There are no train services on the Canary Islands, but the buses, on the whole, are excellent, being regular, fast and cheap. For getting off the beaten track, renting a car is practical and inexpensive. Hiring a bike is easy, but this is mountainous territory, so it's only recommended for the brave… Getting around on the smaller islands is more difficult: bus networks are skeletal, making renting a car preferable. However you go, you're in for a great time.
Buses (guaguas) are operated by Transportes Interurbanos de Tenerife, SA (TITSA), tel: 922 531 300 (for 24-hour information in Spanish or English). The green buses run all over the island with surprising frequency, especially to the resorts in the south of the island.
To save a few euros, you may want to buy travel cards or return tickets (about 10% cheaper than a single ticket). Details of the tram service between Santa Cruz and La Laguna (Line 1), and between La Cuesta and Tincer can be found here, including timetables, maps and routes.
Buses are operated by Guaguagomera. They run out of San Sebastián to the main towns and tourist resorts, as well as to airport several times a day in both directions.
Buses are operated by Transportes Insular. Routes run from Santa Cruz to the airport and to Los Llanos de Aridane. The latter runs from coast to coast, and passes the Visitors’ Centre of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park.
Buses go from Valverde to main centres, but are infrequent, and should not be relied on for getting around the island.
In Las Palmas, buses leave from the Parque San Telmo station and the Parque Santa Catalina terminal. They are run by Global. Buses to Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés are frequent and direct, and usually leave the bus terminals as soon as they are full. Buses run from dawn until about 10pm, with a night service on major routes. Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas services are efficient and run to all the main out-of-town attractions.
Buses from Intercity Bus Lanzarote run from Arrecife to Costa Teguise, Puerto del Carmen and Playa Honda every 20 minutes.
Buses are operated by TIADHE, who have services between the most important towns. However, for all north–south trips you must change in Puerto del Rosario.
To rent a car you generally need to be over 21 (some operators won’t rent to under-25s) and to have had a licence for over a year. EU licences are accepted, as are most foreign licences, though it is recommended these are accompanied by an International Driving Permit. Most operators require a credit-card number. Rental usually includes tax, unlimited mileage and full insurance, however details should be double-checked with rental firms. Most companies won’t allow you to island hop with the same vehicle, so you will need to organise separate rentals on each island.
All the big international rental companies have offices at the airports and in the major cities, and there are numerous long-standing local companies on each island.
The letters SP (servicio público) on the front and rear bumpers of a car indicate that it's a taxi. It may also have a green light on the windscreen or a green sign indicating ‘libre’ when it is available. Taxis are unmetered in tourist areas. There are fixed prices displayed on a board at the main taxi ranks, giving the fares to the most popular destinations. These are usually reasonable. If in doubt, ask the driver before you set off.
All of the above can be hired in most of the resorts. Cycling can be a fantastic way of experiencing the islands' contrasting landscapes, however be prepared for hot and challenging rides in the mountainous areas. To give you an idea, Tenerife has become a favourite winter training ground for many professional cyclists, preparing for the Tour de France, no less.
In Tenerife, Cycling Tenerife offers cycling tours for all levels of fitness, cycling packages with accommodation, and bike hire for individuals. Bike4You is another good option for guided tours. Bike Point Tenerife is a bike shop that also rents bikes and offers cycling tours.
In Fuerteventura, ProAction Bikes has two outlets, at Corralejo and Lajares.
In El Hierro, unless you're a pro you're better off hiring an e-bike to tackle the tough terrain; you can do so at VeloHierro.
In La Palma, Bike Station takes you volcano climbing among many other biking options, with a team of experts to hand.
For an ambulance, the police or the fire brigade call 112.
There are many narrow mountain roads, where you’ll need to use your horn at every bend. At any time you may come across a herd of goats, a donkey and cart, large potholes, or rocks falling as you round the next bend. Always slow down when passing through villages. Allow more time than you think a journey will take from simply looking at the map. Driving on mountain roads all day can be very tiring, so be sure to take frequent breaks.