Gran Canaria ocean views from the pool

Radisson Blu Resort, Gran Canaria

The best of Gran Canaria

Spain's third largest Canary Island, Gran Canaria, is the perfect destination for those in search of sun, sand and breath-taking landscape. Many travel to Gran Canaria for the world-famous beaches, but you will be quickly surprised by just how much there is to see on this relatively small island. From its dramatic, mountainous interior to the white-sand beaches that hug its balmy coast, this island has a variety of activities and landscapes.

The founders of Gran Canaria Info, an independent travel information site that combines outstanding photography with excellent insider tips, partnered with the Radisson Blu Resort, Gran Canaria to compile a list of the best things to see and do during your stay on the island.

Must-visit beaches

Patalavaca: Patalavaca tends to be quieter than many of Gran Canaria's other top beaches.

Anfi Beach: West of Patalavaca, Anfi Beach is the ideal destination for a family day out. The beach offers sandy shores, crystal-clear water and an attractive backdrop filled with coconut palms and hibiscus hedges.

Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés: These two adjoining beaches stretch across 6 kilometers of the island’s coast, with a nudist section at the meeting point between the two. Behind Maspalomas Beach lie the famous Maspalomas sand dunes, which make a great backdrop for family photos. The sand can get very hot during the day, which is why it is best to try and get your shot in the early morning or late afternoon.

Also worth a visit: Puerto Rico beach, Amadores Beach and the small beach next to the Puerto de Mogán Marina.

Exciting attractions

Maspalomas Dunes: These spectacular sand dunes have been a national park since 1994 and are interspersed with walking trails that let you explore their pristine slopes – you'll feel like you're wandering through a seaside desert.

Puerto de Mogán Marina: A charming harbor side development with a glittering marina and friendly community feel, the Puerto de Mogán Marina is located on Gran Canaria's southwest coast. It's a wonderful place to wander, particularly on Mondays and Fridays, when there's a local open-air market offering everything from leather goods to fresh produce.

Palmitos Park: Set in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains, this fascinating botanical garden, aquarium and aviary is home to a variety of charismatic creatures – from playful dolphins and exotic butterflies, to hummingbirds and colorful fish. Be sure to catch one of the interactive dolphin shows or birds of prey demonstrations during your visit to Palmitos Park.

Las Palmas: The capital of Gran Canaria boasts a scenic location that is surrounded by beautiful beaches and a fantastic selection of shopping, dining and nightlife. Also, the charming old town quarter of Vegueta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although, one of the most popular quarters to visit on the island is the Plaza de Santa Ana Madrid

The best shopping opportunities

Gran Canaria has outstanding shopping, whether you are looking for designer goods in modern shopping complexes or are in search of a unique local souvenir. The locally produced pottery, felt hats and embroidery all make for particularly popular souvenirs.

Visit the Puerto de Mogán market on Monday for interesting local crafts and trinkets – while it isn't as large as the market on Fridays, the focus is more firmly on locally produced goods.

Or, if you're looking for brands such as H&M, Mango and Zara, head to the Triana shopping district in Las Palmas, which has been voted the best outdoor shopping area in Spain. Off the main street, you'll find cobblestone streets filled with smaller independent boutiques.

Outdoor adventures

Travel beyond the beaches with a trip into one of the three rugged valleys that pierce the island's southern side: Arguineguíin, Fataga and Mogán. Each of the valleys offer scenic landscapes filled with peaceful reservoirs and fragrant pine forests.

In the town of Aguimes, the nearby Guayadeque Valley is worth a visit. This valley served as a stronghold for the island's original Canari people. The information center located in the valley provides plenty of resources surrounding the area’s history. There is also a restaurant tucked within a cave, which is a refreshing place to stop for lunch, right at the end of the road.

Head out to sea: if you can't drag yourself away from the coast, try setting sail to catch a glimpse if the dolphins, turtles, and other fascinating marine life that inhabit in the area. Dolphin-watching tours depart from the Puerto Base marina in Puerto Rico.

Where to eat in Gran Canaria

Samsara: With a prime location in the lovely Maspalomas oasis, Samsara boasts stunning views of the nearby beach and lagoon from its rooftop terrace. Reservations are essential at this popular venue.

El Churrasco: Specializing in tender Argentinian steaks, El Churrasco will satisfy the most demanding meat lover. The restaurant also features beautiful views of the ocean from its prime location on Meloneras Boulevard. It is worth trying to book a window seat here.

Taste Meson: Located in Arguineguín, Taste Meson offers tasty tapas-style dishes alongside their extensive wine list. This restaurant, with its spacious seating area overlooking the water, is an ideal venue for sampling a wide-selection of wines.

Los Canarios 1: Tucked away in a quiet corner of Arguineguín, Los Canarios 1 is a popular place to dine with locals. At this laid-back restaurant, diners are able to choose from a selection of Spanish favorites.

In some of the smaller Canarian restaurants tucked away on the quiet hillsides. you can sample local favorites such as: ropa vieja stew (chick pea and chicken stew flavored with laurel leaves), carne de cerdo (fried pork), puntitas de calamari (tiny battered squid), potaje de berros (watercress soup) and, of course, the famous papas con mojo (salty boiled potatoes served with spicy salsa).