- Canary Islands
- Where to stay
- Things To Do
- Best Tours
Gran Canaria is often seen as just a beach holiday destination or a sunny place where you can escape the cold winter back home, but if you take the time to explore, you'll discover that it's much more than that.
We've been visiting the Canary Islands for many years now and we've just recently returned home after spending two months in Gran Canaria, so we have had time to enjoy all the island has to offer: amazing beaches, great local food and wine, breathtaking views, thrilling mountain roads and the vibrant capital Las Palmas.
Most of our time was spent exploring around the island on our own, which is easy to do if you have a rental car, so for just one day, we have decided to explore some lesser-known places in the company of an official guide, who took us on a short hike around Caldera de Bandama, followed by a visit to a local winery and a meal at the iconic Mercado del Puerto in Las Palmas.
Our first stop for the day was at Caldera de Bandama, named so after a Flemish merchant Daniel Van Damme, who once lived on the island and owned the land of the caldera.
Here we went on a circular walk around the Caldera, which is actually considered to be the most recent eruption in Gran Canaria. It's a really popular place for walking and running since it's fairly close to Las Palmas, so if you want to escape the crowds you should avoid coming during the weekend.
Come to Caldera de Bandama to see these lovely flowers, Echium decaisnei, also known as viper's bugloss/ White tajinaste, endemic to the island of Gran Canaria. They were in bloom at the end of January when we visited.
The walk around Caldera de Bandama is easy, with minimum climbing but we do recommend having proper shoes for walking (no flip flops or sandals).
The walk also goes past the Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas, which is the first golf club in Spain, founded back in 1891.
Our guide Guillermo is probably the perfect person to accompany you on nature walks in Gran Canaria since he is super knowledgeable and passionate about the island's natural landscapes, flora and fauna and we thoroughly enjoyed his company.
Go to Caldera de Bandama
Our next stop for the day was at Bodega San Juan - Finca El Mocanal, one of the wineries with tradition in Gran Canaria and also a family business, run nowadays by Cristina Millán, the fifth generation after the initial founder of the winery.
Finca El Mocanal mostly cultivates Listan Negro, a type of grape endemic to the Canary Islands, but also Negramoll, another variety of grape specific to the archipelago.
Since 2017, the cultivation process has been converted to organic farming and you can learn more about the entire process during the tour.
There's also a small museum where you can see how wine-making has progressed throughout time, by seeing different types of machines used in the process, like the wine press brought from Lyon, Frane, which is unique in the Canary Islands.
The visit to Finca El Mocanal is also suitable for families with kids wanting to experience Gran Canaria's winemaking culture, since the kids have space to run around and there are two lovely ponies and a "retired" donkey which will surely be the main attraction for the little ones.
At the end of the tour around the Finca and the wine-making museum you obviously get to the good part: tasting the wine produced at Bodega San Juan and relaxing on the lovely terrace, soaking up the sun and enjoying the views.
Mocanal is an artisanal natural wine produced without added external yeast, without clarifying or filtering.
Mocanal wine is produced exclusively with grapes produced at Finca El Mocanal and the taste is fresh, with only a hint of acidity, while the eyes are instantly attracted by the cherry red color.
Visit Bodega San Juan - Finca El Mocanal
After finishing the winery tour we headed to Las Palmas, where we went for lunch at Mercado del Puerto, since it was a terrible calima outside and it was better to eat inside.
Mercado del Puerto is a historic building in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, right at the foot of the La Isleta neighborhood and a few steps away from the Canteras promenade.
If you're looking to try some Canarian dishes prepared with local produce then we recommend heading to Piscos & Buches Gourmet Canario, probably the most popular place located inside Mercado del Puerto.
If you decide to have lunch at Piscos & Buches then you should definitely try the croquetas de berros (watercress croquettes), which we absolutely loved, although we're not big fans of the usual types of croquettes (chicken, fish, or cheese). There's a lot of watercress cultivated in Gran Canaria in the area of Firgas, we'd recently seen even a watercress mural in Firgas a few days before, so we were surprised to taste such delicious croquettes. We had already tried the watercress soup (potaje de berros) in Tenerife a few years before, but the croquettes were a big hit for us.
We also recommend trying the local desserts, the one with Flor de Guía cheese was absolutely delicious and we'll go back for it next time we're in Las Palmas. Flor de Guía cheese is a local type of cheese from Gran Canaria, produced in Santa Maria de Guia from sheep milk, mixed with either cow or goat milk.
If you want to get a taste of Canarian cuisine, prepared with real local produce, then Piscos & Buches is a good place to go for a casual lunch if you're ever in Las Palmas, which we highly recommend you not only visit for a day but actually spend some time exploring all parts of the city, from Las Canteras to Vegueta and Triana.
Go to Piscos & Buches at Mercado del Puerto in Las Palmas
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is our favorite city in the Canary Islands, not only Gran Canaria. It's the perfect place for beach lovers (Las Canteras is one of the top urban beaches in the world), digital nomads, surfers and food lovers since you can choose between various types of cuisines.
We want to offer special thanks to our guide, Guillermo at Gran Canaria Sightseeing, whose passion for Gran Canaria and nature has made the day even so more interesting and fun for us, so if you want to explore more of the hidden landscapes and paths in Gran Canaria, we highly recommend Guillermo as the perfect companion and guide around the island.
This sightseeing day trip was kindly organized for us by Gran Canaria Tourist Board, whom we thank for their support.