The Canary Islands are located off the west coast of Africa and remain a popular year round holiday destination, largely because of the mild winter climate they enjoy. The group of islands, which are Spanish owned, consist of Tenerife, Hierro, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Fuertoventura and La Palma. Each island has it's own airport and while the group of islands share certain features each island also has its own particular sights and attractions.
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Winter weather overview
The islands enjoy very warm summers and mild winters. In summer the temperature is usually above 20 degrees C and can reach 30 degrees C. Winters are cooler but average temperatures will still be around 17 degrees C. Night time will see a drop in temperatures in both summer and winter to around 18 degrees C in summer but rarely below 8 degrees C in winter. In terms of sunshine the Canary Islands boast 3000 hours of sunshine per year, having the most daylight hours in Europe. It is no surprise they are a firm favourite for winter holiday makers.
On each island, however, there will be some variation in the weather. The northern parts of each island tend to be cooler than southern coast's. This is particularly the case in Lanzarote and Tenerife. The northern areas of the islands may also have a slightly higher rainfall, but with an average of 21 dry days in winter and 26 to 30 dry days in spring and summer, wet weather is unlikely to cause a problem.
Reasons for the climate
The location of the Islands give rise to the mild winter climate. The Canary current, in which they lie, is formed by the Earth's wind patterns and the effects of the Earth's rotation. Hot dry air may blow from the Sahara, but it cools as it passes over the cold ocean water so although the southernmost islands are only 100 km from the coast of Africa the Canary Islands escape the extreme summer heat of Africa. The northern areas of some islands have lush, green vegetation.
The islands are volcanic but each has its own distinct landscape. Mountain ranges -- the highest mountain in Spain is located in Tenerife -- volcanic craters, forests, deserts, cliffs and scenic coastline gives character to each island. On some rocky coasts in winter there can be great waves breaking onto rocks beneath cliffs whereas other areas have flatter beaches. As the islands are in the Atlantic, the sea is unlikely to feel particularly warm but even in winter there is likely to be six hours of sunshine a day.
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