What to see in Gran Canaria
Commonly associated with beach holidays, Gran Canaria, in the Canary Island offers attractions to suit different tastes. Should you find relaxing by the ocean front too monotonous, a wide of sites and activities are available to visit and experience throughout the island.
Despite what the name might suggest, Gran Canaria is not the largest island of the archipelago. It comes third, after Tenerife and Fuerteventura. The size of. approximately 600 sq mi and the diversity of Gran Canaria’s nature and landscapes, however, will easily keep curious travellers busy for many days during their holiday. Below, we present some of the major attractions of Gran Canaria, without much focus, however on the beaches. Find a dedicated article about Gran Canaria beaches here.
See general map of Gran Canaria.
With the population of over 40 thousands, Las Palmas is the largest city of the Canary Islands. Most first-time visitors to Gran Canaria are, in fact, surprised by how a large metropolis the island’s capital is.
See Las Palmas map (click to enlarge).
It can be divided in the southern part which is the city’s historic quarter and the northern part, where the modern city centre is. During your visit to Las Palmas do not miss out on the following sites:
The Discoveries’ history in Gran Canaria – Casa de Colón
Casa de Colon (Cristopher Colombus house) where Colombus lived during his stay on the island is one of the major attractions of Las Palmas old town. Visit the Colon museum to learn more about one of the most important discoverers in the history.
See Las Palmas tourism promo video:
St. Anne Cathedral
Featuring different architectonic styles, from gothic to classic, St. Anne’s Cathedral is the most important church of Las Palmas.
I front of the cathedral, pay attention to the life-size statues of large dogs. According to some, the archipelago’s name derives from the Latin word ‘canis’, meaning dog.
Las Palmas promenade
The pedestrian promenade, Calle de Triana is a popular place for a stroll, a cup of coffee or shopping for the locals and the tourists alike.
Vegueta – a night out in the Las Palmas historic quarter
Located in the southern part of Las Palmas, near the sea, the Vegueta district is one of the most charming places of Gran Canaria’s capital. Narrow, winding streets and patios of old houses seem remind of old times and invite for a quiet stroll, away from the tourist crowds. Vegueta is a great place to eat out, with plenty of small restaurants and eateries serving traditional Canarian food. Especially recommendable on warm summer nights for a romantic al fresco dinner. Find out more about Gran Canaria’s history in Vegeta museums, amongst them Museo Canario.
Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles
On the southern coast of Gran Canaria, the neighbouring Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles form the third most populous area on the island and its most popular tourist centre. Those, in the past separated resorts, have grown over the years into one tourist complex. Playa del Ingles is a 6 km long waterfront and beach which merges at its western end with the dunes of Maspalomas. The dunes, resembling a miniature desert are a truly unique site and a protected area. Visit them at different times of the day to see the difference in their appearance caused by the wind.
Both Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles offer plentiful opportunities for watersports practice and, after the sunset, the vast choice of restaurants, bars and discoes will keep you up until late.
One of the most recognizable sight of Gran Canara Roque Rubio is a free standing volcanic rock, located in the very centre of the island. Roque Rubio, which translates to Cloud Rock, can be only reached on foot, being the nearest parking located slightly over a kilometre away.
See a drone view over Roque Nublo:
The rather steep trek up the mountains will be well worth the effort as the views from the height of 1813 above the sea level are truly amazing (the highest point on Gran Canaria is however, Pico de las Nieves, at 1949 meters). A visit to Roque Nublo is not recommended for people with reduced mobility.
Arucas – a daytrip from Las Palmas
Located approximately 5.5 miles west of Las Palmas, Arucas is a great destination for a daytrip from Las Palmas.
This lovely little town is home to several architectural landmarks of Gran Canaria, amongst them Iglesia de San Juan Bautista. Dedicated to St. John the Baptists, this imposing structure resembles the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Dating back to an early XX century, Iglesia de San Juan is a must for any visitor in Gran Canaria.
After seeing St. John the Baptist church, take a stroll along the streets of the town’s historic quarter; see the Town Hall and the municipal market and visit Arucas’ museums: the Rum Museum or Arucas Municipal Museum.
Gran Canaria fun and theme parks
Catering for the needs of young visitors, Gran Canaria offers several adventure and theme parks for public of different ages.
The desert-like landscapes of Gran Canaria are used to recreate a Wild West town in as much accuracy as possible. There are cowboys and Indians, the outlaws and the sheriff, the saloon and the daily shows to entertain children of all ages at the The Sioux City is, located in Barranco del Aguila, not far from Playa del Inglés.
Cocodrillo Park Zoo
Ran by the Balser family, the Cocodrillo Park was Gran Canaria’s first zoo. Featuring a large population of crocodiles (the idea of the park was born from the Balser family being ask to care for a few crocodiles having since then been continuously expanding its rescue operation), primates and exotic birds. The park is located in Los Corralillos, near the east coast. Find more information about Cocodrillo Park (access, tickets, opening hours).
Approx. 7 miles north from Maspalomas, Palmitos Park attracts visitors with the dolphinarium, exotic and bird of prey shows, as well as by its great collection of the native flora focusing on palm trees, cacti and orchids.
Gran Canaria Palmitos Park website.
On the way from Maspalomas to Palmitos, a classic aqua park, Aqualand Maspalomas is a great stop for fun seeking youngsters, offering a variety of water slides, swimming pools and rides. Both Palmitos and Aqualand can be easily visited on one day and the combined ticket for both parks is usually the most economic solution.