There are many things to do in Gran Canaria, from sunbathing on the white sand beaches to hiking among the natural landscapes. Besides, Gran Canaria is one of the most popular Canary Islands in Spain, so you’ll have no problem if you’re looking for nightlife, large resorts, and activities, but still want tranquility.
In this guide, you’ll find different places to visit in Gran Canaria, as well as the best accommodations, how to get there, and how to move around the island. I’ll even give you a map so you can quickly locate all the things I recommend. Also, if you’re not sure whether or not this is the best island in the Canary Islands for you, I think this guide will help you figure it out!
If you plan on visiting several islands in the Canary Islands and you’re short on time, I recommend booking this full-day tour to experience all the must-sees in Gran Canaria. If you’re able to spend more time here, the best option is to rent a car and explore the island at your own pace.
1. Maspalomas Dunes, the best place to see in Gran Canaria, Spain
The Maspalomas Dunes are one of the places in Gran Canaria you must see since they form one of the most impressive landscapes in all the Canary Islands, a mix of desert and oasis.
This nature reservation encompasses over 980 acres of sand, palm trees, and ponds. It’s a protected area with several native species, such as the Gran Canaria giant lizard and numerous birds. In fact, if you want to see the island’s native fauna, this is one of the best places to visit in Gran Canaria. Most of the animals here are in the humid region, known as Charca de Maspalomas, or Maspalomas Lagoon.
If you’d like to visit the Maspalomas Dunes, I suggest first going to the Las Dunas Interpretation Center. It’s located in the Hotel Riu Palace Maspalomas, which also has a viewpoint overlooking the dunes. From there, you’ll find a path that passes through the dunes and leads to Maspalomas Beach.
This is certainly one of the best activities to do in Gran Canaria, although you should be mindful that it’s a protected natural area.
2. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a must-see in Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital of the island, making it one of the top tourist attractions in Gran Canaria. The city is in the northwesternmost part of the island, and it’s also the most populated, so it offers tons of leisure and cultural activities.
If you’re going to visit Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, I recommend starting with its historic center, where you’ll find all kinds of landmarks, like Plaza de Santa Ana and the Santa Ana Cathedral. Curiously, in the square, you’ll find eight dog statues, which are known as the guardians of Santa Ana.
Another interesting place is the Museo Canario, which has become a must-see in Gran Canaria, along with the Columbus House. They’re both in the popular Vegueta neighborhood, which also has the oldest market on the islands that I recommend visiting, the Vegueta Market.
You can also go see the Triana neighborhood, which is known for its colonial houses and variety of shops. Of course, if it’s your first time in the capital and you’re short on time, I think this free tour gives you a good overview of the city.
3. Roque Nublo, a lovely place to visit in Gran Canaria
The Roque de Nublo Natural Monument in Nublo Rural Park is one of the Gran Canaria points of interest you shouldn’t miss.
This volcanic rock formation has a rather peculiar shape and stands over 260 feet tall, although it’s more than 5,900 feet above sea level, making it an amazing viewpoint. Actually, it’s the third-highest point in Gran Canaria after Morro de la Agujereada and Pico de las Nieves, which both exceed 6,230 feet.
It’s very common among both locals and tourists to walk the path leading to Roque Nublo. The hike, which is one of the best things to do in Gran Canaria, is just over a mile long. Despite the uneven terrain, it’s not challenging, so it’s a good activity for most people.
While you can do the hike on your own, if you book this excursion, you’ll learn a lot about the area, so I highly recommend it. You could also book this one if you want to combine Roque Nublo with the town of Teror and the Bandama Caldera, two other sites in Gran Canaria.
4. Tejeda and Roque Bentayga, two stunning places to visit in Gran Canaria
Tejeda is considered one of the most charming towns in Gran Canaria. The inland town is surrounded by mountains and offers views of Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga. Part of its charm is the fact that its landscape is part of the Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
El Roque Bentayga is one of the top attractions in Gran Canaria that I recommend if you’re in Tejeda, as well as its Interpretation Center, where you’ll learn all about the archaeology in the area. You’ll have to walk about 2 hours to get to the large rock formation, but it’s one of the most popular Gran Canaria activities, so it’s worth it.
Once you get to Roque Bentayga, you can continue walking on the circular route that passes through Charco de la Paloma, Culata de Tejeda, and Cruz de Timagada. Along the way, you’ll get beautiful views of Roque Nublo.
Another thing to do in Gran Canaria, especially if you travel in spring, is to enjoy the almond blossom festivities in Tejeda.
5. Teror and San Mateo, two markets to visit in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Teror is another place to visit in Gran Canaria and, along with Tejeda, it’s considered one of the most interesting towns on the island.
The old historic district is a must-see in Gran Canaria since it’s one of the most beautiful. Among the pedestrian streets, you’ll see the Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Pino, one of the most iconic buildings. I also suggest going to the local market to try the chorizo from Teror, one of the town’s typical foods. You can even book this tour that goes through the markets of Teror and San Mateo.
Speaking of which, San Mateo is another hotspot in Gran Canaria to visit, and it’s surrounded by natural scenery. In fact, it belongs to the Canary Islands Network for Protected Natural Areas, which explains its pristine beauty.
6. Tilos de Moya, the best place in Gran Canaria for hiking
Tilos de Moya, within the Doramas rural park, is one of the best places in Gran Canaria for a nature walk.
The most popular trail here is a 1-mile circular route that goes into a laurel forest with fayas, hollyhocks, and cockscomb, an endemic plant species in danger of extinction. Hiking through this area is one of the best things to do in Gran Canaria for families since the trail is quite easy and well-trafficked. Moreover, it’s a peaceful place to hike, although it’s more crowded on weekends and holidays.
The route begins at the Los Tilos Interpretation Center, where you’ll find free parking, trail maps, and more information. You can find schedules and specific info on this website.
If you don’t have much time, you can book this guided tour, which combines a walk through Los Tilos de Moya with a visit to Artenara, where the Risco Caído archaeological site is located. It’s another awesome place to visit in Gran Canaria, so I’m sure you’ll love it.
7. Dolphin and whale-watching, one of the things to do in Gran Canaria, Spain
Seeing wild dolphins and whales is, in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Gran Canaria. Plus, this island is considered one of the best in the Canary Islands for this activity, although it’s more common to see dolphins than whales.
If you want to see whales and dolphins in Gran Canaria, I recommend this tour, which departs from Puerto Rico, south of Gran Canaria. You’ll travel by motorboat with a guide who will tell you all about the cetaceans that live in the Canarian waters. You’ll also make a brief stop to swim in the Atlantic Ocean and visit some of the most beautiful beaches on the island.
This is one of the best outdoor activities in Gran Canaria, especially with kids, and you can do it any time of year since many dolphin and whale species live here permanently. Of course, keep in mind that they’re wild animals, so while the tour company has years of experience in predicting their movements, they can’t guarantee it 100%. That said, I can tell you that whenever we’ve taken a dolphin and whale-watching tour here, we’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few of them, so I’m sure you will, too!
8. Puerto de Mogán, another spectacular place to see in Gran Canary, Spain
Puerto de Mogán, located on the southwestern coast of the island, is another popular place to see in Gran Canaria. One of its main attractions is the ravines surrounding it, and Veneguera and Mogán are the most impressive.
Along with numerous trails between the ravines and natural scenery, there is also a wide beach with crystal clear water where you can swim, sunbathe, and practice watersports. You can also book this boat excursion to see the cliffs of Puerto Mogán and snorkel off the coast. The tour also includes a Spanish tapa tasting, so I highly recommend it!
An interesting fact about this town is that it experiences the highest number of sunny days per year in the Canary Islands, so it’s one of the nicest places in Gran Canaria. This area is also known as “Little Venice” or “Venice of the Canaries” because of the canals that intersect some of the streets.
9. Valle de Agaete, another area with more to do in Gran Canaria, Spain
The Valle de Agaete is another beautiful place in Gran Canaria, and it’s known for its plantations, particularly the ones that produce coffee, oranges, and other tropical fruits.
The homes in this area still maintain their traditional appearance, even after years of restoration. Seeing them dispersed among the coffee plantations creates one of the most scenic places on the island. In fact, Valle Agaete is one of the top sites in Gran Canaria and all of the Canaries, for growing coffee beans, and the coffee from here is said to be the best in the country!
If you have time, I suggest also visiting the town of Agaete, where you can see the lovely Huerto de las Flores, a botanical garden with over 100 different plant species from all over the world. Alternatively, if you’re short on time, this guided excursion from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Valle Agaete and nearby towns is also very good.
10. Arucas, another city to visit in Gran Canaria
Something to see in Gran Canaria if you have time is the town of Arucas, which is known for its many green spaces. In fact, it has been nicknamed the City of Flowers for all its lovely natural areas.
One of the top attractions in Arucas is the Parque Municipal de las Flores, which has over 200 native and exotic species, as well as a laurel forest. Another good place for sightseeing in Gran Canaria is the Marquesa Garden in Arucas, which features 500 plant species.
Be sure to take advantage of your time in Arucas to see its historic center, which has the Church of San Juan Bautista, built in the Gothic style. It’s in the Plaza de San Juan, where you will find other buildings of great historical value. Another can’t-miss is the Arucas Park and the Heredad de Aguas y Firgas neighborhood.
Finally, if you’d like to grab a coffee or explore the bars and shops in the area, I definitely recommend León y Castillo Street, one of the liveliest parts of Arucas.
11. Firgas, another attraction to see in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Firgas is another must-see in Gran Canaria since it’s said to be one of the island’s most charming towns. It’s in the northern region of Gran Canaria, next to Barranco de Azuaje, a gorgeous nature reserve with walking trails. It’s one of the best tourist attractions in Gran Canaria, especially for nature and hiking lovers.
Within the town of Firgas, you’ll also find a historic center with iconic buildings like Casa de la Cultura, the Hermitage of San Juan de Ortega, and the Dominican Convent of San Juan de Ortega. These last two have important religious significance in Firgas.
The Plaza de San Roque is also another interesting area, especially because from here you have some of the best views of the island’s northern coast, with Tenerife and Fuerteventura in the distance. Of course, if you want to see those two islands, you’ll need another full day.
12. Tamadaba Natural Park, the best place to hike in Gran Canaria
Tamadaba Natural Park is another cool thing to see in Gran Canaria. In addition to being one of the wildest parts of the island, it’s the only place to find some endangered species of birds.
The defining characteristic of this park is the Tamadaba pine forest and the rock formations, which feature ravines and cliffs. The formations create an impressive landscape and one of the top tourist attractions in Gran Canaria, Roque Faneque. At over 3,300 feet high, it provides a birds-eye view of much of the island, although it’s not for you if you’re afraid of heights.
One of the most popular things to do here is to go to the Mirador del Balcón, an amazing spot to see the cliffs shaped like a dragon’s tail. Without a doubt, this natural park is one of the best landmarks in Gran Canaria, so I recommend planning some time to visit it, especially if you enjoy nature walks.
13. El Bufadero de La Garita, a unique place to go in Gran Canaria
Visiting El Bufadero de La Garita is another fun thing to do in Gran Canaria, as I’m sure you’ll find the coastal rock formations and geology fascinating. Located in the Telde municipality, this area includes basalt cliffs, volcanic tubes, and a natural pool that occasionally shoot water like a geyser. In reality, it’s a result of the tides and waves pushing through the rocks.
While the region is great for sightseeing in Gran Canaria, it can be a dangerous and slippery place, so swimming here is strictly prohibited.
14. Amadores Beach and other must-see beaches in Gran Canaria
If you want to visit some of the best beaches in Gran Canaria, you can’t miss Amadores Beach. It’s in Puerto Rico and is known for its crystal-clear blue waters and fine white sand. Coming here is one of the best things to do in Gran Canaria with kids since the waves are calm and shallow.
Maspalomas Beach in Maspalomas Dunes Nature Reserve is another must-see in Gran Canaria. You can find it between the Maspalomas Lighthouse and Playa del Inglés. That beach is ideal for surfing, and if you’re inexperienced, you can book a lesson here.
Along with all these famous beaches, there is Las Canteras Beach, which is the perfect place to do this snorkeling tour. I also recommend Gran Canaria’s smallest beach, the charming Tufia Beach; and Güi Güi Beach, which is part of a UNESCO-declared Biosphere Reserve.
15. Barranco de las Vacas, another amazing place to experience in Gran Canaria
Barranco de las Vacas, or Las Vacas Ravine, is another point of interest in Gran Canaria that will leave you awestruck. We didn’t expect to see such a place in Gran Canaria, but its landscapes reminded us of Antelope Canyon in the U.S.
One of the main attractions here is Tobas de Colores, intriguing rock formations surrounding a short walking trail. It’s best to visit this place early in the morning to avoid the crowds, or else it’s quite overwhelming.
While you’re there, you can also visit the Temisas Astronomical Observatory, one of the coolest tourist attractions in Gran Canaria. It’s one of the most breathtaking places on the island to see the stars, and it’s actually a designated Starlight Tourist Destination.
Where to stay in Gran Canaria
If you’re going to be in Gran Canaria for several days, the Occidental Margaritas hotel is one of the best options. It’s in the same town as Playa del Inglés, so you’ll be close to the beach and the Maspalomas Dunes, two must-sees in Gran Canaria. Another excellent accommodation is Hotel Riu Palace in Maspalomas, which is home to the Las Dunes Interpretation Center.
The H10 Playa Meloneras Palace is also in the southern part of the island, so if any of the above hotels are fully booked, I recommend staying there. If you’d like to stay somewhere in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, to the north, I recommend the Silken Saaj Las Palmas.
Gran Canaria visitor information
Now that you know what to see in Gran Canaria, as well as the best accommodations, I’d like to give you some extra info to help you organize your trip.
How to get to Gran Canaria
There is an airport on Gran Canaria’s east coast, and it receives incoming flights from the peninsula, the other Canary Islands, and a few European cities. So, you’ll have no problems getting here by plane. We always use the Kiwi and Skyscanner websites to find the cheapest flight deals.
You can also get to Gran Canaria by boat from any other Canary Island. The Port of Las Palmas, also known as Puerto de la Luz y Las Palmas, is one of the most important in the Canary Islands. What’s more, there are ships that arrive from different parts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas. That said, if you’re coming from any of these continents, I recommend taking a place since it’s faster and much more comfortable. We use the Direct Ferries website to make boat reservations between the Canary Islands.
How to get around Gran Canaria
The most practical way to get around Gran Canaria is by rental car. Having your own vehicle allows you to move around the island as you wish, and you can explore more remote places without having to stick to a tour or bus schedule. We always book through Rentalcars, which guarantees the best prices.
If you don’t want to drive, the island has a good public transport system, so you can still reach the main tourist attractions in Gran Canaria. The public transportation network is managed by Global, and you can check schedules, prices, and bus routes here.
Where to eat in Gran Canaria
Believe me when I say that you’ll have no issues finding good restaurants in Gran Canaria.
My top recommendation in the capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is Deliciosa Marta. The prices are a bit high, but the dishes are incredible. If you’re looking for something cheaper, you can go to Las Lagunetas, one of the top-rated restaurants on the island. I recommend the churros de pescado, their signature dish and one of the best food to try on the Canary Islands.
In the center of the island, specifically in Firgas, the best restaurant you will find is Asador La Caldera. If you decide to eat here, try to arrive before 2 pm to avoid long wait times.
There are also great restaurants to the south, such as El Senador, which is right in front of Maspalomas Beach. Here you will find typical Canarian food, as well as some Mediterranean and international dishes. Allende 22° in Playa del Inglés is another good choice, particularly for the tapas.
Besides the ones I’ve mentioned, you’ll find plenty more restaurants on the island. So, regardless of where you go in Gran Canaria, you’ll eat well!
Map of Gran Canaria
To end this guide, here is a map with all the points of interest in Gran Canaria. You’ll also find the hotels, restaurants, and other sites I mentioned.
I hope this guide helps you plan an amazing trip to Gran Canaria. If you have any questions, leave me a comment below, and I’ll do my best to help. Have a fun time in Gran Canaria!