Gran Canaria Holidays
A beach lover’s paradise
Rugged volcanic peaks, smooth Atlantic sands
Gran Canaria is home to almost half the population of the Canary Islands. It’s perfectly placed to deliver everything you’d look for in a beach break: lively purpose-built resorts, plenty of sunshine, a varied terrain, great dining spots and a fantastic array of beaches, plus culture in the capital of Las Palmas. Few Spanish islands are as diverse, with unique microclimates, a green and leafy north, a mountainous interior and a desert south.
Start off in commercial centre Las Palmas, Spain’s ninth-largest city, and discover its magnificent 16th Century cathedral, plus eye-opening museums such as the Columbus House Museum and the futuristic CAAM (Atlantic Centre of Modern Art). Nearby in Galdar you’ll stumble across some of the island’s best archaeological finds at the Cueva Pintada and in Arucas there’s plenty of striking colonial architecture to marvel at, alongside an enchanting neo-Gothic church.
Explore the island’s rugged mountainous interior and visit Artenara, the highest village known for its cave houses. Scale the island’s tallest peak Pico de las Nieves (1,949m) or take an easier hike to tick off the mighty rock and sacred site of Roque Nublo. Head south to enjoy the lively beach resorts and the magnificent Maspalomas Dunes. This year-round paradise is just a short journey away, so book your flights to Gran Canaria now.
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Gran Canaria holiday FAQs
Make the most of your Gran Canaria holiday
Gran Canaria has its own version of tapas called enyesques. Sample the best at Las Palmas’ La Buena Vida, including dishes like sauteed eels with garlic and spring-onion mayonnaise. Over 20 bars in the historic Vegeuta neighbourhood serve them from around two euros per drink and bite every evening from around 20:00.
What are the best places to visit in Gran Canaria?
- Yumbo Centrum opened in 1982 and swiftly became one of the most popular shopping centres in Gran Canaria. Today you can find nearly 200 outlets including shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, plus the Mantrix gay night club and numerous hotels. It includes a wide variety of fashion, electronics and jewellery shops. The centre also hosts the gay-friendly Freedom Festival twice a year.
- The Maspalomas Sand Dunes are a protected nature reserve stretching for about 1,000 acres. They were formed by strong Atlantic winds blowing the sand from the seabed after the last ice age and are constantly shifting by about 2-5 metres every year. There’s a five-mile network of public paths which visitors must stick to, in order to protect the dunes. Nearby you’ll find the 56-metre-tall Maspalomas Lighthouse and the Maspalomas Lagoon, which is home to various protected and migrating bird species including kingfishers, egrets and curlews.
- The Maspalomas Beach is another popular draw. It’s considered one of the island’s most unique beaches thanks to its vast stretches of golden sands, plus views of the dunes and the mountainous interior. The family-friendly section is near the lighthouse and it’s worth noting that a large stretch of the beach is reserved for nude bathing. Parking is limited so it’s best to arrive early in the morning if you’re coming by car.
- Gran Canaria has some of the best beaches in the Canary Islands with no fewer than 12 with Blue Flag status. From secluded coves to large family beaches with heaps of amenities, there’s something for every kind of beach lover. Some of the best include Playa Amadores with its raft of amenities, the thronged white-sand beach at Puerto Rico, the more romantic Playa Mogan, the party mecca that is Playa del Ingles, Las Canteras, frequently cited as Spain’s best urban beach, the diver’s paradise that is North Beach Sardina and Playa Hoya Del Pozo, a beautiful, clean black-sand beach.
- Want to hit the beach and escape the crowds? Playa Tourito could be the answer. This small, quiet black-sand beach has just a modest cluster of hotels stacked up the sides of its rugged volcanic cliffs giving it a more secluded feel than most in the area. It may only be 150 metres long but it’s wide enough for everyone to stretch out, with gently shelving waters that make it ideal for families with younger children. Try water sports here or grab a bite from one of the well-stocked snack bars lining the promenade. Behind the beach there’s the fun Lago Taurito Water Park.
Where to visit in Gran Canaria
Maspalomas is a lively resort town on the south coast. It’s packed with upscale restaurants and designer boutiques, while family-friendly attractions here include the Aqualand water park and Holiday World amusement park. Maspalomas is perhaps most famous for its giant sand dunes. You can try sandboarding there or just sit and admire the view. Enjoy some of the best shopping at the El Tablero Mall, which has various major fashion brands. Stay at the Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia to enjoy gourmet dining with views of the dunes from its expansive terrace.
A few steps away from Maspalomas, the area of luxury resorts called Meloneras sits at the southernmost tip of Gran Canaria. Full of five-star retreats, thalassotherapy spas and high-end shopping, this is the newest hot-spot for the more affluent visitor to the island. Expect fine dining and quality entertainment at these resorts, such as the fantastic Lopesan Costa Meloneras, Resort & Spa Casino, where you can sip cocktails in the tropical gardens.
Both Puerto Rico and Amadores are purpose-built resorts in the south west of Gran Canaria. Puerto Rico is built on top of the volcanic cliff faces, creating an amphitheatre descending into the bay, and has some great water sports options. Amadores, just further along the coast, is perfect for couples looking for a romantic retreat – it’s no coincidence that Playa de Amadores means ‘lover’s beach’. Stay at the wonderful Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso & Hotel to indulge in a hydrotherapy retreat.
The southern coast of the island has the big resort towns and Playa del Ingles is the largest. This famous holiday resort is a home-away-from-home to many European visitors aiming to escape winter cold in countries like the UK and Germany. It’s great for nightlife, and you’ll find the best bars around the Yumbo Centrum and during the day some of the best cafes too. Stay at the wonderful Bohemia Suites & Spa for luxury and a beautiful spa.
The bustling city of Las Palmas is the largest in the Canary Islands and Spain’s ninth largest. It has everything you’d expect from a major port city, with cultural highlights like the beautifully refurbished Perez Galdos Theatre and the modernist Auditorio Alfredo Kraus. You’ll find some of the best shopping in Triana – one of the city’s oldest districts. Stay at the iconic Santa Catalina A Royal Hideaway Hotel, which sits in the majestic Doramas Park, in the heart of Las Palmas.