Falcon’s guide to Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is the third largest Canary Isle, with around 147 miles of golden, Saharan shores and temperatures that rarely dip below 20 degrees Celsius – doing its bit to uphold the Canary Islands’ nickname of ‘Islands of Eternal Spring’. But, this diverse island is more than just the sum of its beaches; head inland and you’ll find landscapes of olive groves, blooming flowers and rugged mountains, while cultured capital Las Palmas offers visitors both contemplative days and inspiring nights. If you’re considering taking one of our Gran Canaria breaks this year, what can you expect from this unexpected Canary Isle?
Golden sands of the south
In addition to Las Canteras beach, which sits not five minutes from the centre of Las Palmas, many holidaymakers make a beeline for the beaches and resorts of Gran Canaria’s idyllic southern coast.
While the resort of Playa del Ingles holds plenty of family appeal with its gentle shallows and fun activities like surfing, the neighbouring coastal area of Maspalomas is worth a visit for its distinctive sand dune reserve and 19th century lighthouse. On the south-west coast, Puerto Rico is an atmospheric seaside resort for the younger crowd, while those seeking peace and quiet can head to relaxing Amadores next door.
Capital fun in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The stylish capital city of Gran Canaria is an intriguing blend of Spanish and African cultures, while its UNESCO-awarded old town district, Vegueta, is the perfect place to wile away an afternoon amongst colonial facades and twisting cobbled lanes. Check out Santa Ana Cathedral and the Museo de Arte Sacro for some stunning works of religious art, as well as beautiful plazas like Santo Domingo and Pilar Nuevo.
At the end of a long day’s exploration, chill out amongst the greenery of Parque Doramas before heading out for a traditional Canarian meal of papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes) or the liver-based carajacas.
Hiking through the heart of Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria hides its colourful and lush countryside in its inland regions but, once discovered, you’ll find a whole world of hiking terrain amongst the scented trees, gushing waterfalls and bright pink and yellow blossoms.
Close by the southerly resorts you can discover Parque Natural de Pilancones, a distinctive landscape of cactus scrub and – of course – pine forests stretching for miles. Trek through Gran Canaria’s heartland and you’ll also have a chance to stop at charming rural towns like Teror and the vineyards of Bandama, an impressive volcanic crater, now covered in greenery.
Elsewhere, Parque Natural de Tamadaba in the north west of the island is home to one of the most iconic landmarks, the blackened Roque Nublo outcrop, while the Mountains of Tamadaba provide a dramatic backdrop to hikes in this stunning area.
Whether your pleasure is old Canarian culture, exploring the island’s natural heritage, or just lying back on the sand, there are several sides to this Canary Island destination that definitely merit a visit.
Do you have any tips to share with Falcon readers about Gran Canaria? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!
Images by El coleccionista de instantes used under Creative Commons licence and TUI Falcon