Many gaze wistfully from the top of Teide on Tenerife or the peak of Pozo de las Nieves on Gran Canaria at the other islands beckoning across the narrow straights of the Atlantic, or even wonder where the ferry they watch slipping out of the harbour is headed for, but few take the opportunity to hop on board and explore. In reality, island hopping in the Canaries is actually very easy.
Can I island-hop the Canaries by Sea?
The easiest way to island hop in the Canaries, and almost certainly the most pleasant, is by inter island ferry. All seven of the main islands are connected in this way, with Tenerife and Gran Canaria acting as hubs.
Three companies operate ferry services between the islands, Fred Olsen, Naviera Armas and Trasmediterranea. Of course, you should check carefully before booking your transit in case Covid has affected usual schedules.
Standards are similar so simply choose which company to sail with based on the routes and timetables operating at the time of your trip. Usually, you will find considerably more sailings with Fred Olsen and Naviera Armas than you will with Trasmediterranea, who focus more on services back to the mainland.
Unless you have a huge amount of time you will need to limit yourself to two or three of the Canary Islands. With a week you could comfortably combine Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, sailing between Playa Blanca in Lanzarote’s south and Corralejo in Fuerteventura’s north. This crossing is operated by both Fred Olsen and Naviera Armas and takes just half an hour. As it is a car ferry you can hire a car on arrival on one island and take it over to the other.
Alternatively, with a little longer, you could combine Tenerife with its smaller neighbours La Gomera and La Palma, sailing out from Los Cristianos on Tenerife’s south coast to La Gomera’s capital San Sebastian (50 minutes) and after a few days on to Santa Cruz de la Palma (2 hours). You can return directly from La Palma to Los Cristianos in just under three hours.
Finally, consider combining the two islands vying to be top dog in the archipelago and make up your own mind which one wins. Gran Canaria and Tenerife can be easily combined, with just an 80-minute ferry crossing between the two capital cities.
Can I island-hop the Canaries by air?
Although crossing by water is far nicer, sometimes it is quicker to fly between the Canary Islands, particularly if you want to combine some of the further flung islands, or two islands that aren’t immediate neighbours.
Two airlines operate inter-island flights in the Canary Islands, both based out of the airport on Gran Canaria. Binter Canarias has the most useful schedule of flights, serving all seven major islands, while the newer CanaryFly links Gran Canaria with Tenerife North, La Palma and Lanzarote. Again, if you’re planning to island be sure to check airline websites as close to your trip as possible.
If you have a hankering to visit El Hierro, flying is a good option. It is far quicker to reach El Hierro by plane than it is by ferry, with a flight time from Tenerife North of just 40 minutes, rather than the two hours and 45 minutes it takes by ferry (and there is no ferry service on this route on a Saturday). Bear in mind though that this is from the northern airport, an hour or so’s drive from the southern resorts so only useful to those exploring the northern half of the island.
An appealing itinerary by air would be to start by exploring Tenerife, ending up in the north, and flying from Tenerife North to Arrecife on Lanzarote with Binter Canarias (50 minutes by air, no direct ferries). After a few days on Lanzarote you could hop back to Gran Canaria (45 minutes by air, rather than five and a half hours by ferry) to discover this “continent in miniature” before departing on your international flight without having to return to Tenerife.
Looking for more tips for an amazing break to one of the beautiful Canary Islands? Check out these articles for inspiration, together with the latest travel advice:
When can I travel to Spain, the Canary and Balearic Islands again? – Check out all the latest information and travel advice on where you can travel to Spain at the moment, and how to do it safely.
Top 11 beaches in the Canary Islands – The most beautiful beaches in the Canaries, for a dreamy last-minute holiday break to Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura
Discover “Where’s Open” now – Find the latest information on travel restrictions, Canaries travel advice, quarantine and entry requirements with our interactive map.
This page was last updated on 23 October 2020. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. As things change continuously, we will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however, this cannot be guaranteed.