Types of Girls about the Globe – Nature GatG, Adventure GatG
The Canary islands are a chain of volcanic islands off the northwest coast of Africa. There are seven islands in total which attract hikers, surfers and those looking to party.
You’ve probably heard of Tenerife, the most well known with great nightlife and a party atmosphere but head north away from the touristy town of Playa del las Americas and you’ll find plenty of black sand beaches, ancient towns and a volcano cable car. Lanzarote has some of the best wine in the Canary Islands and some of the most spectacular volcanic landscapes. I visited Gran Canaria for a week during the winter to see what this island had to offer women travelling alone.
About Gran Canaria
This island is the most populated of the Canaries and has one of the largest cities in Spain. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital with a vibrant waterfront to wile away the hours. If you like exploring the underwater world, Gran Canaria has some excellent diving sites.
Its capital is Las Palmas, a charming historical city with narrow cobbled streets within its old quarter. Here you can find historical buildings amongst the bustling city which has a good mix of history and culture.
Head to the northern side of the island if you want some interaction and a proper beach destination. Gran Canaria has five microclimates creating diverse landscapes from sand dunes to peaks and gorges. Hike to old towns through pine forests or explore inhabited caves. You can do so much adventure here such as biking through the mountains to surfing the waves. Meet others at the resort of Puerto Rico (not to be confused with the Caribbean), or head to Puerto de Mogán for quiet fishing villages. Gran Canaria has a South American feel but whichever part of the island you choose to visit, you’ll know you’re in Spain.
Travelling Solo in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is a Spanish island with a Latin feel. You’ll feel as though you are somewhere in South America as you walk around observing the people and culture. Saying that, Gran Canaria isn’t really the island for visiting alone. Not because there aren't things to do but because it is more of a holiday island especially in Las Maspalomas where menus are written in every language under the sun. You may really feel like you are solo when you see families and couples on their holidays. You can meet others especially if you stay in hostels but just be prepared to feel a bit lonely.
Places To See in Gran Canaria
Get a great view – At Mirador del Balcon, a balcony that hangs over the cliffs and has a view of the island’s most dramatic road. A great place to watch the sunset is at Pico de las Nieves – one of Gran Canaria’s high points.
Meander around – Vegueta Old Town. Walk through the cobbled streets admiring wooden balconies and architecture from Gothic to the Renaissance times. Some of the historic buildings to look at are Casa de Colon mansion and Santa Ana cathedral.
Relax at – With nearly 60 kilometres of beach, you are guaranteed to find a golden beach. The nicest man-made beach is Playa de las Teresitas or opt for Las Canteras – the longest beach on the island.
Learn some history – At the House of Christopher Columbus in Vergueta where it is said that the famous explorer once lived. The building is over 500 years old and is now a museum where you can follow Columbus’ journeys
Get some nature – At Maspalomas, a nature reserve near Playa del Inglés. This area has a huge range of ecosystems with high sand dunes and is walkable to restaurants and shops. It is beautiful at sunset but can get a bit windy so take a scarf just in case.
Treat yourself – Gran Canaria is known for its health-giving properties. You can book in to use a spa in a hotel for a couple of hours or choose a massage as well. I booked a treatment through Aladinia which cost €35 for use of the spa and included a 30 minute massage.
Go Shopping – Gran Canaria is known for its cheap perfume and you’ll find lots of perfume shops at the tourist areas such as Maspolomas. Try bartering with the shop assistant who seems to make up the discounts.
Step back in time – At one of the picturesque old towns such as Tejada. Tejeda is on the highest part of Gran Canaria at 1,000 metres above sea level. It is one of the smallest villages you can sample the island’s almonds and local honey. Whilst here you need to see the Cruz de Tejeda, the famous stone cross.
Get cultural – The picturesque old town of Tejada that is 44kms from the capital. See rock carvings and burial caves amongst archaeological remains. Visit the Abraham Cardenes Sculpture Museum and the Ethnographic Museum which takes you on a journey through the island’s history.
Stroll along at – The ‘Royal Pathway,” at Tejeda, near the centre of the island. This walk takes you from Tejeda to Artenara past amazing vistas. It is only a short walk and you can walk the pathway in less than an hour.
Explore the – Troglodyte caves at Artenara (the highest village on the island) or the sand dunes at Maspalomas.
Do the touristy thing at – The water park. Join the rest of the tourists at Oasis Lago Taurito near Puerto de Mogán marina in the south of the island. This park is the only seawater water park in the Canaries and also has a wellness centre and thermal spa to relax in.
Meet others – At one of the co-working spaces (of which Las Palmas has lots). I spent a day at CoworkingC and got invited to a barbecue with the other coworkers. Go Coworking is also a lovely space and ideal to meet others. Join the Gran Canaria Expat Facebook to find out when the open days are on. They also hold social events such as bbq and hiking days.
Accommodation in Gran Canaria
Las Palmas – Pura Vida
Close to the beach, this hostel is in a good location and is ideal for hiking. The staff organise events making it easier for you to get to know the other guests. There is a shared lounge and sun terrace to relax in and feel at home. Choose from a 4 or 8 bed mixed dorm or your own twin room.
- Prices start from €14 for a bed in an 8-bed dorm room
- To book, check prices or availability for Pura Vida
Las Palmas – La Fabrica Urban Hostel
This hostel is so friendly. What I loved about it was how easy it was to meet people within the common area. There's a shared kitchen so you can cook, areas with sofas to chill out in and some of the dorms – such as the female-only dorm – have a terrace where you can catch some rays during the day. It's only a 5 minute walk to the beach and there's a supermarket around the corner. The dorm beds have their own curtains for more privacy and there are female-only bathrooms. The place is kept really clean too.
- Prices start from €14 for a bed in an 8-bed dorm room
- To book, check prices or availability for La Fabrica Urban Hostel
EAT AT: Madam Tasca. This fusion-style restaurant serves a mix of Spanish, Mediterranean and Thai dishes away from the tourist traps. Whether you prefer beef cheeks, Iberian ham or a vegetarian option, this place is a hidden gem with good quality food full of creativity. Find at Calle Fernando Guanarteme, 5.
EAT AT: The Couple Cafe. This cafe is right on the beachfront at Las Canteras and it isn't just for couples 🙂 The owner and staff are super friendly and give the cafe a welcoming vibe. Enjoy one of their amazing breakfasts whilst staring out to sea. Find at Paseo las Canteras, 23.
Buses – Local buses operate in the capital or you can take tourist buses (called Global) which operate all over Gran Canaria. These are the usual size buses (similar to coaches) which are blue. The bus terminals are usually underground and you just pay on the bus depending on where you travelling to. From Santa Catalina bus station in Las Palmas you can take the bus to Maspalomas for approx €6.50 one way. The airport buses also leave from here.
Canary Ride – One of the best ways to see the island is on motorbike. Canary Ride is a motorbike rental company where you can rent a bike. If you can't ride (like me), then Ondrej will even take you around the island himself on the back of his bike. It's a great way to see Gran Canaria.
Car – Hiring a car is a good idea if you want your own freedom to explore the island. Pre-book a car through Avis or pick up a vehicle with one of the other companies on the island or at the airport.
From The Airport
The airport has two terminals depending on where you are flying in/out off. Taxis cost approx €40 to the capital and take 20 minutes. Buses take 30 minutes to Las Palmas and drop you at Santa Catalina. Different buse routes run from the airport. Check here for routes and prices.
Is Gran Canaria good for solos? I give it 3 stars because it is a holiday island so seeing couples and families may make you feel as though you are alone. But there is a good expat community on the island for company.
* After losing all my Gran Canaria photos whilst transferring to a new phone, thank you to Nina Schaffer for allowing me to use her fabulous images.