Gran Canaria is the third largest island in the Canaries with a surface area of 1560 km2 and is the second most populated island with around 840,000 inhabitants. More or less round in shape with a diameter of 50km, Gran Canaria is extremely diverse. The western half of the island is a Biosphere Reserve,
What’s great about Gran Canaria? Well, it’s hard to pin just one thing on it! Gran Canaria is surely one of the most diverse islands in the Canaries with its large city of Las Palmas, sand dunes of Maspalomes, and untamed countryside.
The north of Gran Canaria
The north of Gran Canaria is the most fertile part of the island and the most populated. The capital of Las Palmas is located in the north east of the island and is Spain’s seventh largest city. With its port of Puerto de la Luz, you can expect it to be busy. However, there is also culture and tourism to be found thanks to the old quarter of La Vegueta and the beach of Las Canteras.
The north is also home to the cities of Arucas, Gáldar and many smaller towns which are not just for work and shopping but are also filled with culture ranging from cave paintings to historic buildings at almost every turn.
The small peninsula of La Isleta juts out from the furthermost north-east point and this is where you’ll find the fishermen’s quarter, old fortress and lighthouse.
The Las Palmas international airport (airport code LPA) is located 20km from Las Palmas and is mid-way along the east coast.
Gran Canaria was the first in Spain to build a golf course – there are now three golf courses in the north east.
The south of Gran Canaria
The south of the island is the more touristic area and this is where you will find the holiday resort of Maspalomas. Maspalomas along with its Playa de Inglés is the largest tourist town in the Canaries and is famous for its kilometres of sand dunes which are classed as a Natural Reserve. Think Arabian Nights and that’s a start – you could get seriously lost in the dunes if it wasn’t for marked areas. Unlike most holiday resorts, Maspalomas is a designer-made resort and as such has the entire infrastructure for entertaining and caring for large numbers of people with hospitals, schools, cinema, golf courses (5), shops etc. It’s also known for being super gay-friendly.
Puerto Mogán with its Playa de Puerto Rico is another popular resort, centered on the splendid marina. But of course along the coast, you will also find small fishing villages, beaches and coves.
In the middle!
The maximum altitude of Gran Canaria is 1,949 meters at Pico de Las Nieves. This is the mountainous part of Gran Canaria and is popular for hiking, scenery and a quieter pace of life. Artenara is the highest village in Gran Canaria.
In 2012, a total of over 3.2 million tourists visited Gran Canaria, including those from other Canarian Islands. As a diverse island it attracts the whole range of tourists from golfers to families, walkers, surfers, party-goers, sun-seekers and all points in between. It is also a hugely popular destination for cruise ships.
Carnaval is a big event in Las Palmas, its four week span based around when Lent falls. It’s not quite as big as Tenerife but still pretty huge. In common with the other islands, there are many other fiestas throughout the year – La Rama, Santa Brígida and celebrations in honour of the Virgin del Carmen to name but a couple.
Gran Canaria has the high speed motorways GC1 in the south/south-east, the GC3 in the north east and the GC2 in the north west.
The extensive, frequent and reliable bus service is operated by Global www.globalsu.net in addition to which there are local buses and tourist sight-seeing buses in the city of Las Palmas.
There are two main hospitals in Gran Canaria. The original hospital is the Hospital Insular is in south of Las and the newer Hospital Doctor Negrin is in the region of the Canteras beach. Every city and town has a health centre and pharmacy.