Flights to the Canary Islands -- general tips
Flights to the Canary Islands are available from a very wide range of airports in the UK and Ireland. In recent years, the major low-cost airlines have started adding routes to some of the more popular Canary Islands, supplementing the long-established flights offered by leisure airlines like Thomson and Thomas Cook.
A few general tips for finding the best value flights to the Canaries:
- Book well in advance-- this is obvious advice that could apply to any destination, but it is particularly important for flights to the Canary Islands, considering the reasons that follow: the Canary Islands have a reputation for year-round sunshine, meaning that there is a much less well-defined quiet season than you might expect at most Mediterranean resorts. Whereas you might go to the Costa Del Sol for a slightly milder climate during winter, you can expect much better weather in the Canaries during this season as they are much further south.
- The availability of flights varies from one island to the next, although the four most popular islands remain well represented. Most UK regional airports will at least offer flights to Tenerife, which is the most popular of the Canary Islands, and you can usually expect flights to Lanzarote as well. flights to Gran Canaria or flights to Fuerteventura little less popular, but still widely available, whereas there are very few opportunities for finding direct flights to La Palma, unless you live near Gatwick or Manchester airports.
- Don't get your Islands mixed up!This can easily be done -- La Palma (SPC) is nowhere near Palma, Majorca (PMI), and further still from Parma (PMF) of ham fame in Italy. Las Palmas De Gran Canaria (LPA) is also on a completely different island to La Palma! We have also heard stories of passengers being left behind because the flight has been called using the city name, not the island. Usually, the airport code reflects this, but always make sure you know both -- e.g. Arrecife (ACE) for Lanzarote.
- All of the Canary Islands that have airports have only one airport, except Tenerife. Ryanair have previously operated flights to Tenerife North airport, although there are currently no flights they are from the UK or Ireland. The newer Tenerife South (TFS / Reina Sofia) airport is much closer to the major resort areas around Playa De Las Americas. Some flight search engines might offer you flights to Tenerife North -- we would generally avoid these as you will have taken flight connection, usually via Madrid and Tenerife North airport is much further away from the main resorts.However, there are occasions when network airlines offer cheaper flights than the leisure carriers, especially during the summer peak. Tenerife North airport is also much closer to the capital Santa Cruz, which offers a much more authentic Spanish experience than the main resorts.
- There are other smaller islandswhich form part of the Canaries, but do not have any direct flights from UK. These can be visited by boat or short island hopper flights. However, note that if you are on Tenerife, most of these flights will depart from North airport, not Tenerife South.
- Most flights to the Canary Islands operate direct and non-stop, although some leisure airlines might occasionally pick up passengers at two UK airports or do a "double drop" at two different Canary Islands.
- Taking connecting flights isn't really a viable option, as there aren't really many places to connect through. Some passengers from Scottish airports like Inverness or Aberdeen might prefer to fly down to Gatwick the night before, but generally you are better off driving to a different airport in the UK than you are from trying to take a connecting flight. Inter-island flights are best used for travelling between islands, not for connections originating in the UK, especially as many flights to the Canary Islands operate a nighttime (red-eye) leg in one direction.
- Longer flights- If you are used to taking holidays in the Mediterranean, especially around the Algarve or the Costa Del Sol, then remember that flights to the Canary Islands can be up to 2 hours longer. Taller passengers will want to check with their airline to find out the best way of getting an emergency exit seat. As a general rule, don't expect the same level of bargains to destinations in the Canaries as you might expect on flights to Malaga, Alicante or Faro. This is simply because travelling down to the Canary Islands burns up a lot more fuel, so starter prices tend to be quite a bit higher.
- Plan ahead to get the best deals on accommodation and transport. There are no train services anywhere in the Canary Islands, but you should have no problem getting transfers to and from the airport, getting around resorts on local buses or taking intercity buses to get between different parts of each island. However, a hire car is going to give you a huge amount more flexibility. On a world map, each Canary Island might only be a small dot off the coast of Morocco, but it can still take several hours to cross each island, and much longer than that if you want to tour around. For specific advice on car hire in Tenerife, please see Car Or No Car.
- Don't forget to allow time to explore the interior of each island, and don't spend all your time in the resorts or on the beach. Each island is very different, but Tenerife (Teide) and Lanzarote (Timanfaya) have spectacular interiors which are very different to anything you will find in mainland Europe.