Gran Canaria is the third largest of the Spanish Canary Islands (after Tenerife and Fuerteventura) located just off the south west coastline of Morocco and was used as a base for ancient navigators including Christopher Columbus who visited the capital Las Palmas in 1492. Now a days it is a popular holiday destination for sun worshippers, with two million people visiting each year, thanks to its almost perfect year round climate making it a perfect winter retreat, a favourite of Agatha Christie no less. The vast volcanic mountain ranges in the centre of the island offer stunning scenery for those venturing away from the coast, as well as creating countless microclimates in the deep valleys some of which have flowers only found on the island and also play host to Europe’s only coffee plantation. Impressive panoramic views of the island and over to the neighbouring islands can be seen by climbing to the highest point on the island, Roque Nobles, which is also a favourite for night hikers and stargazers thanks to the low light pollution on the island. The island also has a rich history that is still visible today. In remote areas of the island locals still living in cave dwellings which was traditional to the original inhabitancy known as the "Guacha".
What you need to know...
Accommodation – With Gran Canaria drawing in lots of water sports fans hostels are widely available in the more populated areas of the island, with prices ranging from 10EUR per night for a basic dorm room to 22EUR for a private double room. There is an endless supply of hotels in the major tourist areas of Las Palmas in the north and Maspalomas in the south where you could find very reasonable all inclusive deals.
Food – If you stay away from the major tourist areas and go to local restaurants food is very cheap with an evening meal for two with wine costing less than 25EUR in the small town of Veneguera. Traditional food is very basic with most meals being meat with vegetables, a wider variety of cuisine is available in the more tourist areas but prices go up depending on the quality of the restaurant. A typical meal out in a tourist area with alcoholic drinks would set you back between 30-50EUR per person.
Transportation costs – The best and only form of public transport in Gran Canaria is via the bus network that accesses the majority of the island. You can buy a Bono discount card if you’re planning on making several journeys but even buying single trip tickets from the driver is very good value. A single ticket from the airport to the Las Palmas Central Bus Station is less than 3EUR. If you want to explore more of the inner island then renting a car is essential as bus routes are limited off the major road network.
Safety – In general Gran Canaria is a very safe island and you’re very unlikely to witness any trouble from the locals but drunken tourists can be a problem in certain areas, which is almost unavoidable due to the concentration of hotel complexes in certain areas of the island. There is a reassuring police presence in these areas to deal with any issues quickly to minimise the impact on other tourists. As you travel inland the roads do get narrow and twisty so a degree of care is needed, especially when there is a sheer drop to welcome any mistakes.