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When visiting Gran Canaria don't forget to see and experience the museums, galleries, Bars, Lounges, Restaurant and vibrant cafe society of this area!

Top Places to Visit

For a relatively small island, Gran Canaria has an impressive list of things to do while on holiday, provided visitors can tear themselves away from the stunning beaches and their water sports. The buzzing tourist resorts all have charms of their own and the natural beauty of the island and its unique eco-systems have led to much of the land being designated as a protected bio-reserve by UNESCO.

Given its long history, it’s no surprise that Las Palmas, the island’s capital, has a number of impressive landmarks, interesting museums, a stunning cathedral and picturesque old quarter, and Playa de las Canteras, the 2.5-mile beach which is the city’s symbol. Everything from surfing to sunbathing keeps visitors busy during the day, and the nightlife around Parque Santa Catalina keeps going until late.

Aguimes Old Town is a picturesque reminder of earlier times on the island, with pretty painted houses set in well-preserved medieval streets and a fine neoclassical basilica in the main square. The town is famous for its international theatre Festival du Sur, which attracts companies from Europe, Africa and the Americas.

For a day out having fun, Gran Canaria offers a selection of theme parks and water parks which areperfect for family visits. Maspalomas holds most of the attractions, including Aqualand, Holiday World, Aqua Sur, Sioux City and Palmitos Park, and San Nicolas de Tolentino is home to Cactualdea Park. Crocodile Park in Aguimes is an all-time favourite.

Playa des Ingles is another popular visitor destination, with July and August given over to the 18-30s set arriving for the vibrant nightlife. The huge resort boasts a casino complete with Las Vegas-style entertainment as well as a great choice of dance clubs, pubs, bars and eateries. For upscale delights, Meloneras district is the place to go.

What to see

One of the most visited natural wonders on the island is the nature reserve of the Dunes of Maspalomas, raised over hundreds of years with sand blown from the Sahara Desert. This mini-desert is fronted by the ocean and its peaks and troughs change daily with the wind. Maspalomas itself is a hive of luxury hotels and resorts.

Gran Canaria’s volcanic scenery tells of the island’s fiery formation, with remnants in the form of the vast calderas of Tirajana and Tejeda, Bandama’s crater and volcanic cones, and other hot spots scattered across the landscape. The weird moonscapes make for great hiking and eco-tourist destinations.

The amazing geological diversity of Gran Canaria is now preserved and protected as a UNESCO bio reserve covering over 40 per cent of the island, and is its most famous feature. Six traditional rural communities live within its borders, and the region is home to many unique species of flora and fauna, as well as diverse bird species. The coastline is a magical land of contrasts and the reserve extends far out into the ocean, protecting the delicate marine life.

El Museo Canaria is the island’s fascinating museum, displaying a fine collection of pre-Hispanic artefacts dating between 500 BC and the 16th century. Set in an attractive old building, the museum was founded in 1879 to preserve the indigenous culture of the island. Highlights include images of pagan gods, jewellery, tools, pottery, skulls and skeletons, and mummies related to the Guanche peoples, the aboriginal occupants of the island before the Spanish arrived.

The Casa de Colon in Vegueta is the most famous historic building on Gran Canaria for its links with Christopher Columbus, who visited the island in 1492. Once part of the original Spanish Governor’s residence, the mansion is set in a tiny square and surrounded by charming smaller homes.


The many years as a popular holiday destination have developed Gran Canaria into a multi-choice visitor hub, with entertainment to suit all tastes set in the main southern tourist resort towns. The most popular choice for young visitors looking for lively nightlife is Playa des Ingles, with its 50 discos and dance clubs, as well as a great selection of bars and pubs. The fun goes on all year round here, with Playa des Ingles famous as a winter playground for Europe’s gay community.

Las Palmas beats its own nightlife drum, with its centre packed with a good choice of bars, pubs, discos, hot floor shows and other entertainment options. The scene starts around 22:00 and ends in bars at 02:00, with clubs and discos partying on until 06:00. The hottest night spots are near Plaza de Espana, set in Mesa y Lopez district. Las Palmas’ entertainment malls are fun, with small nightclubs, eateries, bars and cinemas showing the latest movies.

The smaller beach resort of Puerto Rico is no less lively after dark than its larger rivals, with the clubs here opening around midnight and the bars open all day until late. Sports and British TV bars are popular here, and once the game’s over or the soaps have finished, DJs take over so that punters can dance until they drop. For a quieter evening, the bars around the old harbour are good for local wines, beers, conversation and people-watching.

For upscale, sophisticated nightlife in luxury resorts and hotels, Maspalomas is the place. Dressing to the nines for the see and be seen culture is the norm in this tourist town set adjacent to riotous Playa des Ingles. If you’re allergic to all-night noise, Arguineguin is a rurally-located, small resort with harbourside bars and eateries offering lots of choice of food and drink.

Eating Out

Canarian cuisine reflects both its ancient Guanche origins and the influence of Spain, with a touch of South America for good measure. Fresh, locally-grown vegetables, meats and seafood, and the staple, "gofio", a finely stone-ground mix of barley, wheat and maize, form the basis of most local dishes, with meats usually served in stews.

Local restaurants often own their own fishing boats, which go out early each morning for the day’s catch of lobsters, crab and various fish, thus making sure their offerings are as fresh and as delicious as possible. Olive oil is as important here as in Mediterranean resorts, and many dishes are served with piquant sauces that are rich in flavour. Recipes using sardines are a speciality along the northern coast.

Gran Canaria’s many resort towns offer a wide selection of international foods including British and Scandinavian favourites. Asian restaurants serving Indian, Thai, Japanese and Chinese food are easily found, and fast food outlets are common. Serving tapas (called "enyesques" here) before a main meal is a tradition here, as it is in mainland Spain, and Spanish wines and beers are offered in all eateries.

The best way to source authentic Canarian food is by watching out for restaurants with local customers. As with all tourist destinations, the culinary gems may well be located outside the main tourism areas and away from the picturesque harbours, but are well-worth the search. If you’re keen on Spanish food in general, there are eateries all over the island serving regional specialities from the mainland.


Gran Canaria is the second most populous island of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago, with a population of 838,397 which constitutes approximately 40% of the population of the archipelago.

Population: 838,397 (2010)
Area: 602 sq miles (1,560 km²)
Province: Province of Las Palmas
Island group: Canary Islands.

Useful Links

Aeropuerto de Gran Canaria / Car Hire Pickup Location
The Gran Canaria official tourism website

Video Intro

Gran Canaria. El Timelapse. (David Navarro Azurmendi) / CC BY 3.0