Gran Canaria is one of the seven main islands that make up the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands, located off the west coast of Africa. It is known for its diverse landscapes, ranging from lush forests to dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches. With a mild year-round climate, Gran Canaria is an ideal destination for travelers looking to escape colder climates and enjoy a sunny getaway. In this Gran Canaria travel guide, we will explore the top sights, tours, and activities, transportation and lodging options on the island.
Gran Canaria is a popular destination for tourists seeking sun, sea, and adventure, as it offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including water sports, hiking, and cycling. The island is also known for its rich culture, history, and gastronomy, with influences from both Europe and Africa.
- It is the third largest of the Canary Islands, with an area of approximately 1,560 square kilometers.
- The island has a population of around 850,000 people, making it the second most populous of the Canary Islands after Tenerife.
- Gran Canaria has a diverse landscape, ranging from stunning beaches and dunes to lush forests and rugged mountains.
- The island is known for its excellent climate, with warm temperatures year-round and minimal rainfall.
- Gran Canaria is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year with its stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, and wide range of activities and attractions.
- The island has a rich history and culture, with evidence of prehistoric settlements and ancient Guanche culture still visible today.
- Gran Canaria is home to several natural parks and reserves, including the famous Maspalomas Dunes Natural Reserve and the beautiful Tamadaba Natural Park.
- The island has a diverse economy, with tourism, agriculture, and fishing being the main industries.
- Gran Canaria is home to several festivals and events throughout the year, including the famous Carnival of Las Palmas and the Fiesta del Almendro en Flor, which celebrates the blooming of the almond trees.
- The island is easily accessible by air and sea, with several airports and ports serving the island.
- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: This vibrant city is the capital of Gran Canaria and the largest city in the Canary Islands. It’s a great place to explore with its historic quarter of Vegueta, the famous Santa Catalina Park, and the beautiful Las Canteras beach. Don’t forget to visit the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium and the Elder Museum of Science and Technology.
- Roque Nublo: This natural monument is one of the most iconic landmarks in Gran Canaria. It’s a giant rock formation that stands at over 80 meters high and is surrounded by stunning mountainous landscapes. The hike to Roque Nublo is a must-do for anyone visiting Gran Canaria.
- Puerto de Mogán: Known as “Little Venice,” this picturesque fishing village is a must-visit destination in Gran Canaria. With its colorful buildings, beautiful canals, and charming harbor, Puerto de Mogán is a great place to relax and enjoy the island’s beauty.
- Maspalomas Dunes: Located on the southern coast of Gran Canaria, the Maspalomas Dunes are an impressive natural feature of the island. The rolling sand dunes are a great place to take a walk or enjoy a camel ride.
- Teror: This beautiful town is known for its charming Canarian architecture, colorful houses, and beautiful church, the Basilica de la Virgen del Pino. Teror is a great place to explore the island’s history and culture.
- Vegueta: The historic district of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Vegueta is home to some of the oldest buildings on the island. The cobbled streets are lined with museums, art galleries, and cafes, making it a great place to spend an afternoon.
- Agüimes: This charming town is located in the southeastern part of Gran Canaria and is known for its historic architecture and quaint streets. The town is also home to the Cueva de los Vientos, a network of underground caves that are open to the public.
- Pico de las Nieves: This is the highest peak in Gran Canaria, standing at over 1,900 meters. The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking, and the drive up to the peak is also stunning, passing through beautiful forests and mountain landscapes.
- Palmitos Park: This wildlife park is home to a wide variety of animals, including dolphins, parrots, and crocodiles. The park also features botanical gardens, a butterfly house, and a bird of prey show.
- Bandama Caldera: This volcanic crater is located in the center of the island and is a popular destination for hiking and exploring. The crater is surrounded by stunning landscapes, and there are several trails that lead to the top for stunning panoramic views.
Top Tours & Activities
One of the best ways to explore the island is on a guided tour. There are many different tours available, including hiking, cycling, and sightseeing tours. The island is also a popular spot for water sports, including surfing, windsurfing, and scuba diving. Visitors can also take a boat trip to explore the island’s rugged coastline.
- Jeep Safari Tours: A thrilling way to explore the island’s rugged terrain is through a Jeep Safari tour. These tours take you off the beaten path and into the heart of Gran Canaria’s mountain landscapes. You’ll be able to see stunning views of the island, visit small villages, and get a taste of the local cuisine.
- Whale Watching Tours: Gran Canaria is a hotspot for whale watching. These tours give you the opportunity to see some of the most magnificent creatures on earth in their natural habitat. You’ll likely spot dolphins as well, as they are a common sight around the island.
- Water Sports: With its warm waters and steady winds, Gran Canaria is the perfect destination for water sports enthusiasts. From surfing and windsurfing to scuba diving and snorkeling, there are plenty of options for all levels of experience.
- Hiking Tours: Gran Canaria’s natural beauty is best experienced on foot. There are a variety of hiking tours available, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging treks. These tours take you through the island’s unique landscapes, including pine forests, volcanic craters, and dramatic cliffs.
- Culinary Tours: Gran Canaria’s cuisine is a blend of Spanish and African flavors, making it a unique and delicious culinary destination. A culinary tour is a great way to sample some of the island’s best food and drink. You’ll get to visit local markets, taste traditional dishes, and learn about the island’s culinary traditions.
- Historical Tours: Gran Canaria has a rich history that dates back centuries. A historical tour will take you through the island’s important landmarks, including ancient ruins, historic churches, and colonial-era buildings. You’ll learn about the island’s indigenous Guanche people, as well as its ties to Spain and other European nations.
- Shopping Tours: Gran Canaria is a great destination for shopping, with a variety of markets and boutiques selling everything from local crafts to designer fashion. A shopping tour will take you to the best spots to find unique souvenirs and gifts.
- Nightlife Tours: Gran Canaria has a vibrant nightlife scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. A nightlife tour will take you to the best spots to experience the island’s party scene, including live music venues and beachside bars.
- Beach Tours: With its stunning coastline and clear waters, Gran Canaria is the perfect destination for a beach tour. You’ll get to visit some of the island’s most beautiful beaches, including Maspalomas, Amadores, and Puerto de Mogán. Some tours even include water activities like snorkeling and kayaking.
- ATV Tours: If you’re looking for a thrill, consider taking an ATV tour of Gran Canaria. These tours take you through the island’s rugged terrain on a powerful ATV, giving you the opportunity to explore areas that are inaccessible by car.
Gran Canaria offers a wide range of holiday resorts that cater to different tastes and budgets. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious and relaxing getaway, a family-friendly resort with plenty of activities, or a budget-friendly option, there’s something for everyone on this beautiful island.
One of the most popular holiday resorts in Gran Canaria is Playa del Ingles, known for its long stretches of golden sandy beaches and lively nightlife. This area is popular with young travelers and offers a wide range of accommodations, from budget-friendly apartments to luxury resorts.
Another popular holiday resort is Maspalomas, located just south of Playa del Inglés. Maspalomas is known for its stunning sand dunes, nature reserves, and beautiful beaches. This area also offers a variety of accommodations, including all-inclusive resorts, apartments, and hotels.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious and peaceful getaway, Puerto de Mogan is a great option. Known as “Little Venice” for its charming canals, this resort offers a quieter atmosphere with a marina, beautiful beaches, and a variety of restaurants and shops.
For those looking for an eco-friendly and sustainable option, Agaete is a great choice. This small town is located on the northwest coast of the island and offers a laid-back atmosphere with natural hot springs, botanical gardens, and beautiful beaches.
Other notable holiday resorts in Gran Canaria include Puerto Rico, San Agustin, and Bahía Feliz, each offering their unique charm and amenities.
Gran Canaria is well-known for its beautiful and diverse beaches. From the golden sand dunes of Maspalomas to the volcanic black sand of Playa de las Canteras, there’s a beach to suit every taste. Playa del Inglés is one of the most popular beaches, famous for its long stretch of golden sand, crystal clear waters, and lively atmosphere. Maspalomas beach, located nearby, is a stunning natural reserve of sand dunes and lagoons, offering a unique landscape for a day trip.
For those who prefer a quieter atmosphere, the secluded and wild beaches of Güi Güi, Amadores, and Agaete are great options. The calm waters of Puerto de Mogán, known as the “Venice of the Canaries,” provide a peaceful setting for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.
Surfers and windsurfers should head to the north shore of the island, where the waves are more challenging. The rugged coastline of La Aldea de San Nicolás is a popular spot for adventure seekers, offering stunning views of the sea and the mountains.
Most of the beaches in Gran Canaria offer a range of facilities and amenities, including showers, sunbeds, and restaurants. You can also take part in water sports activities, such as snorkeling, diving, and jet skiing.
One of the highlights of Gran Canaria is its culinary scene, which is a mix of traditional Spanish and Canarian cuisine, as well as international fare. For a taste of local specialties, head to Casa Montesdeoca in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which offers a modern take on Canarian cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. For fresh seafood, try Restaurante El Cofradía de Pescadores in Arguineguín, a fishing village known for its daily catch.
If you’re looking for international cuisine, there are plenty of options as well. For Italian food, try Piccola Italia in Playa del Inglés, which serves authentic pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas. For sushi and other Asian specialties, head to TGB The Good Burger in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which also offers vegetarian and vegan options.
Aside from restaurants, there are many other places to enjoy a meal in Gran Canaria. Local markets like Mercado de Vegueta in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Mercado de San Fernando in Maspalomas offer a variety of fresh produce, cheese, and other local specialties. For a more casual dining experience, try a guachinche, a traditional Canarian eatery where you can enjoy homemade food and local wine.
Gran Canaria is a shopper’s paradise, with everything from designer boutiques to local markets. Shopping in Gran Canaria is fantastic.
In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, head to the Triana neighborhood for high-end fashion and jewelry stores, or to the Vegueta neighborhood for local handicrafts and souvenirs. In Maspalomas, the Yumbo Centrum is a popular shopping and entertainment complex with over 200 stores, bars, and restaurants.
Gran Canaria is known for its vibrant nightlife, with a variety of bars, clubs, and discos. In Playa del Inglés, the Kasbah and Plaza shopping centers are home to many popular bars and nightclubs, including Pacha and Cream.
For a more relaxed atmosphere, head to the Puerto de Mogán harbor area, which offers a variety of outdoor bars and restaurants with live music and entertainment.
There are several ways to get around Gran Canaria, including buses, taxis, and rental cars. Buses are the most affordable option, and they connect all the major towns and attractions on the island. Taxis are a convenient option for shorter journeys or when you’re in a hurry. Rental cars are a good option if you want to explore the island at your own pace and visit more remote areas.
There are plenty of accommodation options in Gran Canaria, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts. The island is particularly popular for holiday apartments and villas, which can be a good option for families or larger groups. Visitors can also stay in historic buildings, such as traditional Canarian houses, which have been converted into boutique hotels.