Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands and one of the most popular sun destinations in Europe. Because this island is located at the height of Morocco, the temperature is pleasant all year round and you can also enjoy the sun here in winter. Gran Canaria is characterized by fine sandy beaches, clear blue water and many hours of sunshine. In addition, this island has a lot of diversity in the beautiful nature and picturesque villages.
1. Dolphin and whale tour
Gran Canaria is located in the Atlantic Ocean. This makes it the ideal location to spot dolphins and whales. Large groups of these dolphins and whales live all around the island. A boat trip along these beautiful sea creatures is therefore highly recommended. A number of the tour boats even have a glass bottom, which makes the natural habitat even easier to see. Most tours also offer the option to be picked up from your hotel.
Costs: for a cruise of 2.5 hoursyou usually pay around € 35 for an adult. For children there is a reduced rate of approximately € 20.
2. Roque Nublo
Roque Nublo is one of the most famous symbols of Gran Canaria. This gigantic rock is no less than 67 meters high and consists entirely of basalt rock. The rock is located at 1,813 meters above sea level in the center of the island, making it easy to see in the wider area and from several sides. Besides that you can see this beautiful rock well from the car, there is also a hiking trail leading towards it. This is hiking trail GC-600, and it’s about a 30-minute walk from the parking lot. However, this walk is quite tough, with the occasional steep climb. From the rock you have a beautiful view over the entire island and with good weather Tenerife, the largest Canary island, is visible.
3. Las Palmas and La Vegueta
Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria. The official name of the city is actually Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The city is located in the north of the island. The visitors who arrive on this island by sea, actually always arrive in the port of this city. About half of the island’s population lives in the capital, which makes it the largest city on the island.
Mainly the oldest district of this city, called La Vegueta, has many beautiful sights. La Vegueta is a beautiful neighborhood to take a city walk while discovering the beauty of the neighborhood. Visit Plaza de Santa Ana, Catedral de Las Palmas, Casas Consistoriales de Las Palmas and Casa de Colón, among others. Casa de Colón is a museum dedicated to Columbus’ travels, which is said to have stayed here for a while. In addition, there are numerous shops, restaurants and cafes. Every Sunday there is also a market with music and (children’s) entertainment.
4. Dunas de Maspalomas
Dunas de Maspalomas is located in the south of the island between the beaches of Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas. This dune landscape is approximately 6 kilometers long and alternately between 1 and 2 kilometers wide. In addition to the dunes which can be up to 20 meters high, there is also a lagoon and palm tree forest called El Oasis. These dunes are very suitable for a beach walk, or even for a trip on camels. It is also known as a beautiful place to enjoy the sunset.
Costs: for a camel ride of about 30 minutes including a guide, you spend about € 12 for an adult. A lower rate of € 8 applies for children.
Teror is known as the most beautiful village in Gran Canaria and is located inland on the north side of the island. This village is an important pilgrimage site for the inhabitants of the island. A pilgrimage takes place every year to Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pino. A visit to this Basilica should certainly not be missed during a visit to this village. In addition, the village is characterized by the many colorful houses and authentic architecture. There is a local market on Sunday mornings and many of the popular Canarian dishes can be found in the restaurants.
6. Pico de Bandama
The Canary Islands are all volcanic islands, including Gran Canaria. One of the largest inactive volcanoes on the island is Pico de Bandama. However, this volcano has collapsed, creating a large crater. The diameter of this crater is more than one kilometer, and has a depth of about 200 meters. During a walk of about 3 hours you can discover the inside of the crater. However, this walk is quite tough because the way back goes up considerably to get out of the crater again. There is also a viewpoint on the edge of the crater so you can enjoy this beautiful and unique environment without a hike.
7. Playa del Ingles
Playa del Ingles is Gran Canaria’s most famous seaside resort. This bustling place in the south of the island is also called the beating heart of the island. This place has a kilometers-long sandy beach full of beach beds and the most diverse water sports. A pleasant boulevard full of restaurants, shops and arcades runs along this fine sandy beach. The ideal start to a beautiful evening for young and old. In addition to the beach and boulevard, Playa del Ingles has many hotels and apartments. The Centro Comercial, a little further away from the beach, mainly has many entertainment venues and bars, including a large Heineken Café.
One of the most authentic villages on the island is the relatively small Gáldar. Located at the foot of the mountains and only 27 kilometers from the capital Las Palmas. With cozy streets, a local market on Sundays, one of the most beautiful churches on the island and fine (tapas) restaurants at the Plaza de Santiago, this village should certainly not be missing from this list. In the center you will also find the archaeological park with Cueva Pintada, a painted cave. This is one of the most important sites of a cave painting in the Atlantic Ocean.
Costs: a ticket for the archaeological park is € 6 for an adult. There is a reduced rate of only € 3 for people over 65 and students up to 23 years old. Children under the age of 18 do not need a ticket.
Artenara is the highest village in all of Gran Canaria. From this old village you have beautiful views on parts of the island. Roque Nublo itself is clearly visible at a number of vantage points. This makes it a fun attraction in itself. However, there is more to be found in this authentic village. The village is also known for its caves. For example, you will find houses that are completely carved out of the rocks or built into the caves. Artenara also has a cave chapel called La Ermita de la Cuevita. The altar, the pulpit, the confessional; everything is carved into the rock in this chapel. Every year on August 15, a big party takes place to honor the Virgen de la Cuevita.
10. Rum factory in Arucas
Arucas is mainly known for its more than 100 year old rum factory. With more than two million liters of rum, this is one of the largest distilleries in Europe. The popular Canary Arehucas rum is brewed in this factory. In the mornings (9:00 am – 2:00 pm) on Tuesday to Friday it is possible to get a tour of the factory including a small rum tasting. To avoid that a tour is already fully booked, it is recommended to call the factory in advance.
Besides the rum factory, Arucas itself also has something to offer. The old quarter has been labeled as cultural heritage and has a lot of beautiful architecture. The most important building of the city is the Church of San Juan Bautista, which continues to be of great social value to the city.
Costs: a ticket costs € 4.20 and entrance for children is free.
11. Barranco de Fataga and Fataga
Barranco de Fataga is a large and impressive canyon where thousands of palm trees grow. It is one of the most spectacular places on the whole island and only a 30 minute drive from Playa del Ingles. When you drive to the canyon from the south of the island, you will come across a viewpoint along the way. From this viewpoint you have a magnificent view of the entire canyon. Fataga is a picturesque village in the valley of Barranco de Fataga. This small village is completely surrounded by thousands of palm trees and mountain slopes, and has typical Canarian architecture and narrow streets.
12. Pico de las Nieves
With its 1949 meters, Pico de las Nieves is the highest point in Gran Canaria. The mountain can be found in the middle of the island and you will find a viewpoint here which can be reached by car. In good weather you not only have a view of a large part of Gran Canaria from this point, but Tenerife is also clearly visible. Due to the height of this mountain, snow can fall in the winter months, while on the coast the temperatures are good enough to visit the beach.
This picturesque village is located in the middle of the mountains. It is characterized by the many white houses, beautiful views and almond trees. You will also find many shops that sell a local delicacy made from almonds. In addition, Tejeda has a parish church, a museum about the famous Canarian sculptor Cárdenes and several caves.
14. Puerto de Mogán
Puerto de Mogán is a well-known coastal town in the south of Gran Canaria. The village is not very big, but certainly worth a visit. It is also called the Venice of Gran Canaria or Little Venice, because of its many canals and narrow bridges. It also has many white houses with colorful accents and many flowers. There is also a marina and a pleasant boulevard on a fine sandy beach with calm water. When the tide is high, this is a fantastic place to snorkel.
The largest waterpark in Gran Canaria is Aqualand. This is the ideal day trip for families with children, because you can enjoy various slides, swimming pools and water attractions. There are no fewer than 33 slides and 13 attractions in the 130,000 m2 waterpark. There are also plenty of restaurants, facilities and extensive gardens within this waterpark. The park is open all year round from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It is advisable to buy a ticket in advance.
Costs: different types of tickets are available for Aqualand. A standard ticket for an adult costs € 30 when purchased online. A ticket for children (5 – 10 years) and seniors is € 21. For younger children (3 – 4 years old) a ticket costs € 12 and children under 3 are free.
In addition to this standard ticket, there are also special deals; you can choose a two-day pass or ticket + menu. There are also special discounts for families (two adults and two children) or groups of friends (4 adults). In addition, residents of the Canary Islands have a small discount on the tickets.