Gran Canaria is the third-largest island in the Canaries archipelago but accounts for almost half the population. It lives up to its cliché as a continent in miniature, with a dramatic variation of terrain, ranging from the green and leafy north to the mountainous interior and desert south. This is a rare Canary Island where you feel that there are still secret places to explore.
To glean a sense of this impenetrable quality, head to the centre where the sheer drama of the mountains more resembles the Tibetan highlands than a relatively small island. Alas, all too frequently, the perception of Gran Canaria is one of mass beach-front tourism, with few visitors ever discovering the riches of the natural hinterland. Considering this diversity in landscape, the good news is that, with your own wheels, you can get a reasonable look at the entire island in just three days or so, while the trip is equally feasible, if more time-consuming, by bus. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a bustling port town called home by an eclectic mix of people. If the bustle gets too much, head to The North where Arucas offers a laidback atmosphere and a few sights that make wandering worth your while. Also nearby is Teror, with its farmers’ markets and picturesque houses.