When it’s time to escape winter in Central Europe, my No. 1 destination in terms of the warmth-to-distance-to-price ratio has to be the Canary Islands.

Although the islands are about a four-hour-plus flight from most of the Continent, they don’t feel very far away once you get there. This could be because, while they’re only 60-some miles from Africa, your feet are firmly planted on the territory of Spain and the European Union, and you have that all-too-familiar feeling of euros slipping through your hands.

Las Islas Canarias are a chain of seven major islands: Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma, Gomera and Hierro. The islands are quite distinct from one another. For example, whereas Lanzarote is volcanic and barren, resembling a moonscape, La Palma is green and lush.

All told, the islands’ land area is only about 2,900 square miles, not much bigger than Delaware. But they attract up to 10 million tourists annually.

I’ve been to the party city of Maspalomas on Gran Canaria, and to a family-oriented sports hotel in La Santa, Lanzarote. Two very different locations, making for two different vacations.

Read the Maspalomas story

Read the La Santa story

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