Gran Canaria is the third-biggest island in the Canaries, but holds almost half the population. It lives up to its image of a small continent, with a drastic variation of terrain, ranging from the mountainous interior and desert south to the green and lush north. To grasp a sense of these varying features, head to the centre, where the awe of the mountains may remind you more of the Tibetan highlands than a relatively little island.
The sea cliffs and mountains of the north are a world away from the loud, tourist populated south and most definitely worth paying a visit. More notable points include the cliffside drive between the towns of Aldea and Agaete on the north-west shore, the village of Arucas and the beaches of Puerto de las Nieves, from where you can grab a ferry to Tenerife.
Port city Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria, as well as Fuerteventura and Lanzarote – its historical centre, Vegueta has numerous supper stops and sights. Head inland, through the lush plain of San Mateo, and you’ll find deeply agricultural land that hides gradually as you climb upwards to the very centre of the island, marked by a medieval cross. The resorts of Playa del Ingles, Maspalomas and San Agustin are the most welcoming places to stay because the weather is better in this territory than any in other parts of the island.
When to go
Although Gran Canaria can get very crowded mid-season, it can be very cute and silent in low season. Gran Canarias’s climate like the rest of the Canary Islands is rather mild, all year round providing pleasant temperatures. Average temperatures during the summer months reaches 26-28C; during the winter months, the temperature seldom drops below 22C, resulting in a perfect all year round destination.