07 May What to See and Do in Gran Canaria
In my teens I went on a last minute holiday to Gran Canaria with my mum. We spent a lot of our time sunbathing on the beach and topping up our tans, but there are also a wide range of activities in Gran Canaria too. The island has plenty of family attractions such as Palmitos Park, Sioux City and Aqualand, as well as natural attractions that are perfect for hiking and getting in touch with nature. You can ride camels over the sand dunes, hike volcanic craters and surf some of the Canary Islands’ best waves on the north coast.
If you’re wondering what to see and do in Gran Canaria, here are the top 10 things to do:
1. Maspalomas Sand Dunes
The Natural Reserve of the Dunes of Maspalomas covers 404 hectares is made up of three eco-systems: Palmeral, Carca and Dunas (Palms, Pond and Dunes), which run parallel to the sea. This unique ecosystem was declared a Natural Protected Area of National Interest in 1987 and is popular with tourists, who come see the magical landscape.
2. Shopping in Las Palmas
As the co-capital of Gran Canaria (jointly with Santa Cruz), Las Palmas is well worth a visit. Take a break from the beach and visit the area of Vegueta, which is home to lots of important historical buildings, traditional architecture and museums. If you wish to buy some souvenirs from your trip- Las Palmas has two main shopping areas called Triana and Mesa y Lopez, as well as four markets to choose from- Vegueta, el Puerto, Alcaravaneras and Altavista. For craftwork you can visit the Sunday markets in Vegueta or go to the Pueblo Canaria
3. Sioux City
Set in a rugged, cactus-filled canyon, Sioux City was built as a film set back in 1971 and is an exact replica of the American Wild West. With a bank, smithy, saloon, church, sheriff’s office and even a cemetery, Sioux City makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the land of cowboys and Indians. The venue puts on daily Western Shows and nightly barbecues, so it’s a lot of fun for all the family. I loved it!
The Canary Islands are the “Hawaii” of Europe and attract surfers from all over the world. Since Gran Canaria has a mild year-round climate, surfers tend to visit in the winter months as a break from the cold temperatures elsewhere. The standard of waves is generally high and there are a variety of breaks for all abilities ranging from beginners to pros. El Confital is considered one of the best reef breaks in the Canary Islands and the La Cicer section of Las Canteras beach in Las Palmas is also very popular.
5. Puerto Rico Beach and Puerto de Mogan
Puerto Rico beach is a man-mad, horseshoe-shaped bay with http://healthsavy.com/product/priligy/ white sands shipped in from the Sahara. It’s one of the most picturesque beaches on the island and the calm waters are safe for families with children. There are several restaurants lining the back of the beach and you’ll even find two public pools set in tropical gardens. Another of Gran Canaria’s best beaches is Puerto Mogan, which is a great place to go snorkelling since the sea here is teeming with fish. Puerto Mogan is nicknamed ‘Little Venice’ and the marina is filled with excellent seafood restaurants.
6. Caldera de Bandama
This Caldera de Bandama is a volcanic crater measuring 1000 metres wide and 200 metres deep. If you like the outdoors, the crater is perfect for hiking and the steep walk to the bottom takes about half an hour. The view from the rim of the crater is pretty impressive.
7. Camel Riding
The sand dunes of Maspalomas are ideal for camel riding, so if you’ve never ridden a camel before it’s worth giving it a go. Although you’re only minutes from the ocean, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re actually in the Sahara dessert!
8. Experience a Festival
The spring festival of Carnival is celebrated throughout the Canary Islands and in Gran Canaria the party gets into full swing in the busy resort of Playa del Ingles. The festival is one big party, with colourful floats, elaborate costumes and carnival bands. Then there’s Gay Pride in Maspalomas, which usually takes place in May. Expect to be partying all week, with an endless array of beach parties, pool parties and boat parties, as well as a Friday Drag Gala and a massive Pride Parade on the Saturday. Don’t forget to pack your costume!
9. Have a taste of Canarian cuisine.
You can’t visit Gran Canaria without tasting some of the traditional cuisine. Since it’s an island, fish is popular everywhere. A popular dish is Papas Arrugadas, which are small unskinned potatoes boiled in salted water and served with chicken or topped with ‘mojo’- a red/orange sauce which is very garlicky. Another typical Canarian dish is Ropa Vieja, meaning “old clothes”, which is a dish of chicken and beef mixed with potatoes and chickpeas and this can be washed down with a glass of wine made from the malvasia grape. For dessert, Canarians like to eat Bienmesabe (“Tastes good to me”), which is a paste made from ground almonds, lemon rind and eggs.
10. Hike Camino de Santiago
Camino de Santiago is Gran Canaria’s version of the popular pilgrimage route in Galicia- the Way of St. James. This mini-version is a coast-to-coast trek from Maspalomas in the south to Galdar in the north-west and takes 3-days. Be prepared for dramatic scenery and jaw-dropping panoramas along the way.