What to do in Gran Canaria in winter

What to do in Gran Canaria in winter

Escape the winter, take a break from the cold to bask in the sun and dive into the ocean waters. It was an idea that had been spinning in my head for a while and at the end of February I managed to give it shape and substance, through a trip to Gran Canaria with a friend.

The choice of this island Spanish nestled in the Atlantic, a South-West Morocco was gained after discovering that of the archipelago it is the warmest island and the one with many different landscapes to discover and micro-climates to experience. I packed a bit of everything in my suitcase: from swimsuits to sweatshirts, not knowing exactly what to expect from the island of eternal spring. But, thanks to one temperature between 26 and 30 degrees during the day my daytime attire has never required more than a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, while my evening attire has never required a jacket, given the thermometer has dropped to 20-22 degrees.

Arrival in Gran Canaria

The impact with Gran Canaria is magnetic, almost mystical: upon our arrival the profile of the hills is blurred due to the ‘calima’, a sirocco wind coming from the Sahara, which brings with it, in addition to the hot African air, dust and sand which cloaks everything in an opaque blanket.

I drive along the road that winds between palm trees and barren land until the our hotel, the Barcelona Margaritas, located in the southern part of the island. Just enough time to put on our swimsuits and we are already in the pool getting warmed by the warm afternoon sun, incredulous and happy.

In the evening we tour the area by car to understand the nightlife and discover the Playa des Ingles, populated with venues designed for ‘easy’ entertainment, loved by English and Norwegians, made up of piano bars, drag queens and streaming football matches. Italians, as we will see in the following evenings, prefer the elegance of the restaurants located in the Maspalomas lighthouse area.

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Las Palmas on the North coast

The following day the discovery of the territory can only begin from the capital: The Palms. It’s love at first sight with the Vegetathe historic center populated by pastel-colored colonial houses and wooden balconies, the cobbled streets and the Plaza de Santa Ana overlooked by the cathedral of the same name. My mind returns to L’Avana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos of Cuba also lands of Spanish conquest.

The most beautiful buildings are concentrated within a few hundred meters: Christopher Columbus’ house-museum the Bishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace, the library and the Vegueta market, where among the stalls of colorful exotic fruit, we are offered strawberries and papayas.

We cross Calle Mayor de Triana, full of shops, and then reach the Triana neighborhood where the Pèrez Galdòs Theater and Plaza de Cairasco are located, where the Gabinete Literario is located, a beautiful building in art nouveau style hosting a Literary Society. In the early afternoon we leave the capital to continue north. In this part of the island, natural pools are created between the rocks and the ocean, where you can rest in the sun and swim even when the Atlantic waters are rough. Now we see Los Charcones de Bañaderos to relax to the sound of the wind blowing from the North, stretched out as best we can between dark rock cliffs, crowded with crabs with strange red and black streaks and extra dimensions.


Once the northern area of ​​the island has been archived, it’s time to discover the South. A friend had told me about Mogan as an essential stop on my trip. I arrive in the fishing village and immediately understand why. Imagine a bay with a small port overlooked by white houses with straight lines outlined in blue, yellow, red, green. And now look at the bougainvillea in full bloom, at the transparent sea on which more or less imposing yachts float. Listen to the murmur of the people sitting at the restaurant tables, intent on chatting while the sun does its duty in the middle of February. We eat toast with avocado cream, salmon and egg, accompanied by a lemon beer, while contemplating the sea, for the modest sum of 12 euros per person. We run to the beach where we stay until the afternoon, when we walk backwards along the large tree-lined avenue to reach the car and head to Playa de Amadores, a long stretch of golden sand protected from the wind, lapped by crystal clear waters. Just one kilometer away is the lively center of Puerto Rico; here we stop for a tropical smoothie before returning to our hotel.

The sand dunes of Maspalomas

It’s already Wednesday and the time has come to discover the main attraction of Gran Canaria: the sand dunes of Maspalomas. Here I’m really struggling to find the words that can summarize this unique experience. Hills of fine golden sand moved by the wind, dirtied by the footsteps of tourists, lost in the ocean. Initially fearful, we decide to follow the perimeter following one of the routes recommended on the map, but after a few meters we feel the call of the Arena mountains. We take off our shoes and barefoot we begin our up and down walk while the wind shakes us and the sand, illuminated by the sun, shines in every direction. We struggle, we fall, we sink our hands into the barely warm grains, we change direction because there is too much wind there and the descent is too steep, but we live an unforgettable experience in a nature reserve sculpted by nature in an almost imperceptible way, day after day .

The sand dunes of Maspalomas

Fataga and the hinterland

After a lunch break by the pool we visit the hinterland and what is considered one of the most beautiful villages on the island: Harbor. Given that the roads are all very well asphalted and looked after, the route that takes us there is a succession of uphill bends and a joy for the numerous cyclists we meet along the way. In the end, after half an hour’s drive, we find ourselves in a placid corner of white houses, small streets and lots of flowers, in a valley surrounded by cliffs.

In the country life is conducted without haste and we can’t help but experience this time in slow motion, among the alleys, the souvenir shops and the pretty little church of San Josèwhile we take photos and smile at the few inhabitants we meet.

Fataga Gran Canaria

Returning in the direction of Maspalomas we stop to admire the view from the viewpoint Slaughter of the Mares: ravines, mountains, canyons overlap in a lunar vision.

Before returning to the hotel we decide on one last stop along the way: the Maspalomas lighthouse. Here we discover sunsets over the ocean to be enjoyed sitting on a wall, while musicians sing the notes of Wild World by Cat Stevens… nothing short of a perfect soundtrack for the waves crashing on pebbles of black volcanic stone. The place is alive, teeming with people and clubs. We promise to return the next day for after dinner at Caffè del Mar.

Telde and the Guayadeque ravine

Time passes inexorably in the Canary Islands and we cannot waste it; the time has come to discover the second largest city on the island: Counted. To tell the truth, I had higher expectations for this place, which is nevertheless worthy of interest for the ancient core of San Juan and that of San Francisco, with its narrow uphill streets, which can be reached by crossing the arched bridge, overlooking lush plantations of bananas and oranges. The sleepy atmospheres recall Central America and a pre-Hispanic past, crystallized in the immaculate low houses and trapped in the figure of Christ, inside the church of San Juan Bautista, built by the Tarasco Indians of Mexico.

On the way back we make a small detour towards the Guayadeque ravine, a hidden gem. It is a 15 km ravine with a magnetic charm to the visitor’s eye, due to its rugged landscape of steep slopes covered with cacti and native vegetation and a sinuous path that passes close to the caves used as private homes, farmhouses and restaurants. We limit ourselves to a car ride but there are several trekking routes that start from here.

Guayadeque ravine

Return to Mogàn

It’s Friday and the heart takes us back to Mogan, with the excuse of the weekly market. This time the visit begins from the mirador, which is accessed via a staircase of approximately 300 steps. We admire the village from above, which seems even more beautiful from here, and then we go down among the stalls. We opt for a bit of healthy relaxation on the beach, where we stay for a couple of hours, before our appetite drives us to the marina for a prawn and guacamole toast accompanied by the usual lemon beer and I confess that, along the way , I glanced at a showcase of real estate ads… you never know, I might finally decide to change my life! It’s already afternoon when we return to the hotel and for once we decide to live like a ‘village’, getting involved in the entertainment in the pool before dinner.

After the rich buffet of international cuisine, we choose Caffè del Mar in Maspalomas for a beautiful Canarian evening. The location is incredible: lighthouse area, on the seafront, elegant, refined, with a large central stage with a waterfall as a backdrop and in front of which dancers, musicians and singers of undisputed talent perform, creating a high-level show .


Saturday is the last day on the island and we decide to spend it on the Meloneras beach, which overlooks the lush golf course. After a few hours in the sun we opt for a panoramic walk which, in less than two km overlooking the sea, takes us to the lighthouse. The lunch break consists of a glass of exotic fruit eaten on a bench facing the ocean, while we follow the surfers’ acrobatics with interest. This is the exact moment in which I understand why so many Europeans decide to move here, a pearl of arid land immersed in the blue and white of sea foam.

On Sunday we leave again but with the promise of returning to the Canary Islands, where I left a little piece of my heart, whose beats are confused with the noise of the Atlantic waves, with that of the wind blowing between the sand dunes and in the depths of the canyon.

Useful tips

To visit the island it is advisable to rent a car, given the low costs of the service, free parking almost everywhere, the low price of petrol (1,290 euros per litre) and the impeccable maintenance of the roads, for which there is no toll.

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