From La Zarza To Tazacorte

Ethereal, pristine, stoic, eerie, peaceful choose your adjective for the lonely land scapes here on the island's northwestern coast. Pine forests, fallow fields, occasional rural settlements and sweeping views of the banana plantations by the Atlantic are the main attractions between La Zarza and Tazacorte (p223). This is a solitary, tranquil area that was largely isolated from the rest of the island until recent times. Countless hiking trails, many of them quite challenging, provide most of...

Getting Started

Independent travel or package tour One island or several Plane or ferry Set itinerary or spontaneous serendipity There are many ways to organise a trip to the Canaries, and the one you choose depends entirely on your tastes and your plans for the trip. If relaxing is your goal, it's best to choose a home base where you can chill out for a few days or a week, taking day trips or even hopping over to a nearby island. If you do this, arranging a flight-and-hotel (or flight-and-apartment) package...

Villa De Mazo

A quiet village 13km south of Santa Cruz, Mazo is surrounded by green, dormant volcanoes. The town is known for the cigars and handicrafts made here and for being a highlight of La Palma's winery route (www.infoisla.org rutadelvino). As soon as you enter town, make a left to head down to Museo Casa Roja ( 922 42 85 87 Calle Maximiliano P rez D az admission 2 S 10am-2pm & 3-6pm Mon-Fri, 11am-6pm Sat & 10am-2pm Sun), a lovely pinkish-red mansion (built in 1911) with exhibits on embroidery...

Las Palmas De Gran Canaria

Las Palmas has a mainland-Spain feel, spiced up with an eclectic mix of other cultures, including African, Chinese, and Indian, plus the presence of container-ship crews and the flotsam and jetsam that tend to drift around port cities. It's an intriguing place with the sunny languor and energy you would normally associate with the Mediterranean or North Africa. The hooting taxis, bustling shopping districts, chatty bars and thriving port all give off the energy of a city Spain's seventh...

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is the third-largest island in the Canaries archipelago but accounts for almost half the population. It lives up to its clich as a continent in miniature, with a dramatic variation of terrain, ranging from the green and leafy north to the mountainous interior and desert south. This is a rare Canary Island where you feel that there are still secret places to explore. To glean a sense of this impenetrable quality, head to the centre where the sheer drama of the mountains more...

Around Las Palmas

Charming as Las Palmas is, it is still a noisy and chaotic city. Thankfully, if you are seeking some more mellow surroundings, you won't have far to travel. Starting from Las Palmas, an enjoyable one-day circuit heads first south and then cuts inland to take in the mountainous Te-jeda region before swinging northeast back towards the capital. Telde is the island's second city and, although generally bypassed by tourists, the historic centre has all the cobblestone charm of Vegueta, once you...

The Culture

It's hard to sum up the peoples and traditions of seven islands into one neat description. Mannerisms, expressions, food, architecture and music vary significantly from island to island and rivalries (especially between heavyweights Tenerife and Gran Canaria) are strong. Yet among all seven islands is a fierce pride in being Canarian, and the belief that their unique history and culture sets them apart from the rest of Spain. While most of the Canary Island locals have the classic Mediterranean...

Guanches Survivors And Their Descendants

History of the Canary Islands by Jos M Castellano Gil and Francisco J Mac os Mart n is a fairly straightforward summary of the islands' past. This book is published in various languages by the Centro de la Cultura Popular Canaria. We can't pinpoint the date of the discovery of the islands now known as the Canaries, but we can say with certainty that they were known, or at least postulated about, in ancient times. In his dialogues Ttmaeus and Critias, Plato (428-348 BC) spoke of Atlantis, a...

Playa Del Ingls Maspalomas

This is Gran Canaria's most famous holiday resort and a sun-splashed party place for a mainly northern-European crowd. That said, during the day (and out of season) it has a more upmarket appearance than you may expect. This is not Benidorm, or even Los Cristianos in Tenerife. In the centre you are more likely to stumble across expensive hotels or smart apartment blocks than Dot-and-Alf-style English pubs. On the downside, there is virtually nothing that is even halfway Spanish here everything...

La Palma

TParque A Q Nacional de Pico de la a Caldera de Nieve 2239m f Taburiente . To Santa Cruz de Tenerife Arrecife Lanzarote To Santa Cruz de Tenerife Arrecife Lanzarote Santuario de la Virgen de las Nieves O Monta a de Q Refugio del Pilar Birigoyo ri d Playa de la Zamora Q amp Playa Chica Las Salinas '-aro de Fuencaliente 1 Punta de Fuencaliente forest land in the north. The company will pick you up at your hotel or a central meeting point. Other reputable guide services include La Palma Trekking...

Pop

Your opinion of this place will depend wholly upon where you are standing. The former fishing village near the harbour and main beach still has charm, despite the tourists, with narrow, uneven streets, good seafood restaurants and even a fisherman's cottage or two. Venture inland a couple of blocks and you find the predictable could-be-anywhere-resort with Slow Boat buffets, Centro de Cl nica M dica Brisamar 2 C6 Police Post Tourist D3 Dive Centre Corralejo 8 C3 El Majorero Ticket Kiosk 9 C3...

Food Drink

Canary cuisine is all about simple pleasures. Grilled fish served with a zesty herb sauce. Boiled potatoes with crinkly, salted skin. Juicy grilled kid. Green salads served with buttery avocado grown in the neighbouring town. The islands' traditional dishes are those made with ingredients produced on the islands, and although restaurants can now get any and every kind of exotic ingredient flown in, there is still no beating unfussy traditional cooking. The single best advice we can offer is to...

San Sebastin De La Gomera

The capital of the island in every way - economically, bureaucratically and historically -San Sebasti n has an appealing historic centre with shaded plazas and pedestrian-friendly streets. Its main claim to fame is that Christopher Columbus stayed here on his way to the New World, and you'll learn more about the famed explorer here than you ever did at school, as his every footstep real or imagined in the town has been well documented for visitors. On 6 September 1492, after loading up with...

Hoya del Morcillo Around

From the HI-4, take the HI-40 highway towards Hoya del Morcillo S9am-9pm , a shady recreational area in the heart of El Pinar. With a football field, a playground and a picnic area, this is the perfect spot to rest among the pines. Don't miss the large-scale map of El Hierro, made with logs. A severe fire in September 2006 altered this area, and now it's a great place to marvel at the hearty Canary pine. Their blackened trunks are proof of the fire's wrath, but the fact that they stand here...

Eating

Bar La Duquesa 922 33 49 49 Plaza Casanas 6B mains 4-6 In the shadow of the church, this simple place has cacti growing from the roof tiles truly and splendid Canarian food. Sabor Canario 922 32 27 93 www.hotelorotava .com Hotel Rural Orotava, Calle Carrera 17 mains 5-8 O closed Sun Exercise the taste buds on soul-satisfying traditional cuisine at this fabulous restaurant located in the leafy patio of the Hotel Rural Orotava. Ki 922 32 37 38 Casa Lercaro, Calle Colegio 7 mains 6-12 This...

Around Playa Del Ingls Maspalomas

While Maspalomas has redeeming features, in the shape of its natural dunes and superbly unnatural nightlife, its resort cousins further west are a good example of how greedy developers can destroy a coastline that shares a similar setting to Italy's Amalfi coast. Around every corner it seems there is yet another resort surrounded by steep banks of apartment blocks stretching into the hinterland. How some of these poor tourists get to the beach is a puzzle crossing the main road is hazardous...

San Andrs Around

Gain insight into the culture of the Bimbaches by visiting the site of their ancient holy tree, El Garo S 10am-6pm Tue-Sat, 11am-3pm Sun . According to legend, the tree miraculously spouted water, providing for the islanders and their animals. Today we know that it's really no miracle - mist in the air condenses on the tree's leaves and gives fresh water. The tree itself is rather unremarkable, especially taking into account that the original, a variety of laurel, was felled by a hurricane in...

San Bartolom Around

Starting life as the Guanche settlement of Ajei, San Bartolom population 17,452 ended up in the 18th century as the de facto private fiefdom of a militia leader, Francisco Guerra Clavijo y Perdomo, and his descendants. A couple of kilometres northwest of town, on the Tinajo road, rises up the modernistic, white Monumento al Campesino Peasants' Monument , erected in 1968 by surprise, surprise C sar Manrique to honour the thankless labour that most islanders had endured for generations. Adjacent...

Pennsula De Janda

Most of the Pen nsula de Jand a is protected by its status as the Parque Natural de Jand a. The southwest is a canvas of craggy hills and bald plains leading to cliffs west of Morro Jable. Much of the rest of the peninsula is made up of dunes, scrub and beaches. Somewhere along this peninsula, it is said, German submarine crews used to hole up occasionally during WWII. You think these beaches are paradise now Just imagine them with not a single tourist, not one little apartment block only you...