The beauty and sunshine of the Canary Islands has long held a charm for us Brits, so if you're after tropical island charm on a small budget you should definitely be thinking about taking a holiday in Gran Canaria. This island is the third largest of the Canary Islands, behind Tenerife and Fuerteventura. It boasts one of the most varied landscapes of any place on earth which means that a third of Gran Canaria is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Gran Canaria holidays are really popular, and hiring a car in Gran Canaria can help you make the most out of your time on the island.
The capital of Gran Canaria is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and it's one of Spain's largest cities. The rest of the island is made up primarily of holiday resort towns around the coastline, and a rocky and mountainous interior. All the Canary Islands were formed from volcanic action, but with the last eruptions here over 3500 years ago, there's no need to worry! The north of the island generally tends to be cooler, whilst the south of the island is warmer and sunnier.
Hiring a car in Gran Canaria
Hiring a car from Gran Canaria Airport means that you can get going as soon as your flight lands, making your own way to your hotel. Make sure that you book in advance as demands are really high for car hire in Gran Canaria in the peak holiday seasons. The most popular time is the height of summer, but winter breaks over the school holidays can also see a spike in demand. The extensive highway system on the island makes for enjoyable driving through amazing landscapes, so getting hold of car rental in Gran Canaria is a great idea. If you're on a tight budget, it's best to check whether hotel in Gran Canaria offers free parking.
It's best to pick up your car hire from Gran Canaria airport on arrival, and it's worth noting that pre-booked rentals are both faster to get hold of and cheaper too! If you'd rather not hire a car in Gran Canaria then you can also arrange transfers as part of a package holiday, from a dedicated coach transfer company, or by bus or taxi, but with so many stunning and remote parts of the island to visit, there really is no substitute for having your own wheels.
Things to do in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is truly an island paradise boasting bright sunny beaches on its east coast, rocky terrain on the west and lush forest areas in the centre. Heading off on hiking trails, day trips to explore beaches and mountain walks are all popular - if you can tear yourself away from relaxing in the resort that is! You can also try your hand at surfing, with several surf schools who can set you up with everything you need as well as excellent instruction. Here are some of the things you can do in Gran Canaria once you've got yourself behind the wheel of your very own rental car.
Las Palmas:The capital is a microcosm of the island, with so much to do. You can surf, stroll along the four-mile-long Playa de Las Canteras and much more. The historical areas of Vegueta and Triana offer plenty of great things to see, whilst the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium is a stunning building and a great venue for music concerts. Speaking of stunning buildings, you should also visit the Catedral de Santa Ana. If you're after some vibrant nightlife, then get yourself to Parque Santa Catalina after dark.
Best Resorts: There are resorts on Gran Canaria that suit almost every type of traveller. If you're after a bustling resort with plenty going on at night, then Playa del Ingles is best - you can stay near it in Maspalomas if you don't want to be at the heart of the action the whole time. Puerto Rico is the second busiest, especially in summer, although it's quite hilly so it can be hard to navigate. Amadores and Meloneras are both popular with international crowds with more of a focus on daytime activities. San Augustin, Mogan and Taurito are quieter still, making them more popular with couples and families. The resorts in general tend to skew younger in the summer and older in the winter.
Beaches: There are far too many lovely beaches in Gran Canaria to mention, so here's just a few that are widely regarded as some of the best on the isand. Maspalomas beach and dunes are the largest and most popular on the island, which is great because there is always somewhere quiet to set up camp. If you're looking for a hidden treasure try Las Burras, which you can reach on the coastal path from Playa del Ingles. If you want a beach all to yourself then how about Guayedra on the west coast? You'll need your hire car to get there, and at the weekends it's less of a quiet spot as the locals love it.
Top Attractions: Roque Nublo is the island's symbol, and it's well worth seeking out this craggy rock for the photo opportunity as well as the views. Palmitos Park is a great attraction for the whole family - this wildlife park boasts daily live bird of prey shows and more. Sioux City offers a different type of family fun, in a wild west setting complete with saloon shoot-outs. Friday evenings they stay open late for a barbecue and live shows. Learn more about the Canary Islands at the Museo Canario, including the life of the Guanches who lived here before the Spanish invasion. Or explore Teror, a tiny clifftop village with plenty of colonial attractions and a popular Sunday market.