A hodgepodge of dramatic terrains, Gran Canaria runs the gamut from lush, leafy forests to arid deserts, often titled a continent in miniature as a result. Each year, families flock to the water parks and beaches of all-encompassing holiday resorts like Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, while the jaw-dropping sand dunes of Maspalomas are popular with sunbathers. However, it’s not all sun, sea and sand – spectacular mountain landscapes, rocky ravines and coastal ruggedness leave subtle reminders of the island’s vivacious volcanic history. Playa del Ingles has wholeheartedly embraced its reputation as a clubbing hotspot for gay travellers, catering to both mainstream and more niche tastes including leather, drag and cabaret. The Pride festival at the start of May each year is one of the biggest in Europe and remains immensely popular with those seeking to show their true colours. Welcoming and friendly, Gran Canaria is truly the island with something for everyone. Book your 2019 holiday today.
Most popular hotels in Gran Canaria
Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria
Paradise Lago Taurito Hotel & Aquapark
Playa Taurito, Gran Canaria
Puerto Rico (GC), Gran Canaria
Colina Mar Apartments
Puerto Rico (GC), Gran Canaria
Puerto Rico (GC), Gran Canaria
Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Gran Canaria Mogan
Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
Puerto Rico (GC), Gran Canaria
Maspalomas Oasis Club Apartments
Maspalomas, Gran Canaria
At a glance
- Time Zone: GMT +
- Average flight time: 4h 20m
When to go
(°C) Avg. High Temp
Boasting curiously inhabited cave villages, stunning coastal trails and a wealth of mountainous terrain, our advice for your trip to Gran Canaria would be to give the beach a miss for a day or two, and get back to nature. With such otherworldly rural scenery on offer in this special part of the Canaries, it would almost be a crime to miss out. The best way to explore this spectacular paradise is on wheels, whether two wheels or four, but if you do opt to travel by bike, there’s an abundance of cycle tracks available to suit any strength and ability. Often dubbed the ‘Hawaii of the Atlantic’ by the worldwide surfing community, Gran Canaria has year-round sunshine, warm waters and near-perfect surfing conditions, so is extremely popular with those looking to shred some waves. Simply kick back and enjoy the spectacle as some of the best pro surfers from around the globe do their thing. With a number of surf schools also available, you could even catch some waves yourself.
Throughout the Canary Islands, you’ll find that the cuisine takes cues from not only native Spanish traditions, but also specialities rooted in African and Latin American influences. With many recipes making their way over from the Spanish mainland and given a unique Canaries twist, it’s worth seeking out the most genuine authentic cuisine. An explosion of flavour and a treat for all the senses awaits you. Due to Gran Canaria’s almost year-round sunshine, if you brave the bustling local markets you’ll find an abundance of seasonal vegetables, fruit and fish that’s not only some of the freshest you’ll find, but also not too hard on your wallet. Some of our favourite delicacies include goat’s cheese, chorizo and deliciously sweet honey. The Canarians all swear by a diet that contains lots of gofio, a thick, stone-ground flour made from toasted barley, maize and wheat. Not only is it used to thicken stews and soups, they also use it for two popular local desserts: gofio ice cream and gofio mousse. You’ll just have to sample both to see what all the fuss is about.
There’s an endless amount of things to keep burgeoning young minds occupied when it comes to Gran Canaria. By day they could be splashing around the beach building sandcastles, and by night they could be an outlaw patrolling the Wild West at Sioux City theme park, or enjoying one of their famous horse shows. You could take them on a camel excursion or explore the deep on a Submarine Adventure, say hi to some dolphins on a boat cruise. The possibilities are endless. For more traditional fare, we’re sure they’ll love the impeccably kept zoo, Palmitos Park, and get all tuckered out seeing all the animals, leaving you with a bit of peace at the end of the night. Every kid nowadays has a tablet, so they no doubt know of the Angry Bird phenomenon. Well now they can visit the only theme park in southern Europe based on the addictive game – with all kinds of exercise and play areas and picnic spots, it’s sure to keep them entertained for hours.
Action & Adventure
With year-round sunshine, the majority of Gran Canaria’s outdoor recreational activities and water sports will be no hassle to partake in, no matter what time of year you visit. Firm favourites are the various aquatic activities and taking an exciting excursion exploring the local rugged terrain by buggy or jeep. Take advantage of the perpetual sunshine by brushing up on some of your favourite high-octane pursuits, or even pick up some new ones. With surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, body boarding, scuba diving and snorkelling all on offer, you’re spoilt for choice. With over 400 endless hectares of golden sand making up a large part of the landscape in Gran Canaria, it would be a shame not to explore it.But one mode of transport sticks out to us – how about traversing the Dunes of Maspalomas on the back of a camel? It’s as close to a true desert expedition as most of us are likely to get. With the rhythm of the camel’s pace giving you a truly unique riding experience, it’s a must-do.
For an effortlessly diverse trip to Gran Canaria in 2018, check out the resorts on the south side of the island. With their sun-bleached sandy stretches, buzzing nightlife and a host of luxe hotels on offer, there’s no finer selection than the resort of Playa del Ingles. It’s the head honcho of what gorgeous Gran Canaria has to offer, so those looking for the finer things in life should look no further. Elsewhere, Maspalomas next door is another resort with a strong fan base. Somewhat more reserved, you may find the beaches slightly less occupied here and its unique wind-beaten dune formations make for an afternoons lazing about with a difference. The resort also has plenty of classy hotels and scenic restaurants on display, with a rip-roaring water park if you have the little ones in tow. If you want nothing more than a good sizzle with golden stretches of sand as far as the eye can see, then the resort of Puerto Rico is the choice for you.
If you’re seeking some of the best nightlife the Canaries has to offer, Gran Canaria doesn’t disappoint. Lively, busy and fun with a penchant for the weird and wonderful, you never know where the night will lead you on your island retreat. The night starts later than you’re used to, with most bars not opening until 2am, and the discos and clubs raging long into the night before wrapping up around 6am. So make sure you jam-pack your days here and take a nap if you need it, because not much goes on before midnight. For the absolute crème de la crème of the club scene, check out Gran Canaria’s southern coast, where you’ll find clubs, discos and bars galore to suit any desire and energy level. Standouts are Playa del Ingles, Maspalomas and Meloneras. Well known the world over for its gay scene, Playa del Ingles doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking for a wild night, while Kasbah is popular with the younger crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of the A-listers that frequently visit here.
Is there anything more romantic than spending the day with your beloved on Lover's Beach? Well, in actual fact, most other Gran Canaria beaches beat it if you're looking for an intimate experience with your other half, as Amadores is generally packed during the day – it must be all the other lovers with the same idea. But don’t write it off just yet, take our expert advice and hang around until the sun begins to set and a cool breeze begins to blow. The crowds will begin to clear and you’ll be left with a huge beach to yourself, and a gorgeous sunset on the horizon to enjoy with your special one. For extra brownie points, sneak a bottle of wine with you and grab some ice in a local shop and you’ll have an incredibly romantic spot for a bit of stargazing. Thank us later. While the Ancient Greeks may have invented thalassotherapy, the Gran Canarian’s perfected it, so there’s no better place on earth to relax with your partner in the warm seawater as the bubbles do their thing.
Pretend you’re Columbus as you walk in the footsteps of the past and amble around the cobbled back streets of Las Palmas’ culturally significant centre. It’s not hard to drink in the history as you stroll around the foundations of the New World. Escape the hot sun for a day, with a trip to Las Canteras, the protected urban beach that has become a divers paradise. Explore the island’s ancient pine forests and quaint mountain villages, and seek out mysterious monoliths in the sea of clouds. Meanwhile, prehistoric caves and tombs deep within the rock bed will surely satisfy the appetites of culture vultures. On a holiday to Gran Canaria in 2018, you’ll never be far from a dose of culture.