We have always been fans of summer temperatures and the scorching sun, which is why we almost every winter, or this year more likely autumn, escape to a warm place… sometimes far away, but this time a little bit closer. We’re still in Europe, but by looking at the map, it’s hard to believe that this place is still part of the old continent. So, where did we look for warm weather and sunshine in the midst of our “almost” winter? In the Canary Islands – specifically on Gran Canaria, the main of the seven islands that make up the Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean along the southern coast of Morocco.
We flew to Gran Canaria in early November directly from Venice. A barely 5-hour long flight on a low-budget airplane may not sound like a very pleasant experience, but when you think that the sun, sea and temperatures of up to almost 30°C await you at your final destination, you just have to be patient. You think we were bored on the plane? Don’t worry… Liam entertained us and a quarter of the other passengers on the plane there and on the way back home 😊
The entire Canary Islands are extremely popular with tourists practically throughout the year, and the same goes for Gran Canaria… as a result, the choice of accommodation itself is wide. Based on what we have seen and experienced, we would suggest that you look for your hotel or apartment in the south part of the island, because it was quite windy in the north and northeast throughout our vacation and visiting those places was not the most pleasant from that point of view. You may therefore prefer to look for accommodation in the vicinity of Puerto Rico, Puerto de Mogan or Maspalomas. We chose a great apartment (link) in the small tourist town of Taurito.
If you are not willing to just lie on the beach or by the hotel pool, we suggest that you rent a car from one of the local agencies to explore the island. This way you will be significantly more mobile and you will not waste your precious time waiting for next bus to come and take you to your next destination. The roads are very well maintained, and you will mostly find a parking within a minute or two wherever you go.
What to see anyway? We spent a week exploring mainly the southern, eastern and central parts of the island, where more or less all the main attractions and cities that are “worth” visiting are located. Perhaps the best place to start is in the southwest of the island in the picturesque town of Puerto de Mogan, where colorful houses, numerous restaurants and bars accompany you as you walk along the main promenade right next to the harbor. To make your trip a little more interesting, visit the city on Friday, because that’s when the market takes place, and you will be able to buy various souvenirs, clothes and all the other things that, of course, are great for collecting dust at home 😊
One of the main attractions on the island are definitely the sand dunes, Dunas de Maspalomas in the town of the same name. When you find yourself in this huge sandbox, which by the way is a paradise for children, you still find it hard to believe that something like this can be found in Europe. The whole thing is more reminiscent of the Sahara Desert. If you manage to find a parking space, you can go to Playa de Maspalomas beach nearby and walk to the Faro de Maspalomas lighthouse.
If you can’t pass up shopping and good food on your trip, visit Puerto Rico… this tourist-besieged city has quite a few shopping centers and tons of restaurants, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. The town also has its own beach. In any case, regarding the beach, we also suggest the neighboring one, called Playa de Amadores. It is an endlessly long sandy beach with a well-maintained parking lot, sunbeds, umbrellas, restaurants and basically everything you need for carefree enjoyment by the sea.
If you would like to get away from touristy things and retreat to the green nature, maybe even go on some trekking along slightly higher routes, then visit the highest peak of Gran Canaria, Pico de las Nieves, which can boast of 1,949 meters above sea level. Oh, don’t worry… you can also get there by car, directly to the top 😊 There are many forest paths all around, which also lead you to the famous volcanic rock Roque Nublo, which was worshiped by the original inhabitants of the island.
In addition to all the tourist attractions and cities on the island, there are also cities that can boast with rich history and are interesting for those of us who don’t like lying on the beaches and by the pools all day. The twin towns, Firgas, Arucas, located on the way from the central to the northern part of the island, are definitely worth a visit. In Firgas, you can get to know everything about the Canary Islands by walking just one single street, as the stepped street has been decorated with reliefs of individual islands and the main attractions illustrating the islands have been painted on ceramic tiles. Arucas is famous for its huge and beautiful cathedral, and for the Arehucas rum distillery, which has been operating since 1884. You can find their products in practically every store on the island. Of course, you can also organize a tour of the distillery… well, it also includes a rich tasting, but we didn’t think it was feasible with a small child 😃
If you get tired of walking around the cities and lying on the beach, you can visit the smaller zoo called Palmitos Park, which is known mainly for its many birds and dolphins. The entrance fee may be a bit high (35€ per person), but it also includes shows with parrots, other birds and dolphins. The last one was definitely the highlight of our visit.
Nevertheless, we were most impressed by the really huge and beautifully arranged Poema del Mar aquarium in the capital city of Las Palmas, where you can see all kinds of fish, sharks, turtles and other animals that can be found in the seas all over the world. A really great adventure, where Liam enjoyed like never before. Entrance fee? 27€ per person. Worth it!
You should combine a visit to the aquarium with a walk through the streets of the capital, especially through the old part of the city called de Vegueta. Here you can see the Cathedral of St. Anne and walk along the most famous Triana street, where you can find all kinds of shops of various brands, restaurants… to make walking a little more interesting and fun, in addition to the above, the street has also been populated by many street artists.
Well, that’s how we spent a week approx. 4.000 kilometers away from home. Gran Canaria definitely surprised us in a very positive way and our vacation was even better than we had imagined. The weather certainly played its part as well, as we were always accompanied by the sun and just the right summer temperatures. Will we ever come back? Why not! The Canary Islands are a really great choice for a relatively cheap escape away from our cold winter days. So – we say yes three times to Gran Canaria! 😊
S & B & L
Our travel period: November 2023