Gran Canaria is part of the archipelago of the Canaries and is located about 4,000 kilometers from central Europe, in front of west coast of Africa. The distance between the island Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, and central Europe it is only 1.850 kilometers instead. And this is not the only difference, between these popular holiday islands among Europeans. What both islands have in common, despite them belonging to the Kingdom of Spain, is among others, the high recreational factor that is experienced during a stay. Gran Canaria vs. Mallorca, a comparison.
Facts and Figures
Mallorca has the lead in most data. The surface area of Majorca is about 3.600 square kilometers, the coastal line is 550 kilometers long and the population is 860 thousand. Gran Canaria is less than half the size with 1.560 square kilometers, which is also reflected in the coastal length of only 236 kilometers. However, with the population, Gran Canaria is almost equal with 848 thousand people. This also applies to the capitals. Palma de Mallorca, has 403 thousand inhabitants and about 379 thousand people live in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
There are clear differences in the number of foreign visitors. While 10.2 million people spent their holidays in Majorca in 2016, it was “only” 3.8 million in Gran Canaria in the same year. However, Germans are the largest tourist group on both islands, 4.5 million on Mallorca and on Gran Canaria around 1 million.
Comparing the highest elevations of both islands, Gran Canaria is number one. The Pico de las Nieves has an altitude of 1,949 meters while the Puig Major on Mallorca reaches 1,445 meters.
Location and Origin
Majorca is about 170 kilometers away from the Spanish mainland, located in the Mediterranean Sea, whereas Gran Canaria is about 2,000 kilometers further south-westerly in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The distance to the African west coast is just 180 kilometers. Geologically Gran Canaria thus is allocated to the African continent.
The differences are even more important when it comes to the formation of the two islands. Mallorca is the result of the shift of the African continent plate below the Eurasian, which has been going on for over 100 million years. In consequence the sea floor and the mainland behind are unfolded on the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, the Balearic Islands are an extension of the Andalusian Foothills. Because of the maritime origin of the island, Majorca mainly consists of limestone and fossils can be found everywhere.
The formation of Gran Canaria is a completely different one. Twenty million years ago, the two Canary Islands, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, rose by volcanic activity. About 7 million years later powerful underwater volcanoes raised the two islands Tenerife and Gran Canaria across the sea surface. There used to be elevations of up to 4,000 meters on Gran Canaria in previous years. Erosion has already diminished the island height by 2,000 meters. Due to the volcanic origin, different layers of different ages can be found on Gran Canaria, consisting of basaltic lava rock and volcanic ash.
In Gran Canaria there are no season changes depending on the time of year. The climate here is balanced and mild throughout the entire year. In the summer, the thermometers reach up to 29 degrees Celsius during the day, while in the winter the mercury column falls barely below 23 degrees Celsius. Even at night, temperatures in the coastal region rarely drop below 17 degrees. With 3,300 hours of sunshine a year, Gran Canaria holds the European record. There are no rainy days there in the summer and an average of three days of rain a month during the winter. These are the perfect conditions to visit this island at any time of the year.
The trade winds and the high mountain mass in the centre, however, cause that the weather on Gran Canaria varies between the north and south. The mountains force the Northeast-westering Passat to rise, causing abundant rainfall and slightly lower temperatures on the north side of the island. However, as the touristic areas are concentrated in the south of the island, this fact does not mean any disadvantage.
Mallorca, on the other hand, is not subject to such a division. The same climate prevails here throughout the whole island. Again, the weather is ideal for spending your holidays. But this only applies to the season that rages in Majorca from March to October. However, summer temperatures are often well above 30 degrees Celsius. In the winter, though, only 15 degrees are reached during the day and at night the mercury column can drop to as little as 4 degrees. With 2,900 hours of sunshine a year, Mallorca is far behind in comparison to Gran Canaria.
Also considering the number of rainy days, Mallorca is in disadvantage. It may rain for one to two days even in summer. And in winter the average number of rainy days goes up to six.
This means that the climate of Gran Canaria is more balanced and it offers best holiday conditions all year round. In Majorca instead you have to expect temperatures, which are far higher than 30 degrees in the summer months, while even the hotels are closed in the winter, as there are no holidaymakers due to the weather. In the climate category, the point clearly goes to Gran Canaria.
Infrastructure and Economy
Both islands belong to the Spanish state. As a result, the infrastructure is equally high, consisting of hotels, airports, medical care, communications networks and roads.
The international airport “Aeropuerto de Son Sant Joan”, which is located eight kilometers east of Palma de Mallorca, is by far the bigger one. About 26 million passengers are handled here each year. The terminal is divided into four modules and hosts 85 flight gates.
The international airport of Gran Canaria “Gando” is located about 18 kilometers south of Las Palmas. The terminal consists of three blocks with a total of 49 flight gates. In 2016, 12 million passengers passed through this airport.
In terms of taxation, there is a very interesting difference. While the general Spanish VAT rate of 21% (IVA) is valid on Mallorca, the IGIC is only 7% on Gran Canaria. Unfortunately, this is does not result in lower prices, apart of a few exceptions. Since Gran Canaria, is far away from the European mainland this causes higher transportation costs for goods as most of them are imported by sea. The VAT tax reduction is only given to ensure that the Canary Islands can remain competitive in a European comparison.
Gran Canaria as well as Majorca is in a good economic condition due to the booming tourism and both therefore are very interesting for investors of all kinds. Whether it is large international travel companies building or acquiring hotels and accommodation or private person, buying a property as a return property or for own use. The possibilities are manifold. The market for real estate in Mallorca and Gran Canaria is constantly growing. From condominiums to villas, the market is full of interesting objects. Those who enter now will benefit from the anticipated increases in value over the coming years.
Both islands impress with their almost perfect weather conditions. While you can go on holiday all year round in Gran Canaria, there will be a bright blue sky almost every day during the summer season in Majorca. If you are a fan of statistical facts, you will find Majorca at the top ranking with Gran Canaria. In the end, however, it does not matter. Mallorca and Gran Canaria guarantee their visitors a great, varied and relaxed holiday, in which none has to renounce to absolutely any comfort.
3 thoughts on “Gran Canaria vs. Mallorca, Two islands in comparison”
I’ve been to both islands. The roads and size of Mallorca matters for a MC driver, but Gran Canari is very good too. There you can drive in comfort all winter, but on Mallorca I would dodge the December and January..
Once I had cold rainy WEEK long in April at Mallorca.
For gourmet food I chose Mallorca. And the distance back up to my nordic homeland.
This spring we planned a trip to the island of Mallorca, but due to quarantine covid 19, the trip had to be postponed. You wrote very interesting information. Thanks for sharing!
Each of the islands has its undeniable advantages. The rest will be great anyway. The picturesque nature and warm coastline will be an excellent addition.