Off the southern tip of Morocco lies the Canary Island archipelago, which has become the winter destination of choice for Europe's elite cycling teams. With its favourable year round climate, diverse landscapes, and crushing climbs, it’s easy to see why many cyclists have begun flocking to the Canary Islands. Thanks to top-tier race teams like Team Sky and Tinkoff bringing so much attention to the islands, there are now dozens of tour operators eager to take you on some of the best rides you’ll find. The main islands are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and La Palma; Tenerife is the largest and most popular island for cycling.
The landscape of Tenerife is auspiciously varied, as practically the entire island lies in the shadow of Mt. Teide, the world's third-tallest volcano. The climbing around Tenerife is extraordinary, especially for those looking to retrace the steps of their favourite riders, but keep in mind that on Tenerife there are very few flat and casual rides. Gran Canaria offers plenty of challenging rides with more of a beach vacation vibe, while Lanzarote is one of the more fascinating and unusual landscapes in the world to explore. The lava fields look like they could be found on the moon, and the black sand beaches are in stark contrast to its whitewashed villages.
Although the presence of the Atlantic can keep the temperatures on the islands more modest, they can still experience extreme heat, so make sure you plan your trip for the right time of the year and avoid the extreme summer sun. The Canary Islands are also susceptible to immense dust storms as winds can carry sand from the Sahara Desert west across the islands. Following suit with the pros, heading to the Canary Islands is best in the cold winter months (Nov-Feb) where the average temperatures are in the mid-20s (mid-70s Fahrenheit).
The Canary Islands may seem like an exotic locale, but they are truly set up for the perfect cycling holiday for any and every level of rider.