Alternative tourism? What’s that? Well, today it is something very interesting to consider by booking a trip: it’s THE new way to travel. Far away from the mass tourism that you can usually find on Gran Canaria I want to show you that holidays on the island can be very calm and peaceful and that it is not only sun and beach as a lot of people think. It is a small island with a big heart.
I thought about presenting you 8 places on this beautiful place you can visit without finding crowds of people and where you also get to know the canarian tradition. Here we go!
What places are good for alternative tourism on Gran Canaria?
I am sure you have already discovered the usual spots during your research on other sites: Roque Nublo, Dunes of Maspalomas, Pico de las Nieves or Puerto de Mogán. Of course, these are places you have to see, but I would like to introduce you to my choice of 8 nice places which perhaps are not on your list (yet). I am sure you will not be disappointed.
1. The village of Fataga
This beautiful village is located in the Valley of a Thousand Palms in the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana and it’s only 15 kilometers from the tourist hotspot Playa del Inglés. It is so small that it fits on the only hill that existed is in this ravine.
A short walk through this small mountain village is definitely worth to have a closer look at the white houses and their stone paved walls. You feel like being in a fairy tale world here, because you hardly meet other people in this village of 3000 inhabitants.
Right on the road that passes through Fataga you will find two small restaurants where you can enjoy Canarian food or you can sit down for a picnic in the square in front of the church.
In this small village you will also find many works by artists who have settled here because of the tranquility that this village offers. You can buy them on the spot and in the small souvenir store you can find local pottery.
A small tip: try to avoid visiting on weekends, because many tourists come here. But since you are on vacation in Gran Canaria, you will surely find a day off during the week ? and it is a perfect spot for alternative tourism.
2. The ravine of Guayadeque (Barranco de Guayadeque)
Probably one of the most impressive ravines in Gran Canaria. It is located between the villages of Agüimes and Ingenio and offers us a deep insight into the culture of the native people of Gran Canaria.
It is characterized by the fascinating nature, especially in the winter months, it shines in an incredibly vivid green that invites you to marvel at it and also because of the the numerous caves in which the natives lived. In these you can eat and even stay overnight. In my opinion, a must visit in Gran Canaria.
Cave restaurants on Gran Canaria- Guayadeque
Have you ever eaten in a cave? Then you are in the right place. There are several restaurants in Guayadeque, for example: La Era, Vega or Tagoror. My personal recommendation is La Era, because apart from the delicious cuisine it offers a beautiful view of the canyon and it is not so noisy because there are few tables. A terrace is also available. Here you can really enjoy the Canarian cuisine. The restaurant is open daily from 11 to 18 o’clock.
The restaurant Tagoror is in a cave, the individual tables are in separate areas, so sometimes you feel like being alone. Inside it is a little bit dark because there are no windows. There is also a small terrace. Opening hours are daily from 10 am to 00 am, on Fridays and Saturdays also until 01 am.
Close to the Canarian lifestyle
The ravine of Guayadeque is perfect to be taken to the past to see how people lived then and still live today. There is even a church, “Ermita de Guayadeque” and if you want to know how it is to sleep in a cave, you can rent one of the small cave apartments (Casas rurales Guayadeque, Casa rural Ca’Juani). These are located at the end of the road that crosses the ravine.
Would you like to take a small souvenir with you or would you like to make your loved ones happy? Then you are in the right place to get something really traditional. Besides honey from the Guayadeque valley or nice pot souvenirs you also find other traditional works. Casa Cueva Canaria offers handicraft and products from the region. A visit is definitely worthwhile! You will find the store shortly after the Tagoror restaurant.
3. Botanic Garden (Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo)
Yes, Gran Canaria, or rather Las Palmas, also has a botanic garden which is not so small. It is located in Tafira, (a cool and humid area 7 km from the capital), as it is the perfect place to visit. It is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy nature and listen to the birds chirping.
There are two entrances, one is upstairs in calle Jardín Canario with parking, the other downstairs in carretera del Dragonal. If you come by bus, it is important to know that it only stops at the upper entrance.
For the Canarios it is a treasure that they have been guarding since 1952. And this was the right decision because here you will find the diversity of the flora of the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. With its 27 hectares, it is the biggest garden in Spain and a treasure for all those who appreciate the rarity of a plant. 500 different endemic plant species can be found here. A Canarian quotation says “Recopilar en un lugar toda la riqueza botánica de las islas“, which means “to unite all the botanical wealth of the island in one place”. Thus, you will find here many sections of the Canary Islands flora, which you can admire through the beautiful forest paths. Gran Canaria does not only mean palm trees ?.
You should definitely plan a few hours for the visit, depending on whether you want to see all areas of the garden, whether you want to have a picnic there (with the many benches and seats, definitely recommended), etc. You should definitely plan at least 3-4 hours. Especially beautiful is the cactus garden, but also the exhibition center (Centro de exposiciones), which offers various exhibitions.
It is currently open (check the internet to be sure) only from Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 14:00 and the entry is free. Since it is located on the mountain, you can’t just walk there. You can only get there by car or by bus and for the small appetite in between you will find the restaurant Jardín Canario at the upper entrance of the garden with a great view.
4. Caldera de Bandama (volcanic crater)
Have you ever seen the inner part of a volcanic crater? No? Then you have the perfect opportunity to do that on Gran Canaria. The volcanic crater Bandama (in Spanish Calderda de Bandama) is 216m deep, 574m high and has a diameter of about 1km. It is located in Santa Brígida, in the interior part of Gran Canaria.
You have several hiking possibilities here: either you walk along the crater or you descend inside it. I recommend both, although the circular route is definitely easier. It is only 3 kilometers and it can be done in about an hour. Since the path is volcanic gravel, I recommend to come with good shoes, since it goes steeper uphill or downhill every now and then and the gravel can make it slippery in places. In the colder seasons a jacket is necessary.
If you descend into the crater, it is about 3.5 kilometers, which you can do in about 2 hours if you don’t take breaks. At the bottom you will find an old threshing floor and the remains of a wine press. In spring or the winter months it is especially beautiful here, because there are flowers everywhere and green “fields”.
Once in the crater, you can enjoy nature by taking a break before you go back up the same path you used to descend.
A little tip at the end: There are few parking lots around the two hiking trails so I recommend you to drive up to Pico de Bandama, where you have a wonderful view of the crater apart from parking lots.
5. The natural reserve of Moya (Los Tilos de Moya)
Gran Canaria has besides its beaches also beautiful green landscapes, which you should definitely take advantage of. A great, easy walk, which you can also do with children is the hiking trail of the Tilos de Moya.
It is a circular walk of about 2 kilometers, which starts at the restaurant Los Tilos. You should arrive early, because there are few parking spaces available.
In total, the round trip takes about 30 minutes to one hour, if you take a break. Besides the variety of plants, the benches, which are located on the well signposted circular path, invite you to take a break or two. You can’t get lost on this path, as it is well signposted. Afterwards you can make a detour to Moya, a very beautiful village in the north of Gran Canaria where you can visit the beautiful church La Candelaria. From there you can also enjoy a wonderful view into the Moya ravine. It’s a very good place for alternative tourism in Gran Canaria.
6. Puerto de las Nieves in Agaete (harbour in the beautiful fishing village)
Agaete is located in the northwest of the island. Maybe you know it, because the ferry to Tenerife starts here. Half an hour from Las Palmas and an hour from Maspalomas, this village is very popular at locals, as it has never lost its traditional character.
In the fishing port you will find its beautiful stone beaches, restaurants and stores where you can buy small souvenirs. In the past you could see the “Finger of God” (Dedo de Dios) from here, but after a heavy storm it broke off and today only a small part is left. With its white-blue houses Agaete reminds you of the small villages in Greece and gives you again a special vacation flair.
Beaches in Agaete
You will find two beaches, one right in front of the port and one right in the port. Both are made of stone and the water is clear, calm and has a beautiful color. Many locals come here to stay on the warm stones or on the new wooden boards. Beautiful sunny spot!
A promenade leads directly from the port to the three famous saltwater pools, which were created from former salt works. Today the three pools made of volcanic rock are perfect for a cooling off. Please pay attention to the tides, because at high tide the water rises strongly and it could be dangerous. There is much more wind here than in other areas but in September and October you have a good chance to spend a calm day. You can read more about the weather in Gran Gran Canaria in my article.
The village of Agaete
About 15 minutes away from the port we find the center of Agaete. A beautiful village with its white and blue houses. Here you can visit the church Iglesia de la Concepción and admire the canarian balconies around it. Agaete is generally a great place to see for alternative tourism in Gran Canaria.
7. The village of Agüimes and its treasures
Agüimes is a great community, which has small beaches but also beautiful villages which offer you an unforgettable day. In the following I will show you a little bit of everything.
The beaches of El Cabrón and Arinaga may not be your first destination when visiting the island, but when you get there you will be pleasantly surprised. These beaches are not only suitable for swimming but also for surfing or diving (best diving spot on the island!)
As usual in Gran Canaria, there are some great canyons to visit, such as the Barranco de las Vacas (which resembles the Gran Canyon in its colors) or Guayadeque (see the section above).
I love the two villages Arinaga and Agüimes because they are very beautiful. They are not crowded and you can stroll through them without meeting hundreds of other tourists. Especially Agüimes has beautiful and colorful alleys.
8. The ravine of Azuaje (Barranco de Azuaje)
One of the greenest canyons of Gran Canaria which will you will love. In the Barranco de Azuaje you have the feeling of being in another world or time zone. It is located in the north of the island, between the two municipalities of Firgas and Moya. It is (together with the Barranco de los Cernícalos) the only gorge where water flows all year round. Different conditions come together here, which you can not find on the rest of the island.
The whole route, if we start from the town of Firgas, is about six kilometers long. In winter and after the rain the walk can be complicated and is not suitable for children. There are sections with a lot of water, you have to cross the riverbed on logs at different times and the terrain is slippery. Outside the rainy season it is possible without problems and it is a lot of fun. In general you only have to follow the signs to get to the ravine.
Another possibility – we leave the car directly at the Balneario de Azuaje (GC 350) and start the route with a big surprise. We will see the remains of the old hotel – Spa of Azuaje, built in 1868, which once attracted wealthy tourists from industrial Europe thanks to the medicinal water that flowed from the springs of the ravine. It is forbidden to enter it today.
Around the Balneario there are boards with information about the trail. It is a wonderful excursion through the green landscapes, where you can not only get to know the flora of the island, but also listen to the birds chirping or the sound of the water. For me one of the best excursions on Gran Canaria without many people at all and perfect for alternative tourism.
Why choosing one of the top 8 places for alternative tourism in Gran Canaria?
We are in a time where we cannot afford to go to places where there are many people. The alternative tourism on Gran Canaria is a perfect solution. So I tried to list 8 places where I think that you can spend a nice time. Alone, with your family or partner. I hope there is something you like and if I have helped you, you can leave me a comment!
If you need more tips for your trip, you can read my article Gran Canaria: Advices for your trip.