Things to Do in Gran Canaria – the “Miniature Continent”
Gran Canaria is one of the seven isles forming the Canary Islands, and with its year-round mild temperatures, it’s truly a dream destination. In this article, we would like to tell you all about the best things to do in Gran Canaria, so you can have the best time possible on your trip to this Spanish island.
Don’t think that the third largest of the Canary Islands is only good for sunbathing and admiring various fish. Gran Canaria has so much more to offer. The flora and fauna differ greatly whether you’re in the north or south of the island, and because of its diverse, two-part landscape, it’s often called a ‘miniature continent’.
The Island of Gran Canaria
Despite its name sounding similar to the Spanish word “grande”, which means “large”, Gran Canaria isn’t the largest of the seven Canary Islands. The almost circular island only takes third place, with a surface of about 1,560 square kilometers. However, the isle doesn’t need to envy its larger neighbors!
Off the African coast, Gran Canaria was formed by volcanic activity about 16 million years ago, and it is certain to take your breath away with its two-part climate. The north of the island tends to be more humid, and thus, it is home to plenty of lush vegetation. This green, almost proliferating flora you’ll find in the northeast is especially popular with hikers.
In addition to beautiful flora, you can also expect to see fascinating gorges that run from the center of the island in all directions, including the north. The spectacular seven main gorges divide into 25 branches, until they finally drop abruptly into the water, creating stunning high cliffs.
The origin of the gorges is also Gran Canaria’s highest point; it is called the Central Massif in the center of the island. Two of the highest elevations on the island meet here – Pico de las Nieves, also called Snow Peak, with a height of 1,949 meters, and Roque Nublo, the Cloud Rock, at 1,817 meters in height.
Don’t these intriguing names make you want to climb a mountain?
While the mountainous landscape in the center of the island might steal your heart with its lush vegetation, the scenery becomes more barren as you head south. But don’t be sad! In the south, you’ll find stunning white sand beaches – so grab your swimsuit, towel, and sunglasses! Though the south is more popular than the north and the beaches are more crowded, you’ll end up finding a nice spot to relax in the sun.
Gran Canaria isn’t only popular for its diverse flora, it also has a really rich culture. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital of the island and has plenty to offer. The locals, also called Canarios, are extremely friendly and chill people, and you’ll be sure to find something to your liking among the old, colorful neighborhoods and museums the city has to offer.
We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Gran Canaria on your next trip to the miniature continent!
The North of the Island
Park Cueva Pintada & Columbus House
Does your perfect trip include sun, beach, and sea as well as a bit of culture and history? Then check out these two museums.
The Cueva Pintada Museum and Archaeological Park presents one of the most famous and important testimonies of the indigenous people of the Canary Islands – the painted caves. Researchers believe that the special signs found in the cave functioned as a calendar. In this park and museum, in the west of the island in the small village of Gáldar, you’ll get to admire jewelry, tools, and other objects used by Canarian natives. You can also take a tour and learn more about the 2,000-year-old wall paintings, Gran Canaria’s colonial past, as well as life during the late Middle Ages.
Another must-see for history lovers is the Columbus House in Las Palma’s oldest neighborhood, Vegueta. The famous explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus briefly stopped in Gran Canaria to repair his ship before setting sail for America in 1492. During the repairs, he stayed in the house of the Canary Islands’ governor, which is now open to visitors and dedicated to Columbus’ voyage. On both floors of the house, you can discover historical maps, navigation instruments, and paintings from the 16th to the 20th century. Doesn’t this sound like a fun cultural trip?
Surfing in Las Palmas
You can’t separate surfing and Gran Canaria. One of the best and most popular spots among visitors and locals is La Cicer beach, and more precisely, the Los Muellitos part of the beach. The 3-kilometer-long beach offers perfect conditions for every skill level, from beginners to surfing experts.
However, the beach can sometimes get crowded due to its popularity and its proximity to the city center, so make sure you use good manners. You can rent boards and wetsuits or book surfing lessons at one of the many surf schools near the beach.
Next, we have a recommendation for those looking for more intimate things to do in Gran Canaria. This beach is a hidden gem on the west coast of Gran Canaria and can only be reached by boat or by foot.
It’s located between massive 350-meter cliffs; you will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the beach in peace as it is not very crowded.
If you’re in the mood for a hike, you can hike to the beach in two to three hours. You’ll walk 5.5 kilometers from the town of Tasartico through the hilly landscape until you reach the end where you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the hidden idyllic bay.
The Center of the Island
Pico de las Nieves & Roque Nublo
Would you rather explore nature at impressive altitudes? Head to the center of the island, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Deep gorges, high mountains, dams, green oases, and picturesque valleys will await you!
You’ll get to admire Roque Nublo, the second-highest mountain on the island, with a height of 1,817 meters. At such a height, you’ll get to climb through the clouds and reach for the sky!
At the end of the hike, at the highest point of the mountain, you will get a good view of Mount Teide, a volcano on the neighboring island of Tenerife. If the weather isn’t cooperating, don’t worry, you’ll still get a great view of Gran Canaria. The trail is marked and starts directly from the parking lot on the way up the mountain; it should take you about 30 minutes.
Do you want to go even higher? Then Pico de las Nieves is a must-see! After a long, winding road, the drive ends at a dead end, where you can easily park. From here, it’s only a few meters to the 1,949-meter-high viewpoint, where you’ll get to see Roque Nublo in the distance and have a wonderful view of the valley and Teide in Tenerife.
If you need a breather after hiking through the mountains, head to Tejeda. This small mountain village is surrounded by orchards and vegetable gardens that thrive in the Canarian sun. At 1,050 meters above sea level, the village offers picturesque views of the valley and the surrounding mountains. The small alleys and cafés will invite you to relax and enjoy delicious Canarian delicacies – perfect for a relaxing break!
Bodega los Berrazales Coffee Plantation
Do you like coffee and drinking wine from time to time? Then check out the Bodega los Berrazales coffee plantation, in the valley of Agaete, in the western part of the island.
The plantation is located at the foot of the Tamadaba Nature Reserve, which makes for a stunning view from the terrace. Did you know that Bodega los Berrazales is the only coffee plantation in Europe? You’ll learn more about that and plenty of other interesting facts about the cultivation and history of the bodega during a guided tour.
Make sure to check out the bodega, even if coffee and wine aren’t your thing. Depending on the season, you will be able to taste delicious fruits like oranges, mangos, guavas, or avocados. There’s something for everyone!
The South of the Island
Puerto de Mogán
Puerto de Mogán, also known as Little Venice, is located on the southern coast of Gran Canaria. This small village is one of the most beautiful spots on the island. It owes its name “Little Venice” to the charming bridges that cross the small water canals all over the city, making your walk a unique experience.
Enjoy the cozy alleys between colorful houses and inviting cafés and restaurants. On Fridays, Puerto de Mogán hosts its local weekly market. Stroll through the booths near crystal clear water and taste your way through countless local fruits and vegetables.
If you want to avoid the crowds at the weekly market, come back in the evening for a romantic dinner with a selection of local fish specialties. And how about a stroll around the harbor at sunset after dinner?
Las Dunas de Maspalomas
The dunes in Maspalomas are one of the biggest highlights among all things to do in Gran Canaria. They are about 6 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide – truly impressive!
This miracle of nature, reminiscent of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, happens through an interplay between waves and wind. Underwater, corals are finely crushed and washed ashore by the waves; from here, the wind takes them up into the high dunes you can see in Maspalomas. This spectacular site was declared a nature reserve in 1987.
Enjoy the beautiful white landscape as you take a day trip to the beach, or grab some cold drinks and enjoy the sunset on the sand hills. You’ll never forget the beautiful sight of stunning colors against the desert background.
As you can see, there are so many things to do in Gran Canaria. Thanks to its varied climate zones, there’s something here for everyone, and you won’t get bored of the island any time soon.
Whether you want to surf, spend some time in nature, visit a coffee plantation, or explore the capital is all up to you!
Are you ready for an exciting, diverse trip in the Canary Islands’ sun? Plan your trip on our web app and pack your bags! What are you still waiting for?