Gran Canaria er den trejde største av de The third largest island in the archipelago, Gran Canaria is sometimes referred to by the soubriquet of “the miniature continent.” Its ever-shifting terrain, which covers roughly 1560 km2, ranges from the arid and desert-like south to the verdant and lush ravine-peppered valleys of its northern hinterland; the interior is also dominated by a mountainous landscape filled with volcanic basins.
Your first port of call will most probably be its capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a heady melting pot of lively shopping streets, hip bars and great restaurants serving anything from tapas to authentic Indian cuisine. Las Palmas has a metropolitan energy and vibrancy more commonly associated with mainland Spain than that of the typical, languid Canarian town. As Spain’s seventh largest city, there are plenty of historical and architectural sights, including an imposing cathedral dating back to the 15th century, whilst the area around Santa CatalinaBeach is the place to be seen if planning to make a night of it.
If the hustle and bustle of Las Palmas isn’t your thing, it’s worth heading further into the island’s interior. Vega de San Mateo, situated only 22km south from Las Palmas, is a quaint hilltop town surrounded by stunning ravines such as the Barranco de la Mina, and well worth a visit. Further south,Agüimes is the definition of pretty. This charming town has been tastefully restored to resemble a 15th century village complete with a dazzling warren of streets lined with traditional pastel-painted buildings.
Heading west from Las Palmas along the coastal route will also bring you to some of the island’s other resplendent towns such as Arucas, famed not only for its lush municipal gardens and majestic parish church, but also for the famous Arehucas rum— make sure to visit the local distillery for a free tipple or two. Situated close by, Parque Rural de Doramas cannot be matched for its abundance of flora which includes a heavy smattering of dragon trees. The park also has a number of excellent hiking routes which take you through forests, ravines and mountains, so don’t forget your walking boots.
Gran Canaria’s historic patrimony is most evident within its interior. Perhaps best witnessed at Barranco de Guayadeque, a majestic ravine rising betweenIngenio and Agüimes, it contains a number of fascinating burial mounds and caves etched into the crags and mountains that were once inhabited by the island’s original troglodytes.
Unsurprisingly, the allure of sun and sand still remains a huge draw for the droves of tourists that visit Gran Canaria each year. Mass tourism is a big business here with the south coast being home to popular holiday resorts like Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés and Puerto de Mogán. Whilst the region’s seemingly never-ending cluster of high-rise apartment blocks isn’t the most becoming sight in the world, the fine white sandy beaches are some of the best in the Canaries; its waters are perfect for swimming, diving and other water sports.