The Canary Islands is one of the most visited holiday destinations on the continent, mainly because the glorious islands offer diverse landscapes and year-round sun, which genuinely appeal to holidaymakers. The popular islands are off the coast of Africa, yet they belong to Spain, making it as easy as pie for any Europeans to visit.
Planning a trip is an extremely exciting thing to do, but knowing when to visit a destination is essential – and that’s where we come in.
So, if you are traveling as a family, want the best weather or want to beat the crowds, we’ve got you covered with this essential Canary Islands guide.
When Is The Best Time To Visit the Canary Islands
The absolute best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons of March-May and September-November. This is when the weather is warm, the prices are low, and there are far fewer crowds than in the peak season.
An added bonus is that the weather is a perfect temperature to get out and do some sightseeing in between enjoying the glorious beaches – which is why you are visiting in the first place, right?
A Quick Overview of The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands comprise eight inhabited islands, with four main islands considered the most popular tourist destinations.
The islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Fuerteventura receive a whopping 12.3 million annual visitors so we will focus on these main destinations in this article. The other four islands of La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, and the tiny La Graciosa are ideal side trips, each offering its distinct character and landscape.
While the four main tourist islands are famous for their weather, there are certain times you should travel there to suit your specific needs.
Here is a look at the best times to visit the most popular Canary Islands.
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and is well known for its party atmosphere, stunning beaches, and lively resorts, which is why five million people visit annually. The best time to visit Tenerife is between March–May, during the shoulder season when the weather is sunny and warm, and you can avail yourself of low prices.
January/February is equally as good a time to visit since Tenerife hosts the largest Carnival festival outside of Brazil, and the island comes alive, which makes for an unforgettable experience.
Spring or Autumn is the best time to visit Gran Canaria, when the weather is between 23 –24C, and ideal for exploring the various towns, hiking in the mountains, and sightseeing without the high humidity and high temperatures. The sea temperature is quite warm in Autumn, having soaked up the sun all summer, so this is ideal for comfortable swimming.
April – June is the best time to visit Lanzarote when the weather is pleasant and the peak season has not yet started. September – October is also an excellent time to visit for similar reasons, as you can still enjoy the sun and the long daylight hours before winter kicks in.
Late Spring or early Summer is an ideal time to visit Fuerteventura when peak temperatures are in their mid-20s, minimum rainfall, and the sunniest time of year. You can enjoy nine hours of sunshine per day, which is perfect for discovering the island’s natural beauty without the crowd or the hot and humid weather.
Suggested Reading: Lanzarote vs Tenerife – An Honest Comparison
When to Visit the Canary Islands for Cheap Prices
One of the main things holidaymakers want to know is the best time to visit the Canary Islands if you are on a budget. While winter and summer are the two main peak seasons across all islands, Spring and Autumn are the shoulder seasons and your best savings options. With fewer people visiting the island, hotel prices will be lower, and the availability of tours and attractions will be easier.
When to Visit the Canary Islands for the Best Weather
We all look forward to soaking up that glorious sunshine, especially if we haven’t been on holiday in a while and need some Vitamin D, so knowing when the best weather occurs on the islands is essential. The summer season, which runs from June – August, is the warmest time of the year, with consistent temperatures and around ten hours of sunshine per day. Visiting in summer is a great choice if you only have a short holiday and you want to guarantee excellent weather every day.
When to Visit the Canary Islands for Less Crowds
Traveling during the shoulder seasons will guarantee fewer crowds on the islands. While many think that winter might be the low season on the islands, it is, in fact, one of the two peak seasons since Europeans take advantage of the year-round sun and often book winter sun holidays to the Canaries. It is advised to travel between Mar-May, before summer kicks in, or September – November, before winter kicks in, to avoid the crowds but enjoy pleasant weather.
When to Visit the Canary Islands for Festivals and Parties
Festival lovers will be happy to know Tenerife dominates the Canarian festival scene. The island is home to the largest Brazilian Carnival outside of Brazil, which takes place over fifteen fun-filled days in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This unmissable event, which happens in January/February, is undoubtedly the best festival across the islands. Still, the Canary Islands International Music Festival also occurs during this time.
When to Visit the Canary Islands for Families:
The Canary Islands is an excellent destination for families, with plenty of family-friendly resorts and activities. The best time to visit is in Spring and Autumn when the weather is enjoyable for the whole family, attractions are not overcrowded, and prices are lower, which means more ice cream for the children.
Least Busy Time to Visit Canary Island
If, like many visitors, you dream of having the beach all to yourself, exploring sights without the crowds, and avoiding queues everywhere, you will undoubtedly want to visit during the quietest time of the year.
From March to May and September to November, it is quiet across all seven Canary Islands since either the summer or the winter peak seasons have begun. This is an excellent time to avail yourself of great deals, enjoy glorious weather, and, most of all, enjoy peaceful days on sunny beaches.
Worst Time to Visit the Canary Islands
Honestly, the worst time to visit the islands has to be during the peak summer season, although this is called the peak season for a reason. Yes, you will be guaranteed hot weather and extensive sunshine. Still, you will also experience much higher prices and less availability for tours and attractions, plus the beaches will be crowded.
In addition, the peak summer season comes with the hottest temperatures, which can be pretty uncomfortable for those who aren’t used to this weather or have young kids. While the temperatures are not as sweltering as in other parts of Europe, and the humidity is relatively low, you need to be aware that the minimum temperatures will be around 22C on average.
Canary Islands Travel Seasons Explained
The Canary Islands benefit from an Oceanic Subtropical climate thanks to their proximity to Africa, and while they experience year-round sunshine, there are a few critical differences between seasons.
Spring in the Canary Islands is bliss for many reasons. Firstly, Spring boasts comfortable, mild temperatures of 20-22C, a deal for exploring and lying on the beach. The sea temperature is between 19-20C, which is not as cold as some parts of Europe at this time of year, making it ideal for a refreshing swim.
During this season, you will notice fewer tourists and lower prices. In late Spring, you will notice that the temperature will start to increase by a few degrees, making it ideal for sunbathing and water activities.
Overall, the weather during the summer months is relatively consistent, with no rain and no strong winds, but this is also the busiest season. The islands experience the highest number of tourists during the peak summer season so that you can expect much higher prices, limited availability, and queues for some attractions, restaurants, and sights.
Travel during this season needs to be well planned and booked in advance, as things will be booked out fast. June boasts ambient temperatures of around 26C, making it a very popular month to travel and explore, while July and August are the hottest months at 30C, but this is an excellent time for swimming in the sea.
One of the best things about Autumn is that the sea temperature has kept its warmth from the summer, and you can swim comfortably during this time. As well as this, the crowds have dispersed, prices start to go down, and the daytime temperature stays at around 24C, which is ideal after a summer of intense heat.
Autumn and Spring are known as the low seasons in the Canary Islands and are the best times to visit for a host of reasons. You will enjoy beaches to yourself, warm seas, balmy temperatures, and lower prices for hotels and tours, which can only be a good thing, right?
Winter (December – February)
Winter is the second busiest season on the islands since Europeans often take winter breaks and opt to spend the festive season in the sun. The Canary Islands have year-round sunshine, and while winter experiences fewer daylight hours than the peak summer season, the temperatures make up for it.
Visitors can enjoy 20-21C temperatures during the day, so you can visit beaches and sunbathe while the fire cozies up the rest of Europe. In addition, the islands are a great place to enjoy the Christmas and New Year’s festivities, with plenty of exciting events. This is also Carnival season, and Tenerife is the best island to visit if you want to experience the best winter party in Europe.
Weather and Climate by Island
Tenerife has a sub-tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year. The island’s southern region is generally hotter and drier than the north, and the mountainous areas tend to be cooler and cloudier throughout the year.
Summer temperatures, like Barcelona or Majorca, are the highest in August due to the greater maritime influence. Significant climatic differences on the island are apparent when you see snow in the mountains, yet the coastal areas are warm and sunny.
Gran Canaria is the most desert-like island due to its climate and lack of precipitation. Boasting consistent mild temperatures year-round, the island is a popular choice for visitors, and it is also known for its many microclimates. You can expect temperatures of up to 20C in winter and up to 26C in summer, making it slightly cooler than its neighbors.
Inland, there can be frost and snow in winter, but it is infrequent that it goes below 10C on the coast. Like most islands, summers have little or no rainfall, and July and August are the hottest months, with the south coast being warmer and less rainy than the north.
Lanzarote isn’t called ‘The Island of Eternal Spring’ for no reason; it only has a small amount of rainfall in the summer months and an overall subtropical – desert climate. Rainfall during the summer is almost unheard of, and temperatures are, on average, 18C in winter and 25C in summer.
The island is known for its year-round, mild temperatures, but the hot sirocco winds can occur during summer, which is something to be aware of.
Fuerteventura is world famous for its constant trade winds, so if you are a kite surfer or into windsurfing, this is your destination. The island’s climate is mild but mostly windy all year round, which is certainly good to know if you are planning a trip here.
During the winter months, you can expect highs of 22C and lows of 15, while summer brings higher temperatures of 28C and 20C. The sandstorm, known as the Calima, is a phenomenon that blows from the Sahara Desert and can cause high temperatures, low visibility, and dry air across the island.
Tips for Visiting Canary Islands
- When visiting during the peak seasons, it is imperative to book everything in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Most rainfall happens between November – February, so if you travel during this period, don’t be caught off guard and pack an umbrella just in case.
- The best way to move between islands is by ferry, which is operated by several companies, and allows you to visit multiple islands easily, so allow time to take advantage of this.
- The Canaries are volcanic islands, so don’t expect all beaches to have white sand; instead, be prepared for otherworldly black sand beaches, which are unique.
- The official language is Spanish, as they are Spanish-owned islands, but do not fret because English is widely spoken here.
- One of the best things to witness in Gran Canaria is the giant sand dunes of Maspalomas, which runs along the coast.
- Try the local Canarian cuisine, which ranges from freshly caught seafood to traditional dishes like papas arrugadas (local boiled potatoes), paired with delicious local wines.
- Renting a car is one of the best things to do: get off the beaten path and see more of the island you are on. You can get great deals by booking in advance, so take advantage of this and enjoy more of what the island offers.