Spain may not be known as an archipelagic country but with its famed sunny weather, laidback culture and varied nightlife, its islands are among the most renowned in Europe. I have visited Spain in the past but never ventured outside the main towns of Andalucia, the capital, Madrid and of course, Barcelona. For my future trips, I will make sure to visit these islands:
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is well-known as a resort destination, with plenty of stunning beaches such as Costa Adeje and Playa de la Arena to seek a tan from. Beaches aside, there is also a lot to keep cultural buffs busy, with charming old towns such as La Orotava and La Laguna, the latter being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For lovers of the great outdoors, there is the opportunity to hike to Mount Teide, the highest point in all of Spain. Even non-hikers can enjoy the view by taking a 4×4 followed by a cable car that reaches up to 3,550 meters out of the 3,718 meter tall volcano.
All it took was that one picture of a lagoon surrounded by translucent waters for me to be smitten. Menorca, the lesser known of the Balearic Islands, is the place to go to escape the maddening crowds that one finds everywhere else in Spain. A unique feature of Menorca is the presence of prehistoric monuments – the island is said to be the best place in Europe to see ancient settlements. No one knows exactly why they were built but they serve as constant reminders of the diversity of Spain’s tourist attractions.
The larger of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca is well within the tourist radar but is very much worth a visit if you know where to look. For starters, its capital, Palma de Mallorca, looks just like any of the majestic cities lining the Spanish mainland. Its centerpiece is the impressive cathedral which was built several hundred years ago on top of a mosque. Mallorca is equally known for its stunning landscapes and a visit to Sierra de Tramuntana is not to be missed for those with a couple of days to spend.
As these islands are quite spread out, organizing a trip covering all may prove to be a hassle. Tour operators such as First Choice have plenty of experience in Tenerife or to the other Spanish islands, and cater to various budgets and travel styles.