The Canary Island archipelago has become very popular as a tourist destination with round the year sunshine. With each island having its unique features and a sparkling personality, you have plenty of options to suit your needs. To satisfy the wanderlust within, we recently spent a week at the third-largest island known as Gran Canaria. Moreover, so, we have put together a list of top 5 places we recommend to visit on this island, to make your holiday trip to Gran Canaria more spectacular than ever.
Where we stayed:
There a few most popular touristy places you can stay in during your visit, such as Maspalomas, Puerto Rico, Puerto de Mogan, Arguineguin and more.
We chose Puerto Rico, as we had our holiday there in March, according to different reviews and suggestions this town has a reputation of being the warmest and the temperature there tends to be 2-3 degrees higher than anywhere else on the Island.
We stayed in apart-hotel Maracaibo. The hotel was nice and clean with friendly staff, beautiful view and the 24-hour shop just outside. It locates on the second line, so the walk to the nearest beach was approx 10 min, but it didn’t bother us at all.
Keep in mind that almost all of the hotels located on the hill if travelling with kids or having difficulties walking it might be annoying.
Things to Do in Puerto Rico de gran Canaria:
Puerto Rico locates in the south part of the island. The town itself has a lot to offer from a beach lounging to full-on diving, nice shops, restaurants and nightlife.
For those who are seeking for a lazy beach holiday, there is a main beach in the town calls playa de Puerto Rico. It has beautiful golden sand and bordered with stone breakwaters on both sides. There are plenty of nice restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and a car park just beside the beach.
If you are not scared by a little walk, you should definitely visit Playa de Amadores.
The Amadores Beach is a man-made beach, it is popular for its white sand and turquoise waters. When translated, the name of the beach means ‘lovers beach’. This beach is located in the high-end area of the island and very popular among locals and tourists alike. To get to there you will need to walk on a cliffside path for about 20 minutes.
For the evening time, there are also lots of things to do, like clubs, bars, karaoke. Check google to know what’s going in the town during your stay. They’re maybe a live performance of local bands, salsa dancing, festivals or carnivals.
Top 5 places to visit when in Gran Canaria
1. Maspalomas Dunes and Maspalomas
Maspalomas is one of the main tourist spots on the island. The place is filled with hotels, beaches, and shopping streets. The place is home to plenty of beautiful beach resorts. You could choose to chill all day in the resort sunbathing and sipping drinks or you could choose to explore Maspalomas. We picked both.
Maspalomas dunes are something that worth exploring no matter what part of the island you end up staying in.
The dunes are massive in size, around 403 hectares, so you can easily imagine yourself being in a desert. Their shapes are changing according to the prevailing winds. you can walk through them all the way to the beach, but be aware that the sand gets very hot during the day, wear an appropriate shoe and bring sunscreen and water or you can walk through the dunes at the evening and enjoy the picturesque sunset.
Maspalomas is also famous for its gay pride festival hosted in May each year. Additionally, almost all beaches around Maspalomas dunes are for gay people and nudists, so don’t be surprised meeting naked people on the way.
2. Las Palmas
The capital of the island and a major port for cruise ships, this city is also known for its shopping at duty-free stores and beautiful beaches. We headed there in the morning for cycling along the beach. There are other activities like surfing, yoga, and jogging in the mountains. You have plenty to explore depending on the amount of time you have.
Explore Vegueta which is an old town and the historic centre with the cathedral de Santa Ana and Casa de Colon also known as Colombus house where he stayed for a while back in 1492. The house was rebuild in 1777 and became a museum in 1952.
After exploring the old city you can head to a park Doramas. It is a lovely place with a small lake, beautiful garden, fountains and monuments, will suit for a romantic walk.
Like any other big cities, it has lots of things to visit, parks, museums, theatres, beaches, restaurants and shopping centres.
Las Palmas is famous for the Canarian and international cuisines. From delicious foods like fried potatoes and Spanish eggs to potato omelette, octopus and mussels, you are truly spoilt for choice.
3. Puerto de Mogan
Puerto de Mogan is the most western point of Grann Canaria and my personal favourite place. It is a very charming fishermen village with golden sand, clear and calm water which is great for the snorkelling with a variety of fish to spot. With its little canals and bridges, this place is also called little Venice.
First, the Mogan beach. It has a breath-taking view with its busy port and mountainous surroundings. Tourists and locals prefer to sunbathe here. Secondly, there are a host of options to dig into some great seafood. We visited the famous restaurant “Cofradía de Pescadores”. The experience was fabulous and cannot be explained in words. Lastly, the local community is as beautiful as it can get with white houses and climbing bougainvillaea. A picture-perfect landscape to be honest.
The furthest point to get to from Puerto Rico is Agaete. Agaete is a small and very beautiful fisherman town with its own port, locates in the north part of the island, from where you can get a boat to Tenerife. All houses in town are painted white with green or brown doors. The locals required to do so by law and may face fine if not following this tradition, so in this town, you can get some truly authentic canary vibe. Moreover Agaete is home to the only one in Europe coffee plantation, unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit it as we had to rush for the last bus to take us back to Puerto Rico.
5. Puerto De Las Nieves
The coastal area of Agaete is known as Puerto De Las Nieves. It is home to lots of fishermen staying in white and blue houses. There are lots of traditional restaurants which offer lip-smacking local food.
Take another 10 minutes walk north along the beach and you find a series of natural salt pools where you can swim. But be aware there is no shower a bathroom to get the salts out after.
What to Eat?
No trip is an awesome trip without great food. The food here is Spanish but different in its own ways. Most flavours are influenced by Africa and its location amidst the ocean. We found a few favourites like:
Papas Arrugadas – Canarian Potatoes
Popularly known as wrinkled potatoes, these are sprinkled with a lot of salt. These are very popular among the locals and are a form of backpack food. The volcanic climate of the region gives a unique texture to these potatoes which makes them quite different from potatoes available everywhere else.
Gran Canaria Black Pig – Cochino Negro Canario
The black pig is a rare breed with a long history. Though you will find it in most restaurants, the real ones are sold by a very handful of them. The pig is tender and tastes very soft and sweet. Check out Granja el Tio Isidro which is a 20-minute drive from Las Palmas. Do confirm the opening hours since they are open for a limited time only.
Flor de Guía cheese is very famous in the region and is made in the winter months only. The cheese is made from sheep’s milk. It is very different from what you taste usually. Pair it with local Gran Canarian wine for a wonderful evening.
Where to Stay?
You could pick the all-inclusive resorts on the island where tourists tend to stay and not explore the other parts of the island. If you have a different goal in mind, the Las Palmas area is most suitable. Pick any hotel in the region and take day trips to explore the island.
Do not forget to carry sunscreen lotion. You will end up spending an awful amount of time at the beach.Avoid tap water. They contain clean chemicals and might not suit you.Avoid swimming in unguarded beaches.Avoid carrying valuables with you all the time.