19 Incredible Photos of the Canary Islands

During my more than a decade traveling the world, I had the pleasure of visiting and photographing Spain’s incredible Canary Islands. Located off the coast of Africa, the volcanic chain of islands are a Spanish province with a history dating back to the colonization of the Americas. Over the course of my visited, I explored five of the key islands in the Canaries: Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Gomera, and La Palma. Each island’s unique geography gives it a character distinct from its neighbors. These photos capture some of the culture and diversity I found on the Canary Islands and my favorite moments traveling through the area.

In the village of Teguise on the island of Lanzarote, the doors can only be green or brown. It makes for some gorgeous contrast in my Canary Island images.

If you visit Timanfaya National Park, you ride on a camel. The metal cage over their mouth prevents passengers from being bitten.

The island of Lanzarote is covered with lava. It’s extremely dry, very windy, and there is little in the way of natural plant life on the surface. Nonetheless, there is agriculture. This photo shows the vineyards on Lanzarote, where each grape plant is protected by a semicircular wall to protect the plant from the wind.

By law, all of the houses on Lanzarote have to be white. This makes for very a very dramatic contrast between buildings and the volcanic soil.

The city of Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria is one of the two capitals of the Canary Islands.

The cathedral in the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna on the island of Tenerife is one of three Spanish UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the Canary Islands.

Many of the churches in the Canary Islands were built around the same time period as Spain’s colonization of the New World. Many of the architectural styles are similar to what you will find in former Spanish colonies.

The island of La Gomera is home to the most extensive terracing I’ve seen anywhere in the world outside of the Philippines. The terraces can be found almost everywhere around the island. Due to changes in weather patterns in the early 20th Century, most of the terraces have been abandoned and are slowing blending back into the landscape.

El Tiede is the highest point in Spain and is the centerpiece of the El Tiede National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The island of La Palma is home to one of the largest collections of telescopes in the world, including the world’s largest telescope: the Gran Telescopio Canaria.

You can see why La Palma is considered such a great place for astronomical observations. I took this photo on the southern tip of the island near sea level. Viewing conditions higher up are even better.

There has been a great deal of cross cultural pollination between the Canary Islands and the Americas. One tradition that came to the Canary Islands from Cuba was cigar making. This cigar factory is located on the island of La Palma.

In the middle of La Palma is Caldera de Taburiente National Park, which is the center of a volcano. The is the photo as it appears looking down from the top of the volcano.

Inside Caldera de Taburiente National Park is very serene as it is surrounded by rock walls that keep out the wind.

One of the unique features of La Palma is the cascade of clouds that pour over the mountains in the middle of the island. You can go from enjoying a totally sunny day to being immersed in clouds in a matter of minutes.

Sea Salt evaporation pools on La Palma.

Sunset on La Palma.

A natural land bridge on the island of La Graciosa
La Graciosa is a small island off of Lanzarote. One of the interesting features of the island is a small natural land bridge near the coast that makes for a stunning beach photo on Lanzarote.

Recommended Resources and Readings:

Best Books About the Canary Islands:

  • The Canary Islands Migration to Louisiana: Containing the passenger lists of the Islenos volunteer recruits and their families that filled the eight vessels that brought Canary Islanders to Louisiana between 1778 and 1783, you won’t find a more interesting book detailing this unique chapter in history. 
  • The Canary Islands: A Cultural History: This is the most thorough history you’ll find on the timeline of development for the Canary Islands, as well as how the island has changed hands throughout history.
  • The Canary Islands: A Cultural History: A different book by the same name, this version is aimed at travelers and provides the cultural context you need before visiting the islands, so that you visit armed with a deeper understanding about the unique history that has shaped modern culture and cuisine.
  • Lonely Planet Canary Islands: Hands down the best guidebook sharing tips on hidden gems on each island, as well as great places to stay, eat, etc. 
  • Canary Islands 25 Secrets: A Local’s Guide: There’s nothing quite like finding the local perspective when you travel, and this guide offers plenty of tips to uncover the best parts of the island. 

Plan a Trip to the Canary Islands:

Canary Islands Travel Guide: Our free guide covers everything you should know about booking travel to the Canary Islands, what you should do once you’re there, as well as where to stay and more. We also have a travel guide for Spain, and individual travel guides to the various islands and attractions:

Rent a Car: Many of the best sites are located outside of the main cities on each island, and we recommend using RentalCars.com to find the best deals on the Canary Islands. 

Book Travel Insurance: Although completely safe, the landscape of the Canary Islands makes visiting more of an adventurous vacation than many places—we recommend coverage through World Nomads.