Gran Canaria, a continent in a miniature

Gran Canaria is the third largest of the Canary Islands. Looking at its shape it is the most round one. As a tourist desitnation it is often thought of as a popular place to get away from winter. Especially among people living in the north of Europe. How can you visit such place without becoming one of a million tourists?

Nearby Roque Nublo

My sister Luiza, after many years of living in Berlin, concluded: “people in Germany are just stressed by work and worried about having to pay off their brand new Mercedess, instead of meeting friends and enjoying life“. She thought like she was done with Berlin chapter in her life.

It didn’t take her long to get rid of everything that could not fit into her suitcase and to move to Gran Canaria. She decided to surf and enjoy the good weather for most of the year. From then on I felt like a visit was imminent.

Without thinking for too long, we have gathered the whole familia grande and took off with a flight to Gran Canaria.

Luiza lives in Las Palmas, the capital and largest city of the island. Right on the beach and just a short walk to popular surfing spots.

In the middle of the island, in the Tejeda area, we set off on the trail leading to Pico de las Nieves – the second highest peak of the island 1949 m a.s.l., as well as the interesting rock formation Roque Nublo at an altitude of 1813 m (third highest point).

By following several flagship routes, you can go on further explorations. The terrain is fantastic, the island is mostly mountainous with full vegetation, but there are also rocky, desert or flat areas. At times you may even see a precipice. In addition there beaches and desert dunes. The badge ‘miniature continent’ accredited to the island was probably well deserved.

Hiking trails in the region of Tejeda, Gran Canaria
Pico de las Nieves, “Snowy peak”

No doubt there is always something to do on the island throughout the day. The best and easiest way to get around is by rental car, but in other case (especially when planning routes from A to B instead of routes starting and ending in the same place) you can also relay on taking a public bus. The island has a relatively well-functioning bus connection network.

When the training or walking trail is done, it’s time to get to know various districts of Las Palmas and the small climate towns scattered around the island. It is always a good idea to find a good local restaurant to enjoy the Canarian cuisine. It’s not just papas arrugadas, a dish made of potatoes in wrinkled skins, served with chilli-garlic green or red mojo sauce. It is primarily a large selection of seafood, fish, as well as local varieties of paella and other popular dishes from mainland Spain, which have gained an interesting local makeover.

The Christmas atmosphere has also reached the islands, but isn’t it too hot for Santa?

During my stay in Las Palmas I didn’t feel like I am on one of the world’s most touristic islands. Everything is genuinely Canarian and vibrant with everyday life. On the street we meet more locals than tourists. Maybe it’s a bit from the perspective of Luisa’s friends and the fact that we always got an idea of where, when and how we are supposed to do things.

The other opposite is Maspalomas. The place is a bit like a ghetto for beach goers and resembles a typical seaside resort. I suppose that most tourists choose to stay in this area specifically. It turns out that people simply want to experience the island just like on a advert, laying on a lounger in a full sun with cotton candy and a colorful drink with a palm in hand. That’s more convenient than having to move or explore.

However, there is at least one good reason to come here for a few hours. Desert Dunes!

Maspalomas Dunes nature reserve, Gran Canaria, Spain
Sculptures in the sand, fortunately beyond the reach of high tide :)
December in Las Palmas

Some areas of the island are already explored. Now it is needed to plan another visit to experience the island during the Transgrancanaria race, an ultramaraton of 128km trail running from Las Palmas in the north through the center to the southern shore in Maspalomas. This way you could see how this whole changing landscape forms into one whole!