If you are lucky enough to be heading out to Gran Canaria sometime soon, you will find that the most diverse of the Canary Islands has plenty to keep you entertained for a week. Read on for our recipe for the perfect seven-day holiday in this island of white sand beaches and rural mountain scenery.
Day 1 – Hit the sun lounger
Gran Canaria is well-known for its beaches and with good reason, as there are so many to choose from. For your first foray onto the sea shore and to let all memories of your flight melt away, head to the likes of Playa del Ingles or Maspalomas Beach. These two stretches of sand are among the most famous on the island and offer a wide selection of amenities, as well as relaxing beach time.
The bars and restaurants lining the promenade at Playa del Ingles are prepped and ready to help ease you into that holiday spirit. Whether it is a fruity cocktail you are after or a delicious lunch, a stroll along this beach-side walkway will uncover whatever you require.
By the evening you will be ready to let your hair down and can stay in the area adjacent to Playa del Ingles for convenience. As well as Spanish classics such as patatas bravas and tortilla, be sure to indulge in some fresh octopus and squid, cooked in a variety of ways.
Day 2 – Explore the mountainous interior
Gran Canaria has been described as a continent in miniature and to understand this it is necessary to move away from the beach and explore another side of the island. Head into the interior and discover a world of mountainous scenery and well laid out hiking paths.
The beauty of these camino reales is that you can opt to walk for as long or short a distance as you like and you never know what you will find along the way. Climb Roque Nublo or Cloud Rock as it is translated into English and drink in the stunning views over the island.
Plan to stop for lunch at a mountain village, with Tejeda being a particularly good option, as it is well-known for its delicious regional cuisine. Refuel with potaje de jaramago, a wild rocket stew and finish your meal with a sweet bienmesabe, made from almonds.
If you have had enough walking for one day, spend the afternoon in the village of Artenara, which is the highest inhabited place on Gran Canaria. Its ingenious cave houses will have you spellbound and make you wonder why we ever moved away from living in caves in the first place.
Day 3 – Sample the charms of Las Palmas
After seeing the beach and mountainous sides of Gran Canaria, it is about time you took in its distinctive capital. Las Palmas is a lively place, with so much culture and atmosphere; you will find your day overflowing with wonderful experiences.
Spend some time wandering the streets of Vegueta, the original old town area, which will make you feel like you have stepped back in time. It is lovely not to have a plan and just allow your feet to take you wherever, but undoubtedly you will end up at the Cathedral of Santa Ana and the main square. All around here are stunning buildings that are bound to see you clicking away with the camera.
If you want to pick up some souvenirs or simply do a bit of shopping, head to Triana, which is the best street on Gran Canaria for bagging a bargain. This will leave you perfectly placed to enjoy dinner at Deliciosa Marta, where traditional Spanish and Canarian food is served up with style.
Then you will be ready to dance the night away at The Paper Club or go upmarket with some inventive cocktails at The Mansion. Remember that Gran Canaria functions on Spanish time, which means things really get going late and before you know it, the sun will be coming up once more.
Day 4 – Relax on a more secluded beach
If you spent the previous evening enjoying the famed nightlife of Las Palmas, then a day at the beach is exactly what you will need to get past any overindulgence. Instead of one of the well-known options, head for somewhere a little more secluded and relax in the tranquillity of such a pleasant natural setting.
Puerto de Mogan is perfect for this and you can swim in the crystal clear water. If you later feel the need to reconnect with people, head into the picturesque little village that backs onto the bay and perhaps seek out a seafood lunch.
The best places to enjoy the catch of the day can be found on Avenida de Casillete, which is just a short walk from the harbour. If you wish to stay for dinner too, there is a wide selection of restaurants to suit every taste in Puerto de Mogan, with local Canarian dishes on offer, as well as international cuisine.
Day 5 – Get out on, in or under the water
By day five on Gran Canaria you will be aware that the island has some wonderful beaches, but they are great for more than just sunbathing. Having fully relaxed by this point, now is a great time to enjoy some water sports.
There are myriad options available on the island from diving and surfing to jet skiing and paddle boarding. If you have a particular sport in mind, head to an area where it is offered, otherwise simply take up the options at the beach closest to you. If you don’t fancy anything quite so energetic, but still fancy spending a day away from the shore, hop on a boat for a tour around the coastline or to a neighbouring island.
Day 6 – Learn to cook the Canarian way
Those looking to take something more than just fabulous memories home from their holiday in Gran Canaria may wish to take a cooking class. There are various options available, with some taking you to the market in the morning to buy ingredients, before learning how to make the most of them in a farmhouse kitchen. Others include a walking element, but all involve wolfing down your creations and making new friends.
Another skill you may wish to bring back from your trip is a knowledge of wine and tasting the local beverage is a great way to learn about the landscape and nature of the region. Wine tours will take you to Gran Canaria’s finest vineyards and help you to distinguish the flavours imbued by the terrain and climate of the island.
Day 7 – Take in Telde, Gran Canaria’s second city
If you have some time to spare on your last day in Gran Canaria before heading to the airport, stop off at Telde to explore the island’s other city. Predating Las Palmas, this less-visited gem was established in 1351. Don’t be put off by a series of new developments when entering the city and instead head to the pretty neighbourhoods of San Juan and San Francisco.
Here the island’s oldest historical and cultural institutions can be found. Spend your last day on Gran Canaria discovering interesting churches, viewing exhibits in museums and generally taking everything in. Get your last taste of Canarian cuisine at Cinco Jotas, where the jamon Serrano, traditional Spanish ham will leave you wanting more.
If this itinerary looks like the perfect way to spend a week, start planning your Gran Canaria escape now.