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Guide to Gran Canaria

What to do and see in Gran Canaria?

Gran Canaria is the biggest of the 3 western islands in the Canary Islands.

The climate in Gran Canaria is mild and temperatures remain more or less constant throughout the year. The average temperature in winter is 17º C and 25º C in summer. This is because of its position in the Tropic of Cáncer. The landscape on Gran Canaria varies widely, from areas with lots of tropical vegetation to dry, arid areas.There are both plains and mountains further inland.

Gran Canaria is the biggest of the 3 western islands in the Canary Islands.

The climate in Gran Canaria is mild and temperatures remain more or less constant throughout the year. The average temperature in winter is 17º C and 25º C in summer. This is because of its position in the Tropic of Cáncer. The landscape on Gran Canaria varies widely, from areas with lots of tropical vegetation to dry, arid areas.There are both plains and mountains further inland.





The south of the island is a paradise for beaches and impressive holiday resorts which are perfectly located with lots of facilities (sports, spas..). In contrast in the interior there are arid plains, mountains with lots of caves and archeological remains.

The island's archeological remains are a reminder of it's prehispanic background. There are remains of settlements consisting of caves dug out of the rock with typcial paintings (contrasting colours in geometric designs used to decorate clothes, cave walls, ceramics...). There are also remains of silos used to keep grain and food in, stone arcades that were used as a sanctuary for their gods and a necropolis...

History of Gran Canaria

The island was originally inhabited by the Guanches from 1 or 2 B.C. Around 525 years ago a Spanish captain, Juan Rejón, arrived on the island and set up a military camp called El Real de Las Palmas which became the most important European overseas centre. The city was founded on the 24th June, 1478. It took 5 years to conquer the island and to colonize it. The city was located in the area known as la Vegueta and around the San Antonio Abad chapel. In 1515 when the conquest was finally over the city was given the name it still has today Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The first neighbourhood, Triana, grew around the river Guiniguada. This is where the port was built, where today the San Telmo park is.

The castle (Castillo de La Luz) was built in response to the numberous attacks the island suffered because of its important strategic position in the middle of the Atlantic. In the 16th and 17th centuries it was attacked by the Dutchman Peter van der Does and Admiral Nelson. In the 19th century, the city spread towards the Bahía de la Isleta, which is where the Puerto de La Luz is located. Little by little the city grew and modernized. It continued to attract settlers from all over (Castellanos, Portuguese...) making it the multicultural city it is today.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital of the 3 western islands, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura which make up the Canary Islands second province.

Las Palmas is a cosmopolitan city. Its inhabitants are open and friendly. It is located 18 kms from the airport, 150 kms from Africa and 1350 kms from Spain and the rest of Europe. It is just 6 hours by plane from America.

The port - Puerto de La Luz and Las Palmas is perfectly connected to the rest of the world by 30 ship routes which go to 265 cities. It is the mid-Atlantic's most important port. There are 2 important stations in the port the Jet Foil and the Ferry station. Both are well connected to the city either by foot or by bus (called guagua in Gran Canaria). The Isleta, near the port, is where the fishermen's neighbourhood and dockers live.

Gando, the airport on Gran Canaria, is the 5th most used airport in Spain, some 10 million passengers pass through its doors every year. It is 18 kms from Las Palmas, about 20 minutes by car. There is a bus which connects the airport to Las Palmas which leaves every 30 minutes.

The city and the whole island has excellent hotels in order to cater for the millions of visitors it receives every year. There are lots of cultural events such as the Theatre and Dance Festival, the International Film Festival, the Opera Festival, various museums and exhibitions, theatre...Its leisure facilities are also very good. There are lots of restaurants, bars, discos...

Places to visit in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

On foot: The centre of the city is the Santa Catalina park, in the port area. It is a good place to start exploring the city from. The area called la Vegueta is the old part of the city and where most of the historic buildings are. It has a busy night life and is a great place to go shopping during the day. The Triana neighbourhood together with la Vegueta are the oldest parts of the city. There is also a market and an art gallery in Ciudad Jardín..

Palaces and Castles

  • Palacio Episcopal: This was built under the orders of the diocese in the 16th century. It has a 15th century facade by Ponde de León.

  • Casa Regental (Plaza de Santa Ana): This is the residence of the president of the Law Courts. It has an interesting facade in which both Renaissance and Neoclassic styles stand out.

  • Castillo de San Cristóbal: This castle is in the area called San Cristóbal. It is well known for its tower San Pedro which is in the sea.

  • Castillo de la Mota

  • Castillo de La Luz: This is a defensive fort that was built in 1494 to defend the city, located on a hill opposite Puerto de La Luz.

Cathedrals and Churches:

  • Catedral de Santa Ana (Plaza de Santa Ana): Gothic with a Neoclassic facade by Luján Pérez . The Cathedral was built between 1500 and 1570 by the architect Diego Alonso Montague. The statue of Christ by Luján Pérez is especially interesting.

  • Iglesia de San Francisco de Borja (c/ Doctor Chil): Baroque.

  • Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis: Rebuilt in the 17th century. It has some important works by Luján Pérez. The murals were painted by Jesús González Arencibia.

  • Ermita de San Telmo: This was built in the 16th century but destroyed in 1599 by the Dutchman Peter van der Does. It was rebuilt in the 17th century. It is a Mudejar temple with a Gothic-Renaissance facade. The Mudejar artwork stands out and the 2 altarpieces - San Telmo and the Virgen de las Angustias.

  • Iglesia de Santo Domingo: Baroque with Mudejar influences. Dates back to the 16th century. There are various paintings by Luján Pérez.

  • Ermita de San Antonio Abad (Plaza San Antonio Abad): This was the first Diocese headquarters built above 16th century origins of Las Palmas. It is the oldest chapel in the city and is where Colón prayed before crossing the Atlantic on his way to America. It was remodelled in the 18th century.


  • Museo Elder de la Ciencia (Parque Santa Catalina, 35007 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Tel: 828 011 828): This is a science museum with interactive displays which looks at scientific discoveries.

  • The Anthropological Museum: Situated in la Vegueta, in the old part. This is a summary of Colon's voyages and the history of the relationship between the Canary Islands and America.

  • Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro (c/ Espiritu Santo, 20): This religious art museum located in the Orange terrace connected to the Santa Ana Cathedral by the Puerta del Aire, an interesting piece of Renaissance architecture. The museum has exhibits from the 16th -17th century, mostly Spanish Baroque objects and paintings.

  • Museo Canario (Dr. Doctor Chil, 25): This museum is dedicated to the Guanches and has displays pf artefacts which show their history and their way of life.

  • Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno (CAAM) (c/ de los Balcones, 11): This is located in a typical, old mansion which has been carefully restored and transformed into a museum by Saénz de Oíza in a Neoclassic style. It is used for avant-garde art exhibitions.

  • Casa Museo Benito Pérez Galdós (c/Cano, 6, Las Palamas, Tel: 928 366 976): This museum is dedicated to the great Spanish literary Benito Pérez Galdós, from Las Palmas (1843-1920). He lived in this house until 1862.

  • Museo Néstor: This is located in the Pueblo Canario, which is an area full of shops, restaurants and museums. It brings together all the works of art by Néstor de la Torre (1887-1938), an artist from the Canary Islands and one of the best symbolist Spanish painters. The Pueblo Canario was built by his brother, Miguel Fernández de la Torre.

  • Casa Museo de Colón (c/ Colón): This is in a 15th century house and used to be the Governor of the Island's house when Colón stopped over on the island he stayed here. Now it is a museum about Colón and his voyages.

Important Buildings

  • The Town Hall: Built in the 19th century by the arhcitect, Gaditano Juan Daura, upon the 16th century remains of the old town hall. It has interesting sculptures made from cast iron by Bouteiller, which represent agriculture, commerce, art and navigation.

  • Cabildo de Gran Canaria (c/ Bravo Murillo): This building was a project by Miguel Martín Fernández de la Torre.

  • Centro Coreográfico Trini Borrull: Located in the Santa Catalina park, in the Millar building. It is dedicated to dance.

  • Auditorio Alfredo Kraus: This building is by Óscar Tusquets, it was built in 1997 in a Modernist style. Both classical and modern music concerts are held here.

  • Torre Woermann: This 20th century building is by Iñaki Ábalos and Juan Herreros.

  • Teatro Pérez Galdós (Plaza de Hurtado de Mendoza): Located in the Triana area, designed by Miguel Martín Fernández de la Torre, the paintings are by his brother, Nestor.

  • Gabinete Literario (Plaza de Carrasco): Eclectic and Modernist styles by Fernando Navarro, Rafael Massanet and Faus. Located in Triana. It has been used as the Social-Economic and Cultural centre for many years.

  • Palacio de Congresos de Canarias: This conference centre has a capacity of 800. Located within the exhibition centre.

  • Centro de Iniciativas de la Caja de Ahorros de Canarias: This small conference centre has a capacity of 500.

  • Audiencia Nacional (c/ Dr. Chil): Located within the former Agustino convent.

  • Teatro Cuyás (Viera y Clavijo, s/n, Tel: 928 432 180) This theatre specializes in avant-garde theatre. It also has a pleasant restaurant with a terrace.


Parks and gardens

There are 27 parks and gardens in the city. Each district has its own. There are 5 childrens playgrounds too. The most important are: El Romano, San Telmo, Las Rehoyas, Santa Catalina, Canódromo, Castillo de la Luz, Casablanca, Lodia de La Minilla and Doramas.

  • Jardín Canario: This is in the Tafira Baja area which is a residential neighbourhood (for more information see below). It is botanical garden with plants from all over the island. It is also a research centre.
  • Ciudad Jardín, This area was promoted by the British colonialists towards the end of the 19th century and built by the architect Miguel Martín Fernández de la Torre. The Doramas park , the Santa Catalina hotel, the Casino and the Canary Leisure Centre (Centro de Ocio Pueblo Canario) are located here.


  • Plaza de Santa Ana: This square is the work of Juan Ponce de León. It is located in the old part. Here you can find some of the city's most important historical buildings: the town hall, the Cathedral, the Bishops palace (Palacio Episcopal), the Casa Regental, the provincial archives and the Diocese archives.

  • Plaza del Pilar Nuevo: Located in la Vegueta in the old part. There is a craft market here every Sunday.

  • Plaza del Espiritu Santo: This is in la Vegueta, in the old part. This is where the best houses in the city are.

  • Plaza de los Alamos: It used to be called the plaza vieja. It is the second oldest square in the city.

Beaches: There are 4 very good beaches in Las Palmas:

  • Las Canteras beach: This is the best of all the beaches in Las Palmas. And it is even considered one of the best in the whole of Spain. It is 3 kms long with fine, golden sand and calm sea. There are some very good facilities: sports, bars, restaurants with terraces to sit out on, a promenade to take a leisurely stroll along. There is a reef 2 kms from the shore which protects the beach from the open sea and also creates a unique ecosystem.

  • Playa de Alcararaveras: Located in Puerto de La Luz. There are 2 nautical clubs overlooking the beach.

  • Playa El Confital: This beach is ideal for surfing. It is located next to the Isleta, in Puerto de la Luz.

  • Playa de San Cristóbal: Also ideal for surfing.

  • Playa de La Laja: Excellent for surfing.

Los Canarios Caves: Located Las Palmas. These archeological remains consist of a network of artificial caves with silos for storing food and grains.

Shopping in Las Palmas: The best places to go shopping in Las Palmas are: Triana, Pedro Infinito, Mesa and López and Santa Catalina-Puerto. There are 5 large shopping centres: Monopol, La Ballena, Las Arenas, Siete Palmas and El Muelle. For those who prefer markets there are several worth visiting in: la Vegueta, Triana and the Santa Catalina park.

In Gran Canaria you can buy some very good local products like: chilli liquer, various types of rum, wines, sugar, very good fresh fruit, tobacco, cheese, jams, sweet pastries, meat, sausages and fresh vegetables. There are also some interesting arts and crafts to buy like ceramics painted in traditional geometric patterns, shoes, clothes...

Fiestas in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

  • El Carnaval de Canarias: click here.

  • Virgen de Nuestra Señora del Rosario: from 23/09 to8/10. In la Vegueta there is a procession with floats and the people dress in traditional costumes.

  • Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen: 16th July.

  • Fiesta Fundacional or San Juan: 24th June, to celebrate the day when the city was founded. There is a firework display at midnight. It also conicides with the summer solstice.

Golf Courses in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria ia a pioneer when it comes to golf courses because of the British influence. The Escaleritas Golf Course founded in 1891, was the first club on the island. Today there are 8 golf courses on the island:

  • Real de Club de Las Palmas (On the Bandamas road, 35380 Bandamas, Tel: 0034 928 350 104): This golf club first opened in 1957. It has 18 holes and par 71. Golf classes available.

  • El Cortijo Club de Campo (Autopista del Sur 1, Km 6.4 Tel: 0034 928 711 111): This is an 18 hole golf course with par 72. Golf classes available.

  • Oasis Golf (Autopista del Sur 1, Km. 6’4, Tel.: 0034 928 684 890): This is an 18 hole golf course with par 54. Golf classes available.

  • Club de Golf Maspalomas (Av. TTOO Neckermann, 35100 Maspalomas, Tel: 0034 928 762 581):It has 18 holes and par 71. Golf classes available.

  • Salobre Golf Resort (Autopista del Sur 1, Km. 53, Tel: 0034 928 061 828): It has 18 holes and par 71. Golf classes available.

  • Anfi Tauro Golf (Valle de Tauro, s/n, en Mogán, Tel.: 0034 928 128 840): This golf course has 9 holes and par 3. Another 18 hole golf course is under construction.

  • Golf Meloneras (c/ Gánigo, 6, Plaza Ansite, 35100 Bahía Meloneas, Tel.: 0034 928 145 309): This is an 18 hole golf course with par 3.

  • Las Palmeras Golf Sport Urban Resort (Av. Alfonso Chiscano Díaz, Tel.: 0034 928 222 333): This is an 18 hole colf course with par 3.

Hotels in Gran Canaria

  • Hotel Santa Catalina*****
    León Y Castillo, 227, 35005 Las Palmas De Gran Canaria. Wonderful 19th century colonial-style building completely reformed in 2005. It has been declared historical artistic monument. Luxury hotel with spa.
    See photos, reviews and book online
  • Morasol Suites****, Puerto Base s/n, 35135 Puerto Rico (Gran Canaria). where you can enjoy the sea along with its golden sand and relaxing sun. Opened in September 2004, this hotel has 2 apartments specially equipped for disabled guests. See photos, special offers and book online.

Look for the best hotel deals in Gran Canaria Check availability and book online. The results of your hotel search will appear in a new window (popup):

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Towns and Villages in Gran Canaria

  • Tafira: This is a high class neighbourhood in Las Palmas. The English settled here when they arrived.This is where the Botanic gardens, opened in 1952, are (Jardín Canario also known as the Jardín Botánico Viera). They contain plants from all over the island.

    • Nearby is Caldera de Baldama, which is a1 km wide crater 200 metres deep. There is a viewing point from where you can see the crater perfectly and the Barranco de Guayadeque (a ravine). The University of Las Palmas, opened in 1989 is also located here.

  • Maspalomas: This is located in the south of the island, 52 kms from Las Palmas. It is one of Europe's most important touristic centres. It is divided into 3 distinct areas: La Playa del Inglés, San Agustin and Las Dunas de Maspalomas National Park. There are all types of sports facilities here; from fishing for sharks, diving centres, boat trips, sailing, tennis courts, squash courts to golf courses...

    • San Agustín: This is the quietest of the 3 areas. It has a casino, hotels, beaches at the bottom of cliffs. The sand here is very dark.
    • Playa del Inglés: This is a busy area with many hotels and apartments (around 300) with gardens, swimming pools, golden sandy beaches. There is a lot of nightlife in this area (at least 50 clubs) restaurants, bars, pubs...Playa Meloneras is also near here a little further south.
    • Las Dunas de Maspalomas National Park: This is a nature reserve. It is an exclusive area with a lighthouse, the Maspalomas oasis and a golf course.
    • Mundo Aborigen Canario (On the Fataga road, km 6, in Ayagaures National Park, Tel: 928 172 295): This is a theme park about the Guanches and their way of life....
    • Los Palmitos Park (8 kms from Maspalomas, Tel: 928 141 158): This is a wonderful 200,000 m2 park with more than 1,500 birds.

  • Puerto Mogán: Puerto Mogán is located in Mogán province. It is a quiet touristic centre built around Puerto Mogán, which was built by the architect, Rafael Neville. It is full of pretty white houses with flowers on their balconies. The beach is quite small and a lot of tourists prefer the busier beaches in Maspalomas. It has a marina and harbour. There are organized fishing trips. Mogán village, located inland, is an important agricultural area.

    • Puerto Rico: This is an urbanization and pretty marina with an artificial beach. Daily fishing trips leave from here. The beach with lots of watersports facilities is one of the best in the area.
    • Patalavaca-Anfi del Mar (Tel: 928 151 176): This is next to Araguineguín village. It consists of an urbanization with 3 hotels, pretty gardens, a marina with yachts and a small beach with light white artificial sand.
    • Castillete de Tabaibales: Located in Mogán. There are remains of Guanche houses, walls and turrets.
    • Majada Alta: This is a group of small caves with wall painitngs in ochre.

  • Agaete: This province is located in the north of the island which is much greener than the dry south. It is an area full of sugar, banana, mangos, papayas, orange trees and coffe plantations. It is main port is called Puerto de las Nieves which is also the main tourist resort in the area. Ferrys to Santa Cruz de Tenerife leave from here everyday. It is an area full of prehistoric remains. It is located at the foot of the Tamadaba National Park.

    • Necrópolis de Maípais: This is a cemetery from prehistoric times with more than 1000 tombs. It is more than 1 km long.
    • Cenobio de Valerón: This is a Guanche settlement consisting of more than 30 artificial caves dug out of the rock which in their time were used as silos, dwellings and a religious sanctuary.
    • Ermita de la Virgen de las Nieves: This chapel is interesting for its 16th century statue of the Virgen de las Nieves by Jos de Van Cleve (from the Flemish school of art).
    • El Dedo de Dios: Literally translated as the finger of God, this is a naturally formed monolith which has become the symbol of Agaete. It is located near the Puerto de la Virgen de las Nieves.
    • Huerto de las Flores: This is a garden consisting of plants and fruit trees from all over the world.

  • Galdar: This is near Agaete in an area full of important archeological remains. Things to look out for:

    • Museum and La Cueva Pintada Archeological Park. Located on the coast in the south of the island: It is a good example of the prehispanic history of the island. It is one of the most imortant archeological remains consisting of a group of buildings with typical paintings on thier walls, believed to be an ancient settlement.
    • Bocabarranco / El Agujero / La Guancha: These are remains of a Guanche settlement with houses, silos and burial mounds.

  • Arucas: This is the most important city in the north of the island. It is separated from the capital by the Tenoya ravine.

    • Iglesia de San Juan Bautista: This is a magnificent Neogothic church from the 19th century. It was built using volcanic rock by the architect Manuel Vega March, between 1909-1977.
    • The Townhall and Central market: Located in the Constitution Square (Plaza de la Constitución) 19th century, very interesting architecture.
    • Fábrica de Ron Arehucas (c/ Eras de San Pedro, Tel: 928 624 900): This is the most important rum factory in the Canary Islands. It was founded in 1884.
    • Iglesia de San Juan: This church was built from volcanic rock in a Neoclassic style towards the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. There is an interesting recumbent statue of Christ by Manuel Ramos.
    • La Cerera: Archeological remains consisting of a group of artificial caves made by the natives and some buildings.

  • Aguimes: Located 25 kms from Las Palmas, in the southwest of the island. It has an pretty old part. It is an important agricultural area and there are some interesting archeological remains. It has a coastal area too.

    • El Risco del Canario: Located in Agüimes, in the Guayadeque ravine. It is a group of 30 caves created by the natives which show their culture and way of life.
    • Los Letreros de Balos: These are the most imortant example of cave paintings on the island: anthropomorphist, geometric patterns, animals...

  • San Bartolomé de Tirajana:

    • Necrópolis de Arteara: These are remains of a prehistoric burial grounds. Located in San Bartolomé de Tirajana in the south.
    • Punta Mujeres: These are remains of a dwelling. Located in San Bartolomé de Tirajana in the south.
    • Poblado de Punte: This is a group of prehistoric caves where there are remains of some cave paintings, burial grounds...Located in San Bartolomé de Tirajana in the south.


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