If you are looking for an island near Europe where the weather is always nice, you can’t get around the Canary Islands. These islands just before the coast of Africa have a warm and sunny subtropical climate, with mild temperatures throughout the year.
The Canary Islands consist of seven main islands (Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro) and several smaller islands and islets. Gran Canaria is the second most popular island.
With our Gran Canaria Travel Guide, you know where you need to go, how to get there, and everything else to make the most of your holiday. Although Gran Canaria is part of Spain, it has a lot of African influences.
PACKING TIP: bring your own snorkel set, water shoes and a fast-drying towel if you want to go snorkeling!
Where is Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is a Spanish island located in the Canary Islands archipelago, which is situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa. It is the second most populous island in the Canaries, after Tenerife, and is known for its diverse landscapes, including sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and volcanic peaks.
The island is known for its historic towns and villages, which feature traditional architecture, charming streets, and bustling markets. The island’s capital city, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is a vibrant urban center with a rich cultural heritage and a lively arts and music scene.
How to get there
Gran Canaria has one main airport, Gran Canaria Airport (LPA), which is located on the eastern coast of the island and serves as a hub for several airlines. There are regular flights from many European cities, but you could also fly in from one of the other Canary Islands.
If you are traveling from one of the other Canary Islands you could also take a ferry. The journey between Tenerife and Gran Canaria takes approximately 1 hour. The ride between Lanzarote and Gran Canaria takes around 4 to 5 hours.
How to get around the island
Gran Canaria has a well-developed public transport system that makes it easy to get around the island. There are regular bus services between the major towns and tourist areas, as well as services that connect more remote parts of the island.
You could also travel by taxi or hire a car to explore the island. Taxi fares are regulated and are based on a metered system, so you can be sure that you are paying a fair price. There are several car rental companies, which can be found at the airport.
Things to do
Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria and is located in the north. Most tourists often go to the south, where you can find the most beautiful beaches. We stayed in the Santa Catalina district which is close to Playa de las Canteras.
Along this sandy beach, there is a long boulevard with many nice restaurants where you can eat and drink. There is a large bus station to explore the rest of the island. If you want a less touristy experience, Las Palmas is an excellent choice!
In Las Palmas, you will find a large shopping center called El Muelle. It is located in the harbor and that is where it gets its name from, Muelle is the Spanish word for dock or pier. When you walk to the mall you will come across a signage board with all kinds of cities from around the world.
In the shopping center, you will find all kinds of shops with known and unknown names. There are several restaurants and fast food chains where you can grab a bite to eat. Some have a terrace that overlooks the sea. At the bottom of this shopping center, you will find a large supermarket.
Playa de las Canteras
Playa de las Canteras is a 2 kilometers long golden yellow beach. It is one of the best city beaches in Europe. You can swim, surf, and snorkel here. In addition, there are often beautiful sand sculptures on the beach. These can change very quickly, so it’s worth walking along the boulevard more often.
There are showers and changing cabins in various places on the beach. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas. But walking on the boulevard is very pleasant as well.
Museo Elder is a science and technology museum located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The museum is housed in a modern building that covers an area of 10,000 square meters and is divided into several sections.
The museum’s exhibits cover a range of topics related to science and technology, including astronomy, biology, physics, and chemistry. There are interactive exhibits that allow visitors to experiment with concepts such as electricity and magnetism, as well as displays on renewable energy and the history of space exploration.
On the walls of the museum, you will find a lot of information about the history of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, and the Canary Islands
Mercado del Puerto
Mercado del Puerto is a popular food market located in the port area of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The market is housed in a historic building that dates back to 1891. Inside the market, visitors can find a wide variety of food stalls selling fresh produce, including seafood, meats, fruits, and vegetables.
Around the building are all kinds of small restaurants. The market opens every morning at 7.00 but is most enjoyable at night. People come here to grab a drink or have dinner and the ambiance is very laidback
Castillo de la Luz
Castillo de la Luz, also known as the Castle of Light, is a fortress from 1494. This fortress is located in the middle of a park and serves as a museum. You can view the outside for free and it is very impressive. The fort suffered major damage in 1599 during an attack by Dutch pirates led by Pieter van der Does. The building was later restored and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1941.
The exhibits include artifacts and displays that cover topics such as the island’s geology, flora and fauna, and the history of its indigenous people. One of the highlights of the museum is a collection of ancient Canarian pottery, which is considered some of the finest in the world. There is also a gallery that features contemporary art exhibitions from local and international artists.
If you want to learn scuba diving, Gran Canaria is well-equipped to try it out. There are many dive centers and schools located on the island that offer diving courses and guided dives for all levels of experience. Bring a torch if you have one because it can be a little bit dark underwater.
The waters surrounding Gran Canaria are home to a wide variety of marine species, including colorful fish, rays, sea turtles, and even dolphins and whales. The underwater landscape is also varied, with rocky formations, caves, and even shipwrecks to explore.
Where to stay
Gran Canaria offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. The most popular areas to stay in are Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés, Puerto Rico, and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Surf House Gran Canaria offers beachfront accommodation a few steps from Las Canteras Beach.
The setting of the Ura Roslara allows you to enjoy your days on the golden sands of Puerto Rico and Amadores beaches, just a 30-minute walk away.
Located in Puerto Rico, on Gran Canaria’s south coast, the Riosol apartments and rooms come with a furnished balcony and sea views.
Use our Gran Canaria Travel Guide to plan your trip
We visited Gran Canaria for a week and only saw a small part of the island. We’ll definitely be back to explore the rest! The Canary Islands are a perfect destination all year and tickets from anywhere in Europe are pretty affordable if you do some research.
Use this Gran Canaria Travel Guide to plan your trip and don’t miss anything. Check our map for cute restaurants and cafes to complete the Gran Canaria experience. We only scratched the surface of what Gran Canaria has to offer.
Please share your favorite places on Gran Canaria below this article so we can add them to the map! This way our Gran Canaria Travel Guide will grow and reflect the best of what Gran Canaria has to offer!
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