When it comes to subtropical climate, culture, white-sand beaches, and general party-like mood, the archipelago of the Canary Islands on the west coast of Africa is more Latin American than African. This may not come as a surprise for some travelers as these islands between the Portuguese archipelagos of Madeira Islands and Azores Islands are an autonomous territory of Spain, and each islet in this Spanish-termed Islas Canarias has something unique to offer: from the turquoise beaches of Antigua and the extreme sports of Fuerteventura to the volcanoes and biosphere reserves of La Palma and Lanzarote.
Since the Canary Islands have become endeared to many European holidaymakers, all the major destinations here are equipped with European-standard airports, ports, and telecommunication systems. Although Spanish is the official language, English is widely spoken by the locals.
The national capitals are Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, or simply Tenerife, is the Canaries' largest island that nestles Spain's highest elevation and the third-biggest volcano in the world, El Tiede or Pico del Tiede. Tenerife's largest city and ancient capital, San Cristobal de la Laguna, is a World Heritage Site as it was the stage of the historic Battle of Aguere.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, or simply Las Palmas, is often regarded as the "Summer Capital of the Canaries" for enjoying an all-year-round subtropical climate, which scientists consider as "the world's best climate." The attractions here include archaeological galleries such as Museo Canario; science and ecological libraries like La Biblioteca Simón Benitex Padilla, and festivals like Canary Islands Music Festival.
Sharing the same time zone as London is Lanzarote, an ancient Phoenician, Roman, and Arab island-town where volcanic eruptions continue up to the modern times. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Lanzarote focuses its spotlight on the volcanic landscape, cactus gardens, caves, "desert resorts," and rock formations of Timanfaya National Park. At the stroke of night, the whole island transforms from a desert town into a bar-hopping central.
Another Biosphere Reserve, El Hierro, is the Canaries' smallest island considered as the "Edge of the World" since it is marked as zero meridian on the world map. Flora and fauna in this island is rich, enabling travelers to indulge in scuba diving, horseback riding, paragliding, and hiking.
Canary Islands Landmarks:
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- El Hierro
- Gran Canaria
- La Gomera
- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
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