We spent the whole month of October 2019 on the island of Gran Canaria in Spain… We had a real crush on the neighbouring island of Tenerife during the previous winter, which we had stayed on for 4 months (yes yes, a record for us… and the Nine Coliving of Tenerife has something to do with it). So we decided to come back this year (this is also new for us… it’s the first time we’ve ever been back to the same place) while taking the time to visit the neighboring island of Gran Canaria as well.
During this month in Gran Canaria we based in Las Palmas which is the main city of the island. We rented a room at Restation in an apartment that we shared with other nomads with access to coworking for work (ehh yeah… we even work sometimes 😉 ). Fabienne will certainly tell you more about our experience in this coworking/coliving in her report, but in any case, Las Palmas was an excellent base to discover the island.
Come on… without further ado, we share with you all our favorite places on the island of Gran Canaria!
- Las Palmas: the Vegueta neighbourhood
- The casa de Colon
- Las Canteras beach
- El Confital beach and the mirador de la cruz
- Our favorite restaurants in Las Palmas
- The Maspalomas dunes
- Ayagaures reservoir
- Hiking around the village of Tunte
- The Roque Nublo
- The ventana del Nublo
- The Pico de las Nieves
- Cruz de Tejeda
- The caldera de Galdar
- The town of Arucas
- The village of Teror
- Hike between the villages of San Pedro and Agaete
- Find a hotel / accomodation in Gran Canaria
- Rent a car for a road trip in Gran Canaria
- Our map of things to see in Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: the Vegueta neighbourhood
Vegueta is in fact the historical centre of Las Palmas. It is here that the first Spanish colonists settled at the end of the 15th century and it is in our eyes the most beautiful district of Las Palmas. It is a bit like an open-air museum with magnificent buildings with colonial architecture, full of pretty colourful alleys, terraces… in short, in our opinion you can easily spend half a day there during your stay in Gran Canaria.
In the heart of Vegueta, there is Santa Ana Cathedral, which is worth a visit. For 1.5€, you can climb into one of the towers of the cathedral to have a spectacular view over the entire historic centre (undoubtedly one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city)
If you come to Vegueta in the morning, there is also the market that might interest you. But if not, we simply advise you to stroll through the pretty, colourful streets, climb up to Plaza del Espiritu Santo, perhaps visit the “Museo Canario” (a museum dedicated to the pre-colonial history of the Canary Islands). And if you pass by Vegueta on a Thursday evening, know that the “Calle Triana” (and the perpendicular alleys) turns into a Tapas paradise every Thursday evening on Spanish time (from 9pm onwards).
The Casa de Colon
This magnificent historic house is also located in the Vegueta district and is well worth a paragraph. It is probably the most beautiful house in Vegueta and was the residence of the island’s governors. It seems that Christopher Columbus even stayed there during his expedition of 1492 during the repair of one of his boats (hence its name Casa de Colon).
The interior of the house is now a museum dedicated to the history of great navigators like Christopher Columbus or Magellan and the first Atlantic crossings that always passed through the Canary Islands (the boats were refueling there before the transatlantic).
the museum is open every day from 10:00 to 18:00 (except on Sundays until 15:00) and admission costs 4€ per person. More information on their website
Las Canteras beach
This is the main beach of the city of Las Palmas. Frankly, we didn’t have too high expectations for this large urban beach… but we must admit that we were surprised in a good way. The beach is very appreciated by the locals and so you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of a seaside resort where there are only people on holiday. There is a long and well-designed walk along the beach with lots of pretty terraces… perfect for a sunset walk (or an early morning jog as far as I’m concerned 😉 ). Small bonus, the beach is super clean because it is cleaned every day by the employees of the city of Las Palmas
El Confital beach and the Mirador de la Cruz
For a nice sunset in Las Palmas, nothing beats climbing to the Mirador de la Cruz above the beach of el Confital (a very popular spot with surfers). The viewpoint is located on the peninsula north of Las Palmas (Isleta) and there is a magnificent view over the whole city and the beach of Las Canteras. We had a nice little hike one evening with the coworking people which we highly recommend.
Our restaurants recommendations in Las Palmas
Since we stayed a whole month in Las Palmas, we had time to test some nice restaurants and bars. Here are some of our favourite addresses:
- Kim’s Pojangmacha: A tiny Korean restaurant that doesn’t look like much from the outside (like a tiny room with 4 tables) but will delight your taste buds. There are no more than 3 to 5 dishes on the menu but everything that is served is delicious. However, we recommend that you book because I doubt that more than 10 people can eat there at the same time.
- Fat Frank: It was kind of the place where we used to go for drinks all the time when we were a big group. The terrace is super large, they have great vegan and vegetarian options to eat. In short, there is something for everyone.
- El segreto di pulcinella: If you want a good pizza during your stay in Gran Canaria, this is the best address in Las Palmas. You can also take away to eat on the beach 100m from the restaurant.
- Casa Ari: An Indonesian restaurant that cooks delicious traditional dishes at a very good price (the dishes are huge so in general a dish with 2 rice plates and you will have plenty to eat for 2 people)
- El Tendedero de Catalina: a nice Roof top bar right on the edge of Santa Catalina Park. The view is really nice and the cocktails are very good (for a price that is ok I think)
- La Azotea de Benito: another nice cocktail bar located on the rooftop of the Monopol shopping centre (which has a cinema that plays films in OV) with a very nice view on the historical centre of Las Palmas. Perfect for a drink before or after a good little movie.
The Maspalomas dunes
The Maspalomas dunes are located in the very south of Gran Canaria Island and are a protected natural area. There are many hypotheses about the formation of these dunes but the most likely would in fact be a Tsunami or earthquake that would have been the cause of this mass of sand formation. Frankly the dunes are beautiful and we really recommend you to come in the late afternoon to enjoy the scenery with the beautiful evening lights.
On the other hand, the seaside resort of Maspalomas represents more or less everything that we try to avoid when we travel. There are English pubs on every street corner, there are more schnitzel and “english breakfast” than tapas on the restaurant menu… Anyway, come and see the dunes but don’t stay and sleep in Maspalomas 😉
Ayagaures was the first village (or rather a hamlet) we crossed during our 3-day hike on the camino walk of Gran Canaria. It is located at the bottom of a valley in the south of the island and contains one of the largest water reservoirs on the island (a kind of artificial lake). What we advise you to do is to go up to the village and then continue on the track behind the village square to the 2nd artificial lake. From the dam, you will have a very nice view on the upper part of the village and its pretty houses.
Hiking around the village of Tunte
Tunte is a charming mountain village located just below the Pico de la Nieves in the southern part of the island. When we crossed Gran Canaria on foot, we went there to get water on our second day of walking. The village is very pretty with its old white houses (all very well restored) and its cafés.
But to fully enjoy the area, we really recommend that you do a beautiful loop hike that starts above the village with spectacular views over the southern and western parts of the island. First follow the St James way which climbs up to the pass of Cruz Grande. From there, the view is already quite good but you can continue to climb on the other side of the road to a spectacular view of the southern and western part of the island. Return to Cruz Grande to take the track / hiking trail (number S57) that goes through the pine forest to the Delgada de la Manzanilla. From there, take the path which goes down on your left to come back to the village of Tunte.
- Distance 16.25kms
- Deniv. +- 670m
- Difficulty medium
- Duration 4-5h
- Notes Take enough water with you because you will not find any on the way
The roque Nublo: symbol of Gran Canaria
The Roque Nublo (or cloudy rock) is one of the emblems of the island of Gran Canaria. It is a volcanic rock with a very particular shape of about 70m high located in the very centre of the island. To get there, nothing very complicated… You can park your car 1.5 km away from the Roque Nublo and then climb up to the rock following a path. From up there, you will have a magnificent view of the entire northern part of the island and on a clear day you can even see Tenerife and its famous Teide volcano.
But to get the best view of Roque Nublo, you don’t necessarily have to go close to it but rather away from it. We recommend that you go to the “Zona de Acampada Corral de los Juncos”. We stumbled upon this place by chance during our 3-day hike and I think it is one of the most beautiful bivouac spots we have ever had in our lives. We had a magnificent view of Roque Nublo, the valley that descends to Agaete with Tenerife and the Teide as a backdrop. At sunset it was just gorgeous!
The ventana del Nublo
This natural rock arch offers a magnificent view over Roque Nublo. As it is quite close to the pico de las nieves, it can easily be included in a hike that would pass through both places. All you have to do is park around “Llanos de la Pez” and make a loop of about 9kms (example on the map below)
The pico de Las Nieves: highest summit in Gran Canaria
It is the highest point of the island (1949m) which is why it is worth going there (in general the view from the highest point of an island is quite nice). So we’re going to be honest we didn’t go up there… we were very close to the summit during our hike across the island but we didn’t have the courage to do the last 2-3kms that separated us from the summit (we have to say that we had all our equipment on our backs and that we had already walked a lot before getting there). But as I told you just before, you could do a nice loop that goes up to the pico de las Nieves and also goes through the Ventana del Nublo.
By the way, if you are wondering what our 3-day hike through Gran Canaria on the camino walk looked like, we published a short video of this fun adventure:
Cruz de Tejeda (and the village of Tejeda)
It is in fact the crossing of 2 roads in the heart of the island at an altitude of more than 1500m. If you have a car, the road to get there offers magnificent views over the whole northwest of the island, Roque Nublo etc…. At the crossroads there are also several cafés and a few people who sell local products.
The caldera de Galdar
The Caldera de Galdar is actually an extinct volcano located in the north of the island above the city of Galdar. There is a great viewpoint above the crater with a magnificent view over the whole north and west of the island (there is a small car park and a well equipped viewpoint). Unfortunately, when we got there, the weather was a little cloudy and we couldn’t see the ocean. But we can easily imagine that with good weather, the crater with the rest of the island in the background must be quite nice!
the town of Arucas
Arucas is a pretty little town in the north of Gran Canaria located 15 km from Las Palmas. We made an unexpected visit of an hour (we had to change buses in Arucas and we missed the connection) and we had an excellent surprise. The old town is really beautiful with its colonial architecture but above all, Arucas certainly has the most beautiful church in Gran Canaria. Unfortunately we were not able to enter in the middle of the day (nap time in Spain) but from the outside this church reminded me a little of the Sagrada Familia in a smaller version.
Another thing to do in Arucas is to visit the Arehucas Rum Factory (the typical Canary Islands rum)… unfortunately there too no luck for us because the visits are only open between 9am and 2pm… Some of our roommates had already visited the distillery and told us a lot of good things about it. The visit obviously ends with a tasting of the different types of rum (including Ronmiel, which is a sweet rum with honey typical of the Canary Islands).
The town of Teror
Teror, despite its curious name, is a very pretty little village located above Arucas in the mountains (it is on our way to Teror by bus that we missed our connection in Arucas 😉 ). The village is known for 2 things:
- the pretty coloured facades of the houses with their beautiful wooden balconies
- the basilica of the “Virgen del Pino” which is the patron saint of the Canary Islands diocese (and when you know how important religion is to the people here, it has become an important place of pilgrimage)
Even if we didn’t have much luck with the weather when we came to Teror, the village is worth a look and there are also some pretty hikes to do around the village.
You can easily come to Teror by car or bus (although you must count 2 hours from Las Palmas to get to Teror by bus). For buses, the google map route function works very well in Gran Canaria.
Hiking between the villages of San Pedro and Agaete (Tamadaba park)
This is clearly the most beautiful day hike we’ve done in Gran Canaria! This hike offers truly spectacular views of the steep coast of Tamabada Park. The hike begins in the charming village of San Pedro, in the heart of the Agaete Valley, which is easily accessible by bus. The scenery is planted and we are already delighted with the landscapes we discover in this valley.
In front of us we see a mountain that seems very steep to climb… however, that’s where we go! We start climbing behind the village of San Pedro. So yes it goes up but the trail is super well maintained and the landscapes will make you forget the thighs that are heating up 😉 .
Once at the top, you reach a pass and an intersection that allows you to either continue climbing towards Cruz de Tejeda or to descend towards Guayedra and Agaete beach. At this point you can also walk along the ridge for a short while to reach a pretty cross with a magnificent view over the whole Agaete valley.
Then we start the descent. Halfway there is an absolutely spectacular viewpoint of the coastal road that crosses Tamadaba Park (by the way, if you have a car, this road must be absolutely beautiful)… Frankly, just for that point of view, it’s worth hiking here.
Once at the road you can follow it for a short while and go down to the beach of Guayedra (a nice beach where you can observe black crabs) or if you prefer you can go straight to the village of Agaete for a well-deserved beer on one of the terraces of Las Nieves harbour. If you continue along the coast from the port, you will arrive at the Salinas, which are pretty natural swimming pools where you can swim.
- Distance 12.8kms going to the beach as well
- Deniv. +620m -840m
- Difficulty medium
- Duration 4h
Find hôtel / accomodation in Gran Canaria
As usual, if you are looking for a hotel in Gran Canaria, we recommend that you take a look at the Hotelscombined platform which allows you to compare the best offers from sites such as Booking, Agoda, Expedia and many others.
If you are looking for an apartment or a room in a private home, take a look at Airbnb.
Rent a car for a road trip in Gran Canaria
If you are coming for a short stay in Gran Canaria, the best way to get around and visit the island is to rent a car. Even if there are buses running on the island, their regularity and especially punctuality clearly leaves something to be desired (we have experienced it several times… even if we can easily use the google maps route function to find a bus, they do not go everywhere and it takes a lot of time). So if you have a limited time, just rent a car, especially since car rentals in Gran Canaria are super cheap!
And if you rent a car, with this article you probably have enough to make a nice little road trip of a few days in Gran Canaria. And as usual, we always recommend that you compare car prices on Rentalcars which is in our opinion the best car rental comparison website
Our map of things to do in Gran Canaria
Note: This article contains affiliate links to sites such as rentalcars (which is the site we use every time we rent a car) or hotelscombined. If you use our link to book your car during your stay in Gran Canaria, we will receive a small commission (and you will not pay anything more of course). This way, you will support us in creating this kind of free and independent travel guides (by which we mean that we are not invited by anyone and that we pay for our own travels 😉 )