Visiting the Observatory

Gran Telescopio Canarias at sunset. Roque de Los Muchachos, European northern observatory, La Palma
Gran Telescopio Canarias at sunset

The IAC organises morning visits to the observatory for people over 6 years old several days a week, but you have to sign up in advance. You can book at

to join a regular group, or email me if you don’t want to share. I can do groups up to 25 people, but for groups of under 12 this is more expensive.  Book early!  Visits last 90 minutes, and take place between 09:30h and 13:00h. Only royalty get to visit at night.

You have to make your own way to the observatory, which usually means either a hire car or taxi. From Los Cancajos, allow about 90 minutes and a third of a tank of petrol. From the Princess Hotel, allow longer and half a tank of petrol. (You can probably get there and back on less, but it’s no fun watching the petrol gauge with your guts twisted with worry.) Both access roads are twisty: if anybody in your group suffers from motion sickness, the Spanish over-the-counter medication is Biodramine, which works very well for me. (Take one or two half-an-hour before you leave.)

The observatory is at 2400 m (7,900 ft) and there is about 25% less oxygen than at sea-level. This is fine for most people until they try to climb stairs quickly, but you probably shouldn’t come if you have anaemia or a serious lung or heart problem, and think carefully about bringing babies or the very old. If in doubt, talk to a doctor. Please consult And bring your own sun cream, water, and food (especially if you’re diabetic).

If you want to enjoy La Palma’s spectacular night skies, there are several firms which offer stargazing excursions or telescope rentals.

Here is the link to the IAC web page to book a visit.


inside Gran Telescopio Canarias
Inside GTC

This article has 18 Comments

  1. I was at the talk you gave to Loughton Astro at the end of October.

    I would like to visit the observatory, is the tour in English ?



  2. Sheila,

    We would like to visit the Observatories between Feb 14 – 21 2017.

    Please let me know how to book.



  3. Sheila,

    Thank you for the link.

    I will let you know which hotel we are staying at so you can advise on transport to the Observatories.


    Jack UK

  4. Sheila,

    We won’t be hiring a car here is the hotel address please advise on how to get to the Observatories.

    Hotel Las Olas

    Street Salinas 42, Los Cancajos, Brena Baja, 38712, ES


    Jack UK

  5. Sheila,

    Thank you for the contact details.

    When is the earliest I can book the obo visit ?

    Happy new year,


  6. Absolutely not! Where you have people you have lights, and the Herschel could see a candle on the moon.

    There are lots of good places for stargazing around the island, and there are 3 firms which take small groups out with good amateur telescopes. Try

    By the way, booking for visits in February is now open.

  7. Sheila,

    We have booked the observatory visit for Fri 17 Feb.

    Hope to see you there.

    Thank you for you help,


  8. Sheila,
    Gregorios taxi service is fully booked for 17 Feb do you know of another.
    If not can we chane the booking date ?

  9. Sheila,
    The visit was EXCELLENT we saw the 10.4 m telescope, the giude Antonio explained everything well in English and Spanish.

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