Gran Canaria has been growing in popularity since the 19th century, when tourists first began flocking to the island for their annual week in the sun. The third-largest of the Canaries, its appeal has never really wavered, and today many visitors find themselves coming back again and again. One of the many reasons behind Gran Canaria’s allure is its fantastic array of sunbathing spots. From bustling resorts like Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles, to the much quieter Bahia Feliz, there really is a beach for every taste and occasion.
Whatever you like to eat, you certainly won’t go hungry on Gran Canaria. Wherever you go on the island, you’ll be sure to come across tapas bars serving Spanish staples such as paella, patatas bravas and tortilla espanola, but dig a little deeper and you’ll uncover some truly authentic local delicacies. As with the rest of the Canaries, goat’s cheese is a much-loved staple, so you’ll find it on just about every menu you come across. Where meat or fish is used in cooking, its common to use every part of the creature (including the head and tail) to avoid unnecessary waste, and although this might be a little off putting at first, it adds a wonderful depth of flavour.
If you want a change from the buzz and bustle of Gran Canaria’s main resorts, there’s no better way to get a feel for the island than to spend an afternoon meandering round one of the many traditional villages. As well as enjoying a much quieter, slower pace of life, you’ll get the sense that you’ve stepped back in time. Less than 30 minutes by car from Playa del Ingles, the charming village of Fataga is a wonderfully picturesque maze of cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and lush green foliage – perfect for an afternoon of exploring.
Gran Canaria certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to natural landscapes. Its terrain is both dramatic and spectacularly diverse, as it can go from being lush and green one moment, to barren and rugged the next. As well as being absolutely breath-taking, this kind of natural diversity means that the island is great for outdoor activities. Hiking, rock climbing, cycling or windsurfing (and much more besides), the terrain and conditions are ideal – all you have to do is choose which you want to start with.
Located in the heart of the island, this hilltop village combines winding cobbles and traditional architecture with natural landscapes that are simply out of this world. Like the rest of the Canaries, Gran Canaria is an excellent year-round destination, so whatever time you visit, Tejeda won’t disappoint, but if you make the trip during early spring, you’ll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the almond blossoms in their full glory. More than just a pretty face, the village boasts a selection of excellent restaurants, so it’s a good idea to come with an appetite.
A far cry from the bustling party-like atmosphere of Playa del Ingles, Bahia Feliz offers a real insight into local life. Much quieter and more laid-back than Gran Canaria’s most popular resorts, this tranquil little town offers visitors the best of both worlds. The idyllic village combines sleepy squares, café-lined pavements and Moroccan-style architecture with an up-and-coming restaurant scene. When it comes to beaches, the dark volcanic sand and glittering turquoise waters make for a striking contrast, and there are some great tavernas nearby where you can stop for a drink or a bite to eat.
Because almond blossoms are found all over the island, it’s not surprising that these little nuts are a staple of Gran Canarian cuisine. They’re most commonly used in aperitifs and desserts, such as bienmesabe (a type of pudding made from sugar, eggs, lemons and ground almonds), and frangollo (another sweet treat combining maize or corn flour, eggs, sugar, raisins and almonds). In the spring, there’s even a festival dedicated to the magnificent almond blossom – a must if you’re in the area at the time.
Gran Canaria benefits from great weather any time of year, so whenever you go, you can expect pleasant temperatures. In the summer, temperatures can be anywhere between the mid-20s and the mid-30s, and during the winter, you can expect a range of between 16 and 22 degrees.
British Citizens must have a valid passport to visit Gran Canaria, but won’t need a visa. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain/entry-requirements.
The currency used is the Euro (EUR).
In Gran Canaria, the language spoken is Spanish.