Gran Canaria

Travel Guide Europe Spain Canary Islands Gran Canaria

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Introduction

Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands, an autonomous region of Spain. It is the third largest island in the Canary Islands and has the largest population. It's often described as a "continent in miniature" because it has so much variety to offer.

The south coast of the island is now dominated by the tourist resorts which generate most of the island's economy. The centre of the island is mountainous, with the remains of ancient pine forests on the peaks. Maspalomas in the south of Gran Canaria is the tourist zone, with the largest variety of options for enjoying the island. For tourist information or specific help, the TI Center is in Yumbo Center.

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Sights and Activities

The sand dunes in Maspalomas
San Bartolomé de Tirajana.
Palmitos Park, Barranco de Los Palmitos s/n. 35109 Maspalomas Gran Canaria, ☏ +34 928 797 070. Various animals (esp. exotic birds) and exotic plantations. Also dolphins. Has shows with parrots, dolphins and birds of prey (eagles, hawks, etc). A great place to go with children 2 yr and upwards. You could spend 3-4 hours there.
Teror. Nuestra Señora del Pino.
Valsequillo. This area is very green with imposing rock formations and steep ravines, It has pine forests, palm groves and almond trees (which are in bloom in January and February) and all kinds of vegetation within its 39.15 km². The historic center and surrounding neighbourhoods offer valuable traces of history like the Church of Saint Michael Archangel, the former Cavalry barracks, and Flemish carvings. The varied gastronomic offer includes traditional cheeses, wine, honey and almonds, all of which make up one of the major attractions of Valsequillo. edit
Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape. This world heritage site extends over the north, west and central parts of the island.

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Weather

Weather here is close to perfect, and a scientifcal survey even 'proved' this for Las Palmas! Summers last from May to early October when it is generally between 24 °C and 28 °C during the day and nights are between 16 °C and 20 °C on average. Winters last from November to March but temperatures are still around or slightly above 20 °C, nights around 15 °C. This is also the wettest time of year while summers hardly see any rain at all. Note that in general the south is warmer and drier compared to the north, although differences are not as big compared to Tenerife.

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Getting There

By Plane

Gran Canaria Airport (LPA) is the busiest of the Canary Islands and dozens of airlines serve the island. Budget airline Ryanair has flights to a number of cities in Europe, while German based Condor and Air Berlin have flights as well. TUIfly, Thomson Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines serve a significant number of destinations as well.
Only a few cities in Africa are served, though Mauritania Airways started flying to a number of Mauritanian cities from 2009 onwards. Binter Canarias, has flights from Marrakech to the islands.

Gran Canaria is connected with other Canary Islands by a smaller airline called Binter Canarias.

By Boat

Mainland Spain
Trasmediterránea provides ferries from Cadiz in Spain to and from Gran Canaria and oth Canary Islands.
Portugal/Madeira
Naviera Armas runs weekly services between Portimao in mainland Portugal to Madeira and on to Tenerife, with connections to other Canary Islands, like Gran Canaria.
Other Canary Islands
Trasmediterránea and Fred Olsen, are the main operators between Gran Canaria and the other Canary Islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera.

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Getting Around

The public transportation system is well organized and economical. There are regular buses that go all over the island, most of the ones useful for tourists run through Avda. Tirajana in Playa del Inglés and head north to the Atlantico shopping centre or Las Palmas or along the coast towards Puerto Rico. To travel Maspalomas-Las Palmas the fastest bus is 50, which stops at the airport frequently for both directions. Make sure to bring some change as bus drivers rarely accept high value notes. You can also buy bus passes for certain routes but you can only collect the cards from local offices. Do not expect a bus driver to help you open the luggage compartment, you just have to do it yourself. Never try to make a bus driver smile either as they have the most stressful job on the island. You can find out why by taking the Playa-del-ingles bus towards Amadores. If you are scared of heights and fear falling of cliffs do not take this bus.[Once the highway is complete this route will be altered]

Do not be afraid to take a taxi. Sometimes you can get somewhere a lot quicker for a few euro more than you would spend on a bus. Why not walk past a bus station and ask somebody to share a taxi? All taxis on the island are metered and easily identified. Avoid taxis without a meter as they will certainly be uninsured.

Rental cars are available in all resorts, both from local companies and large international car rental companies. Most of the large ones such as Avis and Hertz have offices in Playa del Inglés near the motorway. Goldcar (http://www.autocarhire.es/locations/gran_canaria_car_hire/) at the airport seems to offer interesting prices on the website, but in reality you are forced to buy a tank full of gasoline and return the car empty ( which is impossible), they force you also to take an additional insurance coverage. This makes the price almost double from what is advertised. You can rent or pick up a car at the airport. The rental offices are on the ground floor on the new wing for international departures.

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Eat

Besides many good restaurants of different nationalities, the Canarian Cuisine is especially worth trying.

In Las Palmas there are many excellent fish restaurants, specially along the coast near Las Canteras beach and El Confital in the neighborhood of La Isleta. An exquisite dish is Chancletes al limón, but many other local fresh fish are excellent too.

Restaurant Ciao Ciao near the beach in Las Meloneras serves an Italian cuisine with good pizzas, meat and fish dishes.

Restaurante Olivia in Puerto de Mogán serves well prepared local dishes near the yacht harbour in Puerto de Mogán.

As an aside, when staying in the area of Playa del Inglés, expect to be regularly solicited by "waiters" who want you to eat at the restaurant they are working for. It can't be avoided but becomes slightly less annoying over time.

If you are in Maspalomas then you must visit Samsara. Making a booking at least a week in advance is a wise decision. The portions are enormous so order per couple. Arriving in beach shorts and a t-shirt will make you feel under dressed so dress smart-casual. You should not hold back and spend some extra money for desserts and anything you get offered. It may be the best restaurant on the island, not just because the food is nearly perfect but it has an amazing Asian décor, out of the world vibe and extremely welcoming staff.

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Drink

The Yumbo Centrum dominates the centre of Playa del Inglés. It has dozens of restaurants, bars and clubs, many catering to the gay community, particularly on the higher floors.

Some of the cheaper bars are on the Western side of the ground floor.

Busy gay bars are Construction on the ground floor and Terry's Show and XL on the first floor. The top floor has dance bars such as Mykonos and Mantrix that are a mix of bar and clubs, and tend to be more expensive. Heaven also has a club here, on the third floor. A selection of real English teas can be found at Café Florín, also known as the Internet Cafe one minute from the Yumbo, down the hill towards the Playa del Inglés beach.

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Safety

See also Travel Safety

There is relatively little crime in the resorts, the main annoyance is drunks causing trouble. As anywhere, one should not leave valuables unattended on the beach.

In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, applying common sense for large cities is advisable. Some of the streets can be badly lit and the area around the harbour can be a bit threatening.

In the south, young male pickpockets operate and often target older tourists.

On the beach, African women vendors may try to put a bracelet on your wrist and then charge an exorbitant fee for it. Some of these women can be aggressive however, so always be on your guard. Scream "molestado!" if you have to and if you are forced into having to pay for bracelets, make sure you have a few small bills or change and convince them it's all you have.

Male sex workers may approach male travellers for prostitution purposes.

If you've been to Tenerife, you may be familiar with the so-called Lookey Lookey Men. Since they are not as common in Gran Canaria, they are usually not seen as problem, but can be annoying as they try to sell cheap items which are usually bootlegs.

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Accommodation in Gran Canaria

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This is version 9. Last edited at 13:50 on Apr 7, 20 by Utrecht. 27 articles link to this page.

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