Canary Island, Spain

Best Things to Do In Gran Canaria

This post was most recently updated on October 24th, 2021

The Canary Islands are a set of eight stunning Spanish islands just northwest of Africa. These islands are most known for their beautiful black and white sand beaches. 

The Island of Gran Canaria is nestled in between the larger island of Tenerife and the island of Fuerteventura. It’s exceptional natural beauty makes it a popular vacation spot amongst travellers looking to soak up the sun. 

There is an abundance of things to do on this island. For instance, you could tour the historical capital of Las Palmas, go shopping for the day, or work on your tan at one of the various holiday resorts.

Psst…If you’re keen on exploring beautiful beaches, head to Tenerife and explore its sandy shores. Interested in retiring to the Canary Island? Be sure to check out the cost of living in Tenerife.

What to Do In Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria has over 80 beaches, making it a sunbathers paradise. But there is much more to do than just lie on the beach. Some of the popular activities include dolphin and whale watching, snorkelling, and camel safari tours. 

You can also explore the history of the island and discover its traditional architecture unique to this area. Here are a few things we recommend trying out.  

Things to Do in Las Palmas

Las Palmas is a major port in Gran Canaria and is also the capital city. It’s known for its duty-free shopping, sandy beaches, history, and delicious food. 

Take a Stroll in the City Center

The island residents of Las Palmas are fortunate enough to enjoy the second-best climate in the world. Every day is a beautiful warm and sunny day!

Take advantage of the perfect weather and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the city’s historic centre. 

You can walk along the Avenida Maritima that connects to the fishing village of San Cristobal (which is said to be the best place to eat in the city), to Playa de Alcaravaneras, and the Triana shopping area. 

Discover the Botanical Gardens

One of the most beautiful attractions in Gran Canaria is their Jardin Botanico Viera y Clavijo. The garden is located just 4 miles from the city centre. 

It is approximately 27 acres and has around 500 plant species unique to Gran Canaria. Stroll around this incredible space and explore its impressive collection of flora. One popular attraction is the giant cacti. After take a break and sit around one of the small lakes or streams sprinkled throughout the park. 

Explore the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Urban Village

The urban village of Pueblo Canario is one of Gran Canaria’s best tourist attractions. This traditional Canarian village is in the centre of Las Palmas and features conventional Canarian architecture. 

Pueblo Canario is surrounded by the gardens and palm trees of Doramas Park. The central square hosts a display of free live music and dance performances every week. 

It is also home to one of Las Palmas best art galleries called the Museo Nestor. Be sure to check out the shops and restaurants where you can buy some souvenirs or try the traditional Canarian food. 

Hit the Beach

No visit to Gran Canaria would be complete without a visit to one of its beautiful beaches. And with just over 80 to choose from, you’re spoiled for choice. 

One of Spain’s best beaches is  Las Canteras. It’s also known as the “Changing Beach” because of its ever-changing scenery. 

Locals believe that this beach is one of the nation’s finest. And it’s only a few blocks away from the cruise terminal in Playas de Las Canteras. Plus it’s the perfect beach for both swimming and surfing.

Visit a Market

The island hosts a variety of daily and weekly markets ranging from fresh produce to handicraft stores where you can find the best souvenirs. 

The most popular market on the island is Mercado Central. It’s located in the Alcaravaneras neighbourhood. With 128 stalls, the Mercado Central is the largest market in Las Palmas. 

Another market that you can check out is the Mercado del Puerto. This one is located very close to the Las Canteras beach, and is home to a number of food stalls and tapas bars. Here you can enjoy some of the finest cuisine in Spain. 

Hangout in a Plaza

One of the best free things to do in Gran Canaria is to hang out in one of its plazas. Las Palmas is the 9th largest city in Spain and has no shortage of plazas to explore. 

Squares like the Plaza Cairasco are filled with numerous bars, restaurants, and ice-cream parlours. The perfect spot to grab a quick bite or drink.

Another plaza that you can check out is the historical Plaza del Pilar Nuevo. This is where the Craft and Culture market is held every Sunday. 

Visit the Vegueta Square

If you’re looking for a historical tour of Las Palmas, start in the picturesque square of Vegueta. This square is located next to the Santa Ana Cathedral. 

From here, you can follow the footsteps of the explorer Christopher Columbus and the Casa de Colon History Museum. The square also has a ton of galleries to explore, including the Centro de Cultura Contemporanea San Martin.

Things to Do In Gran Canaria Maspalomas

Maspalomas is a popular tourist resort located on the south end of Gran Canaria. Here’s what you can do if you’re in the area: 

Walk The Dunes at Maspalomas

Maspalomas is the second-longest beach in Gran Canaria and stretches from Bahia Feliz in the east to Meloneras in the west. 

One of Gran Canaria’s most popular tourist attractions is the sand dunes of Maspalomas. The dunes are situated in the Reserva Natural Especial de Las Dunas de Maspalomas, which has been declared a protected area since 1987. 

The dunes cover over 400 hectares that stretch from Playa de Maspalomas to Playa del Ingles. There are designated routes in the desert where you can walk and experience this incredible area. 

If walking across the desert sand is not for you, you could also opt for a 30-minute camel ride through the nature reserve. 

Visit the Maspalomas Lighthouse

One of the main points of interest in Gran Canaria is the 60m (197 ft) high Maspalomas Lighthouse. The lighthouse is situated at the end of Maspalomas Beach and is only 4 km (2 miles) from the town centre. 

Maspalomas Lighthouse is one of the oldest functioning lighthouses in Gran Canaria and is a very distinctive landmark that can be seen for about 35 km (19 nautical miles). 

Go On a Self-Guided E-Scooter Tour

If you’re looking for an exciting way to explore Maspalomas, why not rent an electric scooter and go on a self-guided tour? 

This is one of the best activities in Gran Canaria because you get to explore the island at your own pace. Discover some of the highlights around Maspalomas, such as the Dunes and Maspalomas Botanical Garden. 

If you’re unsure of where to go, each scooter comes with a mobile phone that has a guide map for you to follow to get the most out of your tour. 

What to See in Gran Canaria

Here are a few places that you might want to put on your bucket list when visiting Gran Canaria: 

Visit the Town of Firgas

The town of Firgas is located on the northern side of Gran Canaria, just 25 km (15-miles) from Las Palmas. 

If you’re interested in purchasing a traditional souvenir in Gran Canaria, Firgas is the perfect place to shop. The town is known for its various crafts, such as musical instruments made from wood. 

While here, be sure to visit the beautiful church of San Roque, the Plaza de San Roque, and the Paseo de Canarias. 

If you’re looking for a local treat, why not try the island’s famous watercress stew made from watercress grown in the area.

 Or some other options from the various restaurants are delicious platters of grilled beef, roast chicken, and chorizo alongside a range of chickpea dishes.

Check Out the Mirador del Balcon Viewpoint

Situated on the west coast of Gran Canaria is the awe-inspiring Mirador del Balcon. This lookout point is perched at the top of a series of sea cliffs and is also known as the “Dragon’s Tail” lookout.

Visiting the Mirador del Bacon is easily one of the top things to do in Gran Canaria. The views are spectacular and is definitely a not to be missed activity.

Visit Puerto de Mogan

Known as the “Little Venice” of Spain thanks to its canals, the picturesque fishing village of Puerto de Mogan on the southern end of Gran Canaria is one of the most visited places on the island. 

Make sure to take a walk along the town’s quiet streets. You’ll be able to see all the beautiful white houses decorated with a variety of colourful flowers hanging over their balconies. 

Next you can relax at the beach, tour the town’s sports pier, or even explore the sea in a yellow submarine. 

If you’re in the area on a Friday, be sure to check out the Puerto de Mogan Market. Here you can pick up souvenirs, clothes, shoes, or try some of the great local food. 

Find the Best Things to Do In Gran Canaria

The island of Gran Canaria is truly a remarkable place with a host of activities for everyone fortunate enough to visit. 

Whether you like to lay on the beach, explore the island’s wonderful plazas, try some exciting new food, or do something a little more adventurous, there’s certainly an activity for you.