The photography guide to Spain Canary Islands
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Canary Islands photography guide

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The Canary Islands form a Spanish autonomous territory located off the coast of north-west Africa. 

Until 2018, the archipelago comprised of 7 islands, but that year, the tiny 29 square-km island of La Graciosa was promoted to be an “official” Canary Island. Up to that point, El Hierro (the furthest south-west) was the smallest. 

The islands are all volcanic, forming over a hot-spot in the earths’ crust (similarly to Hawaii), however each one has its own character, both geographically and culturally.

Many visitors to the islands will come to enjoy the coastal resorts and beaches, but there’s much to offer the photographer, from towering mountains, to lush rainforests, to quaint mountain villages. 

Tenerife is the largest island at over 2000 square-km, and is most notable for the huge volcanic peak, Teide, at the centre. The rest of the island is formed from the slopes of what is the tallest mountain in Spain - the peak of Teide is at 3715m. 

The capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, can be found in the north-east of the island. Most visitors will end up in the south-west corner however, in the towns of Los Cristianos, Las Americas and Adeje, where most of the hotels and villa complexes are found.

Lanzarote is the fourth largest of the Canary Islands and is known for its unique volcanic landscapes, pristine beaches, and year-round warm weather. This is a popular tourist destination and is known for its natural beauty and rich culture. The island is home to several natural parks, including the Timanfaya National Park, which features a unique volcanic landscape with craters, lava fields, and geysers. Landmarks include the Cueva de los Verdes, a cave system that was formed by volcanic eruptions, and the Castillo de San Jose, a fortress built in the 18th century that now houses an art museum.

Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is the third largest of the islands and is known for its diverse landscape; with sand dunes, pine forests, volcanic craters, and rocky cliffs it is a haven for photography and outdoor activities. Gran Canaria is also home to a rich cultural heritage, with traditional Spanish architecture, museums, and art galleries.

Fuerteventura is the second largest of the islands and is growing in popularity (although quieter than Lanzarote and Tenerife) It is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters and unique landscape; with its desert-like terrain, volcanic mountains, and picturesque fishing villages. It is home to several nature reserves and protected areas, including the Parque Natural de Corralejo, a large sand dune park with spectacular beaches and lagoons.

La Palma 
La Palma is known as the "pretty island" due to its natural beauty, with lush forests, volcanic peaks, and pristine beaches. The island is a popular destination for hiking and stargazing, and is home to several protected natural areas, including the Caldera de Taburiente National Park.

La Gomera 
La Gomera is a tranquil and unspoiled island known for its pristine beaches, rugged mountains, and lush vegetation. It is a popular destination for hiking and water sports, and is home to several protected natural areas, including the Garajonay National Park.

El Hierro
El Hierro was, until 2018, the smallest of the Canary Islands - covering just 268 square-km. Although small, it packs in a variety of landscapes, from dramatically steep mountain-sides and cliffs, damp rainforests, and vast expanses of dried up lava-flows. 

The pace of life on the 3 smaller islands (La Palma, Gomera and El Hierro) is slow - you won’t find the vast arrays of all-inclusive hotels that Tenerife offers, instead, visitors tend to stay in small guest-houses, rented apartments, or one of a handful of quiet hotels. 

Most popular Canary Islands photo spots


As most of the islands are popular tourist destinations, flights don’t pose a problem. Holiday charters and scheduled flights will get you to the larger islands such as Tenerife, La Palma, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. 

International flights to La Gomera and El Hierro don’t exist however. To get to either of these islands, you can either take a small local flight from one of the larger islands, or take the ferry.

Flights are operated by Binter while the ferries are operated by Naviera Armas - see Links
If you’re visiting several of the islands, the ferry may be the better option as you can keep your hire car for the duration - but if you’re only visiting one of the small islands, a flight may be preferred, hiring a car once at your destination. Bear in mind that many Binter flights operate from Tenerife North airport, while most international arrivals use Tenerife South!

Once at your destination, a hire car is the best way to explore. All the usual operators can be found at the airports and city centres, but be aware that many of them mention that they don’t allow inter-island travel. One which does is Cicar - see links - although it’s still advisable to mention when booking if you are planning on visiting another of the islands.

Top Picks

Don't miss:

Teide National Park: This is one of the most famous locations in the Canary Islands, located on Tenerife Island. The park is home to Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, and a unique volcanic landscape that makes for breathtaking photographs.

Masca Valley: Located on the northwest coast of Tenerife Island, Masca Valley is a picturesque area with steep cliffs, rugged terrain, and charming villages that offer great photo opportunities.

Maspalomas Sand Dunes: These sand dunes, located on Gran Canaria Island, are a unique natural wonder that provide great contrast and texture for photography.

Cueva de los Verdes: This is a unique cave system on Lanzarote Island that was formed by volcanic eruptions. The cave's unique lighting and rock formations make for stunning photos.

Garajonay National Park: Located on La Gomera Island, this park is home to an ancient rainforest that provides a lush and verdant landscape for photography.

Anaga Rural Park: This park, located on Tenerife Island, is known for its rugged and wild terrain, as well as its picturesque hamlets and ancient laurel forests.

Roque Nublo: This is a striking rock formation located on Gran Canaria Island that is a popular spot for photography, especially during sunrise or sunset.

Los Hervideros: This is a dramatic coastal area on Lanzarote Island where waves crash against the rocky cliffs, creating stunning photo opportunities.

When To Go

The weather is generally pretty good all year round. The hottest month tends to be August, with temperatures in the mid to high twenties on average. Even in the winter, 20 degrees is not uncommon however, and the winter months can still be quite busy with people escaping the cold weather of northern Europe.

October is usually the rainiest month, with June being driest.

If visiting specifically for photography, this means your choice of time might well be dictated by things like sunrise and sunset times, position of the milky-way over a specific foreground and so on. If planning a visit to Tenerife you might want to consider late spring / early summer, when the native Echium wildpretii flowers on the slopes of Teide - an impressive red plant reaching up to 3m tall.

Responsible Photography

As a responsible photographer, it's important to be mindful of your impact on the environment and local communities when taking photos in the Canary Islands. Here are some tips for photographing responsibly in the Canary Islands:

Respect the natural environment: The Canary Islands are home to a diverse array of ecosystems, from volcanic landscapes to pristine beaches, so it's important to respect the natural environment and not disturb any wildlife or plants. Stay on designated trails and avoid trampling on vegetation, and be mindful of any signs that indicate protected areas.

Be aware of cultural and historical significance: The Canary Islands have a rich cultural and historical heritage, so be respectful of any local customs, traditions, and historical sites. Avoid photographing people without their consent and ask permission before taking photos of any cultural or religious sites.

Use minimal impact techniques: When setting up your equipment, be sure to use minimal impact techniques to avoid damaging any natural or cultural resources. Avoid using flash photography in sensitive areas, such as inside caves or near ancient artifacts, and do not disturb any rocks or other natural features to create a better composition.

Pack out what you pack in: Be sure to take all of your trash and equipment with you when you leave a location. Leave no trace of your visit to ensure that the environment remains pristine for future generations.

Be respectful of other visitors: Be mindful of other visitors who may also be enjoying the area. Avoid obstructing paths or taking up too much space, and be patient and courteous when waiting for the perfect shot.

By following these tips, you can help to ensure that you capture stunning photographs while minimizing your impact on the environment and local communities in the Canary Islands.


Explore more photo spots in Spain

If you want to explore beyond Canary Islands, we have 265 photo spots and 2 events that you can visit in Spain.

Curated By

Team PhotoHound Team
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James Billings. Curator
Software engineer by day, but I love to travel and shoot images everywhere I go.
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Saša Jamšek
My name is Saša Jamšek. I am a landscape, nature and travel photographer based in Slovenia. Photography is my free time activity. Photography has been my passion since I started to take first Black & White photos on film and spent hours in the darkroom afterwards to see the final product on paper. It was time of Zenit, Chinon and Pentax cameras I used in analog part of my photography life. More focus on detail and shapes in those days than on landscape. For me digital era started in 2000 with first Kodak camera (1 megapixel range) but real improvement was achieved with Canon DSLRs. After first entry-level cameras, I ended up with some FF bodies, fancy L lenses and took them with me around the globe. I really like to travel and some could say I am travel addict (60+ countries). Using all available cabin luggage weight for photo equipment became more and more annoying for me. This was the real reason I switched to MFT world selling the entire FF lineup as exchange for portability. Two Olympus bodies and a set of Olympus, Panasonic and Leica lenses are now easily with me all the time I spend in countries I have on my bucket list. Passion for travel is the reason almost all of my photos are from abroad. Different places broadened my perspective and influenced the way I see and understand the world. I feel free but at the same time there is a little of bitter taste left behind. It is the feeling I pushed my homeland in second place. I must say we have many exceptional places to take photos in Slovenia. Need to amend my bucket list:) In 2020 I have received Certificate of Graduation in Professional Photography Course from New York Institute of Photography. I am proud of this achievement which broadened my understanding of photography and forced me to exit my comfort zone while practicing different photography genres. Please take a moment or two and check my website.
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