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Gran Canaria holidays 2018/19

Spend a holiday in Gran Canaria and the island’s diverse landscape creates the pleasant sensation of having stepped into a miniature continent. Volcanoes, mountains and forests dominate the west of the island and have earned the prestigious title of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The rest of the island boasts around 60 kilometres of beaches, making Gran Canaria one of the true jewels in the Canary Islands archipelago and a real haven for beach lovers!

The coastline offers fantastic sunbathing spots as well as tempting beachside restaurants and bars. You’ll relish the feeling of golden sand between your toes as you sit back, take a deep breath, and relax. Sun yourself during the island’s unbelievable summer and when you’re ready to embrace the shade, visit Gran Canaria’s beautiful botanic garden and appreciate tranquillity and the natural splendour of the plants.

 

Culture and history

Although there is no official religion in Gran Canaria, Roman Catholicism is the most popular religious denomination in Gran Canaria. Religious events take place with great enthusiasm and Canarians pride themselves on holding fabulous fiestas with plenty of food. The island’s everyday approach to religion and modesty has become more relaxed, but if you’re visiting a religious building be sure to cover your shoulders and legs.

Gran Canaria has one of the most extravagant Carnival celebrations outside of Rio and every March the residents of the Canary Islands throw one huge party! Expect comedy shows, performances from talented carnival bands and dancers and, to top it all, off a show stopping drag queen gala. Everyone gets involved by dressing up and having the time of their life.

‘Ropa vieja’ is a classic Canarian dish, but it’s also very popular in Cuba. Translating as ‘old clothes’, ropa vieja was created to use up leftover food. Shredded chicken and beef mixed with potatoes, chickpeas and a tomato based sauce form the main ingredients of this delicious stew.

Things to do

When you travel to Gran Canaria with Saga, you’ll find lots of activities to enjoy, whether you’re on a cruise stop or an all-inclusive holiday in a choice hotel. Stroll among the sandy dunes of Maspalomas with your travel companions or go solo in Las Palmas and discover Gran Canaria’s past. However you pass your time on your Saga break, you will have a memorable time on this little slice of paradise.

Las Palmas

Visit Gran Canaria’s north coast, where you’ll be able to explore Las Palmas, the island’s charming capital city. Seek out the historical centre, Vegueta. The history of the Canary Islands is celebrated in Vegueta, and the Santa Ana Cathedral, which took 350 years to build, still stands there today. Colonial buildings line cobbled streets and Vegueta has a handful of museums dedicated to Gran Canaria’s roots. 

The Museo Canario (Canarian Museum) is particularly interesting and tells the little-known story of the island’s heritage and Gran Canaria’s aboriginal population. Meanwhile, Columbus House offers a peek at Spanish colonialism’s commitment to opulence. The house is now a museum and contains a replica of Columbus’s quarters plus letters and maps written by Columbus.

Maspalomas

Seeing the sand dunes in Maspalomas for yourself is an impressive sight. Many visitors choose to take a camel ride or walk across the dunes to experience the otherworldly landscape up close. Maspalomas is also renowned for its extensive coastline, which extends more than 17 kilometres, meaning that there’s more than enough room for sun seekers and sea lovers!

Jardín Botánico Canario Viera 

Take a trip to Jardín Botánico Canario Viera to see a colourful celebration of rare plant life in Gran Canaria. The garden is devoted to the late historian and biologist José de Viera y Clavijo, who documented the Canary Islands’ biodiversity in his book ‘The History of the Canary Islands’. Time will fly by as you admire the different species of flora, of which there are approximately 500 species. Cacti collections, succulents and dragon trees are carefully arranged around the garden’s koi ponds and natural water features. 

Moya

Moya is undoubtedly one of the loveliest towns in Gran Canaria and was the birthplace of Tomás Morales, one of Gran Canaria’s greatest poets. In fact, his home is now a museum that anyone can visit. Set foot in Tomás Morales’ house and you’ll see period furniture and the actual typewriter that Morales used to write his poems.

Perched prettily at the top of a hill, Moya will bring creative inspiration to any visitor. Travel there on a day trip and draw your own inspiration from Moya’s brightly painted buildings and nibble a slice of the town’s sugared sponge cake, bizcocho.

Flight time

The flight time from London to Gran Canaria is around 4 hours and 30 minutes. Watch a film during your time on the plane, or perhaps pick up a newspaper or magazine from the airport.

Currency

Euro - Gran Canaria uses the euro, which is divided into 100 cents.

Passports and visas

British citizens don’t need a visa to travel to Gran Canaria. Just remember to pack your passport, which must be valid for the duration of your stay on the island, and you’ll be ready to start your holidays!

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

¡Hola! – Hello

Buenos días – Good morning

¡Perdón! – Excuse me

Por favor – Please

Gracias – Thank you

¿Cuánto cuesta? – How much is this?

Me gustaría – I would like

¿Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?

¡Salud! – Cheers!

Timezone

Gran Canaria is on Western European Time (WET) which is the same as the UK’s GMT! If you travel to Gran Canaria towards the end of March, the island does observe Daylight Saving Time, switching at the same moment as the beginning of British Summer Time (BST). This means no time lost, whenever you travel.

Electricity

The only gadget you’ll need for your holiday is an EU, two-pin adapter. Make sure to pack one (or more) for all your appliances, or you may be able to purchase one at the airport.

Language

Spanish; Castilian - Gran Canaria is a part of Spain, so the main language that’s spoken on the island is Spanish. Since hotel and resort staff usually speak some English, you’ll always be able to ask for directions if you need to.

Tipping

If you spot an IGIC charge on your bill, it’s important to know that this isn’t a service charge. The charge is a tax similar to VAT and doesn’t end up in the staff’s pockets. Check the menu and if the prices seem unusually low, this may be because the restaurant then charges the IGIC charge on top of that

When you receive good waiting service and enjoy the restaurant’s food you should tip around 10% of the bill. The same rules apply when you’re eating in a café. If you only have a coffee or tea, then leaving an extra euro or rounding up your bill is considered polite. Rounding taxi fares up to the nearest euro is a nice gesture. Your journey will also be that little bit quicker because you won’t have to wait for the driver to find your change.

Climate

Gran Canaria benefits from hot and sunny weather from May through to November. The island is famous for its warm temperatures. During summer, the average temperature ranges from 20 degrees Celsius in May to 24 degrees Celsius in September. In August, the average high temperature reaches a high of 28 degrees which makes it the best time to visit Gran Canaria if you live for heat and sunshine.

Night time temperatures are cooler at around 20 degrees Celsius, offering the ideal conditions for an evening stroll along the beach. Rainfall is unusual during the summer in Gran Canaria and even in the winter rainfall is rare outside of the mountains. Winter temperatures are lower but rarely go below 1

Health

You should consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure as health information for travellers is always changing.

To find up to date health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad visit The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit and for country-specific information look at the information published by National Travel Health Network and Centre

Population and size

Gran Canaria has a size of 1,560 kilometres squared which makes it the third largest of the Canary Islands. Despite this, the island has a large population of around 850,000 people – more than five times the population of Gran Canaria’s smaller neighbour, Lanzarote!

Smoking

Spain’s smoking ban is much like the UK’s ban. Public buildings and public places, such as restaurants, and public transport do not allow smoking. Smoking outside is allowed but some beaches have smoking and non-smoking zones, so watch out for signs indicating these areas.