TOP 10 Best of the Canaries
The evergreen Canaries are in for another bumper winter. Avoid the crowds with this selection of insider tips that shows the islands at their best...
GOMERA: DRAMATIC LUNCH Mains from €12.50 This steep, lemon-squeezer shaped island has arid barrancos (ravines) around the sides and laurel woodland in the middle. Most visitors are here for the hiking in the mossy woods, which are carpeted in fragrant wild flowers, with regular stops at viewpoints or miradors. For a particularly spectacular post-walk refresher, head for Mirador de Abrante, a new skywalk restaurant/ bar high above the village of Agulo, where it sticks out over a cliff. The view is stupendous – if you have a head for heights. You need good nerves for the access road too, and to come here after 3pm, when the day-trippers from Tenerife have gone. Expect to pay €30 for a two-course lunch with drinks. jardin-tecina.com/en/la-gomera/mirador-de-abrante
GOMERA: PRETTIEST VILLAGE B&B from €68 per night Get
into the groove of island village life by staying in the heart of Agulo, “Gomera’s prettiest village”, situated on the island’s north coast with views to Tenerife. The village’s multi-coloured houses are arranged like eggs in a nest, with Tenerife’s Mount Teide rising in the distance. Several of the old houses have become restaurants – seek out the old schoolhouse, for example – and you can also now stay here in the unassuming Casa Lugo. It’s simple and authentic, gathered around an interior courtyard, and it has a lovely breakfast room. Doubles with breakfast from €68. hotelruralcasalugo.com
LANZAROTE: RURAL RETREAT B&B from €106 per night Casa Tomaren is the best (most discreet) address on the island, which is why David Cameron and family stayed here when he was PM. Other places may be flashier and more expensive, but these self-catering suites in the heart of rural Lanzarote have been converted from an 18th century farmstead, using a mix of Spanish and Indonesian influences – with buddhas rising out of the surrounding cacti. The suites are tiled, adobe-walled and filled with heavy wooden furniture. Breakfast is provided and the
swimming pool is a sunken oasis among palm trees. Double studios from €106 a night with breakfast, for a minimum stay of three or four days, depending on the season. tomaren.es
LANZAROTE: SUNDAY MARKET
Cactus burger from
€6 Avoid the modern island capital, Arrecife, where the cruise ships and ferries dock. Instead head inland for the island’s original capital, Teguise, a sleepy, pretty place, with low whitewashed houses. On Sundays, the town hosts a huge street market, with over 400 stalls selling leather, woodcrafts, chiffon, silver, lace and more. The market is aimed at tourists, for sure, but it has a real buzz to it, with lots of the restaurants hosting live music, so the locals come too. The market is a good place to graze on unusual food stalls, from Transylvanian pastries to cactus burgers (€6).
TENERIFE: COBBLES AND LAVA B&B from €114 per night The fast autopista has virtually completed its stranglehold on overdeveloped Tenerife, but Garachico, the cobbled former port in its northwest corner, is still beyond its reach, and remains a sleepy place. The big attraction here is the saltwater pools studded with lumps of lava, reached via pathways and bridges. There’s elegant tearoom Le Patissier on dry land, in a traditional Canarian courtyard with a sumptuous cake display on an old wooden dresser. A bit further back from the sea stands the Quinta Roja hotel, on Garachico’s sleepy cobbled square, also with a traditional courtyard at its heart. Doubles from €114, with breakfast. quintaroja.com
TENERIFE: FINE DINING Four courses
from €38 You can spend a lot of money on a quite average meal in the tourist areas of Tenerife. Better to head up the hill from popular Puerto de la Cruz to just short of the autopista, to find Restaurant Larena 53, a converted finca with a terrace surrounded by banana plantations. Cuisine here is Canarian/european of exceptionally high quality, beautifully presented. If it is warm enough, eat out on the deck, with a chill-out zone for digestifs under the stars. On cold evenings they’ll light the wood-burning stove. Four courses for €38. larena53.com
LA PALMA: RURAL COTTAGES From €45 per night Locals call this big, green, rural island the Isla Bonita, the pretty island, but a shortage of beaches has kept mass tourism away. Its main claims to fame are its banana plantations, volcanic landscapes and the huge volcanic crater, the Caldera de Taburiente, with lots of good hiking trails. Above all, this is a place to go local, and stay peaceful. The island has a wide range of stone-walled locally owned cottages, surrounded by flowers and fruit trees, for rent. Puente Roto (sleeps five) by Tigalate in the southeast, with sea views to Tenerife, is excellent value at €50 a night (€10pp). islabonita.es
LA PALMA: STARSTRUCK Stargazing
from €25 The rim of La Palma’s huge crater hosts Europe’s top space observatories. Up here at the Roque de Muchachos the skies are perfectly clear. There are daily tours, but to get a better understanding of the universe join a couple of
Do you have the nerve for heady Gomera views?