Spanish island of the Canary Islands
Europe > Iberia > Spain > Canary Islands > Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria[dead link] is the third largest island in the Canary Islands and has the largest population. It's often described as a "continent in miniature" because it has so much variety to offer.

Sunset from Embalse de Chira

Regions and cities edit

  North (1 Arucas, 2 Gáldar, 3 Moya, 4 Teror, 5 Firgas, 6 Santa Maria)
Mostly agricultural region. Green and fertile thanks to the trade wind, which brings cloudy air - which then discharges in the damming of the mountains. In addition to fruits and vegetables grown citrus fruits, grapes and of course the tasty little Canarian bananas. Visit Teror to see an idyllic mountain village and place of pilgrimage.
Tourist center of the island. Here there is a 12-km-long sandy beach and the Maspalomas dunes, the central mountains protect the area against clouds and trade winds.
  • 7 Maspalomas. Ideal holiday destination for families, here there is a beautiful dune landscape and a 6-km-long fine sandy beach.
  • 8 Playa del Inglés. A large tourist metropolis right next to Maspalomas, with beautiful dune beaches and hardly any sights. Families are spending days at the beach during the day, while in the night the youth is visiting countless nightclubs, bars and restaurants.
  • 9 San Augustín. With an impressive dark lava beach, spa services and a golf course.
  • 10 Puerto Rico. A must for water sports! Here you can find all known water sports again.
  • 11 Puerto de Mogán.
The largest and economically most important places of the island lie here. Traces of the "old Canaries" can be found here, where the oldest settlements of the Spaniards were. The region also has a lot to offer for tourists: water sports, surfing, diving and more.
  • 12 Las Palmas. The capital has international flair, and the 3-km-long sandy beach is ideal for relaxing. Additionally, there are museums, parks and churches in Las Palmas. The Columbus House in the district Vegueta is not to be missed.
  • 13 Telde. Second largest city, with an old town center worth seeing.
  • 14 Ingenio.
  • 15 Agüimes.
  West (16 La Aldea de San Nicolás, 17 Agaete.)
Deep gullies, rugged cliffs, hard to reach beaches - the west of the island is more of a destination for nature lovers than sun worshipers.
  Island center (18 Artenara, 19 Fataga, 20 Mogán, 21 San Bartolomé de Tirajana, 22 Tejeda)
Steep mountains reveal their volcanic origin. Much of the center of the island has been a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 2005. The sparsely populated region is a popular destination for hikers due to its numerous viewpoints. Pristine villages surrounded by terraced fields, pine-covered slopes, with palm trees in the valleys.

Other destinations edit

  • 1 Risco Caído   — archaeological   UNESCO World Heritage Site containing prehistoric cave dwellings, temples, and granaries attributed to the pre-hispanic culture of the Canary Islands.

Understand edit

The capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the northeast of the island, is one of Spain's largest cities. The south coast of the island is now dominated by the tourist resorts which generate most of the island's economy. The centre of the island is mountainous, with the remains of ancient pine forests on the peaks. Maspalomas in the south of Gran Canaria is the tourist zone, with the largest variety of options for enjoying the island. For tourist information or specific help, the TI Center is in Yumbo Center.

Talk edit

The official language of Gran Canaria is Spanish. However, one hears many people speaking English and German in the tourist areas.

The local inhabitants speak Canario, a Spanish dialect characterized by a slightly more singing tone than the mainland, less clear pronunciation and incorporation of different verb tenses. Even for foreigners with a basic knowledge of Spanish, the varieties spoken on the islands can take some time getting used to. On Tenerife however, the pronunciation seems to be more neutral, and leans a bit more toward normalized Spanish. In a way is very similar to Chilean Spanish. Canarian is known by;

  • loss of ending 's' in most plural unstressed words into a "h" or "sh" sound (relojej instead of relojes),
  • diphthonging words and verbs (callao for callado, pesao for pesado),
  • emphasis of the H sound when normally mute (hediondo pronounced jediondo and not ediondo),
  • different verb tense (ayer juguemos un partido instead of ayer jugamos un partido),
  • use of Haiga instead of haya (as the verb "to have") and
  • use of simple past tense instead of past participle tense, resulting in the occlusion and almost non-existence of the latter.

Get in edit

By plane edit

  • 1 Gran Canaria International Airport (LPA IATA Gando Airport). A modern international airport which receives flights from Madrid, about 2½ hours, and from Barcelona and Bilbao, both about 3 hours. UK flights takes about 4 or 4½ hours. It operates flights to different destinations, mainly through Europe and northern Africa. To get into the city, take the bus number 60 from the airport to either bus station in the city. The bus runs every 30 minutes from 06:15 to 20:50 and costs €2.70    .

Get around edit

The public transportation system is well organized and economical. There are regular buses that go all over the island, most of the ones useful for tourists run through Avda. Tirajana in Playa del Inglés and head north to the Atlantico shopping centre or Las Palmas or along the coast towards Puerto Rico. To travel from Maspalomas to Las Palmas the fastest bus is 50, which also stops at the airport. From Playa del Ingles to and from the airport the fastest routes are 66 and 90. Contactless payment is accepted on all routes. Most buses have luggage compartments that are opened remotely by the driver, some older vehicles still have traditional latches which you need to open yourself. Never try to make a bus driver smile either as they have the most stressful job on the island. You can find out why by taking the Playa-del-ingles bus towards Amadores. If you are scared of heights and fear falling of cliffs do not take this bus.[Once the highway is complete this route will be altered]

Do not be afraid to take a taxi. Sometimes you can get somewhere a lot quicker for a few euro more than you would spend on a bus. Why not walk past a bus station and ask somebody to share a taxi? All taxis on the island are metered and easily identified. Avoid taxis without a meter as they will certainly be uninsured.

Rental cars are available in all resorts, both from local companies and large international car rental companies. Most of the large ones such as Avis and Hertz have offices in Playa del Inglés. They initially offer very competitive prices on their websites, but in reality you are forced to buy a tank full of gasoline and return the car empty (which is impossible). You are also expected to take additional insurance coverage unless you have already pre-arranged equivalent cover before your visit. (You should do this). This makes the price almost double from what is advertised. You can also rent a car at the airport. The rental offices are on the ground floor on the new wing for international departures.

Rental companies (always compare!):

  • AutoReisen – Only available in the Canary Islands. Cheap, reliable and no deposit—from €9/day. Though, apparently not very well known and not listed on the common price comparison websites. Pickup and drop-off only at the airports. Ask around and you will see that people are very happy with them.
  • PlusCar Rent a Car – Conditions are similar to AutoReisen—sometimes cheaper, sometimes more expensive. Likewise no deposit.
  • Cabrera Medina – Around 20 branches all over the island, though not all are always open. Reliable and well-known.
  • CICAR – Similar to Cabrera Medina.
  • PaylessCar – Affordable and good.
  • TopCar – From €12/day, but many people complain about consecutively being charged for fuel and cleaning. Deposit: €500.
  • Goldcar, Dollar, Interrent – Not worth the stress—they are well known for ripping off their customers.
  • Avis, Europcar, Thrifty, Hertz, Enterprice – Probably not worth the extra money, unless you have a membership thing or get a good discount.

There are no trains in Gran Canaria. There is an autopista (motorway/highway) that covers much of the island. Speed cameras operate along the length of all the major roads, beware.

To go to the other islands is quite simple, the nearest island, Tenerife, is only 2½ hours away by ferry (

Climate edit

Gran Canaria Airport
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Source: Canary Islands - Wikipedia
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

The climate is subtropical semi-arid for most locations, but it may vary a lot depending of where you are going. For the main touristic resorts the weather is mostly comfortable.

In Maspalomas there is normally 28-33°C in July at daytime, which drops to 21-24° by night. In winter, day temperature is normally 23° and by night 16-17°. Bad weather can occur, especially between mid-October and March. Temperatures can then drop to 11-12° and be quite windy.

Arguineguín has the best climate, with the least wind, and is, due to its protected location, among the driest in winter too.

Las Palmas has a bit of a different climate, and is sometimes clouded and rain might occur, even in May or June, but it is not very common. If you travel in winter take at least a thick jacket or two. If you plan to travel to the mountains bring or buy a scarf and gloves. The freezing point can be reached on Pozo de Las Nieves.

In summertime, always bring a bottle of water during the day. If winds from Sahara occur and temperatures rise above 40 °C, try to stay in the shadows, close to climatized air and always drink plenty of water.

See edit

Iglesia de San Juan Bautista (Church of John the Baptist) in Arucas

The sand dunes in Maspalomas (ask for "Las Dunas de Maspalomas").

San Bartolomé de Tirajana.

  • Palmitos Park, Barranco de Los Palmitos s/n. 35109 Maspalomas Gran Canaria, +34 928 797 070. Various animals (esp. exotic birds) and exotic plantations. Also dolphins. Has shows with parrots, dolphins and birds of prey (eagles, hawks, etc). A great place to go with children 2 yr and upwards. You could spend 3-4 hours there.
  • Teror. Nuestra Señora del Pino
  • Valsequillo. This area is very green with imposing rock formations and steep ravines, It has pine forests, palm groves and almond trees (which are in bloom in January and February) and all kinds of vegetation within its 39.15 km². The historic center and surrounding neighbourhoods offer valuable traces of history like the Church of Saint Michael Archangel, the former Cavalry barracks, and Flemish carvings. The varied gastronomic offer includes traditional cheeses, wine, honey and almonds, all of which make up one of the major attractions of Valsequillo.
  • Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape. This world heritage site extends over the north, west and central parts of the island.

Do edit

  • Biking. The island is a paradise for bikers, with lots of trails for mountain biking, from easy to very difficult and long ones. There are also many possibilities of road biking, both in the mountain region and along the coast. There are bike rental centers in the island.
  • Surf Canaries Surf School (Surf School Gran Canaria), +34 677704981. Gran Canaria is a perfect place to learn to surf. A surf class will set you off safely with the right technique. Use a reputable surf school such as Surf Canaries, a mobile surf school in the south of the island who take parties to the right beaches for learning and give in depth and fun classes with qualified instructors. It's a great day out if you always fancied having a go!

Hiking edit

Gran Canaria is a paradise for hill walking with its inhabited cave villages, lake side walks, spectacular mountain scenery and wonderful flora & fauna especially in the Spring. There are a great variety of hikes on outstanding trails, many of these are off-the-beaten-track and the climate is excellent for trekking.

Beaches edit

The south of Gran Canaria is famous for the variety of beaches. The longest beach is "Playa del Inglés" and "Maspalomas", the almost 4 km stretch of beach between Playa del Inglés and Meloneras is a serviced nudist beach. In the Mogán area there are other famous beaches, such as "Amadores", "Anfi del Mar", "Puerto Rico", and "Playa de Mogán."

Surfing edit

Described as the "Hawaii of the Atlantic", the surf on Gran Canaria can be incredible. On the right day the surfers will put on a free and spectacular display, often in the north of the island but also in the south on the right conditions - Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés and Arguineguin.

It is also a great place to learn to surf with fantastic beaches and a couple of really good surf schools.

Golf edit

The island is home to Spain's oldest golf club plus eight newer courses, mostly in the south of the island.

Scuba diving edit

The south part of the island has many great diving locations and many dive centers. Most arrange daily trips Monday to Saturday with hotel pickup and reasonable equipment rental prices. Most travel guide books suggest one or two dive centers.

Near Maspalomas, Let's go diving [1][dead link] arranges boat tours to natural and artificial reefs with a variety of fish and other species. A wreck dive is also possible within 20 m depth. You may find flashier rental equipment but you will hardly find better personnel.

In Arquineguin, Scuba Sur Diving Center[2], inside the Time Share Resort Anfi Del Mar, organize daily diving trips, free scuba diving try every day in the different pools, all PADI courses till Instructor Development Course; three times a week snorkeling trip to the Pristine Bays of Gran Canaria from amazing beach of Patalavaca and the small and wonderful private marina, from where boats are leaving.

Eat edit

Iglesia de San Juan Bautista in Telde

Besides many good restaurants of different nationalities, the Canarian Cuisine is especially worth trying.

Most restaurants serve local wines as well as Rioja.

La Casa Vieja: [3] [dead link] (North area of Maspalomas) serve Canarian meals like Gofio, fish, squid rings, octopus with vinegar, Papas arrugadas con mojo (salted potatoes with a spicy mix), and grilled meat.

In Las Palmas there are many excellent fish restaurants, specially along the coast near Las Canteras beach and El Confital in the neighborhood of La Isleta. An exquisite dish is Chancletes al limón, but many other local fresh fish are excellent too.

Restaurant Ciao Ciao near the beach in Las Meloneras serves an Italian cuisine with good pizzas, meat and fish dishes.

Restaurante Olivia in Puerto de Mogán serves well prepared local dishes near the yacht harbour in Puerto de Mogán.

As an aside, when staying in the area of Playa del Inglés, expect to be regularly solicited by "waiters" who want you to eat at the restaurant they are working for. It can't be avoided but becomes slightly less annoying over time.

Drink edit

The Yumbo Centrum dominates the centre of Playa del Inglés. It has dozens of restaurants, bars and clubs, many catering to the gay community, particularly on the higher floors.

Some of the cheaper bars are on the Western side of the ground floor.

Busy gay bars are Construction on the ground floor and Terry's Show and XL on the first floor. The top floor has dance bars such as Mykonos and Mantrix that are a mix of bar and clubs, and tend to be more expensive. Heaven also has a club here, on the third floor. A selection of real English teas can be found at Café Florín, also known as the Internet Cafe one minute from the Yumbo, down the hill towards the Playa del Inglés beach.

Stay safe edit

There is relatively little crime in the resorts, the main annoyance is drunks causing trouble. As anywhere, one should not leave valuables unattended on the beach.

In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, applying common sense for large cities is advisable. Some of the streets can be badly lit and the area around the harbour can be a bit threatening.

In the south, young male pickpockets operate and often target older tourists.

On the beach, African women vendors may try to put a bracelet on your wrist and then charge an exorbitant fee for it. Some of these women can be aggressive however, so always be on your guard. Scream "molestado!" if you have to and if you are forced into having to pay for bracelets, make sure you have a few small bills or change and convince them it's all you have.

Male sex workers may approach male travellers for prostitution purposes.

If you've been to Tenerife, you may be familiar with the so-called Lookey Lookey Men. Since they are not as common in Gran Canaria, they are usually not seen as problem, but can be annoying as they try to sell cheap items which are usually bootlegs.

This region travel guide to Gran Canaria is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!