Gran Canaria is exactly like it sounds: grand. As the second most populous part of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria will dazzle tourists with its weird mix of microclimates - with warm, volcanic sand beaches in the south and picturesque, green villages in the north. As expected, there’ll be plenty of natural scenery, and island life here is always at its finest, no matter what time of year it is. Check out our recommendations for the best things to do in Gran Canaria!
1. Cueva Pintada Museum and Archaeological Park
The Cueva Pintada Museum and Archaeological Park is one of the most important archaeological sites in Gran Canaria. Located right in the middle of the town centre of Gáldar, the museum aims to preserve, research and dissemminate information on one of the most unique settlements in the whole of the Canary Islands. Imagine a cave full of fascinating paintings from ancient times - that’s exactly what the Cueva Pintada Museum will give you, so history buffs will be absolutely thrilled here.
Not only do the facilities here allow the possibility to marvel at the exceptional wall paintings, the artistic expression and symbolism of the Ancient Canarians, but also they possess a pioneering centre in which to learn about the pre-hispanic world in Gran Canaria, as well as the stark events that culminated in the Island joining up to the Crown of Castile in 1483. Cool stuff.
Cueva Pintada Museum and Archaeological Park
Address: Calle Audiencia, 2, 35460 Gáldar, Las Palmas, Spain
2. Roque Nublo
A famous, and the biggest landmark of the island, Roque Nublo guards the centre of Gran Canaria but is surprisingly approachable for an icon: you can walk right up to it and just sit down. With a few ropes and a lot of courage, you can even climb it (though we wouldn’t recommend this for everyone). Roque Nublo roughly translates to Cloud Rock, and comes from Roque Nublo’s habit of disappearing into the clouds and mist that often envelop the top of Gran Canaria. If you visit on a cloudy day it’s always worth waiting for a while as the rock often pops out of the clouds for a few seconds, making for some potentially amazing shots.
Visiting Roque Nublo is never the same twice. Some days you’re surrounded by icy mist all the way up and can’t see the rock until you can touch it. Others there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the walk up is baking hot. Some days you get a bit of both: take a layer, even in summer. Look or listen out for the ravens as a couple of the island’s last few pairs hang out on the cliffs by Roque Nublo. A truly spiritual and magical experience awaits you.
Address: 35369 Las Palmas, Spain
3. Caldera de Bandama
The cauldron in Bandama, or the Caldera de Bandama is about 2,000 years old, and was formed when a fissure emerged on the hill between Los Hoyos Valley and the Barranco de las Goletas ravine, spewing out ash and volcanic slag in the process. It owes its name to a 16th-century Flemish merchant Daniel van Damme, who settled there and planted vineyards in order to produce wine, and the Bandama hamlet above survives as one of the most important winemaking areas on the island. So yes, you can come here, grab some tasty wine and feel the power of nature infuse into your grapes, imbuing them with flavor and volcanic power.
Caldera de Bandama
Address: Bandama, Las Palmas, Spain
Website: Caldera de Bandama
4. Casa-Museo de Colon
This is a pretty fascinating museum that documents explorer Christopher Columbus’ voyages and features exhibits on the Canary Islands’ historical role as a staging post for transatlantic shipping. Check out the model galleon (ship) on the ground floor, which particularly impresses children if you’ve got any in tow. The crucifix affixed there is said to have come from Columbus’ ship itself, so it contains plenty of actual history. On the upstairs floors, there is an art gallery and some models of Las Palmas’ past and present. And for cartography enthusiasts? Rooms five and six contain historical maps largely from the early 16th-century, absolutely drool-worthy.
Casa-Museo de Colon
Address: Calle Colón, 0, 47005 Valladolid, Spain
Website: Casa-Museo de Colon
5. Jardin Canario
Check out Gran Canaria’s very own gorgeous botanical garden, which oversees the conservation and management of the biodiversity of the island of Gran Canaria and is dedicated to the conservation and management of terrestrial Canarian Flora. There’s plenty of fascinating plant and animal life completely unique to the Canary Islands present here, all conveniently housed in the same location. There’s also a strong message of conservation throughout, and really, just come here to appreciate nature and life itself.
Address: Ctra. del Centro, Km 7, 35017 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
Website: Jardin Canario
6. Playa de Las Canteras
It’s part of the Canary Islands, so yes, there can and WILL be a beach present! Considered one of the nation’s very best urban beaches, the place enjoys fine and fancy free weather all year around. A great choice to get away even within the capital city, the sands of time have somehow avoided this place, and it acts almost like a beachier Central Park. Look out for people playing sports, and of course, come with swimming attire and a surfboard and ride the waves and soak up the sun!
Playa de Las Canteras
Address: Las Canteras Beach, Spain
Website: Playa de Las Canteras
7. Museo Nestor
This is a museum that was dedicated to Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre, who was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the 4th of May 1887. A prodigious talent from an early age, he created his first drawings at seven years old. And given the artist that he would become, these were no mere childish doodles. Inside the museum, you’ll be able to see some of Nestor’s most famous paintings, including1900’s Marina, a painting Néstor completed at just 13 years old. Then, his teacher was the seascape specialist, Elisha Meifrén i Roig. Later on, he would go on to study under the likes of Rafael Hidalgo de Hidalgo de Cavides in Madrid, Paris and Barcelona.
De la Torre also spent some time in Buenos Aires before returning to the city of his birth in 1934 where he died prematurely at the age of 50, on the 6th February of 1938. How can you not love an entire museum designed to house works of a local artist? Truly cultural and unique.
Address: Calle Francisco González Díaz, s/n, 35005 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
Facebook: Museo Nestor
8. Gran Canaria Carnival
Gran Canaria’s carnival was born when they decided to put carnivals and beaches together, and what an amazing idea it was too, with the perfect weather and absolutely insane activities. Happening each year in the middle of February, the festival celebrates the spirit of live and let live, with events like the Queen Gala and Drag Queen Gala, with plenty of colorful costumes, loud music and a ton of fun.
Gran Canaria Carnival
Address: All around Gran Canaria
Website: Gran Canaria Carnival
Grand sun and sea
Melding sun, sand and sea effortlessly, Gran Canaria is a bastion of Spanish culture and really shows people what it means to have fun, let your hair down and still be able to appreciate literally everything that this island has to offer. Undoubtedly the grandest of the Canary Islands, we promise you there won’t be a dull moment here.
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