Say Hola to Gran Canaria: Where To Stay for a Sun-Soaked Getaway
From rural retreats to seaside escapes, this Spanish island has just what you need for a fun-filled vacation
Brimming with action, adventure and jaw-dropping natural beauty, Gran Canaria is one of the most exciting holiday destinations out there. From deep sea explorations and hiking in the mountains, to slowing down in sleepy villages, there’s something for everyone here. With so much on offer, choosing somewhere to use as a base can be overwhelming. Luckily for you, our travel experts at Plum Guide know the island inside out. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide on where to stay in Gran Canaria, so that all you have left to do is pack your bags.
Landscape of Las Palmas city centre and the sea, Gran Canaria
What better place to stay than Gran Canaria’s vibrant capital? This is the best choice for travellers who want a good mix of action and relaxation. Spend your days sightseeing in the city’s historic Vegueta district, where you’ll come across narrow cobbled streets and grand old buildings. Pick up souvenirs in the various local markets like Mercado Central and Mercadillo de Vegueta, or try local specialities with the Ruta del Pincho tapas bar crawl. In between all that exploring, spend your downtime on Las Canteras, a 3.5-kilometre stretch of sand where you can sunbathe, swim or play watersports. A stay in Las Palmas also means you’re well positioned for day trips further afield, such as the wonderful Dunes of Maspalomas, the incredible Caldera la Bandama or various wineries around the island.
Aerial views of Maspalomas sand dunes and Atlantic Ocean, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Wondering where to stay in Gran Canaria for your first visit? Located on the island’s south coast, the resort town of Maspalomas is a great option, especially for families. The town has a little bit of everything, with a lovely mix of natural beauty, laid-back beaches and lively nightlife. Its main draw is its dunes, an immense expanse of golden sands covering an area of around 1,000 acres. Continuously sculpted by the wind and the sea, this amazing natural wonder is home to a beautiful beach, brackish lagoon and palm grove where you can spot migratory birds resting. Walk along the trails leading through the dunes, hop on the back of a camel or glide down the dunes with a sandboarding adventure. Back in town, the fun continues with nearby attractions like Holiday World and Aqualand.
People walking along the Meloneras promenade at sunset, the Faro de Maspalomas lighthouse in the distance, Gran Canaria
Those who prefer something a little more luxurious will enjoy Meloneras, an upscale resort town on the south coast. When you’re not unwinding on the peaceful sandy beach or cooling off in the crystal-clear waters, appreciate the wide range of shops the town has to offer. With countless jewellers, boutiques and designer stores, Meloneras is a haven for those who enjoy a little luxury shopping. You’ll also find plenty of fine dining restaurants, as well as cafes and bars running along the promenade. After the sun sets, Meloneras offers a more refined kind of nightlife. The town has some fabulous places to listen to live music or chill out with a glass of wine – you won’t find rowdy nightclubs here. One of the most popular places to hang out is the Gran Casino Meloneras, where you can try your luck on the roulette wheel before watching the famous Legends Cabaret Show.
Playa del Inglés
View of blue umbrellas on sandy beach, Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria
If partying is what you’re after, Playa del Inglés is the best place for it. Popular since the 1960s, this resort is known throughout Europe as one of the liveliest tourist hotspots with endless restaurants and shopping centres. Although it’s pretty laid-back during the daytime, come nightfall, the town transforms into a vibrant hub of activity. The promenade is lined with bars, pubs and nightclubs where you can let your hair down and dance until the early hours of the morning. Don your best outfit and grab a cocktail at the stylish Atelier Cocktail Bar, complete with an open-air terrace and sea views. Prefer something a little more casual? Tipsy Hammock Bar comes highly recommended, serving excellent food and drinks, as well as slick beats from the resident DJ.
Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria
Families searching for where to stay in Gran Canaria will love Puerto Rico, a resort town on the island’s south coast. Most of your holiday will be spent down on either the sheltered cove of Playa de Puerto Rico or the larger Playa Amadores, a lovely stretch of soft sand backed by a restaurant-packed promenade. Little ones can build sandcastles and splash about in the calm waters, while older children and adults can enjoy the many watersports on offer, like flyboarding, parasailing and jet skiing. There are also plenty of exciting things to do for the whole family, such as boat trips where you can spot whales and dolphins along the coast or have fun on the bouncy castles at Ocean Fun Park.
Puerto de Mogan
Traditional street in Puerto de Mogan lined with whitewashed buildings and pink flowers, Gran Canaria
Couples in search of romance should look no further than Puerto de Mogan. This charming fishing village is often referred to as Gran Canaria’s Little Venice, thanks to the many canals linking the harbour to the marina. Wander hand-in-hand along the narrow cobbled streets, finding yourself in little courtyards decorated with bright bursts of bougainvillaea. When it comes to food and drink, you won’t find it hard to find a restaurant with romantic views of the marina. Despite its tourist scene, the village remains a peaceful spot that has still maintained its traditional and authentic atmosphere. You’ll find that it gets a little busier on Fridays, when it plays host to a popular market where you can pick up local produce, clothes, shoes and souvenirs.
Colourful fishing boats in the harbour of Puerto De Las Nieves, Gran Canaria
Another gorgeous spot for couples or anyone looking for peace and quiet is Agaete, a town on the north of the island. Its whitewashed houses, with their colourful shutters and doors, provide a scenic backdrop to its harbour, Puerto de Las Nieves. There are two main beaches to choose from – Las Nieves and Muelle Beach. You won’t go wrong with either one since they both have calm, clear waters to swim in. Another fantastic swimming spot is the natural pools of Las Salinas de Agaete, full of turquoise sea water but shielded from the ocean by its protective rocks. Need shelter from the sun? Escape to the shade of El Huerto de las Flores. This botanical garden is home to hundreds of plant species from around the world, from huge trees to dainty flowers. It also makes for an idyllic picnic spot.
For those seeking a beach holiday without the crowds, the town of San Agustin is the perfect destination. The beach here is much calmer and quieter compared with other villages, and at over 600 metres long, you won’t struggle to find a space to sunbathe. It’s a sheltered beach with gentle waves, making it a popular place for families or those interested in snorkelling and scuba diving. Despite its quiet location, San Agustin still has a fine selection of bars, restaurants and shops along the promenade, and is especially known for its seafood restaurants serving up traditional Canarian dishes. And if you start to get itchy feet, it’s just a short drive from Maspalomas’s attractions and Playa del Inglés’s nightlife.
Whitewashed homes with terracotta roofs surrounded by green mountains, Tejeda village, Gran Canaria
It may seem strange to come to Gran Canaria and not stay in one of its seaside towns, but once you lay eyes on Tejeda, you’ll soon forget about the beach. Located in the central highlands of the island, this village offers a dreamy rural retreat surrounded by lush mountains. Centred around its charming church, the village’s streets are packed with whitewashed houses with red roofs and flower-filled gardens. Tejeda is a popular place for climbers and walkers who make the most of the many trails leading from the village. Try the well-known Royal Paths (Caminos Reales), once used by the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the island. One of the best times to visit Tejeda is in February, when the annual Almond Blossom Festival takes place. The village is filled with traditional music, food and stalls.
Perched on Gran Canaria's south coast, Arguineguín offers a blend of tourism and local life. The charming fishing town hasn't lost its identity, with cheerfully painted traditional fishing boats coming into port with their daily catch. With its dark gold sand, Arguineguín's beach is an ideal spot to swim and sunbathe. You can also take a leisurely stroll along the promenade that connects Arguineguín to the picturesque coves and bays at the neighbouring resort of Patalavaca. Tuesday is the busiest day of the week in Arguineguín – it's when one of the island's biggest markets is held in town. Get your bargaining hat on and see what treasures you can find in the various stalls that sell everything from fresh local produce and hand-crafted goods to clothes and jewellery.