I clearly remember the first time I visited Gran Canaria some years ago. Seeing this island from out of the plane window, my first thought was, “Okay, it is quite dry here”. A 30-minute drive out of the airport southwards along the coast, it was a strange feeling to see the dry soil on the one side and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean on the other.
I certainly did not only remain in tourist areas in the south but started exploring the rest of the island. What can I say? I felt in love with the Island and permanently moved here 3 years ago. I may not have seen all the beautiful places yet, but I truly love living here. Let’s be honest, what could be nicer than grabbing your laptop and heading down to a nice cafe on the beach and starting to work?
So, let me tell you something about “my home”.
A whole continent – with only 1,560 km2
This beautiful island is one of Spain´s Canary Islands and often described as a “continent in miniature”. Located off the north-western Africa coast, it is known for its gorgeous beaches, the dunes of Maspalomas and a rich variety of microclimates. That means you have much more to discover than just the Atlantic Ocean and the beach.
Gran Canaria is considered to have a desert climate according to the Koppen Climate Classification. Rest assured, you will freeze here. Daytime temperatures generally range from 20 degrees in the winter to 26 Degrees in the summer. The nights near the coast in winter are sometimes cooler than you may expect. With a temperature of around 10 degrees, you should bring along a jacket for sure.
You will see that there is the desert area in the south of Gran Canaria where you will find the beautiful beaches and the Maspalomas sand dunes. Heading inland, you are will enter the mountains ranges. You can enjoy those beautiful rock formations and see that the whole island is not filled with sand and hotels, but also has green ravines and picturesque villages all around, you just have to go a little inland.
Fun fact: Did you know that a third of the island is protected as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO?
One special thing here is the so-called “Calima” – a hot, dry wind bringing sand and dust over from Sahara. The humidity then drops extremely, while the temperatures rise to 40/50 degrees. You will not need any blankets at night because it will remain hot at night as well.
Gran Canaria Tourism
With more than 3.6 million annual visitors, Gran Canaria is a very popular destination. Most of them visit the south to enjoy their time at the beach. Nevertheless, the north with its cooler climate is a place to stay for a lot of tourists.
Gran Canaria is great for sightseeing or even challenging yourself by bike. Thousands of bikers visit this island every year to explore its beauty on easy or challenging trails. From the beautiful coastline to the quieter inland areas or even the mountains there is something for everyone to explore.
If you do not like to ride a bike or walk, there are a lot of other possibilities to get to know the island. Rent a car and challenge yourself with serpentines in the mountains or join one of the great bus excursions offered all around.
An interesting hint: for short distances (in the south) you can easily get into one of the cabs. They are quite cheap.
What is going on here?
Canarian people like to celebrate. There are various big events each year that bring tourists to Gran Canaria. One of the most famous, for sure, is the Carnival. You will see people dancing in the streets in their beautiful costumes till late at night. Something you would not like to miss.
Another huge event, for example, is the annual Gay Pride Maspalomas with more than 100.000 visitors from all around the world. The organizers do their best to hold this special event and grow it bigger and bigger by inviting a well-known artist to perform on stage. In 2019, for example, you could celebrate together with Conchita Wurst, winner of the European Song Contest 2016.
Places you should visit
Las Palmas, the capital
It is the capital of Gran Canaria and located in the northeastern part of the island. The city was founded in 1478 with the name “Real de Las Palmas”. In 1492, Christopher Columbus docked in the port of Las Palmas during his first trip to America and spent some time here. The Colón House museum is named after him.
Dunas de Maspalomas – a real treasure
These are located on the south coast and contenders in the 12 Treasures of Spain competition. Since 1987, this 404-hectare area has been protected as a nature reserve. They were formed by sand from the bottom of the ocean – in a natural way. The wind blew the sand towards the island’s coast during the last ice age. It is a really beautiful contrast, looking at the beautiful ocean after walking across the dunes.
This is a volcanic rock standing 80 meters tall and protected by UNESCO as a natural monument. In the municipality Tejeda, you will find this popular destination for hiking lovers.
Puerto de Mogán – Little Venice
This coastal village in the south of Gran Canaria is small and charming. The perfect place to get away from all the stress and noise (except on Fridays when you find the big market there). With its small beach, its port and flowers all over, it is one of the most romantic places on the island.
Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo
This botanic garden showcases endemic plants, alongside some imported flora. You will find about 500 plant species! Quite a lot, considering that Gran Canaria is a desert island by definition.
Friends for life – the local people
You may wonder, why is “the people” a reason to visit? This is quite easy to explain. I suggest you visit local restaurants and bars to get to know more about the people and the rich culture of this beautiful island. Along the narrow streets, you’ll find the places that the locals visit. For really low prices, you can enjoy fantastic tapas and maybe have a great opportunity to find a friend for life.