CANARY ISLANDS (Las Palmas)
Watch the stars glittering at night, climb jungled volcano calderas, and explore the historical allure of this entry point to the sun-gorged island of Gran Canaria. The sprawling capital of the Canaries is Spain's ninth biggest city, stretched out along the sparkling coastline. Visitors and locals alike blow off steam on the city's urban beaches, before filling out bustling, authentic tapas bars.
An offshore barrier of lava strips waves of their power, making Las Canteras's urban beach expanse one of the best and calmest in the Canaries. Strap on your snorkel to explore the seabed, which blooms with colourful fish and tropical reefs. Or, settle back to soak in the warm glow of one of the best climates in the world, while reclining on the soft sand, which arcs along the capital's fringe. At the other end of town, La Vegueta old town is a charming stroll along cobbled streets, wandering past decorative doorways and balconies that beg to be photographed. The narrow 15th-century streets take on an extra romantic air in the evenings, as lanterns cast a soft glow over them. Calle Colon offers a hint of the street's history - and it's here where the handsome colonial house - turned museum - of Christopher Columbus stands. Columbus stayed here to recuperate, between his boundary-redefining voyages.
Out of Las Palmas, diverse and exciting volcanic landscapes await, including the spectacular Caldera de Bandama, which plunges 200 metres into the earth. From the summit, views stretch out to the looming island of Fuerteventura unravel. You can also discover pretty white-wash fishing villages, dazzling gardens, and the sun-bathed vineyards that produce Gran Canaria's crispest wines.