Caldera de Bandama

The Guanches considered this crater of an extinct volcano a fine place to live. When Dutch businessman Daniel Van Damme visited in the early 166th century, he spotted the fertile land's potential and planted vines here. Grateful for the tip, locals named the gaping hole after the Dutchman. The perfectly formed crater covers 326 ha (806 acres), and gained protected status in 1994. Often overlooked by locals and tourists alike, it's a stunning sight and a wonderful place for spotting native...

Catedral de Santa Ana Las Palmas

Dominating the Vegueta skyline, the cathedral's twin bell towers are the most recognizable landmark of Las Palmas. Construction started just 14 years after the Spanish conquered Gran Canaria, butt additions continued to be made late into the 19th century. The result is a microcosm of Canarian architecture Gothic, Neo-Classical, Renaissance and local styles are all represented. Though this massive edifice differs wildly from the original, remnants of the 15th-century structure are still visible...

ElO Baslica de Nuestra Seora del Pino

For hundreds of years, the faithful have embroidered the flamboyant cloaks that adorn the Virgin (see p20). Beneath the gowns stands a wooden Gothic sculpture from the late 1500s or early 1600s. The theft in 1975 of a selection of precious stones from her crown is still a sore point among locals. For a close look at the statue, enter through the basilica's camar n. Ornately carved from dark wood, the main altarpiece is the work of Nicol s Jacinto and is considered the finest example of Rococo...

HO Places to eat

Restaurante Escuela Melenara, Playa de Melenara Naturally, fish and seafood dishes dominate the menu at this bright, modern beachside restaurant. Paseo Mar timo de Melenara Map F3 928 13 12 06 Closed Sun D The area's most noted fish restaurant is equally well known for its extensive wine list. Magnificent ocean views accompany the catch of the day. Avda Poliz n 47, Playa de Arinaga Map F5 928 18 08 60 Closed Sun, Mon D, May, first half of Sep If you haven't sampled jam n Serrano, this smart...

Barranco de Guayadeque

Deep ravines, carving great chunks out of the landscape, are characteristic of Gran Canaria, but none of them is more impressive than the Barranco de Guayadeque (which in the Guanche language means place of running water). In addition to its great natural beauty, this fascinating area has an important cultural heritage, and harbours unique flora and fauna. The small local troglodyte population dwells in cave-homes and strives to maintain a way of life that has been lost elsewhere on the island....

Puerto de las Nieves

Puerto de as Nieves - the Port of the Snows - was once the island's principal port, but it suffered a blow in the 199th century with the construction of Puerto de la Luz in Las Pa mas. The lack of major maritime traffic has allowed the enchanting harbour, with its uniform low, white-and-blue houses, to retain its charm. Today it is important as the main departure point for Tenerife. Hundreds of visitors pass through the village, but it merits more than a cursory glance through the bus window en...

Places to Shop

The island's best farmers' market offers excellent local produce and local handicrafts, such as wicker and leather goods. Try the marinated olives and pan de millo (sweet yellow cornbread). Behind bus station Map D3 Sat and Sun mornings Stock up your picnic hamper at this farmers' market. Along with locally-grown fruit and vegetables, there are first-rate cheeses and fresh bread. Get a handmade wooden toy for the little ones and a well-crafted walking stick to help you hike in the hills....

ElO Rural Hotels

U Finca Las U Longueras, Valle de Agaete This splendid, family-run 19th-century mansion with just 10 rooms is set in the stunning landscape of the Agaete Valley. d Map C2 928 89 81 45 www.iasiongueras.com No air con No disabled access The island's newest rural hotel has great views of the lush Guiniguada ravine, yet it's just 10 minutes from Las Palmas. Cosy, elegantly decorated rooms, pleasant gardens and a good restaurant serving traditional food. d Ctra La Caizada 104 Map E2 928 28 72 72...

Restaurants

Restaurante Tagoror, Barranco de Guayadeque Although it is on the tourist trail, Tagoror's food remains true to its origins, and its prices are low. A series of tunnels connects the rooms, all hewn out of the mountainside. Every Canarian favourite graces the menu try gofio, local chorizo sausage, or goat's meat stew. Monta a Las Tierras 21 Map E4 928 17 20 13 In true entrepreneurial style, Casa Fernando's owners have adapted their garage to house this quaint restaurant, stunningly located next...

Maspalomas

Maspalomas is best known for its magnificent sand dunes, protected as a nature reserve. Part of the original expanse was destroyed in a flurry of construction in the 1960s and 1970s many plant and animal species were lost at that time, but the authorities are working to reintroduce them. Today Maspalomas is one of the Canary Islands' largest resorts, butt it's still easy to find a peaceful spot in which to enjoy the sun away from the tourist crowds. Maspalomas's distinctive 19th-century...

Beaches

This is an unrivalled place to sunbathe, bordered by the dazzling dunes see pp18-19 . Don your snorkel and swim with the fish in the crystalline waters of the capital's 3-km 2-mile golden beach. A rocky reef known as La Barra, The Bar keeps the waves back, making this a superb place for families to swim. Further south, the reef ends and surfers take advantage of the breaks. If you prefer to Las Canteras stay dry, take a gentle stroll along the promenade, stopping in La Puntilla for a seafood...

Museo Canario Las Palmas

Early Canarian history is a mysterious and fascinating subject that is given in-depth coverage in this excellent museum. The collection presents the most respected theories concerning the origins and practices of the Guanches, allowing you to reach your own conclusions. While most of the objects were unearthed on Gran Canaria, there is also detailed information on the primitive cultures of the other islands. You can check your e-mail and sip a coffee at Ciber Siglo XXI on C Reyes Cat licos. You...

General Index

AC Hotel Las Palmas 59 Acaymo Mog n 61 Acusa 83, 84 Agaete 78 churches 39 ermitas 39 restaurants 79 Agaete Valley see Valle de Agaete Aguas Dulces 45 Ag imes churches 38 drives 50 hotels 113, 114 Old Quarter 89 restaurants 60, 91 air travel 103 Albergue Centro Internacional de Windsurfing Pozo Izquierdo 116 Albergue La Hoyilla San Nicol s de Tolentino 116 Albergue Tejeda 116 albergues 107 alcohol, measures 109 Alfonso, Antonio Tonono 47 La Alquitara Las Palmas 71 And n Verde 84 animals 43 Anno...

ElO Things to Avoid

The only way to avoid these pests completely is to steer clear of the tourist resorts. Sometimes you can make it work to your advantage, if they're offering free tickets to an attraction you want to visit, but given the amount of time you have to spend listening to their spiel, it generally isn't worth it. More than a few holidaymakers are fooled by the seemingly cool or cloudy weather, and end up getting terribly sunburnt. Follow the locals' lead and head indoors for a long lunch or a siesta,...

La Cumbre

La Cumbre - the Summit - is the mountainous heart of the island. Worlds away from the sun-and-sand image of the Canaries, Gran Canaria's highest peaks are often shrouded in mist, and snow is not unusual in winter. The two most recognizable rocks, Nublo and Bentayga, were considered holy ground by the Guanches. Now sparsely populated, the region has maintained local traditions more than any other part of the island. Enjoy some unrivalled vistas and hearty food - and don't miss the aboriginal...

ElO Campsites and Hostels

This friendly, well-run site in the remotest region of the island has cabins and caravans as well as space to pitch tents. Facilities include swimming pools, a restaurant and a bar. It's close to the start of the Guiguf hike see pp82-3 , and a short walk from a quiet, pebbly beach. d Tasartico to Playa del Asno road Map A4 928 89 04 93 There are three campsites in this group, one on the coast and two further up the ravine, all with good facilities and well located for the southern resorts...

ElO Best of the rest

Spain's first golf club was originally located in Las Palmas, but later moved to a new site at a more prestigious location, in Bandama. Nearby is another fine course, El Cortijo, host to international competitions. Both are open to non-members on weekday mornings. Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas Ctra de Bandama s n, Sta Br gida. Map E3. 928 35 01 04. www.real clubdegolfdelaspalmas.com El Cortijo Autov a del Sur, km 6.4, Telde. Map F3. 928 684 890. www.cortijogolfcenter.com Begun in 1519, this...

Places to

Set right on the seafront, this friendly place offers old favourites such as squid and octopus alongside more original choices like gooseneck barnacles. Playa de Sardina Map C1 928 88 32 96 Closed Sun D, Mon Barbecued meats in a cosy rustic setting. Leave space for dessert - the rice pudding arroz con leche and cr pes are divine. GC43, km 1.3 Map D2 928 62 23 23 Closed Sun D, Mon, Tue The meat dishes stand out at this welcoming and child-friendly restaurant with wonderful views. Monta a de...

ElO Gran Canarian Plants

A subspecies of the legendary dragon tree Dracaena tamaranae was discovered on Gran Canaria in 1972. With just 20 known examples, it is one of the rarest trees in the world. Despite its thinner, more pointed leaves, it strongly resembles the common dragon tree, and shares its renowned red sap, known as dragon's blood'.' A sighting of these endemic copper- or deep-red-coloured flowers Isoplexis chalcantha, Isoplexis isabelliana is a treat, since they are now so rare. Two species of foxglove...

Teror

A visit to Teror is a must, not only for its exquisite Canarian architecture, but also because of its historic and religious importance. An independent parish q since 1514, Teror is one of the oldest urban centres on the island. Its religious t connections date back to the time when the Virgin Mary was sighted under a 0 pine tree in a nearby forest. The Madonna of the Pine later became the island's O patron saint, and pilgrims travel from near and far to pay homage and bring gifts. The...

Hikes and Drives

Village of Fataga Ag imes to Maspalomas Village of Fataga Ag imes to Maspalomas via Temisas, Santa Luc a and Fataga drive Break up this winding drive with stops at quaint pueblos Temisas see p89 and Fataga, and at the mirador viewpoint on the road to Maspalomas. A detour takes you to the La Sorrueda reservoir and on to the Fortaleza de Ansite, south of Santa Luc a. Map E4-D6 Take the road out of Lomo Magullo towards Los Arenales. A clear path leads you along the lush ravine, where a stream...