For our last day of our recent trip to the Canary Islands, we decided to trek to the north of the island to explore the towns and municipalities dotted along the coast and throughout the mountains.
As we’d already explored the touristic areas of Maspalomas and Las Palmas, we were interested to see what the rest of the island had to offer, and the Presas y Paisajes Canarios Northern Route tour had just what we were looking for, plus a couple of surprises along the way. For €48/person we were picked up at our hotel, shuttled throughout the island and provided lunch.
It was a big task – nine hours, five towns, lunch and a rum tasting – but we were up for the challenge.
Our first stop of the day was Ingenio, a town located on the eastern coast, approximately 24km south of Las Palmas. Until the 16th century Ingenio was known as the principal centre for the exportation of sugar cane. Since then, the town has best become known for the Church of La Candelaria, which is a prominent feature of the Plaza de La Candelaria, and the Guayadeque Ravine.
From Ingenio, we traveled north past Las Palmas to Arucas. Dating back to the 15th century, Arucas is famous for many things: the Church of San Juan Bautista, it’s sugar plantations, and the Arehucas Rum Distillery.
The Church of San Juan Bautista was built in 1909 and towers over much of the village, and is quite a testament to Canary Island artistry: the Neogothic church was built entirely by local masons, and the stained glass windows feature the work of Cristobal Hernandez de Quintana (source).
From the Church, we wound our way along the countryside to the Arehucas Rum Distillery. First established in the 17th century, the Arehucas Rum Distillery is the largest and oldest in all of Europe. During our visit, we were treated to a short tour which included a detailed explanation of the brewing and distillation process; browsing the barrels, which feature the signatures and in some cases artwork of famous musicians, actors, and artists, as well as royals and dignitaries from all over the world; and, finished off with a chance to sample some of the different varieties of rum produced on-site.
Our next stop on the tour was Teror. To reach Teror, the bus turned in-land and we wound our way up and around and through the mountains. Unlike past trips (ahem Sintra, Maspalomas) my fear of heights was kept at bay and I was able to not only look out the window of the bus, but was able to marvel at the lush landscapes with colourful little houses dotted throughout.
Despite it’s name, Teror is an exceptionally charming and well-preserved village. This small town, famous for its balcony-lined streets, was the site of a Marian apparition in the late-15th century and since has been the most important pilgrimage destination of the Canary Islands (source).
While we weren’t privileged to an apparition during our visit, we enjoyed wandering Teror’s quaint streets, and admiring the surrounding mountains over a cup of tea.
From Teror we continued our journey through the mountain. The bus took us up, down, around and around for over 10 kilometers until we arrived in Firgas.
Firgas is the smallest municipal area of Gran Canaria, and is most famous for its representation of the seven Canary Islands in ceramic tiles that lie on the Paseo de Gran Canaria. The town also offers balcony views of the ocean, which unfortunately for us were slightly obscured as the clouds rolled in.
Our last stop of the day, and my favourite, was Agaete. Agaete is located in the northwest of Gran Canaria, enclosed by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Gáldar to the northeast and Artenara to the south, and is one of the westernmost towns on the island (source).
On a clear day, this old port and beach town offers spectacular views of Tenerife. Unfortunately for us, by the time we arrived in Agaete a storm was rolling in and just the tip of the mountain could be seen above the clouds. Although not a full view, it was impressive none-the-less.
The town itself was quaint and charming. It’s bright white buildings beamed against the backdrop of the lush and rocky mountains, and contrasted beautifully with the angry and dark ocean. As mentioned above, a storm was rolling in and charcoal clouds threatening rain cut our wanderings short. Despite spending less than an hour in the small town it had a lasting impression; should I ever find myself again on Gran Canaria, it will definitely be my destination of choice.
Back on the bus and within an hour we were back in Las Palmas. Throughout our trip we’d visited the north, traveled to the south, and explored downtown Las Palmas and historic Vegueta. After seven days, it was time to say good buy to this island paradise and head home.
Despite being a small island, the various areas of Gran Canaria are drastically different: from the dry desert-like land in the south, to the plush greenery in the north, to the commercial and tourist zone of Las Palmas. Whatever you’re looking for; whatever your travel style; however you wish to spend your vacation, Gran Canaria has something for everyone!
Read Past Travel Diaries from Gran Canaria:
- Travel Diary: Las Palmas
- Hotel Review: Hotel Santa Catalina
- Maspalomas and More: Touring Southern Gran Canaria
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