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January 2023 – Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Sipping a yummy cocktail, toes in the water, while the gentle ocean breeze is the only disturbance in the hot afternoon air… wait, what? But it’s January!
That’s right. Winter is just starting to claim its rights, but that doesn’t mean there is no escape from it. So while chilling on that lounge chair on Las Canteras beach in Gran Canaria and enjoying the picture perfect exotic holiday, i high five myself for finding the warmest spot in Europe right now.
Question is, how do YOU escape winter? As you can see, we get away from it. 🙂
If that sounds interesting, here’s the complete guide of traveling to Gran Canaria in January. You might want to save some tips for next year. Here we go.
COOL FACTS CANARY ISLANDS
First, here are some less known facts we learned about the Canary Islands, that will explain why they are so special. Not only the weather is different from north to south, but also the culture, architecture and landscape. It’s like exploring a micro-continent!
The Canary Islands are just 100 km from Africa, and 1000 km from Spain’s mainland.
The Canary Islands were created by a series of volcanic eruptions. The oldest is Fuerteventura, which is thought to be 15-20 million years old, followed by Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro.
The name of Canary Islands doesn’t come from the canarian bird, but from a breed of dog that inhabited the islands (Canariae Insulae in Latin means “Islands of the Dogs”).
Agaete valley at the northwest of Gran Canaria is one of the few places in Europe where coffee is cultivated.
The local population of La Gomera developed a whistling language, known as Silbo Gomero, as a means of communication across the narrow valleys. Used by the island’s original inhabitants, the Guanches, the whistled language existed before the arrival of Spanish settlers.
El Hierro, the smallest and southernmost of the islands, is close to being energy self sufficient. It sources most of its power from wind, sun and water.
Mount Teide on Tenerife island is the third tallest volcano in the world, with its summit being the highest point in Spain (3715 meters).
Christopher Columbus used the islands as a stopover on his way to the Americas. Gran Canaria and La Gomera were the last harbours he settled before his expeditions to the New World (1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502). The islands served as a refuelling point, as the expedition stayed for several weeks to stock up for the long journey ahead.
GRAN CANARIA MAIN ATTRACTIONS
If you’re staying for a week in Gran Canaria here’s what you can do:
- Casa de Colón
- Museo Canario
- Poema del Mar Aquarium
- Cocodrilo Park
- Palmitos Park
- Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo
- Dunas de Maspalomas
- Las Canteras
- Playa de Maspalomas
- Playa del Inglés
- Playa de Amadores
- Playa de Puerto Rico
- Playa de Mogan
We do have some favorites though. 🙂
A few hours at Casa de Colón (Columbus’ House) is time well spent. The palace was the residence of the first governors of the island, and it’s where Columbus stayed in 1492 while one of his ships was repaired. As soon as we entered and navigated through ship models, maps, journals and all sorts of nautical instruments, we went into explorer mode. Watch out, fun journey ahead!
Another highlight of Gran Canaria is Poema del Mar, by far the most spectacular aquarium we’ve seen. Through the largest curved window ever built (36 meters in length), you’ll have a glimpse into the deep ocean world. Reserve half a day for this full sensory experience, it’s awesome.
In terms of natural wonders, the dunes of Maspalomas are probably the most touristic spot on the island, and for good reason. If you thought the sand arrived here from Sahara, that’s not the case. It was actually washed up from the bottom of the ocean during the last ice age when the water retreated. Later on, the strong winds carried the golden sands towards the shore and this is how the dunes took shape. We tried several walking paths and constantly had the feeling we’re on another planet. Warning: at the end of the day, there won’t be a single pore on your body not covered in sand. 🙂
The actual surprise for us was the Botanical Garden Canario Viera y Clavijo, a hidden oasis southwest of the capital city of Las Palmas. Gathering diverse plant species of the Canary Islands in a Jurassic-like setup, it really puts things into perspective in terms of evolution. Note for hikers: steep slopes included, the view gets better as you go up.
Last but definitely not least, our favorite place for lazy morning walks, colorful cocktails, cafes, delicious pastries, south american food, clear and calm waters, sport zones, sunset watching, evening strolls, and basically everything that we could have wished for: Las Canteras beach. So if you want to wake up and have golden sand at your feet as you walk out the door, this urban beach is for you.
ACCOMODATION IN GRAN CANARIA
As we intended to have nearby all the amenities the capital can offer, there was no doubt we wanted to stay in Las Palmas, close to Las Canteras beach.
Hotel Matilde was a great choice for us. It was a real joy to watch the cruise ships at night or the sunrise in the morning from our terrace overlooking the port.
Beware, there is a significant difference between the north and the south (the north is more windy, cloudy and humid). So have in mind what you want, when searching for accommodations. If you’re going for the beach, aim for the south.
FAVORITE RESTAURANTS IN GRAN CANARIA
Food with South American influence? Yes please! I cannot say how much we loved eating Peruvian, Colombian or Venezuelan traditional dishes while in Gran Canaria.
Here are our favorite places to eat on the island:
- Juicy Avenue Las Canteras (breakfast)
- The Couple (breakfast)
- Restaurante Tabla Caliente (Spanish)
- Las Canteras Family Restaurant (Spanish)
- Aji Limón y Canela (Peruvian)
- Corazón de Venezuela (Venezuelan)
- Restaurante El Monje de Santa Ana (Spanish)
- Restaurante Tenderete del Sabor (Colombian)
TRANSPORTATION IN GRAN CANARIA
We opted for car rental at CICAR, same as we did in Tenerife. It’s the best rental company on the Canary Islands and our experience confirms it once again.
BUDGET FOR GRAN CANARIA
- Flights: 470 EUR
- Accommodation: 620 EUR
- Food: 550 EUR
- Car rental: 200 EUR
- Activities: 100 EUR
*for 8 nights/ 2 persons
WEATHER IN GRAN CANARIA
The great news is that sub tropical climate offers sunshine through the whole year in Gran Canaria. January is supposed to be the coldest month and August the hottest. But even so, it was ~22-23 °C during the day and 20 °C during the night during our stay. Pretty cool right?
Now…coming back to that lounge chair on the beach. 🙂 As i’m sitting in the sun with no worry on my mind, this question pops up. How do YOU know if you’re living the best version of yourself?
A few days go by, and my answer becomes crystal clear. You’re getting there when what you think, what you say and what you do are aligned.
So, leaving here what took shape on those bright afternoons, my daily reminder. Proof that a few days in the sun can do wonders.
☀Go for it, whatever you dream about
☀Keep your mind and body in good health
☀Ask for help
☀Accept setbacks with grace
☀Stand up for your values
☀Trust your instinct
☀Spend time with people who lift you up
☀Try out something new
☀Celebrate small wins
☀Take a break
Keep it going!
6 thoughts on “How to escape winter: Gran Canaria complete travel guide”
Well documented and great pictures, thanks!
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thanks a lot!
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Aw this is lovely, it looks beautiful especially the sand dunes and botanical gardens 😍 love your points at the end as well, all very true
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Thank you, Hannah! 🤗 it’s a cool place to escape the European winter, totally recommend it!
Amazing Photos of Gran Canaria, tomorrow i head to Gran Canaria for a week escape of Tenerife 😀
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Thank you! It’s fun to hear about ‘escaping’ from Tenerife :))) it’s an amazing island, loved it. Enjoy!