The island, born out of volcanic activity, sits some 100 miles off the west coast of Africa and enjoys an abundance of sun and a rolling landscape of sand dunes that have blown over from the Sahara Desert.
The resort of Maspalomas is where you and your family can explore the dunes. The sandy hillocks are for those on foot only - expect to see walkers, camel trekkers, and some nudists.
The island - the third largest of the Canaries - is fairly small and roughly round in shape, with a mountainous middle that rolls down to clean and sandy beaches, passing whitewashed villages and tourist resorts along the way.
Reaching your resort from the capital's Las Palmas Airport (LPA - also known as Gando) is simple with transfers or car hire, and most of the popular resorts are centred on the south coast of the island. Holidaymakers can choose from lively Playa del Ingles or Puerto Rico, hit the dunes in pretty Maspalomas, or just lie back and top up the tan in Puerto Mogan (which is Puerto de Mogan and Playa Mogan), Playa Taurito, San Agustin, Amadores, Bahia Feliz, Meloneras, Salobre or Sonnenland.
Whichever resort you choose, you will be greeted with typical Spanish hospitality and you'll find long sandy beaches on which to spend your days, and a variety of friendly restaurants in which to relax in the evenings. Families, groups and couples will find their ideal destination among the mix of quiet, exclusive resorts and bustling, energetic hotspots. And there's a great mix of accommodation in Gran Canaria, with villas, self-catering apartments, high-end hotels and spa hotels to choose from. There are all-inclusive options here too, though eating out is very good value if you aren't catered for day and night.
Gran Canaria holidays can be crammed with activity, if that's what ticks your holiday boxes, and there are opportunities galore to hit the waves and enjoy watersports.
The sport of shopping is popular here too, with Yumbo Centrum in Playa del Ingles providing gift and clothing shops and the Maspalomas Plaza contributing a higher-end shopping experience. The local markets, held all over the island (there's a great market at Teror every Sunday morning), are magnificent spots in which to soak up the atmosphere while picking up bargains, and the capital of Las Palmas offers a bustling shopping scene. Las Palmas is a worthwhile day trip and many hours can be spent enjoying the old town or savouring the beauty of Santa Ana Cathedral. And don't forget that Gran Canaria offers duty-free shopping, so you can stock up on goodies here.
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