The microclimates of Gran Canaria create an island of stunning diversity. Whether you’re venturing through arid desert dunes or hiking into ravines of deep tropical green, you’ll soon understand why Gran Canaria is often called the ‘Miniature Continent.’
Despite the variation in the climate, Gran Canaria stays sunny and warm throughout the seasons, clocking up almost 3,000 sunshine hours over the year. So when choosing where to have your holidays in Gran Canaria, all you need to do is decide how hot you want it to be!
The popular resorts in the south are hotter in both their weather and their nature. Nights in Playa del Ingles really heat up, as huge commercial centres hold lots of vibrant bars and clubs that stay open till the early hours. Even Heaven and Pacha have a presence here! But days are best spent on its incredibly long arc of golden sand that stretches all the way into Maspalomas and San Agustin.
On the subject of Maspalomas – it’s here you’ll find the incredible sand dunes blown all the way from the Sahara. But a waterpark, zoo and two golf courses ensure there’s plenty more to do than just exploring the resort’s miniature desert.
Westward bound from Maspalomas brings you to Puerto Rico, which as the sunniest resort on the island is eternally bathed in a bright golden glow. Its white beaches created with soft coral sand from the Caribbean create the perfect place to make the most of the sunshine, whilst a yacht harbour amidst densely lined palm trees and a rising mountainside create a picture perfect backdrop.
But perhaps the best of Gran Canaria lies even further west. The pretty fishing port of Puerto Mogan has a series of canals that criss-cross the harbour, lined by whitewashed houses and vibrant purple bougainvillea, leading it to be called ‘Little Venice.’ If you think this sounds idyllic, you can choose to stay within the resort itself, or at Playa Taurito just moments away. It has a dusky beach backed by sheer grey-gold mountains, and the resort comprises of numerous hotels including the all inclusive Paradise Lago Taurito & Waterpark as part of our Experience More range, giving you unlimited access to its exciting waterpark!
Just as the temperature varies as you venture from one part of Gran Canaria to another, so does the landscape. This makes you feel like a real intrepid explorer, as you witness the majesty of giant sand dunes, ancient caves and volcanic mountains, just hours away from each other.
Thanks to its close proximity to the beautiful beach resort of Maspalomas, the Dunas de Maspalomas is one of the most popular attractions for holidays in Gran Canaria. Blown over from the Western Sahara, around 100 miles away, this southern tip of Gran Canaria has been coated in the rising and falling dunes of golden sand. It’s a strange sensation to feel like you’re wondering in a desert across a huge expanse of sand, especially when civilisation is just moments away! Plus, it’s a great attraction for sunbathing, as the lack of shade ensures it’s always extremely bright.
Conveniently, Maspalomas is also close to two fun family activities. The Palmitos Park Zoo is incredibly popular because it features a wide range of animals, including monkeys, parrots and a huge dolphin auditorium. Its setting is pretty special too, as it’s nestled amongst dense fields of pine in a deep mountain valley. Plus, Aqualand Maspalomas is one of the largest waterparks in Gran Canaria and offers colourful slides and rides, a sea lion show and super-cool pools!
But more on that drastically different terrain – holidays in Gran Canaria can take you into arid brown landscapes such as the Nublo Rural Park (which has the island’s national symbol, the craggy formations of Roque Nublo), the endless green laurels and natural springs of Azuaje Ravine and the cactus-lined trails and deep mountains of Pino Santo. At its heart, Gran Canaria reaches its highest point – the Pozo de las Nieves reaches 2,000ft skywards, a place where the clouds sit amongst the pine trees and you can see the terracotta coloured earth for miles around.
Gran Canaria has many outstanding natural sights, but to truly discover ancient man-made attractions, you’ll need to head to the far north of the island in Galdar. It’s well worth your journey, as the Cueva Pintada, or Painted Cave, is an incredibly well preserved artefact of how the Guanche people, the original natives of the Canary Islands, used to live. You’ll be able to stand up close to the painting – a series of patterns in vibrant red, black and white. You’ll also get an idea of how the Guanche used to literally carve furniture out of the rock in the caves they used as homes. There’s a great museum here too, detailing how the cave was almost lost after the Spanish conquers built over Galdar in the 16th century.
As a continuation of Gran Canaria’s history, the Santa Ana Cathedral in the capital Las Palmas also reveals the Spanish intention to drive out the Guanche. It was ordered to be built in 1478, after the Spanish invasion, yet incredibly it took four centuries to complete. If anything, the dusky brown stonework of the cathedral serves as an example of perseverance, and there’s a range of architectural styles to match the changing periods, from gothic to renaissance and neo-classic.
Christopher Columbus used the capital as a stopping point before continuing his exploration of America. This has since led to his house in Gran Canaria being converted into an atmospheric museum named Casa de Colon. It features a reconstruction of the ship Columbus used to sail, as well as an idyllic leafy courtyard complete with friendly macaws! The rustic wooden interior has been left just as it was, giving you a glimpse into the 15th century.
But should you just wish to relax on your holidays in Gran Canaria, you’ll be more than catered for too. In particular, the coastlines of Playa del Ingles and Puerto Rico are really something special. Anfi Beach and Playa de los Amadores were both created with cotton-soft white coral sand imported from the Caribbean. Playa de los Amadores is literally translated as ‘Lover’s Beach’ and you’ll certainly adore the sight of it brilliantly bright shores leading into turquoise tones of the Atlantic. Pure bliss for unwinding on your holidays in Gran Canaria.
Gran Canaria sits in the Atlantic Ocean just south east of Tenerife and west of Fuerteventura. The flight time is, on average, just over four hours from the UK.