A Holiday Guide To Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain
Catch it from the right vantage point, and Maspalomas looks like something out of a dream. A liminal landscape hugging Gran Canaria’s southern coast, where honey-hued dunes meet the waves of the wild Atlantic, Maspalomas has an otherworldly, mystical quality—but this is no mirage. As the inspiration behind Karen Millen’s High Summer campaign, this popular tourist destination has a sunny year-round climate, but it’s during June, July, and August when the island’s famous dune-side beaches are at their very best. There’s no better time to plan a visit.
Where To Stay:
Design Destination: Full of bright, bold colours and playful Seventies style, Seaside Palm Beach Hotel is like a retro tropical cocktail in the form of a five-star hotel. A member of the Design Hotels collection, this 328-room hotel is just a short walk from Playa de Maspalomas (the main beach in Maspalomas), but with five, palm-fringed pools onsite, there may be little reason to leave.
Contemporary Cabins: Located on the border of Maspalomas in Meloneras, you’ll find a small collection of whitewashed, modern villas for a private and serene escape from the crowds. Villas Golden Gran Canaria has three villas on offer, each with a gorgeous, glittery blue pool.
New Style: The adults-only Tensuites is one of the newest additions to Maspalomas. With clean lines, laid-back vibes, and minimalist interiors—plus a fantastic beachfront location, this chic-but-simple new hotel may just be the most stylish spot to rest your head in Maspalomas.
Luxe Landmark: While it’s not in Maspalomas, Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel is arguably the most luxurious property on the island of Gran Canaria, located 40 minutes up the coast in the capital of Las Palmas. Playing host to presidents and prime ministers, royalty and Hollywood stars, this rosé-pink palace dates back to 1890 and is said to be the oldest hotel in the Canary Islands. For exclusive access to the ultra-dreamy rooftop infinity pool, book the impressive Royal Suite, which also comes with a private, parasol-adorned terrace and dedicated concierge.
Where To Eat:
Canarian food is known for being fresh and delicious. For a first taste, go for tapas in the simple-but-lively Rustico. Though the menu is always changing, try the almogrote cheese spread, served with homemade red mojo sauce, alongside a glass of local wine (look for grapes grown on Gran Canaria like Listán Blanco or Listán Negro).
Self-described as “casual fine dining,” Lola’s is another friendly and relaxed restaurant serving a seasonal menu that changes every few months. Book a table in advance—this place is always busy.
Meat-lovers should head to El Churrasco, in the shadow of the lighthouse, for charred Argentinian steaks pulled right from the charcoal grill. Ask for an outdoor table on the terrace for the best views over the Atlantic Ocean.
About a fifteen-minute drive from Maspalomas, there’s the Michelin-starred La Aquarela. This is a spot for true fine dining (see: the three-hour tasting menu). Expect intricate, beautifully presented seafood dishes that are almost too gorgeous to eat—almost.
For tropical cocktails, head to the beachfront, kitschy-cool Bohemia Suites & Spa, which sits above the nightlife hub of Playa del Inglés, adjacent to Playa de Maspalomas. With stellar vistas over the dunes and the Atlantic Ocean, plus the dramatic mountains, this hotel’s rooftop Atelier Cocktail Bar is the spot to be at sunset, with a cocktail in hand. Our pick is the tropical sherry cobbler, with dry Fino sherry, pineapple, orange, lime, and house-made papaya syrup.
What To See:
Covering around 1,000 acres, the stunning Maspalomas sand dunes (protected by the Canarian government as a nature reserve) are a must on any trip to Gran Canaria. As the backdrop for Karen Millen’s High Summer campaign, these picturesque golden dunes can be explored via 8 kilometres of marked trails. In addition to tackling the dunes on foot, you can also go on a quad-biking adventure or even saddle-up for a camel ride. Beyond enjoying the landscape, the birdwatching is also particularly impressive here: Keep your eyes peeled for herons, egrets, and even ospreys, especially around the Maspalomas Lagoon (called La Charca), which is set within the dunes.
El Faro de Maspalomas (the lighthouse of Maspalomas) is perhaps Maspalomas’ most famous structure. Dating back to the nineteenth century, this 55-meter-tall beacon is surrounded by a buzzy promenade and is actually still in operation. History buffs should consider visiting the small museum, Casa-Museo León y Castillo, on Gran Canaria’s east coast, which was created in tribute to the lighthouse’s engineer, Juan León y Castillo.
The beaches of Maspalomas are legendary, with Playa de Maspalomas and the adjacent Playa del Inglés being the most famous and most popular; however, there are smaller beaches to enjoy as well. Located down a dirt road, Montaña Arena is a favourite with locals—but you may have to ask for directions.
Where To Venture:
Even though Gran Canaria is the third largest of the Canary Islands, it’s still relatively small and easily explored via rental car.
The capital, port city of Las Palmas is set between two bays and is a bustling spot made for walking, with colourful buildings, pedestrianised streets, attractive beaches, and a botanical garden.
For a quiet reprieve and a break from the beach, head inland. Gran Canaria’s interior is rural, mountainous, and peppered with small traditional villages like Tejeda, famed for the Roque Nublo and El Fraile, two enormous volcano-created rocks than have become symbols of Gran Canaria, and Agüimes, with the quaint Agüimes History Museum and charming buildings, painted in sherbet colours.
There are also plenty of other coastal spots to discover across the island: The Canarian fishing village of Arguineguín has a more local feel, compared to the international hotspot of Maspalomas, and the remote and wild black sand beach of Faneroque on the island’s northwest coast, feels all but completely hidden from the well-beaten track.