20 Things To Do In Gran Canaria

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The third-largest island in the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is one of the most popular. It welcomes the second-highest number of tourists behind Tenerife to its shores. The island has the longest coastline of the Canaries, stretching for 236 km (147 miles) and has a rich history dating to 500 BC. Artefacts from Gran Canaria’s earliest civilisations have been found in numerous caves.

After being by the Spanish in the mid-1400s, many of the island’s traditions have been lost. Thankfully, due to locals in smaller villages and campaigns by local artists, some of these traditions have been revived and can be enjoyed today. The island receives a staggering 2800 hours of sunshine each year, making it a perfect getaway for those in need of winter sun. There are numerous beaches to soak up rays, including the famous Puerto Rico beach or quieter Güigüí which is accessible only following a two-hour trek through rocky terrain.

things to do in gran canaria with child
Enjoying the sun and sand at the beaches of Playa del Ingles is one of the top things to do in Gran Canaria with kids.

It is its unique terrain that makes Gran Canaria such a fantastic island. 43% of the island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, reflecting the island’s canyons, beaches and woodlands. The island is popular with hikers and guided walks offer the best of the island’s natural beauty.

Sample the delights in the traditional Canarian seafood restaurants while visiting the island. Try sancocho canario, a boiled and salted fish served with sweet potatoes, and papas arrugadas, or wrinkled potatoes. This potato dish is served across the islands and is accompanied by mojo, a spicy red or green sauce flavoured with peppers and garlic.

Gran Canaria has something to offer every type of visitor, whether you are looking for a hiking adventure, a weekend away partying in clubs, or a blissful, relaxing break by the beach with the family. Here are 20 things to do in Gran Canaria to get you started.

Gran Canaria Island

20 Things To Do In Gran Canaria

1- Explore The Maspalomas Dunes

free things to do in gran canaria walking over the Maspalomas dunes
Walking the Maspalomas dunes is one of the iconic things to do in Gran Canaria.

Each island in the Canary Islands features its own unique climate and due to its geographical location, Gran Canaria is no different.

The island is home to the spectacular Maspalomas Dunes, which are golden dunes covering 990 acres (400 ha) of land.

It’s a fantastic site to explore near the busy town of Maspalomas and it’s easy to imagine you have been transported to the Sahara Desert when exploring the area.

The dunes are explorable through a pre-planned route to ensure that humans do not overly impact its ecosystem.

There are also camel riding trips that follow these paths.

Maspalomas Dunes is at 35100 Maspalomas, Gran Canaria.

2- Go On A Dolphin Cruise

gran canaria

As the North Atlantic Ocean surrounds the island, it is the perfect location to hop on a boat and see an aquatic form of life.

Numerous companies run dolphin-spotting cruises in the island’s coastal towns.

One company operates a Supercat, one of the largest catamarans in Europe, which takes passengers out to sea to find dolphins, whales and sea turtles in their natural habitats.

The price of tickets to many dolphin boat trips includes hotel pick up and drop off.

For more information speak to your hotel or nearest tourism information centre.

3- Hike To Roque Nublo

things to do in gran canaria canary islands
Photographing the stunning scenery at Roque Nublo is one of the things to do in Gran Canaria for photographers.

Roque Nublo is one of the largest natural crags in the world and visiting the crag is one of the amazing things to do in Gran Canaria.

Pueblo Nublo is 80m (262ft) high and is 1813m (5948ft) above sea level.

The rock has been a place of worship for the island’s aborigines and was given protected status in 1987.

The area surrounding Roque Nublo was also given protected space as a national park in 1994.

There are many hiking routes to Roque Nublo, including a five-kilometre (three-mile) trek, which takes in the famous rock and el Roque de El Fraile, another natural monument.

Roque Nublo is at 35369 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

4- Explore Las Palmas

things to do in las palmas gran canaria view of Las Palmas
Exploring Las Palmas is one of the fun things to do in Gran Canaria.

Las Palmas is the capital city of the Canary Islands and visiting this city is one of the fun things to do in Gran Canaria.

The city is energetic, vibrant and filled with incredible beauty around every corner, combining culture, modern architecture and a spectacular beach.

Head to Vegueta, the old town, to see its brightly painted houses built tightly together with narrow cobbled streets between them.

After dark, have fun at one of the city’s many bars offering a range of music, themes and fancy cocktails to match.

Las Palmas is at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

5- See Marine Life At Poema del Mar

things to do with kids in gran canaria
Visiting the aquarium is one of the top things to do with kids in Gran Canaria.

Poema del Mar is Gran Canaria’s spectacular aquarium, featuring vast windows that allow you to look into the worlds of different marine life.

Poema del Mar is close to Las Canteras beach, giving it the perfect setting to show off its marine life.

The aquarium is split into shallow-water marine ecosystems, deep water marine ecosystems, and freshwater species.

Each tank within the aquarium replicates the natural environment of the hundreds of species that reside there.

Poema del Mar is at Muelle Sanapú, 35008 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

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6- Climb Pico de las Nieves

best things to do in puerto rico gran canaria
View from Pico de las Nieves, the highest peak on the island of Gran Canaria

Pico de las Nieves or ‘peak of snow,’ is the highest point of Gran Canaria at 1942m (6371ft) above sea level.

During the 17th century, islanders built pools designed to catch snow around the mountain’s summit.

The road to the summit is beautiful, with gentle twists and turns bordered by tall pine trees.

The viewing platform close to the summit is where you can gaze out at one of the island’s best views.

A military base occupies the summit itself, and the platform is the highest visitors can ascend.

Pico de las Nieves is at 35329 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

7- Discover The Charm Of Teror

things to do in gran canaria spain street in the old town of Teror
Exploring the old town of Teror is one of the things to do in Gran Canaria for history lovers.

Teror is one of the smaller towns in Gran Canaria and is a charming town filled with incredible examples of colonial-style architecture.

The town is dominated by the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pino, a beautiful church dedicated to the island’s patron saint.

Señora del Pino is so important in Teror that a festival is held in her honour each September 8th to take part in a feast.

Some of the houses in Teror date to the 16th century and are architectural gems that line the main square and feature ornately carved wooden balconies.

Take time to explore the town on quieter days to experience daily life here, or visit on a Sunday morning to immerse yourself in the bustling market where local specialities and sweets are made and sold by the local nuns.

Teror is at 35330 Teror, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

8- Explore Puerto de Mogán

things to do in puerto rico gran canaria colourful fishing boats
Exploring the fishing village of Puerto de Mogán is one of the things to do in Gran Canaria to learn about local life.

Puerto de Mogán is a picturesque fishing harbour and a marina filled with whitewashed buildings, roof terraces and tropical gardens with bird-of-paradise flowers and hibiscus.

Head to the old village of Playa de Mogán, which sits across the road from the harbour.

The village runs up the cliff faces and is a warren of narrow passages and stairways leading to small squares and the mirador (tower) with views over the beach and out to sea.

Puerto de Mogán is at Mogán, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

9- Step Back Into History In Firgas

The town of Firgas is in the north of Gran Canaria, 465 m (1525 ft) above sea level.

Its hillside location means many long and narrow hills and gullies are lined with houses and businesses.

Visit the church of San Roque, which sits on the site of the area’s first church.

The hermitage of San Juan Ortega dates back to the early 1500s, and some of the original church still remains.

Look out for the ceiling by the central nave, which features important works of religious art from the time.

Walk along the Gran Canaria Walkway and Canarias Walkway to see 22 coats of arms representing the island’s municipalities decorating the streets.

Firgas is at 35432 Firgas, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

10- Marvel At The Whitewashed Walls Of Tejeda

In the centre of Gran Canaria, high up in the hills is the stunning village of Tejeda.

Famous for its whitewashed houses, this village stands out against the lush green surroundings.

The village is a base for hikers heading out to Roque Nublo, meaning plenty of options for accommodation and traditional food.

Head to the mirador to experience the unique and almost jungle-like views over the Caldera de Tirajana and the surrounding Nublo Rural Park.

Tejeda is at 35360 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

11- Discover Lost Kingdoms In Gáldar

things to do in taurito gran canaria colourful houses in Galdar
Exploring Galdar is one of the top things to do in Gran Canaria if you have an interest in archaeology.

The town of Gáldar is one of the highest towns in Gran Canaria at an elevation of 1700 m (5577 ft) above sea level.

The town was the capital of one of the ancient kingdoms of the island before the Spanish colonisation in the 1400s.

The town’s archeological park reflects its historical past, which houses the Cueva Pintada and there are many important historical buildings, including the Matrix Temple of Santiago de Gáldar.

This temple was designed with both baroque and neo-classical architectural features.

Inside the temple, you will find works of art, such as the Pila Verde or the Green Christening Stone linking to religion and the island’s history.

Gáldar is at 35460 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

12- Enjoy The View From Mirador del Balcón

Of all the miradors in Gran Canaria, Mirador del Balcón is one of the most impressive and certainly the one that leaves a lasting impression.

The tower is located along the rough and rugged coastline of La Aldea de San Nicolás and is within Tamadaba Natural Park.

The viewpoint is a triangular concrete platform with thick glass panels surrounding its sides.

Its open feel offers unrivalled views back up the jagged and harsh cliffs and towards the Atlantic Ocean.

The landscape journeying to the mirador is famous as its peaked mountains resemble a dragon’s tail, which is often featured in local folklore.

Mirador del Balcón is at 35479 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

13- Explore The Caves of Valerón

gran canaria valeron caves
Exploring Valeron Caves is one of the intriguing things to do in Gran Canaria.

The Caves of Valerón are also known as the monastery of Valerón and located in the northwest face of Montaña del Gallego.

The caves are ancient pre-Hispanic cutouts that form an almost honeycomb-like cave structure.

Ancient Canarians created them by cutting into the rock and natural basalt arch using primitive stone and wooden tools.

Artefacts from the area include dried fig seeds and barley that dates back to 1040 AD.

298 compartments within the cave structure were used as silos, homes and granaries.

Caves of Valerón is at 35458 Guia, Gran Canaria.

14- Trek To Caldera de Bandama

gran canaria bandama crater greenary
The Bandama Crater is an amazing attraction in Gran Canaria.

Caldera de Bandama is a unique landscape in Gran Canaria that could almost be from another world or at least a time before humans.

This lush crater is filled with rich soil thanks to its volcanic nature, ancient settlers used it to farm.

The crater was formed five thousand million years ago around the time of the Pico de Bandama volcano.

The caldera is 216m (708ft) deep, 574m (1883ft) high and 1000m (3280ft) wide.

You can trek to the caldera and head to the viewpoint at Cornical for some incredible views across the caldera.

Many treks to and within the caldera are quite challenging, with average gradients of 18%, but worth the effort to see rare plants, such as white echium, and island birds, such as blackcaps and kestrels.

Caldera de Bandama is at 35017 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

15- Discover The Valley Of A Thousand Palms 

The tiny village of Fataga is nestled within the Fataga Ravine and has a few restaurants and shops.

It is not the village that draws visitors to the area but the Fataga Ravine itself, which lives up to its nickname, the Valley of a Thousand Palms.

This vast ravine is completely covered in thick, lush palm trees and popular with hikers.

Many restaurants and bars open early in the day, offering snacks, drinks and meals.

Fataga Ravine is at 35108 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

16- See Native Plants At Jardin Botanico Viera y Clavijo

top things to do in gran canaria cactii
Enjoying the cactus gardens is another of the things to do in Gran Canaria, Spain.

Jardin Botanico Viera y Clavijo is part of the Guiniguada ravine.

The gardens are the largest in Spain and one of the world’s best, covering 67 acres (27 ha) filled with native plants.

The gardens protect 500 indigenous Canary Islands plants, and there are numerous exotic plants from other countries and climates.

Eric Sventenius, the Swedish founder of the gardens, designed the botanical garden to be a true reflection of the area and to celebrate the plant life it produces.

There are more than 2000 cacti and an oasis ot palm trees, pines and succulents.

Eric loved his garden creation so much that he is buried within the grounds.

Jardin Botanico Viera y Clavijo is at GC-310, 35017 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

17- Discover Local Traditions In Pueblo Canario

things to do in las palmas de gran canaria
Exploring Las Palmas is one of the fun things to do in Gran Canaria.

Pueblo Canario is in the centre of the Las Palmas area of Gran Canaria in the northeast of the island.

The town is surrounded by Doramas Park, which features thick green areas of palm trees and gardens.

Within the town, there are weekly displays of traditional folkloric music and dances.

Accompanying this traditional side of life are several restaurants serving traditional Canarian foods.

Stop by Museo Néstor, which houses a permanent exhibition of internationally recognised Canarian artist Néstor de la Torre.

He was one of several creators of the town of Pueblo Canario to showcase Canarian traditions.

Pueblo Canario is at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

18- Admire The Architecture Of Casa de Colón

things to do and see in gran canaria Columbus House
Admiring the architecture of Columbus House is another of the things to do in Gran Canaria away from the beach.

Casa de Colón is otherwise known as Columbus House.

This ornately decorated building has latticed balconies, yellow walls and a green-tinted entranceway with delicate carvings.

It is believed that the house, which was designed as the residence of one of the first governors of the island, was where Christopher Columbus stayed for a time.

During 1492 while his ship was being repaired, Columbus resided in Gran Canaria.

The home was rebuilt in 1777 and today houses a museum featuring 13 permanent exhibitions primarily focusing on Columbus and a dedicated library and research centre.

Casa de Colón is at C. Colón, 1, 35001 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria.

19- Step Back In History At Cueva Pintada

When visiting the town of Galdar, head to the Cueva Pintata Archeological Park, a park that centres around a settlement built by pre-hispanic settlers.

To protect the caves for future generations, visitors walk on boardwalks to not damage the rocks.

The painted cave or Cueva Pintada features geometric wall paintings which offer an insight into life before the Spanish colonisation.

There are tours available, and artefacts discovered within the site are displayed in the museum.

Cueva Pintada is at C. Audiencia, 2, 35460 Gáldar, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

20- Explore Cathedral Metropolitana de Santa Ana de Canarias

things to do in gran canaria las palmas
Admiring the beautiful Cathedral Metropolitana de Santa Ana de Canarias in Las Palmas is one of the things to do in Gran Canaria for history lovers.

Catholic Monarchs ordered the Cathedral Metropolitana de Santa Ana de Canarias to be built flowing the conquest of Gran Canaria in 1503.

The cathedral took nearly four centuries to complete.

Due to its lengthy construction period, numerous architects and architectural styles are present in the cathedral, including Gothic, Renaissance and Neoclassical styles.

The cathedral’s Diocesan Museum of Sacred art showcases many important religious artifacts and sacred objects, including paintings and sculptures.

Catch the lift to the rooftop for some unrivalled views across the city of Las Palmas.

Cathedral Metropolitana de Santa Ana de Canarias is at Plaza Sta, Ana, 13, 35001 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.