Gran Canaria has it all from the stunning beaches to the cute off-the-radar towns and the mountainous landscapes. There’s really something for everyone here. The best part is that the weather is excellent all year round. In fact, the Canary Islands offer the warmest temperatures in Europe during winter. Read on for my travel guide to the best things to do in Gran Canaria.
Note: I was invited to Gran Canaria by the tourism board, however, all opinions are my own. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase something through the links, at no additional cost to you. Read our Affiliate Disclosure here.
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Things to do in Gran Canaria
1. Visit the capital city of Las Palmas
Las Palmas, is the capital of Gran Canaria and should be at the top of your list for the best things to do in Gran Canaria. Start by exploring the historic neighborhoods of Vegueta and Triana, where you can visit iconic landmarks like the Catedral de Santa Ana and the Casa de Colón museum.
Las Palmas is also known for its great shopping districts, such as Mesa y López. Stroll along the picturesque Playa de las Canteras, known for its golden sands and lively promenade.
Don’t miss the chance to savor local Canarian cuisine at various restaurants and tapas bars throughout the city, with specialties like papas arrugadas (a boiled potato dish) and fresh seafood. We stopped in Mercado del Puerto, a food market where you can try the local dishes. There we had lunch at Piscos & Buches The fried cheese and grilled squid were phenomenal.
2. Relax at the many beaches
Pictured: Playa de las Canteras
There are many stunning beaches in Gran Canaria, each is very unique and different. Here are some of the most popular beaches on the island:
- Playa de las Canteras (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria): This urban beach in the capital city, Las Palmas, is famous for its golden sands and lively promenade. It’s a great place for swimming, water sports, and enjoying the vibrant city atmosphere.
- Maspalomas Beach: Located in the south of the island, Maspalomas Beach is known for its extensive dunes that stretch along the coast. It’s a unique natural attraction and a great spot for sunbathing and taking a stroll among the dunes.
- Playa de Amadores: Known for its calm and crystal-clear waters, Playa de Amadores is a family-friendly beach in Puerto Rico. It’s perfect for swimming and relaxing, with a promenade lined with restaurants and shops.
- Anfi del Mar: Another beach in the Puerto Rico area, Anfi del Mar, is characterized by its artificial white sand and turquoise waters. It’s ideal for water sports like jet skiing and windsurfing.
- Playa de Puerto Rico: This beach is known for its wonderful atmosphere and water sports facilities. It’s a popular destination for both sunbathing and water activities.
- Playa de Mogán: Located in Puerto de Mogán, this picturesque beach is surrounded by charming canals and colorful houses. It’s a peaceful place to relax and enjoy the scenery
3. Stroll through the quaint town of Teror
Teror is a picturesque town in Gran Canaria full of colonial-era architecture and quaint streets. The most notable sight is the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pino, which is a significant pilgrimage site honoring the Virgin of the Pine.
Strolling through its historic streets adorned with colorful facades and wooden balconies is a step back in time. The town’s main square, Plaza del Pino, offers a charming spot to soak in the local atmosphere. Teror’s weekly market showcases artisanal crafts and Canarian delicacies. You’ll also find many nice shops all around at such affordable prices.
4. Marvel at the Maspalomas Sand Dunes
The Maspalomas Sand Dunes in Gran Canaria are a mesmerizing natural wonder, known for its rolling dunes that extend to the shoreline. Formed over thousands of years, these golden sands were created by the wind and ocean currents. It’s probably the number one thing to do in Gran Canaria attracting visitors from all over. The scenery is absolutely unique and behind you’ll find the Maspalomas Beach where you can do some sunbathing. The best time to visit is at sunset for the perfect photo.
Please note that after COVID, the sand dunes recovered their natural shape. This prompted the government to restrict access to walking on the dunes. The area is now roped off to prevent people from walking through and you can be charged with a hefty fine for entering. This law is relatively new and people are still walking through it. Therefore, please respect the area and take photos from in front of the roped-off area. That’s what I did and I have removed the rope from the photo above in Photoshop! You can watch this funny video to see how a group of influencers and myself lifted the rope up to get the shot.
5. Visit the Finca Escudero Winery
Head over to Finca Escudero Winery to try a selection of local wines in a beautiful setting. The property is 60,000 m2 and full of gardens and olive groves. This winery is all about family and great wine. Juan Escudero, the heart and soul of this place. He fell in love with vineyards thanks to his dad’s work in Navarra, Spain. Sipping on a wine in the middle of a peaceful paradise – what more could you ask for? There is also a pool you can lounge at too! You can tour the winery in about 2 hours. The cost is €20 and you’ll have a guided tour of the estate as well as a tasting of the wine and other local products.
6. Take a hike to enjoy views in Tejeda
Tejeda is a charming town located in the center of Gran Canaria, and it’s often considered one of the most picturesque villages on the island. It’s situated in a stunning natural setting, surrounded by mountains and offering breathtaking views of the rugged landscapes. Tejeda is an excellent destination for those interested in hiking and outdoor activities, as it provides access to some of Gran Canaria’s most beautiful trails and viewpoints.
Views and Hikes in Tejeda:
- Roque Nublo: One of the most iconic landmarks in Gran Canaria, Roque Nublo, is a massive volcanic rock formation that rises dramatically from the landscape. The hike to Roque Nublo is a must-do activity in Tejeda. It’s a moderately challenging hike that rewards you with incredible panoramic views of the island’s interior.
- Bentayga: Another impressive rock formation, Bentayga, offers stunning views of Tejeda and its surroundings. The hike to Bentayga is a bit easier than the one to Roque Nublo and is a great choice for those looking for a shorter hike with beautiful vistas.
- Hiking Trails: Tejeda serves as an excellent starting point for exploring several hiking trails, including those leading to Cruz de Tejeda, Cruz de Timagada, and Cruz de San Antonio.
- Mirador de la Degollada de las Yeguas: This viewpoint is accessible by a short drive or hike and offers fantastic views of the Tejeda Caldera. It’s a great spot for taking in the dramatic landscape and capturing some stunning photographs.
- Mirador del Balcón: Located near Roque Nublo, this viewpoint provides a magnificent perspective of the Roque itself and the surrounding landscape. It’s particularly popular for sunset viewing.
Hiking Tours in Gran Canaria:
⛰️ This hiking excursion is an excellent opportunity for mountain lovers to get to know the island from a completely different perspective
🌋 Experience Gran Canaria like a local with this fully customizable hiking tour of the island with lunch
🚶 Feel the Canarian atmosphere and see beautiful landscapes on this full-day hiking and waterfalls experience
7. Explore the Ravine and eat at a cave restaurant
The Natural Monument of the Guayadeque Ravine, situated in Gran Canaria, is an impressive geological formation carved over millennia by the Guayadeque River. Its towering cliffs and lush vegetation create a stunning landscape especially if you love nature. You can explore its hiking trails which are really easy to walk by foot. Along the way, you can see the unique flora and fauna and even ancient cave dwellings that showcase the island’s indigenous history.
A must-visit highlight is the opportunity to dine in a cave restaurant called Tagoror, which provides an unforgettable dining experience amidst the rocky terrain. Here, you can try Canarian cuisine in the middle of the ravine.
8. Take a Boat Ride
Ride on a Catamaran and take a dip in the sea. If you’re lucky you will even spot dolphins and whales. This is the perfect activity as you can soak in all the views from the relaxing luxury boat ride.
9. Check out the small town of Agüimes
Agüimes is a charming town located in the eastern part of Gran Canaria, Spain. It is known for its architectural heritage with picturesque streets, traditional Canarian houses, and a beautiful town square. All around the town you may spot lizards which have become the symbol of the town. Particularly the “Lagarto de Agüimes” statue, represents a mythical creature said to protect the town. It’s considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
In addition to the lizard, Aguimes is famous for its camel statue, a tribute to the camel caravans that historically played a vital role in the town’s trade. The town is characterized by its distinctive yellow winding roads.
10. Tour a banana plantation
You might be wondering why this one is on the list of best things to do in Gran Canaria. However, don’t skip over visiting! It was one of the highlights of my visit to Gran Canaria.
Bananas are one of the key agricultural products in the Canary Islands, thanks to the favorable climate and volcanic soil. It was such a fun experience to tour La ReKompensa located in the region of Mogán. There were over 7,000 bananas and I had fun walking through all the rows of bananas. Plus there were some incredible views of the town from behind.
11. Taste Rum at Arehucas Rum Distillery
Arehucas is a famous rum distillery located in Arucas, one of the many beautiful towns on the island. The distillery produces some of the highest-quality rum in Gran Canaria. Visitors are welcome to tour the facilities where you’ll learn about the rum-making process and taste it firsthand. We got these cute hats with our tasting which made for some fun photos!
One of the highlights of the tour is the barrel room, where oak barrels are used for aging the rum. You’ll see that many are painted with colorful and artistic designs. Some are even signed by the many celebrities that have visited!
12. Have an evening gazing at the stars
Gran Canaria is known for its clear skies, making it an ideal spot for stargazing. Consider a visit to the Roque Saucillo Astronomical Observatory for a guided tour of the night sky. If you’re staying at Paradisus Hotel, they also offer stargazing right on-site!
Best Restaurants in Gran Canaria
- Tagoror: a cave restaurant nestled within the Natural Monument of the Guayadeque ravine.
- Mercado del Puerto: a food market where you can try the local cuisine. We tried Piscos & Buches The fried cheese and squid were phenomenal.
- Parador Cruz de Tejeda: this restaurant has volcanic views and nature all around.
Where to Stay in Gran Canaria
Stay at the beautiful all 5-star inclusive resort at Paradisus by Melia located on the South of the island. You’ll have stunning views, access to the beach, and all meals and drinks included. This property opened at the start of 2023 so it’s relatively new. There were many fun activities on-site like star gazing, movie night, yoga, and more. There are 4 outdoor pools, an indoor pool and spa, and a huge selection of restaurants to dine at. The room I chose was super nice with a private balcony overlooking a stunning view. You have direct access to the San Agustín beach which is behind the property,
How to Get to Gran Canaria
The closest airport on the island is Gran Canaria Airport (Aeropuerto de Gran Canaria). The airport is well-connected to various destinations in Europe and beyond, making it a popular entry point for travelers.
Getting Around Gran Canaria
Upon arrival at the airport, you have multiple options for getting around the island. While there is a public bus system that operates from the airport to other parts of Gran Canaria, renting a car is highly recommended. This is the most convenient way to explore the island, especially if you plan to visit remote or less accessible locations. I highly recommend using Discover Cars to rent a car. It finds the best deals across many rental companies and offers great coverage in case of any accidents. You can book your car rental with Discover Cars online here. Additionally, taxis and airport shuttle services are readily available at the airport but would be a more expensive option.