Family Holidays in the Canaries with Babies, Toddlers and Kids
The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, are an ideal vacation spot for families with babies, toddlers and young children all year round. The most popular islands for visitors with young kids include Lanzarote (very popular with families), Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Tenerife.
Baby Friendly Resorts
The resorts on the islands have plenty of family friendly accommodation and attractions and the restaurants are very baby and toddler friendly also with almost all offering high chairs and children’s menus. Many will also have changing tables in the restrooms. There are plenty of zoos, amusement parks and water parks on the islands and of course toddlers will love the sandy beaches.
Flight from the UK and Ireland are between 4 and 4.5 hours which can be tricky with toddlers. See our guide to flying with toddlers for more information on how to manage the flights.
When to go
High Season is from December to April and July and August when the islands are swarming with tourists and prices tend to be at their highest. It is particularly popular during Christmas, Easter and Carnival season. Accommodation prices are highest in January and February. Mid-summer is very busy also with tourists from Spain and the rest of Europe.
July and August are the hottest months of the year, but temperatures rarely hit higher than 38°C. The shoulder Season is in May and June and September and October however, the temperatures do not differ hugely from summer. There will be fewer tourists during this time and islands with higher altitudes such as Gran Canaria and Tenerife can be far cooler. The evenings throughout the islands tend to be cooler during this time also. For average monthly temperature charts please click here.
There are airports on all the islands including Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Tenerife. A number of airlines and charter flight companies operate flights to the main islands of the Canaries. Flight time is between 4 and 4 .5 hours from the UK and Ireland. For tips on the various airlines including weight allowances and policies concerning babies and toddlers click here and for tips on getting on air travel with a baby or toddler click here.
The airports in the Canaries are baby and toddler friendly and some have small play areas. There is Wi-Fi throughout the main airports along with shops, pharmacies, restaurants and cafes. If you have booked a package holiday your tour operator will meet you at arrivals and direct you to your transfer coach unless an alternative arrangement has been made.
The local bus services outside of Tenerife and Gran Canaria tend to be infrequent. If you have booked a package holiday your tour operator will be able to arrange transportation and excursions for you and most of the hotels will be able to direct you to local tour operators who will be able to arrange visits to the major sites.
Renting a car is by far the best way to see the place and gives you a great deal of flexibility when travelling with a baby or toddler. Some rental agencies will allow you to take the car between the islands (by ferry) but ensure that this is allowed under the terms of your rental agreement before doing so.
Make sure you pre book a car with a car seat if you are going to be driving (or you could take one with you on the plane) and remember to carry driving licence along with your passport with you at all times. Seat belts must be worn front and rear and speeding and other offences are subject to on the spot fines. Children under the age of 12 cannot travel in the front passenger seat unless they use a special child restraint.
Eating Out in The Canaries will be a very enjoyable experience as locals are very friendly towards children and there are a variety of foods available such as Spanish Tapas, Italian and international fusion cuisine. Most hotels and restaurants will offer high chairs and will also have children’s menus. The local fruit and vegetables are very fresh and you will be able to find plenty of options for little ones. See our guides to Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Tenerife for family friendly restaurant recommendations.
Baby & Toddler Essentials
Breastfeeding in the Canary Islands
Breastfeeding in public is perfectly acceptable in the Canaries. Remember to keep hydrated and to eat well when breastfeeding in warm weather.
For formula fed babies, the quality of the water varies from place to place so it is definitely safer to use bottled water to feed your baby and your toddler. For babies under 6 months the bottled water should be boiled as it is not sterilized. When purchasing bottled water make sure you buy a brand with a low mineral and sodium content as these can cause stomach upsets.
Formula is available in most supermarkets but tends to be local brands which may not suit your baby if he or she is fussy. Generally supermarkets will stock Hero and Nestle formulas. Many stock the pre mixed Nestle formula which is useful for air travel. Many pharmacies in Lanzarote and Tenerife sell Aptamil but it is packaged differently and many users found that it has a slightly different taste. SMA is also available in some places but is sold in a carton only. Supermarkets generally open from 9am to 9.15pm and Mercadona can be found in many of the large resorts and is the best value for money. Other supermarkets include Hiper Dino, Cordillo, Spar and Netto.
If you are staying in self-catering accommodation you will be able to cook for your baby or toddler. Boots, organic stock cubes are handy to bring as they contain less salt and create a fantastic base for baby meals. You should have no problem finding fresh fruit and vegetables in any of the markets, particularly in coastal towns. Pre Packaged baby foods such as Hipp Organic and Heinz will be available in most supermarkets but these are expensive and you may find them difficult to find in the smaller resorts. You could also try the local Spanish baby foods. You might want to think about packing food pouches in your suitcase just in case the food your baby is used to is not available.
You could either bring microwavable sterilizer bags, these are great if you are staying in self catering accommodation or if your hotel will allow you access to a microwave. Another option is sterilizer bags which you fill with water and leave for 30 minutes. These are small and can be packed easily and are available in Boots in the UK and Ireland. Another option is to bring sterilizer tablets. To use these you will need a large container with a lid. You might also want to enquire about whether you will have a kettle in your room. If one is not available you can buy a small travel kettle.
Nappies & Changing Facilities in the Canary Islands
Nappies are available everywhere from larger to smaller supermarkets but again you may not be able to get the brand you are used to at home. If you feel this will be a problem you may wish to bring nappies from home although this will take up a lot of space in your suitcase. ‘Dadots’ are made by the same company as Pampers and you will also be able to find Huggies in some large supermarkets.
You will find baby changing facilities in department stores in large towns and in some restaurants and hotels. You should bring a changing mat with you to ensure that you can change your baby anywhere.
Please see our section on Formula, Food, Sterilizing & Nappies for more information.
Medication in the Canary Islands
If you need paracetemol for your child you will be able to find it in pharmacies. Calpol is not widely available and the Spanish equivalent is Apiretal. The dosage is different to Calpol so ask the pharmacist about the dose that your child will need. You will be able to find everything else you need in local pharmacies if your child is ill. There are also plenty of medical centres and hospitals in the major resorts.
Most pharmacists speak English well and if your child is unwell they may be able to direct you to a doctor or hospital. Your hotel will also be able to direct you to the appropriate services. Calpol and Nurofen are not widely available. If you require a paracetemol based product for your child, Apiretal is the local equivalent to Calpol. Remember to ask the pharmacist about the dosage for your child as this product is more concentrated than Calpol.
Mosquitos on the Canary Islands do not carry malaria but they can cause unpleasant reactions. Seek medical advice if an insect bite causes swelling, bruising or persistent pain. Make sure that you bring protection against insect bites on your trip. Click here for further information on insect protection and how to prevent and treat mosquito bites for babies and toddlers.
Ensure that you bring sunblock for babies older than 6 months and for toddlers. Many brands of sun block cannot be used on babies under the age of 6 months and therefore it is important to ensure that their skin is protected by keeping them away from direct sunlight and using UV protected clothing (Garnier Ambre Solaire has now produced a sunblock for babies in the shade which is available at Tesco and is suitable for use on younger babies however even with this on they should still be kept in the shade or in a UV sun tent as their skin is highly sensitive).
It is useful to buy swimwear with long sleeves also as this will protect your baby while in the water. Make sure that you also bring a sun hat for your baby as their heads can burn very quickly. A parasol will assist in keeping the sun off your baby’s skin and certain brands can be attached to your baby’s stroller. You can also buy a stroller shade which covers much more of your stroller and if the sun is particularly bright, this may be more useful. A UV protected small sun tent can be purchased for the beach.