Gran Canaria
Canary Islands • Spain

From: Canary Islands Travel Guide

See also: TenerifeLanzarote

Gran Canaria
The island of Gran Canaria is blessed with a beautifully varied landscape that includes areas of dramatic coastline where cliffs tower over the ocean alongside pristine beaches where no end of water sport activities can be accomplished.

Inland to the west dense pine forests sweep across undulating terrain with the impressive Mount Las Nieves taking pride of place in the centre offering splendid views a variety of flora and fauna and endless trails to explore along the way.

To the south of Gran Canaria are the formidable Maspalomas Sand Dunes where you'd be forgiven for forgetting where you are as camels pass you by easily negotiating this vast desert expanse. Las Palmas offers everything you'd expect from a thriving city such as the modern auditorium which dominates the seafront to upmarket restaurants and nightclubs alongside no end of shopping opportunities. The cities historic quarter is a reminder of the islands rich history with its cobbled streets and superb architecture wonderfully preserved in amongst museums, cafes and boutiques.

Gran Canaria offers excellent weather throughout the year with winter temperatures averaging around 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the day which can drop during the evening, while summer temperatures often reach well into the 70 and 80's.

Travel Guide
Gran Canaria can be reached via plane to Gran Canaria International Airport (LPA) which offers flights around the world. The island can also be reached by boat from neighbouring Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura as well as to and from mainland Spain especially from Cadiz and by cruise ships which regularly stop at Port of Las Palmas. Once on the island there are plenty of busses and taxis available and car, bike and scooter hire are also great options if you plan to explore the many areas that the island has to offer.

Capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The bustling capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is located in the north of the island and beautifully blends its historic old quarter with its thriving modern side which offers everything you'd expect from nightclubs and restaurants to shopping malls and museums. Vegueta the old quarter of the city contains cobbled streets and fascinating colonial architecture as well as plenty of popular restaurants, shops and museums as well. With its excellent location right next to the port and so close to several superb beaches there is always a heady influx of visitors who come to enjoy and explore the cities many different areas.

The cuisine on Gran Canaria is a fresh mix of traditional Spanish dishes along with American and African influences making it wholesome, colourful and full of flavour. The freshly caught fish and seafood on the menus is an obvious highlight to dining out in the Canaries and you'll find plenty of crab, lobster, grilled fish and fish stew dishes regularly being served.

Another favourite dish of the Canary Islands are wrinkled potatoes known as papas arrugadas that are served with a sauce called mojos which can be very colourful and sometimes hot and spicy too. A visit to the Canary islands is also a great chance to taste some of the many popular types of cheese that are produced on island which are largely made up of goats milk or cows milk and each with its own distinct flavour and unique characteristics depending on what part of the island it has been produced.

There are several vineyards on Gran Canaria especially south of Las Palmas many of which are open for wine tasting, tours and for the all important buying of the finished product.

There are plenty of shopping opportunities on Gran Canaria with the capital Las Palmas offering one of the most popular and varied shopping experiences around, with everything from vast department stores with all the modern amenities to fashionable boutiques selling the latest fashions from both local and international designers and of course no end of shoe shops offering a variety of styles and price tags to match. There are regular markets held within Las Palmas that a offer a wide variety of goods such as fresh fruit, fish and bread alongside handicraft items such as baskets, pottery, gifts and clothing, these markets are very popular so be ready to experience a energetic shopping atmosphere.

Gran Canaria Sites And Attractions
The historic old town of Las Palmas is known as Vegueta and features plenty of architecture that includes the impressive Santa Ana Cathedral which is located within the Plaza de Santa Ana and contains a beautiful bronze statue known as Cannes de Gran Canaria which features two dogs in honour of when the islands early inhabitants discovered a unique breed of dog on the island and named the island after them.

Gran Canaria is well known for its beautiful sandy stretches of beach which can be bustling or quiet depending on your preference. The south is well known for its superb selection of beaches such as the long sandy stretch of Playa del Ingles which offers a variety of water sport activities as well as all the usual facilities from sun loungers to local cafes and shops.

Situated next to Playa del Ingles is Maspalomas and this vast stretch of beach has plenty of sand dunes nearby to make you think your in a desert as well as loads of space making it one of the most popular beaches on the island, with areas for families and nudists. Maspalomas also has no shortage of sun loungers and refreshment kiosks and the beach is also very well set up for water activities such as jet skiing, snorkelling or even a pedalo ride or two.

San Agustin, offers a quieter stretch of beach yet with all the modern facilities which, with has easy access and offers a calm protected bay perfect for swimming and snorkelling and is a great beach that is often popular with the locals.

The beautiful sands at Puerto Rico are located next to subtropical gardens, cafes and restaurants. There are also no shortage of watersport activities available at this beach with water skiing, diving, boating or simply swimming all great options.

The gently curved beach of Amadores is one of the islands man made beach stretches made up of sand brought in from the Sahara and which also offers a selection of shops, cafes and restaurants alongside its calm seas that are perfect for a gentle swim, the beach at Amadores does not permit ball playing making a popular choice for families.