Gran Canaria: exploring a miniature continent

THANKS to its contrasting landscapes and diverse microclimates, it’s easy to see why Gran Canaria is known as a ‘miniature continent’. If mention of this gorgeous Canary Island solely conjures up images of beaches and a sun drenched landscape, then think again. The mountainous green landscape of the north and west is a pleasant surprise and a stark contrast to the geography of the south and east and creates an interesting blend. If you tire of lounging on one of the many gorgeous beaches to be found in resorts dotted along the south coast of the island, you can travel inland and be in a picturesque hilltop villageadmiring panoramic views of this pretty island in just under an hour.

Casa de Colon, Las Palmas

Casa de Colon, Las Palmas


Bandama Caldera(part of the Tafira Protected Landscape) is one such location which is well worth a visit as itshowcases the lush green landscape of this beautiful island in all its glory. This volcanic crater is a popular location for hiking and will appeal to all outdoor enthusiasts.In order to reach one of the best vantage points over Bandama Caldera, we embarked on a sometimes hair-raising spin along narrow winding roads.Thankfully, we were in the capable hands of our brilliant driver Cristian who navigated these roads with skill. On reaching our chosen viewing point, we were rewarded with spectacular views of the island. Located nearby is the village of Santa Brígidawhich is situated in a gully surrounded by beautiful palm trees. If you decide to walk around the village, you can visit the attractive Parish Church of Santa Brígida and also admire the gorgeous villas and houses that contain elements of traditional Canarian architecture.

The quaint charm of Santa Brígida contrasts with the cosmopolitan feel ofnearby Las Palmas which is the bustling capital of Gran Canaria. During a previous visit to Las Palmas, I had explored part of this intriguing city by bike.
This time, I opted for foot and discovered more of its beauty while also reacquainting myself with the expansive promenade area aroundLas Canteras Beach. The city, which is a popular stopping off point for cruise liners, is an ideal shopping destination and boasts numerous top fashion stores including Spanish brands s Zara and Mango.
Las Palmas also has numerous markets which display mouth-watering local produce and are well worth a visit.
We enjoyed a visit to theVeguetamarket where we feasted on a beautiful tapas lunch with our friendly and knowledgeable guide Maria.

She also expertly guided usthrough the attractive streets of Las Palmas and pointed out many important landmarks including the beautiful Santa Ana Cathedral. A short distance from the Plaza Santa Ana, just behind the cathedral, is what is widely regarded as one of the most splendid buildings in all of Las Palmas – Casa de Colón (Columbus House).
This is an ornate former governor’s house which was visited by Christopher Columbus.It has a number of attractive courtyards and houses a museum which provides details of the famous voyages which Columbus embarked upon.
After having explored so much of the city, I was ready to return to my base at Puerto de Mogán where I reflected on my whirlwind visit around this enchanting island while unwinding by the poolside at Apartamentos Cordial Mogán Valle.
Undoubtedly, holidaymakers should avail of the chance to explore the interior of the island and its vibrant capital in order to fully appreciate the diverse beauty of Gran Canaria.

As a holiday destination, Gran Canaria offers something to suit all interests and will certainly appeal to culture vultures, foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and (of course) sun worshippers of all ages.

ACCOMMODATION
Puerto de Mogán is an ideal base for exploring the island. This gorgeous fishing village has earned the name ‘Little Venice’ due to its beautiful canals. Its attractive bougainvillea filled streets are worth checking out.

Apartamentos Cordial Mogán Valle
– Three star apartment complex attractively constructed into a hillside which provides a wide range of facilities.
Cordial Mogán Playa Hotel - Four star hotel set on beautifully manicured grounds which offers a wide range of dining options and resembles a traditional Canarian village. Visit www.cordialresortholidays.com

If you decide to stay elsewhere on the island, a day trip to Puerto de Mogán is a must.

FLIGHTS
We flew with Aer Lingus from Cork to Gran Canaria. For timetable and fares visit www.aerlingus.com Direct flights are also available from other Irish airports. Gran Canaria’s airport is situated south of Las Palmas and around 40 minutes from Puerto de Mogán.

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