Gran Canaria uses Western European Time (WET), which is the same timezone as the UK and Ireland, along with Portugal (apart from the Azores), the Faroe Islands and Iceland. All of these (apart from Iceland) use daylight savings time in summer (also known as British Summer Time or BST), so clocks are adjusted forwards and backwards by one hour in March and October.

Gran Canaria Clock

These timezones go by several names, including Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), Irish Standard Time (IST), Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and Atlantic/Canary. Since the daylight savings time changes happen on the same dates in Gran Canaria as the UK, the time remains the same in both the UK and the Canary Islands throughout the year.

Central European Time (CET) is used in Mainland Spain, which means that the Canary Islands are one hour behind the time in Madrid, and Spanish TV and radio audiences are accustomed to hearing ‘una hora menos en Canarias‘ when an announcer talks about programme schedules. The one hour time-zone difference between the Canaries and Peninsular Spain was mandated by law in 1922. Until then, there had been no unified time in the Canary Island – much to the consternation of shipping merchants.

Both Mainland Spain and the Canary Islands are actually in the wrong time zone for their actual geographical positions. This oddity dates back to World War II when Franco altered the timezone from GMT to GMT+1 in order to align Spain more closely with Germany. This meant that the Canary Islands also had to change from GMT-1 to GMT+0 (in order to preserve the one hour time difference mandated by law). During the war years, Britain and France also changed their time-zone from GMT to GMT+1, however, after the war, Britain switched back to GMT – while France and Spain did not.

Mobile Phone Time

Smartphones often synchronise their time with the Mobile Phone Network that they are connected to. Unfortunately this often means that your phone will incorrectly display the time for mainland Spain, and not the local time in Gran Canaria. While this might not appear to be a big problem, it will become one if you rely on your smartphone’s alarm clock to get you up on the morning of your return flight, and you find yourself an hour late at the airport.

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