Getting to and around the Canary Islands

5 August 2015 2 Comments Category: blog, Just Landed, Matthew Hirtes

Discover the Canary Islands

Around 100km west of Africa and about 17 times that distance south of Spain,  the Canary Islands are further away than your average costa. Still, median flight time hovers around the four-hour mark. Meaning that holidaying in paradise is not necessarily a long-haul affair.

It’s actually easier to reach the Canary Islands, particularly the more touristy Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Tenerife from the likes of Germany and the UK than it is from many Spanish airports. For the cheapest flights from British airports, it’s difficult to look beyond the likes of newbies Norwegian and the rather more established Ryanair.

Another way to get to the Canary Islands is by ferry. Naviera Armas connects Huelva in the south west of the Iberian peninsula with Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Tenerife whilst Transmediterranea links another south-west port on the Spanish mainland, Cádiz, with Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, and Tenerife. An even more leisurely, and indeed expensive option, is to book a Canary Islands cruise with the likes of P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.

And how do you travel around them once you arrive? Well, if you land on my home island of Gran Canaria, the hire car’s a reassuringly popular option. But if you want to put your feet up on your travels rather than your foot down on the pedal,  Global buses connect some of the most popular destinations on the island, the likes of the airport, capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and major resort Playa del Inglés, with some of the most out-of-the-way places including cave village Artenara, mountain hamlet Fontanales, and wild western beach Tasarte.

The bus is also a great way to get around capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Global operate buses to and from the main stations in Parques Santa Catalina and Telmo, as do the yellow Guaguas Muncipales. If you’re surprised by the fares (as low as a €1,40 for a single), you’ll be just as thrown by the timetables (the time given at each stop refers not to the expected arrival of the bus but of the scheduled departure from the route’s starting point).

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s the  municipal capital of the eastern half of the Canary Islands. To get around Lanzarote on multi wheels, use IntercityBus Lanzarote and for navigating Fuerteventura by bus, use Tiadhe. The major bus company on the western half of the Canaries, meanwhile, is Tenerife’s Titsa.

What if you want to island hop? The aforementioned Naviera Armas connects all the seven islands, including the western half of the Canary Islands’ El Hierro and La Gomera as well a service between Lanzarote and las Islas Canarias‘ unofficial eighth island, La Graciosa. Rival ferry line, Fred Olsen offers a near-parallel service minus the La Graciosa link-up.

There are also inter-island flights. You can fly with Binter Canarias to and from the island’s eight airports (Tenerife has two). Canaryfly offer a more limited service, to and from Gran Canaria (LPA), Lanzarote (ACE), La Palma (SPC), and Tenerife Norte (TFN).

If you love the great outdoors, the Canary Islands are ideal to explore by foot. Since I moved to the islands, I’ve taken advantage of the improvement in footpaths (new signposts and smoother surfaces). Shanks’ Pony remains my favourite way of navigating the Canaries, although I’m a mere novice when compared to hardcore hiker, Alan Gandy.