Gran Canaria is one of the most popular of the Canary Islands. Boasting everything from natural landscapes and inviting beaches, to archaeological sites and museums, the island is diverse. Take a look at our top 8 things to see and do in Gran Canaria – so your holiday can be as active or laid-back as you like.
WALK THROUGH THE SAND DUNES AT PLAYA DE MASPALOMAS
The island has over 500 beaches, but one of the most popular is Playa de Maspalomas. At 6km long, the beach is spacious with a backdrop of Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve. Lined by a host of hotels and restaurants, it’s the perfect place to shop, stop off after a day at the beach, go out for dinner or simply have a drink by the sea.
You can walk through the sand dunes, but bring plenty of water and avoid the midday sun! If you don’t fancy the long walk, you could try a camel safari which will provide you with the ideal transport.
HIKE TO THE TOP OF ROQUE NUBLO
Roque Nublo is a rock formation rising more than 76 metres located at the centre of Gran Canaria about 44 km southwest of Las Palmas. An hour’s hike from La Goleta car park will get you to the top, where the views are spectacular. On a clear day, you can see across the horizon to Tenerife’s Mount Teide. Make sure to arrive at Roque Nublo early as the area gets crowded, especially on nice days.
Visit a Waterpark
Test your nerve at one of Gran Canaria’s waterparks. The biggest one on the island is Aqua Sur, near Maspalomas. The rides here range from the near-vertical Aquamania slide to the gentle Congo River. Other popular waterparks to try are the Aqua Park in Puerto Rico and Ocean Park in Campo International.
SPEND A DAY ON THE BEACH AT PLAYA DE PUERTO RICO
Situated on Gran Canaria’s south west coast, this beach has the enviable reputation of being the island’s sunniest spot. During high season it’s bustling with holidaymakers enjoying a day out on the small, family-friendly beach.
A wide range of water sports are on offer, ranging from jet skiing and sailing to diving and windsurfing. Enjoy a boat trip along the coast or go further afield on a glass-bottomed boat to discover the rich underwater marine life.
VISIT THE TOWN OF TEROR
A nicer place than it sounds, this town is just about the prettiest place on the island. Full of delightful pastel coloured buildings with wooden balconies and only half an hour by car from Las Palmas, it’s a popular pilgrimage spot due to Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pino. On a Sunday you will find the Canary Islands’ oldest market. With 140 stalls you’re sure to find a souvenir to bring home.
EXPLORE THE PAINTED CAVE
Head to the village of Galdar in the north of Gran Canaria to see the magnificent Painted Cave. An hour’s drive from Maspalomas or about half an hour from Las Palmas, this archaeological museum is known for its stunning wall paintings and other ancient artefacts.
The museum building has been constructed around a Canarian aboriginal village and gives a fascinating insight into how the past settlers of Gran Canaria lived.
SPEND THE DAY AT PALMITOS PARK
Palmitos Park is one of the most popular attractions on Gran Canaria. A sub-tropical oasis in a lush valley of palm trees, it contains more than 200 species of birds, an aquarium, a butterfly house, a cacti garden and an orchid house. The Butterfly House is the biggest in Europe, with hundreds of exotic butterflies flying freely.
Don’t miss are the breath-taking bird-of-prey shows, where eagles, owls and peregrine falcons swoop down over the audience in free flight.
VISIT EUROPE’S ONLY COFFEE PLANTATION
Europe’s only coffee plantation, Finca Los Castanos is in Agaete. Cultivated in a traditional way, Agaete coffee is unique in Europe for its taste and quality. With a production limit of 4,000 kg a year, it’s characterised by its greenish-yellow colour and scent of green fruit. The 90 minute tour will show you how the coffee is produced.