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During my recent visit to the Canary Islands, I decided to rent a lovely apartment in the heart of the bustling urban capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. I wanted to be close to the beach, walking proximity to the sites and restaurants and close to accessible public transit and my apartment’s location had checked all the boxes.
Upon arriving in Las Palmas, I met up with my host, Javier (sadly I missed a day’s stay because of my cancelled flight from Ponta Delgada) and was shown around the apartment and was given a great booklet with tons of info about the area. The place was clean, modern and had all the necessary amenities I could ask for and so much more! The apartment was situated a block away from the beautiful golden sands of Playa de Las Canteras (Las Canteras Beach) and boasted great views of the Atlantic Ocean and mountains right from my balcony. I stayed in an older residential building, which was filled with locals, rather than tourists, which made my stay feel way more authentic.
Las Palmas is located in the north of Gran Canaria, and is the largest city in the entire archipelago of Canary Islands. The city has an approximate population just shy of 400,000 residents and it is the ninth largest city in Spain. Las Palmas is home to about 20 percent of Canary Islands’ inhabitants and I didn’t know this, but it is also the largest city within the European Union that lies outside of a continent.
Located about 150 kilometres off the northwest coast of Africa, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria enjoys a sub-tropical climate year-round and is said to have the best climate in the world. It’s a hot spot for colourful Canarian culture, shopping, great restaurants, relaxing and solid chill vibes.
Las Palmas is usually overshadowed by other cities on some of the other more touristic islands, such as Tenerife. The vibrant capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria should not be overlooked by those visiting the Canary Islands on their next holiday.
Here are a few things to do in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria that will have you planning your return before you even leave and have you feeling like a local while visiting this lively capital city.
Playa de Las Canteras
The most popular and lively beach in Las Palmas, has to be Playa de Las Canteras. Spanning approximately three kilometres with golden sand, this beautiful beach is the perfect place to take a stroll after indulging in some tapas and ice cream. Las Canteras beach is known as one of the top urban beaches in all of Europe and is definitely the place to be and be seen. The beach is broken into three distinct areas: La Cicer, Playa Chica and Playa Grande. Groups of friends and families gather on the beach with picnic lunches, towels spread out to enjoy the sun’s rays and work on that tan, or if you’re pale like me, just a nice place to dip your toes in the Atlantic Ocean while enjoying the surroundings. 😉
Walk The Promenade
If you’d rather keep you feet and shoes free of sand, enjoy the long interlocking stone promenade that Las Palmas has to offer situated directly above the sandy Las Canteras beach. The spacious promenade is filled with wonderful cafés, bars, restaurants and shops that fill up and become lively when the sun goes down. The Las Canteras promenade is a mecca for jogging enthusiasts who can be seen all hours of the day enjoying a run before joining their friends along the many seaside terraces lining the promenade. I enjoyed walking the length of the promenade at night when the sun would set and the temperature cooled down with the ocean breeze.
Take Local Transit
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is an incredibly walkable city, but if the weather isn’t ideal for walking, or the distance you want to travel within the Las Palmas region is a little more than you’d want to walk, then you can hop on one of the blue buses run by the company called Global to get around to surrounding areas outside of the main city limits. If you are travelling within Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, then make sure to hop on the local yellow buses called Guaguas , which Canarians pronounce wa-wa.
Explore The Colourful Streets
Put down the map and get lost in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s colourful and lively streets. Stop in at one of the many coffee shops, local hangouts, or just explore the vibrant streets while admiring the Canarian architecture, which is simple and most enjoyed with an espresso in hand. If shopping is more your speed, then head to Avenida José Mesa y López, which is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s busiest street, lined with trees and benches in the middle area that separates the two way trafficked avenue.
Las Palmas is home to Europe’s best urban beach and also a slew of surfing schools where you can learn how to properly hang ten. La Cicer at Las Canteras Beach, is located on the east end of the beach and is where you’ll see a large number of surfers bobbing up and down in the water dressed in their black wet suits looking like a bunch of seals waiting to catch the next wave. If you are feeling adventurous and wish to try your hand at surf lessons, you can rent all the necessary gear right on the spot from one of the many rental shops along the beach promenade. For a full list of surf schools near Las Canteras, click here.
Vegueta, the old quarter of Las Palmas and the old capital city, founded as Real de Las Palmas by Juan Rejón on 24th June 1478, was my favourite area to visit and was chalk full of charming old world Canarian architecture. Getting to Vegueta is easy. From Las Canteras beach, take the local number 17 yellow Guaguas, which will run you about €1,40. Explore the cobblestone streets and visit sites such as Santa Ana Cathedral, Casa de Colón (Columbus’ house), relax with a beer and tapas in Plaza de Santa Ana and Plaza del Espíritu Santo, which is located next to the Ermita del Espiritu Santo (Hermitage of The Holy Spirit). Walking the streets of Vegueta will transport you back in time and surround you with beautiful Spanish balconies, colourful buildings and the smell of brewing coffee as you wander around.
Eat Local Food
Do yourself a favour and stay away from the big name brand chains while visiting Las Palmas. The local food is next level good and I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t eat enough tapas for two, or three people while travelling solo! No shame in my tapas game! With so much choice on all the menus, how can one even choose what to try? Some of my favourite foods I tried were the green peppers, Pimientos de Padron, Spanish egg and potato omelet, Tortilla Española or my absolute weakness, papas arrugadas, which are boiled wrinkly potatoes that are always served with mojo rojo (a spicy red salsa) and mojo verde (a savoury green salsa made with either coriander or parsley). Some other great foods to try are Gofio (toasted grain flour) served with large red onion slices for scooping up, Queso Asado, a local Canarian smoked goats’ cheese, usually lightly fried or baked in the oven to perfection and of course, an array of delectable meats and fresh seafood. Oh, and churros…eat the churros. You won’t go hungry, trust me!
Catch A Sunset
You’d be doing yourself a disservice by not catching at least one magnificent sunset while in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The best place in the city to catch the sun during magic hour is definitely at Las Canteras Beach. Make sure to get to the promenade early and grab a chair at one of the many terraces for unobstructed views of the mountains, the ocean and the beautiful glow over the beach once the sun starts to set. Once you’ve ordered your tapas, a cold beer, or a coffee, you can sit back, relax and enjoy nature’s show.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria surprised me in so many ways. I loved the friendly locals, the chill vibe and the fact that the city centre was so green with many parks and pedestrian areas. I loved the apartment I stayed in and the proximity to everything I needed whether it be the beach, restaurants, local transit and grocery stores; it had it all. I’ll definitely be back again and have raved about Las Palmas to everyone I speak to. It’s a capital city that is overlooked by many visitors to the Canary Islands, but I’m not sure if I want more people to visit, or wish that it stays relatively off people’s radar. 😉
Have any of you guys visited Las Palmas de Gran Canaria? If you have, what did you like best about it, or if you didn’t enjoy it, why not? Let me know in the comments below! xo
While in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, I stayed at Apartamento La Mar right near Las Canteras Beach.