Gran Canaria information
If one were to choose an adjective with which to qualify the Gran Canaria Island, it would be “Miniature Continent”, since that is the exact feeling that one gets when visiting this enjoyable corner of the Spanish country.
The island is part of the famous Spanish archipelago and is home to more than 40% of its population, with almost 900,000 residents, all gathered in an area of 1,560 km2. The island is located more than 150 km from the African coast and, despite not being located on the mainland, it is one of the major destinations of people visiting Spain.
Language and Life in Gran Canaria
As is the case with the rest of the country, the official language of Gran Canaria is Spanish, which is spoken by every resident and business in the island, although most locals speak it using a very peculiar accent.
Life in the island of Gran Canaria is surprisingly rich and varied, with most visitors not believing they are actually on such a small island. Gran Canaria offers everything from a mountain range that uncannily resembles the Tibet, to an active coastline aplenty with beautiful beaches and resorts and a thriving nightlife. In fact, if there is one aspect to criticize about Gran Canaria, it would be that it is victim of its own fame, and most visitors who come thinking about it as no more than just a set of beautiful beaches, never get to know the hidden (and far more enjoyable) aspects of the island.
At the beginning, the Gran Canaria was populated by the Canarii (also known as the Guanches), who arrived to the area around the year 500 BC. During their time on the region, the island’s inhabitants called it with the Arabic name of Tamaran, until the island was taken by the Christian Romans, who renamed it to its current name.
Starting on the 15th century, the island was victim of several incursions by almost every single European nation, all of which tried to conquer it. Then, in the year 183 and after several centuries of failed military campaigns, the island fell to the Spanish Kingdom of Castile, in a conquest that helped the Spanish country tremendously with its plans of integration.
Only years after that, the capital of the island was founded and was named Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The city is quite famous for its port, where Christopher Columbus anchored for a while the very ships that he would later on use on his first trip to the Americas.
While initially the island flourished thanks to its agriculture and its many exports, it wasn’t enough to compete with its main rival, Tenerife, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that it started to regain its former glory became a major tourist destination due to its incredible geography and diversity.
As mentioned above, one of the most surprising characteristics of Gran Canaria is that it truly lives up to its “Micro continent” reputation, and this has proved to be true for its weather as well. Gran Canaria offers an almost perfect climate all throughout the year, with very mild temperatures even in the most drastic seasons. The island as a whole usually carries a weather that makes it feel very much like if it were spring or even autumn, and feels even better with the constantly refreshing sea breeze.
Being such a geographically diverse island, Gran Canaria also offers a series of microclimates, ranging from hot, sunny mornings near the coastline to cooler temperatures as one moves up the mountain range.
The average temperature of Gran Canaria averages 23°C (74°F) throughout the year, with the lowest temperature rarely going below 14°C on the coldest days and the hottest ones seldom going above 27°C (80°F).
Transportation is one of the strong aspects of the island of Gran Canaria, which offers visitors a series of ways to reach its different landmarks, shopping areas and other spots of interest. Some of the most important means of transportation offered in Gran Canaria are as follows.
Boat - Many small cruises and ferries travel from Gran Canaria to other islands of the archipelago, which include Lanzarote, Tenerife and others. There are also trans-Mediterranean ferries that traverse the sea towards Cadiz, one of Spain’s most important ports in the mainland.
Bus - The island of Gran Canaria offers maybe the most impressive network of bus lines in the whole archipelago, covering almost the entire island with a series of easily-recognizable green and blue buses. These are by far the most inexpensive way to travel around the Gran Canaria and there are even local bus lines that transport visitors across the main spots within every town.
Car Rental - Without a doubt the best way to get to know the entire Gran Canaria is by renting a car from any of the many car rental services available throughout the island. Having a car at one’s disposal greatly enhances the experience of exploring the island, allowing visitors to reach many spots that wouldn’t be accessible otherwise. Motorcycles and scooters are also a great way to explore smaller areas of the island, and are also available for rent through many agencies all over.
City Airport - The Gran Canaria Airport is the most active one in the whole archipelago region, with incoming and outgoing flights to and from all over Europe, as well from Spain. There are also several flights connecting all the important islands around the archipelago, and al throughout the Gran Canaria Airport there is a vast transport network ready for any visitor who arrives.
Famous Towns, Districts and Villages in Gran Canaria
Being one of the most populated islands on the entire archipelago, Gran Canaria sports various cities, towns and districts, each of them with its own particular climate, attractions and landscapes, and most of them offering amazing beaches to their visitors.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - If there is one aspect that surprises visitors to Gran Canaria’s most important city, is the fact that is boasts all the character of a big one, offering a series of attractions and several shopping venues, not unlike what can be found on the mainland’s major cities. Las Palmas de Gran Canarias home to more than 350,000 residents, making it one of the most populated cities not of just the archipelago, but of the entire Spanish country. The city is also home to several beaches, old cathedrals, museums, bars and restaurants, as well as to a thriving nightlife.
Artenara - Without a doubt one of the most unique towns of Europe, the town of Artenara in Gran Canaria is the highest one on the whole island, which helps it provide its residents and visitors with amazing views of the surrounding landscapes. But what makes the this town unique are its peculiar houses, which built straight into the rock faces, and which some people still use for living today.