Choose an island escape for your last minute break
Sunny climate aside, with average flight times of a little over four hours from the UK, a last minute holiday to the Canary Islands promises you great beaches, top-notch hotels and well established resorts without the long-haul flight exhaustion or the price tags.
Situated just off the coast of Africa, the islands have mild winters with average temperatures of around 20°C to average summer temperatures of around 25°C. The most popular islands, La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, have long been a favourite with holidaymakers and the diverse resorts reflect this with excellent dining options, hotel choices and entertainment galore. The closest of the islands to Africa is laid-back Fuerteventura, offering a mix of white and black sand beaches, a low-key nightlife and two national parks to explore. It’s popular with families and couples looking for a relaxing beach-based escape.
Gran Canaria is lively and diverse – inland are a wealth of natural treasures, including the UNESCO World Heritage centre which is protected as a Biosphere Reserve. La Palma is one of the smallest islands, but also one of the prettiest. Forest hiking trails, volcanic terrain and a lively capital city provide the perfect balance of active and cultural pursuits, alongside the striking black sand beaches.
With a mix of its own black volcanic sand beaches and man-made golden ones with sand shipped in from the Sahara, Lanzarote has plenty of appeal. It’s most famous attraction is Timanfaya National Park, also known as Fire Mountain, where visitors can explore the volcanic lunar-like landscapes and even sample food cooked by geothermal head in the aptly named El Diablo restaurant. The biggest and possibly the most popular of the islands, though, is Tenerife, with a mix of quiet and lively resorts and a vibrant nightlife. Teide National Park is a top attraction and a cable car ride to the 3,718-metre summit comes highly recommended.
The best time of year to book your last minute holiday
As the Canary Islands offer the promise of great weather throughout the year, you can book your last minute holiday any time. The climate is mild and warm in the winter, but if you’re looking for a tan then the summer months may be your best bet. Springtime may suit hikers and walkers who wish to enjoy warm weather but would rather it wasn’t sizzling. Book up to eight weeks before departure, or a couple of days before if you’re the spontaneous type, and see what deals are available.
Other last minute holiday destinations
When it comes to affordable getaways, the Canary Islands are just one suggestion. If you like to shop around, consider mainland Spain with its sun-drenched Costas and iconic cities. The island of Cyprus holds a mix of historic sites and lazy beach days, while Mexico entices with its mysterious Mayan ruins and dazzling sands.
If the Canary Islands have charmed you, check out our travel guide for more holiday ideas and helpful information. Here are a few hotel suggestions to kick things off.
The Occidental Margaritas features two large swimming pools and a children's pool as well as a free, 10-minute shuttle service to the beach. The buffet restaurant serves a selection of dishes with two themed dinners a week. Sporting activities will keep active types busy including waterpolo, football, aquagym and a shooting range, while the kids' club and playground will entertain little ones. The resort centre of Playa del Ingles is just a 20-minute walk away.
Just 10 minutes from the beach, Hotasa Taburiente Playa has a lot going for it. It's close to the resort centre and has two fabulous on-site pools, a snack bar and well-tended garden areas. Buffet meals are served in the dining room and guests can enjoy evening entertainment a few times a week. Those in search of refreshment can head to the lobby bar for cocktails. A sauna, massage and the use of a pool table are available for a small additional charge, and a bus stop with services to Santa Cruz is situated opposite the hotel.
Those looking for a Self Catering break may want to opt for a stay at the Parque Vacacional Eden. With three swimming pools, a free shuttle bus to the town centre and free Wi-Fi in the reception area there's plenty on offer. Those who want a break from Self Catering can head to the on-site cafe bar or Edun Luz buffet restaurant, open between May and October. Activities include mini-golf, tennis, French bowls and table tennis, and families can make use of the playground and children's pool.