The third-largest island in the Canaries’ archipelago, Gran Canaria has something to offer nearly every type of traveller, from beach-hoppers and hikers, to watersports enthusiasts. The island is known as a miniature continent thanks to its wildly varying landscapes and terrain, so much so that Gran Canaria was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Needless to say, there’s plenty to explore no matter where your travel interests lie. Ready to go? Here’s everything you need to know about travel to and around the island, with tips from our Gran Canaria local tour guides.
Your best bet for getting to and from Gran Canaria International Airport is the bus. The bus stop can be found at the national/international departure terminal, and once you’re outside the baggage reclaim area, you need to go up a floor (either by escalator or lift) and follow the signs. Tickets can be purchased on the bus itself or at the ticket machine located at the bus stop. Bus number 60 takes you directly to the Estación de Guaguas (bus station) at San Telmo right in the city centre of the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The first service from the airport to the capital leaves at 6:15am and the last at 11:15pm The cost is EUR 2.30
Bus number 66 starts out from the airport (international departures) and takes you straight to the main tourist resort of Maspalomas, next to Meloneras. It stops at the following tourist areas in the south: Playa del Águila, San Agustín, Playa del Inglés, Campo Internacional de Maspalomas and finishes up in Faro de Maspalomas. It offers a regular service from 7:20am to around 9pm. The cost is EUR 4.05.
If you’re travelling outside of when the bus operates, or you have a lot of luggage, taxi stops can be found outside both the national/international and local terminals. The cost of a ride to Las Palmas should be around EUR 40.
Bus: Buses are a comfortable way of getting around the island, especially between the capital of Las Palmas and the touristic towns in the south. The inter-urban bus network on Gran Canaria (blue buses) is extensive with over 100 routes that connect almost every main point on the island. The capital of Las Palmas also has its own comprehensive city bus network, which are yellow.
Local buses in Las Palmas cost EUR 1.40 for one ride if you buy a ticket on the bus (coins preferred).
If you plan to take the bus more than a few times, it’s worth investing in a 10-ticket card (EUR 8.50), on sale at bus stations and newsagents.
Taxi: Taxis are fairly cheap and easy to find, and you can usually catch a taxi on the street. They drive with a sign that will either read “libre” (free) or “ocupado” (taken).
Walking: Walking is a great way to explore Las Palmas, especially the narrow stone streets of historic Vegueta, where you’ll find many museums, bars and restaurants as well as a craft market on Sundays.
Bike: The city of Las Palmas is also conducive to exploring on two wheels. There are 11 kilometres of bike lanes and many companies offering bike rentals. The best way to find a bike to rent is to ask at your accommodation for the closest one.
There are plenty of things to do in Gran Canaria, especially if you enjoy getting active. Water sports, including surfing, bodyboarding, wind surfing, and SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) are especially popular island activities. Gran Canaria is also a very popular surfing destination in Europe. Las Canteras Beach is a perfect zone for beginners, whereas El Confital, located just north of Las Palmas, is famous for big waves and favoured by experienced surfers. If you’re interested in learning to surf or doing some SUP, try Mojosurf Canarias.
If it’s just some time on the sand you’re after, minus the water sports, make sure to spend some time at the aforementioned Las Canteras Beach. Known as one of the top urban beaches in Europe, Las Canteras stretches for around two kilometres and water is calm and warm year-round. The beachfront promenade has an abundance of cafes and restaurants, many with terraces overlooking the water.
It’s not just water-related activities that the island is known for. Gran Canaria is one of the world’s finest destinations for mountain biking. There are numerous trails still unexplored, but note that the routes are pretty tough and therefore best for experienced mountain bikers. There are different companies that provide equipment and organise mountain bike tours. Free Motion is the most popular one.
Hiking is another great way to explore the island. There are several different trails to explore, and the most popular points to reach are Pico De las Nieves (the highest point of the island), and the hike that takes you past Roque Nublo and Roque Bentiaga. Roque Nublo is considered one of the biggest natural crags in the world, standing at a height of 80 metres.
For anyone who loves live music, Las Palmas is a great place to visit. You can listen to live music for free in different locations on Las Canteras Beach every week. There’s also a jazz festival in July, and TEMUDAS, a theatre, music and dance festival, in July and August.
Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers day tours in Gran Canaria and beyond, all led by local experts and that will give you a taste for local life:
Behind Las Canteras – Bites, Sights and Stories
Most visitors to Las Palmas stick to the beach and don’t realise they’re missing out on a vibrant city experience that boasts historic sites, colonial architecture and a flourishing food scene. Break away from the pack and take this fun-packed introductory tour to get to know the city beyond the beach.
Tapas Tour in Colonial Las Palmas
Las Palmas’ old town is a secret mecca for foodies, full of tiny hidden bars and authentic restaurants boasting an array of tapas treats to titillate your taste buds. Take a walk through the charming colonial streets with a local and try regional specialties that you won’t find in your guidebook! As we walk, you’ll learn about the unique cuisine of the Canary Islands and discover some fascinating facts about their history.
Markets of Madrid
Escape the tourist traps and discover the lesser known historical neighbourhoods of Madrid. Learn how these areas have changed over time, explore the hidden gems of these residential areas, and experience how the locals live — and eat! Along the way, pop in and out of local markets and sample traditional Spanish tapas.
Marrakech Tajine Cookery Class
Receive a Moroccan masterclass on this Marrakech tour that will send you home with supreme, inside knowledge of tajine making and the delicate art of market haggling. Smug home cook alert!
Gran Canaria is a very popular choice among filmmakers because of its unique landscapes. Some movies with scenes filmed on the island include For A Few Dollars More with Clint Eastwood, Fast and Furious 6 with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, Wild Oats with Demi Moore, and Allied with Brad Pitt.
Efecto Pasillo is an alternative rock/pop rock band formed in the Canary Islands. Their songs will put you in the mood for a visit to the island.
The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie was written while the author was living in Las Palmas, and has many references to the island, in particular to the beach of Las Nieves in Agaete.
Gran Canaria is one of the biggest and most important islands belonging to the sun-blessed Canaries Archipelago. Popular with holidaymakers for its year-round sun and beautiful beaches, there are also many hidden gems here that would amaze even the most experienced traveller, but you’ll need a local guide to help you find them all!