In this post, I would like to tell you about our budget trip to Canary islands, Spain. We visited Gran Canaria in November and enjoyed it a lot.
Gran Canaria… What comes to your mind? I always imagined Gran Canaria as a huge island with sandy beaches and expensive resorts. A place where you would go when you’re rich. In Russia, Canary islands were always associated with very wealthy people. Now, after visiting Gran Canaria, I cannot understand, why We managed to visit Gran Canaria on budget and didn’t even see any very rich people there (unlike in St. Tropez). I’m sure there are fancy 5-star hotels, but it doesn’t only consist of luxury hotels (how I imagined it to be).
Cheapest flight ever
It all started when I checked Ryanair for some hot travel deals and found this ridiculously cheap flight to Gran Canaria from Edinburgh: just 45 pounds return. Whoa, for an almost 5-hour flight it’s nothing. “We need to go”, I thought, but the problem is, Pepe was working and the return flight was on Tuesday in the evening. I texted Pepe and asked him, whether he could get two remote days at his work and after two hours of anxiety and uncertainty (and severe wanderlust), he said yes. I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement: “We are going to Gran-amazing-Canaria”! But when I actually started checking some hotels, Booking.com has indicated, that 95% of the hotels were fully booked for these days. Oops, a big surprise from Gran Canaria in November!
No way! Well, the only remaining hotels were around 500 euros for 3 nights and weren’t an option for us, who was supposed to have a trip to Mexico in just 1.5 months. So we started looking on Airbnb and found a lovely room in a shared accommodation just 1 block away from Las Canters Beach in Las Palmas. The best thing was the price though – just 130 euros. We had some credits with Airbnb (if you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, use this coupon to get your credits), so we ended up paying just 95 euros for 3 nights! That was a great deal!
Finding Summer clothes in Scotland
Another challenge was buying some summer clothes in Edinburgh, Scotland in November… Challenge accepted! The problem was, I only came to Edinburgh for a month to visit Pepe, so obviously I didn’t bring summer clothes to Scotland. I went to a couple of TK Maxx stores and was only able to find some nice and cheap sandals on clearance (8 pounds, what a catch!).
Some summer clothes like shorts and dresses I was happy to encounter in two H&M stores on Princes Street, and moreover, both of them had different items. So just in case that something similar happens to you, don’t panic and head to the biggest H&M store.
The adventure starts
On the day of departure, we woke up super early because our flight was at 6:45 in the morning. The flight was around 5 hours long and as I already mentioned it was just ridiculously cheap. Once we arrived at Gran Canaria, we followed the signs and went to the public bus stop. Everything was written on the buses and the signs on the bus stop, so finding the appropriate bus wasn’t that complicated. However, I must warn you that there are many buses on many bus stops and if you’re unsure, just ask the bus driver. The tickets weren’t expensive, just around 5 euros for both to Santa Catalina bus stop in the north of Las Palmas. From there we just walked to the beautiful embankment of Las Canteras beach and walked to out accommodation for about 20 minutes.
The weather was wonderful – around 23 degrees, sunny and a little bit windy. Gran Canaria in November surprised us a lot!
Las Palmas is actually a big city. You cannot walk from Santa Catalina to the historical city center – it was actually a 15-minute bus drive. Buses are okay, but sometimes they are late, so you can’t plan your arrival properly. In Las Palmas in November, there are not many tourists – most of them are concentrated in the city center and shopping zone and on the beach. The majority of the tourists are based around Maspalomas and Playa Ingles.
To this zone, we went on our second day of the trip. There’s a bus from Las Palmas to Maspalomas, it takes a lot of time, around 1.5 hours, even though the distance isn’t that big. The explanation: it stops at every single bus stop and while there aren’t so many of them in Las Palmas, there are bus stops every 200 meters in the South of Gran Canaria. Maspalomas is great – it’s actually 1 or 2 degrees warmer than Las Palmas and it has the famous sand dunes of Gran Canaria. It was fun to walk there and take some photos.
There’s not much to do in Maspalomas, so we decided to check out the second biggest town in Gran Canaria – Telde. Well, I wouldn’t recommend you to do so, especially on Sunday, because everything was closed in this tiny town (yes, compared to Las Palmas it’s tiny). The initial plan was taking a taxi from there to the mountains to hike a bit, but it didn’t work out since it was already 3 pm and besides there were no taxis nearby. That’s why we caught a bus back to Las Palmas, where we headed for late lunch.
Best activities in Gran Canaria in November (and during any other season, too)
1. Las Canteras Beach
Las Canteras is an absolute must if you’re going to Gran Canaria. The beach promenade is really long – it would take you around an hour to walk the whole promenade, but it’s definitely worth it. There are so many lovely cafes and shops, that you won’t be disappointed.
2. Another popular activity in Gran Canaria is hiking. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hire a car and there were absolutely no available day tours during our time in Gran Canaria. However, I’ve heard many positive reviews about these tours and hiking (trekking) itself, so I would recommend you going to the mountains of Gran Canaria.
3. Maspalomas Dunes
It’s really fun to walk in this tiny desert. Besides, it’s warmer in this part of Gran Canaria, so you will have a good chance to swim in front of the dunes.
4. The city center of Las Palmas
The city center of Las Palmas is really lovely: colorful houses, narrow streets, huge cathedrals. There are plenty of landmarks nearby and in case you’re interested – it’s also the major shopping zone.
5. Tapas Bars
Going to Spain and not having tapas there really is a sin There are plenty of wonderful tapas bars and restaurants where you could enjoy finest jamon and soft Spanish wine. Try La Jamoneria, Tasca de los Vinos, and Restaurante Allende.
6. (Bonus) Surfing
Sometimes the waves are so huge in Las Palmas, that the whole city goes surfing. And you can either surf yourself or observe it from the embankment.
Summary & Video
To summarise, I must say that a weekend in Gran Canaria in November is not enough to see and experience everything. It’s better to come for 4-5 days to enjoy the nice weather, delicious food, and fresh fruits. Gran Canaria could be really expensive if you go to one of the resorts in Playa Ingles, but it’s also perfectly possible to do Canary islands on a budget. Ryanair, Airbnb, and public buses will save you tons of money. Also, Gran Canaria in November has really nice weather – on average, it was around 22-24 degrees during the day and out of 4 days only 1 was rainy.
Need inspiration for weekend trips? Check this post about our weekend road trip around Ireland!
I managed to film a video of our trip to Gran Canaria. Here is it (after the pin)
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