05 October 2021
As you travel across Gran Canaria, one thing that stands out is the island’s natural diversity. From the rugged northern coast and verdant laurel forests to the extinct volcanoes and the central mountain peaks, you’ll encounter such varied scenery that it’s hard to believe you’re in the same place. Here’s a list of the best locations for stunning photographs to wow your Instagram followers.
Located on the northeast coast, not only is this the capital of Gran Canaria, it’s also the largest city in the Canaries. Las Canteras with its sprawling sandy beach has palms and fishing boats at its northern end and surfers and sea mist in the south. The charming, cobbled streets of Vequeta are lined with traditional Spanish architecture ranging from late Gothic to Renaissance and at the heart is the Cathedral of Santa Ana dating from 1500. Nearby is the ornate Casa del Colón where Christopher Columbus was received in 1492 on his way to America.
Top tip: make sure to sample the delicious tapas in the old quarter.
Puerto de las Nieves, a cluster of attractive blue and white Canarian houses, is a tiny fishing village on the northwest coast. The Paseo de la Poetas is lined with restaurants, craft shops and galleries and leads to the natural pools of Las Salinas which make the perfect bathing spot. Swimmers are protected from the crashing waves by rock barriers and it’s an exhilarating experience as the sea water rushes in. The lush green pine forest mountainside makes the perfect backdrop.
Top tip: try the local speciality; caldo de pescado, a delicious fish soup.
Take the long drive up the west coast, passing the multi-coloured rocks at Los Azulejos, to get to Mirador del Balcón. This spectacular viewpoint juts out at a height of 400m, perched precipitously above the Atlantic Ocean. Choose a sunny day for the best views when you can normally see all the way up the coast to the small seaside town of Puerto de las Nieves to the north. To the south there’s a zigzag wall of sea cliffs known as the Dragon’s Tail.
Top tip: take your camera to capture the stunning sunsets.
The oldest and largest natural park on the island, covering an area of 7,500 hectares and part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Moulded by eruptions of the Tamadaba volcano over 14 million years ago, the landscape descends to the sea in a series of ravines and cliffs. At the centre of the reserve is an enormous forest of Canarian pines containing the largest variety of flora on the island and home to birds such as blue chaffinches, kestrels and hawks. At 1,444m, the Pico de la Bandera has changeable weather with snow in the winter and warm summer winds.
Top tip: head up to the peak when it’s misty to catch the has spectacular views across the sea of clouds.
In the centre of the island, the distinctive outline of Roque Nublo stands at 1,813 and is one of the world’s largest free-standing crags. It was an ancient place of worship for the Guanches, the island’s aboriginal inhabitants. Bentayga is a natural fortress with a short path leading to their inhabitants’ almogarén, a spiritual ceremonial space where the sun plays a spectacular game of light and shadow.
Top tip: at the solstice, a single solar ray strikes a circle engraved on the rock, centuries ago, by Guanche astronomers so plan your visit to coincide.
In the southeast are the castle-like rock formations of La Fortaleza, a fortified Guanche settlement with natural and artificial caves. These were used as dwellings, for food storage and even burial and are all linked by a network of paths and tunnels. It’s recognised as the site of the last stand of the indigenous people against the Castilian conquerors.
Top tip: find out more about the Guanches at the excellent interpretation centre which details their tragic history.
The most westerly resort on the southern coast has a fishing port, a yacht marina and a well-protected sandy beach, perfect for families. The waterfront features Mediterranean style buildings with pedestrianised alleys behind, lines with small gardens and window boxes bursting with bougainvillea. A network of seawater canals connecting the marina to the port mean it’s often described as the ‘Venice of the Canaries’. Linking promenades and small bridges make it perfect for a leisurely evening stroll before eating in the excellent fish restaurants
Top tip: go early on Friday mornings when there’s a sprawling open-air market on the fisherman’s quay
The beautiful Maspalomas Dunes ecosystem is made up of 404 hectares of sand and has been a protected reserve since 1987. It’s a unique mix of desert and oasis with beaches, palm groves and a freshwater lagoon. The dunes are easily accessible from the well-known tourist resorts of Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas and stylish Meloneras.
Top tip: go at dawn for the best experience when its much quieter
To book your Gran Canaria break, contact your Travel Counsellor today and take advantage of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your stay.