You know officially on the calendar it will be spring in the northern hemisphere in less than a month, but dreaded “wintry mix” is predicted for later in the week. Think outside the box for one last cold weather getaway and consider a visit to Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands.
The Canary What? Where?
Map courtesy of Google Maps.
Most Northern Europeans already know the Canary Islands belong to Spain, but are off the southwestern coast of Morocco in North Africa. Canadians and Americans—not so much. To put it in perspective for North Americans, the seven Canary Islands are known as the “Hawaii of the Atlantic”; except, this “Hawaii” is closer to the east coast of the United States than Hawaii.
If you are wanting to visit the great museums of Europe, winter is a budget friendly time for that trip. However, winter temperatures and often gray skies mean you won’t be sitting at outside cafes, enjoying the sunshine with your cappuccino or cafe con leche.
A Visit to Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands Can Be Budget Friendly
To add some sun and beach time to a European sojourn, a visit to Tenerife in the Canary Islands can be an inexpensive add-on to your visit to mainland Europe, especially Spain. A quick look at TripAdvisor shows that a round trip, non-stop ticket on budget airlines from Madrid to the international airport on Tenerife will only set you back $73.00.
A Visit to Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands Is a Ticket to Perpetual Spring
Tenerife is known for its perpetual spring—warmer than mainland Spain during the fall, winter and spring, and with more moderate and comfortable temperatures when the Spanish mainland sizzles during the summer.
Once one of the most impoverished areas of Spain under the fascist dictator, Francisco Franco, in 1982 the Canary Islands became a Spanish autonomous region. The Canary Islands quickly developed a thriving tourism industry, catering to Spain’s sun starved northern European neighbors.
The island of Tenerife, provides lovely sandy beaches with water based recreation activities. However, different towns have different vibes. There is the more laid back, low rise Los Gigantes on the mid-west coast or the southwest beach town of Los Cristianos, nestled next to the bustling resort town of Playa de los Americas—probably too much fun nightlife for Mr. and Mrs. Excitement.
One of my English friends who is a frequent visitor to Tenerife, suggests that for the most authentic Spanish experience, one should visit inland towns on Tenerife. In the resort towns along the coast, one is more likely to hear English than Spanish.
Similar to the Big Island of Hawaii, in addition to the lure of the ocean, Tenerife provides off beach adventure and sightseeing options. Visitors to Tenerife, should think beyond sea level, because the island is also home to Spain’s tallest mountain, Mount Teide which soars to 12,198 feet (3,718 meters). Thus, for three months of the year, while sunbathers relax on beaches an hour away, the top reaches of this mountain are snow covered.
The volcanic landscape can be visited in the National Park of Las Canadas del Tiede, a UNESCO World Heritage Site abounding with hiking opportunities. For those preferring to do their mountain ascents with an assist, it is possible to do part of the trip by cable car.
Tenerife visitors who find themselves needing a wildlife fix can visit Loro (Parrot) Parque which provides the chance to see dolphin, sea lion and parrot shows. It also boasts a large penguin park complete with man made snow.
For Baby Boomers traveling with grandchildren, Tenerife provides plenty of options to keep all generations happy. Parque las Aguilas (Eagle Park) is a popular jungle zoo and botanical park. Monkey Zoo Park is a good option for those who prefer their monkeys up close and personal.
Tenerife is obviously doing something right to attract tourists. Official tourism figures for 2016 reveal that there were almost five million tourist visits to the island.
At present, there are no direct flights from the United States to the Canary Islands, but from the United Kingdom or Spain, non-stop flights to Tenerife are readily available at good prices.