The third largest Canary Island is almost perfectly circular in shape and its main feature is its diversity. The fauna, the flora and of course the climate vary, from temperate to subtropical to tropical, and the landscape offers surprises at every turn. Explore Gran Canaria with us!
We choose, as our first base, the mountain town of Tejeda (1050 m), strategically located in the centre of the island. The town's promenade is lined with several excellent restaurants and cafes. It overlooks the terraced fields below and the mountains headed by the majestic Roque Bentayga.
The half-hour climb up the sacred rock is via an easy path from the car park. I recommend a drive to the nearby villages of El Toscon and El Carrizal afterwards. The road winds along a hillside covered with yellow crookweed, clumps of agave and dozens of species of cactus, almost to the end of the world. In the deep valley, water leaps in rushing rivulets, and above it looms the bizarre Table Mountains.
Ahead, about twenty houses are perched on the cliffs, practically one on top of the other, so that the inhabitants can use every available space to grow whatever they need. Men chatter in the tavern, women harvest delicious apricots. It's quiet, time has stopped here. I don't usually get that feeling in Europe, so we drink the local wine and soak up the peace. The clouds are constantly chasing each other overhead, but the sharp rocks above us gently separate them.
The area west of Tejeda is full of cave dwellings. From Artenara, where we find a perfect museum, we continue to the village of Acusa Seca. With its 15 houses carved into the rock, it crouches on the edge of a deep valley and is sheltered by a precariously tilted cliff. We leave the car here and set off on a 2.5-hour circuit through the village of Acusa Verde. The cave houses here are mostly inhabited by indigenous farmers, who grow what they can on the hillsides. The village sits above an impressive wild gorge, with a road winding back up its serpentine edge.
The most beautiful rocks have been uprooted by ancient volcanic activity on the edge of the main caldera, around the village of Ayacata. While with children you can manage the climb up Roque Nublo very easily from the Goleta car park, if you have the opportunity to treat yourself to a day trip, start just 3km west of Ayacata at Hoya de la Vieja and head up through the almond forest under the Montana del Aserrador massif to the saddle where the classic route joins the plateau with its bizarre rock formations called Roque Nublo.
The southern part of the island is adorned with the whitewashed town of San Bartolomé. Here we leave the volcanic landscape and descend into the palm groves, the best of which are around the village of Fataga. The biggest attraction on the south coast is Palmitos Park, a wonderful mix of botanical and zoological gardens that entertains children and adults alike.
Every day you can enjoy a dolphin show, a guided predator show and parrot shows. After four hours in Palmitos, we stop at the resort of Maspalomas. Within sight of the hotels and the sea are hundreds of sand dunes, on which both children and adults glide enthusiastically. The Little Sahara is big enough for kids to have a little expedition in them. The sun bends down and paints the sand gold. We find a miniature wadi, and it is the perfect place for a desert picnic.
Gran Canaria has something for everyone: mountain adventurers and families with children. So don't hesitate to enjoy your dream holiday here – on Gran Canaria, brimming with diversity.