While prices in the Canary Islands offer relatively good value to Northern European tourists, there are still plenty of ways that a visitor can overpay if they don’t know their way around. In this article I will attempt to help the first time visitor avoid paying over the odds while they find their way around.
You might expect that a car rental comparison site would be the best way to find the good price for a rental car, but in the Canary Islands, you´d be wrong! The car hire comparison sites make commission for referring customers, and some car hire companies provide a very aggressive rate in order to appear competitive.
However, once on the ground, the unwitting customer will often discover several unexpected costs and tactics that push up the final price: there may be extra insurance fees (as the quoted price only includes the bare minimum of insurance), the customer may be required to purchase a full tank of fuel (at an inflated price) and return the tank empty (difficult to do), and/or discover upon returning the car that they need to pay excessive repair fees for some tiny scratches on the paintwork (some Car Rental companies pay their staff a bonus if they find faults).
So how do you avoid these traps and get a good price on car hire?
Simple, use Cicar or AutoReisen (and we are not paid any commission by these companies).
Petrol and Diesel
It is worth shopping around for petrol or diesel for your hire car: prices can vary by up to €0.40 per litre from one petrol station to another. There are no hard and fast rules about which gas stations are the cheapest or most expensive, however there are now several websites that publish the prices.
Duty Free Alcohol and Tobacco
Thanks to the Canary Islands’ low tax regime, Alcohol, Tobacco and Perfume are much cheaper than in most EU countries and the UK. If you are planning on taking some duty free products back with you, then you will generally find the best prices in the resort supermarkets rather than at the airport (the airport shops tend to be expensive). Some airlines have fairly competitive duty free prices though, and they may also stock brands that are adapted to your country of origin.
As you might imagine, the larger supermarkets offer the best value-for-money. The biggest chains are Hiperdino, Mercadona and Spar, though there are others such as Lidl (Aldi have recently begun to expand into the Canaries).
Visitors should be aware of the distinction between the various types of Hiperdino supermarkets: the large ‘Hiperdino’ supermarkets offer the best value, ‘Superdino’ are medium-sized local supermarkets with slightly higher prices than the large Hiperdinos, and finally ‘Hiperdino Express’ supermarkets are located in tourist areas and are quite expensive.
Mercadona supermarkets offer good value-for-money selling mostly their own brands of products, though these are generally very well-regarded for their quality.
Prices in bars vary wildly, and not always due to location or appearance. Over the years, I have noticed a few general patterns though: Irish bars are often the most expensive, with pints sometimes costing the same as in Dublin! British-owned bars tend to cheaper (though not always). €2 large beer offers are common in the larger resort towns, though these cheap beer offers can occasionally be misleading, as the price of a G&T in the same bar might be expensive. If wine is your tipple, then a busy traditional Spanish bar is your best bet, where you will likely find good quality wine by the glass at a low price.