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Gran Canaria is one of the most visited destinations among European travelers. Most people come here for the sun and sea, but did you know there are a lot of other things to do on Gran Canaria? I have lived on this wonderful Canary Island in nearly three years in total, which means it has become a bit like a second home to me.

Here are 8 things you didn’t know you could experience on Gran Canaria!

Big City Life in Las Palmas

Many who travel to Gran Canaria will not come closer to Las Palmas than Las Palmas airport, where they quickly leave by taxi or shuttle bus to the resorts on the southern part.

But, those who go will experience a big city filled with life and movement almost around the clock.

Las Palmas features local restaurants and charming bars mixed with shopping and an old town with beautiful architecture. Here is also one of Europe’s finest city beaches and one of Spain’s largest shopping center.

Did you know that even Christopher Columbus himself has lived in Las Palmas for a short period?

At the Casa de Colón, one can walk in the footsteps of Columbus and watch and compare old maps with our contemporary world map, or why not take a look at a copy of his diary.

In short, it is full of things to do and attractions in Las Palmas, and there is always something new to discover. It’s also easy to get here. Bus number 1 runs all the way from the south and connects all the tourist destinations with departures every 20 minutes during daytime.

Explore a volcanic crater

You may know that Gran Canaria is a volcanic island, just like the other Canary Islands, but did you know that you can actually climb down into an ancient volcanic crater? The crater I’m talking about is called La Caldera Bandama and is situated between Telde and Las Palmas.

In Sweden it’s not every day you come across a volcanic crater, but here’s your chance to go down to a huge volcanic crater, which measures the entire 1000 meters in diameter and 200 meters in depth. To get down, you go through a steep trail that takes about 35 minutes.

What awaits is not a dead area, but a lush little valley with wild orange trees, fig trees, and palm trees. It grows even more exotic plants like eucalyptus and agave as well.

Do not forget to bring proper shoes and water since it’s both steep and hot.

caldera la bandama

Wine tasting at local vineyards

Few tourists know that there are over 50 wineries in Gran Canaria. On the island, several endemic grapes are growing, including “listan Negro” and “listan Blanco”. The wines have a unique taste that you probably have not experienced before.

The vineyards are concentrated around Monte Lentiscal, located near the volcanic crater Caldera la Bandama.

Desert Hiking

In Gran Canaria, just a little bit away from the loungers of Playa del Ingles is a great desert, also known as the Maspalomas Desert. Did you know that the sand here actually comes from the mighty Sahara Desert? Each year, massive amounts of sand blow from Africa, which for thousands of years have formed a very own mini version of the Sahara Desert.

Maspalomas desert stretches all the way from Playa del Ingles to Meloneras. The dunes are lined up one after another, and for those who feel hungry for adventure, I can recommend sandboarding or desert safari on quad bikes.

Walking along the lush valleys

The indigenous population, the Guanches created hundreds of hiking trails that go all over the island. Today, tourists can enjoy these and hike along the lush green valleys with palm trees and wild fruits.

My favorite is undoubtedly the hiking trail that goes through the valley of thousands of palms, also known as Fataga valley. On the way, you can make a stop at the village of Fataga, where you can sit down at one of the charming restaurants and try some Canarian delicacies.

fatagadalen

Go on a rum-tasting tour

In addition to wine, Rum is also manufactured here, more specifically in the small village of Arucas. Here you can go on a guided tour of the factory and learn about the process of making rum, and of course, also sample the different varieties.

Arehucas is one of my favorite types of Rum as it’s both tasty and cheap to buy. You’ll also get to try the Canarian liqueur Ron Miel, which is a mixture of Canarian rum and honey. Perfect after a good meal or as an aperitif.

While you’re in Arucas, you can also take the opportunity to visit the grand old church, or why not dine at the Michelin restaurant that offers a spectacular view from above the mountain top.

Whales and dolphin watching

If you dream of seeing wild whales and dolphins, then you should not miss going out on Whale and dolphin watching when you go to Gran Canaria.

As many as 26 different species of whales live in the waters around Gran Canaria, and the most common ones are dolphins, sperm whales, blue whales and fin whales.

Every day there are boats departing from Puerto Rico.

Sunbathe and swim with Caribbean sand under your feet

That you can sunbathe and swim in Gran Canaria, you probably knew already. But did you know that there is actual sand from the Caribbean? It is on the luxurious beach Anfi Beach, where they’ve transported several tons of sand from the Bahamas to create a mini version of the Caribbean.

Do not miss out on a visit to Anfi Beach where pure white powdery sand and turquoise waters await. Fancy a nice drink? Just walk to the beach club located next to the beach. Here awaits luxurious sun loungers with umbrellas and cushions. It is free to be there if you order drinks or food.

anfi beach

Flight tickets to Gran Canaria

Find hotels in Gran Canaria

Make sure to read my travel guide to Gran Canaria as well. That contains everything you need to know before and during your trip.