7 tips for planning a winter sun holiday to the Canary Islands on a budget

Dec 16, 2019

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While the seven Canary Islands are fairly affordable destinations, you still have to spend some money to visit. Just less than a five-hour flight away from the U.K., getting there can be expensive, and of course you’ll have to pay for hotels, car hire, dining and activities. But there are ways to have a budget Canaries holiday that still feels five-star luxury.

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Dunes in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. Photo by donstock/Getty
Dunes in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. (Photo by donstock/Getty)

1. Use your Avios

Using your British Airways Avios is an easy way to get to the Canary Islands without overspending on airfare. BA flies to the islands of Lanzarote (ACE), Tenerife (TFS) and Gran Canaria (LPA) from various U.K. hubs. Expect to spend 8,500 Avios peak or 10,000 Avios off-peak for a Euro Traveller reward ticket and 17,000 Avios peak or 20,000 Avios off-peak for a Club Europe reward ticket.

2. Travel off-peak

As mentioned above, travelling off-peak is key for spending fewer Avios. Though for some destinations off-peak dates mean travelling during rainy or cold seasons, that’s not these case here. The Canary Islands boast year-round sunshine and warm temperatures, so it’s the perfect destination to fly to off-peak. If you need a winter getaway, keep in mind BA deems many dates in January, February and March as off-peak.

Expect year-round sunshine in the Canary Islands. Photo of Tenerife by Dennis Fischer Photography/Getty
Expect year-round sunshine in the Canary Islands. (Photo  by Dennis Fischer Photography/Getty)

3. Fly low-cost

If you don’t have a balance of Avios, don’t stress. Airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet and Jet2 fly to many of the islands from a number of U.K. hubs (not just London), offering you more options than British Airways. For example, you can also fly to Fuerteventura (FUE) on the cheap and to the La Palma Airport (SPC) on the small island of La Palma (EasyJet operates this flight once a week from London Gatwick [LGW]). And depending on your dates, you can fly to the islands for as little as £50 return.

If you do fly low-cost though, remember that the flight is quite long, so come prepared with items like noise-cancelling headphones and a neck pillow. It may be worth purchasing extras like an exit-row seat or priority boarding to make your journey a little more pleasant. And remember to carefully read our low-cost-carrier comparison guide before booking so you’re aware of hidden costs, luggage requirements and other unpleasant surprises.

Read more: Everything you need to know about flying EasyJet

Fly low-cost to the islands. Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty
Fly low-cost to the islands. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty)

4. Stay in a home rental

Many Brits own holiday homes in the Canary Islands that they only use a few times a year. The rest of the year, these holiday homes sit unoccupied, so many owners rent their properties out on platforms such as Airbnb at low prices. Expect to find home rentals to fit every budget, varying in size, price and style. Rentals can come in the form of villas or self-catering apartments within large complexes with amenities like shared pools and gyms. These places typically start as low as £50 a night, whereas hotels often start around £100 per night.

Besides being more affordable in general, staying in apartments helps you save money on dining out and having to check hold baggage, as many have laundry facilities. And, if you’re travelling in a family or large group, a home rental can be both the cheapest and most fun way you can all stay together.

5. Use hotel points

The Canary Islands aren’t overflowing with points hotels, but there are a few scattered throughout the larger islands. One of the best is the sprawling Ritz-Carlton Abama in Tenerife, which starts at about £200 or 40,000 Marriott points per night, featuring beautiful pools and a hidden beach.

The Ritz-Carlton Abama. Photo by Lori Zaino/TPG
The Ritz-Carlton Abama. (Photo by Lori Zaino/TPG)

Also located in Tenerife, the Sheraton La Caleta is about £150 per night or 30,000 Marriott points. The island of Gran Canaria has two AC Hotel properties, both of which start at 12,500 Marriott points per night or about £80 per night. There are also a few Radisson Blu hotels on Gran Canaria, too.

6. Dine and stay off the beaten track

While the larger resort areas of Playa del Inglés in Gran Canaria or Playa de las Américas in Tenerife are full of fellow British travellers, it pays to get out of the resort areas and visit more traditional Spanish restaurants and local haunts — your wallet will thank you. Likewise, some of the smaller islands like La Gomera or El Hierro have a completely different feel than the larger, more visited islands. These are excellent spots to visit if you’d like to escape that all-inclusive vibe and experience a more culturally immersive holiday in the Canaries.

Roque de Agando on the island of La Gomera. Photo by cinoby/Getty
Roque de Agando on the island of La Gomera (Photo by cinoby/Getty.)

Spending time in the capitals of each island, like Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) or Santa Cruz (Tenerife), is an excellent way to absorb more of the local culture and local prices while still enjoying the warm sunshine. Likewise, getting out into many of the natural parks takes you away from the over-touristy areas and is also a relaxing way to enjoy nature without overspending.

7. Rent a bike

Instead of driving, rent a bike. It’s great exercise and much cheaper than hiring a car. Obviously, this works better in certain places than others. For example, if you really want to explore Tenerife, visiting spots like the Mount Teide volcano and the cliffs at Los Gigantes, car hire is must.

Read more: From Lanzarote to the Seychelles: Holiday hotspots for January 2020

A man cycles on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain. Photo by Westend61/Getty
A man cycles on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain. (Photo by Westend61/Getty.)

But if you plan to stay on the quieter island of Fuerteventura, many of the attractions in and around the Corralejo area are easily accessible by bike. The Maspalomas/Meloneras region of Gran Canaria is also a great place to cycle.

Bottom line

Though certain aspects of The Canaries can be cheap, such as food and drink, other aspects are quite pricey — such as getting there. After all, it’s quite a bit further away from the U.K. than the Spanish mainland. However, with these handy hacks, you can still have a premium experience while there without breaking the bank.

Feature image by Maya Karkalicheva/Getty.

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