Gran Canaria Holidays

Fabulous beaches and so much more

There’s plenty more to Gran Canaria than fun nightlife, luxury hotels and brilliant beaches – though those are all compelling reasons to book a trip. The third-largest island in the Canaries archipelago is a land of complete contrasts – there's upscale resort life but also great natural diversity, from the green and leafy north to the verdant, mountainous interior right down to the desert environment of the south.

Gran Canaria holidays offer something for all tastes. Adrenaline-fuelled activities such as cycling, scuba diving, sailing, waterskiing and windsurfing keep thrill-seekers happy, historical cities like the capital of Las Palmas and Vegueta old town will satisfy culture vultures, and the glitzy south coast resorts are a haven for luxury-loving couples and families alike.

Food fans will be delighted by a vast array of global and local cuisine, from fine-dining restaurants and authentic tavernas in old-town Las Palmas to beachside seafood snack bars, with balmy ocean breezes and pink-streaked sunset views as a backdrop. You might decide to book your holidays to Gran Canaria with some serious beach action in mind, but if you look just a little further afield, the island opens up into a multi-faceted destination with plenty of unusual and enthralling corners to explore.

Three tips for a top trip

Take the bus
If you’re not a confident driver abroad there’s a comprehensive network of buses to take you around the island, with Las Palmas and Maspalomas being the main hubs.
Hit the heights
Make your way up to the highest village in Gran Canaria, Artenara, where the Mirador de Unamuno viewpoint offers eye-popping vistas taking in the epic volcanic crater.
Tour the towns
Head inland to take in some of the island’s smaller towns – they are pretty, historical and make a great alternative to the beach. Aguimes, Teror and Arucas are all well worth a visit.

Best attractions to see in Gran Canaria

Tejeda

This hilltop village is situated on the eastern edge of the Caldera de Tejeda, a huge volcanic basin. You get there via winding streets with dramatic views over rugged landscapes.

Maspalomas

The second longest beach in Gran Canaria is home to vast, dramatic dunes and a beautiful lagoon with crystal-clear water. On an island legendary for its beaches, it’s a standout.

Roque Nublo

Take on the 80-metre Roque Nublo, a famous landmark of the island that’s a Unesco-protected natural monument. You’ll be rewarded with wonderful views of Tejeda mountain.

Your Gran Canaria questions, answered

Absolutely. For something unique and fun for children and adults alike, head to Sioux City near San Agustin, a cactus-dotted canyon that’s home to an American Wild West theme park.

For art galleries, traditional Spanish architecture, museums, theatres and authentic local restaurants and terraces, head to the cobbled streets of the ancient 15th-century town of Vegueta.

The most popular areas to stay for a Gran Canaria holiday include Las Palmas, the capital, which has a charming old town and lively atmosphere. Maspalomas in the south is popular for beach holidays and has upmarket and all-inclusive hotels. This has the Playa del Ingles, which boasts a huge golden sand beach with a lively atmosphere and lots of activities. Or you can opt for the quieter Melanores, a resort with luxury hotels, fine dining and boutique shopping.

This is a fantastic year-round destination, with consistently balmy weather. Temperatures average 22°C between December and March, while from April to October you’ll enjoy long, hot days.

Gran Canaria enjoys the Canary Island’s microclimate which gives it warm days all year round. June to September are the warmest months with temperatures in the high-20s on most days, and dry, sunny weather that’s perfect for days at the beach or by the pool. Gran Canaria is popular as a winter sun destination, with even the coldest months of December to February offering warm days of 21-22ºC by the coast, although inland it can feel cooler and have a chill in the air. You’ll need to wrap up at night.

The Canary Islands are within close proximity to each other, so there are ferry routes from island to island. From Gran Canaria, you can take a day trip to nearby Tenerife or Fuerteventura, although you will need to plan ahead as sailings can sometimes be limited. It’s also possible to take a ferry to further destinations such as Lanzarote or even mainland Spain, although these journeys take several hours and there are generally only one or two weekly excursions, perhaps because inter-island flights are cheap and fast.

Gran Canaria is warm in winter, spring and autumn and hot in the summer, so people tend to dress in a relaxed, beachy style with sundresses, shorts, T-shirts and sandals perfectly acceptable in most places. Few have a strict dress code unless you’re visiting the most upmarket restaurants, so you won’t need much formal wear. During the winter, you will usually see locals in jeans and jumpers, while tourists wear summery clothes. You may want to pack light layers if you’re visiting for winter sun, especially if you’re heading out at night.

Gran Canaria has a wide selection of nightlife. You will find plenty to do after sunset. Most people enjoy a late dinner and relaxed drinks in the bars and, if you want to stay out, the island has nightclubs to suit all tastes, from chilled beachfront clubs to colourful LGBT-friendly discos around Maspalomas. The capital of Las Palmas is another area with lively clubs often open until dawn. You’ll also find bars with live music and the occasional flamenco show imported from Spain.

Traditional Canarian food is simple and tasty and some of the most popular dishes include locally caught seafood, from tuna to swordfish. There’s also a big focus on comfort food, from thick soups to stews made with pork or chicken and a variety of vegetables. Pollo al salmorejo, a garlicky chicken dish, is often on the menu at local restaurants, and a popular side dish is papas arrugadas or wrinkly potatoes, which are potatoes cooked in lots of salt, served with a spicy mojo picon sauce made with peppers, garlic and chilli.