For over two decades the Canary Islands have been a staple for package holidaymakers looking for a fix of sun, sea and sangria, particularly during the winter months. These seven sun-kissed volcanic islands have remained well off the radar for independent-minded backpackers, yet offer a wealth of attractions and activities for the adventurous budget traveller. At first glance, the more popular resorts on Tenerife and Gran Canaria may seem to consist of little more than non-descript holiday apartments and neon strips filled with English pubs, but a little scratching beneath the surface will be rewarded with some of Europeâ€™s most visually arresting scenery.
The Canaries are Europeâ€™s furthest flung outpost, closer to the African coastline than the Spanish mainland. The popular holiday hotspots are Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and the water sports haven of Fuerteventura. For backpackers looking to blaze a trail far from the madding crowd, peaceful La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro will more than likely fit the bill. All now have a dedicated airport and inter-island ferries have frequent daily services.
Backpacking holidays to Canary Islands neednâ€™t be a pricey affair. The islands enjoy duty free status and basic necessities such as food and transport are cheap by western European standards. Using cheap charter flights or low cost scheduled services such as Ryanair and Jet2, you can get to and from the Canaries for less than a weekend break in London. Furthermore, if you are prepared to sacrifice your independent travelling principles for once, all-in budget package deals are pretty hard to resist, especially during the off season.
True budget hostels are thin on the ground but the Canaries more than make up for it with an abundance of cheap guest house accommodation. Youâ€™ll find the widest choice in places like Playa de las Americas in Tenerife and the city of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. Outside the busiest months, you should be able to acquire a simple room for around â‚¬15.00 a night. For something a little more rustic and off the beaten path, there are dozens of little known state â€“ run camp sites (some have cabins to rent) in Gran Canaria. They are completely free to campers with their own equipment and many boast scenic views which are truly priceless.
So where to stay for a backpacking holiday in Canary Islands? Each island has its own distinctive atmosphere; for a traditional cocktail of lazy days by the beach, water sports and late night bar-hopping, Tenerife and Gran Canaria have bags of youthful exuberance. To a lesser extent, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura offer more of the same. All have direct flights from various airports in the UK and continental Europe.
For many people the hectic beach resorts such as Playa de las Americas (Tenerife) and Playa del Ingles on Gran Canaria characterise life in the Canaries, yet local Canarian life carries on virtually oblivious to all this rampant commercialisation. A short drive from the action offers truly dramatic volcanic landscapes such as towering Mount Tiede on Tenerife and Lanzaroteâ€™s Timanfaya National Park.
Elsewhere, sleepy La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro are a world away from the heaving mass of sunbathers and cheap sangria. These laid back islands boast a true Canarian atmosphere and quite astonishing terrain formed by yet more volcanic activity. La Palma and La Gomera are noted for some of the most adventurous walking and hiking trails in Europe.
For travellers with limited time who want it all with a minimum of hassle, aÂ holiday in Gran Canaria (click here for deals) is arguably the best option. It is a compact island with good public transport and a bustling capital. There are over 200 kilometres of coastline featuring eye catching vistas such as the windswept sand dunes of Maspalomas or the charming fishing port of Mogan. Adventure in the water consists of scuba diving, big game fishing and surfing along with the usual mix of adrenaline-fuelled water sports activities.
The island interior offers up some breathtaking scenery whether hiking, horse riding, mountain biking or even on camel safari. Itâ€™s a diverse topography of imposing rock formations and ravines, lakes, mountains and pine forests. The variety of sub-tropical flora is quite staggering. Take time to explore local life at a myriad of timeless villages such as Artenara, noted for its cave dwellings or discover miles of rolling countryside dotted with orchards of tropical fruits.
A backpacking holiday in Canary Islands is a refreshing alternative to inter-railing around the cities of Europe for example, especially with the lure of a year-round sunny climate. Few places on the continent can offer such value nowadays and nowhere else in the region has such a heady mix of European and African flavours. If you have an unquenchable thirst for adventure and a liking for good old fashioned sun, sea and sand, a backpacking holiday in Canary Islands will more than meet your needs without breaking the bank.
This a featured post by Directline Holidays.