I strongly recommend that you do as we did: to rent a jeep and go inland.
The landscape is awesome, and the contrast between the rural villages in the narrow valleys and the organized development in the coast is impressive.
Drive up through Palmitos park, go up the mountain, and descend to the coast in another direction - you won't regret!
Close to the town of Arguineguin
This small beach resort is a short drive from Arguinguin,but hidden from the main road.Used mainly by the locals, it is a nice place for a swim and a bite to eat.While there we were entertained by a pod of Dolphin,which were playing in the water some 100 yards out.
- Diving and Snorkeling
The lovely town of Firgas.
What a lovely little town Firgas is! I had drunk the Firgas water for many years not knowing that it comes from a little town in the mountains of Gran Canaria.
The main street in the town is awesome, a steep street with a 30 meters´high artificial waterfall, so simple but yet so beautiful (see my first photo). Above the waterfall are relief mosaic pictures of all the islands in Gran Canaria - lined up on this steep street. And by the wall are beautiful mosaic benches above which are mosaic photos af all the provinces. A truly remarkable and beautiful street - it is well worth visiting Firgas only to see this street, which is called Paseo de Gran Canaria.
There are some 7.800 people living in Firgas.
It was very difficult finding this town, which is in the north of the island - and we had to ask several people on the way how to get there - as in Gran Canaria signs are sparsely used, let along signs saying for how long you have to drive to get to a certain town. Many parts of the road were very narrow and steep, but it was all worth it, I would not have wanted to miss seeing this lovely town.
Barranco de Guayadeque - what a beautiful trip.
Now this was a lovely trip to a very beautiful valley. From Playa del Ingles take GC500 and turn left at the village Ingenio at GC103 and drive on very narrow roads, hardly enough space to meet a car, a bit scary, I thought. After a while a very beautiful valley opens up, Barranco de Guayadeque, with steep mountains and a lot of vegetation. Here people still live in caves made by their ancestors. There are so many caves here that this seems to have been an important aboriginal center and the biggest cave area in the whole of Gran Canaria. I'm told there are 3 restaurants to visit here and my photos are from the second restaurant. There is a noteworthy chapel in a cave here (see my pictures) and restaurants and bars. This is so cool and I could only fit a few photos in my tip so I add several more in a travelogue of the cave homes above the church.
Driving back from the valley we took the road by the village Aguimes back and closed the circle. The roads there were much better than the one at Ingenio.
I visited Tagoror, a restauant in a cave, when I visited Gran Canaria in 1978 and that restaurant is a very popular tourist attraction with organised tours. There you can get a Canarian meal, there is guitar playing and Canarian folk-dancing.
I recommend visiting Barranco de Guayadeque, it is truly amazing and the whole visit just takes 2 hours or so.
"The Sand Dunes"
The famous sand dunes of Gran Canaria! Walking through the dunes you feel like you are in the middle of the Sahara. Wide views over the dunes to Maspalomas, San Agustín and Playa del Inglés. A good place for long walks or just relaxing and sunbathing.
Be warned this is also a nudist area so you never know what is going to walk around the corner.
The little footprints you see in the sand are most likely to be the Local Lizards ,we saw a lot of them but they wont bother you.
You can try your hand out at riding a camel riding.
Even in winter the sand can get too hot to walk on so don't forget your flip flops, sandals or trainers. This is particularly noticed on the southern sides of the dunes especially if there is no breeze.
It really is like being in desert worth a trip out just to see them,also nearby is a nice promenade to walk along on the seafront.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Hiking and Walking
Hike from Agaete to Playa de Guayedra
This short hike takes you from Agaete in the north-west of Gran Canaria to a small deserted lava-beach.
Start and finish: the square at the church in Agaete. Buses 102 and 103 go from Las Palmas to Agaete.
The hike is about 7 km and starts at the church in Agaete. Follow the main road to Puerto de las Nieves. After about 600 m you see a house with parts looking like giant eggs. Follow the road to the right of this house and turn left onto the Camino Real (paved King´s Road) after 50 m.
The Camino Real ends at the main asphalt road that connects Agaete and San Nicolas. Follow the asphalt road to the right. On the right after about 400 m, behind the safety-fence of the road, you find a path going downhill. Follow this path to the beach. Here you can relax and swim if the sea is not too wild.
After this nice rest, follow the path back to the main road, back to the Camino Real. Instead of taking the Camino Real, cross the asphalt road after about 30 m and go uphill. Follow this path to the top, the views along the way are amazing.
From the top, follow the small path to the north, downhill. Keep the water-reservoir to your right and walk back to the center of Agaete.
A more detailed description of this hike can be found in the hiking book mentioned in my general tips.
- Hiking and Walking
Merendero Vista de Fataga - barbeque.
On our way from Fataga to Roque Nublo driving along CG60 we found this barbeque area, Merendero Vista de Fataga. It is a popular barbeque area weekends by locals and a lovely place to stop and take a break and either barbeque or just have a picnic.
From there one has a view of the village Santa Lucia and the breathtaking Risco Blanco "The White mountain" which is a place of worship and where the aboriginals went to give offerings to their god.
Unfortunately we didn't see Roque Nublo as it started raining heavily :(
The western coast of Gran Canaria - a view-spot.
After following road GC200 for the longest time in the steep mountains from Mogán with all the dangerous curves, but beautiful view if one is not driving, one finally comes to a view-spot called Mirador de Balcon, which is 400 meters above sea-level and with the most breathtaking view. From here you can see Tenerife on a sunny day. There is a "balcony" (see my photo) a little lower, just walk down a couple of steps and from there the view is even better. But alas, as there are not many WC's on this road, this beautiful place stank of urine :(
There is one big draw-back in driving around the island - nowhere on the road-signs can you see how far in kilometers the next towns are, just the direction and the name of the towns and I guess this problem stems from tourists underestimating the distances and thus are not able to get to a toilet in time.
Our next stop was Puerto de Las Nieves and from there we went to Las Palmas and closed the circle in Playa del Ingles.
Degollada de las Yeguas - a view-spot.
Degollada de las Yeguas is a view-spot just north of Playa del Ingles. Take road CG60 from San Fernando towards Fataga and drive for only a short while and you will reach this fantastic view-spot, which is 470 meters above sea-level. The view of the mountains and The Valley of Fataga is breathtaking. On a sunny day one can spot the highest mountain in Gran Canaria, Pico de Las Nieves which is 1.941 above sea-level. Well, this was a cloudy day.
There is a big enough parking there and you can enjoy the view and take pictures either from the top or just walk down some steps and walk around in a semicircle to enjoy the view. The window on my first photo is from that level.
Just before you reach Degollada de Las Nieves there is Mundo Aborigen, a replica of a small Guncha village (The Guancas were the people living in Canary islands before the Spanish people arrived there).
Driving around the island - beautiful colours.
We drove around the whole of Gran Canaria island and the mountains are very steep and there are sooo many dangerous curves. From Playa del Ingles to Puerto de Mogán (my tip is on a special page on Puerto de Mogán the main road lies by the coast-shore, but then it turns into GC200 and into the steep mountains. There you pass the village of Mogán and such beautiful valleys with palm-trees and fruit-trees. The landscape is beautiful and after the village of Mogán the road turns west and there we came across this mountain with layers of the most breathtaking colours. The most striking is the lime-green colour, but there are pink, yellow and orange as well. You can see these layers from afar and then drive right by them. Extraordinary.
View-spots in the steep mountains.
There are many view-spots in the mountains on road GC200 where you can get out and enjoy the view and take pictures. Right after the colourfully layered mountain in my previous tip there is a view-spot where a beautiful walley opens up and the mountain there is just amazing, with trees on the very top of it. Well worth a stop to enjoy the views.
Fataga - what a beautiful little village.
Driving along road CG60 from the view-spot Degollada de Las Yeguas along Barranco de Fataga, which is also known as "The Valley of the Thousand palms", you will reach the charming village of Fataga. It is only a 20 minutes drive from Playa del Ingles and the scenery there is beautiful. The valley has lovely palm-groves and fruit-trees. The houses of Fataga are ever so charming with galleries with handmade pottery and shawls etc. There are also nice cafés and restaurants. There is a church in Fataga dedicated to St. José raised on 18th of June 1880. And a 600 year old bakery. The population is ca 400.
Do make a stop there, it is ever so charming.
The village of Teror is situated towards the North of the middle of the island.
It is most famous for its Basilica, built in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is said to have appeared in a pine tree there sometime in the 1400's. She is said to have appeared to some shepherds there. The Basilica marks the spot.
The town itself is very pretty with lots of whitewashed buildings and wooden balconies. Some of these date back to the 1600's and so, since 1979, the area is dedicated a National monument.
Unfortunately, the day we visited, it rained torrentially and so we literally ran from the bus to the basilica and then to a craft shop in the square by the church. The shop is very pretty with some lovely souvenirs and the staff do not bother you or push you to purchase.
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Ingenio Stone Museum
Ingenio is one of the oldest towns on the island.
The museum known as the Stone Museum is also a craft centre. It houses a display of minerals and there are also live craft demonstrations on site. The evening we visited there were ladies doing embroidery and lace making.
There are some pretty gardens outside with caged birds and animals, plus displays of some old implements.
At Christmas this museum houses a very special exhibition - a Nativity display of huge proportions occupying several rooms.
The main part of the display is a miniature town of Bethlehem complete with houses, people, temples, a river etc. This occupies two rooms and is quite breath taking. The pics I have taken do little to show the reality of this exhibit but I will nevertheless exhibit them in their own travelogue. In addition to this another room houses many different collections of smaller crib scenes from all parts of the world. This is very impressive.
There is a small chapel with an exhibit of its own.
There's a little bar area selling refreshments and alcohol and there's also a small shop area selling some of the crafts and locally produced foods, postcards etc.
A lovely and interesting place to see.
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
- Road Trip
The Happy Christmas Tour
We couldn't resist booking this tour because of the name. Kids at heart, who can resist Christmas?
Sadly, we couldn't recommend it. The things we saw were indeed lovely, but there were too many drawbacks to make it a repeat trip.
First of all, the tour company picked us up two and a half hours after the appointed time and only after we had made three phonecalls to the company to see where they were. When they finally arrived they claimed our travel company rep had given us the wrong tour time.
On our coach there was another Irish couple, the driver, the guide and three members of the guide's family. There was a second coach which was linked by radio and which had perhaps 8 passengers. They were all Dutch and as the guide and all his family spoke Dutch the tour appeared to be concentrated towards their enjoyment.
We were first of all brought to the village of Ingenio to the stone museum. I must admit that the nativity scene which has been created here and which spans several rooms is a sight to behold and I will write a seperate tip on that. The down side of it is that after we had seen the exhibit we were hanging around for perhaps 45 mins doing nothing.
We moved on to the beach at Las Canteras in Las Palmas (the capital city). Our purpose was to see an amazing exhibition of sand sculptures. They were floodlit but I would prefer to have seen them by day. I have a seperate tip about that exhibit. Again, we were given and hour and a half to view these but it took 15 mins at most. We spent the rest of our time at a street cafe.
The final stop of the night was supposed to be two hours shopping. However, we were brought to a shopping street where all the shops were closing as it was 9pm by the time we got there. We were given an hour and a quarter here but we ended up walking up and down the street waiting for the coach to come back for us. The Christmas lights were lovely though and it was fun watching how the locals spend their warm winter evenings strolling up and down the streets.
A meal was included in our trip and we looked forward to it as we were recalling the meal we had on the VIP island tour (see tip). Boy were we majorly disappointed this time. When the coach pulled into this back street alley with just one shabby looking building I was sure we must be in the wrong place. Nor was this one of those rare occasions where you walk inside and the food is divine. It was a dive. The food was awful. We were supposed to get wine and water with our meal but in the oddest display of rude behaviour wine and water were only served to the Dutch!
We got back to our hotel at 1.15am - exhausted and disappointed.
- Road Trip
- Family Travel