Gran Canaria Tourist Guide
Gran Canaria is one of Spain’s Canary Islands, off north-western Africa. It is easy to fly to from many airports, ours being Bristol Airport, with the airline Thomson, a quick and easy four-hour flight.
Gran Canaria is known for its black lava and white sand beaches (my favourite). Its southern beaches include bustling Playa del Inglés and Puerto Rico as well as quieter Puerto de Mogán and San Agustín. In the north, capital city Las Palmas is a major stop for cruise ships and duty-free shopping. The island’s interior is rural and mountainous.
Take time to relax enjoy the food and take in the atmosphere in Gran Canaria. Also, take a minute to click the car hire link at the bottom of the blog for your 70% discount.
The Must See Towns
Just before you reach the sleepy, little town of Mogán you will come across a windmill standing at the side of the road in the tiny hamlet of El Molino de Viento (meaning windmill).
And as you enter Mogán you will see the peculiar sight of life-size sculptures representing household utensils like cups and saucers. These bizarre objects are displayed in the neat gardens and can clearly be seen from the road, it’s a must see.
Surrounded by rugged mountains, Mogán boasts a charming central square with colourful well-kept gardens around it and a pretty church dedicated to San Antonio, get your cameras ready as you won’t want to miss any of it.
Puerto de Mogán is an area with a marine tradition which because of its unique setting and natural beauty, has evolved into one of the most beautiful urban settlements of the Canary Islands. The marina, where many international sailing enthusiasts converge, has 225 moorings and is an excellent sailing spot, making the port of Mogán an unforgettable place.
The municipality of Mogán is primarily dedicated to tourism, which means that the usual places to visit are the beaches along the coast, which have been developed into six tourist areas: Arguineguín-Patalavaca, Anfi del Mar, Puerto Rico – Amadores, Tauro – Playa del Cura, Taurito and Puerto de Mogán.
All of these feature restaurants and hotels facilities along the walkways that lead to each of the beaches. Remember to pack your sun glasses as it is very bright down by the beach with the glare from the sea, you won’t go wrong with a pair of Oakleys that also protect against UVA Rays.
Where To Eat
The Bar Marina is open Monday to Saturday from breakfast until late (09.00h-24.00h). They serve a wide range of food, all prepared on the premises. Whether you want a full meal or just coffee and a cake The Marina is the place to be.
After you have spent hours strolling along the beaches you can relax on the terrace with a drink and watch the yachts in the marina and the passersby. You have everything from Irish beer to Canarian rum, from sangria to the best Guinness in the archipelago (try saying that after a few!).
The Bar Marina isn’t just a place to eat and drink – it’s a focal point for both holidaymakers and “yachties” who live in the port, where you can find out about what is going on and meet old friends.
The food and service are excellent with friendly staff. We ate here several times for lunch and evening meal during our stay. They do cater for children so no need to worry about that. The owners are lovely; they like to involve themselves with the customer which is always a bonus.
Of course, there are so many other places to eat and drink, here are a few we also tried whilst visiting Mogan, El Jamonal de Mogan, Costa Bella, Mogs Bar, Blue Marlin Mogan just to name a few, all were brilliant.
Playa Del Ingles
There are of course many more towns to visit on Gran Canaria, you’re truly spoilt with all you could want on this island. Another favourite of ours Is Playa De Ingles a sea resort in the south coast of the island of Gran Canaria. It is part of the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana and is a popular tourist attraction of all ages.
Holidays to Playa del Ingles are all about the beach – an enormous blanket of golden sand and rolling dunes. The nightlife in this supercharged town also brings the crowds from far and wide.
Playa del Ingles is a shopper’s paradise. There are 12 commercial centres, which provide a quick fix of duty-free shopping, whether you’re after electronics or designer clothes. Lots of them are home to bars and pubs, which come to life when the sun goes down. The Kasbah Centre has all the trendiest bars while Yumbo is the hub for a thriving gay scene.
From Gran Canaria to Loro Parque Tenerife
Tenerife is only an hour by sea from Gran Canaria and home to the award-laden Loro Parque wildlife park. And this action-packed trip combines both – so you’ll experience another Canary Island and some wonderful animal encounters on top.
After hopping over the water on a fast Fred Olsen ferry, you can then hire a car from Thrifty to get to loro, where you’re free to explore in your own way – coming face to face with wonderful creatures like gorillas, tigers, alligators, giant tortoises and more.
But the star attractions are the shows. Watch spellbound as dolphins, sea lions and free-flying parrots show off their skills with fun games and feats. And don’t miss Orca Ocean, where four colossal killer whales surge, plunge, leap and splash water over a mesmerised audience.
Add the world’s largest penguinarium, an aquarium with a see-through shark tunnel, great restaurants, and lots more besides and it’s a day to remember. Guaranteed.
On Gran Canaria
The chutes score at Taurito Water-park. There are boomerang slides, multi-channel racing tubes, a space bowl and a kamikaze flume here. The water-slides are just the start of the story, though. Taurito complements its water rides with the largest saltwater pool in Gran Canaria. Then there are the dry activities to discover. Pit yourself against the kids on the mini-golf course or on the tennis courts.
When you need to refuel, there’s a restaurant on site where you can get snacks like pizza, chips, and sandwiches. Little ones will want to keep their eyes out for Brucks. This huge orange tiger is the water park’s mascot.
Or if you’re a little more daring why not try a day out on a Jeep Safari
Go on a 4X4 safari to Fataga
A Jeep safari into the peaceful Valley of the Thousand Palms makes for a great escape from the bustling town of Playa del Ingles. You’ll stop in Fataga, a little pueblo perched on a cliff top and filled with craft shops and small bodegas. From here, continue your journey by camel, exploring what could easily be the set of a Spaghetti Western, with patches of cactuses and a miniature Grand Canyon.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage when it comes to hotels and b&bs in Gran Canaria. You can either book yourself into something quite plush or opt for something less pricey and still have a beautiful sea view from your balcony.
A 10-minute walk from the beach, this swanky high-rise hotel is also 12 km from gardens at Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo.
The sleek rooms and suites offer hardwood floors, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. They also come with balconies and city or water views. Upgraded rooms have tea and coffee making equipment. Suites add separate sitting areas.
Free amenities include an airport shuttle, a fitness room, and a rooftop pool. There’s also a Mediterranean restaurant/bar with sea views, plus meeting facilities. A breakfast buffet and off-site parking are both available for a surcharge.
Or you may prefer the Hotel Santa Catalina
Built in 1890, this sophisticated hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is an 11-minute walk from Playa de Las Alcaravaneras beach and 11 km from the Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo.
Refined, warm rooms and suites come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. Some upgraded quarters add balconies and ocean views; suites add sitting areas or separate lounges. There’s 24-hour room service.
Breakfast and parking are free. There’s also an elegant restaurant, a formal piano bar and a casual restaurant/bar next to an outdoor pool. Other amenities include an upscale spa, a fitness centre and event space.
Here is a couple of B&BS to check out!
Twenty- Seven Degrees is a charming and cosy Bed and Breakfast, housed in an old building from 1948 in the heart of Las Palmas, in the district of Alcaravaneras. Full of small restaurants, shops, bars and cafes, the B & B is located next to the Central Market and the Avenida Mesa y Lopez is the modern shopping street of the city
With over one hundred years of history, this was the first chocolate factory in Las Palmas. Today, hidden away just a few blocks from the Cathedral the building provides characterful apartments and B&B rooms where the friendly atmosphere is enhanced by a “No TV policy”. Chill out in the traditional patio with a small fountain or on the sunny rooftop terrace offering colourful views of the city and ocean.
Respecting the old, original doors and windows have been lovingly restored rather than opting to replace them with modern soundproofed ones.
The units offer the bed linen, towels, beach towels, toiletries, hairdryer, cot when needed and cleaning at the end of the stay; plus an extra cleaning in the middle of the stay when you book for more than 7 days.
Gran Canaria airport is a twenty-minute drive away and a shuttle service is available for an extra charge. The Canteras beach is a ten-minute drive away.
Free unlimited WiFi is available throughout the building and parking on the local streets is free.
Nightlife in Gran Canaria is lively, noisy and fun. It starts late and goes on all night with most bars opening until 02.00 and discos and clubs usually until 06.00. Very little happens before midnight so don’t expect it as soon as you leave the hotel room.
Like anywhere else, discos, clubs, and bars fall in and out of favour very rapidly, so things may be changed when you come to Gran Canaria. But if you are staying in Las Palmas, the place to go is Plaza de España in the Mesa y Lopéz district, which is always lively until early morning. Here, you will find the old Heineken, where many locals start their evening.
Elsewhere there’s Cuasquías, a popular venue for free live music, Nowanda Café Club, recommended for jazz aficionados and the Mojo Club, next to the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, a good place to take in enthusiastic DJ sets.
And even more, is going on all along the south coast. It’s impossible to get bored in a place where nobody seems to sleep, except at siesta time that is. There are hundreds of bars, clubs, and discos catering for a wide range of tastes, especially in Playa del Inglés, Maspalomas and Meloneras. Just head for the big shopping centres and choose what’s best for you. On your way to the main nightlife areas, you’ll always encounter people on the street handing out flyers and encouraging you to visit their bar/disco/club.
In Playa del Inglés look out for the Yumbo (famous for its gay scene), Kasbah (where the young and beautiful meet) and Plaza, and dance along to the latest international music hits. And in July 2010 the infamous Pacha opened its doors in Playa del Inglés.
If you prefer a quieter atmosphere and you’d like to try your luck, there are two casinos in Gran Canaria, the Casino Las Palmas situated inside the Hotel Santa Catalina in the city of Las Palmas, and the Gran Canaria Casino, which you’ll find in the Hotel Meliá Tamarindos in San Agustín.
And don’t forget Meloneras with its stylish and contemporary bars and cafés. There are plenty of places to chill out and watch the sunset while enjoying your favourite tipple.