In 2018 I was offered a six-month internship on Gran Canaria. After having done some research about the climate and places on the island I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer. Gran Canaria is a Spanish island in the Atlantic Ocean near the African coast and the weather is spring-like all year around.
I got there in January and even though on most of the days the temperature was still a bit fresh I could already swim in the sea a couple of times.
Unfortunately, Gran Canaria is known for mass tourism and crowded beaches in the summer months. On peak times the beaches in the touristic part of the island are packed with people. For me, this destroys the experience because there’s permanent noise. However, there are a lot of undiscovered places on Gran Canaria away from the tourism hotspots.
Gran Canaria has much more to offer than just beaches though. The mountainous scenery in the center of the island is beautiful and peaceful. It’s perfect for hiking and mountain biking. For me it was always a great weekend escape to get away from the tourist crowds.
Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria, is located almost at the most northern point of the island. For many tourists it’s just a day trip destination. It has a beautiful old town, a lot of shopping possibilities and a long sandy beach. There’s a nice boardwalk with a lot of restaurants and shops. I personally like the beach area of Las Palmas much more than the beaches in the south. It’s less touristy, there are more young people and also more locals. The only drawback of the north is that the weather is usually not as good as in the south.
My two favourite towns are Puerto de Mogán and Teror. They are both picturesque places but very different from each other. Puerto de Mogán is a fishing village with a port, a beach and many hotels and restaurants. The small houses there are all similar and look very cute. Teror on the other hand is in the mountains and known for its old and traditional architecture and the Sunday market.
Not all towns are as pretty as the pictures above though. Playa del Inglés, where I was living, is almost like a completely purpose-built town for tourists. Hotels, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops combined with horrible architecture. If you want to experience the real Gran Canaria you should definitely avoid that area. It’s full of elderly German, British and Dutch tourists and you won’t find many locals except for the people working there.
In general the south of the island is highly touristic compared to the north. But also the most beautiful beaches are in the south. So if you’re just looking for good touristic infrastructure and want to spend time on the beach the south is probably most suitable. But if you’re a more active person or looking for a calm area the north would be the better option.
All in all I think Gran Canaria is worth visiting. People often just visit the touristy area and get a bad image of it but if you go to less frequented spots you’ll find seemingly untouched places and beautiful landscapes. After 6 months in Playa del Inglés I was really happy to leave the island. But thinking back to my time there I’m actually missing it (especially the good weather) and hoping to go back soon.
- Visit during off-season or shoulder season to avoid crowds (October-May)
- Don’t stay in the south if you want to avoid mass tourism
- Explore the island by car
- Go hiking and explore the nature
- Visit the Sunday market in Teror
- Watch the sunset in the sand dunes of Maspalomas
- Playa del Inglés: Tipsy Cocktail Bar for the best cocktails
- Outdoor cinema in Meloneras: You sit on a sofa with blankets and you can order food and drinks while watching a movie under the stars, it’s a great experience!
- Natural swimming pools in Agaete
- Las Palmas: Tapas night every Thursday in the old town – all the bars prepare tapas and you move from bar to bar and eat and drink outside on the street
- Chester Meloneras: My favourite nightclub. Awesome location and great atmosphere – only if you like Reggaeton and Chart music though
Have you been to Gran Canaria? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments!