Last updated: 7th January 2022
We love a winter sun holiday so decided to visit Gran Canaria 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. In this post we’ll show you 5 of Gran Canaria’s best attractions.
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Gran Canaria – Tropical, Mountains and Beaches
Gran Canaria is the 3rd largest of the 8 Canary Islands after Tenerife and Fuerteventura. Sunshine is virtually guaranteed all year round because it’s closer to West Africa than Europe. Vey popular with us Brits for 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 resorts.
5 Best Attractions of Gran Canaria
1. Las Palmas
We headed out to see the different landscapes and culture of Gran Canaria, starting with the island’s capital city Las Palmas. Just head to the old town – the Vegueta quarter because it’s the nicest part and where Las Palmas was founded in the 15th century. We loved our 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.
2. Tejeda and Teror
From Las Palmas we drove to Tejeda, a village high up in the middle of this mountainous island. This is where the beauty of Gran Canaria comes into its own. It’s well worth hiring a car for the vistas and hiking opportunities offered here.
Further along is Teror is a pretty historic town higher up in the mountains and 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. Ok, it’s a long drive from Las Palmas because of all the winding roads as you need to drive slowly, but the scenery is stunning, even Phil was impressed!
3. Playa del Ingles
Another day we stopped by the super gay friendly resort of Playa del Ingles and the Yumbo Centre – a popular party haunt with the LGBT community. Yumbo is 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 anywhere else is hard to beat! but we did have a fun time at Yumbo and great pizza.
We walked down the Playa del Ingles promenade which is lined with more lively bars, it’s one of those fun-n-sun resorts where people come to tan by day and party hard at night. If you’re looking for culture then Playa del Ingles is not for you, but it does have one outstanding feature – the beach.
4. Maspalomas Sand Dunes
Next to Playa del Ingles are Gran Canaria’s dramatic sand dunes of Maspalomas, they are absolutely spectacular and are a protected nature reserve. It’s one of our favourite views on the island where it really feels like you are transported to the Sahara Desert. We walked about half an hour from Playa del Ingles but turned off a bit too soon to walk on the sand 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 this 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!
5. 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, a bit like Marbella on mainland Spain. The residential streets behind the harbour are lined with stunning bougainvillea flowers crawling over the buildings and making canopies in lots of vibrant colours. We arrived on market day so the place was very busy, the market sells all the usual tourist stalls mixed with a couple of decent artisan stalls. Puerto de Mogán is charming and we finally ate some decent tapas!
Try the Gran Canaria local tapas dish ‘Papas Con Mojo’ – small 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 both love aioli – garlic mayonnaise 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 Luxury Gran Canaria Accommodation
We 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. However poor Phil had to get up early morning to bagsie a bed, despite signs asking guests not to.
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 like we did 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.