About Gran Canaria

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Canary IslandsThe Canary Islands

Bathing in the Atlantic Ocean, 100km off the African coast, the Canary Islands belong to Spain, although it actually lies closer to the northern coast of Africa. But its not to say the seven sisters in the archipelago are mirror images of the mainland. Each one takes just a leaf out of the national book – remaining pages they’ve written themselves.

The biggest of all the islands, Tenerife is known for its busy beaches and neon-lit nightlife. but its unique selling point has to be the national park in its centre. This other-worldly landscape is home to the highest mountain in Spain, Mount Teide. Lanzarote boasts a similar niche product The Timanfaya National Park in the island’s interior is pock-marked by the craters of more than 100 volcanoes.

In Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, meanwhile, it’s the swathes of dunes that make then stand out. Both islands’ sea-sized expanses of sand are protected by national park status.

Finally, La Palma and La Gomera offer a passport to a time before tourism. The ma fly the red and yellow Spanish flag, but the colour really matters here is green. Both islands are layered with pine forests and rolling mountains, and La Gomera even has its own rainforest.

Gran Canaria – Quick Facts

  • Population: 830,000
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
  • Country dialing code: +34
  • Area code: 928
  • Size: 1500 sq km (590 sq miles)
  • Electricity: 220 volts, 50 Hz using round two-pin plugs

Gran Canaria is a circular, volcanic island which last (seriously) erupted about 3000 years ago. The land comes steeply down from the high central peaks, with dry water courses or ravines, running to the coast. You can travel from the rugged northern coast through verdant laurel forests and extinct volcanoes to the emblematic central peaks, reaching almost 2,000m (6,562 ft) above sea level, before you descend again through ancient pine woodlands into the deep ravines of the south and west, which peter out as the arid landscape gives way to glorious golden beaches. The fine sand and perfect climate ensure that the island is no stranger to tourists, but there are as many opportunities to escape the crowds as there are to encounter them in this magical Atlantic haven.

With soft sands in the south, lush forests in the north and huge mountains in the middle, Gran Canaria has all bases covered. No wonder its such a big hit with holidaymakers. It’s barely 50km in diameter but contains the largest population, despite being only the third largest of the Canary Islands. Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria and the most attractive and historic city.

Gran Canaria landscapeIt might only be the Canaries’ third biggest island but for somewhere the size of Greater London, Gran Canaria packs a lot in. Playa del Ingles is the island’s most popular tourist holiday hotspot, with it’s prime beech and party resort and is particularly popular with the gay community. Along with monster-sized golden beach – all 2.7km of it – the resort has the lion’s share of shopping malls and neon-lit bars. Plus, as well as traditional places to eat, you’ll find loads of restaurants that cater for the British crowd.

The Gran Canaria climate is excellent all year round, especially in the South, it is cooler up North, the center a little damper and colder due to the mountains. The average minimum temperateure in August is 28C and 15C in January.

Maspalomas, just next door, moves at a slower pace. its beach is a bit of a legend thanks to the miles of Saharan-style sand dunes. and it’s backed by a strip of chic hotels and open-air restaurants. There’s a handful of bars, too, although it’s more about cocktails at dusk than rip-roaring nights on the tiles.

If you’re keen to get away from it all, though, Puerto Rico makes a great base. With its horseshoe bay, sleek marina, and water park, its a bit of a family magnet. Plus it lays claim to the best sunshine record in the whole of Spain.

Public Transport

Gran Canaria has a good local bus service, serving most parts of the island, for timetable and pricing see www.globalsu.net, although taxi hire is very reasonable and taxis are widely available.

Gran Canaria History

Gran Canaria Tourist Office;

Oficina de Turismo
Plaza de las Palmeras 3,
Las Palmas
Tel: +34 928 243 593

Emergency number – 112

Download our Gran Canaria Map.

Gran Canaria Highlights

1) Casa Museo de Colon
Trace Columbus’s epic journeys in this atmospheric museum based in the 15th-century governor’s house where the Atlantic explorer stayed en route to the New World.

2) Cathedral de Santa Ana
Standing proud in Las Palmas’s historic centre, the cathedral has been an emblem of the city since the Spanish conquered the island. Its intermittent construction over 400 years explains the magnificent potpourri of styles that singles it out as one of the most important artistic monuments in Gran Canaria.

3) Museo Canario
Since they died out soon after the Spanish Conquest, there is little information on how the Guanches (early Canarios) lived. Gran insight at the Museo Canario, a one-stop exploration of the mysteries of ancient Canarian culture.

4) Jardin Botanico Canario
Spain’s largest botanical garden is a mixed bouquet of endemic and tropical plants. Giant lizards bask in the sun while songbirds chirrup in the laurel and pine plantations.

5) Maspalomas
Maspalomas, with its golden dunes, is both a tourists resort and an area of stunning natural beauty, visited by holidaymakers and migrating birds alike.

6) Teror
Set in an area of out-standing natural beauty, this quiet, architecturally exquisite Canarian town has deep historical roots. It’s also home to a tasty local variety of chorizo sausages.

7) La Cumbre
Wherever you are in the island’s central mountains, there are awe-inspiring views of La Cumbre’s high ridges and strange rock formations.

8) Caldera de Bandama
A reminder of the island’s volcanic origins, this deep crater is an easy visit from Las Palmas. Enjoy the fabulous views, or hike down to the crater floor.

9) Barranco de Guayadeque
Guanche cave-homes lines the sides of this breath-taking ravine; the modern troglodytes are easier to visit.

10) Puerto de las Nieves
Scores of visitors pass through Puerto de las Nieves daily en route to Tenerife, but this pretty fishing village is a destination in its own right. Watch the boats, enjoy a seafood lunch, and unwind.

Canary Islands Fast Facts;
Destination Airport: Tenerife South (for Tenerife and La Gomera), Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), Santa Cruz de la Palma (for La Palma), Arrecife (for Lanzarote), Puerto del Rosario (for Fuerteventura)
Approimate flight Time: 4 Hours 15 Minutes from Gatwick
Key Resorts: Playa de las Americas, Maspalomas, Fuencaliente, Costa Teguise, Corralejo, Valle Gran Rey