Last updated 10 June 2021
While mainland Spain has plenty to offer, one thing it doesn’t always have is the year-round sunshine some of the best Spanish islands boast.
As long as you enjoy the sun, there’s a Spanish island that’s perfect for you!
But, warmth and sunshine isn’t the only reason to visit the Spanish islands, as there is more to them than meets the eye!
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Spanish Islands Overview
The Spanish Islands can be broken down into two groups – the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
As the Canaries and Balearics Islands are both stunning in their own way, with something on offer for every kind of traveller, it can be difficult to choose where to go!
The Canary Islands are actually located off the coast of Africa. So, if warmth and sunshine is your #1 priority, the Canary Islands will deliver more often than not.
The Balearic Islands are located in the Mediterranean. While a bit cooler than the Canary Islands, they still boast an impressive 300 or so days of sunshine per year.
While the Canary Islands are clearly volcanic – barren, rocky and bold, the Balearic Islands are colourful, with pretty flowers lining the streets and lush pine forests within its national park.
Each of the Spanish islands group, and in fact, each island, has a personality of its own.
So, which of the Spanish islands is the best?
Below is my personal take on the top three Spanish islands to visit – especially for couples – with recommendations on where to stay and what to do!
Best For: History, Gastronomy and Romance
My top Spanish island pick for couples is Mallorca (Majorca). I will say that I might be a little biased as this is where we got engaged in 2016! We’ve visited a total of three times since 2015 😊 The long promenades along the waterfront are beautiful and the perfect romantic backdrop!
Mallorca is the biggest of the Balearic Islands and has plenty on offer. The azure-coloured water is crystal clear and great for a swim or an attempt at stand up paddle-boarding!
The island’s capital, Palma de Mallorca, is great for a day of exploring.
Set overlooking the sea, it boasts a beautiful gothic cathedral, plenty of shopping opportunities and excellent food.
If you’re more the sporty kind, cycling is extremely popular, with 400km of cycling trails around the island!
A word of caution – I would avoid Magaluf at all cost… This is where the barely-old-enough-to-drink go for the crazy nightlife, and is certainly not going to provide the relaxed and romantic getaway you might be hoping for.
Fun fact: We recently watched a movie called “A Long Way Down” and spotted a familiar place! It was partially filmed in Camp de Mar in Mallorca (even though they say they’re going to Tenerife in the movie!)
Where To Stay:
Hoposa Pollentia – This small but luxurious adults-only hotel is just across the road from the beach, with stunning views over the Bay of Pollensa from the terraces and the garden. The hotel was fully refurbished in 2018, and there is a fantastic roof top plunge pool and sunbathing area. The perfect Spanish Islands couples getaway!
Riu Bravo Hotel – If you’d like to stay a bit closer to the action of Palma de Mallorca, and within easy reach of the airport, Riu Bravo is the ideal hotel. Bonus – there’s a swimming pool (and free access to the indoor steam bath and whirlpool bath for the colder winter months!), and it’s still only a 2 minute walk to the beach!
Best For: Action and Adventures
With year-round toasty temperatures, Tenerife is a sun-lover’s paradise. But, Tenerife isn’t all sand and sea, even if there is plenty of that too.
You’ll be hard pushed to go anywhere in Tenerife without seeing Mount Teide looming in the background. This impressive mountain is the third largest volcano in the world, reaching an imposing 3,718 metres – the highest in Spain.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there are some pretty spectacular views from the top! It’s a great place to find some cooler temperatures and hike through the lunar-like landscapes.
A popular activity is to paraglide down from the top of these rocky mountains. While we didn’t quite get around to doing that, we were definitely tempted on our most recent trip, and it is absolutely on my to-do for the next time!
There’s plenty of opportunity for water-sports here too, including jet-skiing, windsurfing, kayaking and parascending.
If water slides and wave pools are more your thing, Siam Park is an excellent place to spend the day. With some adrenaline inducing drops as well as more relaxed river floats, this Thai inspired water park has something for everyone!
Where To Stay:
Hotel Jardín Tropical – We’ve stayed at Hotel Jardín Tropical two years in a row and really enjoyed it both times! They’ve done a massive refurb over the past couple of years so everything is clean and modern. The location is absolutely perfect with multiple restaurants and cafes within easy walking distance along the promenade of Costa Adeje.
Heading to Tenerife’s Costa Adeje? Find out exactly Where to eat & Where to avoid!
Best For: Sand Dunes, Rum and Culture
Gran Canaria is an island of microclimates, and is perhaps the most diverse of all the Spanish islands.
Maspalomas is the second longest of the 80 or so beaches in Gran Canaria, most famous for its colossal sand dunes that extend 3.5km inland.
The dunes will remind you of the Saharan desert, so why not take this opportunity to take a camel ride?
It’s not all dry and sandy in Gran Canaria though. The botanical gardens in the north of the island, Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo, are worth a visit for the incredible array of cacti alone.
There are also plenty of museums and art galleries to explore for the more cultured among us. Or, visit chic Playa Mogan for some retail therapy!
Aside from wine (it is Spain, after all!), Gran Canaria is also home to the Arehucas Rum Distillery in Arucas, which exports rum all around the world. For only €3.50, learn a little something about rum production (or simply sample some of the banana, coffee or honey flavoured rum!)
Where To Stay:
Hotel Riu Palace Oasis – Located right next to the dunes in Maspalomas on one side, and Meloneras promenade on the other, Hotel Riu Palace Oasis has the perfect location. The hotel is surrounded by acres of picture-perfect gardens. And, following a full refurbishment in 2018, Hotel Riu Palace Oasis boasts three brand new swimming pools, a new restaurant and a first-class spa.
Spanish Islands – Additional Top Tips:
- Don’t drink the tap water
- Bring some Euro in cash
- Book attraction tickets online – you can often get a better deal that way
- Embrace relaxation – many shops and restaurants will be closed around 1-4pm for an afternoon snooze (siesta)
- Learn a few Spanish words and phrases – it will be appreciated!
- Wear sunscreen!
Have you been to any of these Spanish islands? Which is your favourite?
Let me know in the comments below!
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