The Canary Islands On A Budget: The Best Free Activities To Enjoy

The Canary Islands are a premier summer holiday destination, but they are nonetheless popular year-round; in January of 2022 alone, over 750,000 tourists made their way to the Canary Islands for a splash of winter sun.

That huge number of visitors comes as no surprise; the Canary Islands are not only beautiful and temperate but, when done right, can be relatively inexpensive to visit – if you know where you’re going and what you’re doing, that is. 

We’re here to help you keep costs down. Here’s how to enjoy a holiday to the Canary Islands on a budget and some of the best free activities to enjoy while you’re there.

Tenerife

To keep costs down on a trip to the Canary Islands, the larger, more popular resort islands are the best places to plump for. And Tenerife is certainly the most popular, enjoying a whopping 2.6 million visitors last year, in what was a period marked by grounded flights and tentative tourists.

Tenerife is the crown jewel of the Canary Islands, being a major draw for families everywhere on account of its world-class resort hotels and myriad sun-dappled beaches. Many of the hotels are all-inclusive, making booking a family holiday a breeze – and the holiday gets even cheaper when it comes to food and nightlife. 

If you’re searching for cheap eats away from the all-inclusive buffet, you’ll want to head out from the resorts and to where local Canarios live, wine and dine. Step off the beaten track a little here, ideally heading to the island’s small fishing villages for supper, and you’ll be richly rewarded, all for just a few euros. We particularly love El Cine in the town of Los Cristianos, though ssshhhh; it’s something of a hidden gem.

Tenerife is also home to a vast array of free public parks and gardens, including the island’s number one attraction, Teide National Park, which is also totally free to enter. 

Read: 5 IDEAL outdoor activities to do in Tenerife

In the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the botanical gardens of Parque García Sanabria is free to enter, too, and covers a massive ​​67,230 square metres. Aside from the exotic flora found here, there are also some incredible sculptures, many gifted by the 1st International Street Sculpture Exhibition, which was hosted in Tenerife in 1973.

Tenerife is also blessed with an excellent public transport system, with both buses and trams cheap and easy to use.

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is arguably the quintessential Canary Islands experience – beautiful beaches, amazing resorts and expansive (though not expensive!) natural parks all on one island. 

Gran Canaria is also eminently possible on a small budget, even with a large family – but being a popular destination, it’s important to be diligent in order to make the most of it. Taxis can be expensive, especially from airports where tourists are a captive audience. Booking a transfer to your accommodation ahead of time can mitigate this cost.

Once settled in, though, there is much to explore, and so many activities that can be enjoyed for free. Las Palmas, at the northern shore, is a well-travelled resort with plenty to see and do, including sandy beaches that are free to sprawl on. Cheap attractions can also be found just by strolling the island’s Botanic Gardens, hiking the Caldera Los Marteles, or even visiting the old town Vegueta. 

A particularly brilliant way to explore Gran Canaria that you can enjoy for free are via hiking routes around the picturesque fishing village of Mogán. Here, there are nine different routes, ranging from 4 to 7 miles in length, taking you through the island’s unique topography. 

Make sure you head to the Puerto de Mogán lookout point (Mirador de Puerto de Mogán), which takes up 257 steps to survey the gorgeous port below. Once you’re back at sea level, a swim at Mogán beach is another budget activity which all the family will love!

If you’re keen to explore further, and all without an entry fee in sight, then you’ll love the Nublo Rural Park and the Inagua Integral Natural Reserve and its iconic pine forests.

Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is one of the larger Canary Islands and the island that’s closest to the African mainland. It is a less-visited island, but that makes it all the more attractive as a budget holiday destination. 

Hotels and restaurants are competitively priced, as are products in supermarkets. The Fuerteventuran landscape is something that must be seen to be believed, and much of it can be explored for free – from the shallow seas to the majestic hills. 

Those looking for an all-day activity with free entry should head to the Corralejo Natural Reserve, which is famed for its sand dunes and great range of hiking opportunities.

Or, for something more urban, the open-air sculpture park in Puerto del Rosario is excellent, too, and totally free to enter.

Famed as the Canary Islands’ water sports capital, it’s safe to say that the majority of high-octane, ocean-based adventures on Fuerteventura don’t come cheap. That said, if you buy yourself a snorkel and some goggles, there’s plenty of fun to be found closer to shore. La Lajita beach is perhaps the best place to snorkel on the island.

Lanzarote

Lanzarote is well-known for its nightlife, being a popular choice for stag and hen parties from the UK – but this volcanic island has so much more to offer, on top of its impressive bar and club scene. 

Many of its natural wonders and tourist attractions are free, or, at the very least, affordable to enter. And how often do you get to tour a volcano’s crater?

You can read more about the ideal items to include on your Lanzarote itinerary here, many of which won’t cost you a dime. Or, rather, a euro. Buen Viaje!

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