The Canarian locals affectionately call the island “El Continente en Miniatura,” meaning the “miniature continent” in English. This nickname stems from the fact that Gran Canaria, spanning 1,560 square kilometers, is an all-in-one diverse array of landscapes condensed.
On this island, you’ll encounter a remarkable range of natural wonders. From beaches and Sahara-like dunes to awe-inspiring rock formations defying gravity, Gran Canaria offers a multitude of breathtaking sights. The landscape also boasts towering mountain peaks and dramatic canyons, interspersed with ancient caves that once served as homes for the island’s early inhabitants millenniums ago.
No matter how many times you’ve explored Gran Canaria, there are always hidden gems waiting to be discovered that will leave you in awe. To make things easy for you, we compiled them for you below. Bookmark this page.
Note, for many, it is easier to rent a car. Or you can buy excursions which provides pick up from your accommodation.
Charco de San Lorenzo offers a serene escape amidst Gran Canaria’s natural beauty. This hidden gem located by Moya features natural pools, therapeutic waters, and scenic hiking trails, making it a tranquil paradise for nature lovers.
Immerse yourself in the mineral-rich waters of Charco de San Lorenzo, believed to have healing properties. Let the turquoise waters rejuvenate you and wash away the stresses of everyday life. Indeed, it offers a peaceful and secluded atmosphere, away from crowded tourist spots. Relax, connect with nature, enjoy a picnic, and embrace the untouched beauty of this oasis.
Location: North of the island. 50 minutes from Maspalomas by car.
Barranco de Las Vacas also known as Barranco de Barafonso is a one-of-a-kind canyon in the Canary Islands, sculpted by the gentle touch of water over time. This unique geological makeup gives the ravine its mesmerizing curves, flowing like a work of art made of colored stone, which refers to the captivating array of hues—ranging from shades of red to beige and terra cotta—that transform with the shifting sunlight throughout the day.
It is situated on the southeastern side of the island, only 25 minutes away from Maspalomas by car.
Roque Nublo is an iconic landmark and natural rock formation. Rising approximately 80 meters tall, it stands majestically amidst the rugged landscapes of the island’s interior. The name “Roque Nublo” translates to “Clouded Rock,” as the formation is often surrounded by clouds, creating a mystical and awe-inspiring sight.
Visitors to Roque Nublo can enjoy panoramic views of the island’s dramatic landscapes, including sweeping vistas of mountains, valleys, and the vast Atlantic Ocean. The area surrounding Roque Nublo is also popular for hiking, with well-marked trails allowing visitors to explore the natural beauty of the region.
Roque Nublo holds cultural and historical significance as well. It was regarded as a sacred place by the indigenous Guanche people, who inhabited the Canary Islands before the arrival of the Spanish. Today, it stands as a beloved symbol of the island’s identity.
Overlooking Tejeda, it provides a splendid 360° view of the landscape surrounding the monolith.
Many visitors to Gran Canaria make it a point to visit Roque Nublo itself, not only for its geological and historical significance but also for the breathtaking views and the sense of awe it inspires. It is a place that truly showcases the natural beauty and grandeur of this remarkable island in the Canary archipelago.
Location: center of the island. About one hour from Maspalomas by car.
Also read our full article about Roque Nublo here.
Vegueta and Triana are two historic districts located in the city of Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria. These neighborhoods are known for their rich history and charming streets reminiscent of Sevilla and Andalusia.
Vegueta is the oldest part of the city and holds great historical and cultural importance. It was the original settlement founded in the 15th century when the Spanish conquistadors arrived on the island. The district is characterized by its well-preserved traditional architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and pittoresque squares. Walking through Vegueta feels like stepping back in time, with its historic buildings and beautifully restored facades. Key attractions in Vegueta include The Casa de Colón (Christopher Columbus house) and the Plaza de Santa Ana.
Located adjacent to Vegueta is Triana, another vibrant and historic neighborhood. It was historically known as the commercial and trading center of the city and is now a main district with lively streets lined with shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. It offers a mix of traditional traditional Canarian architecture and modern amenities, creating a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere. It’s a great place for shopping, dining, and exploring the local culture.
Vegueta and Triana together form a captivating blend of history, culture, and architectural beauty. Exploring these districts will allow you to delve into the rich heritage of Gran Canaria and experience the vibrant ambiance of the island’s capital city.
More about that and Las Palmas on this link.
Location: North of the island. 40 minutes from Maspalomas, by car.
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Puerto de Mogán, a pittoresque coastal fishing village, often referred to as “Little Venice of the Canary Islands”, captivates visitors with its charming canals, vibrant marina, and relaxed atmosphere. It is renowned for its postcard-worthy beauty and has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.
The village features a network of canals that wind through its narrow streets, adorned with colorful flowers and white buildings. Small arched bridges connect the walkways, creating a cute ambiance. The canals are lined with seafood restaurants, cafes, and shops, where visitors can enjoy the local cuisine.
At the heart of Puerto de Mogán is its marina, where boats and yachts sway in the clear waters, with people enjoying waterfront dining and shopping. It’s a delightful spot to relax, people-watch, and soak in the maritime charm of the village.
Puerto de Mogán also hosts a popular weekly market every Friday. The market fills the streets with stalls selling local produce, crafts, clothing, and more. An opportunity to get a taste of the local flavors and traditions.
Location: Southwest of the island. Only 20 minutes from Maspalomas by car. Tip: type “Playa de Mogan” in the GPS and not “Puerto de Mogan” since Google Maps often mixes it up with another town called Mogan.
More about Puerto de Mogan here.
Bandama Caldera is a crater formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. It is considered a significant natural landmark of Gran Canaria. It stretches over 1,000 meters in diameter and plunges 200 meters deep, creating a striking and impressive sight.
It is surrounded by rugged cliffs and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the Atlantic Ocean, and the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
There are hiking trails that wind their way through the crater, allowing to explore the unique ecosystem within. The crater is known for its fertile volcanic soil, which nurtures the growth of diverse plant species, including Canary Island pine trees and vibrant wildflowers.
Its impressive size, panoramic views, and rich geological history make it a popular attraction for nature lovers and hikers.
Location: Norteast of the island. 40 minutes from Maspalomas by car.
More about Bandama Caldera here.
Puerto de Las Nieves is a coastal village situated near the town of Agaete. It offers a tranquil and pittoresque retreat along the island’s rugged coastline.
One of the notable features of Puerto de Las Nieves is its natural pools filled with seawater. These pools provide a unique opportunity to swim and relax in a stunning natural setting. They are particularly popular due to their therapeutic properties and the mineral-rich waters they contain.
The village is also known for its scenic cliffs making for captivating sights.
Puerto de las Nieves offers a peaceful atmosphere, with a small harbor where fishing boats and yachts can be seen. Strolling along the promenade, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the surrounding cliffs, and the charming village itself. The waterfront area is dotted with cozy seafood restaurants and cafes, offering an opportunity to savor local delicacies.
Whether it’s enjoying the natural pools, marveling at the cliffs, savoring fresh seafood, or simply taking in the tranquility of the coastal setting, Puerto de las Nieves offers a serene escape from the busier tourist areas of Gran Canaria. It invites visitors to appreciate the beauty of nature, immerse themselves in the local culture, and enjoy a peaceful retreat along the island’s captivating coastline.
Location: the northwest coast of Gran Canaria, 1 hour from Maspalomas by car.
With its rich history, cultural heritage, and natural beauty, Gáldar is a town which offers a diverse range of attractions and experiences.
Gáldar is known for its traditional architecture and historical landmarks. Its historic center is characterized by its Canarian houses, some of which have been converted into museums and cultural centers. These spaces offer visitors the opportunity to delve into the history and cultural heritage of Gáldar and the Canary Islands.
Gáldar is home to the archaeological site of Cueva Pintada (Painted Cave), a unique attraction that provides insight into the island’s pre-Hispanic Guanche civilization. The site features ancient caves adorned with intricate geometric paintings, showcasing the artistic and cultural achievements of the indigenous inhabitants of Gran Canaria.
The natural beauty surrounding Gáldar is also worth exploring. The nearby Agaete Valley is known for its fertile lands and agricultural produce, particularly its coffee plantations and tropical fruit orchards. Visitors can experience the region’s natural bounty and even sample locally grown products.
Gáldar also has natural pools located in the coastal area of El Agujero.
Location: northwestern coast of Gran Canaria, 1 hour from Maspalomas, by car.
Arucas is a town known for its architectural beauty, historical sites, and agricultural heritage, Arucas offers a unique and charming experience.
The town is also home to the Arehucas Rum Distillery, which has been producing rum since the late 19th century. You can take guided tours of the distillery to learn about the rum-making process, explore the aging cellars, and sample a variety of delicious rum products.
Arucas is renowned for its beautiful botanical garden, the Jardín de la Marquesa de Arucas. The garden showcases a wide variety of plants and flowers, including exotic species from around the world. It offers a serene and picturesque setting for leisurely walks and moments of relaxation.
As an agricultural town, Arucas is surrounded by fertile lands and is particularly known for its banana plantations. Visitors can witness the cultivation and production of bananas firsthand, and even taste the sweet, locally grown fruits.
The historic center of Arucas features charming streets lined with traditional Canarian houses, some adorned with beautiful wooden balconies and colorful facades. Exploring the town’s streets allows you to soak up the authentic atmosphere and admire the architectural details.
One of the attractions in Arucas is the stunning Church of San Juan Bautista, the biggest one in Gran Canaria. This neo-Gothic church stands as an architectural masterpiece, with its intricate stone carvings, towering spires, and impressive interior. The church is a prominent symbol of Arucas and is often referred to as the “Cathedral of Arucas“.
Location: in the northern part of Gran Canaria, 50 minutes from Maspalomas by car.
Cenobio de Valerón is an archaeological site located in the municipality of Santa María de Guía. It is a unique site that provides a glimpse into the lives of the ancient indigenous Guanche people who inhabited the Canary Islands before the arrival of the Spanish.
Cenobio de Valerón is a fascinating network of interconnected caves used for storing crops, mainly grains, and other foodstuffs; carved into the cliffs and hillside.
It offers an opportunity to explore the ancient site and gain insights into the agricultural practices and societal structures of the Guanche people. Guided tours with interpretive panels, and exhibits that provide information about the cultural and historical significance of the complex are available.
Also, the surrounding area of Cenobio de Valerón offers picturesque views of the countryside, with lush greenery and rugged cliffs. You can enjoy hiking trails that lead to the site, immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the region.
Location: North of the island, 1 hour from Maspalomas by car. Tip: in Google Maps GPS, type “entrance to Cenobio de Valerón“.
Palmitos Park is a popular zoological and botanical park. It is nestled amidst lush greenery and offers an opportunity to explore a wide variety of exotic plants and animals.
The park is renowned for its diverse collection of plant species, including tropical plants, cacti, orchids, and palm trees. You can stroll through beautifully landscaped gardens, experiencing the rich botanical diversity and enjoying the vibrant colors and fragrances of the plants.
Palmitos Park is also home to a diverse variety of animal species from around the world. Visitors can observe various animals up close, including tropical birds, reptiles, mammals, and sea lions. The park features engaging animal shows, such as the spectacular bird of prey demonstration and the entertaining sea lion show.
One of the highlights of Palmitos Park is the Dolphinarium, where you can witness the intelligence and grace of dolphins.
Guided tours are available. You will get insights into the importance of biodiversity, conservation efforts, and the challenges faced by various species.
Location: South of the island, only 15 minutes from Maspalomas by car.