Gran Canaria is the third-largest island in the Canary Islands archipelago, after Tenerife and Fuerteventura. Part of the Kingdom of Spain, the islands lie in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of southern Morocco. The Canary Islands are predominantly volcanic and are a magnet for visitors from Europe, especially in the winter months. Like these visitors, I decided to book a winter getaway to Gran Canaria for a good dose of sunshine and warmth. I quickly discovered that, aside from its wonderful climate, Gran Canaria is home to majestic landscapes and charming towns, making it a lot more than just a winter beach destination.
As soon as I stepped out of the airport terminal, I felt the wonderful warmth on my face. With temperatures hovering around a (very) pleasant 22 degrees Celsius, the winter chill in Amsterdam immediately felt like a distant memory! Like most visitors to Gran Canaria in the winter, I booked a hotel on the south coast, specifically Maspalomas, as this area, shielded by the central mountains, has the warmest temperatures. I soon discovered myself that the south coast was constantly at least a few degrees warmer, and received less rain, than the capital Las Palmas in the north. I learned from the locals on the south coast that February is typically the ‘coldest’ month, with daytime temperatures ranging between 19-23 degrees Celsius.
Exploring Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria certainly is an island of contrasts. Visitors (myself included) tend to crowd into the southern corner of the island which boasts a warmer, drier climate and some of the best beaches. Most of the hotels and tourist facilities can be found here in a broad swathe stretching from San Augustin and Maspalomas to Puerto de Mogan. However, you simply have to book a tour or hire a car to explore the island and you’ll find the most spectacular scenery, an incredibly diverse flora and culturally-rich villages and towns.
Central Gran Canaria and Las Palmas
One day, I drove the GC-60 road from Maspalomas through the mountains, passing places like Tejeda (fab place for a lunch stop), Artenara and Teror. The road passes the spectacular mountain landscapes of Barranco de Fataga. This is a popular hiking area where various scenes of Netflix’s The Witcher (Season 1) were filmed. Read more about this stunning Gran Canaria day trip by car.
I ended up in Las Palmas where I strolled around Vegueta, the historic quarter. The atmospheric streets and the imposing Cathedral were sure highlights!
South coast to Mogan
I also drove along the south coast route (GC-500) from Maspalomas to Puerto de Mogan, passing various tourist towns. The towns were busy but the stretches in between offered stunning views of immense cliffs and the bright blue Atlantic Ocean. Puerto de Mogan was my favourite as it’s slightly smaller and has a lovely beach boulevard. From here, I drove inland on the GC-200 past the village of Mogan toward the west coast. I had to turn around at a certain point due to poor weather (fog and drizzle) but not before seeing some of the most dramatic vistas on the island!
On my last day, I went on another drive before heading to the airport. This time, I chose a short route through the eastern mountains, where I stopped at the lovely town of Agüimes.
Four days weren’t sufficient to explore Gran Canaria. I had to skip the west coast and only managed an afternoon in the gorgeous capital city of Las Palmas. However, what I saw truly impressed me, especially the majestic mountain scenery and the picturesque mountain villages and towns. Lovers of nature and active holidays (like cycling and hiking) will be spoilt for choice up in the mountains!
How to get to Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is easily reachable by air from major cities in Spain and major cities in the UK and mainland Europe.