What do you think once you hear Gran Canaria as a vacation spot? I know, not good. My thoughts have always been that the place was too touristy, stuffed with retired people and over crowded beaches. So why would you wanna go?
While all of these is also true, there is a way of avoiding all of these things (perhaps not the crowded beaches so much) and finding the beauty of this island that made the place a vacation mekka for many europeans.
First of all Gran Canaria has GREAT weather (at least down south) and when you come from Denmark you will crave some heat and sun after just a few months of dropping temperatures, rain and darkness after 5 pm (yes, 5 pm!!). Also Gran Canaria is a volcano island with 4 different climate zones with beaches, mountains, a (small) desert and cities. My point is, you can find beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder. So, here is a recipe to how you find the beauty this island has to offer.
What to do
Although the island has a fairly easy bus infrastructure taking you from north to south and vice versa, you will have the best experience if you have your own car, simply because you can be more flexible and get to see several spots.
The island offers plenty of opportunities to not just lay flat on your back for a week or two. It has long beach walks for running or hiking as most places on the island has a lot of hills, some of them very steep! There is a loads of stairs as well, perfect for some stair intervals. If you are not really the running type, you can do some biking in the hills.
The main purpose of a vacation in Gran Canaria is to relax, rewind, get some sun, swim, enjoy the views and read some books if you are into that. Relax right here with Spies
Sometimes it can be nice to take a break from the sun (e.g. if you was unlucky enough to get a sunburn) so why not do some shopping and get to a little colder temperatures? I like shopping when traveling because brands like Zara is cheaper than in Denmark. Take the bus to Las Palmas from where you are staying, it is very comfortable and easy and when you get off the main station simply walk a short distance to the main shopping street. The is also plenty of historical places and buildings worth a visit when you get tired of shopping.
What to see
Located in the middle of the island, just getting here is an experience in it self. The route is scenic and you will most definitely have to make several stops along the way to breathe in the fresh, cold mountain air and enjoy the views. Think narrow (yet safe) mountain roads with a lot of hairpin turns. Make sure to get here before noon, read: before everyone else. It is 1 km hike to the top and is steep and narrow some places, but everyone can do it. It is an amazing sight once you are on the top of Nublo. Make sure you have some good shoes on and maybe long pants and a jacket as it is quite cold. Do not be fooled be my just wearing shorts, is was a mistake!
We got this little pearl of a town recommended by one of the local receptionists at our hotel. It is a perfect places to drive to after hiking Rock Nublo because now you have built up an appetite for delicious canarian food. The town of Tejeda is located on a hill side surrounded by the green and lush mountains. I am actually not sure if they categorize them as mountains, but coming from possibly the flattest place on Earth, to me they are mountains 🙂
Maspalomas Sand Dunes
First and most importantly, visit this place when it isn’t too windy I think this will make the experience better. It was very windy when I visited and I promise you, you will have sand in places one should never have sand. The dunes is like a small desert and is actually really pretty and you can take some really great pictures here. Also note that the dunes is known to be the place where many nudists tend to stay when visiting the beach so you will be witness to some Hoo-ha’s during your visit. Just the more fun!
Two of my favorite things is sunrises you can enjoy without having to get up before the crack of dawn (you are on vacation right?) and beautiful sunsets. Luckily there is plenty of opportunity for that here. Actually I think 80 % of my pictures from this trips was sunset photos.
Good restaurants is not found on every corner in the southern parts of Gran Canaria so you will have to do some research to find the good ones. Here are two restaurants I tried that is definitely worth a visit.
Located in Tauro, this Spanish and international restaurant is quite big and there will be many people here, but that is just part of the experience. The “to share tapas plate” is a good way to try different Spanish and Canarian specialties.
Cosi Come Sei
The best restaurant experience during my stay. It is located in kind of an uncharging sort of shopping mall a short walking distance from the center of Puerto Rico. But once you are seated you step in to a little Italy with very kind staff and great, great vines. Think truffle, fresh pasta, seafood and traditional italian dishes like caprese salad and bruschetta but with the greatest of commodities. The mozzarella is so fresh and soft that it will melt in your mouth. Make sure you book a table well in advance (like a week or so) as the place is very small. All the more reason to visit!
I hope you will enjoy your next vacation in Gran Canaria and that some of these recommendations will be useful to make the stay even better. Also check out my Pinterest board on Gran Canaria here!