Port insider: top tips for cruising the Canaries & Madeira

Summer, winter or any time in between, a cruise around the Canary Islands and Madeira can be magical. Think sun, plenty of sea and well-stocked ports that act as the gateway to characterful cities, interior beauties and the delights of laid back island life.

Corralejo Beach, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Corralejo Beach, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands © Juergen Wallstabe - Adobe Stock Image

Cruising the Canaries & Madeira: check out the latest deals on sailings with Marella Cruises* in the Atlantic archipelago of the Canaries and around the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Santa Cruz de la Palma

The capital of laidback La Palma, which is often said to be one of the prettiest Canary Islands, Santa Cruz de la Palma* is easy enough to navigate, its centre as big as you'd imagine a non-metropolis of fewer than 20,000 inhabitants to be.

Look out for the pretty wooden balconies on the Avenida Marítima with floral displays which wouldn't appear out of place in Córdoba and are best enjoyed on a leisurely stroll known to locals as a paseo.

Just around the corner from these des reses, you'll find the watering holes of Placeta de Borrero. This charming little square is the perfect place to replenish your blood sugar levels. Restaurante la Placeta serves coffee, sandwiches and more substantial fancy fare, including vegan and vegetarian options.

San Sebastián de la Gomera

Nearly as perfectly formed as Santa Cruz de la Palma, neighbour La Gomera's capital is even smaller at half the size, which might explain why its natives refer to it as 'La villa', or the town. Take thee to church by way of a visit to the pretty Iglesia Matriz de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, which dates back to the 15th century.

Another freebie feature of San Sebastián de La Gomera* is the Parque de la Torre del Conde. This park takes its name from the 'Torre del Conde', or Count's Tower, which looms above even the tallest palm trees. Join the locals using the grass as an emerald beach to soak up the sun.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

This most European of Canarian ports, the streets of Tenerife's capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife*, are more clean than mean, to the extent that the city can feel a little overly sanitised.

You won't miss the concert hall, Auditorio de Tenerife which certainly has a wow factor, mini-doppelganger as it is for the Sydney Opera House.

Things become a little more manic around the run-up to Lent when the Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife takes place. This is the second most popular carnival in the world after Brazil's Rio de Janeiro one and the grey of the roads is covered in a colourful carpet of extravagant costumes throughout the riotous parades.

Driving down the dramatic west coast of Tenerife, Canary Islands
Driving down the dramatic west coast of Tenerife, Canary Islands © Rh2010 - Adobe Stock Image

Head out of town for Playa de Las Teresitas. Iconic palm trees contrast with the golden sand of Tenerife's most Instagrammable beach. Tuck into catch-of-the-day-fresh fruits of the sea at adjoining fishing village, San Andrés.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria's capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria* is home to the island's major port, Puerto de la Luz ( meaning Port of Light).

There's a definite Cuban vibe around the main beach of Las Canteras, which stretches close to 3 km east-to-west, making it the longest on the island.

On the opposite side of town, the cobbled streets of Vegueta offer a dead ringer of the thoroughfares of old Castile. This is where the city developed from, after being founded in 1478 following the Spanish conquest.

Fourteen years later, Columbus stopped off on his way sailing the ocean blue and you can find out more about his visit at the Casa Museo Colón which is just around the corner from an impressively imposing cathedral, the Catedral de Santa Ana.

In between the two, the streets of Triana offer some of the best opportunities to shop. Under-the-radar residential district Arenales is home to Casa África where art and photographic exhibitions underline Gran Canaria's proximity to the African mainland.

Meanwhile, next door's Ciudad Jardín is a giant all-year-round Chelsea Flower Show, with Parque Doramas by far the city's loveliest park.

Puerto del Rosario

The denizens of Fuerteventura's capital reacted to being a laughing stock by changing the name of their residence from Puerto de Cabras (meaning Port of Goats) to Puerto del Rosario*, yet the original rings true and the island's still home to more goats than humans.

Sandy beach on the south coast of Fuerteventura
Sandy beach on the south coast of Fuerteventura © Elena Krivorotova - Adobe Stock Image

Dip into history at Casa Museo del Unamuno, dedicated to the endlessly talented Miguel de Unamuno (poet, playwright, philosopher, etc) who lived here after being exiled to the Canary Islands from the Spanish mainland because of his anti-fascist political views.

After all that being at sea, see if you can fit in a short road trip. The closest resort to the island's major port is Corralejo. The local Tiadhe no. 6 line is one of the world's most majestic bus journeys, especially when you enter the dunes of the natural park with sand to your left and right.


The harbour area of Lanzarote's capital is home to one of the best restaurants on the Canarian archipelago, Lilium - everything is just so beautifully plated here with colourful dishes garnished with bright, edible flora.

Another part of Arrecife* worth exploring is the Charco de San Ginés. This saltwater lagoon is surrounded by traditional houses redesigned by the Canary Islands' great protector, César Manrique. It's developed quite a reputation, with its admirers dubbing the Charco the "Venice of the Atlantic".

Funchal, Madeira

Madeira's is best known as the hometown of Portugal's footballing hero, Cristiano Ronaldo. You won't need to visit the airport named in his honour to arrive on the island, however, with a busy port well used to serving cruise ships. It's worth stopping by the Cr7 Museu, which is dedicated to celebrating his footballing achievements.

Elsewhere, going underground is a totally different experience in Funchal* than, say, London. For the coastal walk along the Lido promenade includes a tunnel between the natural pools of Doca do Cavacas and Funchal's largest beach, Praia Formosa. Don't forget your swimwear.

Weather in the Canaries

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Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

Above you'll see a snapshot of the weather in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a leading destination in the Canary Islands. You can also find out more about the weather in Madeira to ensure you're fully prepped for your voyage.

Can't wait to cruise the Canaries? Marella Cruises has an eclectic mix of itineraries over seven days, including some adults-only sailings. Check out the latest offers on cruises to the Canaries and Madeira to put some seasonal sunshine in your diary today.

Marella Cruises: All inclusive as standard

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Canary Islands by month

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Matthew Hirtes

Matthew Hirtes

Posted on Wednesday 18th September 2019 in: City Cruises Europe Excursions Marella Cruises

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