So you have had few relaxing days around the pool or on the beach and you are totally chilled out – now maybe it is time to do some island exploring. The best way to do this is to hire a car and take a drive around Gran Canaria.
Car Tour of Gran Canaria
You can choose to hire your car from the airport, making the booking in advance if you wish, or from many hire car companies in the resorts. Take a look at our report on getting cheap car hire in Spain.
If you fancy a half day trip (still want to catch a few rays around the pool in the afternoon) why not drive towards the centre of the island heading up from Ingenio to the Cave Houses of Guayadeque. A little bit of history: the Spanish invaded Gran Canaria in the 15th century and the natives of the island known as Guanches had to conform to new regimes – namely, they had to become Catholic, change their names to Spanish names and be prepared to up sticks and move to one of the other Canary Islands. Many people went along with it but several fled to the hills and lived in the caves. Descendants of these folk still live in the cave houses to this day, although the houses have all the luxuries of the modern world. The people who were captured before managing to escape to the mountains were sold off in slave markets in Valencia and Seville.
Whilst at Guayadeque stop a while at the chapel then pop into the bar for the best cafe con leche (milky coffee) in the area. Of course you can try something a little stronger such as the moscatel wine if you wish. Small plates of bread and locally produced cheese and ham will cost you very little. You can even buy a chunk of cheese or piece of ham to take home with you at the end of your holiday. When you have finished your refreshments take a walk up the steps to number 17. The lady who lives there will let you in to have a look around her fascinating cave home.
When you leave the caves and head back down to the main road stop a while at the Museum in Aguimes. It has a theme of crafts over the ages with antiques galore. It is well worth a visit at Christmas time to see one of the many Nativity displays on show in Gran Canaria.
If you decide to travel further afield, although you will not actually cover many kilometres, you should allow the best part of the day to go either into the middle of the island or all the way around it, due to the bendy mountainous roads.
From the main coast road or GC1 motorway take the Fataga road from Playa del Ingles and drive up into the mountains. Just before you reach Fataga there is a viewpoint which you really should not miss. The mountain views take your breath away. Fataga itself is in a valley, known locally as the valley of palms – it is said that every time a baby boy is born a palm tree is planted. From Fataga follow the road to the municipality capital of San Bartolome De Tirajana. Be sure to stop off at the little shop on the corner selling an abundance of fresh fruit.
Continue up to the village of Tejeda and amidst the pine forests and mountainous countryside you will see fine samples of flora and fauna. Travel just a little bit further to Cruce Tejeda (Tejeda crossroads) where there is a small street market selling locally produced items. Sit outdoors and people watch from one of the restaurants overlooking the crossroads. Follow the road up to the highest point of the island from where, on a clear day, you can see Tenerife’s mount Teide.
Now its time to make your descent back to the resort area where you are staying. An excellent route to take is the road to Pueblo Mogan stopping off at El Tostador’s famous restaurant, Acaymo. It is a great place to try the local tapas on offer. The road from Pueblo Mogan down to the port (Puerto Mogan) will then lead you onto the coastal route back to your resort.
If you fancy taking in the capital city which is fabulous for shopping and historical sight-seeing you can head straight up the GC1 to Las Palmas from your resort area. You could combine a shopping tour with a drive along the northwest coast of the island passing through Galdar, Guia and stopping off at Agaete, a pretty little harbour from where the fast ferry sets sail for Tenerife. You then have the choice to come back through the centre of the island returning via Fataga or heading for the north-western coastline (although this mountain road with sheer drops is not for the fainthearted) through San Nicholas de Tolentino and this route will eventually lead you back to Pueblo and Puerto Mogan.
Whichever journey you decide to make you will see the another side of Gran Canaria. The beach and sea views of the resort areas are superb but lets not forget that this is not all that Gran Canaria has to offer the holidaymaker.