- Canary Islands
- Where to stay
- Things To Do
- Best Tours
Gran Canaria is the second most visited island of the Canary Islands (after Tenerife) and it's often referred to as a Mini Continent, due to its diversity in landscapes. From amazing beaches to mountain trails and volcanic landscapes, Gran Canaria has it all.
Visitors come here for the beautiful and warm weather even during the winter months when the rest of Europe is suffering from low temperatures and snowfalls.
But the island is much more than beautiful beaches, there are so many breathtaking landscapes and beautiful places to visit in Gran Canaria, from charming small towns to mountain trails with unique views, so everyone can find something they'd like to see.
Wondering what some of the best activities and places to visit in Gran Canaria are?
If you're planning a holiday to this beautiful island and you're wondering what to do in Gran Canaria besides relaxing by the pool, read our article to get an idea of how diverse and amazing this place really is.
The Maspalomas Dunes are one of the island's symbols - walking along these dunes will make you feel like you're visiting one of the world's great desserts, although you have some hotels still in sight (depending on where you are).
Walking along the dunes is a MUST and afterward, you can spend the day at the beach Playa Maspalomas, followed by a romantic walk at sunset towards the Maspalomas Lighthouse.
Playa del Ingles is probably the liveliest place in Gran Canaria and the place to be if you're looking for nightlife and party atmosphere. Playa del Ingles is famous as a destination for gay tourism in Europe, and it's full of bars and entertainment, including the famous Yumbo Center.
Since you are on holiday on an island, a great idea for a day out would be to go on a boat trip: see the coast and also dolphins in their natural habitat. Most excursions will also include soft drinks and pick-up from your hotel, so all you have to do is to enjoy the experience.
Even if you're staying in another part of the island, Puerto de Mogan is worth a visit during your explorations.
It's a picturesque resort, with a charming marina and a nice and quiet beach (compared to other resorts). On Fridays this place is buzzing with tourists from all over the island, coming to the popular market in Puerto de Mogan to buy souvenirs and all sorts of other objects.
Get into this submarine and discover all the charms of the seabed of Puerto de Mogán for 40 minutes. You will be able to see some shipwrecks and the wonderful marine fauna from its big windows.
Especially for the kids, this can be a really fun activity and it's a great way to spend the morning during your family holiday to Gran Canaria.
Situated inside Nublo Rural Park, Roque Nublo is yet another symbol of Gran Canaria, seen on many postcards and souvenirs sold on the island.
Trekking to see Roque Nuble is easy and the route starts from the main road. From here you have around 1.5 km to walk until you reach the famous rock and also its "brother" Roque de la Rana. The entire route is circular and it measures a total of about 5 km, along which you can also see the views from Caldera de Tejeda, Llanos de la Pez and Pozo de las Nieves.
If you like visiting ZOOs this is the place to see in Gran Canaria. For a holiday in Gran Canaria with the kids this is a great day out and it's better to choose a cloudy day for your visit, so you don't get a sunburn.
Las Palmas is a lively city, great for a city break if you want to explore more around the city. The beach of Las Canteras is a popular beach not only on the island but also in all of Spain. You can also visit The Science and Technology Museum or Casa Colon, but you can read more about these in our guide on what to do in Gran Canaria when it's raining. Walk on the streets of the old town Vegueta, admire the architecture and take a coffee break or lunch at one of the many terraces along the way.
If you only have one day to visit Las Palmas (maybe you're in Gran Canaria just for a day stop on your cruise around the Canaries) you also have the option to get the 24 hours hop-on hop-off bus tour that takes you around the city, so you can visit both the old town and the area of Las Canteras on the same day.
You can also read our review and impressions about the Hop-on Hop-off bus in Las Palmas.
Playa de Las Canteras deserves a separate mention, as it's one of those iconic places that you see in a tone of photos. Spend the day here along with the many residents of the capital who also come here, especially during the summer months. Playa Las Canteras is often recognized as the best urban beach in Spain and it's one of our favorite places in the capital. If you plan on visiting the capital you can find more ideas in our article about things to do in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Another place that is great for kids, but for adults as well. Poema del Mar is one of the most popular places to visit while in Las Palmas and it's owned by the same company that owns Loro Parque and Siam Park in Tenerife. At Poema del Mar you can see a giant Aquarium with many species of marine life, along with many other exhibits which will keep you occupied for a few hours.
Pico de las Nieves is the highest peak in Gran Canaria and its easy to here if you have a car hire or if you take an organized bus tour. The road towards Pico de las Nieves is an attraction in itself, as the inland of Gran Canaria is very different from the coastal towns and tourist resorts. Discover the natural beauty of this island by driving through the small towns, as Pico de las Nieves is situated right in the middle of the island, so it's easy to get there no matter where you stay in Gran Canaria.
For many people, Playa de Amadores is the perfect holiday beach - clear water, extremely calm, clean, sunbeds, umbrellas and all the facilities you may think of. It does get crowded especially during the school holidays, as it is a great place for a family holiday in Gran Canaria. Even if you don't stay in this area it is still worth a visit for the day.
If you are visiting Gran Canaria in September and you want to experience a local event, then you must go to La Aldea de San Nicolas for the Fiesta del Charco. Participants gather around a pond and when the signal is given, everyone rushes into the pond to catch the fishes who start to jump out of the water, due to the fact that it gets crazily crowded with people. This is an event that is popular, especially among locals, so if you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, this is one of the best things to do and experience while in Gran Canaria.
And if you're visiting Gran Canaria at another time of the year, La Aldea is still a beautiful place to visit, so relaxed and unique, a perfect spot to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in Gran Canaria.
Arucas is famous mostly for its magnificent San Juan Bautista church, also referred to as the Arucas Cathedral by most people, although it's not officially a cathedral. Arucas is also home to the Arehucas rum distillery which you can visit and participate in a tasting.
Arucas can be visited during the same excursion as Firgas, as the two towns are located near each other and they are usually visited on the same day.
Firgas is a small town located in the mountains, in the northern part of the island, a region that is enriched with mineral water (do you know the popular brand Aguas de Firgas?).
Firgas is famous for its charming street Paseo de Canarias, which you have probably seen around on the internet in many instances, but didn't know where it was. Paseo de Canarias, along with Paseo de Gran Canaria (pictured above) is the focal point of the town and it's really worth a few moments of your time if you want to discover the real Gran Canaria, beyond the resorts in the south.
Teror is a small town situated close to the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Its historic center is very well preserved and it provides a nice walk where you can see the specific architecture with wooden balconies that are so iconic for the Canary Islands. A good day to visit would be on Sundays when there's also a market happening and the town comes to life. You can read more in our dedicated article about markets in Gran Canaria.
The largest carnival in Gran Canaria is the one in Las Palmas, but there are several other celebrations organized on the island. Maspalomas and Telde have their own carnivals, Aguimes also and many more. If you're on the island between February and March (these are usually the months when the carnivals are organized), then you must participate in these large Spanish celebrations, get costumes to match that year's theme and join in all the fun.