Gran Canaria is one of the seven islands of volcanic origin that make up the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands. It is situated at a distance of 1,250 kilometres from Cadiz, the nearest continental European port, and 210 kilometres from the northwest coast of Africa.
Illustration 1: Canarian Archipelago
Gran Canaria received 4.5 million tourists in 2018, a record that consolidates it as a world tourist power and one of the preferred destinations for Europeans. Travellers who come mainly from Germany, the United Kingdom, the Nordic countries and Spain are attracted by many reasons such as the sun, the beach, nature, our gastronomy, the possibility of practising open air sports all year round, an important historical heritage, our cultural offer or simply to escape from the daily routine thanks to an enclave that offers an unbeatable climate, unique in Europe.
The island offers endless possibilities for all tastes, which is why it is the destination of choice for families, sportsmen and women, nature lovers or those looking for a place to live relaxing experiences in the best spa centres.
Gran Canaria has become a close and safe destination based on a multi-product offer, with a high level of service and a competitive accommodation plant in continuous transformation to adapt to the needs of customers. These virtues have given it a leadership that reaches its maximum expression in the winter season, a time when millions of Europeans travel to the island to avoid the cold in their countries of origin.
The island has 60 kilometres of beaches spread over 236 kilometres of coastline. Sixteen of them have the blue flag awarded each year by the European Federation for Environmental Education, which certifies the quality of their water and infrastructure and their suitability for bathing and water sports. The European programme has also awarded blue flags to the marinas of Mogán and Pasito Blanco, and the Centro Azul and Sendero Azul awards to the Centro de Interpretación Reserva Natural de las Dunas de Maspalomas in San Bartolomé de Tirajana and to the Sendero de la Bahía del Confital and Playa de Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, respectively.
Illustration 2: Marina of Mogán
Illustration 3: Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve
Illustration 4: Las Canteras Beach
The villages of Gran Canaria offer the possibility of discovering a gastronomy that bases its richness on the products harvested by the local farmers. Wrinkled potatoes, sancocho and a melting pot of stews and broths are the perfect pairing for enjoying a good table in which there should be no lack of wines with the Island's Denomination of Origin, cheeses of extraordinary quality and the best desserts of the island's confectionery. One of the few coffees produced in Europe is grown in the Agaete Valley; the Arehucas Rum cellar is the largest and oldest in its specialty of all those on the continent; and the restaurants in the coastal enclaves provide an excellent opportunity to taste good fresh Atlantic fish.
It is interesting to know that an important part of Gran Canaria has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO; and another large part, the Cultural Landscape of Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site last year. It has also been declared a 'Starlight Tourist Destination' by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Astrotourism is one of the outstanding projects of Gran Canaria, which has launched itself into the conquest of its spectacular night sky and the fight against light pollution in order to recover the right to observe the stars. The island wants to recover the sky observed by the Canarian aborigines with astronomical markers that are unique in the world, diversify the tourist offer and open new windows to knowledge.
Illustration 5: Starlight Tourist Destination
The historical and cultural richness of Gran Canaria has its place in the museums. In its wide diversity of subjects, it is possible to find, from the island's aboriginal past to its more recent contemporary history, houses that pay homage to its most illustrious children and those that house part of its popular customs and traditions.
Its capital and venue for the XII Jornadas Españolas de Presas, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is not only the largest city in the region with 378,517 residents, but also an attractive economic, cultural and administrative centre which, according to the latest available data, was visited by 28% of the visitors who chose the island as their holiday destination. Its location in the northwest of Gran Canaria allows one to enjoy an enviable quality of life, with a privileged climate that is around 24ºC maximum and 15ºC minimum.
Illustration 6: Aerial view of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has always been an important meeting point and business centre between Europe, Africa and America. This international vocation has accredited it as the ideal scenario for meetings both at national and international level.
The historic centre of Vegueta and the Barranco del Guiniguada ravine offer a unique setting on this side of the ocean: an area of Columbian architecture, in which the Plaza de Santa Ana stands out and, at its extremes, the Casas Consistoriales (the first town hall, still today the seat of the municipal plenary sessions) and the Cathedral.
Illustration 7: Santa Ana Cathedral
The museums (the Casa de Colón, in the old Casa del Gobernador and dedicated to his journey, the discoverer and his time; the Canarian Museum, with the aboriginal legacy; the contemporary Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno and San Martín Centro de Cultura Contemporánea; and the Casa-Museo Pérez Galdós, in the Calle Mayor de Triana, anteroom to Vegueta) make up the cultural offer of an environment that also includes buildings such as the Ermita de San Antonio Abad, the place where the sailor prayed before crossing the Atlantic.
In addition, Vegueta, Triana and the surrounding area are currently home to a wide range of restaurants, ideal for a complete experience in the old city.