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Gran Canaria

Where to find the authentic Gran Canaria

By Jaymi McCann

29 February 20245 min read

A view of the village of Tejeda and surrounding countryside in Gran Canaria

Tejeda Seek out Gran Canaria's quieter side in its mountain villages.

With 320 sunny days every year and 240km (147 miles) of coastline, Gran Canaria might be the ultimate fly-and-flop destination.

But there is more to this pearl of an island than just beaches and bikinis, and if you go beyond the resorts, you’ll discover that a wealth of natural beauty, fascinating cultural sites, and delicious, authentic food are all there to discover.

Here’s where to find it on your next Gran Canaria holiday.

Agaete

Heading north in Gran Canaria is a sure-fire way to escape the crowds. The weather in the south is a little more predictable, so most of the larger resorts, replete with bars offering bingo, Eastenders and the obligatory full-English, are situated on the southern coast.

In contrast, the small town of Agaete in the north of the island still looks and feels like a traditional Spanish village. With picture-perfect whitewashed homes perched on green rolling hills, it’s the perfect antidote to some of the island's busier spots. Here, you’ll find winding lanes, peaceful squares and family-owned restaurants. A visit to The Maipés Necropolis archaeological site, an ancient cemetery with around 700 tombs, is a must for history-buffs.

Mountain towns

The real Gran Canaria sits in the mountain towns and villages that most tourists ignore on their way to the beach. Although you’ll need independent transport, they are perfect for exploring.

Veneguera is a tiny village with just two restaurants and a few pretty streets planted among dramatic hills with stunning views. Don't miss the El Cardonal of Veneguera, the island's largest cactus.

Montana Alta has a pretty church and stunning viewpoints, the pretty houses of Valsendero sit in a picturesque valley, and the winding road to Tejeda is well worth navigating. There are dozens to choose from all around the island.

Arinaga

If you want to escape the tourists but still prefer to stay by the sea, then Arinaga is the best of both worlds. An up-and-coming part of Gran Canaria's coastline, it doesn't see the same numbers of tourists as other areas. Enjoy the 2km (1.2 mile) walk connecting the Arinaga beach, the natural saltwater pools, and the original Zoco Negro badlands beach. Arinaga’s lighthouse is also worth stopping by.

Parque Rural de Doramas

The 3,500-hectare Doramas Rural Park is a protected space with huge environmental importance. It has a wide network of trails and offers the chance to really get close to the region's unique geology, flora and fauna. It has about 400 species of plants, of which 30 are endemic to Gran Canaria, and the landscape is made of wild ravines and volcanic cones.

You can also see the Canary short-eared owl, the Canary hawk and the Gran Canaria lizard. Named after a 15th-century aboriginal warrior, it’s home to the best-preserved laurel forests in Gran Canaria, as well as the Barreto Caves and the country estate La Finca de Osorio.

Teror

Teror is a unique little village whose name does it no justice. A pilgrimage town since 1481, it’s packed with history and religious sites but it’s Teror’s pretty, traditional buildings that are its main draw. Head to Calle Real de la Plaza to walk along the street with the town’s best examples, where wooden balconies cling to the facades of colourful houses.

The town is also famous locally for its pastries and bakeries offering all manner of Gran Canarian treats including aniseed buns, marzipan and turrones done Teror-style. Try to visit on a Sunday when a street market takes over the main square.

Playa del Confital

Gran Canaria is famed for its stretches of golden sand, but this beach is not like the others. A wild and rocky shoreline will greet you as you arrive at Confital, with a rugged beauty that feels intimate and desolate. It’s part of a protected nature reserve, and is perfect for spotting sea life like crabs, sea urchins, and anemones in rock pools.

Adventurous types will enjoy the fantastic surfing conditions, but even if board-life isn't for you, it’s always fun to watch.

Las Palmas

There’s so much more to see in Gran Canaria's capital of Las Palmas than a day trip from the southern resorts can offer.

Take in a show at the Teatro Pérez Galdós, tour one of the many churches and cathedrals that have opened their doors or visit the Casa de Colón. A temporary residence for Christopher Columbus before he set off for the Americas in the late 1400s, it’s now dedicated to the explorer, charting his journey and displaying everything from model ships to navigational instruments.

Don't leave without finding a traditional tapas restaurant, of which there are many, serving the island's local dishes like the flavoursome mojo sauce.

Gui Gui Beach

If seclusion is what you’re seeking, this little slice of heaven is for you. Sitting at the bottom of breathtaking cliffs, Gui Gui is only accessible by boat or by a 5km (3.1 miles) hike across the countryside.

A private beach with powdery sand leading to the invigorating Atlantic waters will be the reward for your efforts. A word of warning though – clothing is optional on Gui Gui.

Arucas

Arucas is less well known to outsiders than nearby Las Palmas, but it’s no less stunning. This northern town is home to Arehucas rum, and you can visit the 19th-century distillery where it’s still made right in town.

While you’re here, check out Gourie Park and Las Hespérides botanical garden, as well as the San Juan Bautista church, which contains beautiful French, Italian and Spanish art. Or, visit local natural wonders like the Mountain of Arucas, which bears down over the town.

Bull Astoria

  • Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain
  • 10 September 2024
  • Bed & breakfast
  • From Manchester

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

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