Last updated: 17th January 2021
We wanted some winter sun and decided on Gran Canaria for a holiday after reading about it’s diverse landscapes. The fact it has a tropical climate in the centre of the island appealed to us, so it sounded like a good island for us to explore and relax.
Gran Canaria – Tropical, Mountains and Beaches
Gran Canaria is the 3rd largest of the 7 Canary Islands, sunshine is virtually guaranteed all year round because it’s closer to west Africa than Europe. Vey popular with Brits who go on cheap package holidays to the purpose built resorts of Playa del Ingles and Puerto Rico. Despite the island’s cheap and cheerful reputation we can tell you there is so much more to discover on Gran Canaria away from the beach.
We headed out to see the different landscapes and some culture and started with the island’s capital city Las Palmas. Just head to the old town – the Vegueta quarter as it’s the nicest part and where Las Palmas was founded in the 15th century. We loved the quiet strolls wandering the colourful and historical streets, it manages to retain much of its original colonial character, the Santa Ana Cathedral which took 350 years to build is also worth a look. If you happen to be visiting on the first Sunday of a month, then museums are free to enter.
Mountains and Teror
From Las Palmas we drove to Teja, high up in the middle of this mountainous island. The beauty of Gran Canaria comes into its own, so well worth hiring a car for the mountain vistas and hiking opportunities.
Teror is a lovely historic town high up in the mountains and is the religious centre of Gran Canaria. Teror used to be the island’s capital and has lots of lovely architecture, it’s also famous for donuts and its spring water. It was a long drive and took up a fair portion of the day, because of all the winding roads as you need to drive slowly, but the scenery was stunning, even Phil was impressed!
Playa del Ingles
Another day we stopped by Playa del Ingles and the Yumbo Centre, a popular party haunt with the LGBT community. It’s a 4 floor complex of nightclubs, bars, restaurants and markets full of touristy stuff. The cabaret and karaoke clubs looked like they’d be good fun on summer nights. However the whole place by day is a little bit tacky and ugly (sorry!) once you’ve been to Mykonos other places are hard to beat! but we did have a fun time at Yumbo and great pizza.
We walked down Playa del Ingles promenade which is lined with more lively bars, it’s one of those fun’n’sun resorts where people come for tanning in the sun and the nightlife. If you’re looking for culture then Playa del Ingles is not for you, but it does have one outstanding feature – the beach.
Gran Canaria’s Dramatic Dunes
Next to Playa del Ingles are the sand dunes of Maspalomas, they are absolutely spectacular and protected as a nature reserve, it was one of our favourite views on the island. You really felt like you had been transported to the Sahara Desert, we walked about half an hour from Playa del Ingles but turned off a bit too soon to get to the Dunes. There were a few people around and Phil noticed that they didn’t appear to have any clothes on! We’d accidentally found ourselves right in the middle of the nudist beach! So if you are traveling with Aunty Maud be aware! Phil found the situation hilarious! there are a couple of designation nudist zones on the vast beach which seems to go on for miles. The Dunes are an incredible sight, and worth a decent walk amongst them, although we found them quite hard work hiking up and down the steep drifts, as they are deceiving to look at. Garth always thought he’d get a better shot from the next one!
Puerto de Mogán
For an authentic Spanish experience we headed to Puerto de Mogán, it’s a very pretty fishing town with a classy vibe, like Marbella. The residential streets behind the harbour are lined with stunning bougainvillea crawling over the buildings and making canopies of flowers in lots of vibrant colours. We arrived on market day so the place was very busy, the market had all the usual tourist tat stalls mixed with a couple of decent stalls. Puerto de Mogán is charming, and we finally had some decent tapas!
Try the Gran Canaria local tapas dish ‘Papas Con Mojo’ – small roasted potatoes that are boiled in salty sea water and served with either a red ‘mojo’ – pepper and garlic sauce or green mojo – coriander and garlic. We also love allioli – garlic mayonnaise served with fresh rustic bread, which is served all over Spain.
Other Gran Canaria Attractions
- Guayadeque Ravine – On the east side of the island you’ll find Gran Canaria’s sleepy cave village.
- Golf courses – There are 8 magnificent golf courses if you fancy chasing your little white ball.
- Dolphin & Whale Watching – They live around the Canary Islands, tourist cruises search them out.
Our Lovely Hotel
We hired a car and stayed at Salobre Hotel Resort & Serenity after seeing some bargain offers online we bagged ourselves a good deal for 5 nights. Although we aren’t golfers we’ve stayed at a couple of golf resort hotels and they’ve all be really nice. The hotel itself was perfect, luxurious, with classy guests, well behaved children (and not too may of them either!) It was set in the mountains away from the popular tourist resorts. Most days we perched ourselves at their adults only infinity pool with Bali style daybeds, quite romantic, but you had to bagsie early morning despite signs asking guests not to, it was worth it.
The food was stunning all meals were served buffet style and each evening there was a different type of food. Breakfasts were to die for, so much choice. We were asked on the way into the Breakfast room if we wanted Champagne? She didn’t need to ask twice! Well she did actually, to see if we wanted white or pink!
Phil & Garth’s Top 5 Gran Canaria Tips
- Tip #1: Rent a car to get the most out of the island
- Tip #2: Gran Canaria is a perfect UK winter destination – warm temperatures and hotels have heated pools.
- Tip #3: It’s tropical climate and mountainous landscape makes it an ideal hiking destination
- Tip #4: Don’t bother with all-inclusive, try half board, get out and eat delicious tapas!
- Tip #5: Gran Canaria is close to the equator, so take extra care to avoid sunburn