Gran Canaria - much more than only Beaches
The beauty of the island of Gran Canaria only really reveals itself when you leave the tourist resorts in the south and take a tour of the island's interior. Admittedly, it takes work to get away from the beautiful beaches in Maspalomas. Still, the magnificent mountain landscape is worth it.
Off to the Mountains
From Maspalomas, head towards Fataga and San Bartolomé de Tirajana, two pretty mountain villages with magnificent panoramas. The main road is well developed, and you will quickly get used to the many serpentines. In the numerous gorges ("barrancos"), I discover tiny houses now and then and wonder how isolated some people live.
Three gracious mountains
We did our tour on a Sunday when many cyclists were on the road. Patience is required. It's crazy how these sports enthusiasts struggle up the mountain road. A friend tells me that cyclists from all over the world come here to train. I am glad the tour is possible on this February day. Days before, it snowed (yes, that happens on Gran Canaria - even if very rarely), so some roads were closed. It has become somewhat milder again, only some of the imposing peaks are hiding in the clouds. So the view of Pico de las Nieves (at 1,949 m, the highest peak on the island) and the bizarre Roque Nublo (1,813 m) remains blocked. Only Roque Bentayga (1,404 m), revered as a holy mountain by the indigenous people, shows itself in all its glory. On this striking monolith, Bentayga has more than 100 natural and man-made caves used as dwellings, granaries, and burial sites.
Almond blossom and Teide views
February is also the time of almond blossom on Gran Canaria, so the pretty trees with pink flowers accompany us up to the mountain village of Tejeda. At the viewpoint ("mirador") La Cruz de Timagada, we glimpse the magnificent Teide on the neighbouring island of Tenerife, despite the clouds. With 3,718 m, this volcano is the highest mountain in Spain, which often presents itself with a snow-covered summit in winter.
The highest village on the island
Our destination is Tejeda, the highest village (1,050 m) in Gran Canaria. The pretty little town is considered one of the most beautiful in Spain. This Sunday, it is the destination of many locals who crowd the cafés and restaurants. Tip: Don't necessarily visit Tejeda at the weekend; it's quieter during the week. I was looking forward to a coffee and sweet temptations during the approx. 90-minute drive.
The heavenly almond paste Bienmesabe is the specialty of the place. The queue in front of the Dulceria Nublo, which offers endless delicacies, is correspondingly long. It looks like it's not just me who has a sweet tooth. Many Las Palmas de Gran Canaria residents like to come to the mountains, especially in winter, to enjoy the lower temperatures and local specialties such as hot chocolate or rum with honey.
A charming little Hideaway
We discover a charming little hotel in town with 11 rooms, the Fonda de la Tea. The typical Canarian house from the 19th century is an ideal starting point for hikers who find their little paradise in Tejeda and the biosphere reserve in the surrounding area. An employee proudly shows us the works of a local painter, which can be admired in the small, lovingly furnished restaurant. I would love to spend a few quiet days here.
It's a pity that the Centro de Plantas Medicinales is closed. I would have liked to learn more about the medicinal plants of the Canary Islands. I would have liked to stay a few days in Tejeda, but most of the accommodation was fully booked.
Parador in the Mist
Above Tejeda is the Parador de Cruz de Tejeda****, which is considered the island's center and offers magnificent views of the crater in fine weather. The mist creates an extraordinary, almost mystical atmosphere. Still, I would have preferred sunny weather with a view of the surrounding peaks. The historic hotel's cosy fireplaces are an excellent place to sit with a warm drink. A few guests enjoy themselves in the small heated pool. The gastronomy with its local specialties enjoys an excellent reputation - as in all Paradores - I will be happy to try it next time.
From the Mountains to the City
Via Vega de San Mateo, where the temperatures were still around the freezing point a few days ago, and Santa Brigida, we head towards Las Palmas. In Tafira Alta, you can already see the harbour (Puerto de la Luz) of the largest Canary city. Time and again, typical Canarian houses with wooden balconies and Victorian mansions appear along the roadside. The English had already settled in this area in the 19th century and left their architectural mark.
You may wish to read my article about the largest city in the Canary Islands. Check out my article on Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, one of my favourite cities, by the way. From Tejeda we are in lively Las Palmas in about one and a half hours - what a difference to the tranquillity of the mountain villages. We enjoy dinner in one of the chic restaurants in the marina ("muelle deportivo") before heading back to the south of the island via the motorway in a good 30 minutes. There I stayed at the Salobre Hotel Resort & Serenity, away from the tourist centres of Maspalomas - a little insider tip. I'll tell you how I liked it there in another article soon.
Tips for Gran Canaria
GETTING TO LAS PALMAS
The airport of Gran Canaria is a good 30 minutes by car from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. A one-way taxi ride costs about 40 EUR (as of March 2023). You can find more information here, including bus transfers.
The tourist centres in the south of the island are about 32 km away and easily accessible by motorway GC-1 (journey time 30 to 45 minutes). A one-way taxi ride costs about 35 EUR (as of March 2023).
A rental car from the airport is recommended if you plan worthwhile excursions on Gran Canaria. All the major car rental companies are represented there.
The best time of year to visit Gran Canaria
Of course, information about the weather is becoming increasingly difficult due to climate change. However, the weather in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is usually good all year round - although not as sunny as in the south of the island. The warmest time is from June to October; from May to July, it is usually dry. The time between June and November is best for swimming in the sea.
Maspalomas is considered one of the warmest and sunniest regions in Europe. Therefore, many guests like to come here, especially for a beach holiday. Even in winter, you can enjoy the sea at a pleasant 21 to 22 degrees Celsius. A bathing holiday is still possible even on sunny days in winter. However, the best weather tends to be in summer.
Most of the rain usually falls from November to January.
The average annual temperature in Tejeda is 16.5 degrees Celsius. August is the warmest month, with temperatures of up to 26 degrees Celsius.
You wish to see more of Gran Canaria? Have a look at my article about the wild North Coast of this beautiful island.