinner between 9-11pm, so don't be alarmed if you find yourself in a relatively quiet restaurant. Oh, and the Spanish love to party - depending on when you visit you might find yourself embroiled in one of their many annual celebrations, including one that involves a battle with tomatoes!

Pablo Picasso is among Spain's most celebrated sons, along with Antoni Gaudi, whose eccentric architecture enlivens the Barcelona cityscape. More recent times saw Spanish cinema come into its own with directors like Pedro Almodovar breaking into the English-speaking world. And films like Guillermo del Toro's darkly fantastic masterpiece, Pan's Labyrinth, a Spanish-Mexican venture, solidified Spain as a big player in the film industry.

History-wise there has been a lot going on, from its dominating position when the Spanish Empire set out to discover the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries, to its catastrophic civil war in the 1930s and radical change following the death of dictator Franco in 1975. For an insight into the country's most recent history and the Spanish psyche, Giles Tremlett's Ghosts of Spain is well worth a read.

Things to do

If you'd like to put your feet up and completely unwind, choose a relaxing holiday to the Canaries in one of our lovely coastal hotels. However, if you just can't choose between the islands, how about opting for a tour that island-hops between them, or maybe join a cruise?

That way you'll be able to discover the unique highlights of each of the islands - even little La Gomera, the smallest and most untouched of the islands. Those with green fingers (or admirers of others' work) might like to try one of our special interest holidays in Tenerife or Gran Canaria, or you could perhaps step it up with a walking holiday of Lanzarote.

Flight time

London to Madrid and Barcelona – from 2 hours

London to Seville – from 2.5 hours


Euro - The currency is the euro, divided into 100 cents.

Passports and visas

You’ll need a current passport valid for the duration of your stay. British citizens don’t require a visa.


A few basic words of Spanish to get you started…

Hola – hello

Adios – goodbye

Por favor – please

Gracias – thank you

Si – yes

No – no

Perdon – excuse me

No hablo espanol – I don’t speak Spanish


Spain is one hour ahead of GMT, two in British summertime.


Mains voltage is 220-240 volts AC (50 cycles) and all sockets take small round two-pin plugs. You’ll need an adaptor for your British appliances, so remember to bring one with you as you probably won’t be able to find one in Spain.


Spanish; Castilian -

Castillian Spanish is the official language, with other Spanish languages and dialects varying in different regions.

English isn’t widely used outside of the main coastal resorts, so you may find it very handy to learn a few words before you travel.


Tipping is similar to the UK: the typical amount in restaurants is 10% (most establishments don’t add a service charge to the bill). Taxi drivers and porters expect a small tip too.


The climate varies depending on the region, but generally the further south you go, the warmer it will be. The weather on the south and east coast is fairly reliable all year round, enjoying a balmy Mediterranean climate, while the interior tends to stay hot and dry as it’s located on a plateau.


As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre – see, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad at

Population and size

Spain has a population of 47.4 million, which is relatively low in comparison to other European countries such as France and Italy.

At 505,988 square kilometers, Spain is more than twice the size of the UK.


Smoking is banned in enclosed public areas and is not allowed on public transport, in bars or restaurants, except in designated areas. Be sure to remember this or you may be stuck with a hefty fine.

Places in the Canary Islands


A remarkable island with a character all of its own

Gran Canaria

A continent in miniature, protected as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve

La Gomera

The almost circular island of La Gomera is the second smallest of the seven Canary Islands

La Palma

Called La Isla Bonita or the ‘pretty island’ by the Spanish, the island of La Palma lies to the west of the Canary Islands archipelago


Lanzarote is the Goldilocks of the Canary Islands…


Discover an island where the sun shines all year, an otherworldly landscape meets crystal blue seas, and a distinct island culture is waiting to welcome you…


A tour manager's account of a Canary Island Adventure

A tour manager's account of a Canary Island Adventure

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A tour manager's account of a Canary Island Adventure - part III

A tour manager's account of a Canary Island Adventure - part III

Read article