The Canary Islands was not a destination I had on my mind when I moved to Europe. Actually, I didn’t even really know where it was. But when I was offered the opportunity in March, I looked it up on Wikipedia and decided I would go. Due to our limited time, we decided just to stay on the main island, Gran Canaria. For Andrew’s work, we stayed a few days in Las Palmas, the largest city on the Island, then took a long weekend to explore the rest of the island.
Brews: The islands produce a lot of wine, however, they do not export it, which means the wine sold on the islands is very cheap!
Bites: I’ve always loved tapas, but I have a renewed obsession with them after visiting Gran Canaria. Since the Canary Islands are part of Spain, they practice the same siesta culture. Stores are closed mid-day and open late at night and restaurants don’t usually open until 8pm.
There wasn’t much to see in Las Palmas so we didn’t really explore much off the main shopping street, Calle Triana. We liked Restaurante Allende and Restaurante Aramara for wine & tapas and La Brava for snacks and craft beer.
Even though our hotel offered free breakfast, we ate at the cafe downstairs in the hotel called San Telmo Cafeteria. The lady who worked there was so friendly, it was easy to order, the food was really good and we could get a to-go snack for later in the office.
Here is the view from a rooftop bar in Las Palmas called La Azotea De Benito. They had a fun cocktail menu.
In March, the weather was pretty cold here, so a good leather jacket would have been worth bringing. It gets warmer in the south part of the Island, but both places are much cooler in shade than in the sun.
Saturday morning we took the bus to the airport to rent a car. The bus station, Estacion de Guaguas, was right next to our hotel so we walked in the station, found bus 60, put our bags underneath, and paid a few euro for the 20-minute ride. At the airport, we used AutoReisen for the car because it was very cheap and had good reviews.
We then headed up into the mountains for the day. The driving was a little crazy. It was non-stop hairpin turns. The road is sometimes not wide enough for 2 small cars and you somehow have to squeeze by a few full-sized tourist buses. Still, with no prior driving experience of this kind, Andrew was able to pull it off and it wasn’t too scary. It was also very worth it, we wouldn’t have been able to do this trip without the car.
Our first stop, which took about 2 hours to get to, was in a little town called Teror. There was free parking next to the bus stop when you first get into town. We just walked around, took pictures and got a snack which only took about 45 minutes since there is only one main road. Teror was really cute and well worth the visit. There was a little market going on since it was Saturday.
I wanted to go to a winery after, and my mistake was not looking into this further beforehand. I figured it would be open on a Saturday but it was wasn’t. We had to drive down a ridiculous road which was barely wide enough for the car and with no places to turn around. When we got there it was deserted, whoops.
So we went to Tejada next. We parked on the side of the road and took the stairs down to the lower road. We had lunch there which wasn’t that great but there were only like 3 options. So, just look at this amazing view and forget what the food tastes like.
Finally, we headed back down, south to Maspalomas.
Maspalomas was a weird place. Honestly, it was cheap touristy beach town, kind of on the trashy side. We got a hotel there because it was the only affordable option since we only booked it a couple weeks ahead. We would have loved to stay at one of the resorts to the west instead.
Surprisingly, I found my absolute favorite tapas restaurant ever here! It’s funny, we originally were going to go to a place called Wapa Tapa but it was closed since the owners were on vacation. It was in a sketchy square with gambling, strip club type places, and crappy restaurants, so we quickly left the area and wandered around elsewhere. We stopped at the first normal looking restaurant we saw, called Too Rico and got very lucky! Saturday night, the lady we assumed owned the place was totally drunk, singing and dancing with her employees, and having a blast. We laughed the entire time and enjoyed the most amazing food. Two nights later we went back a second time and the food was even better, presumably because the cook wasn’t drunk that time.
We also ate at a Greek tapas restaurant called Pika Pika Mezze & Tapas Stories. The owner greeted us and told us the concept of the restaurants Greek/Spanish fusion. We really enjoyed the food, even though we were worn out and tired from a day at the beach.
Besides Too Rico and Pika Pika, Maspalomas is also worth a visit for its famous Dunes. It’s basically the Sahara desert on the ocean.
Playa de Mogán
On Sunday we took the car about 45 minutes west of Maspalomas to the farthest beachside town, Playa de Mogán. The water was crystal clear blue and the sun was so warm, even though it was only around 60F/16C. We rented a beach chair for 9 euro each. There was no beach bar unfortunately but we went back and forth between the nearby bars and our chairs. For lunch, we ate at Restaurante Olivia which we really liked.
Playa De Amadores
Since our flight out wasn’t until 6pm, we went over to Playa de Amadores for our last day, which was slightly closer than Playa de Mogán. It would have been another nice place to rent a beach chair, but we didn’t have a lot of time so we just hung out at a couple of the bars and had lunch. I didn’t really find restaurants or bars worth sharing but I heard the Irish bar is good.
Overall, I really loved our time in Gran Canaria. It was amazingly beautiful, the wine was cheap and good, and the quality restaurants we did find were so delicious, I’ll be craving tapas forever!