The best time to travel to the Canary Islands, weather-wise, does vary by destination, but the subtropical climate tends to mean year-round sunshine, especially in the southern beach resorts.
If you’re wondering when is the best time to go to the Canary Islands, it would be easy to assume there will be sunny skies during any month of the year. However, in the Canary Islands, the weather by month – and indeed by island – varies more than you might expect.
This article is here to help you pick the best time for the visit according to your needs. Whether you want to know which is the hottest Canary Island in December for a Christmas break or are wondering when to go hiking, for a beach break or with a young family, this month-by-month guide will help you decide when to enjoy the subtropical climate.
Typical weather during the high and shoulder seasons is also covered, which may be useful when you want to work out the cheapest time to go to the Canary Islands. One thing to know from the outset is that the weather can vary tremendously from one island to the next – and indeed from one end of an island to the other. Especially during winter.
In general, it’s worth knowing that the southern end of each island tends to be warmer and drier than the north: Tenerife is a typical example in this sense. You can also expect windy weather on all of the islands at times, especially during spring and autumn.
Read on so you can plan your seasonal stay in this beautiful Spanish archipelago.
High Season Weather
July & August or December to April
When deciding the best time of year to visit the Canary Islands, it’s worth taking the high season into account. These months include Christmas and Easter as well as the carnival season and summer.
Accommodation tends to be most expensive in the Canaries during January and February, as it’s a popular winter sun destination for Europeans. The Spanish tend to visit during midsummer, so you can also expect more holidaymakers then, particularly in August.
If you want sunshine and the hottest weather, the best month to visit the Canary Islands is July or August: maximum highs tend to be around 38°C. For walking or hiking, though, it’s best to visit outside these months when the weather will be a little cooler.
January, February and March are wetter, especially at higher altitudes. In January, visitors to Tenerife may experience maximums of about 21°C, even though this is the coldest month.
Shoulder Season Weather
May & June or September to November
Autumn and late spring tend to be quieter in the Canaries. Typical daytime highs are around 28°C, though in mountainous regions and at night it can be a lot cooler. Long, late summers and mild winter weather are the norm for the archipelago located off the coast of north west Africa.
Extreme hot temperatures are fairly rare, due to the cooling winds of the North Atlantic ocean, though wind (and sand) from the Sahara can occasionally cause higher temperatures and dust.
For many people, the best time to visit the Canaries is during spring or autumn. The weather overall is still consistently warm and dry, and affordable accommodation is easier to find. In June you can expect around 10 hours of sunshine per day.
North, South, East and West
You can expect higher levels of rainfall and humidity if you visit the more westerly islands of La Palma, El Hierro or La Gomera, as they have a subtropical humid climate. In general, though, the weather is sunny and warm and cloudy skies aren’t common. In fact this clarity makes the islands one of the best places on earth to observe space and the night stars.
The northern parts of each Canary Island tend to be wetter and colder than the south, due to northeast trade winds. During winter this is more noticeable, and there may be some storms. While you may need to wear a jumper in northern Tenerife during winter, for example, visitors to the south could be experiencing perfect beach weather.
Calima is a Spanish word to describe the dust that comes from the Sahara desert to the Canary Islands a couple of times per year and makes the air quality really bad. Very small particles of dust and sand form a thick yellow haze which can be harmful to people with respiratory problems.
You can spot it by looking at the ocean. If you can’t see a horizon or an island that you saw yesterday, or they are blurry, that’s probably calima. Its intensity can differ. Sometimes calima is mild and nobody pays attention. But if it’s more severe, you will see locals wearing masks for protection. On such days it’s a good idea to close the windows in the place you are staying and spend less time outside.
This interesting phenomenon doesn’t have any special season so it can happen at any time of the year. Calima also brings hot weather with it.
Canary Islands Weather – Month by Month
For many, the best time of year to go to the Canary Islands is January because of the winter sun. Though mountains like El Teide in Tenerife may still be topped with snow and inland or northern areas may be wetter, southern regions are warmer and drier than, for example, mainland Spain. Do expect a few showers, though.
Events taking place in January include Día de los Reyes Magos on 6th January, when children receive gifts from the three kings and there are celebratory feasts and parades. The Canary Islands International Music Festival also begins in January and continues into February.
The best Canary Island in February can be Tenerife, as the carnival here is second only to Rio’s famous celebration. Weather-wise, you can expect lots of sunshine, but also the odd short shower or cooler spell. Do pack a waterproof jacket and lightweight layers for evenings.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas in Gran Canaria are the best places to party – for up to 15 days – at carnival time. The almond blossom festival is also held in various villages at the start of the year, usually during February.
For hiking or pretty floral displays, March can be the best time to travel to the Canary Islands. This is particularly true of Gran Canaria, La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera. From March onwards, visitors can start to enjoy pastimes like going to water parks, surfing or seeing the sunset, and there are fewer crowds.
Though the weather is generally mild and dry, you may still require an extra warm or rainproof layer at times. Daytime highs are around 21°C and the water temperature is about 18°C. Easter visitors may see religious parades taking place in towns and villages – or this may fall in April.
Gran Canaria is the best Canary Island in March for opera fans, as the peak of the annual season occurs then.
Good walking conditions, less tourists and sunny beaches make April a great month to visit. Expect the occasional shower and cooler evenings, though.
For fans of cheese, the best Canary island in April is Gran Canaria, as the annual Fiesta del Queso de Guía festival normally takes place then.
For beaches that aren’t crowded and warmer evenings, May is a good bet. Summer highs are yet to come, but you can expect bright, sunny and dry weather and ideal sea swimming conditions.
Canary Islands Day is also held on 30th May, and is celebrated on all of the islands. You can experience local and traditional culture, dance, cuisine, arts and crafts during this day, in both rural and urban areas alike. Gay Pride also takes place in Maspalomas during mid-May, so the best Canary Island in May for those who enjoy a carnival may be Gran Canaria.
Days with 10 hours of sunshine and a relative lack of tourists makes June an idyllic month to visit. The weather is very warm by now, yet slightly cooler than during the next two months. It’s a great time to explore the islands while enjoying a Canarian summer.
The hottest Canary Island in June is Lanzarote, followed by Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Tenerife. During June you can expect little to no rain, especially in the southern coastal resorts.
By July temperatures are heading towards their peak and average daily temperatures in the south hover around the low 30s. Prices and visitor numbers shoot up during this popular summer period.
The Canary Islands are ideal for summer beach holidays, as the ocean breezes tend to stop temperatures from rising too high. A dip in the sea or one of the natural pools can also help to keep you cool. The July trade winds also provide ideal conditions for water sports like sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.
The best Canary Island in July for local celebrations is Gran Canaria, as the International Jazz and Theatre, Music & Dance festivals take place then.
August is peak season both in terms of temperature and visitor numbers. The warmest Canary Island in August is Tenerife, but really there’s a minimal difference between the islands in summer.
You can expect around a dozen daily hours of sunlight and an absence of rain during August. If you want to hike, heading out in the early morning, before temperatures rise, is recommended.
Celebrations to observe or take part in during August include Gran Canaria’s daytime and after-dark Rain Dance Festival. Lanzarote is otherwise the best Canary Island in August, as it offers both a Saint’s Day and the Wine Festival.
September is cooler for hiking, yet still hot enough for sunbathing by day. The crowds have now begun to disperse, so it’s more peaceful than the preceding months. Daytime temperatures are around the mid-20s, and on average there will be just one or two rainy days during the entire month.
The best Canary Island in September for a party is La Gomera, where there’s a week of celebrations held in San Sebastián to honour the achievements of Christopher Columbus.
By October, daytime temperatures have fallen to the low 20s and you can expect cooler evenings. The ocean, however, is actually at its warmest during this time, and the weather is still good for beach life as well as hiking.
More rain can be expected from October onwards, so head to the south of the islands if you want to experience drier days.
November days bring temperatures of around 20°C and around 9 hours of sunshine, along with cooler evenings. The winter sun crowds haven’t yet descended, so it’s a relaxing time to visit. It’s still warm enough for surfing or spending time on the beach.
From late autumn there will be more rain in northern, mountainous and inland parts of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and La Palma, though the southern beaches will remain pretty dry.
Beach days are still a reality during December, which is why many northern Europeans now arrive seeking warmer weather. Average temperatures are now around the mid-teens in coastal regions, with more rain and humidity in the north or at higher altitudes.
Do pack a light warm and a waterproof layer or two for a Christmas visit, especially for evenings. There are only around 3 to 4 rainy days in the Canarian resorts during December.
Apart from Christmas festivities, Immaculate Conception Day on 8th December in El Hierro is worth witnessing, when the streets of Valverde become party central.
When to Go Hiking
While walking is possible in the Canaries all year round, some routes may be rendered impassable when the weather’s wet. April to September are the best months to visit if you want to hike the trails. The peak of El Teide in Tenerife or La Palma’s Roque de los Muchachos can even be snowy in winter, and trails in those areas may close for safety reasons.
Hiking in the south is generally warmer, while inland trails are more likely to be affected by wet or colder weather. If you do head into the mountains, bear in mind that conditions can change very rapidly indeed at higher altitudes, and pack accordingly.
Spring is the ideal season for hiking, as it’s cooler than summer and the landscape is more lush and often filled with flowers. There’s decent walking to be had all over the Canary Islands, but La Gomera and La Palma are good if you want to get off the beaten tourist path.
When to Visit With Kids
Spanish families flock to the Canaries in July and August, so it can be difficult and expensive to book good accommodation. The Easter holidays can also be very busy. Early spring in general is good, though, as water and theme parks are less packed and it’s warm enough to spend your days at the beach in March, April and May.
September, October and November are also great for families, as they’re not too crowded and the weather is warm to hot and dry overall.
When to Head to the Beach
Anytime between March to November offers long, sunny days that are ideal for swimming and sunbathing. December and January are the wettest months, while the July and August summer holiday peak often means packed beaches and resorts.
In fact the Canaries between them offer more than 500 beaches in all. These range from long, pristine white stretches to small bays with black volcanic sand or pebbles. Some are immaculate, unspoiled coves, while others offer every family amenity or nightlife venue you could wish for.
The beaches of the Canary Islands can be enjoyed all year long, but for dry and warm weather it’s best to visit between early spring and late autumn.