Gran Canaria, known as ‘a continent in miniature’ due to its diverse landscapes and climates, offers an incredible array of experiences. As the third largest of the Canary Islands, it entices not only sun-seekers but also adventure enthusiasts, history buffs, and food lovers. The island’s unique position close to Africa and its favorable year-round temperatures create a microclimate that fosters a rich agricultural scene, resulting in a vibrant culinary culture. For an authentic taste of Gran Canaria, immerse yourself in one of the island’s bustling markets. Here are six of the best:
- Vegueta Crafts and Culture Market
Set in the Plaza del Pilar, adjacent to the Santa Ana Cathedral and the Casa de Colón (Columbus Museum), this market is steeped in history. Every Sunday, artisans gather here to showcase their local handmade crafts, including woven baskets, leather goods, cigars, and artwork. On weekdays, explore the nearby alleyways leading to the sea, where the Mercado de Vegueta awaits. Built in 1856, this market provides a delightful selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. After stocking up, take a short stroll to the CAAM (Atlantic Centre of Modern Art) for a cool and inspiring break from the sun.
- Villa de Moya Open-Air Market
Venture to the northern part of the island, where the mountain municipality of Moya awaits with its enchanting forests and delicious biscuits. The Sunday morning market at the bus station is a sweet lover’s paradise, offering delicacies like the famous bizcocho de Moya, double-baked biscuits flavored with lemon. Indulge in suspiros, delicate meringue swirls, and gofio, a toasted flour used in various island dishes. Don’t miss the nearby Tilos de Moya forest, home to ancient laurisilva trees dating back millions of years.
- Valsequillo de Gran Canaria Agricultural Market
Nestled in the charming historic town of Valsequillo, located amidst the eastern peaks of the island, this market celebrates the region’s abundant harvests. Thanks to the varied altitude, local farmers cultivate a wide range of produce, including strawberries, livestock, bees, and almonds. Visit the Sunday morning market, just a stone’s throw from the town center, to savor the flavors of the region. Treat yourself to queso tierno (fresh soft cheese), crumbly curado (cured) cheeses made from goat’s and sheep’s milk, and the sought-after local honey. For a unique experience, plan your visit in April or May to coincide with Valsequillo’s famous strawberry festival.
- Vega de San Mateo Agriculture and Handicraft Market
As one of the largest regular markets on the islands, the Mercado de la Vega de San Mateo attracts both tourists and locals alike. Divided into two adjacent warehouses, one dedicated to food and produce and the other to crafts and clothing, this market offers a wide variety of goods. Explore the agricultural side, where you can shop for plants, flowers, and delectable pastries such as truchas de batata (sweet potato pasties) and pan de huevo (light sweet bread infused with aniseed). Sundays are especially lively, as the crafts market opens with stalls featuring clothing, jewelry, and skincare products made with local aloe vera.
- Villa de Santa Brigida Agricultural and Craft Market
Contrasting the arid south, the region of Santa Brigida in the northeast boasts lush greenery. The weekend market exudes a rustic ambiance and showcases locally produced wines, beers, jams, cheese, and flowers. Gran Canaria has a long-standing winemaking tradition, even referenced by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. To sample some of the island’s standout wines, visit Casa del Vino near the market or plan an itinerary along the new Ruta del Vino (wine route). Look out for wines made with Malvasía, Negramoll, Listán grapes, and more.
- Artenara Agricultural Market
Embark on a scenic journey up the winding mountain road to Artenara, the highest village in Gran Canaria. At the central Plaza de San Matías, every Saturday, a bustling market awaits against the backdrop of striking volcanic landscapes. Browse through a diverse selection of plants, seeds, and fresh fruits. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the Canarian variety of bananas, known for their smaller size and sweeter flavor compared to those from Africa or the Caribbean. While you’re there, indulge in the unique Canarian prickly pear, known as “tuno.” Before leaving, venture through a nearby cave to the Mirador de Unamuno viewing point, where you can admire the famous Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga monoliths.
Planning Your Trip
Numerous major airlines offer direct flights from the UK to Gran Canaria’s only airport, LPA. Alternatively, ferries from Cadíz and Huelva in mainland Spain arrive at Las Palmas port. Binter, a local airline, operates flights between the Canary Islands, and ferries and high-speed catamarans are available.
To explore the island conveniently, consider renting a car, which is both efficient and affordable. This way, you can curate a road trip that allows you to visit multiple markets. Another option is to utilize the island’s extensive bus network, locally known as “guaguas.” Buses cover most areas of the island and offer frequent and affordable transportation. For more information, visit grancanaria.com.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gran Canaria markets
Q: What makes Gran Canaria’s markets unique?
A: Gran Canaria’s markets are unique due to the island’s diverse landscapes and microclimate, which allow for a rich variety of local produce and artisanal goods. Visitors can experience the island’s vibrant culture, sample delicious cuisine, and find one-of-a-kind handmade crafts.
Q: Which markets in Gran Canaria are recommended for craft enthusiasts?
A: Craft enthusiasts should visit the Vegueta Crafts and Culture Market, where they can find a wide range of local handmade crafts such as woven baskets and leather goods. The market’s storied location adds to its charm, as it is set in and around the Plaza del Pilar, near notable landmarks like the Santa Ana Cathedral and Casa de Colón.
Q: Are there markets in Gran Canaria that offer a variety of fresh produce?
A: Yes, several markets in Gran Canaria offer a variety of fresh produce. The Valsequillo de Gran Canaria Agricultural Market and the Mercado de la Vega de San Mateo are great choices to sample locally grown fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and other agricultural products. These markets provide an opportunity to taste the flavors of the region and experience the island’s bountiful harvests.
Q: What other attractions can be explored alongside the markets?
A: Alongside the markets, visitors can explore various attractions. For example, the Vegueta Crafts and Culture Market is located near the CAAM (Atlantic Centre of Modern Art), which offers a refreshing artistic experience. The Moya market allows you to visit the nearby Tilos de Moya forest, a unique natural area with ancient laurisilva trees. Additionally, the Artenara market is close to the Mirador de Unamuno viewing point, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga monoliths.
Q: What transportation options are available for visiting the markets in Gran Canaria?
A: Travelers visiting Gran Canaria’s markets can choose between renting a car or using the island’s bus network, known as “guaguas.” Renting a car provides flexibility and convenience, allowing visitors to curate their own itinerary and easily explore multiple markets. Alternatively, the bus network covers most areas of the island and offers frequent and affordable transportation for those who prefer not to drive.
Q: How can I reach Gran Canaria from the UK or mainland Spain?
A: Direct flights from the UK to Gran Canaria’s only airport (LPA) are available through several major airlines. Additionally, there are ferries connecting mainland Spain (Cadíz and Huelva) to Las Palmas port. Local airline Binter operates flights between the Canary Islands, and ferries and high-speed catamarans provide inter-island transportation options.