18 Best Sights in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Casa Museo Colón

Vegueta Fodor's choice

In a palace where Christopher Columbus may have stayed when he stopped to repair the Pinta's rudder, nautical instruments, copies of early navigational maps, and models of Columbus's three ships are on display in addition to interactive exhibits. The palace, which retains many original features, has two rooms holding pre-Columbian artifacts and one floor dedicated to paintings from the 16th to the 19th century. There's a glaring absence of criticism of Columbus's complicated legacy.

Jardín Botánico Canario Viero y Clavijo

Fodor's choice

Welcome to one of Spain's largest botanical gardens, with plants from all the islands grouped by their natural habitat. The cactuses are particularly arresting.

Las Canteras

Fodor's choice

One of the best urban beaches in Spain is found at the northwest end of the city. Its yellow sands are flanked by a pleasant promenade that stretches more than 3 km (nearly 2 miles) from the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium, in the south, where surfers congregate, to the Playa del Confital, in the north. The beach is protected by a natural volcanic reef, La Barra, which runs parallel to the shore and makes for safe swimming. Lounge chairs and sunshades can be rented year-round. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming; walking.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Maspalomas

Fodor's choice

The island's most emblematic beach and one of the most beautiful, Maspalomas has golden sand that stretches for 2¾ km (1¾ miles) along the southern tip of Gran Canaria. Behind this beach are the famous Maspalomas dunes as well as palm groves and a saltwater lagoon, which lend an air of isolation and refuge to the beach. Bathing is safe everywhere except at La Punta de Maspalomas, where currents converge. Topless bathing is acceptable, and there's a nudist area at La Cañada de la Penca. This beach is busy year-round. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets. Best for: nudists; sunrise; sunset; walking.

Buy Tickets Now

Aqualand Maspalomas

The largest water park in the Canary Islands has wave pools, slides, and just about everything else splash-related.

Artenara

From the road leading to the Parador Cruz de Tejeda, follow signs west to the village of Artenara (about 13 km [8 miles]) for views of the rocky valley and its chimneylike formations. You can see both Roque Nublo and Roque Ventaiga, sitting like temples on a long ridge in the valley.

Catedral Santa Ana

Vegueta

It took four centuries to complete St. Anne's Cathedral, so the neoclassical Roman columns of the 19th-century exterior contrast sharply with the Gothic ceiling vaulting of the interior. Baroque statues are displayed in the cathedral's Museo de Arte Sacro (Museum of Religious Art), arranged around a peaceful cloister. Ask the curator to open the sala capitular (chapter house) to see the 16th-century Valencian tile floor. Be sure to check out the black-bronze dog sculptures outside the cathedral's main entrance—these are four examples of the Gran Canaria hounds that gave the island its name.

Pl. Santa Ana 13, Las Palmas, 35001, Spain
928-314430
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Cathedral free, museum €3, Closed Sun.

Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno

Vegueta

CAAM has earned a name for curating some of the best avant-garde shows in Spain, with a year-round calendar of exhibitions. The excellent permanent collection includes Canarian art from the 1930s and 1940s and works by the well-known Lanzarote artist César Manrique. The center, open until 9 pm, also has a fine collection of contemporary African art.

Calle los Balcones 11, Las Palmas, 35001, Spain
928-311800
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.

Ermita de San Telmo

Triana

Destroyed by Dutch attackers in 1599, this chapel was rebuilt in the 17th century. Inside is a fine baroque altarpiece with rich gold leaf and wooden details. The chapel is generally open only before and after Mass.

Pl. de San Telmo, Las Palmas, 35002, Spain
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free

Fundación de Arte y Pensamiento Martín Chirino

La Isleta

Housed in the Castillo de la Luz—the Canary Islands' oldest defensive fortress that once protected the port from pirates and other invaders—the Fundación de Arte y Pensamiento Martín Chirino opened in 2015 to celebrate the Canaries' most famous modern sculptor. Chirino's swooping, abstract designs are more poignant than ever given his death in 2019. Advance booking by phone or email ([email protected]) is essential. There are free guided tours (Spanish only) on Wednesdays at 5 pm.

Mirador de la Cilla

The entrance to the touristy restaurant Mirador de la Cilla takes you through a 164-foot tunnel. Don't eat here—the food is subpar—but it's worth making a stop to take in the spectacular mountain view with a beer or coffee.

C. de la Silla 3, Artenara, 35350, Spain
609-163944

Palmitos Park

One of the main attractions in this part of the island, inland from Maspalomas, this part botanical garden and part zoo has 1,500 tropical birds, a butterfly sanctuary, an orchid house, 160 species of tropical fish, many crocodiles, and parrot shows.

Parque de Santa Catalina

Ride the guagua (city bus) to this park, where you can visit the Museo Néstor, home to neoclassical and modernist works by brothers Miguel (architect) and Néstor (artist) Martín Fernández. There's also a kids' play area and cultural center with temporary exhibitions. On the way there, stop off at the neighboring Parque Doramas (stops are listed on big yellow signs; buses 2, 3, and 12 generally cover the entire city) to peek at the elegant Santa Catalina Hotel. Next to the Parque Doramas is the Pueblo Canario, a model village with typical Canarian architecture.

Playa de las Burras

Sandwiched between Playa del Inglés and Playa de San Agustín, this little sandy beach is protected by a breakwall, making it a favorite with families. Small fishing boats are moored in the bay, and the seafront promenade connects the neighboring resorts. Swimming is safe. There are plenty of lounge chairs and sunshades. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets. Best for: sunrise; swimming.

San Agustín, 35100, Spain

Playa de las Mujeres

The co-ed "Women's Beach" is around the corner from the Maspalomas lighthouse in Meloneras. A natural beach with gray shingles and small rocks, this quiet enclave currently has no amenities, although the expansion of Meloneras, along with the construction of several high-end hotels, may change that in the future. Swimming is generally safe. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; sunset; walking.

Meloneras, 35100, Spain

Playa de San Agustín

To the east of Maspalomas, this smaller beach consists of brown-black sand and some rocks. The promenade has lush vegetation nearby, making it one of the most picturesque on the island. This is a quieter beach than Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés. Bathing is safe in calm conditions, but watch out for strong currents when the waves get up. Lounge chairs and sunshades line the beach. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: sunrise; walking.

San Agustín, 35100, Spain

Playa del Inglés

Rivaling Maspalomas for popularity, Playa del Inglés has a lot going for it, including partying at the beach bars, sports, competitions, and concerts. There are nearly 3 km (2 miles) of golden sands, flanked by a pleasant seafront promenade that's great for early-morning and evening strolls. Swimming is generally safe, although windy conditions can create waves—it's a favorite spot with surfers. Lounge chairs and sunshades are available along the beach, and there's also a nudist area, which is signposted. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: nudists; partiers; swimming; windsurfing.

Buy Tickets Now
Playa del Inglés, 35100, Spain

Poema del Mar Aquarium

This ultramodern fresh- and saltwater aquarium opened in 2017. It's organized by altitude: you start your visit gazing at the aquatic life of mountain lakes and rivers and finish in a room dedicated to alienlike deep-sea critters. The coral-filled pool is a highlight.