Gran Canaria is the largest of the Canary Islands, a group of islands located between Spain and the continent of Africa, and famed for white sand beach resorts, outdoor activities and a rich colonial history. There’s so much more to do here than just surf, sand and sea (though those are well deserved attractions!) – here’s a guide to what to do in Gran Canaria.
What to do in Gran Canaria: Casa de Colon
Although less known in other parts of the world, the fact that Christopher Columbus stopped here on his way to the new world is celebrated at Casa de Colon. The museum offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the intrepid explorer, as well as models of the three ships which formed Columbus’ fleet – the Santa Maria, La Pinta and Niña.
What to do in Gran Canaria: Maspalomas
While not as large as Playa de las Canteras, Maspalomas is famous for its vast dunes that cascade down towards the water. The dunes are a fragile ecosystem, and visitors should tread with care on the three walking routes available with signposts and information available at the information point at the Playa del Inglés. There’s also the opportunity to ride a camel in the desert and stop by a crystal clear lagoon.
What to do in Gran Canaria: Watersports
Blessed with warm water and blue skies, the Gran Canarias are a draw for watersport enthusiasts from all over the world. If you’re looking for something exciting to do in Gran Canaria, head to the water. The options are endless – take a surf course,go diving,take a whale or dolphin watching tour, or sail on a catamaran.
What to do in Gran Canaria: Pueblo Canaria
Pueblo Canaria is a modern day interpretation of a traditional Canarian village. It’s an interesting and fun visit for travellers with family to learn more about Spanish culture – there’s live folk music, performers in traditional costumes and the Museo Nestor, which offers an extensive local art collection.
What to do in Gran Canaria: Roque Nublo
Located in an otherworldly lunar landscape in the district of Tejeda, Roque Nublo is an 80 metre tall volcanic rock, under UNESCO protection as a natural monument. Formed by a volcanic eruption about 4.5 million years ago, Roque Nublo is a great place to go for nature lovers and hikers. Start at Degollada de la Goleta, and descend into the valleys by following a clear trail – the wildlife and views are stunning!
What to do in Gran Canaria: Museo de la Cueva Pintada
Known as the Museum of the Painted Cave, this archaeological site provides a glimpse of the pre-Hispanic Canaries and is a fascinating historical glimpse into the lives of the former inhabitants of the Gran Canarias. It is the only known painted cave in Spain. Guides are included in the entrance fees.
What to do in Gran Canaria: Mogan
Luscious pink bougainvilleas tumble over whitewashed walls overlooking winding alley ways in Mogan, a sleepy, picturesque town in the south of Gran Canaria. There is a small, perfect beach front for sunseekers, but Mogan’s main attractions are the small, cosy bars lining the marina, the colourful fishing boats and the warmth of the flagstone streets. Stay a day, or a night here and be charmed by small town life.
Where to stay in Gran Canaria
The city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is filled with plenty to see and do, including golden sand beaches, Catedral Santa Ana, archaeological sites, expansive parks and gardens and colonial architecture. There’s also bars, clubs and restaurants aplenty here, which makes Las Palmas an ideal base to stay in.
If you’re looking for a good value, quality hotel to stay in, you can’t go past the NH Imperial Playa. Part of the NH chain of hotels, the Imperial Playa offers neutral colours, clean lines and comfortable rooms. For something a little homier, choose the Downtown House, a cosy B&B with rates that include a simple breakfast. If you’re travelling with family or friends, try the Apartament Anfora, a black and white affair with its own kitchenette – very handy for cooking up simple meals or having breakfast at home.
Getting around in Gran Canaria
Given how spread out the attractions are on Gran Canaria, a hire car is recommended so that you can get around. While there are public transport options, these are not as extensive outside of Las Palmas. If you’d prefer someone else to do the driving, there are full day tours of Gran Canaria available which hit most of the highlights – and you won’t have to worry about the traffic!