We decided to make the most of our stay in the Canary Islands on the principle: you never know if we’ll come back here again, and we didn’t limit ourselves only to Tenerife.
At least we can say that we were “in the Canary Islands” and not just “in Tenerife” ;) We saw two other islands, the first of which was Gran Canaria – the third-largest island in the archipelago, for the population living here is half that of the entire Canary Islands (half of which live in the capital, Las Palmas GC).
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Journey between islands
There are two ways to get to Gran Canaria: by ferry or by plane. Price similar and the difference in the duration of the trip – colossal! So we chose a Binter airline plane (the same airline we flew from Fuerteventura to Tenerife). These are Spanish lines, which tend to be traveled by locals – we were probably the only foreigners (and as foreigners we paid correspondingly more for the ticket itself).
Our flight to Gran Canaria was at 8 a.m. from Santa Cruz, so we were at the airport a few minutes after 7 a.m. (we were the first to enter the terminal – it was just open from 7 a.m.!).
We were able to leave our car in the rental car parking spaces – a good patent if you rented a car at the airport ;) We flew on a small plane, but the trip was quite comfortable. We even got water, some snacks. The entire flight lasted slightly more than half an hour, so the flight attendants rushed everything as best they could – they barely handed out the cookies and already had to clean up and get ready to land.
We landed at 8:40 a.m. at the airport below Las Palmas, where a man from the car rental company was waiting for us and gave us a small shuttle bus ride to the car. If you have little time, it is worth renting a car even for one day. The cost is not much, and you can really see a lot more.
The capital of Gran Canaria
Once we picked up the car we drove to the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It was Sunday morning, emptiness on the streets. We managed to park on one of the side streets near the old town. We headed toward the highlight – the Catedral de Santa Ana, whose construction began in the 15th century and took as long as 350 years.
Right next door is the highly recommended Casa-Museo de Colon museum. Contrary to what is written in the guidebooks, admission is charged. Inside is a large display on the period of the Great Geographic Discoveries with Columbus’ voyage to America at the forefront. It is to Columbus that a large part of the exhibitions are dedicated (including a reconstruction of his cabin, travel diaries, etc.). Two parrots live in the museum, which for some is the biggest attraction ;)
If you have time it’s worth a look here, but if you only have one day it may be a waste of time to visit this museum.
We walked around the old town some more (stalls of all kinds of goods were also spread out there).
We returned to the car from where we went to Playa de las Canteras beach – 3 km of bright sand in the island’s capital. To find a place to park in the area you need a lot of luck and patience – we lacked both two and eventually parked in a paid parking lot nearby. The beach is really nice, large, a boardwalk runs along it, and there are quite a few stores in the immediate area.
There’s even a mall at the end with a Carrefour and Primark (already the second one in the Canaries!), but both stores were closed (Sunday, after all…). A short rest on the beach and we set off in the direction recommended by several (even met along the way) people – Agaete.
Agaete – a completely different Canaries….
Distances between towns are not great, and also the roads are quite good so the trip itself took us about 20 minutes. Already at the entrance to Agaete we saw a lot of cars parked on the side of the road. The parking business is booming, for 2 euros you can easily find a space in one of the private parking lots. We went first to the boardwalk and walked along it for a while to the “port”. The weather was great! Thanks to the very good visibility, even Tenerife with the towering Teide volcano was visible!
There is plenty of exercise equipment along the way, so as if someone suddenly got the urge they can exercise on an orbitrek. The town and the views are wonderful! It is a bit reminiscent of cities from the Greek islands with its white and blue colors, but also Canarian wooden balconies.
There is also a small beach and plenty of restaurants (serving not only seafood but fast food, of course). It is worth taking a walk through some of the streets, the promenade, and approaching the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion. Interestingly, going to Agaete there are plenty of signposts to Dedo de Dios (Finger of God), but one searches in vain for this rock – it was destroyed in 2005, but if one wishes one can see the place where it was located.
We then retraced our steps to the town of Arucas near Las Palmas. Here there is a huge neo-Gothic church, Iglesia de San Juan – reminiscent of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia.
There are many narrow streets to walk along.
Since it was well past noon we decided to eat something at the Lonely Planet-recommended Tasca Jamon pub with a pig in the logo. The food may not have been stunning in appearance but it was quite tasty :)
Queen of the beaches?
After a short rest, we continued south – to Maspalomas with Playa del Ingles in the lead. Comparing Arucas and Maspalomas, you might think you’re landing on a completely different island. From everywhere we were struck by the numerous hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, markets – we had arrived in the mecca of tourism in Gran Canaria. The atmosphere of this village is best illustrated by the following photos – they were taken in one square. Wherever we look we have eateries: a Chinese buffet, an Italian restaurant, a German beer, an ice cream parlor and, note, there is a Spanish accent: Paella :)
Still taking advantage of the sun, we spread out on the beach, but the conditions were not very favorable – a strong wind meant that it took us as long to clean our equipment and clothes from the sand as it did to lie in the sun. We packed up and headed toward the airport to return the car and catch the plane without any problems.
The beach and dunes themselves did not impress us much. The fact the area is huge, the beach is long and the dunes are huge…. but somehow for us, however, I think Tenerife wins :)
Cran Canaria in 16 hours!
It was a very intense day. With a rental car, we were able to see a great many places in both the north and south. Two beaches, four cities, more than 300 km on the car counter and another few hundred on the plane counter, all from 6 to 22 :) Maybe for some it’s short. In our hearts, however, Tenerife wins! But we’ll write more about that….