Gran Canaria is a popular destination for travellers from all over Europe, and specifically for travellers from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The Maspalomas/Playa del Ingles area is in fact so popular amongst Scandinavian tourists that you’ll find several Norwegian, Danish and Swedish bars and restaurants scattered around. But, there are more things to do in Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles than frequent these places, and after my recent trip to Gran Canaria I decided to include them all in this article.
First things first; why is this post on things to do in Playa del Ingles and things to do in Maspalomas not written as two separate posts? Simply put, these two touristy towns are so close to each other, the borders are a little blurred out. The nearby Sonnenland is also pretty much in the same area. By definition, both Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles are cities in the San Bartolomé de Tirajana county of Gran Canaria. If you are wondering, my friends and I stayed in this hotel in Maspalomas.
As mentioned, the island is a popular place for anyone looking to escape the cold of Europe in winter (even the Spaniards themselves travel here in the colder months), and so you’ll find travellers of all kinds in the Canary Islands. Families, couples groups of friends and even solo travellers frequent Gran Canaria and the other islands. This means that you’ll find lots of great things to do in Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles during your trip, in addition to a bunch of fun activities in Gran Canaria in general (a post on what to do in Gran Canaria will be coming your way soon). Here you’ll find some of my favourites!
Looking for somewhere to eat during your trip? If you head this way you’ll find my guide to some great Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas restaurants!
As mentioned, I’ll be covering these two cities in one big guide, as they are so close to each other it is a little difficult to know where one starts and the other ends. Especially as a visitor. Personally, my friends and I stayed in Maspalomas, but we kept hitting activities in Playa del Ingles without realising. So, without further ado, here are my favourite things to do in Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles!
Of course, it’s not possible to write a guide on what to do in Maspalomas without mentioning the sand dunes. These stretch across over 1000 acres, and from certain angles it can look like you are in the middle of a desert. The dunes have been a natural reserve since 1987, and are a popular place to see for visitors to Gran Canaria.
Whether you are staying in the Maspalomas area or not, heading this way to see the dunes comes highly recommended for your trip to Gran Canaria. It’s possible to join camel riding tours of the dunes, but I do recommend just strolling around and taking photos on your own.
Another fun thing to do if you are in Maspalomas or Playa del Ingles is to book a trip to go dolphin watching! These tours are loads of fun, and often include a glass bottom boat for you to enjoy sightseeing from. The one I found takes about 2-3 hours, and hopefully you’ll see some whales or dolphins from your boat trip around the Canary Islands.
“What’s minigolf doing on this list?” you may ask, but you’ll be surprised when I tell you that there is an insane amount of different places offering a great minigolf experience in Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas. It may be the ‘spring break’ vibe this place gives off, but regardless, I’m here for it. Whether you are travelling to Gran Canaria with family or as a group of friends, playing a round (or two) of minigolf is one of the most fun things to do in Maspalomas.
If you’re looking for something a bit more serious, and you enjoy golfing, there are some great golf courses in the area. Maspalomas Golf is a golf course right next to the beautiful sand dunes of Maspalomas, and quite a unique place to hit a few rounds with your friends. Many travellers will actually visit Gran Canaria and the other Canary Islands only to play golf in the winter time!
Out of all the things to do in Playa del Ingles, Maspalomas and Gran Canaria in general, you simply can’t miss a day (or two) on the beach. There are some incredible beaches scattered around the island, but Playa del Inglés beach is 3 kilometers of sand heaven for you to enjoy, just outside your door. Of course, there is also a great beach in Maspalomas, and you can relax in the sun on Playa del Maspalomas. Just a stone’s throw away is also the Maspalomas Gay Beach.
As you may know, I am a passionate diver, and always look for great dive sites and the best dive centers when I am travelling. During my trip to Gran Canaria, I went diving at the El Cabrón dive site, which is part of a natural reserve called Arinaga. It was a great experience, and so if you are interested in diving at all, I recommend trying to fit it into your schedule in Gran Canaria.
To dive the El Cabrón dive site you must be at least an Advanced Open Water diver, but there are plenty of other great dive sites for newer divers and complete beginners. You can even get your dive certification in Gran Canaria, or join a Discover Scuba Diving program (which allows you to try scuba diving in a safe environment without committing to a test or several days of diving).
Seriously, this one may seem a little odd in a city guide post, but there is nothing like the quality of the drag shows in Gran Canaria, and specifically in Playa del Ingles. Seriously, if you ask anyone what you should do during your trip, they’ll tell you to add this to your list.
Drag is a large part of the culture in Playa del Ingles and Gran Canaria, and just by taking a walk to your nearest commercial center (Yumbo is very popular, and the largest in Playa del Ingles) you’ll find lots of bars and clubs putting on shows every night. The Drag Queen Contest of Gran Canaria is actually one of the most popular events of the annual carnival, and definitely worth watching if you have the chance!
I had one thing on my list before visiting Playa del Inglés, and that was to spend an evening at Garbo’s Dinner Show. This is a spectacular show where you are treated to a 3-course meal (and an open bar if you opt for the VIP tickets. We sure did) and a great musical experience.
In short, at Garbo’s, your server is also an artist, and don’t be surprised if they walk around with their microphone in their back pocket while serving your dinner. The show runs Thursday through Sunday, and doors open at 18:45. The food was absolutely great, and I’ll admit I got teary eyed more than once during the performances.
All though it is on the list of things to do in Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas, Garbo’s dinner show is located in Bahia Feliz, Gran Canaria. Fret not, though, it is only a 5-10 minute taxi ride from Playa del Ingles, and completely worth the trip!
If you think of things to do in Maspalomas, you may not have a spa at the top of your list. But there are several great spas and massage places around the area (and some not-so-great ones), and after a day in the sun (or a night of drinking and hitting the drag shows), a relaxing massage might be just what the doctor ordered.
Ready to head out on the ocean? Spend a day on a boat, watching the water meet the horizon and just enjoy life. The half-day tour below leaves from Maspalomas, and lasts about 4 hours. Lunch is included, and you can enjoy your meal as you sail along the coast of Gran Canaria. As you know, I love being on a boat, and this just sounds like the perfect way to spend a day!
There you have some fun activities and things to do in Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés, Gran Canaria. As you get closer to your trip, I hope you find this guide helpful when planning what to do! I’ve spent a week on Gran Canaria twice now, and both times I’ve stayed in Playa del Inglés. It’s a lovely area, with lots of fun things to do, but also very busy. You’ll meet loads of fellow travellers there, and it’s highly likely that you’ll run in to someone from home. At least if you’re Scandinavian.