JC Travels: Top 6 Things to do in Gran Canaria
Following on my from my first post on Gran Canaria, we have already established that the island itself is gorgeous. Now, what things can you actually get up to once you are out there? Well I’ve got the Top 6 Things to do in Gran Canaria for you today. I think the main thing to remember about the Canaries is that it can be as active or as relaxing a holiday as you life. As we managed to go for 10 days (an actual 10 day holiday?!) we got a good mix of lazy pool days, adventures throughout the island and long refreshing walks.
1 Get Driving – Routes through and around the Island
The first thing we realised is that the outside of Gran Canaria definitely contains the touristy areas. And even when you look towards the centre, it looks a bit dusty and rocky. However, just get in the car and get driving. After about 50 hair pin bends, you will soon unveil the magic that is, the gorgeous volcanic canyons, ravines and rock formations.
But seriously, the driving isn’t TOO bad. Though you need to be pretty confident, it does have a sheer drop to one side and is very thin but as long as you don’t look over the side too often, I didn’t find it too bad. Also beep before you go round corners. And avoid all the bikes, seriously, I’ve never seen so many professional cyclists riding up hills. It looked hell, but apparently Gran Canaria is the place to train. Who knew.
Anyway, get driving, the middle of the island is the highlight – La Cumbre, making sure you stop to see the famous rocks of Roque Nuble and Roque Bataya. There are a heap of Mirador (view points) as you drive, so just make sure you pull off a few times and stare at the gorgeous views. There are also a load of small towns, chock of lovely Spanish restaurants.
2 Food and Wine Tour
Gran Canaria is actually a huge wine producer, but doesn’t export their wine out of the country. Crazy right? With this in mind, we really wanted to visit some vineyards / wineries but they are quite hard to visit as they aren’t geared towards the tourist industry. With this in mind, we decided to do a tour with Handmade Tours.
The tour involved being picked up by Mase, and first being led to one of the most stunning canyon views, before heading to a vineyard. I haven’t been to a vineyard in a long while so it was really interesting to see the vines and the new plants which had been grafted on. It was also where olives and figs were grown, and we ate almonds straight from the tree.
Afterwards, we headed to a winery for all of the wine tastings. Gorgeous rose and we even took a few bottles home. If you are in Gran Canaria, the local wine is slightly more expensive (but still only like 7 euros a bottle) and definitely recommended over the 3 euro Spanish varieties.
Our tour ended with a amazing meal. It was full of traditional Canarian dishes, including goat, tuna and anchovy salad, local bread and olive oil, and even sea winkles. By the end of the day we were stuffed, full of wine and had definitely had one of our best days of the holiday.
3 A Day Out on the Boat
Surrounded by gorgeous ocean, you without a doubt need to spend at least a day in the sea. However, this is the Atlantic and it can’t be said that it is the warmest of waters, so on a boat was preferable for our group. We sailed from Puerto Rico with the Aphrodite Cruise and it couldn’t have been more of a relaxing day.
From picking you up at the hotel, we then jumped on the boat and lounged out on long sofas on the back of the boat – more than enough room to lay down. The rest of the day was a rush of gorgeous scenery, crisp blue seas, warm sunshine, non stop sangria and a Canarian lunch – what more can you want?! But really, the bar was open all day, lunch was an array of potatoes, mojo sauce, chicken, steak and salad. More than enough to keep up happy. I even got my chance at steering the ship itself!
4 A Night Gazing at the Stars
One of the most interesting things we did in Gran Canaria, was an Astro Tour. The Canaries have some of the clearest skies, with little light pollution other than from the towns on the island. This tour involved getting picked up then winding our way up the mountain to a clearing in the South. The views on the way up were glorious, just check out that sunset!
Once there, we had 3 giant telescopes set up, Gauthier our guide then gave us a show on the various things we would see throughout the night and how we could identify the various objects in the solar system. As the sun finally set, we stared up at constellations then used the telescopes to look at further objects – including the veil nebula, Uranus, Andromeda and the two sisters stars.
It was such an amazing night, and really inspired me to get more into astronomy. It is obviously not possible living in London, what with that one star we can see, but hopefully when I’m out in the country, I can get out and recognise a few objects.
5 Tapas and Sangria
I mean, we are still in Spain right?! So one of the best bits of the Island is most definitely the food. You can get good Sangria just about everywhere (and at a bargain!), but the tapas are the real delight. We did tapas 3 times, a couple of times in the Sheraton Resort (which I do recommend), but the final night we decided to head out and went to Wapa Tapa.
Now, Wapa Tapa is actually number 1 on trip advisor, out of like 2 thousand restaurants. So of course we had to try it, and we were not disappointed. The team there are hilarious, always offering advice on what to eat and by the end you feel like you’ve made some new friends! We had a whole heap of tapas, with the garlic king prawns, the iberica pork loin and the chili con carne being real highlights. Do your research, use trip advisor and definitely make it a priority to get out and about to eat some Spanish tapas!
6 Caves – Baranco de Guayadeque
On our final day, we thought we would do something a little different and head to the caves. The original inhabitants of Gran Canaria actually lived in caves throughout the middle of the island, created from the volcanic eruptions. There is a large valley where you can see amazing examples of these. We also headed to the Guyadeque museum which was really good, and interesting to learn about the original island natives.
From the museum, you can continue up the valley and even go in some of the new caves, where peoples still live! We headed right up the valley to the restaurant Tagoror which is actually in a huge set of interwoven caves, and we got a delicious meal, so good all round.
So there we have it, my top 6 sites in Gran Canaria. Will you be putting Gran Canaria on your list of places to visit now?!