Some say that the real Gran Canaria can only be experienced by travelling inland and seeing villages, towns and wonders of nature. Of course, it is easier to travel by car, but if you are not comfortable driving narrow winding roads, you can travel by public bus instead. If you plan to do it this way, check out my day trip itinerary by public bus with several stops from Las Palmas to Tejeda and back. So here you go!
8:00-8:43 From San Telmo to San Mateo, bus 303
The first leg of our trip is taking a bus from Las Palmas to Vega de San Mateo. While waiting for the bus, use your hour and a half wisely to get around the town.
Vega de San Mateo
The small town of Vega de San Mateo (commonly called just San Mateo) is located in a green valley about 800 metres above sea level. By the way, “vega” means meadow. The 19th-century Parish Church, located on High Street (Calle Principal), is within a few minutes' walk from the bus station. The church is a two-nave building whose central upper part is crowned by a bell tower with three bells. Alameda de Santa Ana Square, located next to the church, was built in 1943. Together with the town hall and the church, it forms a part of an appealing Neo-Canarian style building complex.
I found a local cemetery very interesting as I have not seen burial places stacked on five levels above each other before. So I invite you to visit it too. It is about a five-minute walk from the church.
On your way back from the cemetery, stop at Pasteleria for some dulces and a cup of coffee! I also tried a local speciality: a sweet pastry with minced meat, and I have to say that it was not exactly according to my taste, but interesting nonetheless.
Also, notice interestingly shaped lanterns and metal statues scattered all around the town.
San Mateo is famous for its large cattle and agricultural markets held every weekend. Unfortunately, it was closed when I visited it on a weekday. After a walk and coffee, get ready for the next part of your bus trip. Let’s go!
10:30-11:20 From San Mateo to Tejeda, bus 305
Tejeda is located at an altitude of about 1,000 metres. It is one of 44 members of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in Spain. The historic centre of Tejeda is not very big; it can be explored in 20 minutes on foot.Visit the Church of Nuestra Señora del Socorro, next to the Tejeda Town Hall, and stroll its cobblestone pedestrian streets. The town is surrounded by mountains and the scenery is just gorgeous. You must have already noticed Roque Bentayga dominating surrounding landscape. Roque Bentayaga is a part of the first and only UNESCO Heritage site in Gran Canaria, namely Risco Caido. Now, take a five-minute walk downhill to the basket of Tejeda to take a great picture of it. This traditional giant basket is ideal for taking a photo and thus bringing home a beautiful postcard of the island of Gran Canaria. This large basket is a work by the Portuguese artist Rita Loureiro and is made of metal. It symbolises the hard work of collecting almonds and potatoes with the traditional baskets in Tejeda.
The area around Tejeda is perfect for hikers and climbers; there are also short and easy trails for less experienced hikers available. The most popular route leads from Tejeda to the Roque Nublo. Located at the highest point of the island, the Roque Nublo is a natural monument almost 90 metres high. If you get there, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the Caldera of Tejeda and the Pozo de las Nieves.
13:00-13:13 From Tejeda to Parador, bus 305
bus stop: Cruz de Tejeda
Situated at an altitude of 1,500 metres in the geographical centre of the island, the Parador de Cruz de Tejeda is Gran Canarias’s only Parador. You can admire the mountains and the volcanic Caldera of Tejeda from the Parador grounds. The grounds of the Parador are open not only for hotel guests but also for visitors, so you can relax in a SPA with an infinity pool that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding volcanic landscape. Spain’s state-owned Paradores are unique for their ability to offer experiences the private hospitality industry cannot—such as this, a remote 43-room hotel high in the mountains of Gran Canaria. Have a snack or launch in either the Parador café, which offers a stunning view, or a restaurant across the road.
15:17-15:52 From Parador to San Mateo, bus 305
Change of buses.
16:00-16:15 From San Mateo to San Brigida, bus 303
In Santa Brigida, you have to change buses again to get to the Caldera of Bandama. Use your half an hour by taking a short stroll around the town or seeing Casa del Vino from outside. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., so it will most likely be closed when you arrive, but you will be able to see an interesting mural, yard and statues. If you decide to return to San Brigida sometime, try exquisite food and drinks at Casa's restaurant with an attractive terrace.
16:43-16:57 From San Brigida to Bandama, bus 311
The Caldera of Bandama is one of the most unusual natural attractions in Gran Canaria, yet many tourists do not even know it exists. It is the largest volcanic caldera on the island. Next to the caldera is the peak of Bandama, and both make up the Bandama Natural Monument. This Protected Natural Area has a volcanic depression about 200 metres deep, 1,000 metres in diameter and 3 kilometres in the perimeter. Both the Caldera of Bandama and the ancient Pico de Bandama volcano were formed five thousand years ago. By the way, the word Bandama derives from the name of the Flemish merchant Daniel Van Damme who once owned caldera land. The sharp crags at the upper part of the Caldera of Bandama can be navigated along various trails. This time I did just half a loop around the top part of the caldera rim while enjoying the views and smelling the flowers around me. If someday you decide to come for a half day or so, you can choose to go down to the bottom of the caldera and/or climb the summit of Pico de Bandama. If you decide to go down, you will reach the bottom of this protected area in half an hour. Inside the caldera, you will see different shrubs and trees, including olive and various palm species, the Canary Islands dragon tree and some endemic species such as tajinaste and guaydil. If you climb the summit of Pico de Bandama, you will be rewarded with the best panoramic views of Las Palmas and the Atlantic Ocean in the northeastern part of the island.
Now it is time to go back to Las Palmas.
17:57-18:24 From Bandama to San Telmo, bus 311
Bus times were correct at the time of publishing this article, so check updated bus times before your trip. You can purchase a bus ticket from the driver with either cash or a credit card. If you want to do some hiking, you can modify this tour by getting off the bus at Cruz de Tejeda and hiking down to Tejeda on a trail that starts near the bus stop next to the restaurant. The hike would not take more than two hours. Then take a bus to San Mateo and from there directly to Las Palmas, skipping Bandama. As you can see, this day trip allows you to see only a glimpse of many nice places in this area, so you can easily make it a weekend trip by staying overnight at Parador or Tejeda, for example.
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What did you think? Have you visited Gran Canaria and Tejeda? I’d love to hear from you so please add your comment below.
Author: Anita Sane
About the author
Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Bloglovin.