For a change, we are going to a very typical holiday island – Gran Canaria! With friends and an 18 Month Old-Mini Monster 😉 we shake up the third largest Canary Island. We booked individually and Edelweiss brings us, on a 4-hour flight, from Zurich to Las Palmas.
The south of Gran Canaria belongs to the tourists. Countless hotels and rows of beach chairs along the beach prove it. With that we are able to convince ourselves to make our first trip to Maspalomas. There are plenty of shopping centers and shops, but all already show signs of their years. Snack bars on the promenade offer unified pizzas and sandwiches.
Here is supposed to be THE attraction of Gran Canaria: the dunes of Maspalomas. Apart from the fact that I simply imagined something more impressive, this place was also ruined by the fact that the bushes are used by beach visitors as toilets. It’s also hard for me to concentrate on the uniqueness of the nature here, when on top of that, it is used as access to the nudist beach. To distract myself from this scene I think of puppies, Puppiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiies!
While I stand a bit frustrated in the dunes and the soles of my feet burn, my job for the next few days is clear! I’ll turn Gran Canaria upside down and find the 10 most beautiful places! Challenge accepted!
1. Boulevard El Faro, Meloneras
We go back to the lighthouse and beyond. And lo and behold, here already, the first beautiful spot for today. After the lighthouse Las Meloneras begins with the Boulevard El Faro. Unlike the Promenade of Maspalomas this is newly designed, with great shops, restaurants and green spaces. Even giant salamanders run across our path. And with fantastic ice cream from Pingüino Soul in hand, we enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean. There we go!
Due to the delicious ice cream from the Penguin 😉 we often go to the boardwalk at Las Meloneras and in the evening it is also really nice here.
2. Puerto de Mogán
In Puerto de Mogán Friday is market day. To be clear, the market itself is nothing special. At the stands only junk and counterfeit trademark goods are sold. But Puerto de Mogán, also called the Venice of Gran Canaria, is a lovely little fishing village. We stroll through the narrow streets with its white houses and in the air drifts the smell of the colorful plants. Be sure to go to the lighthouse, as on the way hide, in a harbour hall, small fish restaurants. Puerto de Mogán is really worth seeing, but I would precisely not go on market Friday, because it is completely overrun then!
On the way back to Maspalomas we do not take the highway but instead follow the coastal road GC500 which is fun and offers a great panorama view. We pass typical holiday bays like Taurito, Amadores and Puerto Rico, where hotel complexes are built up high into the cliffs.
We then still discover two small gems: In Tauro, somewhat hidden, is the simple local Vistamar. Who dares, can eat fish here among the locals and along the water. Lovely, and in this case that means authentic, is the town of Arguineguín. Even in the evenings the Spaniards sit on the road and serene music can be heard.
3. Tour through the midlands
From Maspalomas we drive on the GC60 to the gorge of Fataga.
In the village of Fataga, we make a short stop and are lured by apricot trees. A local comes up to us, allowing us to have a taste and we buy fresh apricots directly from the tree. Gran Canaria we can still become friends!
Next we go to San Bartolomé de Tirajana. In the cozy mountain village stands a lovely church and above all, there is the La Panera de Tunte – the baker of Tunte. We communicate with hands and feet and get freshly filled bocadillos (baguette) and fantastically delicious almond biscuits.
The next place we head for is Santa Lucía. On a narrow mountain road, we pass small houses, palm trees, almond trees and reeds. This is Gran Canaria!
In Agüimes, the next beautiful town on our tour, we walk through the cobblestone streets, across small squares with cafes and discover in every corner bizarre sculptures. From here we already have a view of our next destination. The ravine of Guayadeque.
A side road leads into the tight, high gorge in which rock cave houses and a chapel are to be found. At the end of the road in Moñtana de las Tierras we have a hearty meal in a cave restaurant.
We also get to learn an entirely new sport: The Canarians hike, with big sticks, up the cliffs only to then slide down, on the sticks, into the valley. A friendly Spaniard gives us a small demonstration.
Another little hint: Because of the small and winding mountain roads tours often “pull away” even if it is not more than a few kilometers away. Other than that, the weather is variable and in the mountains, it can quickly become cloudy and cold.
4. Tour through the North: Teror and Firgas
Our northern tour begins at Pico de Bandama. From up here you have a beautiful view of Gran Canarias capital and can have a look into the largest crater of the island. On the hill is also a tourist information center to be found.
We continue to the Farmer’s Market in Teror, which takes place on Sundays. In this market is what I missed two days earlier in Puerto de Mogan. Here local products are offered. We have a Bocadillo de Chorizo y Queso (buns with spicy pate and cheese) and enjoy the coulorful hustle and bustle.
Teror has a beautiful town with old town houses, dragon trees and the impressive Basilica.
In Teror we wonder at the street images which are created out of colored salt. These we will see again in other towns on our northern tour. We will then also be clarified on them later in Arucas. The background is Corpus Christi, which is celebrated in this part of Spain on the following Sunday on Corpus Christi.
We continue to the water town Firgas. Beautiful fountains and tiled images of the Canary Islands are to be discovered here. During our short walk we find Spaniards who sit comfortably in the streets and sing.
A visit to the third largest city of Gran Canaria is a must. We stroll through the streets of the town, which are also decorated with colored salt pictures. On the way to the young, but impressive Basilica we buy a scoop of banana ice cream (Arucas) with Nutella. Mmmm delicious! To end, we also take a stroll in the city park.
We come back to Arucas a second time to visit the Arehucas rum factory. From Monday to Friday between 9am-13: 30, you can spontaneously take part in a free guided tour, where you can view the Rum barrels and bottling. Following, there is also a free tasting, where you can try a variety of drinks. In the adjacent shop the rum can then – for much cheaper than in the souvenir shops – be bought.
6. Eating like the Canarians and Sunset in Arguineguín
Yes, we have visited Playa del Inglés and the local Citas (shopping malls) and no, it does not come into my top 10. We could still “Save” the day with a restaurant recommendation from a local. In El Pajar, near Arguineguín, right on the water stands a hut. Simple, authentic and tasty! Here we enjoy delicious Canarian potatoes, calamari and fried fish.
After dinner we go to the neighboring Arguineguín, one of the less touristy spots in the south, for a fantastically beautiful sunset.
7. Las Palmas
Gran Canarias capital, the beautiful town Vegueta and the promenade of Las Canteras. In the old town we visit the small market (Mercado de La Vegueta). We pass the oldest church in the city (Ermita de San Antonio Abad), the Columbus house all the way to Plaza de Santa Ana. There stands City Hall and the Santa Ana Cathedral. For 1.50 euro you can take the elevator to the church steeple. The view is fantastic!
We then walk through Plaza de Cairasco to the shopping mile Triana, following it to San Telmo Park.
North of town, the promenade Las Canteras is located, with many cafés and an uncrowded beach. Here one also meets the locals.
Other than that, in this quarter, is also the small fish market (Mercado del Puerto) to be found. The fortress Castillo de la Luz is located in a beautiful rose garden. In the park Santa Catalina, along with the tourist information office, the Spaniards sit in the shade and play cards.
Spread out in the expansive city, is also the Pueblo Canario, the Park Doramas and the old fashioned department store El Corte Inglés, whose visit was not worthwhile.
Caution: In Las Palmas parking in parking garages is very expensive. You should try to park on the street with a parking meter instead.
8. Enjoying Gran Canaria from the water
Those who so persistently explore the most beautiful corners of the island, must also have time to relax. For this we decided on a catamaran tour with Afrikat as the catamaran with only 30 people on board has a more private characteristic. We are picked up at the hotel and taken to Puerto Rico harbour. From there begins the 5-hour tour, which takes us along the south coast, pass Puerto de Mogan, to a small bay. There we drop anchor and cool off in the magnificent crystal clear waters. With a speedboat tour we head to nearby caves. On board there are free drinks and a buffet with meatballs, Canarian potatoes and salad. In the afternoon we sail back and enjoy the view of the steep, rugged coast of Gran Canaria. A nice, relaxed day!
Do not forget sunscreen and sun hats, the Canarian sun is not to be tested!
9. Roque Nublo and Mountain Village Tejeda
Inland are the two highest mountains of Gran Canaria to be found. The Pico de las Nieves at 1940 meters, but which cannot be climbed as it is a military area, and the 1800 meter high, Roque Nublo, which can be reached from the parking lot La Goleta on an easy 30-minute walk. The climb is worth it!
Thereafter we also visit the 20 minute away, picturesque mountain village of Tejeda. Here, at the bakery Dulcería Nublo Tejeda, we buy the famous marzipan cakes. Hmmm, delicious! Good thing we have just burned a few calories on Roque Nublo. 😉
10. Tour through the North and West: Sardina and the Coastal Roard GC200
We begin our North-West tour in Cenobio de Valerón in Guía. Here the natives dug 300 chambers into the cliffs to store supplies. They can be visited for a 2.50 euro admission cost.
10 km’s further west lies the town Gáldar with its attractive Plaza de Santiago and small shopping streets. Since we are there on a Sunday, it is very quiet. We sit in a sidewalk cafe and enjoy pastries and coffee. Again, we note that one can enjoy very good and inexpensive food in Gran Canaria.
From Gáldar we head on the GC202 and pass banana fields to Sardina. The small fishing village is completely non touristy and just due to this, must definitely be visited. Here the locals spend their Sunday swimming and fishing, while I photograph the colorful cottages and totally fall in love.
We drive up a bit further, to the north-westerly point of the island. The lighthouse reflects Gran Canaria perfectly – not spotless, but still beautiful!
We head back along the west coast with a stop in Agaete. The place itself, with its white houses, is worth a visit, but to admire the village, lying on the slopes, from a distance is the real highlight.
The panorama views on the coast road, GC200, with its rugged coast and view into the sun reflecting sea, is a dream!
Gran Canaria is perfect for beach holiday lovers, who enjoy lying on the beach and who want to stroll along the promenades in the evenings. On top of that, the island is very family friendly. However, it is also much more than just package holidays, all-inclusive and sunbathing. There is the versatile Gran Canaria with its dry landscapes in the south and the green north. If one is willing to look, you can experience unspoiled nature, discover cozy mountain villages and try lots of tasty Canarian food.
Definitely! A rental car in Gran Canaria is very cheap and it makes it possible to discover the many beautiful corners of the island, away from the mass tourist attractions. For 12 days the car, with Billiger Mietwagen, costs us only 120 Euro.
Almond biscuits, bocadillos, Canarian potatoes and plenty of fish. Visiting a Canarian bakery should not be missed. You must not be deterred by the simplicity of the restaurants. At El Boya in El Pajar, at the fishing cooperative in the harbouor of Arguineguin, in Tauro at Vistamar and in the lighthouse of Puerto de Mogan, we enjoyed good food.
The Canary Islands are close to pollen free and is therefore, for hay fever sufferers, a relaxing holiday destination.
In Maspalomas – a typical holiday destination in the south – we and our friends booked a Bungalow at Cordial Green Golf. The hotel is located slightly inland, so has no direct access to the beach, but therefore, a huge pool area. The bungalows have two floors, an open kitchen and a small terrace. The whole hotel area was very clean and the staff super friendly. We felt comfortable here. Full board is not obligatory. So we occasionally, spontaneously decided to take part in breakfast, dinner buffets and BBQs.
By the way: On the last day I even make peace with the dunes of Maspalomas. From the Riu Palace hotel they are very impressive and beautiful. 🙂
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