Spain has some of the most beautiful islands in Europe. The most popular Spanish Islands are equally divided between the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. All have unique features along with their warm, clear water and unspoiled beaches. From the glamour and glitz of Ibiza to the windswept volcanoes of Tenerife there is something for every traveler on the islands of Spain.
One of the smaller of the Canary Islands, La Gomera was the place from which Christopher Columbus started his voyages of discovery. The island can be reached by ferry from Tenerife and is a good place for walking holidays. It has excellent climate and a huge variety of unique plants and a beautiful forested area, rock outcroppings and waterfalls. The island is not developed for tourism, so there are not the crowds found on other islands.
Minorca (also Menorca) is a less developed island and a good place for a beach holiday away from the crowds. It has more beaches than any other Spanish island, so there is a good chance visitors can find a secluded one to themselves. Along with the unspoiled scenery are prehistoric monuments which date from 1300 BC.
Formentera is a small island south of Ibiza and well known for nude sunbathing on many of its pristine, white sand beaches. It can be reached from Ibiza by boat and there is regular passenger service from mainland Spain. This is the place families and nature lovers go for a relatively isolated beach holiday. However, in the peak season of July-August, the island draws huge numbers of tourists. There is a dramatic cliff, La Mola with a lighthouse that is worth seeing.
Fuerteventura is famous for its strong winds and is a popular place for kite surfing and wind surfing. Parts of the island are well developed for beach holidays and other places are untouched. It is also famous for its broad sand dunes and over 150 beaches. Corralejo, a town on the northern tip of the island, is considered to have the best beaches.
Lanzarote has a stark volcanic landscape on a quarter of the island from a volcanic eruption in 1730, which is the Timanfaya National Park. The park has a bar and restaurant where the meat is cooked over underground heat. Other attractions are the Whales and Dolphins Museum and the Mirador del Rio a lookout point with a spectacular view.
La Palma is called The Beautiful Island and is the closest to Morocco of the Canary islands. It has an international airport and ferries to Tenerife. La Palma has spectacular countryside and is also a good place for walking tours and hiking. The largest crater in the world is in the center of the island and guided hikes are available to the area. There are other paths to stunning volcanic scenery and forests.
Gran Canaria has one of the largest cities in Spain. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is on the northeastern coast of the island and is a well-developed beach holiday destination. The island has many different types of landscapes including majestic sand dunes, mountains with biking trails, beaches and a densely populated underwater world. There are excellent diving spots, golf, surfing schools and hiking to the remarkable cave villages in the center of the island.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Gran Canaria
Majorca is the largest of the Spanish islands. It is well developed for beach tourism on the southern shores, but also has some magnificent scenery in the northern part of the island. The Alcudia area also has beach resorts, mainly for families, and beautiful biking trails along the cliffs and mountain paths. There is an annual Jazz Festival on the east coast as well as smaller beaches and golf courses. The small mountain towns and hidden monasteries in the northern Tramuntana Mountains are charming and surrounded by spectacular scenery and views of Majorca.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Majorca
See also: Top Destinations in Mallorca
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is well developed for tourism and a very popular beach holiday destination. It is renowned for it exciting nightlife and excellent dive sites. There are also many watersports available including surfing, wind surfing, parascending and jet-skiing. For those who love mountains, there are scenic drives along rocky cliffs and a cable car to the top of the highest peak in Spain. Hikers can also climb the mountain, but it is a challenging adventure.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Tenerife
Ibiza is famous for its nightclubs, parties and beaches. Ibiza Town and San Antonio are the most popular places for nightlife. They don’t get started until after 7 p.m. and stay open until early morning. During the day, there is a carnival-style market where fresh food and handicrafts can be purchased as well as some beautiful natural scenery. The Cova de Can Marca is a huge natural cave worth seeing and visitors can take a boat to the nearby island of Formentera.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ibiza
See also: Best Places in Ibiza