Gran Canaria, one of the Canaries lying around 150 km off the coast of north-west Africa, has something for everyone and, given its ideal warm, sunny climate, makes an ideal year-round destination. With lovely sandy beaches, a dramatic volcanic interior and the history and culture of the capital city Las Palmas, holiday makers can have the best of all worlds.
Life’s a Beach!
For the sun-worshippers, there are some excellent sandy beaches. Those of us who associate the Canaries with black volcanic beaches will be pleasantly surprised. The low-rise resort of Maspalomas in the south of the island, for instance, provides easy access to the 4km stretch of golden sand dunes which form part of a nature reserve.
Playa del Inglés, which was developed in the 1960s and so suffers somewhat from the large tower blocks popular at the time, has a big gay scene with much in the way of gay bars, restaurants, accommodation and even a gay beach.
Puerto de Mogán in the south west of the island was once a fishing village but is now a picturesque resort with a pleasant sandy beach, canals and bridges (hence its nickname “Little Venice”), an old town on the hillside and a marina with yachts to make you green with envy, plus a lot of bars and restaurants. Puerto Mogan has no real night-life so is less appealing to the younger crowd looking for discos and clubs.
Active Breaks in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is also an ideal destination for holidaymakers who want a more active break. Golfers are well catered for with eight excellent courses suitable for beginners or experts, most situated around the southern part of the island. Of course the climate on Gran Canaria means that you would be extremely unlucky not to have good conditions for your round of golf.
Walkers will find something to suit all abilities, whether you want a gentle stroll or a challenging hike with some serious climbing. The Regional Government has invested heavily in restoring the so-called Royal routes (caminos reales) which were, once upon a time, the only way to get around the interior of the island. Most centre around Cruz de Tejeda, a mountainous area in the centre of the island, affording magnificent views. Serious rock climbers will enjoy the challenging volcanic terrain of the island and there are various climbing clubs and schools.
Chasing the Waves
The island is often referred to as the Hawaii of Europe because of the excellent surfing conditions. For beginners the sheltered waters of Puerto de Mogán and Puerto Rico are best, whilst the experts will savour the waves of the north coast which can reach up to 5 metres high.
Las Palmas is an attractive city with its beautiful cathedral of Santa Ana (an unusual mix of architectural styles from the Gothic to the Neo-Classical). Fans of Art Nouveau should pay close attention to the facades of the building in Calle Mayor de Triana. Museum buffs will enjoy the Museo Elder, an interesting museum of science and technology.
Getting to Gran Canaria
Flights to Gran Canaria (scheduled and chartered, some of them seasonal) operate from Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Belfast, East Midlands, Birmingham, Luton, Stansted, Exeter, Bristol and Cardiff. If you happen to drive your own car to one of these airports before your trip, compare airport parking with Airport Parking Shop to save up to 60% off gate prices.