Things to do in Gran Canaria, Spain - 5-day itinerary
Gran Canaria is one of the most popular islands in the Canaries, following Tenerife. Almost half of the population of the archipelago lives around here. The island feels like a mini continent, with the landscape changing tremendously from lush mountains to desert-like settings.
Most people head to Gran Canaria for the beach, and there are more than 50 of them to choose from. But beyond the pristine coastline, you’ll also stumble upon mountain villages, ancient caves and historical monuments, especially around the bustling capital of Las Palmas.
Follow our five-day itinerary and discover the best things to do in Gran Canaria, including popular swimming spots and hiking trails.
We’re starting our journey on the north side of the island in Firgas.
This hilltop town is located 465 metres above sea level. Take your time
to wander through the narrow streets. Don’t miss the Paseo de Canarias,
where you can admire the 22 coats of arms representing the island’s
municipalities and the 19th-century Iglesia De San Roque.
A few miles west is the archaeological site of Cenobio de Valerón. Here
you can explore up to 350 caves, silos and cavities used to store grain
in pre-hispanic times. There’s a path across the site with informative
plaques along the way that explain the history of this place and the
region’s volcanic roots.
Agaete is among the most beautiful villages in the north of Gran
Canaria. It sits among Valle Agaete, which is known for its coffee
plantations. The houses dotted around the plantations have kept their
traditional appearance to this day. It’s worth taking a walk along the
maritime walkway facing the beach and visiting the Huerto de las Flores,
a charming botanical garden filled with plants from around the world.
The village is also a great spot to grab lunch and sample some Canarian
After a relaxing break in Agaete is time to hit the
road again. The Playa Guayedra is located deep inside the Tamadaba
Natural Park. To reach this wild beach, you’ll need to follow a trail
which takes around one hour each way. On your way there, you’ll be able
to admire the cliffs of Roque Faneque, the Dedo de Dios sea stack and
Puerto de las Nieves. Guayedra was recently featured in the Netflix show
The Witcher, which has drawn attention to this once-secret spot.
End your day with a swim at the Agaete natural pools in Puerto de Las Nieves. These pools are perfectly safe to swim as they are sheltered from the harsh waves. Then take a walk around the promenade and grab a drink at one of the local bars. Facing slightly west, the town is the perfect spot to catch the sunset.
For our third day, we’re exploring the southwest of the island. The
first stop on our itinerary is the Mirador del Balcón. Nestled between
the coast and the Tamadaba Natural Park, this viewpoint offers
breathtaking views of the ocean and the row of cliffs known as the
dragon’s tail. Starting the day here will open your eyes to the
incredible landscape ahead.
Gran Canaria is famous for its wild beaches, and Playa Güi Güii is among
the best ones. To reach this remote beach, you’ll have to hop on a boat
or walk. The trail is a bit challenging, but every step you take is
worth it to see that pristine sandy stretch surrounded by the huge
cliffs. The beach sits within the UNESCO Gran Canaria Biosphere Reserve.
Continue your trip to Fuente de Los Azulejos. These rock formations have
gained the nickname “fountain of tiles” due to the colourful patterns
created by oxidisation over the years. It doesn’t rain much in Gran
Canaria, but when it does, waterfalls emerge from the mountains, and you
can spot them from the road.
The fishing village of Puerto de Mogán is one of the sunniest places on
the island. It’s hard not to fall in love with this coastal town dotted
with whitewashed houses, tropical gardens and canal bridges resembling
Venice. Start with a swim at Playa de Mogán. Then get lost in the maze
of narrow streets leading to charming squares or the viewpoint
overlooking the sea.
End the day at Maspalomas, the southernmost point on the island. The main attraction here is the Maspalomas Dunes, a desert-like nature reserve featuring ponds, palm trees and 980 acres of sand. Start by visiting Las Dunas Interpretation Centre, located in the Hotel Riu Palace Maspalomas, where you can learn all about the area and then take in the landscape from the nearby viewpoint. After that, follow the trail that crosses through the dunes and leads to Maspalomas Beach. Do not deviate from the path as this is a protected area with several native species, such as the Gran Canaria giant Lizard. Once you’ve reached the beach, you can continue along the coast to the Faro de Maspalomas on your right or the Playa del Inglés on the left.
In the heart of the island, you’ll find Fataga, one of the largest
canyons of Gran Canaria. This ravine stretches from the mountains all
the way to the sea. Its size is so impressive that it has been called
the Grand Canyon of Gran Canaria. It is possible to drive a big part of
the ravine stopping in the middle of Fataga to admire the views up
close. Alternatively, you can head to the Fataga Viewpoint or further
out to Las Yeguas for a more expansive view.
Roque Nublo, also known as Cloud Rock, is another striking geological
feature on the island. This volcanic rock stands alone at 80m high right
in the centre of the Tejeda municipality. It was created during a
volcanic eruption and is now one of the most visited locations on the
island. To reach this natural monument, you’ll need to drive to
Degollada de la Goleta and follow the signposted 1.5km walking trail
leading to Roque Nublo.
Pico de Las Nieves is the highest point in Gran Canaria at 1942 metres
high. Its name, peak of snow, was given in the 17th century when
islanders built pools to catch the snow around the summit. For the best
panoramic views, drive up to the Pozo del Pico de Las Nieves. If you’re
feeling adventurous, you can walk further up to the Gañifa Window, a
popular spot among photographers.
From Pico de las Nieves, make your way to the Mirador de Degollada
Bacerra. Standing here, you can admire the gorge that separates Montañas
de La Almagria and Las Mejoranas. You can also capture Roque Nublo in
the distance, along with Roque Bentayga.
On the east end of the Tejeda volcanic crater, you’ll find the town of Tejeda. Standing at 1050m above sea level, it is one of the most spectacular sights on the island. This hilltop village is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Stop by Dulceria Nublo to sample the island’s regional cakes before heading to the viewpoint to capture the surrounding views of Caldera de Tirajana and the Nublo Rural Park.
This tiny village sits right in the middle of the island’s northern
mountains. It’s worth taking a walk around Plaza del Teror, a square
lined with colourful houses, some of which date back to the 16th
century. These stand out with their elaborate wooden balconies. Another
highlight is the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pino, a charming church
dedicated to the island’s patron saint. If you’re around on a Sunday
morning, you may catch the town’s market, where you can sample local
specialities like the chorizo de Teror.
We’re leaving the mountains behind and heading closer to the island’s
capital. But first, we’re visiting the town of Arucas. Take some time to
explore the historic centre, where you’ll find the Iglesia San Juan
Bautista, a Gothic church with striking stonework. Along the way, you’ll
find many stores selling the infamous Ron Arehucas, a type of rum made
The town is also famous for its greenery. So much so that it
has been named the ‘city of flowers’. You can experience this at the
Jardines de la Marquesa and the Parque Municipal de las Flores both of
which feature hundreds of different plant species.
Spend the afternoon exploring Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria.
This bustling city is packed with historical monuments and plenty of
restaurants where you can sample Canarian cuisine. Begin your tour at
the historic centre, also known as Vegueta.
Less than half an hour from Las Palmas you’ll find the Caldera de
Bandama, a crater formed five thousand million years ago. It’s possible
to get there by car, but you should watch out for the narrow roads and
sudden turns. Alternatively, you can book a guided tour. Once you get
there, you can enjoy the panoramic views from the top or follow a hike
around the rim of the Bandama Volcano, which takes about two to three
hours to complete.
Drive down to the coast to see El Bufadero de La Garita. The area is
surrounded by basalt cliffs, lava tubes, and a natural pool that often
releases water like a geyser. However, unlike other natural pools,
swimming is not allowed due to the fast changing tides.
Next, head to the Barranco de Las Vacas. It’s amid this ravine
that you’ll find the Tobas de Colores, a set of tall rock formations
which resemble a desert landscape. It is one of the most visited
attractions on the island, so you may need to wait a few minutes to get a
clear shot of it. The area is also a Starlight Tourist Destination. For
a stargazing session, head to the nearby Temisas Astronomical
Dolphin watching: Bathed by the North Atlantic, Gran
Canaria offers the perfect opportunity for dolphin watching. Several
companies organise boat trips to see these friendly species up close. If
you’re lucky, you may also spot sea turtles and whales. Many trips
depart from Puerto Rico in the south.
you’re heading north, it’s worth stopping by Gáldar. This small town
was the first capital of Gran Canaria and was home to an ancient
kingdom. Remains of that era are still visible in the archaeological
park, where you’ll find a painted cave. Other attractions include the
Matrix Temple of Santiago de Gáldar, which features a mix of Baroque and
Neo-classical elements. Hikers can also follow the Way of St.James,
which begins in Maspalomas and ends in Gáldar.
Cruz de Tejeda – La
Culata: This 14.7km trail takes you to some of the best viewpoints
around the island. It is considered moderately difficult, so make sure
to come prepared. Starting from Cruz de Tejeda, you'll hike up to
Mirador Becerra, where the views open up to Roque Nublo and Roque
Bentayga. Along the way you'll pass through the Degollada de la Cumbre,
El Garañón and Mirador Presa de los Hornos, ending at La Culata.
Cruz de Tejeda - Cuevas del Caballero: If you’re looking for a slightly
easier hike, this 7km trail may be a better option. It begins at the
parking lot near the Parador de Cruz de Tejeda Hotel. From there you
should follow the signs towards Artenara. After taking in the views from
the Tejeda mountain you will head down to Mirador Degollada de las
Palomas. Then it's about 45 minutes to the Cuevas del Caballero, a
network of cave dwellings that may have been used by indigenous
inhabitants for fertility rituals.
Agaete Valley-Tamadaba Circuit:
Starting at the village of San Pedro, this demanding trail takes you
through the Agaete Valley. Along the way, you’ll stop by a few other
villages and the Presa de los Pérez dam before reaching the pine forest
of Tamadaba. You will need a whole day to take on this trail.
de Moya: This nature reserve is renowned for its laurel forest. There’s
a circular route across the park, which is easy for families to follow.
The walk starts at the Los Tilos Interpretation Center, where you can
collect a trail map. Alternatively, there are guided tours that take you
around the area.
Families visiting Gran Canaria will find plenty of activities for kids.
You can spend the day relaxing by the beach, book a dolphin-watching
tour or hike one of the island’s numerous trails. Beyond nature, there
are a few attractions that are suitable for children. In Las Palmas is
the Pueblo Canario, where you can see a replica of a traditional
Canarian village and learn more about the island’s traditions. Closer to
the coast is the Poema del Mar, a large aquarium with separate tanks
for shallow-water, deep water and freshwater species. Alternatively, you
can head further to the outskirts, where you’ll find the trampoline
park, Urban Planet. Maspalomas also has plenty of family-friendly
sights, including Sioux City, a theme park inspired by the American Wild
West, as well as a zoo and a waterpark.
All the Canary Islands offer a similar cuisine, with each island
adding their own tweak to a dish. In Gran Canaria, it's common to order
papas con mojo (potatoes with red or green sauce) and gofio escaldado
(mashed cereals, here served with seafood broth). One thing that’s
specific from here, however, is the Flor de Guía cheese, which has a
vegetable rennet made from the dry flowers of the Canarian cardoon.
Below are some of the best places to eat in Gran Canaria where you can
sample some of these delicacies:
La Aquarela: Located on the
south coast, this Michelin-star restaurant focuses on locally-sourced
ingredients. The tasting menus include options for vegetarians.
Poemas by Hermanos Padrón: Set inside the Santa Catalina Hotel in Las
Palmas is another award-winning restaurant. It is run by the Padrón
brothers, who also own a restaurant in Tenerife. You can order à la
carte or try the tasting menu. A stand-out dish is the Eel
Tabaiba: Chef Abraham Ortega is behind this Michelin-star restaurant in
the heart of Las Palmas. Considered the best Canarian chef in 2016,
Ortega gives a modern twist to some of the island's traditional recipes.
Los Guayres: Another classic fine dining spot, Los Guayres was among the
first restaurants on the island to receive a Michelin Star. Guests can
choose a variety of tasting menus, starting at around €110. The
restaurant is part of the Cordial Mogán Playa hotel, which is only a few
minutes from the Puerto de Mogán coast.
Grill Casa Miranda: As the name suggests this place focuses on grilled
meats. You can choose your favourite cut and then cook it on a hot stone
yourself. Don’t leave without ordering one of their homemade desserts.
Restaurante La Tunera: Located around Telde, La Tunera makes the most of
the island’s local ingredients. Here you can sample traditional dishes
like potatoes with gofio mojo. They even produce their own vermouth and
Hotel Riu Palace Oasis (5 stars): Set near the Faro de Maspalomas, this
five-star hotel offers a variety of amenities, including three outdoor
pools, a restaurant, a fitness room and a spa with sauna. Families can
also take advantage of the hotel’s kids club.
Santa Catalina, a
Royal Hideaway Hotel (5 stars): Santa Catalina has been welcoming guests
since the 19th century. These have included members of the royal
family, statesmen and movie stars. Located in Las Palmas, the building
stands out with its stone arches and wooden balconies. Guests have
access to a restaurant, a spa and a rooftop with a cocktail bar and an
infinity pool overlooking the capital.
Club Maspalomas Suites &
SPA (4 stars): This high-end hotel is only accessible to adults. There
are a variety of rooms to choose from, including some with private
jacuzzis. Other facilities include a restaurant, spa and an outdoor
pool. A beach shuttle and bike rentals are also available.
Reina Isabel (4 stars): Facing Las Canteras beach, this hotel is ideal
for those who want to make the most of the island’s coast. The rooms are
spacious and many offer private balconies with ocean views. Guests also
have access to a spa, swimming pool and gym.
Gloria Palace Royal
Hotel & Spa (4 stars): Close to Puerto de Mogán this hotel feels a
little bit more secluded. From here, you can easily walk to Amadores
beach. But there are plenty of facilities to keep you busy inside
including 2 restaurants, 4 bars, 2 outdoor pools and a spa with an
indoor pool and sauna.
The weather in Gran Canaria is
pleasant all year round. That said, there are different microclimates
across the island. In the south, you’ll get warm and sunny weather
pretty much all year, with temperatures ranging from 15º to 35º. Up in
the mountains, however, it can drop to 5º or less, especially around
Tejeda or Roque Nublo.
Carnival: Carnival is one of the most popular events on the island. It
usually takes place around February or March, depending on Easter. The
festivities begin in the capital with a series of events, including
parades, comedy shows and competitions. There are also big celebrations
around the towns of Maspalomas, San Bartolomé, Agüimes, Agaete and
Bajada de la Rama: Every year around August 4th, the town of Agaete
hosts the Bajada de la Rama. Locals carry pine branches from the village
to a chapel dedicated to the Virgen de Las Nieves. In the past,
aborigines would throw branches in the ocean as a way to usher in the