The third largest of the Canary Islands is often called a continent in miniature, perhaps even three continents, given the wide ranging landscapes reminiscent of Europe, America and Africa Gran Canaria affords. Like birds flocking to warmer climes, tourism has been more developed in the south thanks to its sunnier, drier climate, which leaves other parts of the island relatively undiscovered. The Cumbres National Park, for example, is one of the islands best kept secrets and definitely worth a visit. The capital Las Palma de Gran Canaria is also a vibrant city offering culture and colonial architecture in equal measure.
Las Palmas de Gran Canarias preserves its lovely historic centre of cobblestone streets and typical Canarian constructions. Here we encounter the Cathedral looming over the Plaza de Santa Ana, the interesting Canario Museum, displaying artifacts of the pre-Hispanic natives, and the lovely Casa de Colón, exhibiting testimonies of Columbus’s stopover on this island and the importance of the Canaries in the discovery of America.
The town of Teror boasts the basilica of the Virgin of El Pino, one of the most charming places on the inland itinerary, with its handsome traditional balconies. Meriting special mention are the cities of Telde and Gáldar, both former pre-Hispanic capitals that preserve invaluable historic centres and interesting archaeological remains in their surroundings.
Cuisine is one of the Canary Islands attractions. Its simplicity exalts the quality of the native ingredients, including fresh fish, pork and goat, excellent vegetables, including potatoes, and tropical fruit. The first course may consist of a variety of thick soups made of watercress, squash or a variety of vegetables. The "vieja" or widow fish must also be mentioned, along with marinated pork and goat. Indispensable accompaniments are red and green mojo (an emulsion of paprika and cumin with chilli, oil and vinegar served with hot fish; green mojo uses fresh coriander leaves) and papas arrugas (wrinkled potatoes are new potatoes boiled in seawater then baked and served with spicy mojo sauce). The local wine made with the grapes of Malavasía is strong, dry and quite excellent.
The island’s volcanic origin and special position on the Atlantic Ocean have granted them some unique features. The Canarian landscapes offer activities related with the outdoors, including trekking, hiking or mountain biking. Indeed, nature and sports go hand in hand in the Canaries. There are also numerous marinas in the islands to provide for sailing and other water sports. One must also mention the excellent golf courses.