Canary Islands

Gran Canaria – practical advice, what to know before you go?

Gran Canaria - practical advice
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In Gran Canaria, conditions for vacationing are excellent practically all year round. The island offers breathtaking views, there are plenty of interesting places to visit, and sandy, beautiful beaches can be found all over the island. How to prepare well for a vacation in Gran Canaria? Check out our practical guide.

What does Gran Canaria look like?

Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Administratively it is part of Spain and the European Union, but geographically Gran Canaria is counted as part of Africa. The other islands of the archipelago are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera.

The island’s capital is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and of all the Canary Islands, it is here that the landscape is the most varied – the north is predominantly green, the south of the island is more desert, and mountains and ravines are mostly in the central part of the island. Gran Canaria’s highest peak is Pico de las Nieves, with a vantage point overlooking the island. Fans of trekking are also attracted to Roque Nublo.

During your vacation in Gran Canaria, you should definitely see the local nature parks, Las Palmas and the House of Columbus, the dunes near Maspalomas, intimate towns with romantic streets: Puerto de Mogan, Tejeda, Agaete.

Terror Gran Canaria

Protection from the sun

Gran Canaria is warm all year round.The weather is very pleasant and extreme heat rarely occurs, and the hot air is pleasantly cooled by the breeze from the sea.Nonetheless, before going to the beach or on a tour of the island, you should apply a sunscreen, preferably with a high SPF 50. Winter in Gran Canaria is a bit cooler, which does not mean that you should neglect sun protection – at this time of year the sun does not shine as much as in summer and autumn, but there is still a risk of skin burn.

Public transportation on the island

Gran Canaria is not very large and you can easily get around by local buses – it takes about an hour to get from northern Las Palmas to Puerto Rico on the south coast.Lines reach almost all popular tourist destinations and the airport.Yellow buses travel around the capital, while blue buses run to other towns on the island. Stops are well marked, and the buses usually run according to the stated schedule.

Getting around the island more freely is provided by your own car.There are car rental companies in Gran Canaria, you just need to have a driver’s license and be at least 18 years old. There are also cabs, but for longer routes it will be cheaper to take a bus or rent a car.Parking lots in Gran Canaria are mostly paid.

How do you drive in Gran Canaria?

Right-hand traffic is mandatory on the island. The roads are well-maintained, but it is important to keep in mind that many routes have a winding, complicated course, making it easy to have an accident if you drive too fast and carelessly. The most problematic is entering a narrow mountain road, as it is usually impossible to turn around on it and you have to reverse the car.

A large part of the roads are protected by railings, but they are not set up everywhere, so you’d better be careful, because you can inadvertently find yourself with your car right over a steep cliff. This effort is compensated by amazing views, so it is nevertheless worth renting a car at least for one day.


Average cost of accommodation in Gran Canaria

Resorts in Gran Canaria are of very different standards, so you can find both cheap accommodation and a luxury room with all the comforts. The average price for accommodation on the island is about 50 euros. You can significantly reduce the cost of your stay by choosing a place less besieged by tourists, in the interior of the island, for accommodation.

How to get to the other islands of the archipelago?

The Canary Islands lie relatively close to each other, which makes it easy to visit them.From Gran Canaria the closest is Tenerife – the ferry ride is less than a family and a half. Climate tax in Gran Canaria does not apply, and the same is true on the other islands, so such trips do not involve additional costs.

What food is worth trying in Gran Canaria?

Gran Canaria boasts its own unique cuisine, with a mix of Spanish and African influences. Among the most popular dishes are fresh fish and seasonal vegetables that grow on the island, and you can taste these delicacies at any resort. One of the most popular dishes is Sancocho Canario, a dish of salted fish and potatoes. Another item worth tasting is caldo de pescado, a fish soup, and grilled sardines.

As snacks, tapas similar to those in Spanish cuisine are served as standard. As for desserts, a Canarian specialty is bienmesabe, a dessert made with eggs, almonds, lemon and sugar.

What are Canarian wrinkly potatoes?

Wrinkly potatoes, or Papas Arrugadas, are one of the island’s most famous dishes.They are new potatoes cooked in salty sea water.They are served with a variety of accompaniments, and can range from mild sauces to very spicy dips with chili peppers and garlic.

What spirits are popular in Gran Canaria?

Gran Canaria is famous for its rum production, and it is definitely a beverage worth tasting during a vacation on the island.Rum is available in a variety of flavors, and honey and banana rum are considered the best. Beer is great in hot weather – there are local breweries on the island, including the best-known Tropical brand. Wine is served with most meals and usually comes from local vineyards, located in the mountains in the center of the island. Canarian wines are of high quality and go well with traditional island dishes.

Drinking water in Gran Canaria

In European Union countries, most tap water is immediately drinkable.In the Canary Islands, there is a problem with this, as rainfall is infrequent and tap water is usually desalinated water with a lot of chlorine, which further spoils its taste. For this reason, it is not recommended to drink tap water in Gran Canaria unless the tap has been equipped with a special filter.

Is the weather the same all over the island?The variation in terrain affects the weather, although the discrepancies in temperatures are not that great.In general, however, the weather for vacationing is better in the south of the island – the temperatures are slightly higher, the sky is less cloudy, the humidity is more normal.

Warm clothes also come in handy

The climate in the Canary Islands is exceptionally pleasant, but this does not mean that warmer clothes will be completely unnecessary.In the mountainous part of the island, even in summer, it can sometimes be really cool, and the same is true in the Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve. What to bring to Gran Canaria? Sweaters, sweatpants, light jackets, long pants and long-sleeved blouses are essential for a trip in autumn, winter and spring.

What is the nightlife like in Gran Canaria?

Lovers of nighttime fun and excitement should go primarily to Playa del Ingles – nightclubs are concentrated near the Yumbo shopping center and along the promenade. Las Palmas and Maspalomas also provide quite a few attractions. Visiting the island between January and March, you can catch Carnival – there are parties all over the island, but the biggest party takes place in the capital.

You can also dance off into the sunset on Europe’s largest catamaran the SuperCat, which regularly hosts parties. The boat departs from Maspalomas, guests can look forward to free drinks and traditional Canarian food, while banana rides and diving in the ocean waters are additional attractions. Larger hotels in Gran Canaria also organize their own discos.

Shopping in Gran Canaria

Yumbo Centre in Playa del Ingles is considered the best place to shop.There are more than 200 stores, plus restaurants, bars and nightclubs.In the capital, take a look at José Mesa y López Street, along which there are plenty of interesting stores and boutiques of famous brands. In Maspalomas, the C.C Boulevard Oasis mall, which also has an open-air cinema called Moonlight Cinema, is the place to go shopping.

What to buy in Gran Canaria? Souvenirs from the island and handicrafts, of course. These can be found at Teror market, Gran Canaria’s oldest market, among other places.

The applicable currency in Gran Canaria is the Euro.


Taxes in Gran Canaria

In mainland Spain, VAT of 21 percent applies. In the Canary Islands, a different tax, IGIC, of 6.5 percent applies. This makes prices in Gran Canaria very attractive and selected products, such as cigarettes, perfume, alcohol or consumer electronics, can be bought much cheaper.

Tipping in Gran Canaria

Tipping is voluntary and is not added to the bill. The customer decides for himself how much money he wants to give to the staff, and it is customary to give 5-10 percent of the price on the receipt; in hotels and parking lots, employees are given a few euros in tips.

Taxes in Gran Canaria

In mainland Spain, VAT of 21 percent applies. In the Canary Islands, a different tax, IGIC, of 6.5 percent applies.This makes prices in Gran Canaria very attractiveCulture and art in Gran Canaria. Then be sure to visit the Centro de Cultura Contemporánea San Martín and the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno – these are art galleries in Vegueta. Vegueta itself is also worth a visit, as it is in this district of Las Palmas that one can most strongly feel the atmosphere of the island at the time of its conquest by the Spaniards.

Not far from the gallery is the Museo Néstor, which exhibits the works of Néstor de la Torre. Another highly regarded gallery is Centro de Arte La Regenta, organized in an old tobacco factory – it focuses on works by local artists.

You can learn about the island’s remarkable past at Cueva Pintada, in the northern part of the island, in the village of Galdar. This is an archaeological park that collects ceramics, figurines and other objects from pre-Columbian times, and you can also see the Grotto of Paintings and the remains of a pre-Columbian settlement here.

Active leisure activities in Gran Canaria

In addition to the beaches, there are plenty of other activities in Gran Canaria. Most hotels have their own swimming pool and, thanks to heated water, you can swim in them all year round. Extremely popular in Gran Canaria are all kinds of water sports, especially windsurfing due to the specific weather conditions. Surfers reign supreme on the northern coast – conditions are suitable for both amateurs and experienced athletes.

Warm and clear waters encourage diving. The rich marine life of the islands of the archipelago can also be explored through tourist cruises, during which participants watch dolphins, turtles and whales in their natural habitat.

Trekking can be done all over the island, although the best conditions are in the central part full of high mountains and gorges. An interesting activity is coasteering, or moving along rocky coastlines.

prices in gran canaria

How to use the Internet in Gran Canaria?

There is Internet access in every resort. Tourists from European Union countries enjoy cheap roaming, but it is still more cost-effective to buy a local operator’s card on the spot.Internet in Gran Canaria is not very expensive, and in hotels wi-fi access is often free.

Travel insurance

Regardless of how long your vacation in Gran Canaria is to last, it is definitely worth buying travel insurance. Those planning an active vacation should check whether these activities are covered by the standard policy, or whether you need to purchase an additional package.

Simon Machniewski

Simon Machniewski

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Traveler and owner of a small marketing agency.

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