Beaches, sand dunes, nightlife, and a lush interior that is ideal for fascinating walks... there's lots to love about this island...
Along with the beautiful beaches, sports and lively nightlife, there is much more to enjoy. Most notably, tourists can visit attractions, historical buildings and museums in Las Palmas. You might want to visit the historical district of Vegueta, with its old buildings and cobbled streets where Christopher Columbus prepared for his adventures. Find out more at the Casa de Colon Museum.
Further inland you can explore the village of Teror, with its gleaming white buildings. Still relatively untouched by tourism, here you will find a taste of the Gran Canaria of old.
Take a break from the beaches and head further north, where you will find pretty fishing villages such as Puerto de Las Nieves. You can also climb the island's highest peak of Pozo de las Nieves or explore the pine forest of Tamadaba.
Sporting activities include mountain biking, quad biking, camel safaris through Maspalomas, surfing at Arguineguin and windsurfing at Pozo Izquierdo.
The weather in Gran Canaria is warm and sunny, with temperatures hovering between 16C and 32C. The warmest month is August, when temperatures often stay in the 30s.
You can fly direct to Las Palmas Airport (LPA) from most European locations.
Decide where to unpack your holiday wardrobe using our brief guide...
Gran Canaria hotels are available across the entire island, many of them within the resorts such as Amadores, Arguineguin, Bahia Feliz, Maspalomas, Meloneras, Playa Taurito, Puerto Mogan, Puerto Rico, San Augustin and the capital Las Palmas, a busy city with its cathedral and old town. There is a good choice of self-catering accommodation on the island as well as villas and basic hostels. Many of the hotels in Gran Canaria are very family friendly, providing play areas and babysitting services. The resort of Playa del Ingles is especially popular among gay and bisexual tourists.
Some high-end, five-star properties from the major chains, as well as Spanish chains such as Iberotel, H10, Hesperia, Nunez, Riu hotels, Sirenis, Viva, Barcelo, Tyrp, Sol, Melia, NH Hoteles, AC Hoteles and Abba, are located around the island.
Las Palmas, the capital, is home to a great nightlife, featuring many lively bars and clubs. Alternatively, visit Playa del Ingles, which is widely accepted to be Europe's winter party capital. The Yumbo Centre is a mecca for members of the gay community, while the Kasbah Centre is home to numerous family pubs.
From hushed peaks to bustling streets, there are many ways to see Gran Canaria...
If you do plan to get out and about and see what's outside your resort, car hire is a great idea. Good value and convenient, it's worth considering getting four wheels if you have an adventurous spirit.
Top five attractions
Camel safari at Maspalomas
The dunes of Maspalomas provide a giant sandy playground in the south of the island. Explore on foot or take a thrilling camel ride through this area of unbelievable beauty.
Tamadaba Natural Park
The green peaks and pine forests of Gran Canaria are quite at odds with the barren landscapes normally associated with these volcanic islands in the sun. There are many walking trails of varying difficulty among the ravines, mountains and trees.
Take a look at the city of Las Palmas, one of Spain's biggest; it's as busy as you're going to get in the Canary Islands. Highlights include shopping, museums, theatres, gardens, music venues and great city beaches.
A family favourite in Maspalomas, the resident dolphins draw the biggest smiles from visitors. The bird displays should also be factored into your day here.
Learn about the early inhabitants of the islands, the Guanche people, via this exhibit just 10 minutes from Maspalomas.
Book hotels in Gran Canaria in advance when the island buzzes with these annual events...
There are plenty of carnivals throughout the year, such as the Gran Canaria Carnival in February, Gay Pride at Maspalomas in May, the International Windsurfing Championships in July and the Telde Water Festival in August. The International Festival of Contemporary Dance takes place in October and November plays host to Womad, one of the world's leading music festivals.
These festivals are popular among tourists, which is why hotels book up quickly; for this reason it is essential to book early to avoid disappointment.
Three Kings; January 5: Though the decorations are coming down in Britain, early January is when Christmas really comes alive here. On this day, “Three Kings” parade through Las Palmas and other destinations on the island and hand out gifts to thrilled children.
Gran Canaria Carnival; February/March: The annual carnival celebrations are always colourful, fun-filled and non-stop. Las Palmas is the main party destination, though resorts and large towns will host their own on various dates. Be a part of the festivities if you're on the island.
The Bringing of the Water at Telde; August: This mass water fight has its origins in the 1970s when local youngsters would go and collect water to keep the crops alive in the searing heat. Now participants use water guns, buckets and whatever else they can find to cool off and have fun!