Our 7 day Gran Canaria Itinerary
In my last post from Gran Canaria, I showed you around our hotel (The amazing Lopesan Costa Meloneras Resort Spa and Casio), and I rambled on for so long about it that I ran out of time to show you what we did when we weren’t sipping cocktails by the pool. Whoops. I mean, anyone would think that was literally ALL we did for a week, and, er, “anyone” would be right about that, really.
The thing is, we were traveling with a 4-year-old. Now I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who can travel with multiple 4 year olds and still be out climbing mountains and stuff, but, the fact is that parenthood has basically transformed us into exhausted husks of the people we once were. Seriously, there are some days when just leaving the house in one piece counts as a big achievement for our family, so, as you read this post, please bear in mind that this itinerary probably isn’t a action-packed as it might have been on previous trips, in the time BC (Before Children), and it in no way claims to be a definitive guide to what to do in Gran Canaria. You’ll need to read some real travel blogs for that kind of thing, I’m afraid.
[Spoiler alert: we did, in fact, climb a mountain, though. Plot twist!]
And, with that said, I have one final disclaimer: as mentioned in my previous post, our flights and accommodation for this trip were provided by Jet2Holidays. They didn’t actually ask me to write a Gran Canaria Itinerary, though, so this is not a sponsored post: I just want to make the relationship clear upfront.
Now, on with the show…
Our 7-day Gran Canaria Itinerary
Our flight from Glasgow got in late at night, so our first night in Gran Canaria was spent picking up our rental car checking into our hotel, and then going straight to bed.
We chose to hire a car for a trip (as we always do when traveling to the Canaries) because although there’s plenty to do on foot, if you want to travel a bit further afield (and particularly into the mountains), you’re going to need transport of some kind. Obviously most hotels and travel companies will run excursions to the most popular tourist spots, but a week’s car hire can be just as affordable, so it’s worth checking out if you feel comfortable driving abroad.
We booked our car through AutoReisen, who we’ve used numerous times before, and were able to pick it up and drop it off at the airport, thus eliminating the need for coach transfers, too.
Day 1: The Maspalomas Sand Dunes
All of the Canary Islands have year-round sunshine and beautiful beaches, but the main thing that sets Gran Canaria apart from its neighbours is the Maspalomas Sand Dunes: 1000 acres of golden sand blown in from the Sahara, and looking like something straight out of a movie.
My photos really don’t do the dunes justice. They’re absolutely HUGE, and everyone I know who’s seen them has been surprised by just how high the tallest dunes are. If it wasn’t for the sea lying just beyond them (and, well, all of the hotels on the other side…) you could easily believe you were in the middle of the desert somewhere. It’s an amazing sight, and one I’m pretty sure will be number one of every Gran Canaria itinerary out there, so all I’ll add is this:
TAKE CLOSED-TOE SHOES.
Although you can (and absolutely should) walk out onto the sand dunes, be aware that sand is soft, deep and absolutely burning hot. It can be impossible to stand on in bare feet, and will easily get into sandals too, which is why Max is being carried on Terry’s back in that last picture. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
DAY 2: Puerto de Mogán
I can’t even tell you how many photos I took of this place. I mean, LOOK AT IT.
Puerto de Mogán is a little fishing village about 30 minutes from Maspalomas by car. I fell in love with the place the last time Terry and I visited Gran Canaria, a few years ago, and I was happy to find that it’s still every bit as picturesque now as it was then.
The network of whitewashed streets which lead down to the harbour are filled with flowers; seriously, it’s an Instagrammer’s dream. Like, if someone decided to build a town just for Instagram (and I’m pretty sure one day someone will…), Mogán is what they’d come up with. Once you’re done with the photo ops, though, there’s also a small beach fringed with cafes and restaurants, so it’s a nice spot for a swim, or just to sit and watch the world go by.
(Oh, and the drive from Maspalomas to Mogán takes you through a series of tunnels cut right through the surrounding mountains, and which proved extremely diverting to four-year-old Max. We lost count at tunnel number 10, so I guess we’ll just have to go back for a recount…)
DAY 3: Agüimes old town and the cave houses of Gran Canaria
Speaking of picturesque towns, Agüimes, which is located in the mountains above Maspalomas, is reckoned to be one of the best examples of a Canarian hill town, with an old town which is several hundred years old. The buildings here have been carefully restored, and the result is a charming little village with an authentically Spanish feel to it.
We visited on a Sunday, and the area outside the church was being set up for some kind of festival. We didn’t manage to find out if this was a one-off or just what people do on a Sunday there, but there was a real party atmosphere, with music playing and people literally dancing in the streets, completely ignoring the rain that started to fall as soon as we arrived.
We sat out the rain shower at a little restaurant serving tapas and drinks, before heading further into the hills to see the cave dwellings of Artenara which are built into the mountains not far from the town. These were once occupied by the original inhabitants of Gran Canaria, thousands of years ago, but many are still lived in today (You can can even rent some on Airbnb…), and there’s also a museum and quite a few restaurants built into the rocks.
I didn’t manage to get any photos here, unfortunately, as the winding roads had made me feel a bit travel sick, but it’s a fascinating place with some truly stunning views, and a great way to learn some more about the history of the island.
DAY 4: Beach day
No Gran Canaria itinerary would be complete without at least one beach day, and, luckily, the south of the island has plenty to choose from. (Be aware that some are nudist beaches, so you might want to check in advance to find out whether clothes are optional…) We went to Playa des Ingles beach, which is one of the main beaches on this stretch of coast, and has wide, golden sand with plenty of amenities.
After a few hours in the sun, we headed to one of the many beachfront restaurants for some drinks and tapas. I’m a big fan of the Canarian potatoes which you’ll find in all of these islands, and which normally come with two different types of mojo sauce. Our hotel buffet had these available every night, and yes, I ate them every single night, too. Well, when in the Canaries…
DAY 5: Roque Nublo
The Roque Nublo is a volcanic crag (so, a really big rock, then…) which stands at 1,813 m above sea level. Terry and I climbed up to it the last time we were in Gran Canaria, and I had fond memories of what I recalled as a fairly short, gentle stroll up to an amazing viewpoint. LOL LOL LOL.
Let’s just say the experience was… quite different with a four-year-old in tow. Still very much worth it, of course, but… longer. And with a lot more climbing over rubble than I remembered. So, wear your walking shoes, and bring a sweater. (We got lucky and it was still quite warm, even at the top, but you’re literally IN THE CLOUDs or above them here, so be prepared.)
On a clear day, you’ll get spectacular views of Mount Tiede, on neighbouring Tenerife, from here. We didn’t get those views, unfortunately, because, having made it this far unscathed, Max choose this moment to dramatically fall into a muddy puddle at the summit, and we took that as our cue to head back down.
(Don’t worry, he was fine…)
We still, however, got some amazing views, which were well worth the drive/climb. On that note, it took us about an hour to drive to the car park from Maspalomas, and the roads are narrow and very windy, so I felt thoroughly car sick again by the time we got there. Luckily I’d recovered in time to snarf up some more of those Canarian potatoes at a restaurant on the way back down, though…
DAY 6: Shopping / pool / beach
After our exertions on the mountainside, we decided to take it easy on day 6, alternating between the pool, beach and shops. Although Gran Canaria isn’t particularly known for its shopping, the area around our hotel in Meloneras had lots of stores to choose from, and there was an also a mall just a five minute walk from us. I know its not for everyone, but I always enjoy visiting Spanish brands like Zara, Mango and Stradivarius on their home turf, so to speak: the prices are roughly the same as at home, but the stores tend to be larger, and I always think there’s a better selection available, somehow.
Also on day 6, we visited a local outdoor market in Maspalomas. To be totally honest, I’m not a huge fan of markets, and this one was no exception, with a lot of fake designer goods, and the kind of clothes you only ever seem to see at markets, but it passed an hour or so, and Terry bought a few bags of dried fruit which we quickly demolished, so it wasn’t all bad.
DAY 7: Pool day
We flew home on day 7, but as our flight didn’t take off until the evening, we had pretty much a full day left to enjoy the sun. As we had to vacate our hotel room by 12:30, we chose to spend our last day by the pool again (We had use of a shower room at the hotel, who stored our luggage for us.) I posted tons of photos of the pool area at the Lopesan Costa Meloneres Resport in my last post, so all I’ll add here is that it was so nice that I’m amazed we managed to leave it AT ALL. We could quite easily have gone the full week without leaving the hotel, and I was really sad to have to say goodbye to it, so if you’re looking for a base to explore Gran Canaria from, I can highly recommend it.
Just remember to have a cocktail for me…