Gran Canaria, Population, Capital, Maps & Useful Tourism Facts
Gran Canaria is the third largest and most central of the 7 Canary Islands. This island is second only to it´s neighbour Tenerife for the amount of visitors it welcomes each year.
Gran Canaria covers an area of 1,560.11 km² (600 square miles) behind Tenerife and Fuerteventura. There are 865,000 inhabitants here, this is also less than Tenerife but a lot more than the other Canaries. Lanzarote comes next for population with 150 k inhabitants. This island also has the third longest coastline at 236 km (147 miles).
The capital city of Gran Canaria is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria which is also the joint capital of the Canaries. This is a title Las Palmas shares with Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Usually the capital city status changes every four years as Parliament changes.
There are 378,500 people living in Las Palmas which is far more than Santa Cruz´s 205,000. This is not far off 50% of the entire population of Gran Canaria. Gando Airport is the only airport on the island which many refer to as Las Palmas de Gran Canaria airport (LPA). This airport is 19 km from Las Palmas which saw a record 13,261,405 passenger arrivals in 2019.
Please click the image below to visit a full size Google map of Gran Canaria.
Gran Canaria Facts
Below is a quick reference guide which contains key facts about Gran Canaria.
1,560.11 km² (600 square miles)
236 km (147 miles)
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Top Resorts To Visit
The great thing about the many resorts in Gran Canaria is there is something for everyone. Here you will find resorts for couples, families and those wanting vibrant nightlife. Below are a few we recommend visiting when you next come to this island.
Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria
The small resort and town of Puerto Rico is one of the leading resorts for families and couples. This resort is 19 km west of Maspalomas and a little further from Playa del Ingles. Puerto Rico boasts two pretty marinas and a beautiful beach with imported sand. This location is excellent for shops with several commercial centres close by. There are also a good choice of bars and restaurants but without the noise of the other resorts.
Maspalomas lies close to Playa del Ingles but does not have the same frenetic nightlife. This resort is popular with naturists and has a vibrant gay scene. The famous beach here is the longest in Gran Canaria which is an extension of Playa del Ingles. Many of leading attractions on the island are in Maspalomas such as the beautiful sand dunes. For wildlife loves, Palmitos Park lies in Maspalomas. There is also Aqualand water park for a great family day out.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The beautiful capital city Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a must visit place for culture lovers. This part of the island lies on the northwest tip and is also the joint capital of the Canaries. Take a stroll through the pretty La Vegueta town which dates back to the 15th Century. Many of the towns and suburbs here boast the orginal Canarian culture. There are some super museums here to check out and a beautiful cathedral. Las Canteras beach is also in Las Palmas which many consider to be the best beach in Gran Canaria.
The climate is Gran Canaria is excellent and very much like Tenerife. Here the summers are always hot but it remains warm during winter and spring. It´s not unusual to see the temperature soar to over 40 Celsius in summer. In fact, Gran Canaria once hit 44.2 Celsius which is it´s highest temperature on record.
Winter does not always record it´s lowest yearly temperatures here. Leading up to and the beginning of spring usually sees the coldest temperatures. February and March tend to see the temperatures fall to 16-18 Celsius which is still quite mild. The temperature will fall a little further at night. Check here for more weather for the Spanish Costas and Islands.
Best Beaches in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria has around 80 beaches to enjoy which span most of the island. These include some of the finest sandy beaches in the Canaries and indeed Spain. Below are a few to look out for when you visit.
Maspalomas is the second largest beach in Gran Canaria with a length of 2,710 metres. As we touch on above, lining this beach are the beautiful sand dunes of Maspalomas. This is very much a naturist beach for those looking for that all over tan but only certain sections. Overlooking the beach and Atlantic Ocean is the pretty lighthouse. Sunsets here can be spectacular so be sure to take the camera with you.
Las Canteras beach is not only the longest in Gran Canaria but also one of the best. This stunning urban beach has a total length of almost 3 km. Las Canteras lies in Las Palmas and offers a good mix of beautiful scenery and Canarian culture. This beach is a big hit with those that enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving. Below the waves of Las Canteras are beautiful coral reefs and marine life to explore.
Playa de Amadores
Amadores beach is not far from Puerto Rico and another worth checking out. The translation of Amadores is “Lovers” which gives us a clue that this is very much a couples beach. This beach is set in a pretty bay with golden sand and calm waters. Running alongside is a pretty promenade full of bars and restaurants. Amadores measures 488 metres and lies in one of the most upmarket parts of the island.
Attactions & Days Out
Below are a few of the top attractions and days out in Gran Canaria to look out for.
Palmitos Park has become the number one attraction in Gran Canaria since opening in 1978. Spread over the 49 acres of land is a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden. Here they host Dolphin shows twice daily with a capacity of 1500 people in the stands. There is also an aviary with many different species of birds. Reptiles and Mammals are among the most popular animals to visit here.
Pico de las Nieves & Roque Nublo
Gran Canaria is a popular destination for both hikers and climbers and for good reason. The mountainous region of Tejeda contains some of the highest peaks on the island. South of Tejeda, Pico de las Nieves is the highest point at 1,949 metres above sea level. Roque Nublo is another popular peak which affords stunning views of the Canaries.