The Canary Islands are a popular holiday destination as they offer the sun, sea and sand that you expect somewhere like the Caribbean, but they are much closer to home. Each of the seven islands has its own personality and fantastic places to visit, so how do you decide between them? Read this handy guide to the Canary Islands to discover which is best suited to your specific interests.
Culture Vultures – Tenerife
If your idea of a great vacation involves museums, art galleries, impressive architecture and immersing yourself in local culture (and plenty of sun!) then Tenerife is the island for you. It is the most popular of the Canary Islands, but this is mainly due to the tourists heading to the south coast where there are many inviting sandy beaches.
This leaves the lively port and capital city of Santa Cruz largely tourist free and it is here where you can soak up plenty of culture. There are many fascinating museums and galleries to enjoy, but it is the Auditorio de Tenerife that I highly recommend. Completed in 2003, this striking modernist building hosts many concerts throughout the year so be sure to see what is on during your stay. If you happen to be there in the autumn, the Tenerife Opera Festival is supposed to be a marvellous event and something that any culture vulture will get a real kick out of.
Nature Lovers – La Palma & La Gomera
Nature lovers will want to head to the peaceful La Palma and La Gomera islands, which are somewhat hidden gems as they are largely free of tourists (shh, keep it a secret!). These islands boast outstanding and varied natural beauty, which make them perfect for those that like to hike or simply enjoy being surrounded by nature.
Caldera de Taburiente National Park offers many rewarding walks along epic cliffs that allow for spectacular views of the ancient forests and volcanoes that inhabit this rugged yet beautiful island.
Just 14 miles in diameter, keen walkers will adore this tiny yet scenic island. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, La Gomera is bursting at the seams with volcanic mountains, thick forests and black-sand beaches. The best area to explore is the superb Garajonay National Park, which is located in the heart of the island and is a magnificent place for hiking.
So, you are an independent traveler? What exactly does that mean? A quick search for the definition of the term “Independent Traveler” on the online dictionary defines it as “A travel in which you organize things yourself, instead of taking up the services of a company that will arrange flights, hotels, and more”.
For certain trips such as a quick visit to see friends or family, that may be well justified. However, if you are planning for a more active and exclusive experience to cherish and share around the dinner table with friends or family, will you end up talking about what went right, or what went wrong?
All thanks to the internet, the boom in “Do It Yourself” in just about anything. It has become the rage, no matter it is growing your own tomatoes, fixing holes in the gyprock, or learning to play the guitar. However, is saving a few bucks worth sacrificing the overall experience not to mention the time taken to co-ordinate a 1 or 2 week holiday? And, do you actually save any money at all?
Travel styles are constantly changing and we find more people seeking out value for experience instead of value for money. The boom of self-guided cycling tours France make a lot of sense for those that like the feel of independent travel, but the benefits of an organized trip. No matter you are an experienced active traveler or a first timer, self-guided bike trips offer an array of benefits.
In my humble opinion, you cannot beat sampling fresh produce in a picturesque natural setting whilst on holiday. It is for this reason that we often recommend agriturismo in Sicily as a vacation, which will allow you to indulge in delicious home-grown food and wine at a scenic Italian farm surrounded by the beautiful rolling country hills.
So, what is an agriturismo? The word is a combination of Italian words agricultura (agriculture) and turismo (tourism). Essentially, you stay on a working farm that also has the facilities to offer guests a luxury vacation. This is a unique type of holiday where you get to see and experience authentic Italy whilst also living the good life.
The idea for these wonderful experiences came about in the 1980s when agricultural workers decided to supplement their income by using their large unused rooms to host tourists. Many of these farmhouses previously housed a number of families, but a decline in agriculture in the ’50s saw many farmers forced to move into the cities to find work.
These rustic properties have great charm, but it is the food and drink that most of our clients enjoy the most. You can sample fresh produce and have gourmet dinners cooked for you each evening – these will taste better than any meal you’ve ever had on holiday! In many cases, you are able to get tours of the vineyards, farms and have cooking lessons.
For global tourists, French Alps is amongst the must-see destinations when it comes to bike tours. The duration from the mid of April through the mid of October is the best season for areas below 1500 m, whereas for the ones with high altitudes it is the best to go through the mid of May through the end of September. The winter months that run from November to March are too cold to opt for French Alps cycling tours to enjoy the beauty of these picturesque mountains.
Most mountain passes measuring lower than 2000 m are closed during the winter season – from November to April (sometimes exceeded to May). The mountain passes measuring between 2000 m to 2500 m altitude are closed from late October to late May or early June. However, the mountain passes that are altitudes above 2500 m are usually blocked from the mid of October till early or mid of June.
The most prominent routes taken by bike tourists include:
Les Petis Balcons
This medium route runs 20 km with the constant up and down hills, starting from the Richard Bozon Sports Center through the tiny village of Le Lavancher. Paddling through Mont Blanc, you will experience the most breathtaking views of snow covered peaks.
Semnoz and Forclaz
This is a hard route that runs almost 80 km with two major climbs. Recommended for serious cyclists, this track runs from Quai de la Tournett through the bends weaving thick pine forests breaking out into alpine meadows at the summit of Semnoz.
Spain is known for its cycling-friendliness and an impressive cycling heritage. It is a nation with a wonderful diversity and offers everything a cycle tourist will love, be it well-maintained cycle paths, ever changing landscapes, wonderful weather to cycle, quiet roads, challenging mountain climbs to flat valley bottoms, globally renowned architectural & cultural sights and genial people in addition to the very obvious the hearty food and drink.
If you are looking forward to paddling through the green valleys, check out this brief guide for self-guided bicycle tours Spain.
Your tour will probably take off from the charming village of San Vicente de la Barquera for briefing and explore the local fine dining restaurants renowned for seafood. This is followed by the Parque National de Oyambre and the stunning beaches of Meron and Oyambre. Take a short pause at the seaside village of Comillas to explore a fine beach and the pretty village. Paddel through the charming medieval village of Santillana del Mar to discover the cobbled streets and the contemporary museum of the Altamira Caves.
Head westwards along the coast, around the elegant headland of Pechon to enjoy the bravura views of its coastline. This will be followed by cycling along the Deva Valley, riding through the implausible rocky gorge of La Hermida and paddling towards Potes and the valley of La Liebana, which is entirely encircled by mountains. Your bicycle tour will further continue cycling along the valleys in Potes. Enjoy a walk through the lush green valleys, spend time in the bustling market and several other quaint villages around. Do not miss the charming country monastery of Piasca.