3 Reasons To Visit Canary Islands

Canary Islands, with its eternal blue skies and away from it all attitude, are perfect for lazy days and fun filled nights. The Canaries used to be the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to America, but in the meantime they became well established destination for the sun seeking tourists that flock here year round. Between the most interesting facts that seem to pass unperceived for the majority of travelers to the archipelago is that it has two capital cities - Las Palmas and Santa Cruz - and a name that basically means "Island of the Dogs" - apparently because back in ancient times the islands were heavily populated by Monk Seals aka sea dogs, a critically endangered species no longer present in the Canary Islands.

La Reina del Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2010
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival

The second most popular carnival in the world - after the one in Rio de Janeiro - it is the pick of any Canaries holidays. Held every year in February, the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival aspires to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The carnival is a combination of colorful parade of extravagant dresses and dance till you drop street parties. Though the carnival officially finishes in a mourning atmosphere on the night of Ash Wednesday when the burial of the sardine takes place, the party starts up again the following week. For me, however, the most impressing part of the carnival are the fancy dresses, so heavy and elaborate that they have actually to be transported on wheels. Some of the costumes reach hundreds of kilos and the contestants are often left with bruises from carrying them around the stage.

El Teide

El Teide Volcano and its surroundings comprise the Teide National Park, part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, and one of the most visited National Parks in the world. El Teide is one of the best places in the world for stargazing and wishing upon a star and one of the best observatories is located here.  El Teide is the third highest volcano in the world and it's summit is the tallest in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic (3718m). While El Teide still is an active volcano, the last eruptiuon occured in 1909. Though it was a sacred mountain to the aboriginal Guanches, just like Mount Olympus was to the ancient Greeks, nowadays the only sacred thing about it are the breathtaking views and amazing hiking trails.

Lighthouse Maspalomas Sunset
Maspalomas Lighthouse & Sunset

The beaches

For the beach lover and for the passionate photographer as well, the diversity Canary Islands offer is breathtaking. Deserted golden sands in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote; Blue Flag beaches in Tenerife and Gran Canaria; and dramatic plunging cliffs and quiet coves in La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. Cocktail in hand, you can enjoy the turquoise waters, long walks on the beach and gorgeous palm trees days on end. With a great nightlife and plenty of things to do round the clock, the Canary Islands holidays can be both family friendly and party orientated.

Photos via Flickr Creative Commons