Those who live in Gran Canaria say that it is a “miniature continent” and after visiting it we understand why: the heterogeneity of this island means that there are plans for all tastes. Days of beach and nightlife, hiking and contact with varied flora and fauna, or a stroll through some of the most beautiful villages of the Canary Archipelago.
Although Gran Canaria is one of the most exploited islands of the archipelago in terms of tourism, especially visible on the beaches of the south, it hides villages that are real gems to get lost in, impressive cliffs from which to contemplate the sunset, beaches between kilometers of dunes where the cold never arrives and some more unknown beaches where you will come across few people even in the south and at the peak of summer. All this and practical information about where to sleep, where to eat, and how to get there, we tell you in this guide about Gran Canaria.
- Basic data for traveling to Gran Canaria
- When to visit Gran Canaria (weather and best months)
- How to get to Gran Canaria
- How many days to spend in Gran Canaria
- Things to do in Gran Canaria
- Map of Gran Canaria
- 1. South of Gran Canaria
- Maspalomas Dunes
- Most touristic beaches in the south of Gran Canaria
- Less touristic beaches in the south of Gran Canaria
- Barranco y Presa de Ayagaures
- Arco del Coronadero and Barranco Hondo
- Salinas del Matorral and Castillo del Romeral
- 2. Interior of Gran Canaria
- Fataga, Arteara and the viewpoint of Degollada de la Yegua
- Tunte (San Bartolomé de Tirajana)
- Agüimes, synonym of beauty in pastel colors
- Artenara, cave-houses and breathtaking viewpoints
- Tejeda, the Cross of Tejeda and Roque Bentayga
- Roque Nublo: hiking, viewpoints and that sunset at the Nublo Window
- Temisas Astronomical Observatory
- Barranco de las Vacas (the “mini Antelope Canyon”)
- Barranco de Guayadeque
- La Sorrueda and the Fortaleza de Ansite
- 3. West of Gran Canaria
- 4. North of Gran Canaria and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- Santa Brígida, Atalaya and Caldera de Bandama
- Moya and Los Tilos
- Arucas, the church and the rum
- Firgas, the fountain and its Paseos Canarios
- Teror, the Virgen del Pino and the morcilla
- Salinas el Bufadero, a dip in history
- Telde, the Bufadero de La Garita and the beach of Tufia
- Get inspired with our stories about our visit to Gran Canaria
- The best hiking and cycling routes in Gran Canaria
- Where to dive in Gran Canaria
- Where to stay in Gran Canaria: the best areas and the best accommodations
- Best restaurants in Gran Canaria
- Gran Canaria itineraries
- Transportation: rent a car in Gran Canaria
- How much does it cost to travel to Gran Canaria?
- Safety tips and precautions for travel to Gran Canaria
- Checklist: what to pack in your backpack/suitcase for Gran Canaria
Basic data for traveling to Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is the third largest island in size of all the Canary Islands (ahead of Tenerife and Fuerteventura) and the second most densely populated (after Tenerife). It is one of the most exploited in terms of tourism (especially the south of the island), which means that it is more complicated to find a very unspoiled place without people compared to other neighboring islands, although not impossible as we will tell you in this guide. However, it is the island of guaranteed fun.
Population: 866,000 (in 2019)
Daily budget: From 65€/day per person (approx.) for a one-week trip. More budget information here.
Climate: due to its orography, the climate varies a lot depending on the part of the island, being the south the place with guaranteed sun and heat practically all year round. Find out more about when to go here.
Accommodation: We usually stay in the south of the island where it never gets cold (in Maspalomas or surroundings) or in the capital Las Palmas (in Playa de las Canteras or in the neighborhood of La Vegueta ) although it depends a lot on your itinerary and your preferences within the trip. We recommend specific itineraries from 2 to 7 days here and, depending on that, choose an area based on your itinerary or split your stay between north (or interior) and south. All the info about where to sleep here.
Duration: Minimum 3 days. Ideally 1 week. More info here
How to get there: There are many flights to Gran Canaria both from the mainland (Spain) and from other european countries. The cheapest flights are usually with Ryanair / Easyjet. We recommend you use flight comparators such as Skyscanner and Kiwi and be flexible with the dates. You also have the more sustainable option of making the crossing by boat from Huelva, ideal especially if you want to bring your own vehicle or if you want to travel with your pet. More info here.
Transportation: The best option is to rent a car. More info here. There are bus lines that connect the different points of the island but the frequencies are limited and it is not an option that we can recommend if you want to make the most of your visit to Gran Canaria.
Time zone: UTC +1. The time in Gran Canaria (and in the whole archipelago) is one hour less than in mainland Spain.
When to visit Gran Canaria (weather and best months)
As we said, Gran Canaria is like a miniature continent, something that is also reflected in its climate: the orography of the island (which has an altitude of almost 2000 meters above sea level) and the trade winds (Alisios winds) make for a wide variety of microclimates.
For example, the south (the most touristic area of the island) is characterized by high temperatures and sunshine practically all year round, reaching over 40º during the heat waves of the summer months, and also suffering from episodes of calima (dust in the air from the Sahara desert). Average minimum temperatures in the south are usually between 14º (December to March) and 20º (July/August), while average maximum temperatures range from 20º in winter to 27º in summer.
Inland, due to the altitude, temperatures are milder and in winter we can even find snow.
The north and interior of the island are more exposed to the trade winds (which are stronger in summer) and tend to have more rain and cooler temperatures. In Las Palmas the phenomenon locally called “Panza de burro” (donkey’s belly) is very famous, where the trade winds bring low clouds that cover the sky during most of the time in the summer months. The “Panza de burro” acts as a screen to the sun and temperatures drop, although the heat is more humid.
As for the most touristic periods, the peaks tend to be in summer, Christmas and Easter. It must be taken into account that Gran Canaria is the most densely populated island, so that in these periods, in addition to tourism from the mainland and abroad, we must add the local tourism that comes down from the north to the south.
Best months to travel to Gran Canaria
Taking all the above into account, the best months to travel to Gran Canaria with the best chance of good weather in any area are April (except Easter), May, June, September and October. Winter (except Christmas) is also a good time but you should keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to enjoy the beaches/natural pools in the north of Gran Canaria.
If you are only looking for beach time and go directly to the south, any month of the year is good weather-wise and we recommend avoiding July and August as it’s usually too crowded.
We spent almost a month on the island, in July, and despite being in an unusual situation (the pandemic caused by Covid-19), the south was quite crowded (we don’t want to know how it must be in a “normal” summer), although the rest of the areas (especially the towns and inland areas) were much quieter.
How to get to Gran Canaria
The fastest way to get to Gran Canaria is flying. There are many flights both from the mainland (Spain) and from other European airports, with very competitive prices thanks to low cost companies such as Ryanair and Easyjet. We recommend you be flexible with dates and use price comparators such as Skyscanner and Kiwi.com to find the one that suits you best. You can also fly between islands with Binter (more expensive) or Canaryfly (cheaper).
The most sustainable way to get to Gran Canaria is by boat. Doing the crossing between Huelva and Gran Canaria is also ideal if you travel with your own vehicle (your motorhome for example) or you want to travel with your pet and you don’t want it to go in the hold. It will take you longer (31h approx) but it is an adventure in itself with decks where you can relax, self service restaurant and bar. In this post we tell you how was our experience on board the Marie Curie operated by Fred. Olsen Express and Baleària in case you want to do it.
If you are also interested in exploring other islands, you can also do it by boat. We did it in the company Fred Olsen between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria and we loved it: a crossing of just over 2 hours between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria in a huge, spacious, very comfortable boat where we could carry all the luggage without limitations and without billing anything. Of course, be careful with the rental car, you have to ask or ask the company for permission to move it between islands.
How many days to spend in Gran Canaria
As you will see when reading this guide, in Gran Canaria there are many plans: for beach lovers, party people, sporty people, cultural people… Ideally you should have a week but if you do not have that much time, we would say that the island deserves at least 3 days to enjoy its beaches, its gastronomy and go into some jewel of its interior. For this reason we propose, at the end of this guide, itineraries of several days, to facilitate the organization of your trip.
Things to do in Gran Canaria
To make it easier to locate and organize your days in Gran Canaria, we have classified the island by zones: South, Interior, West and North. Here is a summary and then all the information about each of the places.
- South of Gran Canaria
- Maspalomas Dunes
- Most touristic beaches in the south of Gran Canaria (Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés, Amadores…).
- Less touristic beaches in the south of Gran Canaria (Tiritaña, Montaña de Arena…)
- Barranco y Presa de Ayagaures
- Arco del Coronadero and Barranco Hondo
- Salinas del Matorral and Castillo del Romeral
- Interior of Gran Canaria
- Fataga, Arteara and the viewpoint of Degollada de la Yegua
- Tunte (San Bartolomé de Tirajana)
- Agüimes, synonym of beauty in pastel colors
- Artenara, cave-houses and breathtaking viewpoints
- Tejeda, the Cruz de Tejeda and Roque Bentayga
- Roque Nublo: hiking, viewpoints and sunset at Ventana del Nublo
- Temisas Astronomical Observatory
- Barranco de las Vacas (the “mini Antelope Canyon”)
- Barranco de Guayadeque
- La Sorrueda and the Fortaleza de Ansite
- West of Gran Canaria
- North of Gran Canaria and Las Palmas
- Las Palmas: Vegueta, Triana, Las Canteras and El Confital
- Santa Brígida, Atalaya and the Caldera de Bandama
- Moya and Los Tilos
- Arucas, the church and the rum
- Firgas, the fountain and its canary strolls
- Teror, the Virgen del Pino and the morcilla
- Salinas del Bufadero, a dip in history
- Telde, the Bufadero de La Garita and the beach of Tufia
To make it easier for you to find your way around the island and to help you organize your trip to Gran Canaria, here is a map where you can see each of these areas divided by color.
Map of Gran Canaria
Here we leave you all the places to visit in Gran Canaria that we talk about in this guide on a Google Maps map that you can carry on your smartphone to check at any time. The areas are classified in colors (South in orange, Interior in brown, West in green and North in blue).
Here is also a tourist map with the roads of Gran Canaria (click on the image to download it in larger size and resolution).
1. South of Gran Canaria
The south of Gran Canaria is the area with the best climate all year round, less winds and better beaches, although it is also the most exploited and touristically overcrowded area. Here are the most interesting places to visit in this area of Gran Canaria.
The postcard of Gran Canaria and probably the most popular attraction on the island: the Special Natural Reserve of the Maspalomas Dunes . It is a protected landscape of more than 400 hectares of beach, a field of living dunes of organic sand, a brackish lagoon(la Charca) and a palm grove. The Maspalomas Dunes were reclassified in 1994 as a Special Natural Reserve, but its protection actually dates back to 1975.
It is impressive to contemplate the immensity of the golden and desert landscape with the sea in the background, as if it were an oasis. The first time we saw them was durint the sunset and it is a spectacle of nature that you should not miss. If you are spending the day on the beach of Maspalomas, stay to see the spectacle of lights and shadows that dance and dye the waves of the dunes while the sun says goodbye. If you’re not around, come by on purpose one day at that time, you won’t regret it.
To get there (both the viewpoint and the visitor center of the Maspalomas Dunes) you will have to go to the entrance of the Hotel Riu Palace and cross it,(this is the exact point on the map) something we found horrendous: that to access such beauty and protected natural landscape you have to go through a luxurious private hotel available to very few.
From there, there is a trail (the number 3) that crosses the different types of dunes of the reserve, passes through the Palm Grove and where you can see the wildlife of the Pond until you reach the beach of Maspalomas.
Important! You can only walk on the marked path, to protect the dunes, and it is forbidden to walk on the dunes outside the path but you will see people everywhere (partly because people ignore the rule, partly because the prohibition is not well indicated). In fact we didn’t know about it and we found out thanks to Marta, a follower who wrote us with a lot of info about it and who also recommended us some off-trail places on the island.
In theory, after the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the dunes looked their best in many years (because nobody stepped on them for several days, you can read more about it here), and they were going to put permanent surveillance to prevent people from leaving the trail, but it was short-lived and when we went there was no longer such surveillance.
We encourage your civic, responsible and environmental conscience to enjoy this wonder without causing an irreversible impact. You may think that it is just a short trip to take a picture for yourself, but if all the people who visit the dunes think the same, there are many photos and footprints that have that irreversible impact that we want to avoid.
The purpose of the protection of the dunes and the limits to walk through the dunes fixed to the marked trails is the maintenance of the essential ecological processes linked to the dune ecosystem and the Maspalomas Pond, its flora and fauna and the landscape they form.
Most touristic beaches in the south of Gran Canaria
The south of Gran Canaria is its most touristic area, and it is there where you will find more beaches. Some of them are very very touristy, with hyper-built environments and depending on the season, little space to put your towel. In general, except for the farthest beaches in the Maspalomas area, we do not recommend these beaches (visiting them after being in Fuerteventura, the island that has – in our opinion – the best beaches in the Canary Islands, was quite a shock), but they are beaches with many services and easy access, so we list them here in case they are what you are looking for. If you prefer less touristic beaches, go to the next section.
Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés beaches
They are actually the same beach, huge and kilometer long, the result of where the dunes of Maspalomas meet the sea, but there are two areas with different names.
- Playa de Maspalomas: starts at the Faro de Maspalomas to Punta de Maspalomas, where it joins Playa del Inglés.
- Playa del Inglés: starts at Punta de Maspalomas and extends to Playa de San Agustín, leaving a couple of coves in between.
Because it is a huge and extensive beach, and because the most comfortable access is at the ends (where you can drive to the beach itself), the further you go away from these two points, the easier it is to get away from the horrendous constructions and be in a more natural area with fewer people. In the central part there are also nudist areas.
Gran Canaria, and especially the south, is a very sought after destination for LGTBQI+ travelers because of its openness, specific accommodation and leisure offer and of course, its good weather all year round. Find more info about venues and events here.
Thank you GranCa for being so open and colorful! May the rest of the world be inspired by you.
There are three ways to access Maspalomas Beach/San Agustin Beach:
- Along the path, passing the Hotel Riu Palace, arriving at the beach. Keep in mind that the further you walk towards the end, the less people you will encounter and the more you will enter the nudist area of the beach. This is the area we like best on the beach, where you can be in peace and quiet.
- Tothe left of the dunes, arriving at Playa del Inglés. This was the area of the beach that we liked the least, with more crowds, cafes, terraces and even McDonalds.
- To the right of the dunes, where the Maspalomas Lighthouse and the Paseo de las Meloneras are located. We liked this area of the beach better than Playa del Inglés but it is still very touristy.
If you don’t want to walk too much, in our opinion the area of Playa de Maspalomas is much better than Playa del Inglés. In addition, you can park for free a few meters away (near the pond, see map).
If you want to guarantee that the days you spend on the island are days of warmth and sunshine, find your accommodation in Maspalomas.
San Agustin Beach
San Agustín beach is an urban beach of dark sand, in the tourist area of San Agustín. It is a beach quite close to Playa del Inglés with a great variety of accommodations and restaurants. It has all the services and the water is usually very calm, so it is a very popular beach for families.
Las Meloneras Beach
The beach of Las Meloneras is located after the lighthouse of Maspalomas, very touristy and with all the services, although somewhat less crowded than its neighbors.
You can easily walk from the Maspalomas Lighthouse along the promenade, always close to the sea and full of stores and restaurants (and tourists).
Beaches of Arguineguín and Las Marañuelas
Arguineguín is a small fishing and tourist village, located between Maspalomas and Puerto Rico. It has two beaches: Playa de Arguineguín and Playa Las Marañuelas, both small urban beaches very quiet and with all the services, ideal to visit with the family. It is also an excellent place to watch the sunset.
Anfi del Mar Beach
Anfi del Mar is an artificial beach (also known as Playa de la Verga), recommended and frequented by families with children because the waters are very calm and it has all the services. This makes it also a very touristic and crowded beach, completely surrounded by construction (hotels and apartments).
Los Amadores Beach
The beach of Los Amadores is another artificial beach of transparent, calm and crystalline waters, surrounded by cement and with all the services and parking. The truth is that the beach is a postcard, it looks almost like a swimming pool, but its enclave between construction and its tourist overcrowding subtract, in our opinion, much charm.
This beach therefore also ideal for families, with many options to eat next to the beach.
Puerto de Mogán and its beach
Puerto de Mogán is a small village next to the sea, very touristy, but no less beautiful for that: its photogenic narrow streets full of flowers invite you to stroll in peace and quiet.
Puerto de Mogán also has a small artificial beach very frequented by families due to its calm waters and abundant services.
Less touristic beaches in the south of Gran Canaria
Here are the beaches of the south which, in our opinion, are worth a visit if like us you like more natural beaches, more difficult to access and therefore, less crowded. Of course, do not expect empty and lonely beaches, the south of Gran Canaria receives a lot of tourism, so all the beaches are always crowded.
Tiritaña beach is a beach of somewhat difficult access and therefore, much less frequented than most beaches in the south. It is a beach without any kind of services or construction around it, a real jewel in the middle of all the urban aberration of the south of Gran Canaria.
It is located on the old road to Puerto de Mogán (GC-500), a few kilometers before arriving. Once you get to this point we indicate on the map, you can park on the sides (you will see a parking area with probably more cars parked).
To get to the beach, from where you leave the car you have to go down the ravine towards the sea (you have to pass the guardrail). The path is not marked but with a little intuition you arrive without problem. It is important to wear appropriate footwear (better not to use flip flops) and not to go with a lot of load, you have to go through some stones so the more comfortable the better. It takes about 10-15 minutes to go down, it is not very difficult but you have to be careful.
The small beach (it is about 70 meters wide) is also famous for being a spot where young people go camping, and unfortunately, when we visited it there were too many tents and an atmosphere that detracted a lot of charm to the beach: garbage lying on the road, loud music and some engines / generators of electricity that made a lot of noise.
Nudism is allowed at Tiritaña beach, although when we visited most people did not practice it. On the left side there are usually fewer people (although at high tide this area is very small). There are no options to buy anything, so bring plenty of water and whatever you want to eat.
Montaña de Arena Beach
Our favorite beach in the south of Gran Canaria: Montaña de Arena beach is a wide, nudist beach , without construction and not very accessible, an oasis in the middle of the overcrowded south of the island. In fact, you can only get there on foot or by sea and you can’t even see the beach from the road.
To get there, you can park your car at the point indicated on the map (there is a large parking area). From there, you should always walk straight ahead towards the sea (when you get to a fork in the road, you have to continue straight ahead – the path on the right – if you go to the left you end up at another beach, Playa de las Mujeres). The walk takes about 10-15 minutes, first uphill and then downhill. The last part, where you go down to the beach, is rocky and steep, so we recommend wearing good shoes (although you can do it with flip-flops) and little load.
As in Tiritaña, when we visited this beach there were many tents (and even some that seemed to be there permanently or at least for long periods), with people barbecuing, something that detracts some peace and charm. But unlike the previous one, Montaña de Arena Beach is much larger and wider, so it is easier to find space (be careful because at high tide the beach gets quite small).
We recommend bringing plenty of water and a beach umbrella if you are going to spend the day.
Cabrón Beach and Punta Arinaga Lighthouse
Playa del Cabrón is located near the airport, and although this area on the east coast suffers a lot from the winds, it is partially protected from the wind, so it can be a good option.
When we visited it there were few people compared to the beaches in the south. The beach hasa dirt parking area(the road is dirt and stone, you have to go slowly to avoid damaging the car) and has lifeguards.
Before or after going to the beach, don’t forget to go up to the Punta Arinaga lighthouse which is next to the beach. This beach is also one of the best places to dive, we tell you more in the diving section of the guide.
Barranco y Presa de Ayagaures
We got to know the Barrango de Ayagaures thanks to the fact that it was close to where we stayed during our visit to Gran Canaria. Only about 15 minutes drive from Maspalomas, it is a very quiet and natural area known for its cycling routes, walking and bird watching.
Ayagaures is a name with aboriginal origin that means “between two mountains”. When accessing the road leading to the dam, from Maspalomas, it is impressive how narrow it is and the large vertical walls that are on the sides. After climbing for a few minutes, you will reach the village of Ayagaures, one of the “Eco-neighborhoods of Gran Canaria“ (part of the Eco-neighborhoods project, which seeks to create sustainable neighborhoods and encourage citizen participation).
It is a corner that does not usually appear in the guidebooks of Gran Canaria and that we loved to know.
We showed you more of the house where we stayed in Ayagaures in our stories here and if you want to book it you can do it here. If it’s not available when you go, find more options in Ayagaures in this link (or if you prefer to be closer to the sea, check out accommodations in Maspalomas here).
Arco del Coronadero and Barranco Hondo
The Arco del Coronadero is an impressive natural archthat can be accessed through a hiking trail. We had the plan written down but in the end we didn’t have time to do it, so we have it pending for our next visit to Gran Canaria.
Important! If you search, you will find photos where people appear climbing on top of the arch, something you should not do if you are a responsible tourist: because of the danger involved and to avoid damaging this wonderful rock formation.
Salinas del Matorral and Castillo del Romeral
In this area, which is located in the southeast of Gran Canaria, we arrived by chance one of our days on the island, on our way to the north, looking for a place to eat. Although the beaches in the area are not the best (mainly due to the strong winds that blow in this area, especially during the summer), there are several restaurants with fresh fish where you can eat very well, as well as a nice walk if it is not too windy.
2. Interior of Gran Canaria
The interior of Gran Canaria was the area that surprised us the most and became our favorite area of the island. Far from the overcrowding of the south, with incredible natural landscapes and beautiful villages.
Fataga, Arteara and the viewpoint of Degollada de la Yegua
One of the inland villages of Gran Canaria that made it into our Top 3: Fataga.
This magnetic white village where all the houses have names is only 15 minutes drive from the famous Maspalomas Dunes and deserves you get lost in its narrow cobbled streets. Most of the houses are painted white, some have stone walls, embraced by the green-palm trees and canary pines of the Fataga Valley that contrasts with the dark of the mountains, making it a highly photogenic scene.
Fataga is an oasis of peace just a few minutes drive from the hustle and bustle of the south where they took care to maintain the Canarian rural architecture with great care and, of course, with some tourism. Such a beautiful village would not go unnoticed by the tourist eye so you better go early or late in the afternoon to enjoy in peace and quiet and buy something in one of its souvenir stores.
In the Plaza San José do not miss the monument tribute to the artisan women of the great island sculptor Luis Alemán Montull, as his studio is here in Fataga.
If you want to stay in Fataga, take a look at the accommodations offered by the beautiful white village and surroundings.
If you come from the south, before arriving to Fataga we recommend two stops:
- Degollada de las Yeguas Viewpoint
The location of the Degollada de las Yeguas viewpoint makes it incredible for those who love views and especially astronomical observation. We went there in the morning and came back again in the evening.
This viewpoint is located on the western edge of the Amurga Massif and offers a panoramic view of the Barranco de Fataga, a 15-kilometer canyon carpeted with arid vegetation and with the sea as a backdrop. The ravine is excavated in phonolitic rock lava flows that correspond to the last phases of the first volcanic cycle of Gran Canaria, having been emitted between 12 and 11 million years ago!
It is an enclave of high astronomical and astrophotographic value in the southern limit of the Biosphere Reserve and the Starlight Tourist Destination area because the view of the celestial vault from this point shows 80% of the sky, with good visibility of the upper sky and south-southwest horizons. By the way, if you visit the island in summer, you will have an incredible view of the central area of the Milky Way .
- Arteara: the largest aboriginal cemetery on the island.
Next to the hamlet of Arteara you fill find this Necropolis with 809 tomb structures (with individual and collective burials) and an Interpretation Center where you will learn about the life and death of the ancient Canary Islands habitants. Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 12:00. Closed July and August. Admission 4€ (2€ reduced admission).
In addition, Arteara is located in a privileged enclave of contrast between the green of the palm trees and the cliffs of Amurga, so just for the views alone it is worth a stop.
Tunte (San Bartolomé de Tirajana)
San Bartolomé de Tirajana is the largest municipality of the island (to which Maspalomas belongs) but we come to tell you about the capital of the municipality: Tunte, a village at 900 meters above sea level whose name goes back to the aboriginal past of the island.
It is worth walking through its old town among cobblestone streets with old-fashioned stores (and try the cherry liqueur!) passing by the town hall square (a typical Canarian house with its wooden balcony) and the small white church. However, to see the most beautiful street of Tunte, go to the Callejón Princesa Guayarmina . Strolling along this cobblestone alley you feel like sneaking a peek through one of the windows of the houses and see what’s going on inside, literally.
Another of our favorite spots in Tunte is the statue “Homenaje a la mujer Tirajanera“, a 3.5 meter statue, also by local artist Luis Alemán Montull, which represents the daily struggle of all women. In addition, the statue is carved in stone from the sacred mountain of Tindaya, from our beloved Fuerteventura.
Before leaving, do not forget to contemplate the impressive views from the viewpoints. On the one hand, the viewpoint of “La Orilla” where you can appreciate the magnitude of the natural amphitheater of the Caldera de Tirajana and its rugged landscape.
On the other hand, the Mirador de las Tirajanas where we feel in the center of the Caldera de Tirajana, next to the bed of the Tirajana ravine and at the foot of the Morros del Pinar.
It is easy to understand why the surroundings of Tunte are highly recommended for hiking, which we talked about in the section of the best hiking and cycling routes on the island.
Agüimes, synonym of beauty in pastel colors
One of the most picturesque villages we visited on the island, the colors with which Agüimes welcomed us made it jump directly to our top 3 upon arrival. And for us Agüimes is synonymous with just that: color.
In our opinion, the most essential thing to do in this town is to get lost among its cobblestone and yellow streets between red, green and other pastel-colored houses .
Afterwards, approach the main square of the village, the Plaza Párroco Parer, and appreciate the San Sebastián Parish Church, in stone, a beautiful architectural example of Canarian neoclassicism, declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in 1981.
If you have time, walk down Calle del Sol towards the Centro de Interpretación de Agüimes to better understand the typologies of the different buildings in the historic center of the town, from peasant and bourgeoisie houses to hermitages and various archaeological sites.
Artenara, cave-houses and breathtaking viewpoints
Artenara is the highest altitude municipality of the island. The small town of less than 1000 inhabitants is located at an altitude of 1270 meters on the mountainside of the volcanic Caldera de Tejeda and therefore offers breathtaking views. However, it is not only for the views that Artenara is worth a visit, but above all for the evidence of its aboriginal past.
As soon as you enter the village, at the Mirador de Atalaya you can get an idea of how Artenara is organized, with its neighborhoods and its cave-houses. But the best point from where you can contemplate these views is from the Mirador de Unamuno. Here, from the top, you will see the Roque Bentayga in front, the Roque Nublo to the left and below, where you will go next, the beautiful village of Tejeda.
Once you have enjoyed the incredible panoramic view, walk to the beautiful 17th century Church of San Matías, rebuilt in the 19th century and, if you have time, it is worth going inside to see the mural on the main altar: apparently the faces of Jesus’ friends belong to Artenara’s neighbors of the time! (if you want to go, it is open every day from 9am to 3pm).
And although the church is the religious center of the village, it is not the most beloved by the devotees: the Chapel of the Virgen de la Cuevita dates back to the late eighteenth century (expanded in the nineteenth century) and hides a curiosity. The altar, the choir, the pulpit and the confessional inside the small chapel are sculpted in the same volcanic rock, inside the cave. It is in this sculpted altar that there is an image of the Virgen de la Cuevita. If you want to see this curious chapel, it is open every day from 9 am to 7 pm.
If your devotion is more to art, do not miss the Casa Quemada de la Esquina, built in 1870, where the painter Miro Mainou, Canary Islands Fine Arts Award in 1992, lived and where outside there is a ceramic mural, a tribute to the artist, of his work “Cumbres”.
Between so much walking, you will get hungry or, at least, thirsty. It is at that moment that you have to undoubtedly approach the terrace of the restaurant La Cilla: we do not know if it was the almond cake or the delicious coffee that accompanied but these were our favorite views of Artenara.
As we were saying, it is not only for the views that Artenara is worth visiting, since its origins date back to the times when the aboriginal Canarian population lived there and, for that reason, one of the main attractions of Artenara is to visit the Ethnographic Museum of the Cave Houses and understand better how the ancestors lived on the island.
In the small museum you will see the living room, kitchen and bedrooms of a traditional cave house with objects and furniture used at the beginning of the last century. Access to the museum is free (every day from 11:30h to 16:30h) but when we went we found out that you had to book in advance and, as we did not know until we arrived, we could not enter. You can make an appointment by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +34 638 929 509. If, like us, you do not have the possibility of accessing the museum, you can take a tour of the beautiful facades of the cave houses.
Also associated with the aboriginal legacy of Artenara is the archaeological site of Risco Caído, a Unesco heritage site currently closed for research work. However, it is highly recommended to visit the Interpretation Center of Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria (every day from 10h to 17h with previous inscription). Here you will find a replica of cave 6 of Risco Caído, a very special place that is still being studied due to the discovery of an astronomical dome carved by the aborigines where they performed practices associated with fertility rites.
About 7 km from Artenara you will find an essential point that we did not have time to go: the aboriginal caves of Acusa Seca. It is considered the troglodyte capital of the Canary Islands and the most varied archaeological site of Gran Canaria. Here you can see how people live in cave houses, at different heights, even today! From cave-houses, cerimonial, necropolis and even cave engravings. Undoubtedly, a visit that we are looking forward to making.
Tejeda, the Cross of Tejeda and Roque Bentayga
Considered one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, walking through the old town of Tejeda is a delight for the senses, from sight to taste.
Due to its location, wedged between mountains, Tejeda will give you breathtaking panoramic views of the interior of the island (and its geological icons Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga) between streets of small houses with white facades and wooden balconies that preserve the traditional Canarian architecture.
On the walk, you will pass the 1921 Iglesia Parroquial de Nuestra Señora del Socorro and the huge Laurel de Indias tree next to it. We didn’t go inside the church but we read that the most prominent feature is a detailed wooden altarpiece with the figure of Christ.
A few steps from the church is the temptation to the mortal sin of gluttony: La Dulcería Nublo, considered nothing more and nothing less than the best pastry shop in Gran Canaria. Its marzipans, giant palms, bienmesabe (typical Canarian sweet), a variety of almond sweets or Chris’ favorite, the Uruguayan polvito, will make it impossible to try just one. La Dulcería was founded in 1946, has a terrace to taste the sweet delicacy and it will be impossible not to take some home.
- La Cesta, the Cruz de Tejeda and the Parador Nacional
When you say goodbye to the old town of Tejeda with your blood glucose level a little higher, we recommend you to make a couple more stops for views.
Very close to the old town, 5 minutes away by car, you will find a very trendy spot lately on Instagram: the sculpture of a huge basket that was carefully placed to keep “inside” the views of Roque Bentayga. It is located exactly here, on the side of the Tejeda ravine bridge.
The other stop is the Cruz de Tejeda. It will take you approximately 15 minutes by car from the old town of Tejeda. Next to this stone cross is the impressive Parador Nacional. If this is not the accommodation with the best views of the whole island, then we don’t know what is. We admit it, when we arrived and saw that infinity pool towards what will be one of the best panoramic views of Gran Canaria we considered giving ourselves the treat that same night. In the end we didn’t, but we promised ourselves to come back and treat ourselves to at least one night in this incredible parador.
Very close to the Parador Nacional de Tejeda there are several stalls with local products and crafts in case you want to take some souvenirs home, beyond the memories, and sale of marzipan in case you have already eaten all the ones you bought at the Dulcería Nublo.
Don’t worry, there’s some sport waiting for you that will get you down if you want to get up close and personal with the famous Roque Nublo or Roque Bentayga.
- Roque Bentayga
About 10 minutes drive from the town of Tejeda is the second most important geological icon of the island: the Roque Bentayga. Although we did not get to go, you can climb the Roque at 1,414 meters above sea level through a marked trail of less than 2 kms with some slope (1h round trip approx.) There is parking at the beginning of the trail.
Roque Bentayga was, like Roque Nublo, a sacred place for the aborigines of the island. Apparently, this geological formation was used by the Canary aborigines as a fortress (it contains various caves, walls, inscriptions and cave paintings) but, more importantly, as an“almogarén“, a place where they performed their ritual and religious practices, made offerings and worshipped the gods. We have been told that it is naturally aligned with Roque Nublo and indicates its astronomical use as an “equinoctial marker” (an object that serves as a “detector” of the date of the equinox due to the location of the sun at sunset or sunrise with respect to the object).
It is, therefore, a place full of energy with incredible views of the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), the village of Tejeda and the Natural Monument of Roque Nublo, which we will talk about later.
They also told us about the Interpretation Center, next to the parking lot, where you can learn more about the archaeological complex of the Sierra de Bentayga (Bentayga, Andén de Tabacalete, Cuevas del Rey and El Roquete) and its surroundings. Free entrance, open every day from 10:00h to 17:00h (except December 31st and January 1st).
Roque Nublo: hiking, viewpoints and that sunset at the Nublo Window
This natural monument is the geological icon of the island: welcome to Roque Nublo, and it is probably on every must-see list of Gran Canaria.
Located at 1,813 meters above sea level and surrounded by the Nublo Rural Park, this great rock of volcanic origin is almost 90 meters high (it is believed that millions of years ago the stratovolcano that was here could exceed 3,000 meters in altitude). All this territory is part of the World Biosphere Reserve of Gran Canaria, declared by UNESCO in 2005.
Roque Nublo was also a place of worship, sacred to the aborigines of the island where they held religious ceremonies and where some caves used as burial spaces have even been found.
To get to the impressive rock it takes about half an hour because the path is only 1.5 km one way and 1.5 km return (1 hour in total to go and return, stops for photos included) from the parking Degollada de la Goleta. You know that in the routes we do we always include our particular scale of“Level of Difficulty” which, in this case, is low as long as you wear appropriate footwear as there is a climb with a rocky section (no flip-flops). We also recommend that you bring a sweatshirt (or even a coat if you go in the winter months) because up there, in the so-called “Tablón del Nublo”, it is very windy and a few degrees lower than below.
We had hoped that the day we chose to go the sky would clear a little (we had had calima the last few days) and that we could enjoy the icing on the cake: greet the Teide, the Tenerife volcano that holds the title of the highest point of Spain, from the imposing Roque Nublo. And so it was. Maybe we have been good lately and the island gave us that great moment. It is incredible how small we felt before the imposing almost 90 meters of the sacred monolith.
We didn’t know it yet but we would see Teide more times from different points that day and, the most special, at sunset…
Apart from being sacred in the aboriginal legacy, Roque Nublo is also very special for the devout Canary people as it is a point of pilgrimage and, at the same time, a goal of the mountaineering community.
- Degollada de Becerra Viewpoint
On your way down from Roque Nublo we recommend you to stop at the Mirador Degollada de Becerra, halfway on the road between La Cruz de Tejeda and Llanos de la Pez, and contemplate the spectacular views. Apart from Roque Nublo, from this viewpoint you will see Roque Bentayga, El Fraile, the caldera of Tejeda, the village of Tejeda and, of course, if you are lucky, you will greet again the silhouette of Teide.
In addition, you can visit the Degollada de Becerra Interpretation Center to learn more about the local ethnography.
- Pico de las Nieves
A 15-minute drive from the Roque Nublo parking lot will take you to Pico de las Nieves, the highest point on the island of Gran Canaria at 1,956 meters.
Next to the Morro de la Agujerada, this balcony opens to almost half of the island, since the panoramic view it offers ranges from the Tamadaba massif to the Amurga massif and, with luck, the Teide itself (on a clear day).
The viewpoint of Pico de las Nieves is located next to the parking lot and is also an ideal place to say goodbye to the day. If you want to find a place to enjoy the sunset even more spectacular, near the viewpoint you have one of the famous “windows” from which to see the Roque Nublo:“Ventana de morro” or “Gañifa” (more info on how to get there in this blog).
Unlike other spots to watch the sunset, if you see that the day has clouds, the show here can be even more special as you can see how both Tenerife and Gran Canaria are covered with a blanket of clouds as the sun goes down.
- La Ventana del Nublo: our best sunset
The best sunset of the whole month we spent on the island, surprisingly, was not at the sea. There are several rock formations known as “ventanas del Nublo” (just in the previous point we told you about another of them) that offer privileged views precisely to the imposing Roque Nublo, the surrounding landscape and, hopefully, to our beloved Teide.
We chose to enjoy the sunset in this ventana del Nublo, in silence and solitude, with a pine forest behind that was turning orange, the Teide in front and a lot of wind. To get to this window you have to go to the camping area of Bailico and park there (you can park on a dirt road). Walking takes about 20 minutes (going quite fast as were late), at normal pace it will take about half an hour, which was what it took us to return. It is essential to wear appropriate footwear (sneakers), sweatshirt / jacket for the wind and a flashlight to return in the dark (if not, you can use your cell phone flashlight as we did, making sure you have enough battery).
We discovered this amazing place and the route to get there in the blog“Los pasos que dejamos atrás“, where it is very well explained. Thank you very much, Toni!
It is a very special place that we highly recommend because both the walk to get there and the final reward are well worth it.
Temisas Astronomical Observatory
If you are a fan of observing the starry sky you can’t miss the telescope that exists in the small village of Temisas, in the interior of the island. As you know, the archipelago is famous for its sky for astronomical observations and, in fact, both La Palma and Tenerife hold the title of Starlight Destinations. The astronomical observatory of Temisas does not hold such a title (the proximity to towns like Vecindario and Arinaga makes it receive some light pollution) but still offers spectacular astronomical observations.
It usually has visits on Friday and Saturday evenings and a varied program of workshops, lectures and courses that allow the general public, especially the young population, to approach the wonderful and mysterious world of astronomy. More info on Facebook or on their website.
Barranco de las Vacas (the “mini Antelope Canyon”)
This small corner known as the“Barranco de las Vacas” has become a very sought after place after becoming popular on Instagram, even being called a“mini Antelope Canyon“. While it is true that there is some resemblance between the well-known US corner and this small corner in Gran Canaria, this one is much smaller.
Another point we have to make is that actually, these whimsical formations known as “Tobas de Colores” (a type of volcanic rock that occurs a lot in the Canary Islands) are not even part of the Barranco de las Vacas (as it is popularly known) but is located in the Barranco de Barafonso (being the Barranco de las Vacas another ravine that starts further down).
The characteristics of these volcanic rocks of medium consistency made them suitable for quarrying and at the time were very useful for the ancient people could build their homes in the environment of the Barranco de Guayadeque. It is a type of rock easily eroded, so that with the passage of water thousands of years ago these unlikely and photogenic shapes were designed.
How to get to Barranco de Las Vacas and where to park?
Getting to Barranco de Las Vacas is very easy, although parking may not be so easy. To get there you just have to take the GC-550 road from Agüimes in the direction of Temisas. The exact place where you will have to go down to the Barranco de Las Vacas is this one (we also leave it all detailed in our map).
Now, before going down to Barranco de Las Vacas you will have to park the car, for which you have two options:
- Parking with 2 places: a space very close to the point we have just indicated where two cars can enter (where we parked).
- Parking with 10 places: a little before arriving (going from Agüimes to Temisas) there is an area next to the road where about 10 cars can park. From here to the place where you go down to the ravine there is about 10 minutes walk along the road, with hardly any space for walking outside the main road (so it is not a very pleasant walk and you have to be careful of passing cars).
Both points are indicated on the map, but here is a schematic map to make it easy for you to find your way around:
Once the car is parked, simply go to the point indicated above, jump over the guardrail, go down and go through the mini tunnel that you will see on the right. If you continue walking a few meters, you will reach the “Barranco de Las Vacas”.
The place itself is quite small, and because it has been popularized on Instagram in recent years, it can get crowded easily, so we recommend going on a weekday and early (or late) to enjoy it with some solitude.
This large influx of people can also have a negative impact on the place, so as always, if you visit it, be responsible: do not leave trash, do not paint on the walls, avoid touching the formations and out of respect for the rest of the people who visit the place, do not make noise or “monopolize” the place with your photos.
Barranco de Guayadeque
Barranco de Guayadeque was recommended to us by several local people for one main reason: to eat in one of its cave restaurants. A narrow road takes you up the ravine and there are several restaurants built inside “cave-houses” (that’s exactly what it sounds like), we include them in the where to eat section.
El Centro Restaurant was recommended to us and we went there, the food is good and cheap (specializing in grilled meats). Inside the restaurants it is cool, ideal for hot days. Upstairs there are beautiful views of the ravine.
La Sorrueda and the Fortaleza de Ansite
The archaeological site of La Fortaleza de Ansite is an incredible sample of pre-Hispanic troglodyte habitat of natural and artificial caves of great diversity, from places of worship, to places of habitation and storage to necropolis. It was one of the places that surprised us the most during our visit to the island.
It is made up of three large rocks: on the left is the Fortaleza Chica, at the back is Titana (with a more rounded shape), and in front is the Fortaleza Grande, which is where most of the archaeological wealth is found.
In these rocks we can find a multitude of hollows or holes that served as rooms, granaries or burial chambers and that, given their difficult access, were very useful to hide from enemies in the times of the aborigines.
This archaeological site, in addition to its breathtaking views, is very special in historical terms: it was here that the last confrontation between the ancient inhabitants of the Canary Islands and the Castilian invaders took place, which meant the end of the armed struggle and the annexation of the island to the Castilian crown.
It is one of the most important archaeological sites on the island, and the evidence so far indicates that the fortress was already inhabited about 1400 years ago.
How to get to Fortaleza de Ansite?
To get to the Fortaleza de Ansite you must go to Sorrueda, a small village in the mountains, through the GC-65 road that leaves from the south-east (Vecindario). The road itself is very beautiful, since from there you can see the Fortaleza de Ansite and stop at some of the viewpoints, such as the Mirador el Guriete. Of course, it is full of curves so you have to go slowly.
In Sorrueda you can visit the Interpretation Center La Fortaleza de Ansite, where you can learn more about this wonder of Gran Canaria.
You can also visit the Mirador de la Sorrueda, from where you can see the Tirajana reservoir and a lot of green around.
The entrance to Sorrueda is very nice, crossing an area of the road with many palm trees.
3. West of Gran Canaria
The west coast of Gran Canaria is its most isolated, unspoiled and wild area. For us it is essential to include it in your visit the island, here we tell you why.
Gáldar, its beaches and the Cueva Pintada (Painted Cave)
The first capital of Gran Canaria, Gáldar, stands out for its network of pastel-colored streets and historic buildings. But what attracts many people to visit it is the archaeological park of the Cueva Pintada: one of the main manifestations of rock art in the archipelago, right in the center of the city.
As soon as you arrive in the center of Gáldar, declared a Historic Site in 1981, you will see a square where you will find the beautiful Church of Santiago de Gáldar, built over the Palace of the Guanartemes and, in the center of the same Plaza de Santiago, a fountain with benches around it that invite you to rest. If you are thirsty or hungry, what is not lacking around the square are restaurants and terraces where you can have a drink and enjoy the tranquility that is breathed there, among local people. If you prefer something more upscale, you can go up to the terrace restaurant of the Hotel Agáldar, also in the square, and have a drink with views of the church and the mountain of Gáldar.
The tour of the most emblematic buildings that uncover the important past of the political center of pre-Hispanic Gran Canaria is concentrated in the narrow streets around this square. One of the notable buildings worth visiting is the old City Hall (from the 18th century) and its Drago, one of the oldest in Gran Canaria, documented as early as 1718.
In the same Plaza de Santiago is the building of the Casino of Gáldar (with its beautiful inner courtyard) and, a few meters away, the House-Museum of Antonio Padrón, painter, writer and sculptor from Gáldar. The House-Museum houses more than one hundred works by one of the most outstanding artists of the avant-garde movements in the archipelago in the 20th century (Admission: 2€, from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00h to 18:00h, in summer until 19:00h).
If you arrive in Gáldar in the morning, you love markets like us and you want to feel the local life, nothing better than going to the market La Recova de Gáldar, in Capitán Quesada street. It is open every day from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, except on Fridays when it opens only in the afternoon from 4:00 pm to 7:30 pm. It is closed on Sundays.
But one of the most impressive buildings that Gáldar preserves and transports us to the times when it was the capital is located on the other side of the Plaza de Santiago: the Teatro Consistorial. We were eager to enter and contemplate one of the best historical theaters of the archipelago, from 1912, but when we arrived it was closed.
Keep walking down Calle del Teatro, Tagaror Street, and you will come across the sculpture of Arminda, a Guanche princess, by the artist Diego Higueras. The sculpture represents Queen Arminda as a child and welcomes you to what is probably the main reason that attracted you to Gáldar: the Cueva Pintada (Painted Cave).
- La Cueva Pintada
In the Cueva Pintada de Gáldar you can see the largest remains of rock art in the Canary Islands, as well as aboriginal constructions of the ancient settlers and archaeological remains of pottery, Canarian pintaderas and other artifacts.
The visit is divided into three phases: first you will visit the museum, then the 5,500m2 site and, finally, the painted cave itself where you can observe the famous cave paintings.
Admission is free on Sundays. On weekdays the entrance with guided tour costs 6 € (reduced admission 4€ and special prices for groups). Please note that all tours are guided and last approximately 50 minutes. Unfortunately when we arrived we could not enter because, in the summer months, the last guided tour is at 6pm and we missed it by 5 minutes. The rest of the year, the last guided tour is at 4:30pm.
Also nearby but on the coast is the village and necropolis of La Guancha, an archaeological site of 24,000 m2 where you can see how the burials of the ancient inhabitants of the island were, among other pre-Hispanic buildings.
- Playa Sardina del Norte
The municipality of Gáldar hides several attractive beaches where you can go for a swim. We went to Playa de la Sardina, a beach protected from the wind with colorful houses on the cliff that we loved.
Also here is the Puerto de la Sardina del Norte, a small port that has been extremely important in the past due to its strategic location, in front of Gáldar (ancient capital of pre-Hispanic Gran Canaria), seat of the guanartemes of the island, and a convenient gateway for the conquerors to reach the political center of the island. It has also been of extreme importance for the island’s trade, first for the entry of agricultural production and later for the sugar trade. Nowadays, its transparent waters attract mainly swimmers and divers, as this is one of the best spots on the island for scuba diving. If you dive, we tell you more in the section Where to Dive in Gran Canaria.
If you follow the promenade along the beach, leaving the seawall to your left, you will reach another beach known as Roquete beach (because of the house of the same name carved into the rock), a small cove of coves that is usually quieter than its neighbor La Sardina.
- Punta Sardina Lighthouse
In all the trips to each of the Canary Islands, you can not miss a visit to at least one of its lighthouses and Gran Canaria was not going to be the exception. We approached the Punta Sardina Lighthouse and as soon as we arrived it reminded us a lot of the Toston Lighthouse, in our beloved Fuerteventura, where we had been just a couple of weeks ago. And is that both lighthouses are very similar and have very similar shapes and aesthetics.
This lighthouse, built in 1888, is in charge of marking the coasts of the northwest of the island for maritime navigation, in the coastal strip that covers the entire northern area up to the lighthouse of La Isleta, to the east, and the point of La Aldea, to the southwest.
- Juncal Beach
Also in the municipality of Gáldar is the Juncal beach, known as Playa del Puertito, a beach that was recommended to us but unfortunately we did not have time to go. The promise of a virgin beach to enjoy in solitude was the one they made to us and we were left with the desire. If you want to go and see for yourself, you should know that you can only access this beach of stones and calm waters (where you can practice nudism) walking about 45 minutes (and another 45 minutes to get back). If you want to venture out, we leave you the location here and, of course, on the map. Here you have also the route to go down in Wikiloc. And, please, if you go, tell us how it was in the comments!
Near Gáldar, there are more beaches to explore such as the natural pools of El Agujero and Bocabarranco, the beaches of Dos Roques, Punta de Gáldar, Caleta de Arriba, Caleta de Abajo and other beaches and natural pools where you can take a dip if the heat gets too hot.
Route from Agaete to La Aldea de San Nicolás
In our opinion, an essential plan on the island is to drive the GC-200 road from Agaete to Aldea de San Nicolas, from north to south (more beautiful than from south to north). It is not a plan for everyone (and even less for someone with vertigo), as you have to be very careful and the views over the cliffs are impressive, but the breathtaking landscapes are worth it.
If it is difficult for us to decide which road offers the best panoramic views of the interior of the island, we are clear about the best landscapes of the coast: the views from the front and to the right during the roadtrip along the GC-200 make us want to stop the car every few minutes (although it can only be done in the few viewpoints that are on the route) to appreciate the immensity and strength of the sea crashing against the steep cliffs.
In addition, the roadtrip along the GC200 hides beaches that go unnoticed to most tourists and passes through several places of interest, so, although it is not necessary at all, at some of the stops you can even consider spending the night. We did, in La Aldea de San Nicolás, before returning home in the south.
- Agaete and Puerto de las Nieves
We start in Agaete and in its blue and white sailor neighborhood: Puerto de las Nieves. We recommend you to park the car here and get lost in the bustle of people, restaurants and stores in the narrow streets between the small Ermita de las Nieves and one of the ports that connects the island with the neighboring island of Tenerife.
When we went there were many local people on the beaches and little space to lay a towel, both on the beach of Las Nieves and on the small beach of El Muelle, which makes us suspect that it is a very popular destination for people who live in Las Palmas (which is only half an hour away). Both beaches are pebblestone beaches – callaos – but with calm waters, which makes them very sought after by families.
Don’t be surprised when you hear that this is where “God lost a finger”. And the fact is that in front of Puerto de las Nieves there was a natural monument whose shape resembled a hand due to erosion over the years. In the Delta storm of November 28, 2005, the finger fell into the sea, existing now only the lower part of “the hand” and the history of Roque Partido or Dedo de Dios.
The small town center of Agaete is also worth a visit: stroll through the narrow streets of white buildings with wooden balconies typically Canarian until you reach the square of the Church of the Conception, the nerve center of the small Agaete. If you feel like it, you can walk there, it is about 15 minutes away from Puerto de las Nieves.
- Natural pools of Las Salinas
Next to Puerto de las Nieves you will find the natural pools Las Salinas, named after the salt pans that used to exist here. If you feel like walking, there is a promenade that connects Puerto de las Nieves with the pools. Be warned that if you are not visiting the island in the less windy months (September and October), it is very windy both in the three volcanic rock pools with sea water and on the beach of the same name next door where, of course, there were people windsurfing.
Located between Playa del Juncal (which we told you about in the municipality of Gáldar) and this beach of Las Salinas, we have read about a very little known wild beach called La Caleta which apparently is, as the name itself indicates, a small cove of stones in the open sea whose access is made on foot by a path that starts from El Turmán, in Agaete, in case you want to give wings to your explorer vein.
- Maipés Necropolis
A 5-minute drive from Agaete is a burial space of the aboriginal culture with about 700 tombs of the ancient Canarian people, some of which were made more than 1,300 yearsago. The structures are located on a lava flow that runs along the right bank of the Agaete ravine. It is considered one of the most spectacular archaeological funerary sites on volcanic material of the Canary archipelago, with more than one square kilometer of surface.
If you want to visit the Maipés Archaeological Park of Agaete, you can go from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00h to 17:00h (from October to March) and from 10:00h to 18:00h (from April to September). Admission: 3€ (2€ reduced admission)
- Guayedra Beach
We continue on the GC-200 route and enter the Guayedra Ravine and, more specifically, the Tamadaba Natural Park. The beautiful Guayedra beach dotted with palm trees is located right at the mouth of the ravine, opposite the Puerto de las Nieves, from where you can see the natural moment where God lost his finger and the Puerto de las Nieves itself.
It is considered nothing more and nothing less than one of the most beautiful nudist beaches on the island. To get there, only by 4X4 or walking. We were told that the access is not easy but it pays off: the walk gives incredible moments between the contrast of the green of the pines with the ravines and black stone mountains and, of course, the reward of that Atlantic bath in a virgin beach. Of course, being an open beach has a strong swell so do not be brave and be careful. Ideally you should go to Playa de Guayedra when the tide is low, you can check the tides on this website
If you dare, stay and enjoy the sunset, which is famous for being one of the most beautiful in Gran Canaria and, if you are lucky, you can even say hello to the Teide itself from your towel. Undoubtedly one of the plans we are most looking forward to when we return to the island.
- Sotavento Beach
Very close to Playa de Guayedra is a sandy and pebble beach with strong waves whose access is also either all terrain or on foot. We did not get to know it.
- Faneroque Beach
Another beach that we were eager to visit on the GC-200 route is the virgin beach of Faneroque, also known as Playa del Faneque or Playa de Tamadaba (because of the natural park of which it is part). As in Guayedra beach, Faneroque is also recommended to go at low tide due to the wind and strong waves. In addition, the path to the dip has two added dangers in this case: the possibility of rock falls and the fact that some rocks are covered with moss, or that makes them more slippery than normal. In any case, an adventure for those who enjoy adrenaline hiking with the ultimate reward of sea bathing. A detailed description of how to get to Faneroque here.
- Risco Beach and Charco Azul
El Risco is a small village nestled between the homonymous ravine where you can park the car for a drink (in the restaurant Pedromo with parking) and, if you feel like a salty dip, go to Playa del Risco, an unspoiled beach of black sand and coves. According to what we read, there is a parking lot next to the sea, but we didn’t get to go to this beach. Although it has this facility for parking on the beach (which makes it quite crowded on weekends and holidays), it is not a guarded beach and has no services, so watch out for the currents.
A few kilometers walk from the ravine and the village of El Risco is a pool increasingly popular among visitors where you can take a good bath: the Charco Azul. There is a private parking lot where you can leave your car but the only way to get to this freshwater pool is walking. It takes about 30 minutes one way and 30 minutes back (4 km in total of non-circular route) on a flat road without much difficulty. Of course, the trail is not marked, so in order not to get lost, the ideal is to follow the previous footprints to know where to go.
If you like walking, in the Barranco del Risco there is an incredible circular route where you will pass by a lot of waterfalls, we tell you more in the section of Hiking Routes.
- La Virgen Beach
This small cove (sometimes also known as Playa de Artenara) is located between the Risco beach and Punta de La Aldea, at the foot of the cliffs of Andén Verde and can also be accessed from the GC-200 road. However, the access is not easy at all through small and narrow descending platforms and bathing is dangerous due to the strong waves and sea currents that gave rise to submerged caves where the suction effect occurs.
- Mirador el Balcón
Probably the most breathtaking views of the entire GC-200 route, the Mirador El Balcón or, as it is known, the “dragon’s tail” (because of the similarity of the steep peaks descending towards the Atlantic Ocean with the tail of the mythological being) is impressive.
Descending the stone stairs, you will be able to observe the imposing scenery from a viewpoint hanging from the cliff. If you look inland, the Arena ravine and the valley of La Aldea de San Nicolás.
An essential stop that will give you some of the best views of the trip.
- La Aldea de San Nicolás and La Aldea beach
Welcome to the least accessible and, therefore, one of the most authentic areas of Gran Canaria.
The orography of the west of the island makes that the road to reach La Aldea has many curves and some danger which makes La Aldea even more distant from the plans of most tourists, from the capital and the south of the island (Maspalomas). Although, nowadays, with the improvements in this road, it takes approximately 1 hour from both points.
To arrive at this small village is to arrive at a haven of peace where you can rest, have a drink on one of its terraces, feel the local life and eat mangos beyond our means. Although, beware, this haven of peace changes on Saturdays when the terraces are full and the tranquility gives way to the bustle between toasts and laughter.
If you get hot, take a dip in the cool waters of the Playa de la Aldea and dry off in the sun on one of the wooden structures that were set up for this purpose, since it is not very pleasant to lay your towel on the bowls that compose it. Yes, La Aldea Beach is a beach of callaos.
We advise you to get lost in its small old town of popular Canarian architecture with its stone and mud houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the balcony houses of the eighteenth century.
And also to know its aboriginal legacy, of course. Precisely in the Archaeological Complex of Los Caserones a collection of clay and stone idols and pintaderas were found, which are currently preserved in the Canarian Museum in Vegueta (Las Palmas). In La Aldea Beach you can visit the burial mound of Lomo de Caserones, the four wind and water flour mills, the lime and pitch ovens and the still for rum distillation that worked between 1936 and 1958.
La Aldea is full of people during the 10th and 11th of September, days in which the“Fiesta de El Charco” (or “Fiesta de la Embarbasca”) is celebrated, the patron saint festivities of La Aldea (if you are looking for tranquility avoid these days). The “Charco” is located right here, on the beach of La Aldea, and on 11/09 people gather around it and nobody is allowed to cross it before 17h00. At that time, the explosion of a rocket or a volador fired by the mayor starts the festivities and all the people enter dressed up (some people even with the traditional costume) and there is a kind of race to catch the fish with their hands. Apparently, it is a tribute to the fishing of the Canarian ancestors, an aboriginal fishing technique called embarbascada. As you know, we do not like traditions that involve activities with animals for human entertainment. Hopefully someday in La Aldea they will adapt the festivity without disturbing the fish.
There we enjoyed a beautiful sunset (if the haze went away and the sky cleared, you could even see the Teide from the beach of La Aldea) but the best thing that La Aldea gave us was to spend that day and night with the family of our friend Dailos where we were welcomed as two more, between a barbecue, several mangoes taken directly from the tree, lots of laughter and lots of love that made us feel at home. Thank you and we hope to see you soon.
- Azulejos de Veneguera
The last stop we recommend in this roadtrip along the GC-200 is the natural monument of the Azulejos de Veneguera, also known as Fuente de los Azulejos, at the height of the small village of Veneguera.
It is a series of mountains with different stripes of colors created naturally, in which green clay predominates. The colors were formed thanks to a complex process of solidification of the hydrothermal fluids expelled by the Tejeda volcano and that the erosion of thousands of years has left uncovered. Nowadays it is possible to observe the different geological layers of reddish, ocher, green and bluish colors, even dotted with a waterfall, when it has rained, and forming an impressive scenery.
When you see a fruit and juice stall arriving at the Fuente de los Azulejos, if it is open, stop and park. We were told by our friends Dailos and Farah that they sell some drool-worthy mango and coconut sweets here…. You can also order a freshly squeezed juice or other local products. Unfortunately when we went there the kiosk was closed. Next time!
However, it is not from the kiosk the best spot to contemplate the natural tiles. Since it is a monument that is in the middle of the road it is not easy to observe it carefully but we parked the car here, there is space and it is safe, so we leave you the exact point on the map so you can do the same.
There is a viewpoint of the same name, the viewpoint of Veneguera, where you can see both the imposing Barranco de Mogán and the neighborhood of Veneguera. A good farewell to the little roadtrip along the GC-200.
If you are a hiking lover and you have time, the 16 km circular route around the Fuente de los Azulejos we have been told is spectacular. We didn’t have time to do it as it is a full day plan or at least 6 hours but it is known to be one of the most beautiful hiking tra ils in this area of the island, passing through incredible landscapes such as a beautiful Canarian pine forest and several puddles. We leave you more info in the section of hiking routes, below.
It is not easy to get to what is considered the best beach in Gran Canaria and that contributes to the fact that it remains an unspoiled and little-traveled paradise. The beach of Güi Güi Güi (Güigüi or Guguy) can only be reached on foot, making a beautiful but somewhat hard route, or by boat.
Walking to Güi Güi Beach
Reaching this wild paradise is worthwhile: 5 km one way (and another 5 km back) that take about 2h30 approximately one way and another 2h30 on the way back with a lot of slope and no shadows .
Everyone we talked to told us and we read it everywhere: it is very worthwhile to do it on foot because you will pass through incredible landscapes, some of the most beautiful on the island. Güi Güi has been declared a Special Natural Reserve and Area of Ecological Sensitivity for its special characteristics.
The trail is perfectly marked, it leaves from the village of Tasartico where you park the car, and both on the way there and on the way back you have to climb a steep slope. Of course, when you arrive, a swim in clear Atlantic waters and, with luck, an incredible postcard with the Teide in the background.
It is essential to bring plenty of water (minimum 2L per person), food in your backpack, closed and comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat. It is also important to check the tides on the website because the beach is divided into two: Güigüi Grande and Güigüi Chico and, unfortunately, you can only get to Güigüi Chico when the tide is low, passing through Güi Güi Grande.
Going to Güi Güi beach by boat
You can also get to Güi Güi by boat. You have 3 options:
- Take a cab boat from Tasarte, La Aldea, Puerto Rico or Puerto de Mogán.
- Try to negotiate with the fishermen in the village of Tasarte (we have been told that this option is around 25-30 euros each way).
- Hire here the round trip to Güi Güi by boat, with tour and lunch included: you will see dolphins!
Factors to consider before embarking on the adventure to Güi Güi:
We finally decided not to visit it this time and leave this plan in the pipeline for the next visit to Gran Canaria (it is said that you should always leave something you want to see to return to the destination, right?) for three reasons essentially that we believe may also be useful for you:
- The one that seems to us the best option is to go during the week (so as not to coincide with many people) walking and return by boat . This was not possible, at least in the summer of 2020, because the boat only offered the service on weekends (or if there was a large enough group) with which we would arrive at Güi Güi after a hard walk to meet several people around. It seemed to us that it lost some of the charm of the reward of arriving at a paradise almost all to ourselves. On the other hand, we did not feel like walking a non-circular route (i.e., seeing the same on the way back as on the way out), however beautiful it may be, with unevenness and effort, after a whole day on the beach and also leaving 2 hours and a bit earlier to make the return walk still in the daytime.
- Another important factor that influenced our decision was the tides: we checked the tides for that week on this website and, even if we left early, when we arrived after the hike, the tide would already be so high that we would not be able to see Güi Güi Chico.
- The last reason why we decided to postpone knowing what they say is the most beautiful beach on the island is because we had just been 4 months in Fuerteventura in the best Canary beaches (GranCa forgive us) and we chose to prioritize other plans inland. Here we take the opportunity to emphasize what we usually say: just because a plan is essential and appears in all the guides, you do not have to do it: in travel (as in life) always ask yourself: Do I feel like doing it?
In addition, if you decide to go to Güi Güi (we will certainly do so on our next visit to the island), don’t forget:
- Early departure from Tasartico: ideally be in town around 9:00 a.m., so count on the journey from your accommodation to Tasartico, to avoid the hottest hours of the day.
- Bring plenty of water (minimum 2L per person), food, closed and comfortable shoes, sun protection.
- Bring the map downloaded from Maps.me as there is no coverage in Güi Güi.
A beach much more affordable and easier to reach than Güi Güi where you can take a dip or say goodbye to the day with the Teide in the background, if the sky is clear. Tasarte beach is a beach of pebbles (stones), black sand and calm waters where not many people usually go. You can park right there and stay to try some octopus ropa vieja or have a drink while enjoying the sunset at the Oliva restaurant.
4. North of Gran Canaria and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The capital of Gran Canaria showed us a more beautiful face and another not so much. It is true that living 4 months in the peaceful Fuerteventura where we barely crossed with cars contributed to our shock when we arrived at the port of Las Palmas between buildings and roads of more than two lanes. But Las Palmas is what is expected of the capital of the archipelago (a title it shares with Santa Cruz de Tenerife): here you can find everything, or almost everything. The hustle and bustle of the crossroads of people, stores, houses, restaurants and bars for all tastes and, in addition, a beautiful urban beach.
Among the must-see places in the capital is its center with the beach of Las Canteras, one of the best urban beaches in the world, the historic neighborhoods of Vegueta and Triana and the nearby beaches where you can also practice some sports.
- The center and Las Canteras
What is considered one of the best urban beaches in the world is also the nerve center of the capital. Everyone hangs out on the promenade of Playa de las Canteras to take a dip, have a drink or go for dinner.
With its average annual temperature of 21º, in Las Canteras you will see people every day of the year on its more than 3 km of sand backed by a promenade full of stores, hotels, restaurants and terraces.
If you want a break from the beach, go into the center of the capital through the streets leading from the promenade of Las Canteras to take the pulse of the city. Our recommendation is that you come to contemplate the sculpture “Las Actividades Primitivas Canarias” by local artist Luis Alemán Montull (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1931) as this was his first great work and the most representative. You can find it in the traffic circle of the Plaza de España in the city.
Also go to Santa Catalina Park where every year the Carnival celebrations of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria take place and where there are usually Canarian handicraft markets on weekends. If you want a good view of the square (and the city) go up to the cafeteria of the hotel AC Gran Canaria and have a drink.
At one of the points of Las Canteras is the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium , which provides the soundtrack to the capital, where you can listen to concerts throughout the year in its main hall. For jazz lovers, the auditorium also has smaller halls dedicated to this musical style.
If in between all this you want a break, what is not lacking in the center are restaurants, cafes and bars. We had a drink in the vermutería Valentina, in Las Canteras, and we loved it, but we tell you more in the section Where to eat in Las Palmas.
Las Canteras is one of the places where you can base yourself to explore the island. Take a look at the accommodations here.
Lose yourself in the colorful alleys of the oldest district of the city: yes, this is where the capital of the island was born and, in fact, in the square of San Antonio Abad you can find the plaque commemorating the founding of the city.
On your walk through the historic center of Vegueta, do not miss the beautiful Plaza del Pilar Nuevo where you will find the Columbus House-Museum (a large house from the late sixteenth century whose facade will not leave you indifferent), the peaceful Plaza de Santo Domingo with its fountain in the center, the Ermita del Espíritu Santo, and, of course, the imposing Plaza Mayor Santa Ana guarded by its dogs.
In this square is the Cathedral of Santa Ana (also known as the Cathedral of the Canary Islands), a large building that mixes several architectural styles, from late Gothic to Baroque and Neoclassical.
You can climb to the top of the cathedral, to the bell towers, for 1,50€ and enjoy a panoramic view of the area, and also visit the gothic style naves and the courtyard. The Casas Consistoriales also offer free guided tours every Sunday from 10am to 1pm (departing every half hour).
One of our favorite streets in Vegueta is Calle de los Reyes Católicos, tinged with pastel colors and stores of yesteryear.
Another must in Vegueta is to experience its market where you can find all kinds of fresh products of the island. This market opened its doors in 1863 (it is one of the oldest on the island) and is still open every day except Sundays and holidays, from 06.30h to 14.00h.
And, of course, between all this walking you will get hungry so take the opportunity to eat in one of its terraces. We tried Triciclo and we loved it but you can find other options: we tell you more in the section Where to Eat.
Do you want to stay overnight in the oldest and most beautiful district of the capital? Here you find various accommodations in La Vegueta for all tastes and prices.
This is the shopping district par excellence. If you need to buy something or treat yourself this is the neighborhood to go, both in Triana Street where there are plenty of stores of better known brands, as in the parallel streets, narrower, more alternative stores.
Look up and contemplate the modernist houses that give Triana its personality. One of the most beautiful corners is the Plaza de Cairasco, where the Gabinete Literario building is located, a cultural institution of the early twentieth century. Another of Triana’s most emblematic buildings is one of the city’s classics: the Hotel Madrid.
Nearby is the park of San Telmo and it is worth a visit to see the colorful kiosk, also modernist, in the square of the same name.
- El Confital
Located in La Isleta less than 10 minutes drive from the center of Las Palmas is the Confital, one of the favorite beaches of Las Palmas for surfers. Although it is close, when you arrive it seems that you are in another part of the island. This beach, which has a wooden boardwalk where you can stretch your legs on a walk and beautiful views of the city of Las Palmas, hides a lot of history.
It turns out that the first settlements in the Confital date back to the ancient aborigines. The so-called“Cuevas de los Canarios” in the Confital mountain are a good example of how the first settlers of Gran Canaria chose this place to live. Years later, in the 19th century (more specifically in 1898), after the loss of the colonies of Cuba and the Philippines, the Ministry of Defense expropriated a part of the Isleta as a strategic place for the defense of the Canary Islands. Its exclusively military use makes that the access is prohibited to the citizenship that stops being able to enjoy the place. It is for this reason that the Confital houses much military heritage, especially the constructions made in 1941 to prevent possible British attacks on Gran Canaria, during the Second World War.
More recently, in the late 60’s, with the exponential growth of tourism in Las Canteras (coupled with the lack of apartments in the city) made many people started building substandard housing or buying one of the existing ones. It is said that the massive settlement contributed to the disappearance of the fauna and flora of the place which brings us to the present day: the eradication of the shanty town and the construction of the promenade. Both the eradication of the shantytown and the conservation works were shrouded in controversy, with polarized opinions from the local people, over the legality of the actions.
If you are more into hiking than surfing or beach, you should know that north of the Confital in the Lomo de los Morros, also in the Isleta, there are several trails where you can stretch your legs. Here we leave you a route in Wikiloc
- La Laja
Another beach in Las Palmas, less touristic than Las Canteras, is one that you can see from the highway before arriving to the city: La Laja beach. It is a large and wide beach where not so many people usually go.
You can get there from Las Palmas by walking, running or cycling along the entire maritime avenue, 12 km each way. If you go by car, park on the other side of the highway because under the road there is a tunnel that allows access to the beach on foot.
Next to the beach they have made a natural pool and nearby is the fishermen’s neighborhood of San Cristobal, ideal to go to eat when hunger pangs are strong after a few dips. Before leaving, take a look at the sculpture of Triton and the Torre del Viento, the only construction that remains on the beach since the works at the entrance to the city.
If the day is cloudy, you have had a rainy morning or you just want to feed your soul with a more cultural plan, here are some interesting museum stories:
- Canary Island Museum
A must to understand the history of the island, and the archipelago in general: this museum in Vegueta is dedicated to the history and prehistory of the Canary Islands. Here we can learn how the ancient Canarian aborigines lived (and even see some of their mummies) and it has one of the most complete exhibitions of chromañoid remains in the world.
Hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 20:00 and weekends from 10:00 to 14:00. Closed January 1 and December 31. Admission: 5 € (3 € for students, unemployed, large families, pensioners upon presentation of supporting credentials). Free admission for children under 12 years
- Columbus House
Also in Vegueta, this 16th-century mansion focuses on research and dissemination of the history of the Canary Archipelago and its relations with the Americas. It has 13 exhibition rooms – pre-Columbian archeology, painting, cartography, engravings -, a library and a specialized study center.
Hours: Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 19:00 and weekends from 9:00 to 15:00. Closed on holidays, May 22nd and December 24th and 31st. Free admission.
- Atlantic Center for Modern Art (CAAM)
On the beautiful Calle de los Balcones (the name says it all), also in the historic neighborhood of Vegueta, is this museum with a neoclassical façade whose exhibits cover the latest trends in the art world.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 21:00 and Sundays from 10:00 to 14:00. Closed on Mondays, holidays and December 24 and 31. Free admission.
- La Regenta Art Center
This art center is located in the building of a former tobacco factory. It was founded in 1987 and is dedicated to contemporary art with different activities, exhibitions and workshops aimed at audiences of all ages.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 14:00 and 17:00 to 21:00 and Saturdays from 10:00 to 14:00. Closed on Sundays, Mondays and holidays. Free admission.
- Elder Museum of Science and Technology
In the middle of Santa Catalina Park is located this museum of scientific divulgation.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00. Closed on Mondays, January 1 and 6, Shrove Tuesday, May 1 and December 24, 25 and 31. Admission: 6 € (4 € for residents in the Canary Islands and 3 € for general reduced admission.
Find your accommodation in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria here.
Santa Brígida, Atalaya and Caldera de Bandama
Less than 20 minutes drive from Las Palmas is the green and flowery Santa Brigida. The explosion of color and calm compared to the capital will be what makes many people who work in the capital choose to live here and make the daily 14km that separate one from the other. Its historic center is worth a visit between colorful streets and, if you go on a weekend, you should know that there is a local market.
Among so much green, you will notice that some of that green are vineyards and vineyards are very representative of the municipality of Santa Brigida. In fact, you can taste local wine at the Casa Museo del Vino and, if you get hungry, snack on some typical Canarian food or the famous fish broth that attracts many travelers to this place. If you are interested in wine tourism, you cannot miss the area of Monte Lentiscal located between the Natural Monument of Bandama and the Protected Landscape of Tafira. The very fertile volcanic soil of the area makes it perfect for producing and tasting the region’s wine.
- Caldera de Bandama
If there is something that we consider essential if you come here is to visit the natural monument of Bandama. This volcanic caldera is 200 meters deep and you can walk around its perimeter along a path of more than 3 km. If you do so, you can see how the temperature is warmer at the bottom of the caldera and that is why it is known that its origin is relatively recent.
Apparently, the name Bandama comes from Daniel Van Damme (any resemblance to the name of action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme is pure coincidence), one of the Flemish settlers who populated the area in the 16th century and who planted vineyards inside thecaldera! That is why when you approach you will see that there is a “Mirador del vino” where you can contemplate these vineyards.
It is very likely that the ancient inhabitants of the Canary Islands were already growing crops inside the caldera because halfway up one of the walls (the north wall) there is an archaeological site where it is said that they stored grain. This site, also called the “Cuevas de los Canarios” (Caves of the Canaries), is a group of caves and collective granaries that can be visited. In addition, in the visor that protects the group of caves can be observed cave engravings similar to the Berber Libyan.
- Atalaya, land of the loceras
In the village of Atalaya, near Bandama, the inhabitants lived in caves dug into the rocks. In fact, a few cave houses are still preserved in their primitive state and can be visited. Here, in Atalaya, was where the crockery that was consumed in most of the island was made: it was the loceras (potters) who made the earthenware (pottery). The pottery was their currency, as they exchanged earthenware for other products they needed (vegetables, fish, farming tools,…). The women would go down the hillside and take the pottery they baked to the market or to other areas of the island for barter.
By chance, while walking through Atalaya, we got to know the Peña del Barro, while they were baking pottery in the community oven. They gave us stories (washed down with honey rum), opened a cave for us to see inside and even gave us one of the freshly baked lozas as a souvenir (they took it out of the oven in front of us and gave it to us still warm). The cave that we were lucky enough to visit in this exclusive private (improvised) visit was that of the Alfarera/Locera María, now transformed into a museum to be visited.
We ended the day at the bar-cave Juancito having a drink and listening to live music with José, from the Peña del Barro, who gave Inês a necklace made by the potter Taranta and cooked by him. José did not know about Inês’ collection of necklaces from the World, and when she explained it to him, he even got a little excited.
Moya and Los Tilos
The highlights of our visit to Moya were: the views of the Moya ravine, the bakery, the nearby Natural Reserve of Los Tilos and the surprise of the Roque beach.
Don’t miss the views of the Barranco de Moya behind the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, breathtaking. And while you’re there, just in front of the church is the birthplace of the poet Tomás Morales, one of the main poets of Spanish post-modernism and initiator of modern Canarian poetry. Here he was born in 1884 and here you can find his House-Museum with his library and pictorial collection.
Moya is also a land of artisan industries of suspiros and bizcochos lustrados, typical of the place, and there are several bakeries where you can buy them. Of course, to sit down and have a coffee to taste them, Casa Juana, the cafeteria of a very old lady, Juana, where it seems that time has stopped, is a must.
But what we liked the most was the walk through the Natural Reserve of Los Tilos de Moya, in the Natural Park of Doramas.
Recommended for all ages because of how beautiful and easy it is (Inês did it in flip-flops and we passed by several families with babies of months), the 1.8 km circular trail through the Barranco de Laurel starts next to the restaurant Los Tilos (you can park right there) and can be done in less than 1 hour (we completed it in 40 minutes). There is plenty of shade all the way, although a hat and sunscreen are always a must on this island. At the end of the trail there is an interpretation center to learn more about the nature reserve we just visited.
The fact is that 65% of the municipality of Moya is considered a Protected Natural Area and Los Tilos is a wooded fragment of laurel and linden trees that covers an area of 91 hectares on the Moya ravine. The name of the lime trees comes from the abundance of the species Til (Ocotea Foetens) and the space is, in fact, one of the last redoubts of laurel forest on the island.
If after the walk you are up for a dip, we discovered the charming little beach of El Roque, a bowling beach with a photogenic white backdrop. We were amused because, upon arrival, we saw a tide of colorful umbrellas on the beach, which, apparently, was a gathering of old people playing cards. It is a beach with strong waves, but next to it there are some natural pools where it is a pleasure to cool off.
On the coast of Moya you also have the natural pools of Charco de San Lorenzo or the beach of La Caleta in El Altillo, although more than for bathing they are for surfing and in fact it is where the International Longboard Festival is celebrated annually.
Arucas, the church and the rum
As soon as you arrive in Arucas you will see a church that stands out from the rest of the town: it is the Parish Church of San Juan Bautista and, although it is not a cathedral, it is known as the cathedral of Arucas. Of neo-gothic style, this church sculpted in Arucas stone in 1909 is one of the most emblematic buildings of the area.
In addition, you will also be surprised when you walk through the surrounding streets, colorful and full of bars and terraces over looking the church itself. Stop and have a drink, it won’t be considered sacrilege.
Continue the walk through the Plaza de San Juan, which overlooks the facade of the church, and contemplate the unfinished building of the New Theater ( 1906), neoclassical style.
In the Plaza de la Constitución you will find the beautiful Casa de la Cultura, a traditional Canarian house from the 17th century that includes an interior patio with a dragon tree! Also in this square are the Casas Consistoriales and the Municipal Market.
If you feel like a cultural plan, the Municipal Museum of Arucas is located in the Casa de Gourié, the old house of the Mayorazgo de Arucas, from the 19th century with gardens to stroll through.
Another particularity that Arucas has is that this city preserves, under its surface, remains of the ancient pre-Hispanic settlement Arehucas that extended along the slopes of the mountain and on which the current city was settled at the end of the XV century. For this reason, when carrying out works in Arucas, it is quite common to find stone houses, caves or burial sites. What today is known as Capellanía Grande and is a fairground and parking lot, is currently under investigation for the stone walls and fragments of archaeological materials that were uncovered with an excavation in 2004. The remains that were discovered, after being protected, were covered up again to continue the excavations in other areas of the site and to be able to continue using it provisionally as a parking lot. With total ignorance of the municipal limitations involved, we find it horrendous that it is allowed to park the car on a site with such historical importance in current research work and the possible irreversible impact that it may entail.
In addition, we also read that in the Capellanía Grande there is a colony of Canary Island lizards, a species protected under the special protection regime of the National Catalogue of Threatened Species, which inhabit these walls of the old farms…
For rum lovers, any resemblance of the brand“Arehucas” with the name of the town is not pure coincidence: here you can visit the distilleries of the famous Canarian rum with tasting included. The Arehucas Rum Factory was founded in Arucas in 1884 and offers a 45-minute tour through the history of Canarian rum for 4.20€.
If you are more of a sporty person, you have the option to climb the Arucas Mountain and contemplate an incredible panoramic view of the north of the island from any of its viewpoints.
Firgas, the fountain and its Paseos Canarios
In Firgas you can not miss 3 must-see places, one for walking: its historic center (the Canary Islands and Gran Canaria promenades); another for views: the viewpoint of Las Pellas; and the third gastronomic: the potaje de berros (watercress stew). Therefore, to fully enjoy all three, we recommend you to arrive in Firgas around lunchtime to enjoy this last point.
As soon as you reach the small town of Firgas you will find a 30-meter waterfall in stone that ends with a fountain: it is the Paseo de Gran Canaria. If you start to climb the waterfall you will see the tiles with the 21 heraldic coats of arms of the municipality and the insular coat of arms.
When you get to the top you will see the monument to our most precious commodity: water. This fountain represents the wealth of the municipality of Firgas in water.
Further on, another promenade, the Paseo de Canarias. And is that here are sculpted on the ground 7 Canary Islands, each with its orography and representative tile. The island Graciosa was not considered the eighth island until 2018 and this walk is earlier so the representation of the smallest island of the archipelago is missing.
Do not miss also the beautiful building of the Casa de la Cultura de Firgas (built in the 19th century to accommodate those who came to the baths of Azuaje), the square and church of San Roque and the mansion of the 40’s that houses the Town Hall.
To taste the famous potaje de berros (watercress stew), we went to Bar La Fuente and we loved everything we tasted there: typical Canarian food and excellent service.
Finally, leaving Firgas on the way to Teror, stop at the Mirador de las Pellas for a glimpse of La Isleta and Las Palmas.
On the road from Firgas to Valleseco, you will find the Molino de Agua de Firgas from 1512, which has been in continuous operation for more than 400 years.
Teror, the Virgen del Pino and the morcilla
As we told you at the beginning of the guide, the beautiful villages of Gran Canaria were what we liked most of the island and Teror is, in our opinion, in the Top 3 of the most beautiful villages (along with Fataga and Agüimes in the interior of the island).
Arriving in Teror and walking down the colorful street full of wooden balconies to the Basilica is impossible without taking a few pictures (if you are a photography lover): it is as delightful to be enjoyed as it is photogenic.
But apart from being beautiful, Teror is a place of pilgrimage. Legend has it that back in 1481 a Virgin appeared on top of a pine tree – the Virgen del Pino – and since then it has become a place of pilgrimage and worship by devotees who go in and out of the Basilica to ask for promises and worship the Virgin, current Patroness of the Diocese of the Canary Islands.
The Basilica of the Virgen del Pino is located in the Plaza del Pino and dates back to 1767, although the one we see now corresponds to a third reconstruction. If you want to enter and contemplate the patron saint of Gran Canaria on her altar, you can do it for free every day (except Monday mornings).
From the Plaza de Teror, the entrance to the Basilica, you can appreciate the typical balconies of Canarian architecture that adorn much of the municipality of Teror and that we like so much. Nearby is the Plaza Teresa de Bolivar where you can see the bust of Simon Bolivar.
If you are not vegetarian or vegan, you should know that the specialty of the gastronomy in Teror are its chorizos and its morcillas (sweet black pudding). You can buy these delicacies at the street market, every Sunday (from 8:00 to 15:00) or at the Los Nueces factory, although if you prefer to taste it right there, in situ, get the most typical snack of the area and ask for a chorizo sandwich and a strawberry Clipper (a Canarian soft drink).
To enjoy a snack you can also do it surrounded by nature, 20 minutes from the Basilica, in the peaceful Finca de Osorio, at one of its tables or wooden benches.
If instead of Clipper de Fresa you prefer water, fill the bottle at La Fuente (about 15 minutes walk from the historic center of Teror) with this somewhat bitter water of very weak mineralization.
On the way out, in the direction of Tejeda, stop at the viewpoint to contemplate Teror from above and say goodbye.
Salinas el Bufadero, a dip in history
A jewel of the ethnographic heritage of Gran Canaria where you can take a dip! In these salt pans, where the ancient Canary Islanders used to collect salt, we can refresh ourselves.
The Salinas el Bufadero (and its commercial exploitation) were first documented in the 18th century although, as we read, it was not until the 19th century that production increased. The water that filled the puddles was carried from the sea by the salt maker and the product was marketed in the north of the island on the backs of pack animals. :(
In 1993, with the death of the last Bufadero salt maker and the salt pans being in a precarious state, they were on the verge of disappearing. But fortunately, in 1997, the Cabildo of Gran Canaria began the process for the declaration of the Bufadero Salt Pans as a Site of Cultural Interest, as an Ethnological Site, for its value as an example of traditional popular culture, and began the restoration work of its facilities. Currently, the salt pans are working at full capacity.
We arrived on a Sunday at 12 noon, and unlike other places we visited, there were very few people, especially for a weekend. It gave us the feeling of being something very local and away from tourism, very quiet and nudist. So, if you plan to go to the Salinas del Bufadero to cool off, better go at low tide (at high tide it can even be dangerous), keep your voice also low, music in your helmets and swimsuit in your backpack, because here you come to be in tranquility with nature.
Telde, the Bufadero de La Garita and the beach of Tufia
With so many wonders to explore on the island, it is true that the second most populated city of Gran Canaria (and the fourth most populated of the archipelago) was left for last and we did not devote the attention it deserved. However, here we tell you what you can’t miss when you include Telde in your route around the island.
The neighborhood of San Juan and its historic center, among stately homes, the Church of San Juan Bautista, its main chapel (where the altarpieces stand out) and the Plaza Mayor. If you have time and are interested, you can visit the Casa Museo de León y Castillo , which has an interesting collection of oil paintings and watercolors in what was the birthplace of the brothers Fernando, Marqués del Muni and Juan de León y Castillo, prominent figures of the island’s history between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
It also includes a walk through the neighborhood of San Francisco, one of the oldest in the Canary Islands, a neighborhood of cobblestone streets and low houses that rise to the top of Santa Maria. Although the best plan in the neighborhood is to get lost in these narrow streets, you can also visit the Conventual Church of San Francisco, which highlights the altarpieces and pieces of art of baroque style.
Finally, stroll through the Barrio de San Gregorio, contemplate the church of the same name and have a drink on one of its terraces before deciding which of Telde’s archaeological sites to visit next. Of course, Telde also reveals its aboriginal past in its archaeological heritage: the mountain of Cuatro Puertas, a group of inhabited caves near the town center; Tara, in the interior of the municipality; and Tufia and Cendro on the coast.
Also on the coast is something very peculiar where you can go after visiting Telde: the Bufadero de La Garita. This set of prismatic basalt figures, the best manifestation of this type of geological formation on the island, produces something that we could comically call an “ocean fart”. And the effect produced by the successive push of the ocean to the underwater cavity expelling water through a hole with great force graphically resembles the representation of the same. Go and tell us if you think so or not.
If you prefer to go to the beach, go to Tufia beach, a small black sand cove, very nice, off the beaten path and very sought after by divers.
When we went to the beach of Tufia, we found it incredibly photogenic, with a but: for the reduced space, it had too many people. We were quite lazy, coming from other beaches with plenty of space to stretch out the towel, butthe picture of the houses going down to the translucent waters, no one can take it away.
Get inspired with our stories about our visit to Gran Canaria
If you want to get inspired by our live adventures, we have saved on our Instagram (do you already follow us?), in Featured Stories, a selection of what we did during the month we spent in Gran Canaria. Here you can see them all and we tell you what to see in each highlight to make it easier for you to locate specific sites:
Gran Canaria 1 – Route GC200 between Agaete and Adaea de San Nicolás (Mirador El Balcón, Los Azulejos, Playa de la Sardina, Gáldar, Las Salinas natural swimming pools); Fataga (Mirador Degollada de la Yegua and Arteara)
Gran Canaria 2 – San Bartolomé de Tirajana; Roque Nublo; Mirador Degollada de la Becerra, Artenara (and Mirador La Cilla); Tejeda (and Mirador Cruz de Tejeda); Sunset at Ventana del Nublo; Barranco de las Vacas, Barranco de Guayadeque (and lunch in the cave); Playa del Cabrón; Faro de Punta Arinaga
Gran Canaria 3 – Mirador el Guriete; Mirador La Sorrueda and Embalse de Tirajana; Fortaleza de Ansite; Salinas del Bufadero; Arucas; Moya (and Los Tilos de Moya); Roque de San Felipe; Firgas, Teror; Santa Brígida, Cadera de Bandama and Atalaya (visit to the cave of Locera María); sunset at Pico de las Nieves.
Gran Canaria 4 – Presa de Ayagaures; el Bufadeo la Garita; Tufia Beach; Puerto de Mogán; Tiritaña Beach; Amadores Beach; Montaña de Arena Beach; Maspalomas; Meloneras Promenade; Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canteras, Vegueta, Triana, El Confital)
The best hiking and cycling routes in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria has a strong cycling and hiking component that we were unaware of until now. It is very common to go on secondary roads with the car and see several people on bicycles enjoying this sport at various points of the island. In fact, there are several restaurants throughout the island (although we saw it mostly in the south) that are “Bike Stop“ prepared with spare parts and tools that cyclists may need.
With such varied flora and breathtaking scenery, the same goes for the hiking trails: there are many, varied and ranging from the most demanding to those that you can go even with babies.
In this section of the guide we mention some of the main routes (some of them we did and others we will write down for the next time)
Hiking trails in the north of Gran Canaria
- Caldera de Bandama: route through a 200 m deep volcanic caldera, with great views of the island. Here a possible route on Wikiloc
- Tilos de Moya: simple circular route for all ages, through a green and flowery laurel forest environment. Route in Wikiloc
- El Confital (la Isleta): simple route with built and well delimited walks, where you walk along the sea and you can see military remains. Route in Wikiloc
- Barranco de los Cernícalos: another simple and busy route, through an area with lots of greenery and some waterfalls. Complete route in Wikiloc
Hiking routes in the interior of Gran Canaria
- La Goleta to Roque Nublo: easy trail to visit the famous Roque Nublo. Route on Wikiloc
- From Tunte to Cruz de Tejeda: long route (15km) of medium-low difficulty, passing through the village of Tunte and the Camino de la Plata. Route in Wikiloc
- Fortaleza de Ansite and Sorrueda: route through the incredible Fortaleza de Ansite and the palm grove of Sorrueda. Route on Wikiloc
- Barranco de Las Vacas: to see the misnamed Barranco de Las Vacas (actually it is the Barranco de Barafonso), you can do the super simple path of a few minutes or take advantage and do this circular route through the countryside. Route on Wikiloc
Hiking trails in the west of Gran Canaria
- Barranco del Risco: circular route that goes through several waterfalls. Route on Wikiloc
- Fuente de los Azulejos: spectacular circular route that passes through the beautiful Pinar de Inagua. It is long (16km) so it is essential to bring water and food for the road. Route in Wikiloc
- Cola del Dragón and La Aldea: simple circular route with breathtaking views. Route in Wikiloc
- Güi-Güi: route of difficult level due to the slope, heat and type of terrain, to access the beach of Güi-Güi. It is essential to bring plenty of water, avoid central hours due to the sun and check the tides (better at low tide) to better enjoy the beach. Route in Wikiloc
Hiking routes in the south of Gran Canaria
- Arco del Coronadero: route through this incredible natural stone arch. Route on Wikiloc
- Gambuesa and Pilancones: circular route starting from the Gambuesa reservoir (Ayagaures) passing through the Pilancones Natural Park, with beautiful views. Route in Wikiloc
There are many more routes, for all tastes. More information about hiking routes in Gran Canaria:
If you are looking for adventure and adrenaline, you can take this canyoning tour, which is done in different areas depending on the time of the year.
Treat yourself to a day of adrenaline and book your canyoning experience in the canyons of Gran Canaria: find forests with hidden waterfalls and natural slides! BOOK HERE
Where to dive in Gran Canaria
The crystal clear and inviting water all year round (approx. 19°C in winter to approx. 24°C in summer), the great variety of underwater life and the various dive sites suitable for all levels (from less to more experienced divers) make diving very popular on the island.
Where to dive in the South of Gran Canaria:
- El Cabrón Beach: the Cabrón Marine Reserve and the seabed of Arinaga allow the observation of a lot of biodiversity (from seahorses to angelsharks and rays), incredible landscapes (arches, caves, slopes), dive sites for all levels and conditions of temperature and currents that make diving possible almost 365 days a year.
- El Risco Verde: simple dives without currents in a bay sheltered from the wind, recommended for beginners and night diving.
- The wrecks of Mogán: two deliberately sunk ships (the Pecio Viejo and the Cermona II,) barely 40 meters away from each other near the marina of Puerto de Mogán.
- Baja de Pasito Blanco: Easy dive of up to 20 meters deep to what resembles a lunar landscape.
- Blue Bird: The Blue Bird boat sank in 2002 one mile off the coast of Puerto Mogán and attracts a lot of marine life around it (garden eels, barracudas, grunts, rays and angel sharks). To reach it at a depth of more than 40 meters you need to have an advanced level of diving certificate and more than 100 logged dives because, in addition to the depth, the current is sometimes very strong.
- Arguineguín artificial reefs: dozens of structures built in concrete where different objects were placed about 23 meters deep, just in front of the beach Montaña de Arena, and where schools of fish are concentrated. You have to go by boat to the dive site.
- Alfonso XII: Another great sunken ship, this one with a legend included in the dive: it is said that when the great steamship Alfonso XII sank in 1885 it was carrying several boxes of gold, so divers were sent to recover them but one was left… Do you dare to go in search of the lost treasure?
Where to dive in the West of Gran Canaria:
- Puerto de sardina del Norte: Ideal for beginners, it abounds with marine flora and fauna and the greenish blue and crystalline tones of its waters attract many divers. Octopuses, canary lobsters and seahorses inhabit the seabed, and in the sandy area there are sea breams, mantelinas, San Pedro roosters and angel sharks.
Where to dive in the North of Gran Canaria:
- Arona: the dive to the sunken ship Arona (it sank in 1972 after a big fire) is only for expert divers due to the strong currents.
- La Catedral: it is said to be one of the most amazing underwater landscapes of the island. There are several routes through this “underwater building” of volcanic rock and many nooks and crannies of more than 30 meters of vertical development. It is located in front of La Isleta and delights underwater photography enthusiasts.
Unfortunately this time Inês, the Randomtrip diver, didn’t have the chance to “hit the bottle” and explore the bottom of the island so she didn’t get to know any centers first hand. However, in this official tourism website of Gran Canaria they recommend a few centers in various parts of the island.
Where to stay in Gran Canaria: the best areas and the best accommodations
In general we recommend two options for choosing a base to sleep in Gran Canaria:
- Based on the places and number of days you have, choose an area and sleep there every night, for example in the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (north) or in Maspalomas (south) where it never gets cold.
- If you are visiting Gran Canaria for more than 4-5 days, it may be a good idea to split your stay between south (e.g. Maspalomas) and north-interior (e.g. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), to save kilometers and hours in the car.
We don’t recommend you to choose the West as your base, as you will be generally further away from everything: the main road of Gran Canaria makes a semi-circle connecting from Gáldar to Puerto de Mogán (passing through Las Palmas, Telde, the airpott, Maspalomas…), while the West area (between Galdar and Puerto de Mogán) is connected by the GC-200 road, beautiful but full of curves and slow, which makes going down from north to south through this area take quite a long time. But we do recommend, if you can, that you spend at least one night in the west when you do the GC-200 route(we recommend places here), so you can do it in 2 sections and with more calm.
If you divide your stay into north and south, you can:
- Spend the first nights in the north, for example in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria(Las Canteras or the district of La Vegueta are our favorite areas).
- Drive down the GC-200 and spend a night in La Aldea de San Nicolás (find accommodations for a special night in La Aldea here).
- Spend the rest of the nights in the south (in Maspalomas or Ayagaures).
How many days in the north and how many in the south? That depends on your itinerary and your preferences within the trip. If you want good weather and beach, you will find it in the south all year round. We recommend specific itineraries from 2 to 7 days here.
Below are accommodations by area for different budgets (30-50€, 50 to 90€, over 90€) for you to choose your base(s) of exploration.
South: Where to stay in Maspalomas and surroundings
The south is probably the most popular option when choosing where to stay in Gran Canaria, due to the good weather all year round, the proximity to the beaches and the huge offer. You will find options for all tastes.
- Toki Eder (Ayagaures): from 40€/night. This is where we stayed for 3 weeks. Rural house on the road up to Ayagaures, only 10-15 minutes from Maspalomas by car.
- Casa Manmre (Maspalomas) from 46€/night, private room (with private bathroom or, cheaper, with shared bathroom), has a terrace with whirlpool bath.
- Axelbeach Maspalomas (Adults Only): from 79€/night. Complex with pool, gay and hetero-friendly, located near the Yumbo shopping center and many bars, restaurants and nightclubs. If you want to experience the LGTBQ and party atmosphere of Maspalomas, this is the place. If you are not staying, you have the possibility to enjoy the pool and the atmosphere for 15€ per day per person (and on Saturdays there is a barbecue).
- Apartment in San Agustin: from 110€/night, two bedroom apartment with kitchen, terrace and sea views.
More accommodation in Maspalomas in this link
Not convinced by these? Find more accommodations and rooms in Maspalomas and surroundings here.
Interior: Where to stay in Artenara, Tejeda, Tunte…
- Chalet Rural Bentayga (Tejeda): from 35€/night. Wake up with a view of the Roque Bentayga! in this chalet ideal for sharing from 2 to 10 people (Ex: 350€/night for 10 people, the price varies depending on the number of people).
- Casa Cueva el Caidero (Artenara): from 50€/night
- Ca’Juani (Guayadeque): from 50€/night, live the experience of sleeping in a cave house in Guayadeque.
- Casas Rurales de Guayadeque (Guayadeque): from 60€/night, several cave houses for rent in the Guayadeque Ravine
- Hotel Rural el Refugio (Tejeda): from 60€/night. Rooms in a 19th century Canarian country house overlooking the stunning surroundings of Tejeda, with an outdoor pool!
- Hotel Rural Fonda de la Tea (Tejeda): from €90/night: comfortable rooms and spectacular views
- Rural Suite Santiago de Tunte (Tunte): from 80€/night. Ideal apartment for families or groups of 4 people.
- Casa Rural Palomar (Fataga): from 110€/night. Very well kept rooms in a beautiful rural house with garden.
- Parador de Cruz de Tejeda (Cruz de Tejeda): from 150€/night Treat yourself to one night! You can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, enjoy the sunset and take a dip with the best views of the island, a Spa where you can relax, a restaurant serving traditional Canarian cuisine and comfortable, spacious rooms with lots of natural light.
Do you prefer another type of room to spend a few nights in the countryside? Find more rural pearls here
West: Where to stay in Aldea de San Nicolás, Agaete, Gáldar….
- Vilna House (La Aldea): from 50€/night. Villa with incredible views and swimming pool (Ex: 308€/night for 6 people, price varies depending on the number of people).
- La Aldea Suites (La Aldea): from 66€/night. Rooms in hotel with pool where to spend a night in the most remote area of the island.
- Juncalillo House (Gáldar): from 80€/night. Rooms with incredible views ideal for those looking for relaxation and tranquility (located about 20 kms from Gáldar).
- Rk Hotel del Cabo (Agaete): from 80€/night. Less than 200 meters from Playa de las Nieves in Puerto de las Neves.
- Hotel Emblemático Agáldar (Gáldar): from 110€/night, in the very Plaza de Santiago, where you can relax after visiting the cave art of the Cueva Pintada.
If you decide to spend a night in the west of the island, you can see more accommodations besides these here.
North: Where to stay in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Teror, Firgas, Moya …
- Apartamentos Catalina Park (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria): from 40€/night: studios and apartments for 2 or 3 people a few meters from Las Canteras beach
- Hotel Ciudad del Mar (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria): from 65€/night. We stayed one night in this hotel because we had to be in the port very early the next day and it is close to the port of Las Palmas. Very spacious rooms, comfortable bed and in the center, ideal for walking everywhere.
- Apartments Vegueta Suite (Vegueta): from 90€/night, modern self-catering apartments for 4 people, in Vegueta neighborhood
- Santa Ana Suite & Rooms (Vegueta): from 90€/night, private rooms with views of Santa Ana Cathedral.
- Cabañas Valle Verde (Moya): from 70€/night. Bungalows to relax in the middle of the nature of Moya with scandalous breakfasts.
- Mary’s Home (El Roque, Moya): from 70€/night. 2 bedroom house with kitchen, terrace and sea views.
- Villa Santini (Teror): from 100€/night. Double room with private bathroom and terrace with views. Breakfast included.
- Villa Bandama Golf (Santa Brígida): from 104€/night. Rooms with sea or mountain views in the tranquility of Santa Brígida.
- Hotel Melva Suite (Firgas): from 121€/night. Rooms with incredible views and restaurant with traditional Canarian food.
- Finca Bella Vista (Arucas): from 125€/night. Apartment for 2 people with swimming pool and spectacular views.
Best restaurants in Gran Canaria
From the local bochinches (typical and cheap restaurants) to more sophisticated restaurants or international food, Gran Canaria has options for all tastes and budgets. Here we leave you some recommendations of places we recommend to try the best of Gran Canaria’s gastronomy.
Where to eat in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- Te lo Dije Pérez (Vegueta): for vermouth or a beer as an aperitif, very nice mythical bar.
- Triciclo (Vegueta): original rations fusing traditional Canarian food with more modern dishes, it has a terrace, we loved it!
- Mercado del Puerto (Las Canteras): a food market with many food stalls of all kinds.
- Trattoria de Francesco (Las Canteras): small and incredible Italian restaurant, very cozy. Authentic Italian cuisine (the owners of the restaurant are from Umbria and offer excellent service). We tried a very good carbonara and the “Penne alla Norcina” (one of the house specialties). It is one of those restaurants with a small menu where whatever you order will be excellent.
- Dulces de Portugal (Las Canteras): Portuguese pastry shop near the quarries, with pastéis de nata, chocolate salami, etc.
- Valentina (Las Canteras): vermutería with a great variety of vermouth, to have a drink before dinner.
- Restaurant La Marinera (Las Canteras): restaurant overlooking the sea and specializing in fresh fish and rice dishes.
Where to eat in Santa Brígida and Atalaya
- Los Geranios: we discovered it by chance and what a wonderful homemade food: do not expect something “fancy”, it is a local restaurant with an exquisite mojo, french fries as your grandmother would have made them or, for those who come hungrier, a good garbanza.
- Basalto: more modern. We didn’t get to go but it looks great and has good reviews.
- Bochinche Bar Juansito: mythical place very frequented by local people, with incredible views of Atalaya and delicious and cheap traditional food. We recommend trying the abocado wine. Sometimes they have live music.
Where to eat in Firgas
- Bar La Fuente: Super local restaurant, with daily menu and good prices. We ate the most typical dish of Firgas, watercress stew, and fried cheese, all delicious.
- Asadero Las Brasas – Los Pollitos: restaurant specialized in grilled meat and also known for its excellent butter, very frequented by local people.
Where to eat in Fataga:
- El Albaricoque: restaurant of good and cheap traditional food, with terrace and views to the Fataga ravine. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Where to eat in Tunte (San Bartolome de Tijarana):
- La Cueva: homemade and tasty food, especially the meats. We stopped on our way to the interior of Gran Canaria. Very good service, and it is a Bike Stop.
Where to eat in Artenara:
- Restaurant La Cilla: incredible views, a must in Artenara even if it’s just for a drink. We went there in the afternoon during our visit to the village for a coffee and a sweet, all excellent. As a curiosity, to access you have to go through a tunnel made in a rock that they had regulated with a traffic light so as not to coincide with other people in it.
- BioCrepería RiscoCaido: small vegetarian restaurant with organic products. We didn’t go because it was closed (only open on weekends) but we were curious.
Where to eat in Agüimes:
- Tasca Alegranza by González: typical tapas of the area, good service and affordable prices. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Where to eat in Barranco de Guayadeque:
- Restaurant El Centro: a cave restaurant recommended to us by Dailos’ family, local, where you can eat well and cheaply. Specializing in grilled meats
- Restaurant Vega: recommended by someone local who lives in Guayadeque, as we went up to see the views. They recommend cochina a la sal (120€ to share between at least 10 and leftovers). Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Where to eat in La Sorrueda:
- El Alpendre de Felix: very cute restaurant among palm trees, with a terrace, views and delicious homemade food at a good price.
Where to eat in Tejeda:
- Dulcería Nublo: they say it is the best pastry shop in Gran Canaria. Founded in 1946, it has a terrace where you can taste some of its varied delicacies (marzipan, giant palms with different flavors, bienmesabe, polvito uruguayo, almond sweets…). An essential stop on your visit to Tejeda.
- Texeda: creative Canarian cuisine that favors local and seasonal products, and also to try their different craft beers.
Where to eat in Agaete:
- Terraza Angor: restaurant where to eat fresh fish in Puerto de Agaete. Prices are a bit expensive, although you have sea views and it is usually full. Closed on Wednesdays
- Mesón del Bocadillo: local place, specializing in sandwiches, rich and with a lot of variety. Closed on Mondays.
- Rocktop Sky Bar (terrace at the Roca Negra hotel): incredible views of the sea, although there are all kinds of opinions about the service and food. We recommend to have a drink and enjoy the views.
Where to eat in Guayedra:
- Restaurant Los Almácigos: restaurant in privileged surroundings, overlooking the sea (near Guayedra Beach). Good food, prices more expensive than usual for Gran Canaria but reasonable for the type of restaurant and its location.
Where to eat in Aldea de San Nicolás:
- Monasterio La Aldea: a place for drinks with a terrace and very good atmosphere, to go for a drink. They also have some food but it does not stand out.
- Bar Avenida: we stopped for a beer but the food looked very good. It is a local place with very good service. Next door, on the street, they sold mango and manga (less fibrous and tastier) at good prices.
Where to eat in Tasarte:
- Oliva Restaurant: local people recommended it to us, but in the end we could not go. Right on the beach, local food and good prices. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Where to eat in Mogán:
- Valle de Mogán: recommended by local people, excellent restaurant that mixes local and Asian gastronomy. Higher than normal prices but worth it. They also have a tasting menu.
Where to eat in Maspalomas and surroundings:
- Bar Playa El Boya (Arguineguín): beach bar with excellent fresh fish and seafood. On weekends it is usually crowded. Local people recommended it to us. It closes on Thursdays.
- Bar Aridañy Montaña Blanca: simple, abundant, quality food at a good price. It was recommended to us in our accommodation on the island. Closed on Mondays.
- Bar Café Asociación de Vecinos Santa Margarita El Salobre: another recommendation from our accommodation on the island. Typical Canarian food with excellent quality/price ratio. On weekends there is live music. Closed on Tuesdays.
- Borneo Restaurant (Maspalomas): if you want to escape momentarily from the Canarian gastronomy, this Asian restaurant, with vegan options, was highly recommended in our accommodation. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Addio Mare (Maspalomas and San Agustín): very popular with locals, known among other things for its daring pizzas (one of the best known, the Piazza, with sirloin steak and Bearnaise sauce). The restaurant overlooks the sea (San Agustín) and is usually full, so it is best to make a reservation. It was recommended by Dailos, a friend from Gran Canaria who lives in Fuerteventura.
We tried a few more restaurants in and around Maspalomas, but the truth is that this area is so touristy that either the prices were too high, or the food not very good, or both, so we cannot recommend them here.
Where to eat in Ayagaures:
- Bar La Cuevita: restaurant with terrace, before reaching the dam, quite local and is usually full on weekends (better to book). Specializing in meats although everything is good.
Where to eat in Salinas del Matorral / Castillo del Romeral:
- Las Salinas: restaurant in front of the sea, specializing in fresh fish and rice dishes, good, nice and cheap. We ordered a seafood rice dish for 2 for 24€, very abundant (almost half of it was left over and we took it in a tupper and took it with us for dinner).
- Cofradía Castillo del Romeral: fresh fish and good prices.
Gran Canaria itineraries
As you may have realized by now, Gran Canaria has a lot to offer, so to see it all you need at least a week. As we know that we do not always have so much time to enjoy the island, we leave you several suggestions of itineraries for 3, 5 and 7 days.
If all you want is relaxation and beach, regardless of the days you have, it is best to choose a beach according to your travel style and see the nearest accommodation options to minimize travel. We suggest a few in the south of the island, where the cold never arrives, here.
If, on the other hand, you want a mix of beach and sightseeing, read on.
To make it easier for you to organize your itinerary, we have classified the places in daily routes that we did in our month visiting Gran Canaria. So, depending on the days you have you can choose some of these routes and easily build your itinerary:
What to see in a day in Gran Canaria
These are the one-day routes we did:
- Agaete to Aldea San Nicolás (West): Agaete, Puerto de Las Nieves, Piscinas Naturales Las Salinas, Playa Sardina del Norte, Galdar, Faro de Sardina, Carretera Costa Oeste GC-200, Mirador del Balcón, Aldea de San Nicolas and Los Azulejos.
- Inland route with Roque Nublo (Inland): Degollada de la Yegua viewpoint, Arteara, Fataga, Tunte (San Bartolomé de Tijarana), Roque Nublo, Degollada Becerra viewpoint, Tejeda, Artenara, Cruz de Tejeda viewpoint, Ventana del Nublo (sunset)
- Barranco de las Vacas, Guayadeque and Sorrueda + beach (Inland-South): Playa del Cabrón, Punta Arinaga lighthouse, Agüimes, Barranco de Guayadeque (lunch in restaurant-cave), Barranco de Las Vacas, Mirador de Guriete, Mirador de Sorrueda, Interpretation Center, Fortaleza de Ansite, Las Temisas Astronomical Observatory.
- Northern villages (North-Interior): Salinas del Bufadero, Arucas, Moya, route through Los Tilos, Firas, Teror, Caldera de Bandama, Atalaya, Santa Brígida and Pico de las Nieves (sunset).
- Beach route through the south (South): Ayagaures, Bufadero, Tufia, Puerto de Mogán, Tiritaña, Amadores, Montaña de Arena, Playa de Maspalomas, Dunas de Maspalomas, Paseo de Meloneras (sunset on the dunes or on the promenade of Meloneras).
- Güi Güi and Tasartico (West): Drive to Tasartico early in the morning to hike to Güi Güi beach (2,5 to 3h), enjoy the beach and come back to watch the sunset in Tasarte.
- Las Palmas (North): El Confital, Vegueta, Triana and sunset+dinner in Las Canteras
Things to do in Gran Canaria in 2-3 days (a weekend)
If you only have a weekend, choose among the 7 daily plans and look for accommodation that is close to the areas you want to visit. You will want to come back as you won’t have time for much!
Gran Canaria in one (beach) weekend:
- Day 1: arrival, pick up rental car and transfer to accommodation in Maspalomas and surroundings. If time allows, do part of the route 5. See the sunset on the dunes or Faro de Maspalomas.
- Day 2: Route 2 inland (Roque Nublo, Artenara, Tejeda, etc.). Sunset in Ventana del Nublo.
- Day 3: Do the remaining part of route 5 and/or route 7 (Las Palmas)
Gran Canaria in a weekend (villages and north)
- Day 1: arrival, pick up rental car and transfer to accommodation in the north (Las Palmas or a small village on route 4: Teror, Firgas, Arucas…). If there is time, do part of the route 4.
- Day 2: Route 2 inland (Roque Nublo, Artenara, Tejeda, etc.). Sunset in Ventana del Nublo.
- Day 3: Do the remainder of route 4 and/or route 7 (Las Palmas)
Things to do in Gran Canaria in 4-5 days
With 4 or 5 days you can get a good idea of the island, combining various types of scenery based on your preferences.
We suggest the following itinerary to visit Gran Canaria in 5 days:
- Day 1: arrival, pick up rental car and transfer to accommodation in the north (Las Palmas or a small village on route 4: Teror, Firgas, Arucas…). If there is time, do part of the route 4.
- Day 2: Route 2 inland (Roque Nublo, Artenara, Tejeda, etc.). Sunset in Ventana del Nublo.
- Day 3: Route 1 (from Agaete to Aldea de San Nicolás along the west coast) to end up in Maspalomas and sleep there the following nights.
- Day 4: Route 3 (Barranco de las Vacas, Guayadeque and beach)
- Day 5: Route 7 through Las Palmas
Things to do in Gran Canaria in 7 days (one week)
A week is the ideal duration to visit most of the attractions of the island. If this is your case, here is our recommended itinerary:
- Day 1: arrival, pick up rental car and transfer to accommodation in the north (Las Palmas or a small village on route 4: Teror, Firgas, Arucas…). If there is time, do part of the route 4.
- Day 2: Route 2 inland (Roque Nublo, Artenara, Tejeda, etc.). Sunset in Ventana del Nublo.
- Day 3: Route 1 (from Agaete to Aldea de San Nicolás along the west coast) to end in Maspalomas and sleep there the following nights.
- Day 4: Route 6 to Güi Güi Beach
- Day 5: Route 3 (Barranco de las Vacas, Guayadeque and beach)
- Day 6: Route 5 along the southern beaches.
- Day 7: Route 7 through Las Palmas
Transportation: rent a car in Gran Canaria
As in all the Canary Islands, in Gran Canaria we consider essential to rent a car in order to enjoy the island to the fullest, take advantage of the weather, and visit some emblematic places (which cannot be reached by public transport). We recommend you to compare prices and conditions in comparators such as DiscoverCars.
Car rental companies in Gran Canaria
In the Canary Islands we usually rent with Pluscar which in general is the one with the cheapest prices, all inclusive and possibility to modify/cancel the reservation easily, although we always compare with the rest of the companies because depending on the demand and the season it can vary. We recommend you to use comparators like DiscoverCars to find the best prices (although we recommend you to check very well the conditions of each company and not only the price).
Other recommended companies in Gran Canaria are (all of them have fully comprehensive insurance with no excess, second driver included and “return the same” fuel policy):
- Cicar and Cabrera Medina (they are the same company)
- Payless (the low cost of the above)
In our various trips through the Canary Islands, we have rented with several of these companies (Pluscar, Cicar, Cabrera Medina and Autoreisen), in all cases without any problems.
As we say, it is advisable to compare prices so it is ideal to use comparators such as DiscoverCars to see what is cheaper depending on the dates.
Important: most car rental companies do not cover damage caused by driving on unpaved roads.
Important 2: since the pandemic, the rental companies had to sell part of their fleet to hold on and now they have difficulties to acquire more vehicles, so with less supply and the same or more demand, prices have risen and it is possible that in high tourist seasons they may be sold out or have prohibitive prices. Therefore, it is very important to try to book as far in advance as possible.
Car rental prices in Gran Canaria
Prices for renting a car in Gran Canaria vary depending on the number of days you rent, the season, the type of car and how far in advance you book. In the searches we made, Pluscar was the one with the cheapest prices, and you could rent a car from about 5€ per day.
For your reference, we rented a car with Pluscar for 21 days in July 2020 and paid 200€ (about 9€ per day).
That price includes unlimited kilometers, all risk insurance, two drivers and a deliver-as-you-go fuel policy.
Our experience with Pluscar in Gran Canaria
To pick up the car you have to go to the public parking (P1) of the airport, in front of gate number 2 (they will confirm you by email when you make the reservation, but in our case the exact point was here). To drop it off at the end of the tour, you leave the car in the same place.
In case you do not want or cannot rent a car, you always have the option of using the bus network of Gran Canaria (you can see here lines and schedules) and the possibility of hiring a tour to go to specific places where it is not so easy to reach by bus.
However, be careful, because driving in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is not recommended for beginners: between the confusing indications and the rush of the Canarian people, avoid driving in the capital if you have not been in the car for a long time or you will have several scares.
How much does it cost to travel to Gran Canaria?
Making an approximate budget is always a complicated task because it depends greatly on factors such as your style of travel, what you prefer to prioritize, and in what season you travel, but here’s an approximation to give you an idea:
- Flights: with low cost companies such as Ryanair and Easyjet you can find flights from 50€ round trip per person, from Madrid.
- Car rental: between 5 and 30€ per day for the cheapest car, which is usually a Twingo (depending on the company and the number of days), all inclusive. The approximate price for a week with Pluscar with a couple of months in advance is 10€ per day (i.e. 70€ in total). Gasoline is cheaper in the Canary Islands, it will depend on the kms you do, as a guideline a tank of an economic car is about 30-40€.
- Accommodation: from 50€/night for a room with private bathroom or apartment with kitchen.
- Restaurant meals: between €10 and €20 per person
- Beach meals (sandwiches) or tapas at a beach bar: between 3 and 10€ per person
- Tours: 20 to 60€ per person per tour.
In total, as a guideline, a one week trip to Gran Canaria with a rented car can cost between 450 and 600€ per person (with the cheapest options of car, accommodation and restaurants).
Safety tips and precautions for travel to Gran Canaria
- In several points of the island they offer the option of camel rides (in the Maspalomas Dunes for example) or camel rides, called “safaris”. We recommend and ask you NOT to do it, because it is one more example of animal abuse, don’t be an accomplice of animal abuse! You can read more about a sentence on this issue here.
- In the Maspalomas Dunes it is forbidden to walk on the dunes outside the marked trails. Most people do not pay attention (either because they do not know the prohibition, or because they do it in spite of the prohibition), but now that you know that it is forbidden, respect the rules in order to preserve this beautiful corner of the Canary Islands.
- Respect other people and the island: don’t play your music loudly on the beach (if you want to listen to music, wear headphones), don’t leave trash, don’t throw cigarette butts, etc. Leave the beach better than you found it.
- In some beaches of the island bathing is dangerous due to strong currents. Do not be brave.
- If the beach is nudist, go nudist. If you don’t want to do nudism, go to another beach. More than 90% of the beaches on the island are not nudist so for one or the other there is, respect it.
- Always travel with travel insurance: it is always advisable but in times of pandemic, even more so. Medical expenses due to Covid-19, theft or problems with your plane on a trip can cost you a lot of money, so ideally you should take out travel insurance that includes it. We always use IATI which includes all this and recommend it. If you contract your insurance through this link you have a 5% discount.
Checklist: what to pack in your backpack/suitcase for Gran Canaria
Here is a list of essential items that you should not forget to take with you on your trip to Gran Canaria, both for the beach days and for the walks:
- Reef friendlysunscreen, i.e. free of coral-damaging chemicals, oxybenzone-free, and not tested on animals, such as this one or this one.
- Cap, the sun is very strong
- Swimsuit, claaaaroooo
- A water bottle like one of these to carry water with you at all times. This way you will avoid using single-use plastic.
- A neck warmer like one of these to protect you from the wind.
- Long sleeve lycra T-shirt with UV protection that we wear to protect us from cold water or the sun when snorkeling, such as one of these.
- Snorkel kit/glasses if you want to bring your own, otherwise you can rent. Here you have a kit for less than 20€.
- Waterproof bag, to keep your electronic devices safe on the beach. This one for example costs 12€.
- Microfiber towel, which occupies little and you will use for the beach. If you don’t have one, you can buy the typical ones from Decathlon or one of the following ones
- Camera to record the adventures in Gran Canaria. We took a Sony A5100 and a GoPro for underwater images.
- Power bank: with so many photos you will spend a lot of battery, so it always comes in handy to carry a good power bank. We travel with these 2(Xiaomi and Anker), which allow us to charge our smartphones, camera and GoPro.
- First-aid kit: in ourfirst-aid kit there is always a medicine against seasickness (such as biodramine for seasickness on boats), antibiotics, antidiarrheals (and some probiotics to recover more quickly), antihistamines, painkillers and antipyretics and, of course, travel insurance. If you contract your insurance through this link you have a 5% discount.
Contrary to what happened with most of its neighbors in the archipelago, in Gran Canaria it was far from the sea where we found what we liked the most: there are so many colorful villages in the interior of the island between the green and the mountains that it is difficult to decide which one is the most beautiful…
However, in our emotional top the sea is very close. La Aldea de San Nicolas with its black pebble beach where we watched the sunset, the sweet mangoes we picked straight from the tree and that incredible family where we were taken care of like two more, the family of our dear friend Dailos, was one of the places where we felt happiest on the island.
And, of course, what was our exploration base, a refuge for rest and work, far from the hustle and bustle but close to everything, where we woke up to the sound of birds and breathed deeply, wedged between ravines, our beloved little house in Ayagaures. Being there we have the help and care of Miren, Aritz and Julen and the doggy cuddles of Iru and Jaffna, with whom we are looking forward to sharing chats, tortillas and beers again.
We dedicate this guide to all of them and to our dear friend Justin, because it is difficult to find someone as in love with GranCa as he and his Quirin, to whom the strange year of 2020 has given a few months of sun and salt as if they were already two more locals.
Thank you GranCa, see you soon!
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