Canary Islands, Spain – Top places to travel to in 2020

Written by: Travel Inn

This archipelago of islands off Africa’s Atlantic coast has attracted sun-seeking European travelers for decades, thanks to its black, white, and buttery-golden beaches. But it’s the mountainous interiors of the seven main islands that are grabbing the global spotlight in 2020. International airports on Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote are the archipelago’s main access points, with a network of car ferries that makes it easy to hopscotch between ports. The volcanic island chain, colonized by Spain in the 15th century, has remarkably varied landscapes. The laurel forest on La Gomera is covered in perpetual mists, while Lanzarote’s sunblasted rocks are so otherworldly they draw astronauts training for Martian exploration. Hidden among Gran Canaria’s arid summits is an archaeological site called Risco Caído. It comprises prehistoric dwellings and sanctuaries, and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2019. Risco Caído’s most spectacular treasure is Cave 6, a domed temple where sun and moonlight cast shadows marking the equinoxes and summer solstice. Ongoing excavation at Risco Caído means the fragile site is closed to the public, but visitors will get a first glimpse of the natural calendar when a full-scale replica made using 3D laser mapping opens in January 2020 in the nearby village of Artenara. There are plenty of places to worship the heavens in the Canary Islands, whose clear skies and lack of light pollution combine for some of the best stargazing on Earth. Tenerife has some of the finest views, from an astronomical observatory above the clouds on Mount Teide, a volcano that’s the highest peak in Spain. Star-watching tours from Teide by Night include a mid-mountain feast of Canarian cuisine (influenced by Spanish, African, and Latin American flavors) and a cava toast at 7,000 feet, with the chance to train high-powered telescopes on the planets and constellations. Time your trip to a new moon for prime Milky Way viewing. One of the year’s biggest natural shows will be the Geminid meteor shower, which reaches a spectacular peak on the nearly moonless night of December 13, 2020. Stay up to watch asteroid dust particles paint white, yellow, green, and blue streaks through the atmosphere at the dazzling rate of 120 shooting stars per hour. —Jen Rose Smith


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