A Guide to Gran Canaria

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I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a number of European islands during my time living on the continent – from the beautiful jungle-covered islands of the Azores and Madeira, belonging to Portugal, and the four Balearics of Spain, the historical island of Malta off the tip of Italy, and the legendary island of Cyprus, to name a few.

But, I had yet to visit any of the Spanish Canary Islands, a group of four clustered together just off the west coast of Morocco. I’ve also been to Spain every year in a row, and with how much I love the country, I am determined to continue making this a reality as often as I can.

It was the perfect destination for a sunny escape in mid-February. We left behind a grey and near-freezing Germany as we boarded our flight from Munich to Gran Canaria, the biggest of the Canaries. It just so happens to be my boyfriend’s favourite vacation spot – he’s been coming here since he was a child with his grandparents – so it was a special choice to spend both my 28th birthday and Valentine’s Day together.

I’ve got a tradition of spending every birthday in a new country, something I’ve managed to maintain for the last eight years:

So, to spend my 28th on the beach on a Spanish island? Perfect.


HOW TO GET TO GRAN CANARIA

The Canary Islands are a cluster of Spanish islands off the western coast of Morocco in Northern Africa. The Canaries are a popular year-round warm weather destination, which makes flights plentiful, affordable and available from all around the world. We flew directly from Munich with Condor, a pleasant five hour flight across western Europe.


HOW TO GET AROUND GRAN CANARIA

BUS: From the airport in Gran Canaria, you can take a bus to any of the major destinations across the island. At the time of writing, the bus from LPA Airport to Las Palmas cost us just €2,80 for a one-way ticket. This was a super easy and straightforward way to get to our hotel, with just a ten-minute walk from the bus stop to the beach.

Read all about catching a bus on Gran Canaria here!

RENTAL CAR: If you want to explore the island, such as heading up to Pico Ruivo, the highest point on the island, your best bet is to rent a car. We rented a car at the airport the night before, and hopped on the bus back to LPA to pick it up the next morning for our one-day roadtrip around the island.

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WHERE TO STAY ON GRAN CANARIA

There's a number of hubs you can choose to stay at while exploring Gran Canaria. Puerto de Mogan is a quiet seaside town, or you can explore the bigger and more touristy Maspalomas.

However, we really loved staying in Las Palmas. It's super close to the airport, and we scored a hotel right on the beach which is where we spent two days surfing! We loved it.

We spent five nights at the Sercotel Playa Canteras, right on Playa de Las Canteras. We didn't include breakfast, although it's available daily, instead opting to try some of the local cafes along the beach. The rooms were spacious and clean, and there was even a rain shower in the bathroom! Perfect beachfront location.

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The view from the hotel pool


WHERE TO EAT IN LAS PALMAS

The benefit of staying right in Las Palmas is that there are plenty of yummy meal options all along the beach. We went out for breakfast, lunch and dinner quite often during our stay. However, we also did a lot of snack shopping at the local SuperDino grocery store next door to our hotel.

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Monte Libano

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Casa Agraine


BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE ON GRAN CANARIA

A trip to Gran Canaria is for those who are craving a warm weather escape all year round, get out into nature, enjoy the Spanish way of life and particularly, to get into the warm ocean waves. Here's everything we did during our five days on the island:

1. Playa de las Canteras

As we stayed right on the beach, we spent a lot of our time hanging out on the beach: going for morning runs, jumping in the ocean, walking along the sand and of course, just lying in the sun working on our first tans of the year.

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jana meerman playa de las canteras gran canaria spain-14
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jana meerman playa de las canteras gran canaria spain-23
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jana meerman playa de las canteras gran canaria spain-23

Sunset

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Dusk

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jana meerman playa de las canteras gran canaria spain-7
jana meerman playa de las canteras gran canaria spain-7
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2. Go surfing

Gran Canaria is world-renowned as a surfing destination, and Playa de Las Canteras is one of the best places on the island to do that. Given that my first (and only) time surfing so far was exactly five years ago in Byron Bay, Australia for my 23rd birthday, and Robert had only surfed the year before, we decided to sign up for some lessons together to get a firm grasp out in the waves.

Check out my complete guide to surfing at Playa de Las Canteras here!

jana meerman gran canaria surfing playa de las canteras oceanside (13)

3. Roadtrip around the island

If you want to explore the island, such as heading up to Pico Ruivo, the highest point on the island, your best bet is to rent a car. We rented a car at the airport the night before, and hopped on the bus back to LPA to pick it up the next morning for our one-day roadtrip around the island.

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jana meerman gran canaria spain-43
jana meerman gran canaria spain-43
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jana meerman gran canaria spain-31
jana meerman gran canaria spain-31
jana meerman gran canaria spain-31

4. Spot the rock pools at Charco de Las Palomas

The first stop on our little island roadie was the natural rock pools on the northern coast of the island. Charco de Las Palomas is just one of many, and we drove past lots of sweet pull-outs all along the coast.

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jana meerman gran canaria spain-50
jana meerman gran canaria spain-50
jana meerman gran canaria spain-50

5. Photograph the colourful houses of Montaña de Ajodar

As you continue to drive anti-clockwise around the island, you'll pass some brightly coloured box houses which just burst with personality, dotting across the hillside.

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jana meerman gran canaria spain-50
jana meerman gran canaria spain-50

6. Wander through the idyllic town of Artenara

This wonderful little village is nestled up in the mountains towards Pico Ruivo, perfect for a stop for a refreshing drink in the sunshine.

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jana meerman gran canaria spain-50
jana meerman gran canaria spain-50
jana meerman gran canaria spain-50

7. Cuevas del Rey

On the way to Pico Ruivo and Roque Nublo, there's an incredible drive out towards Cuevas del Rey which provides the most expansive views across the canyons of the central island. There's not so much to see persay once you get there, but the drive itself is one to do slowly and absorb the impressive nature surrounding you as far as the eye can see.

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jana meerman gran canaria spain-18
jana meerman gran canaria spain-18

8. Roque Nublo

The peak of the island and one of the most popular destinations on all of Gran Canaria, is the short but challenging hike up to Roque Nublo is well worth it for 360-degree views in all directions.

Check out my hiking guide for Roque Nublo!

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9. Puerto de Mogán

This idyllic little seaside town on the southern coast of Gran Canaria is the perfect destination for lunch after your time exploring the mountains at the centre of the island. We wandered through the pastel-coloured streets adorned with brightly coloured flowers and beautifully painted doors, before settling down for a lunch right on the beach in the sun.

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jana meerman gran canaria spain-15
jana meerman gran canaria spain-15
jana meerman gran canaria spain-15
jana meerman gran canaria spain-15

10. Run around the sand dunes of Maspalomas at sunset

Maspalomas is quite a touristy destination and one of the best things to explore in this southern coastal town are the epic sand dunes. Try to time your visit with golden hour and you can run up and down the soft sand as the sun goes down over the ocean.

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jana meerman gran canaria spain-09
jana meerman gran canaria spain-09
jana meerman gran canaria spain-09

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Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria
Jana Meerman

Hi! I’m Jana, a British-Dutch-Canadian with a dream of seeing every country in the world. I am a storyteller, photographer and adventurer passionate about documenting and sharing my travels.

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