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The three main tourist islands include Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote. Only the first two have significant towns but there are steeped in history, charm and even a little sophistication.
Las Palmas is the major city on Gran Canaria, centred around the bustling district of Vegueta. Home to the sweeping beaches of Playa de Las Canteras and Playa de Las Alcaravaneras, it also boasts many excellent hotels, restaurants and shopping districts.
The Triana main street is lined with remarkable buildings of great interest and just wandering the old district of Guiniguada is delightful for those interested in the local history with the Cathedral de las Palmas being particularly memorable. Similarly the 500 year La Luz Castle nestling in La Isleta bay is well worth visiting.
Puerto de la Cruz is a busy resort on Tenerife, with a charming old town still retaining its working atmosphere. Las Lonjas is a picturesque cobbled pedestrian street, the Casa de Miranda is on the old square, there is also the 16th century church of San Francisco and San Juan. Plaza del Europe is an ancient fortress overlooking the sea. The waterfront along Playa de Martianez is the sun and sea centre-point. La Laguna, the old capital, is in the beautiful Aguere valley.
Puerto del Carmen provides the nightlife for sleepy Lanzarote but in a much more controlled manner than the other islands.
All of the islands except La Gomera have airports, and one is under constructions there too. Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote receive the bulk of the international flights and those from mainland Spain. You can fly to the Canaries from most European cities, with or without stopovers in Spain.
Gran Canaria’s Aeropuerto de Gando is modern and handles 5 million tourists a year. Situated in the southwest of the island, there are numerous taxis (€15 max), but most package tourist have pre-arranged shuttles to their respective resorts.
Tenerife is the only Canary Island with two airports. Los Rodeos airport is situated in the north of the island near La Laguna, while the Reina Sofia airport is in the south near the Costa del Silencio, a few miles from Las Americas/Los Cristianos, and now handles most the international flights.
Lanzarote’s airport is located between Arrecife (the capital) and Puerto del Carmen, most resorts are €10 (max 30 min) taxi ride away.
There is a weekly ferry from the southern Spanish port of Cádiz. There are also regular inter-island ferries. The islands are connected by roll-on roll-off ferries, hydrofoils and jetfoils.