The 10 Things to see on Gran Canaria for the different kind of adventurer. See something else, hidden gems or idyllic little towns. Article submitted by our Guest Blogger Callum.
10 ideas for the adventurer
Gran Canaria, a sub-tropical paradise off the African coast, basically just one big resort with amazing beaches, right? The question was rhetorical but the answer is NO. Gran Canaria has so much more to offer than golden sands, sunshine and sangria. Our tiny little dot on the map has something on offer for everyone. Below you will find 10 ideas for those of you who prefer to get off the beaten track and get to know why so many people who arrive at the airport decide never to leave (the very same thing that happened to me almost four years ago.)
Everyone that has visited Gran Canaria will be familiar with the GC-1; that smooth, wide stretch of motorway that links the capital with the airport and the southern resorts. The GC-210 is a different beast altogether; keep travelling along the motorway until the very end at Puerto de Mogán and then take a right. You will pass through the traditional village of Mogán and snake your way through mountainous scenery passing rocks of a surprising variety of colours.
Around halfway up the island you will spot signs for the GC-210. The road cuts across to reach the centre taking you on a breath taking, if slightly scary, journey to a different world. In parts the GC-210 looks like a wall of road as you climb up and descend various valleys. One thing to remember is that, whilst to you this is a crazy winding mountain road, to the locals it’s just THE road. If you notice a queue building behind you find a safe place to pull over and let them pass. This saves you the stress and pressure of constantly checking that rear view mirror allowing you to enjoy the experience.
Travelling along the GC-210 will take you to the impressive traditional village of Artenara. The highest village on Gran Canaria. Have a rest and a coffee break in one of the relaxing, cheap cafes in the town square before taking in the views of the centre of the island. Artenara and it’s surroundings will blow you away.
Pico de las Nieves
No visit to the island is complete without ascending to its highest point. Pico de las Nieves stands at 1949m above sea level and is also easily accessible. Park your car in a car park above the clouds and enjoy views of the island with Spains’ highest mountain, Mount Teide on Tenerife, in the distance. Pico de las Nieves is a great spot for star gazing and to watch the sun setting behind our neighbouring island. Even if you forget to bring your camera you will have memories to last a lifetime.
This 16th century village is also a must see. With its gothic style church, wide open squares and skinny little alleyways you will find yourself immersed in history. Agüimes was the inspiration behind one of the best hotels on the island, the Lopesan Villa del Conde. Again, the coffee is cheap, try something Canarian and order a Cafe Leche Leche, yes coffee milk milk! A sweet local delight with coffee, steamed milk and condensed milk even those of you with a sweet tooth shouldn’t need sugar! The statue work in Agüimes is one of the highlights of this quaint little place.
Whilst in the area of Agüimes another place to check out is the caves of Temisas. Take a stroll surrounded by sheer rock faces and lose yourself in the natural beauty of one of the hidden gems of Gran Canaria another place where a camara really is a must.
Charco Azul is another place with stunning natural beauty. The walk from El Risco is made worthwhile when you arrive at the glistening blue pool, which in the winter months, comes complete with a waterfall. Take a dip in the refreshing waters and savour the views all around you. Take the GC-2 from Las Palmas to join the GC-200 as it curves dramatically around the west coast. Park up at El Risco and follow the signs to enjoy this relaxing tranquil location. The ideal place to draw inspiration and cut off from the world.
You can’t mention water on Gran Canaria without thinking of Firgas. A northern village with a natural spring where the majority of the drinking water on the island originates from. Water is very much the theme here with a stunning mosaic fountain cascading down the steps. The detail and colours will leave you stunned and open jawed.
Botanical Gardens – Tafira
If you have been working your way down this list, ticking off places as you go then, no doubt, you would have seen a huge variety of plant life native to Gran Canaria. If you want to find all of these species in one place then visit the Botanical Gardens of Tafira. Here you will find an amazing array of plants and trees from Gran Canaria and the surrounding islands. A haven for botanists or those that enjoy relaxing in peace and quiet. The main part of the gardens are very accessible however if you really want to enjoy the views head up the small stone steps and enjoy green scenery for miles in every direction ( or kilometres if you really want to be local.)
La Fortaleza de Ansite
Gran Canaria has a vast cultural history dating back to pre-Hispanic times. La Fortaleza de Ansite is a natural fort that holds a special place in my heart. It was here that the Guanches, the aboriginal inhabitants of the island, finally succumbed to the Spanish conquest. Walking up the recently improved pathway from the car park you find yourself at the entrance of a cave that goes all the way through the rock.
From here you can walk round to the left and see cave dwellings and storage areas. A place that can, with a bit of imagination, take you back to the days of the Spanish conquest standing in the same places that were inhabited by Guanche warriors until they were finally overpowered by the Spanish forces. Legend says that the two Guanche leaders Faycán and Bentejuí decided they would rather die than be used as slaves so threw themselves from the top of La Fortaleza with a cry of “Atis terma” (for my land.)
Playa Ojos de Garza
Ok, so, Gran Canaria isn’t just about beaches but we do have some fantastic ones. The locals seem to use this beach as a garden, which has got to be a fantastic way to grow up. Ojos de Garza is also a great place for plane spotters. Situated just North of the airport this natural beach allows you to see various types of aircraft leaving LPA, at close range. Granted, that doesn’t make it the most peaceful place to be. If you get hungry whilst on the beach there is a great little restaurant at the Northern end. A stroll along the path running past the restaurant to take in the views and reflect at the monument to the deadliest aviation accident in history. On a lighter note, at the Southern end you will find a cool display of recycled art made from all kinds of items deemed rubbish by others.
There is so much to discover!
There is so much discover on this wonderful island that I call home that it is difficult to narrow it down to 10 choices but I hope the 10 above will inspire some of you to get out there and discover more of what Gran Canaria has to offer. Happy exploring…