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There's an island in the Mid-Atlantic offering a gateway to the Americas. An island very much part of Spain but one far more African than Iberian in its make-up. That island's Gran Canaria. Marvel at the Maspalomas dunes featuring grains blown over from the Sahara, making the area resemble a mini-desert. Explore capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, colourful and vibrant, earning it the nickname of Little Havana. Escape to the country by enjoying mountains which wouldn't look out of place in the Alps and valleys as green as their Welsh counterparts, under a trademark Gran Canaria azure sky. The east of the island's often overlooked, but it has some great sports beaches for windsurfers like Pozo Izquierdo, plus pretty towns like Agüimes. The west of the island, meanwhile, boasts the great lost beach of Güigüi, ideally reached by foot. Nearly as unspoilt is the rugged north coast. There’s the deep south of the resorts. The likes of the aforementioned Maspalomas and the just-as-famous Playa del Inglés. Where the weather’s even more ideal for sunseekers than Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, recognized by US academics as the metropolis with a climate more favourable than any other city worldwide.
Gran Canaria's calendar's packed full of both religious and secular cultural events, as well as sporting ones. Municipalities hold regular local fiestas which pay tribute to their native saint. There are also those which pre-date the Spanish invasion. We'll share the major dates for your diary from January through to December.
Introducing Gran Canaria's famous five. These five destinations on the island you simply must see. 1, 2, 3, here goes: Vegueta Mógan Roque Nublo Maspalomas Museums
Whilst the temptation to work on that tan might prove an impossible one to resist, especially given Gran Canaria's all-year-round sunshine, here's why you should drag yourself off that sun lounger. There's just so much to see and do on the island. Here are 20 recommendations for you to add to your itinerary: 1.) Dunas de Maspalomas 2.) Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 3.) Protected natural spaces 4.) Taste Gran Canaria 5.) Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo 6.) Archaeological heritage 7.) Las Palmas de Gran Canaria's museums 8.) Carnivals 9.) Theme Parks 10.) Nautical activities 11.) Land activities 12.) Golf 13.) Spas 14.) Traditional sports 15.) Party like a Canarian 16.) Gran Canaria, the Rainbow Isle 17.) ARC 18.) Coffee 19.) Cave communities 20.) Rural accommodation
The golden brown of Gran Canaria's beaches has made it with a hit with the bucket-and-spade brigade. But there are rocky coves and natural swimming pools to explore to. Visit the wild north coast if you want a change from the tamer south coast.
The Atlantic Ocean provides local restaurants with plenty of natural ingredients, with fish and seafood prominent on many menus. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the most cosmopolitan Canarian city, houses restaurants from across the globe. Whilst it's easier to eat well on Gran Canaria than badly, here are some restaurants we particularly recommend. And for a bite-sized introduction to Canarian cuisine, check out La Ruta de Enyesque (GC tapas).
Locals start, and indeed end, their day with a coffee. Forget your lattes, GC natives keep things short with a cortado. For a more milky version, ask for a cortado largo. Or even a relaxing café con leche. Parque Santa Catalina, Triana's Plaza Cairasco, and Vegueta's Plaza Santa Ana are popular coffee-break destinations.
Nightlife in Gran Canaria is late and loud. Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés are the party hotspots. It starts late and goes on all night with most bars opening until 2 am and discos and clubs usually until 6 am. The Yumbo commercial centre's where most of the action takes place, catering for a mixed bag of revellers from sundown to sunrise! Head to capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for some cracking nightlife too.
Gran Canaria's a great place to shop. From the charms of the capital's Calle Mayor de Triana, the main shopping street in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, to bright, shiny, and new shopping centres such as El Tablero in the south, there's plenty of choice. And at a low price too, what with the island's reduced VAT.
Around the size of Greater London, Gran Canaria's an easy enough island to navigate. Having said that, it's rather more mountainous than the likes of NW1. There are two bus services on the island, one serving the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the other, the rest of the island.
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