What To Do
Visitors tomay find a range of attractions and activities. As well as its numerous beaches the island offers an historic city, majestic mountains and soaring cliffs with water, nature and theme parks, and varied nightlife.
Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas beach
Stretching 6 kilometers (nearly four miles) these adjoining resorts share the islands largest beach divided into family oriented, nudist and gay sections. A large field of sand dunes and an adjacent lagoon form a protected nature reserve that makes for enjoyable exploration though during the summer months the dunes can become extremely hot. The faro (lighthouse) at Maspalomas is the southernmost point of the island and of Europe.
This impressive 80 metre tall monolith is located in the centre of the island close to its highest point, nearby Pico de Las Nieves of 1959 metres altitude. Emblematic of Gran Canaria and offering most striking viewsheld spiritual significance and afforded a place of worship to the islands’ native Guanche people. Buses are available from various points of the island to a well located car park from which a 40 minute walk of moderate difficulty reaches the summit. Care should be taken during summer months where mountain temperatures rise considerably higher than closer to the cooling Atlantic ocean.
A rugged ravine covered in cacti, Aloe Vera plants, a wide range of flora and fauna and a rather large population of lizards is also inhabited by a cave dwelling human population. Several restaurants, farm outhouses, a cafe and even a church are found upon exploration of this most picturesque area, all set deep within caves of the refreshingly cool mountain rock.
A large archaeological site and museum is to be found in the North of the island exhibiting archaeological findings and information of the ancient Guanche people who lived on the Canary islands until the Spanish conquered the archipelago in the fifteenth century. Excavation has revealed a village of over 50 dwellings several of which have been respectfully restored to a good condition, are open to visitors and show stone age tools, pottery and mummies and educational information. Perhaps most impressive are ancient wall paintings of geometric shapes one of which is open to the public behind protective glass to prevent degradation by light and humidity.
To the north of the island the capital city of the island and joint capital of the Canaries,should not be missed. Host to numerous areas of historical and architectural interest and many museums, the Unesco world heritage site of Vegueta’s highlights include the Casa Museo de Colon, an exhibition of Christopher Columbus’ time on the island en route to discovering America and the Cathedral de Santa Ana. Triana offers an enjoyable shopping trip among attractive nineteenth century architecture and pedestrianised streets with performance artists and musicians lending warmth to the relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps surprisingly, the city also offers a very attractive beach with reef sheltered clear waters and golden sands stretching 3 kilometres. The city beach promenade offers a wonderful atmosphere, particularly during the evening. Floodlighting of the entire area presents cafes, bars and restaurants with a backdrop of clear waters, ocean waves, beach sports such as volleyball or running, or groups of friends socialising.
This 20 hectare botanical garden presents a wide range of subtropical vegetation, a diverse exhibition of animals and a large aquarium and dolphin arena. Large areas of palm trees and cacti are found with numerous inhabitant and caged exotic birds, birds of prey, crocodiles, monkeys and Europe’s largest butterfly house.
Open year round the canary island’s largest water park is located in a tropical oasis near Maspalomas and offers 33 water slides, boat rides, children’s activities and a wave pool.
A great resource about Gran Canaria is the www.tuGranCanaria.com web-site that is full of information about the popular Canary Island.