Local traditions and culture in Canary Islands

  • Hot natural BBQ
    Hot natural BBQ
    by Tripack
  • Show (chaud ;-) time
    Show (chaud ;-) time
    by Tripack
  • Mountain of fire in action...
    Mountain of fire in action...
    by Tripack

Most Viewed Local Customs in Canary Islands

  • Maria_75's Profile Photo


    by Maria_75 Written Oct 1, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is one of the most famous dishes in all of Spain, and also in the Canary Islands. You can not be in Spain without trying this!

    The most normal ingredient in the paella is seafood, chicken and rice, but there are a numerous ways of making it. Usually every chef (or family) have their own variations. So if you don't like it in one place, give it a try somewhere else and you might love it.

    The paella is cooked in a special pan that is very wide and the sides go up a little bit. The more surface the better. Many of the toppings are added as a last step at the top of the paella.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Maria_75's Profile Photo


    by Maria_75 Updated Oct 1, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is a very traditional sauce (salsa) used in the canary islands. You can have it either red or green, and is very delicious along with papas arrugadas. The sauce is made mainly of chili and garlic, and recipes can vary both in flavour and strength, from the extremely hot and spicy to medium or very mild.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Maria_75's Profile Photo


    by Maria_75 Updated Oct 1, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    These canarian potatoes are a typical traditional meal, and you will find them everywhere. I just love them and eat them all the time, even at home.

    Papas is the canarian word for potatoes, and arrugadas means wrinkly. This wrinkled effect comes after the potatoes have been boiled in water with seasalt for about half an hour. So easy, and so delicious. Try them with a red or green mojo, and you will definetly fall in love with them... ;)

    Was this review helpful?

  • euzkadi's Profile Photo

    Por lo general, la gente...

    by euzkadi Written Aug 26, 2002

    Por lo general, la gente canaria es muy muy amigable, y son abiertos, especialmente con los turistas.
    Hay que tomar en cuenta, que es un cruce de caminos, donde Africa, América y Europa se unen. Que disfruteis las vacaciones.

    Was this review helpful?

  • DanielF's Profile Photo

    The Canary Islands are one of...

    by DanielF Written Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Canary Islands are one of Spain's 17 Autonomous Regions. People speak Spanish but their way of talking is closer to the Caribbean than to Spain's mainland. Indeed many people from the Canaries migrated to Venezuela or Cuba decades ago. Today things have change and the islands have become a place that receives a lot of immigrants. The overpopulation is posing actually a real problem, for resources, mainly ground and water, are limited.

    As far as festivals are concerned, the Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and in Las Palmas are famous events that are really worth a visit.

    Was this review helpful?

  • DanielF's Profile Photo

    La Geria area is a must when...

    by DanielF Updated Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    La Geria area is a must when on Lanzarote. Its agricultural landscape is unique in the world and profits the harsh conditions of the island to the utmost. Each Wine plant is surrounded by a small stone fence so that the wind does not evaporate the scarce humidity. The ground is covered by volcanic sand in order to capt the water from the night dew.

    Was this review helpful?

  • acilina's Profile Photo

    Lanzatote island is the birth...

    by acilina Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Lanzatote island is the birth place of the arquitect Cesar Manrique. He had the job to coordinate all the buildings and art in the island. And he did it very well!
    All the houses, even the airport are very simple, white with only a colored strike, blue or green. This remind me the traditional houses in the countryside south of Portugal (Alentejo and Algarve)
    Another important thing he did is that he didn't allow lots of turistics apartment very concentrated. All is calm, we don't feel traped in lots of people.
    This is a Cesar Manrique' statue in Teguise, the island capital.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Viennabarley's Profile Photo

    A little bit of history......

    by Viennabarley Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A little bit of history...

    Fuerteventura is 40 million years old, formed by volcanic erruptions which caused the island, like all the other Canary Islands, to rise from the Atlantic.

    Europeans 're-discovered' these 'Fortunate Islands' in the first half of the XIVth century. They found living there a people who later came to be known as the Guanches, and who are still the object of great mystery. They had to have arrived by sea and they arrived with their domesticated animals: goats, sheep, pigs and dogs,wheat and barley.

    The ancestors of the Guanches are thought to have arrived by sea, colonized the islands... and then 'forgot' how to sail! When the Europeans landed on the Canaries, they discovered a stone age culture based on shepherding, fruit gathering and a very limited agriculture. The islands were cut off one from the other as the natives did not know the art of navigation. They fished only in coastal tidal pools. This is one of the great enigmas of the Guanches. How was it possible for a race of people to reach the shores of these tiny islands by sea, live surrounded by ocean with - on several islands - enormous forests of tall trees for raw material and yet ignore the sea, living as it were with their back turned to it?

    Several possible answers to this mystery have been offered. Perhaps the people of the Canaries were simple shepherds who had been transported to the islands by a sailing people and later forgotten and left to fate. Other explanations might be found in the extraordinary difficulty of navigating the oceans surrounding the Canaries due to the strong currents flowing to the West and the trade winds blowing as strongly almost year round.

    Though most of their vocabulary had been forgotton, even in today's life some words can be tracked directly to aboriginal heritage, most visible in some of the islands' names. Guanche was the name by which the natives of Tenerife called themselves. Guan Chenech meant 'Man from Chenech', or man from Tenerife. With the passage of time, the term Guanche became identified with all the native peoples of the Canaries.

    The names of the different islands and of their inhabitants (for those that are known) are as follows:
    Tenerife: Chenech, Chinech or Achinech. It would seem that the natives of La Palma, seeing the snow-covered peak of the Teide on the horizon, called that island Ten-er-efez, 'White Mountain' (from Ten, teno, dun, duna = mountain, and er-efez = white). Achenech was inhabited by the Guan Chenech, the men from Chenech.
    Fuerteventura: Maxorata, inhabited by the Majoreros or Maxos.
    Gran Canaria: Tamaran, also called Canaria, was inhabited by the Canarii.
    Lanzarote: Tyteroygatra.
    La Palma: Benahoare, pronounced 'Ben-Ajuar', and meaning 'from the tribe of Ahoare' (tribe of the African Atlas). Island inhabited by the Auaritas.
    La Gomera: Gomera, inhabited by the Gomeros.
    El Hierro: Hero, inhabited by the Bimbaches.

    According to the tales of the European conquerors, the Guanches were a 'highly beautiful white race, tall, muscular, and with a great many blondes amongst their numbers' Their great height must be understood in relation to the average height of Europeans at that time. As for the presence of blondes, even today after many centuries of invasions and intermarriage, a heritage of blond hair and blue eyes is easily found among modern day Berbers of the Atlas region in Africa.
    The Guanches preserved their dead as mummies.

    Cultural tips.

    My main tip is that a little spanish goes a long way! Any attempt at practising your spanish will be met with enthusiasm and help. On my first visit to Fuerteventura I was struggling with phrase books and sign language, and the encouragement I got from the locals spurred me to go back to college to study spanish. This has been a great help, as it has opened doors and allowed me a great insight to the culture and spirit of the island.

    Tipping is usual in restaurants if you have received good service, usually 10%. I cant comment about taxis as I have never used them.
    Haggling in markets is expected, but shops are usually fixed price, but in some shops for more expensive items you can but try!

    Naturism is practised on most beaches, but is certainly not obligatory!

    Was this review helpful?

  • Pod's Profile Photo

    If you are taking a trip on...

    by Pod Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you are taking a trip on the boat to lobos (the uninhabbated island just off Corralejo,Fuerteventura.)
    and you see the lads and lasses who work in the bar or restaurant (they are the ones with all the supplies.) it is nice if you can help them carry somthing off or onto the boat.and belive me a smile from one of them after you have helped makes you feel so happy inside.

    Was this review helpful?

  • When we went to the CI our...

    by Dora-Duck Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When we went to the CI our football team came over to play a game of football with the local people. We went to this game and had a great time, the only things that was bad was the seats...all the time i was afraid i was going to fall down!

    Was this review helpful?

  • gabriellefox's Profile Photo

    The Canary Islands have for...

    by gabriellefox Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Canary Islands have for years been geared toward satisfying the tourist need for activities and familiarity therefore they are not very 'Spanish'. I would not say their culture has been lost but you will have to go out of your way to seek it in the more remote regions of each island, in their churches and museums. English is widely spoken.

    Was this review helpful?

  • narixa's Profile Photo

    Carneval in Puerto de la Cruz...

    by narixa Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Carneval in Puerto de la Cruz - Tenerife (north) is a MUST last day you have the 'funeral de la sardina', when men are costumized as widows!!!!!!!
    great fun - you shouldnot miss!

    Was this review helpful?

  • debbie.b's Profile Photo

    No matter how limited youn...

    by debbie.b Written Aug 24, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    No matter how limited youn spanish may be try and use it .
    The locals love to see that you made an effort to communicate.
    Most canarians speak good but broken english but do make the effort it will be worth it.
    Never call them spanish it's a really big insult remember they are Canarians.

    Was this review helpful?

  • ClaesDenmark's Profile Photo

    As the most famous of all the...

    by ClaesDenmark Updated Aug 24, 2002

    0.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As the most famous of all the Canary Islands, Tenerife provides a diverse landscape from a snowcapped mountain of Pico de Teide (noted as Spain's highest) to mile-long beaches of Playa de las Americas.
    It may only take a day to drive around this island, but it will require many days to see all its treasures.

    Was this review helpful?

  • annasi's Profile Photo

    Sad but true.. In Playa de las...

    by annasi Written Sep 7, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sad but true.. In Playa de las Americas where I was, there were no culture at all. Just tourists and hotels the whole city. If you want to do something cultural, I dont recommend going there..

    Was this review helpful?

Canary Islands Hotels

Top Canary Islands Hotels

Playa Blanca Hotels
38 Reviews - 119 Photos
Maspalomas Hotels
40 Reviews - 129 Photos
Isla de Tenerife Hotels
1422 Reviews - 3056 Photos
Adeje Hotels
38 Reviews - 72 Photos
Teguise Hotels
7 Reviews - 24 Photos
Isla de Lanzarote Hotels
879 Reviews - 1792 Photos
Corralejo Hotels
26 Reviews - 21 Photos
Los Cristianos Hotels
39 Reviews - 78 Photos
Puerto de la Cruz Hotels
84 Reviews - 219 Photos
Mogán Hotels
4 Reviews - 45 Photos
Isla de Gran Canaria Hotels
417 Reviews - 1173 Photos
Playa del Ingles Hotels
4 Reviews - 22 Photos
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Hotels
193 Reviews - 436 Photos
Antigua Hotels
35 Hotels
Arona Hotels
5 Reviews - 15 Photos

Instant Answers: Canary Islands

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

65 travelers online now


Canary Islands Local Customs

Reviews and photos of Canary Islands local customs posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Canary Islands sightseeing.
Map of Canary Islands