Discover Gran Canaria in 8 Instagrams

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There’s plenty to discover in Gran Canaria, from its rugged northern coast, through verdant laurel forests, across extinct volcanoes, central mountain peaks, pine woodlands, desert landscapes and golden beaches of the south.

Here are the best locations for the ultimate Instagram photos:

#1 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

On the north-east coast, Gran Canaria’s capital has a sprawling sandy beach, with palms and fishing boats to the north, and good surfing and sea mist in the south.

The cobbled streets of the Vequeta quarter are lined with traditional Spanish architecture, ranging from late Gothic to Renaissance, including the Cathedral of Santa Ana – the first church in the Canaries, dating from 1500 – and Casa de Colón, a museum dedicated to Christopher Columbus who visited in 1492.

Tip: Sample delicious tapas at the many bars in the old quarter.

#2 Aggete Natural Pools

Puerto de Las Nieves is a tiny fishing village with blue and white houses. Along the shore, the Paseo de los Poetas, lined with restaurants, craft shops and galleries, leads to the natural pools of Las Salinas.

Swimmers are protected from the crashing waves by rock barriers and it’s an exhilarating experience as the sea water rushes in. The three pools are connected by volcanic tubes and there are flat areas for sunbathing, amid the lush green pine forest mountains.

Tip: Try the local speciality caldo de pescado, a delicious fish soup.

#3 Mirador del Balcón

It’s a long drive up the west coast on the GC-200, passing the multi-coloured rocks at Los Azulejos.

This spectacular viewpoint juts out from the edge of sheer cliffs, more than 400 metres over the Atlantic Ocean. It has views of Puerto de las Nieves to the north; a zigzag wall of sea cliffs known as the Dragon’s Tail to the south;  La Arena Valley and the wide green La Aldea de San Nicolás inland and, far west is the peak of Teide volcano on Tenerife.

Tip: Sunsets here are stunning.

#4 Tamadaba National Park

Situated in the west, this is the oldest and largest natural park on the island and part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Moulded by eruptions of the Tamadaba volcano  more than 14 million years ago, the landscape descends towards the sea in a series of ravines and sheer cliffs.

At its heart is a forest of indigenous pines containing the largest variety of endemic flora on the island, with woodpecker, blue chaffinch, kestrels and hawks. Above the trees is the 1,444m-tall mountain, Pico de la Bandera.

Tip: When it’s misty, there are spectacular views across the sea of clouds.

#5 Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga

In the centre of the island is the distinctive Roque Nublo standing at 1,813m and, next to it, one of the world’s largest free-standing crags.

It was an ancient place of worship for the Guanches, the island’s aboriginal inhabitants.

Roque Bentayga is a natural fortress where the Guanches built community granaries and funerary caves, lined with inscriptions and wall paintings.

A path leads to their almogarén, a spiritual ceremonial space where the sun plays a spectacular game of light and shadow.

Tip: At the solstice, a single solar ray strikes a circle engraved on the rock, centuries ago, by Guanche astronomers.

#6 La Fortaleza

In the south-east the castle-like La Fortaleza rock formations were a fortified Guanche settlement with natural and artificial caves used for dwellings, food storage and burials.

It’s recognised as the site of the last stand of the indigenous people against the Castilian conquerors who, on 29 April 1483, surrendered to Spanish troops.

Tip: Visit the interpretation centre to learn the tragic history of the Guanches.

#7 Puerto de Mogán

The most westerly resort on the southern coast is a charming village of white buildings with a fishing port, a yacht marina and a well-protected sandy beach, perfect for families.

Pedestrianised narrow alleys are lined with small gardens and window boxes bursting with dazzling bougainvillea and it’s often called the Venice of the Canaries because of its network of seawater canals connecting the marina to the port.

Tip: Go early on Friday mornings to the open-air market on the fishermen’s quay.

#8 Maspalomas

At the southernmost point of the island, the Maspalomas Dunes ecosystem is a protected reserve.

It’s a unique mix of dessert and oasis with beach, palm groves and a freshwater lagoon. The dunes were created when sand was blown from the bottom of the ocean during the last ice age.

The Dunas Mirador, at the end of Avenida Tirajana, is where everybody goes, so hike into the desert to find a fresh spot.

Tip: Go at dawn for the best textures in the sand.

Head over to to find out more about Gran Canaria and browse a wide selection of handpicked hotels.

Find out more about Gran Canaria here.

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