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Der Strand von Puerto Rico, Bild: Valery Bareta / shutterstock

Gran Canaria – a continent in miniature

Fishermen chug out to sea in their boats, tomato pickers harvest delicious fruits, donkeys pull the ploughs through golden-yellow terraced fields in the mountains, between banana trees the gaze is directed at men who gracefully swing their machetes and traffic jams in the streets of Las Palmas – between mountains and ocean: Gran Canaria begins the day.

Tejeda, Gran Canaria
Tejeda, Image: kelifamily / shutterstock

The almost circular island in the Atlantic Ocean is not exactly reminiscent of a continent. However, Gran Canaria is often referred to as such, because different levels of vegetation can be found in a very small area: sand dunes as high as houses, many shells ground into sand, cloud rocks, bizarre cliffs, extensive pine forests and burnt-out volcanic craters. Warm and clean sea, white beaches, pleasant temperatures – what the holiday guide promises – the island sticks to it.

Picturesque mountain lakes in the back room, the Atlantic Ocean on the doorstep – Gran Canaria on the Canary Islands in Spain offers both.

Between green hills, wild gorges and magnificent sandy beaches

Let’s start in the north of the island – Las Palmas undoubtedly dominates this terrain. However, the small country towns, lined with extensive banana plantations in the evergreen dress of the north coast, are also worth a trip.

Gran Canaria
Image: canadastock

The Canarian metropolis surprises with its brilliant location as soon as it lands. If you sit on the right side of the plane, you can see the narrow land bridge that connects Las Palmas with a peninsula. While the harbour is the reason for the cosmopolitan character of the island’s capital, the country towns in the green hinterland are decidedly traditional.

International flair next to old town alleys: a stroll through the island’s capital

It’s been a long time – no high-rise building far and wide, you could walk lonely along the beach and out in the waves a caravel rocked by every now and then. Columbus is said to have quickly fled… We linger for a moment!

The old town of Vegueta is the oldest colonial city in Spain. Massive buildings underline the former splendour. Even after 500 years, you can still feel the charm of the founding years here. Vegueta is dominated by the Catedral de Santa Ana on the plaza of the same name. The pulse of the impressive old town beats slowly, especially on weekends when the traffic dries up. Every step echoes on the cobblestones around the cathedral.

A stroll through Las Palmas, about 1 kilometre long promenade lined with Art Nouveau houses, Calle Mayor de Triane, is popular. In the side streets you will find delightful little boutiques.
The Columbus House – beautiful to look at from the outside, an exciting journey into the time of Columbus from the inside. Also worth seeing: The place where Columbus may have prayed – Ermita de San Antonio Abad.

Gourmets will find culinary diversity and excellent cuisine in the ancient city palace. Montesdeoca is on everyone’s lips and is the number one restaurant in Las Palmas.

Tip: Las Palmas is far too spacious for a short walk. With the tourist bus “Guagua Turistica” you can reach the most interesting districts and most important sights stress-free. The colorful double-decker buses start at the San Telmo bus station.

Last but not least, it is worth taking a look at the famous Playa de las Canteras, where bathers strolled over the fine, white sand of the bay of Las Palmas 100 years ago.

Las Palmas is the urban metropolis in front of a green hinterland. A trip to the imposing Cathedral of Arucas is definitely worthwhile. Not far away, a mountain road leads to a 412-metre-high volcanic mountain. From there there is a breathtaking view. The path continues to what is perhaps the most beautiful island valley.

Agaete offers itself as a small Garden of Eden and captivates in an enchanting location. At the end of the valley, Puerto de las Nieves inspires. The small harbour town is a good address for fish lovers.

By the way: For many, Las Palmas is the ideal place to cheat the European winter.

Between almond blossom and rock turmoil – welcome to the center of Gran Canaria!

Gran Canaria, Puerto de Mogán
The port of Puerto de Mogán, Image: Aleksandar Todorovic / shutterstock

In the interior of the island, the mountains stretch 2000 meters high into the sunny sky. Impressive monoliths tower over the lonely golden mountains. Cliffs, adventurous gorges and enchanting Canarian palm trees on the slopes give this region its special character. From January, the undemanding almond trees with pink clouds of blossom set delicate accents in a wild landscape. Gorges often present themselves as a subtropical paradise garden with sprawling plants that shine in competition.

What a backdrop! If you appreciate the forest solitude and breathtaking landscapes, you would head for the mountains. It’s hard to understand why very few Gran Canaria visitors get up to discover this magnificent mountain world. It may be because the highest peak in Gran Canaria has temperatures that are 10 to 20 degrees lower than those on the coast.

The beauty of this region is in the mind of the beholder. While the mountain biker is unlikely to have an eye for it on his fast-paced tour, the charm of the local nature opens up to the walker step by step.

The heart of this region is Tejeda. Here you feel like you’re in another world. The terraced mountain village is representative of the “other Gran Canaria”. The town has rightly been named “one of the most beautiful villages in Spain”.

On the other hand, the country town of Teror, as an important market town with an impressive pilgrimage church, forms the religious centre.

Artenara is a fascinating cave site. To this day, more than 1500 inhabitants still live in the caves. At 1270 meters, Artenara is the highest town in Gran Canaria.

On the sunny side – in the beautiful south of Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria, Amadores
The beach of Amadores, Image: Kalin Eftimov / shutterstock

When the ground greedily absorbs the water, drops bounce off palm leaves and the rivulets swell into streams – then it rains in the south of Gran Canaria. This spectacle only takes place a few times a year. The southern climes of the island are among the Germans’ favourite destinations – plenty of sun, almost all year round. A holiday resort on the Costa Canaria even bears the name “Sonnenland” – the name keeps what it promises.

Costa Canaria is a continuously built-up stretch of coastline that stretches from Bahía Feliz in the east to Pasito Blanco in the west. Further west, the Costa Mogán joins the main towns of Puerto de Mogán and Puerto Rico .

Highlights on the holiday coast of Gran Canaria with guaranteed sunshine

  • Playa de Inglés – admittedly: In view of the sprawling hotel landscape and the synonym for mass tourism, the seaside resort could be a nightmare for many a guest. However, the super beach is right on the doorstep and there are countless leisure activities on land and water. Without a doubt, this beach is one of the best beach areas in the Canary Islands.
  • Dunas de Maspaloma: In the dunes of Maspalomas, the dune ridges tower up to 30 meters high and form one of the most magnificent landscapes in Gran Canaria.
  • Puerto Rico: The terraced hotel town built into the hillside has made a name for itself as a water sports center. From the sea, the city looks imposing – on closer inspection, the apartment complexes built in 1970 steal its poetry.
  • Puerto de Mógan is the westernmost part of the seaside resorts in the south. In front of the former fishermen’s nest, a charming holiday village was built in the 1980s with flat white houses and narrow streets. The village stretches like a semicircle around the bay and enchants with a beautiful beach. The original village rises picturesquely on the northern steep slope.

Sunny beaches, dream trails, several island paths, high mountains, quiet valleys, wide lakes: Gran Canaria has great nature experiences in store.

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