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Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is home to nearly half the residents of the Canary Islands. Its beaches are intensely popular with vacationing Europeans, but unlike many one-dimensional beach resorts, Gran Canaria has a great deal to offer away from the waterfront. It's an ideal holiday destination for active tourists who like to temper life on the beach with a bit of independent exploration.

Most of the resorts are to the south clustered around Playa del Ingles. Tourists from the UK and other parts of northern Europe flock here during the winter, fueling a thriving entertainment scene. Upscale Gran Canaria accommodation and English pubs line the orderly streets. Nightfall reveals an energetic spread of discos, nightclubs and gay bars.

The most important city is Las Palmas. It boasts the Vegueta historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with a strip of atmospheric bars and restaurants. Tourists who have spent any time in mainland Spain will quickly make the connection in Las Palmas, one of the most quintessentially 'Spanish' cities in the archipelago.

Gran Canaria is toted as a 'miniature continent' because of its extreme, changing landscape. In a single day, tourists can travel from the southern resorts of Gran Canaria to the desert or interior mountains before heading to the lush forests of the north. The island is only 30 miles across, and visitors with a rental car can see it all in a single day.

Gran Canaria Airport is the busiest airport in the archipelago, serving 10 million passengers each year. It sits equidistance between Las Palmas and Playa del Ingles, so connecting in either direction is convenient. Flights arrive from all across Europe as well as from elsewhere in the Canaries.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Gran Canaria, click on the interactive Gran Canaria map on the left-hand side of the page.