General information: Gran Canaria is the largest island in the entire archipelago of the Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic ocean, a three-hour flight from Brussels and with the time change of one hour (less). Sometimes people get confused and believe that the Canary Islands are next to peninsular Spain, but no, those are the Balearic Islands – you know Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and those famous things. The Canary Islands are next to Morocco, so geographically seen they are not even in Europe, but in Africa. Canary Islands are 7: Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Tenerife, Gomera, Lanzarote, La Palma, El Hierro. The islands have a population of around 2 million inhabitants. The capital, located in the north of Gran Canaria, is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, better known as Las Palmas, with some 400,000 inhabitants. The currency is the euro, as in the rest of Spain. It’s a very safe tourist destination, you can go there alone without any problem.
How are the people?
The Canarians are Spanish, but they are much more like Latinos than as Spanish, with an accent, mentality and lifestyle. Relaxing, always in a good mood, kind, taking the necessary time and more than that to say hello and talk to their friends and those who are going to become their friends, eating and drinking well : all off that is essential for many Canarians. It’s not enough to say that I liked the people, no, I loved them.
How to get there?
By plane or by boat, depending on where. But since it’s an island, the most common thing is to go there by plane. Gran Canaria airport is located in the south of the island and it’s very easy and cheap to go by bus to Las Palmas from the airport. Well, they came to pick me up, but for going back I took a bus.
What to eat?
You have to take advantage of those good prices (taxes on the island are very low, therefore the prices are low too) and eat in restaurants every day hahaha, the obligatory thing is clearly fish, but in the end you can eat anything, it’s good and cheap. Also, something typical of the Canary Islands is “leche y leche”, that is, coffee with condensed milk. A bit too sweet for my taste, but it’s necessary to try, it’s something very typical from there.
Tourist attractions :
1) Playa de las Canteras: One of my favorite places on the island. It’s a beach that simply attracts one to be there and stroll to exhaustion and then have a coffee always with a view of sea, waves and surfers practicing there. I even think that after San Sebastián beach (in the Basque Country) it’s the most beautiful beach I have seen in Spain. For now, I need to travel more.
2) the dunes of Maspalomas – that is something where you can find all the tourists and almost no Canarians, except if they work there. In the south of the island there are a couple of small towns made for tourists already in the last century when the Canary Islands began to open up to mass tourism, that old and typical “sun and beach” tourism, which was what people from the north of Europe were looking for. Right now you could see many retirees from northern Europe who spend part of the year in the Canary Islands and another in the countries from which they originate. Why? Well, in the north you don’t have sun for 6 months and in Canary Islands you have the eternal spring. It’s also common to see families with young children staying in those resorts next to the dunes. I understand the logic, the Canarians got money and jobs there but also took tourists away from the city, so they avoided rising food / rent / everything prices and also prevented tourists from invading their lifestyle. Apparently, tourists and locals alike benefit from such tourism. Anyway, returning to the dunes, is considered to be an extension of Sahara, which is very near by and, with the help of the strong wind, sends some of its sand to the Canary Islands.
3) shopping malls: Don’t make them fool you, in Gran Canaria there are many shopping malls because tourists buy a lot, not because Canarians love shopping. The Canary Islands have a privileged status when it comes to taxes, a decision by the Spanish government so that people don’t leave the islands as much. The price of food, clothing, rentals and everything is incredibly low for such a popular tourist destination. That is why shopping malls flourish, there are a lot, and the same brands that would be much more expensive there are cheaper, so I also bought a couple of things, of course, to feel a little more like the typical tourist from the north – I came from Brussels, where I currently live. A quality coat that in Belgium or in any other country I would pay 60/70 euros there I paid 20.
4) La Vegueta – the old and colonial part of Las Palmas. It reminded me a lot of South America, I wonder why. There is the cathedral and a couple of pretty churches, there is the house of Cristobál Colón, many places to go with friends and eat something, there is a street full of cafes and shops, there is the university … there are several beautiful things to see, I recommend you to pass one day there.
5) the continental part of the island: it’s nice to go to Pico de las Nieves (the highest peak of the island) or at least to go through some viewpoints, such as Unamuno (the detailed description in the previous article, you ‘ll see why) or anyone else really, because you’ll have a spectacular view and literally be above the clouds, it’s a beautiful feeling.
Unlike the first article in which I told you about all the unexpected adventures of my trip to the Canary Islands, in this one I told you what I think most of the people who visit Gran Canaria do. Stroll along the sandy beaches, go for a leche y leche or dine in a restaurant with a good view – what is normally the ocean view, go to the shopping mall, go to the dunes of Maspalomas, visit the Vegueta. I honestly don’t know how I managed to do all this and everything that I had already explained in the previous post in so few days. Didn’t I sleep? I hardly stayed for a week. Sometimes I surprise myself. And well, that was a relaxing vacation, not to mention my most active trips haha that are even crazier.
Although I traveled alone to Gran Canaria, I was with my friends who live there almost every day, so I was really able to get a good insight into the culture and daily life of a Canarian person. I am aware that few people have the privilege of meeting many people from there, of going through the villages, of staying in a hacienda in Santa María de Guía de Gran Canaria (sound like a telenovela I know) with a view of the sea and the banana crops. Apparently I’m lucky in this life, I don’t know what else to say. Although I believe that in part you get to deserve the luck with your acts. So, the conclusion is that it’s clearly more beautiful to go where you know someone, because there is the guarantee that you will have a good time. But in any case, Gran Canaria is a tourist destination that everyone can enjoy, whether you know someone there or not.