UK & IRELAND – 13th April
With a year-round warm climate, beautiful beaches, and stunning landscapes, it’s no wonder that the Canary Islands are such a popular tourist destination. However, to truly experience the islands, it’s best to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Here are some tips on how to enjoy the Canary Islands like a local.
Embrace the local cuisine and take an “aperitivo”
Canarian cuisine is a blend of Spanish, African, and Latin American influences, and is characterized by its simplicity and use of local ingredients. Some of the most popular dishes include papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes), mojo sauce (a spicy garlic sauce), and gofio (a flour made from roasted grains). You can also try fresh seafood like octopus and grilled fish, or the local cheese varieties like queso fresco and queso de cabra (goat cheese).
There is also the Aperitif, which is a gathering in the early afternoon for some light food and a drink, usually wine. The aim of the Aperitif is to relax and chat with friends. It is usually done is small groups of 5 people maximum. However, a small percentage of Canarians prefer larger groups.
Explore the natural beauty
The Canary Islands are known for their stunning natural landscapes, from the sandy beaches to the rugged mountains. One of the best ways to explore the islands is by hiking, with trails that range from easy to challenging. In Gran Canaria, you can explore the Roque Nublo rock formation, while in Tenerife you can hike to the summit of Mount Teide, the highest point in Spain. The cliffs of Los Organos are one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in La Gomera. These magnificent cliffs are located on the north coast of the island and are named after the towering rock formations that resemble the pipes of an organ. There is also La Restinga, a famous volcanic cone located in the southern part of El Hierro, which is renowned for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for water sports and scuba diving.
Learn about the local history and culture
The Canary Islands have a rich history, with influences from Spain, Portugal, and Africa. You can learn about the islands’ past at museums and historic sites like the Casa de Colón in Gran Canaria, which was once home to explorer Christopher Columbus, or the Cueva Pintada Museum in Gáldar, which features pre-Hispanic cave paintings. You can learn about Cesar Manrique, an artist, architect, and environmental activist who played a pivotal role in shaping the artistic and cultural landscape of Lanzarote, his birthplace, and the Canary Islands as a whole. Or even José Saramago, a Portuguese writer who discussed political issues, who went into exile in Lanzarote after the political censorship of his work.
Enjoy the local festivals
The Canary Islands are known for their lively festivals, which are celebrated throughout the year. The biggest festival is Carnival, which takes place in February or March and is celebrated with colourful parades, music, and dancing. Other festivals include the Fiestas de Mayo in Tenerife, taking place between the 21st of April and 30th of May, which celebrates the island’s patron saint, and the Fiesta de la Rama on the 4th of August in Gran Canaria, which is to honour the Virgin of Las Nieves.
Practice your Spanish
While many locals in the Canary Islands speak English, it’s always appreciated when visitors make an effort to speak Spanish. You don’t need to be fluent but learning a few basic phrases like “hola” (hello), “gracias” (thank you), por favor (“please”) and “adiós” (goodbye) can go a long way in making connections with the locals and experiencing the culture first-hand.
These are just some of the ways to enjoy the Canary Islands like you have lived there you’re whole life. It’s important to embrace the local cuisine, explore the natural beauty, learn about the local history, enjoy the festivals, and practice your Spanish. By doing this and more, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the islands’ culture and create memories that will last a lifetime.