When the weather outside is frightful, Gran Canaria is so delightful.
The island’s default setting is warm, courtesy of its close proximity to Africa. But we’re not just talking in the summer months – the third biggest of the Canary Islands stays toasty during winter, too, so it’s always a safe bet when the mercury at home takes a nose-dive. In fact, the thermometer rarely dips below 20°C here, all year round. So, aside from landing yourself an out-of-season tan, what’s on the agenda for a winter break to this Spanish crowd-pleaser? If you’re plotting a winter escape this year, here are some handy picks to strike the perfect balance between relaxation and adventure.
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Camel riding on Playa de Maspalomas
A trip to Gran Canaria wouldn’t be complete without checking out its huge dunes at Maspalomas. The beach itself runs for six kilometres before it morphs into an expanse of sandy waves. Tick off a classic bucket–list entry by touring the dunes on a camel and channel your inner Lawrence of, well, Gran Canaria.
Discover the town of Teror
This place isn’t as scary as it sounds. Located right at the centre of the island, the charming colonial-style town is the religious capital of Gran Canaria – a nod to its patron saint, Nuestra Señora del Pino. Visit on a Sunday morning to check out the bustling market and pick up local specialities like chorizo and herbs.
Uncover the mystery of Barranco de Guayadeque
Head just a stone’s throw away from the island’s southern beaches and you’ll stumble across Barranco de Guayadeque. At first glance, it looks like any other evergreen valley, but as you draw nearer, you’ll clock some mysterious doors in the cliffside. They lead to a labyrinth of natural and man-made caves, once used as pre-historic burial sites. Many of the caverns are still lived in by families with farmland in the area.
See the sights at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Pick out some sturdy shoes for your day at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – there’s plenty to fit in. Don’t miss Casa de Colon, where Columbus took some time out between his ocean adventures, or the Museo Canario, which recounts the island’s grizzly pre-conquest past. The 15th-century cathedral should also squeeze onto your must-see list. Just make sure you save some time for the boutiques, restaurants and bars.
Head on down to Sioux City
Saddle up and head over to Sioux City in San Agustin, just a few miles from Playa del Ingles. Watch the can-can and take a drink in the saloon at this Wild West-themed fun park. Before you hit the trail home, check out the live entertainment, which includes ‘cowboys performing bank robberies and lasso stunts. Can we get a yee-haw?
Kick back on Playa de Puerto Rico
Some like it hot – and those who do should make a beeline for Playa de Puerto Rico. It boasts the title of being the island’s sunniest spot. Rumour has it the sand was blown over from the Sahara Desert hundreds of years ago, plus it backs onto a subtropical garden, which flaunts two outdoor pool – perfect for topping up that winter tan.
Walk with the animals at Palmitos Park
This zoo-park is set in 200,000 square metres of tropical gardens and houses animals from every corner of the globe. You’ll be wide-eyed at every turn as you spot crocodiles, dolphins and meerkats – not all in the same enclosure, of course. For the horticultural among you, pick out the Cactus Garden and the Orchid House.
Try watersports on Playa del Ingles
Test out your sea legs by sampling adventure sports like jet-skiing, parasailing and windsurfing off the coast of Playa del Ingles. Double check for availability at the time of year you’re travelling, though. For those who’d rather skip the adrenaline rush, there’s an assortment of more laid-back activities, too – think catamaran trips, a glass-bottomed boat trip, or even a cheeky booze cruise.
Take a hike at Pico de las Nieves
If it’s a hiking challenge you’re after, hit the trails of Pico de las Nieves. It’s the island’s highest mountain, grazing clouds to reach 1,949 metres into the sky. If you’d prefer something a little more chilled out, you can stroll around the pine forest at Tamadaba National Park or venture through the bowl-shaped volcanic crater near Las Palmas.
Glam up for Garbo’s dinner show
Garbo’s is a Gran Canarian institution. This glamorous gala cabaret has been serenading audiences since 1997 with showstopping dance numbers, and enough sequins to rival Strictly’s wardrobe department. The atmosphere is electric and you might just find yourself dancing along like nobody’s watching – all signature moves encouraged.
Feeling a winter getaway? Pick your next trip to Gran Canaria.
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Authors: Lily Owen and El Berwick
Last updated: 10/08/2023
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