After visiting El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, I have been approached several times by people asking us how much time to spend there. Obviously, it all depends on your holiday style. If you love spending quiet days at the beach you can stay there forever. But if you are interested in visiting all the popular corners recommended in travel guides, I’d say 1 week is perfect, especially if you travel with kids and don’t want to (read can’t) go at a crazy speed.
Here are my personal highlights from our week in El Hierro. Please click through the gallery to read the captions for more details…
A stunning sunrise above the sea as seen from Las Casas. Morning magic!
View over Las Casas and El Pinar from the Mirador de Tanajara. This is where we stayed for a week in October 2017.
I really like the burnt look of El Hierro’s pine trees near El Pinar. Don’t get me wrong. There was no fire here. It’s all natural.
Pine tree close-up.
Mirador de Las Playas is best visited in the morning to witness the sunrise or the beauty of the sea under the sun.
The Western part of El Hierro feels like a volcanic wonderland with its fierce-looking rock formations. It’s practically uninhabited from the North till the lighthouse of Orchilla, Spain’s most southwesterly point.
If you’d ask me what I am thinking of when I see the volcanic landscape of El Hierro, I’d probably say an underwater scenery, just without the water. Don’t you see corals here?
A “coral” close-up.
More corals ;)
That’s how official beaches in El Hierro look like. So much for the sand. Here you see the beach at the Lighthouse of Orchilla, the most southwesterly point in Spain.
This pretty white chapel is the home of El Hierro’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de los Reyes (Our Lady of the Kings). You can find it after a long and curvy drive to La Dehesa, the western part of the island.
Juniper trees, wind-twisted like this one, have become the symbol of El Hierro.
You can find them at El Sabinar in the western part of the island.
Beautiful La Restinga in the South. Come here for a great snorkel experience. I can recommend the Playa de Tacorón to see heaps of fish.
El Golfo is known as misty region on El Hierro where clouds easily get stuck on the mountains, but I didn’t imagine to get to see something like this!
Same location as on the previous photo (El Golfo), just a few hours earlier.
Frontera as seen from El Golfo.
Go down there and do the board walk between La Caletilla and Maceta.
Or visit the Ecomuseum of Guinea to learn how the first settlers survived here.
Gotta be sturdy to grow in El Hierro ;)
What are these? They were everywhere, but they aren’t regular earth worms…
A rather easy hike around volcano craters and through some forest can be done at La Llanía.
The red-sand beach at Playa del Verodal.
The public pools of La Caleta are pretty cool for kids too! (Not so much the sea; check out the video below.)
I simply love this graffiti that I discovered in Valverde. It’s about love, family, generations and it fills me with warmth each time I look at it ❤️
This art installation is one of the first things you will see after leaving El Hierro’s airport by car. It’s a bit creepy I find, but I like that it’s made out of recycled bottle caps.
And here is a short bonus video of some crabs in La Caleta, fighting against the strong waves of the sea. I filmed this on our way out from the public pools in La Caleta. Who’s up for a bath?
You might have noticed that I am blogging less often as I used to. It’s not that I have nothing to say or write about. And it’s definitely not that I don’t want to keep blogging. I do. Life is simply keeping me very busy these days.
But here are the good news: I keep on photographing. That’s why I recently updated most of my photo galleries on this site and you are welcome to have a look at what I’ve been up to in 2016 and at the beginning of this year.
Biarritz, queen of beaches, beach of kings. I fell in love with this cute town on day 1 of my visit. I even remember exactly when it happened: at the very moment when I stepped out of one of the town’s narrow alleys, overlooking a long stretch of sandy beach from above with hundreds of surfers paddling their boards towards a magical sunset above the mountains of the Spanish Basque country in the background.
Here is what I enjoyed most while walking along the French Atlantic coast between Pointe Saint-Martin (Lighthouse) and the Plage de la Côte des Basques.
View from the Sea Museum Aquarium of Biarritz (Musée de la Mer Aquarium) towards the Hôtel du Palais and the lighthouse as well as the Miramar Beach (Plage Miramar) in between
The 74 meter high lighthouse on Saint-Martin Point was built in 1834 and is located at the northernmost point of Biarritz
The Fishermen Port (Port des Pêche), built in 1870, does host more restaurants than fishermen these days — a good place to eat seafood in Biarritz
The town’s main beach (Grande Plage) located between the Fishermen Port and the Hôtel du Palais
Surfing is probably the most popular water sport in Biarritz, attracting heaps of tourists each year
Surfing into the sunset at the Plage de la Côte des Basques, the main surfing beach of Biarritz (with mountains of the Spanish Basque Country in the background)
Dreamy sunset above the 6 km of beach that Biarritz has to offer
Rocks in the water are a signal that…
…the Rock of the Virgin (Rocher de la Vierge) isn’t far — a statue erected by fishermen after being saved from drowning in the sea
The bridge that connects the Rock of the Virgin with the mainland has been built by Gustave Eiffel, the architect of the Eiffel Tower
The Rock of the Virgin is an excellent sunset point…
…but also offers great views over Biarritz, like for example towards the Villa Belza
The clash of achitecture styles makes the town’s shoreline so unique
After the sun has gone down, leave the coast and enjoy walking through the streets of Biarritz
Each year, between March and May, the western coast of the Netherlands is like a bazaar for brightly coloured blossom carpets. Just admit it already; you simply want to sit down, stare, sniff or swim through this sea of spring, don’t you? I do!
Approaching Keukenhof in the “Dune and Bulb Region”
It is allowed on some tulip fileds to enter for photography
It is easier though to just go shoot at Keukenhof — “Garden of Europe”
Keukenhof is open from March to May each year…
…displaying 7 million flower bulbs
The blue river
Blue and white flower carpet
This one surprised me a little bit: blue orchids
What’s that trick?
60% of all tulips worldwide are originally from the Netherlands
Who said the GoPro is only for action shots?
Popular destination at Keukenhof — the windmill
Keukenhof tulip fields are not accessible by foot (this photo was taken from the street)
But you can enjoy the Dutch flower bulb landscape by boat
Keukenhof displays a total of 800 varieties of tulips
When talking about Mont Saint Michel, we are talking about one of the most visited tourist attractions in France. The island commune with its strategic position just at the border of the Normandy and the Bretagne originally served as castle to defend Normans against Bretons, later on to defend the French against the English. Today, the abbey and medieval city of Mont Saint Michel are on the list of UNSECO world heritage.
Visiting Mont Saint Michel with style! Since the parking places are a few kilometres away from the island, you can alternatively walk, bike or take a shuttle bus. A long bridge will lead you to the island, which is located just a few hundred metres off the French coast.
A mass is held each day (except Monday) in the abbey of Mont Saint Michel, which crowns the islet and makes it twice as high. Due to its special location, history and look, Mont Saint Michel was inscribed into the UNESCO world heritage list in 1979.
Mont St Michel is built on 3 levels due to the steep slope of the mount. In the Great Halls under the abbey, monks used to study and host members of the royal family. Did you know that there are still monks living in Mont Saint Michel?
Mont Saint Michel’s main alley is a bustling tourist trap. Most products offered there can be found way cheaper in other Brittany towns, but of course you can’t say you bought them IN Mont Saint Michel. Originally, the series of stairways, alleyways, courtyards and paths were built due to the need to feed and house the pilgrims visiting the site since the middle age.
The quicksand and tides surrounding Mont Saint Michel form a natural defence; the tides can reach speeds of 10 km/h and can rise and fall up to 13m (highest tide in Europe). During the low tide you can book a guided walk around Mont Saint Michel — I definitely need to come back for that!
Before blogging about the first signs of spring I would like to share some winter photos with you that I took in Germany last year. They depict a weather phenomenon, which is both beautiful and dangerous at once.
Frozen ski lift on the Fichtelberg, the highest peak of the German Erzgebirge
In December, Saxony’s low mountain range (Erzgebirge, East Germany) was wrapped into thick fog layers lasting for weeks. The high air humidity coming along with the fog covered the region’s trees with hoar frost, which built up to a 30 to 40 cm thick ice crust. Needless to say that trees snapped off like matches under the heavy weight.
To avoid accidents, local public services decided to impose a ban to enter the forest above 800 metres. Streets were blocked for days and ski lifts had to shut down when some tree branches threatened to fall on the ropes.
Once streets reopened, we wanted to have a closer look at this newly created winter wonderland and went on a day trip to the highest point of the German Erzgebirge, the Fichtelberg (1,215 m), which looked as stunning as I had never seen it before. Me and my camera(s) got all excited; I could have easily spent the day looking at the most bizarre ice formations, but the cold…the severe cold…