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Published: February 4th 2017
Before going, I knew virtually nothing about the Canary Islands except that they were an isolated travel destination in the Atlantic. We went during the off-season meaning colder temperatures and water, less activity, and cheaper housing prices. Gran Canaria, along with Tenerife, are the two busiest of the Canaries. We spent a week staying entirely on the north – four nights in Santa Maria de Guia and three on the beach in Las Palmas. For the most part we completely avoided the very touristy resort areas of Maspalomas, Playa del Ingles, and Puerto Rico in the South so I can’t comment on them except to say that they didn’t appeal to me after talking to locals nor after driving through on the first day. Below is a basic summary and some thoughts on the Island.
Day 1 (January 11th
)– Arrive and drive to Puerto de Morgan. Drive to Santa Maria de Guia to stay.
We arrived in the early afternoon, rented a car, and then drove to Puerto de Morgan to enjoy the last of the afternoon sunshine and get some food. There we had a nice walk through the attractive waterfront neighborhood and had a great
meal at Casito Mediterraneo. After this we drove up to our spacious four-bedroom Casa Verde in Guia.
Day 2 (January 12th
) – To Agaete & Puerto de las Nieves, GC200 West Coast Road, Galdar
In the morning we headed for Puerto de las Nieves and walked around the seashore. We then grabbed a great lunch at Ragu. One notable new thing that we really liked was the dessert polvito Uruguayo. Next we drove up on the winding GC200 for some great views above the coastline and also a short off-road hike for more good views. We then explored downtown Agaete before heading to Galdar to walk the downtown at sunset.
Day 3 (January 13th
) – Gran Canaria knives in Guia, Artenara, Tejeda, Roque Nublo
Our first stop on Day 3 was to see Francisco Torres at his workshop business Cuchillos Canarios in Guia. There I was happy to get my big souvenir for the trip – a genuine Canary knife. Then we were off for a drive through the mountains in the middle of the island. We first stopped at the scenic small town of Artenara. Then, we headed to Tejeda another
very scenic mountain village. I wish we had more time to walk around Tejeda and get in a hike or two there. A must stop is the Dulceria Nublo. After some getting numerous tasty treats at this bakery we saw their products everywhere across the island. The highlight of the day was the drive and then hike to Roque Nublo at sunset. There we had stunning views of the rock formations and also of the valleys below in the setting sun. We made one more quick stop at Arucas that night. There we took in the neigborhoods and also saw the impressive cathedral that is extraordinary in scale for the small city.
Day 4 (January 14th
) – Teror, Arucas
We were slow getting going this day but eventually got over to Teror during their weekly market. Teror was a nice town to walk around and we picked up some local honey and cheese. We had lunch at one of the local bars but it wasn’t very good – a trend we started noticing in the small towns. We headed back for a stop and stroll around Arucas. For a town of just 10,000 people Arucas had
an impressive, ‘Gaudi-esque’ cathedral that dominates the downtown. No luck finding a restaurant that we wanted to eat at so we headed back to Ragu in Puerto de las Nieves.
Day 5 (January 15th
) – Aguimes, Guayadeque, arrival in Las Palmas
We moved out of Casa Verde and headed down the east coast on Day 5. Our first stop was at Aguimes. There we walked around the touristy area for a bit and enjoyed relaxing in one of their city parks. We didn’t find too much to do there so we headed over to Guayadeque which along with Roque Nublo were the nature highlights of the trip. At Guayadeque you have interesting cave houses and cave restaurants that appeared to be the big draw. We did a nice hike above the cave houses and got some outstanding views. We decided that if we return we would like to take more time to have a meal in one of the cave restaurants – maybe the one at the end of the Guayadeque road.
Days 6 & 7 Playa de las Canteras and Las Palmas
We had a great Air BnB located right on
Playa de las Canteras. We could walk right out of our place onto the boardwalk and then beach. So, we spent part of each day on the beach and part exploring. One day we went to the historic area of Las Palmas. We were impressed with this area and with the city in general. It was walkable and the bus system was easy and efficient. Driving was not so simple. If you have a car and are staying on or near the beach we would recommend giving in and paying for parking at Olaf Palme parking garage.
What We Didn’t Do But Would Like To Do Next Time
-Spend more time in and around Tejeda and do some hiking here
-Hike to Roque Bentayga
-Go in the warmer months to snorkel and swim
-See the sand dunes in Maspalomas
-Stay somewhere we can pick and eat our own oranges
-Visit another island in the Canaries
-We would recommend Ragu in Puerto de las Nieves. We ate there twice and had good fish. We also had polvito Uruguayo and it was excellent (wish I had some now!).
-On the beach in Playa de las Canteras go to Pena de la Vieja. We did take away in the stirofoam containers for larger portions J. Would recommend chocolate, dulce de leche, and frutas del bosque as flavors.
-In general, we were a bit disappointed in the bars and small restaurants that we found in the small cities so, unfortunately nothing to recommend there (except Ragu).
-Get cheese and honey! I went a little overboard buying jar after jar of the different honey to try – my suitcase was bulging. Their manchego cheese and those similar to manchego are very good. We even liked the packaged queso de oveja from Spar. The local market in Teror is a good place to taste and buy local cheese.
-Everything almond! We were fortunate to see the almond trees in bloom in the interior. The Dulceria Tejeda Nublo in Tejeda sends products all over the island. Go there and try from the source and get fresh, soft almond cookies – not those prepackaged with extended ‘lifetime’ dates.
Other things of note:
-It’s cold in January especially at night in the interior! So, bring warm clothes
and don’t expect much time in the water.
-Driving isn’t bad on most of the island except for some narrow roads in some small towns and in the mountains. Also, the casco full insurance is very cheap per day.
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