We headed to Gran Canaria to enjoy some Winter sun in November-December 2018. We spent 10 days in Maspalomas before hiring a car and driving to tiny but lovely Sardina. We drove along the West coast from Maspalomas to Sardina as this is the more scenic route, it is the less developed side of the island. The road was actually very good surface wise but definitely took some concentration as it is very windy and narrow in places, with a steep drop to your left for a lot of it.
From our base in Sardina and with some tips and advice from our Airbnb host (a local born in Sardina) we did a few short road trips around the centre of Gran Canaria. I must mention, the roads are very narrow for the majority of the driving, some are extremely steep also and twisty of course! The nature of these roads means that although the distances are short, the driving/speed is very slow! The views are great though.
We set off around 10.30am on a warm but cloudy morning, with Google maps leading us to all my starred locations. Our first stop was a beautiful lookout called Mirador de Pinos De Galdar where we got some lovely photos! Read more about this lookout here.
Back in the car and next we drove to Artenara. We parked at the outskirts of the small town, near a viewpoint and walked down as we weren’t sure what the parking would be like and it worked out fine for us.
We spent a while walking around the town, visited some of the miradors and then made our way to the Museo Etnografico Casas Cuevas de Artenara. Entry is free but they do have a donations box. It is a self-guided tour but you are provided with a laminated information sheet which explains what you are seeing in each area as you walk around. You are given a great insight into “cave life” and the history of the people of Gran Canaria who lived in these dwellings.
After lunch in the vegan restaurant Biocreperia (read more about this in my article “Biocreperia RiscoCaido - A Fantastic Vegan Dining Experience in Artenara, Gran Canaria”) we hit the road once more.
Our next stop was Roque Nublo, one of the largest natural crags in the world. The rock is of volcanic origin and stands at 80 metres tall. We found parking along the road and did the trail walk to it (approx 3kms return). The trail is easy and it was very busy with people of all ages. The views are amazing!!
Following this we headed to the Picos de las Nieves which is another viewpoint which offers fantastic views of the Island and stands at 1,949 metres above sea level.
By now it was 5.30pm and about time we headed back home to Sardina, so that’s what we did.
Our second road trip was early one Sunday morning to the small hilltop town of Teror to visit their highly recommended Sunday market. Once we left the main road, we were once again on a narrow very windy uphill road. It was very busy (due to market day) so we were able to follow the other cars and did not need Google maps. The road signage was very good also.
Once we got to the town we headed to a large car park where a steward directed us as to where to park. We then paid €3 to another steward as we left the carpark, it was for a local charity with the stewards donating their time to raise money.
To say Teror was busy would definitely be an understatement. It was packed with people but this really did add to the atmosphere on what was another beautiful hot day, even in the mountains! We followed the crowds and found ourselves on the main street. The buildings are old and colourful. The cobbles streets add to the character and you can see why Teror has been described as “the most beautiful town in Gran Canaria”.
While walking down the main street we spotted what looked like a perfect coffee stop and decided to do just that. The cafe was called Araucaria and the coffee was great. They have outdoor seating but unfortunately that was full when we visited as it would be a great place for people watching in the sunshine.
Following our coffee break we were fuelled for more exploring and headed down to the town square. A service was finishing in the basilica and everyone piled out. I am always amazed at the style and care of the older generation in Spain, they are always immaculately turned out but even more so for their religious visits.
The area outside the basilica was crazy with people and some stalls so we kept moving down the street to the right of the basilica where we found the real beginning of all the market stalls. We strolled leisurely passed the different stalls, one sold nothing but religious paraphernalia such as medals, statues, rosary beads and so on - it was very busy! We bought some items from the local food stalls and continued following the crowd. We found ourselves in the Plaza de Sintes (which is behind the basilica) and drawn to a stall making fresh mojitos de guarapo, using sugar cane juice and Cuban rum. This was definitely a first for us, getting to see the sugar cane juice being squeezed out from the cane. We bought one mojito de guarapo to share and it was fantastic. The lady managing the stall was a real character, so loud and flamboyant, I expect you could hear her from miles around but she was charming and had people flocking to the stall.
The back drop of the mountains behind the stalls in the Plaza de Sintes was so pretty, like this photo:
Having seen the market and made a few purchases we decided to hit the road and head for Arucas. We had no problem getting parking at the edge of the town and walked towards the centre. This route brought us past the famous Parish Church of San Juan Bautista. The church dates from the year 1909 and it is completely sculptured in stone from Arucas. The work was carried out by the master stonemasons of the area. It is pretty impressive!
We grabbed a bite to eat in a local restaurant, it was fine, nothing special! A half an hour later of walking the streets we were ready to head back to Sardina and head to the beach for a swim so off we went!
Our third very short easy drive was to Galdar. Our main reason for visiting Galdar was to go to the Cueva Pintada (Painted Cave) Archaeological Park. Once again we had no problem getting parking at the edge of the town and walking back to centre, cobbled streets and colourful buildings all over.
We headed to the Cueva Pintada first and purchased our tickets for the next English speaking tour before walking back to the Plaza de Santiago where we sat in a sunny spot outside a cafe and had a coffee while watching a religious procession from the church Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol which is located on the square. The flowers in the parade were beautiful and impressive.
Our guided tour of the Cueva Pintada was excellent. They have spent a huge amount of money protecting their archaeological finds while still allowing the public to see them. I think they have done an excellent job of it - the raised walkways allow you to look down on the uncovered village, some dating from as far back as the 6th Century. You are immersed into the history and ancient life of Gran Canaria and of course you get to see the painted cave! A visit is a must do activity if you are ever in Gran Canaria.
Lastly, before we left Galdar we went to see the ancient Dragon Tree (Draga Tree), which is the oldest on the island and was planted in 1718. It is so beautiful! Here are some photos:
We headed home then, a short drive from Galdar to Sardina allowing us to enjoy the rest of the evening in the sun on our Airbnb roof terrace.
We really loved our stay in Gran Canaria. We made the most of the weather with day tips and hiking. I am looking forward to exploring another of the Canary Islands on our next Winter sun holiday!