playa blanca lanzaroteScattered in the Atlantic off the North African coast, the Canary Islands offer unique holiday experiences. With a winning mixture of year-round sun, spectacular beaches, dramatic landscapes and lively nightlife, holidays to the Canary Islands keep travellers coming back for more year after year.

Each of the Canary Islands (and their satellite isles) are very different in feel. Some people love one island, but hate another. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and your island experiences may be totally different to the encounters of another. While some of them are real beach destinations, like Fuerteventura, others combine culture and Tenerife, like Gran Canaria and nature. Whereas La Palma is very beautiful with a tropical feeling.

Most notably, the islands form a formidable volcanic archipelago. Their landscapes include four of the highest peaks within Spanish territory and some mightily bizarre yet inspiring scenery: from black sand beaches with soaring cliffs to rugged, red, Mars-like panoramas. The breadth of these landscapes evokes regions from every corner of the planet, and even, sometimes, from others. Each of these seven islands is a completely different world, and adventure, in itself.

The island is served by two airports Tenerife South Airport (TFS) and Tenerife North Airport (TFN) with the majority of tourists landing in the south and heading to resorts such as Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos and the quieter Costa Adeje. Puerto de la Cruz in the north of the island is another firm favourite with British holidaymakers and the nearby Loro Parque wildlife park with parrots, sea lions and penguins is a large hit with all of the family.

This region of petrified lava make up the National Park of Timanfaya and its Mountains of Fire, where visions of a lifeless, prehistoric (or even apocalyptic) earth, with enormous craters of an incandescent red color, can be seen on a bus or even camel tour. Its unique atmosphere has made it a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of the most impressive natural parks in all of Spain.

The following islands are part of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria:

The volcanic nature of the island of Tenerife meant that the land has few natural beaches. Those that exist are characterised by black sand created from the island's volcanic rocks. The demand for tourist sun-bathing space, however, has led to the creation of resorts and man-made beaches, with golden sand having been imported in some cases. Some of the best beaches of Tenerife are Los Gigantes and San Juan in the west and Fañabe, in the South with its golden excellent facilities, s and showers. Also popular are Torviscas with its marina, Playa las Americas for its grey sandy stretches and los Cristianos' beach. Candelaria in the east has a little black shingle beach. Up north Puerto de la Cruz has a beach with fine black sand, and at Santa Cruz golden sand has been imported for its Terasitas beach.

British tourists head to resorts such as Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca, Costa Teguise and Haria where accommodation is on offer for a range of budgets and tastes from all-inclusive five-star resorts and eco lodgings to budget apartments.

The oldest of the Canaries, this island is known for its kilometers-long beaches of white sand and shallow, clear water, perfect for water-skiing, wind-surfing, fishing, or sailing. It has the longest coastline of all seven islands, spanning 340 kilometers, and is easily accessible by a 40-minute ferry from Lanzarote.

Fuerteventura is also notable for its dry climate, giant white sand dunes, and camels ready to give tourists a lift only a stone's throw from the beach. One is reminded of the island's close proximity to Africa, specially when visiting the Dunes National Park, where the tranquility of snaking dunes likens to a mini-Sahara.

The largest resort on the island, Playa del Ingles, is on the south coast and offers fun-filled holidays for visitors who enjoy strolling down its promenade and drinking in the bars and clubs. Other popular resorts include Playa del Ingles' quieter neighbour, San Augustin; sophisticated Maspalomas with its world-famous sand dunes; pretty and exclusive Puerto Mogan; and stylish Meloneras.

The other three islands that complete the Canaries - La El Hierro, Palma and La Gomera- offer serene holidays away from the crowds as they are still relatively undiscovered and unspoilt. Only La Palma is served by direct flights from the UK into Santa Cruz de La Palma airport (SPM) while you can reach all three islands via flight or ferry from Tenerife.

The most extraordinary sights on this island are its steep ravines of granite rock, which plummet from almost 2,000 meters high to meet the coastline. From just about anywhere you can appreciate the sheer force of nature that Gran Canaria has to offer. Its vegetation can be found in such far-away places as America, Europe, and Africa. You can explore a variety of flora in areas like Tejeda , with its lush green valleys of almond trees, and Mogan , a valley where tropical fruits are cultivated. There are also many fishing villages worth visiting for their mountainous sea views and small-town Arinaga, charm and such as Agaete. In the ancient city of Arucas, huge banana plantations, rocky coves, and volcanic areas form neighboring landscapes.

Don't forget about the endless white sand beaches and turquoise waters, which may be enjoyed in Maspalomas , located next to an area of sand dunes, and also in Playa del Inglés, both of which make up the more popular areas for beach-going. For quieter beaches and pretty coves, try La Costa de Bañaderos or Playa de las Nieves, both of which offer incredible mountain views.

Getting there: Flights come in from most major European cities and from the other islands to Gran Canaria Airport, 16 km south of the town of Las Palmas. Ferries to the city of Las Palmas are available from Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma, and Fuerteventura.

These airports receive a lot of flights from all over Europe , Tenerife South Airport having by far the most possibilities. Lowcost airlines like Easyjet (from London and Manchester ) and Ryanair have found their way as well, the last having most flights, including to/from Brussels , Dublin , Edinburgh , London , Glasgow , Madrid , Porto and Weeze (near Düsseldorf ).

Mount Teide and its surrounding volcanic craters and peaks of Las Cañadas make up the comprehensive Mount Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can take the cable car all the way up near to the summit of Mount Teide, and if you're up for some walking, load your lungs up with oxygen for the altitude. There are numerous hiking trails that showcase a view of an extraterrestrial landscape.

Tenerife North Airport (TFN) is located about 10 kilometres from the city. Tenerife North mainly serves other Canary Islands , cities in mainland Spain , and several cities in Germany Also, two airlines fly here to/from Caracas in Venezuela

Lanzarote Airport (ACE) is the third busiest airports of the islands, follwed by Fuerteventura Airport

Tenerife Carnival; February; visit Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz for the biggest celebrations: Held just before Lent every year, this carnival sees tourists and locals partying into the night and includes a glitzy opening parade, the burial of the sardine" and the High Heels Marathon.

This small island is formed by a large mountainous forest in its central area called Alto de Garajonay, a national park which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The abrupt coastline extends inwards and climbs up to 1,487 meters above sea level. Curiously, La Gomera was the last port of call before Columbus set off for the New World.

In these mountainous terrains, the ancient tradition of lenguaje silbado" is still used among inhabitants, a method of communication using whistling techniques to send messages between mountains. Continuing traditions like this is just one of the reasons Gomera attracts tourists searching for a more authentic experience off the beaten track.

As the coastline consists mostly of jagged cliffs, the majority of the beaches on the island are small coves. Nevertheless, beaches such as Valle del Gran Rey and Playa de Santiago have that crystalline water and golden sand all vacationers seek. Also recommendable to see is the Acantilado de los Organos, or the Organ Cliff, which includes thousands of basalt columns soaring up from out of the water, giving the impression of a giant, rocky organ.

To rent a car is the best option for discovering the remote wilderness regions.

Buses are the most typical method of public transportation around the islands. Mile per mile they are expensive while compared to mainland Spain but you are not going to travel really far away. We are, after all, islands. Most buses in touristic routes are adequate. Do not expect the drivers to know more than a couple of sentences in English or German, though they would try to be helpful.

Trasmediterránea and Fred Olsen , are the main operators between the Canary Islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Fuerteventura, La Palma and La Gomera.

Canarian cuisine is a mix between African cultures, Latin and Spanish. Most of Canarian cuisine is a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit and fish, generally light meals, more simple to digest in a warm climate. Meat is normally consumed as a part of stews or as steaks.

Getting there: Direct flights to La Palma airport in the city of Santa Cruz de La Palma are available from mainland Spain, the other islands, and some cities in northern Europe. Ferries arrive in Santa Cruz de La Palma from Tenerife and Gran Canaria

The tapas concept is one of the most delicious Spanish contributions to international gastronomy. A Tapa is a light and small piece of food that Spaniards have either before lunch or dinner, usually with a glass of wine or beer. The Tapa can be presented in several ways. It can be made as a pincho (with a stick), as a mini-dish of a traditional recipe, as a canapé, etc...

A plateau and mountainous area make up the central part of the island, where rises up as the highest peak. From here, you can admire the views of the gulf, forests, volcanic craters, and of the entire island. The coast also offers a fascinating and unfamiliar sight with its cliffs jutting out from under the water, as if they were little crag islands. El Golfo is where the largest amount of cliffs can be found along with the some of the highest viewpoints of the area.

Gofio - Grain flour used especially at breakfast or to accompany potaje, a local stew.

Getting there: Flights come into the small airport at Valverde from Tenerife and Gran Canaria , no worldwide flights. Ferries reach La Estaca harbor from Tenerife.