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Monday, 02 February 2015 15:21

Gran Canaria's Top Ten Unmissable Sights

The Maspalomas dunes: A must visit attraction in Gran Canaria The Maspalomas dunes: A must visit attraction in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria sells itself as a Miniature Continent, but this can make the place sound like one of those model villages that nobody visits. Be in no doubt that Gran Canaria's top sights are epic in scale and well worth visiting. 

 

Here's what we think are the islands Top Ten must-see sights.

The West Coast and the GC 200 road

The GC 200 west coast road in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria just stops along its west coast. One minute there's there's forests and rocks a kilometre up, then there's the ocean. The frankly ridiculous GC 200 road winds its away long the resulting cliffs between La Aldea de San Nicolas in the west and Agaete in the north-west corner. It's a hair-raising drive but once you've done it you'll never forget it. 

Follow the GC 200 from Mogan to Agaete for a sense of just how vast the island really is. 

The Maspalomas Dunes

dune dawn

As if Africa were trying to remind the world that while Gran Canaria is part of Europe it's geographical roots are deeply African: There's a little chunk of the Sahara right there in south Gran Canaria. It's not big enough to get lost or die of thirst in but you do get a dose of desert magic.

Go first thing in the morning before the beach crowds arrive and you'll have the dunes to yourself.

The Maspalomas dunes and beach

Las Canteras Beach

Las Canteras best 4 copy

Lots of cities of beaches but Las Palmas is the only one with a golden sweep of sand as spectacular as Las Canteras. It's a beach with everything from great waves to sheltered waters perfect for snorkelling. Becauyse it's slap bang in the middle of the city there's dozens of places to eat and drink right by the sand. 

You have to walk the length of Las Canteras beach if you visit Gran Canaria. Do it at sunset for the best views of Teide volcano on the horizon. 

How to choose your bit of Las Canteras beach

Roque Nublo

Roque Nublo Stars 007

From a distance Roque Nublo looks like a rock but when you hike up through the pine forest and get to it you realise that it's the mother of all rocks. How it's still standing we don't know as it's perched right on the edge of a vast drop. 

Get to the rock and then scramble to the little platform a few metres to its west. Make sure someone stays behind with a camera.

Visiting Roque Nublo

The Agaete Valley

agaete teide view

Gran Canaria's most tropical valley hides away in the north-west corner and gets more sunshine than anywhere else other than the southern resorts. It's got epic cliffs, little white villages, coffee, mangoes and wine and a superb fishing village and pebble beach at its mouth.

Spend the day in the Agaete Valley and you've seen the Gran Canaria that the locals love. Better still, spend a week there and get to know the locals. 

The Agaete Valley in detail

Vegueta

Vegueta old town in Gran Canaria is over 500 years old

The only European city that withstood a siege by stone age people, Vegueta hasn't changed much since the 15th Century. It's pretty, compact and stuffed with things to see and do like the Museo Canario and Casa de Colón. 

Don't just walk around Vegueta. Visit on a Thursday and stay for the tapas evening. You get a glass of wine or a beer and a tapa for two euros. And another, and another, etc.

Places to visit in Vegueta Old Town

The Guayadeque Ravine

Guayadeque Valley in Gran Canaria with almond blossom

This where you come to get an idea of the scale of Gran Canaria without having to drive far up it. The valley floor road has no steep drop offs and there's plenty of cave houses and churches to visit.

Right at the end of the road is the famous cave restaurant but Guayadeque doesn't stop here. Walk the loop path that starts from the car park for even more stunning views.

Visit Guayadeque in late January for the almond blossom and the deafening hum of the bees.

The Guayadeque Valley

A local fiesta

La Rama fiesta in Agaete

Pick a party, any party. Gran Canaria's local fiestas are as mad as anything in Mainland Spain. From 70,000 people parading through Agaete waving branches to 50,000 people running, fully clothed, into a lagoon, a trip to see Canarians having fun is essential.

Carnival lasts for a month, but there's a local fiesta or romeria most weekends during the summer months. Check our fiesta guide for your options.

The Top Ten local Gran Canaria fiestas.

The Jardin Canario

Jardin Canario botanical garden in Gran Canaria

 There's 600 unique species of plants in the Canary Islands and over 100 found only in Gran Canaria. To see them all in the wild takes years of hiking and cliff climbing but you can get an overview at the fantastic Jardín Canario or Canary Gardens.

This is the only place in the world where you can see the critically endangered Gran Canaria dragon tree. With forests, lakes and lawns its also a great place for a day out.

That's the ten, and we missed out plenty that deserve to be on the list. Teror town, Arucas and it's rum factory, Tejeda village, Bentaiga rock, etc. What do you think should be on the list? What should go? Let us know.

More on the Jardín Canario

Local Towns

Santa Lucia town in Gran Canaria

From the Gothic church (and rum factory) at Arucas, to the peaceful mountain atmosphere of whitewashed Tejeda, you don't know Gran Canaria until you've toured is towns and villages. Each one has its own character and attractions (and most have their own local dish or drink). 

See our list of the Top Ten Local Gran Canaria towns.

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