Winter doesn’t exist in Gran Canaria – not really, anyway. With over 300 days of sunshine a year and average winter temperature highs of 20 degrees, the fairytale island is a haven for sunseekers and home to a multitude of microclimates. On any given day you could find yourself baking on broad stretches of golden sand one minute, and hiking through rainforests the next. This island is an exercise in contrasts; the south is defined by its calm waters and Mediterranean-esque beaches, while the north is all wild and volcanic, with black sand and towering, precipitous cliffs. At the centre of it all sit the volcanic peaks, standing stoic with a watchful eye over the many adventures taking place below.
Biosphere Reserves and Unesco World Heritage Sites rolled into one
Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria sit in the middle of the island and have been named both a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site by Unesco in acknowledgement of the unique topography and vibrant biodiversity that proliferates in this region. From the presence of troglodyte settlements that demonstrate the unique movement of humans on the island to sweeping ravines and volcanic landscapes, this is an area awash with
natural beauty and fascinating history.
Natural rainbows abound on the Los Azulejos Route
The spectacular jade green outcrops and ochre and reddish tones laid bare by erosion are the result of the explosive convergence of fire and water as the island was formed. This hiking route will take you through the heights of the Inagua and Tamadaba nature reserves and along peaceful pine forests where endemic species abound.
Jesus de Leon
Pools, glorious pools
Escape the beach crowds and head north to the island’s rugged coast where mother nature makes herself known in every possible way. Perhaps the best evidence of the power of the ocean is when the tide goes out and reveals the series of pools that have been hewn into the rocks by the waves over the course of centuries. When the water retreats, these peaceful pockets make the perfect spot for cooling off. Eight of our favourites include: Los Charcones, El Altillo Rock Pool, Charco de San Lorenzo, Roque Prieto’s rock pool, Emiliano and El Agujero, Los Roques and Las Salinas.
No, not that kind (although the island is home to a fair few boisterous bars if you’re that way inclined). Gran Canaria is part of an extremely exclusive club of locations that have been certified Starlight Destinations in honour of its incredibly bright and visible starry skies. After the sun goes down head outside and take a look up at the skies – we promise you’ll be dazzled.
Get a bird’s eye view
We maintain that the ideal way to get a feel for a place is to get up – as high as you can. It’s incredible what a panoramic view will do for your understanding of an island as diverse as this. The best place to grab a sweeping 360-degree vista? The Mirador del Paso de Marinero viewpoint, also known as Mirador del Balcón. It offers extraordinary views of the wildest areas of Gran Canaria, with just the wind for company.
Cheers to that
Another benefit of being in a volcanic landscape – aside from the wild beaches and the otherworldly peaks – is the excellent wine. Grapes grown in these mineral-rich soils impart a strong depth of flavour to any wine, and, in recent years, winemakers on the island have really stepped things up a notch, creating world-class drops. Their efforts have caught the attention of The Spanish Association of Wine Cities (Acevin) which has certified the Gran Canaria Wine Route, the only one outside of the mainland. Hop from vineyard to vineyard to taste the island’s unique history and experience the landscape through the lens of a wine glass.
Paris by way of Gran Canaria
Perhaps not the most obvious of connections, but there is a little piece of Paris that sits right in the heart of Las Palmas. The Mercado del Puerto is a striking cast iron structure built by Eiffel, the same company which helped to build the eponymous tower that stands sentinel above the French capital. The market is famously home to some of the most delectable bites on the island, this is a twofer – great architecture and even better food.
Drink in a dose of history
Arucas, situated 12 kilometres from the capital of Las Palmas, dates back to the beginning of the 16th century. Built almost entirely from distinctive blue-toned stone mined from the local quarry, this eye-catching town is home to a number of key architectural structures on the island, including the Church of San Juan Bautista and The Ron de Arehucas Rum Factory and Museum, home to the classic GranCanarian liquor, Arehucas Honey Rum.