Las Palmas is located in the north of Gran Canaria, and it’s the largest city in the entire archipelago of Canary Islands. The place combines the beautiful volcanic nature with advantages of the capital city. How to plan your trip, where to stay and what to see? Check out the complete guide to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
When I landed just before midnight on Gran Canaria Airport, I was surprised by the cool ocean breeze. I haven’t been to any of the islands belonging to the archipelago before, and I haven’t had any expectations. I was more than happy to observe how places and people I met made me more and more excited and absorbed by the unknown but familiar atmosphere of the city.
It’s the nature of Las Palmas – the city seems to be friendly and open from the very beginning just like a newly-met acquaintance with whom you can talk all night long without feeling bored.
The place is very diversified – on the one hand the ocean just at your fingertips, the sharp peaks of the mountains rising above the water and the endless black beaches of Isleta. On the contrary, the city lives twenty-four hours per day with a vibrant cultural offer. On the main promenade – right next to the Las Canteras beach – the restaurateurs and waiters serve Canarian food, while on the other side of the city life goes on in the business district. In many cafés and coworking places, people are working on their projects or participating in numerous meetings or workshops. In the afternoons, surfers occupy La Cicer, while the first paddle surfers come to the natural pool on the north side of the beach of Las Canteras.
Every evening the city’s main squares or narrow streets at Santa Catarina Park turn into meeting places for people of all ages. The sounds of live music come from the orange rooftops filled with cacti. These sounds, combined with the calm waves of the ocean, create a vibrant melody of a place that will stay in our minds for a very long time reminding that whether you’re here for the first or next week, you feel like you’ve known this place forever.
How to find an apartment in Las Palmas
The easiest way to find short-term rentals in Las Palmas is to check online services such as AIRBNB, VRBO or BOOKING. Personally, I recommend the first one, where most adverts are made by private owners who offer apartments fully equipped. That is the most comfortable option especially for those people who want to stay on the island for a few weeks. Prices are not excessively high in the city, and there is also the additional possibility of making some savings with a monthly discount available for a minimum 28-days rental period.
□ Get a discount on your first stay at Airbnb!
Las Palmas – which neighborhood to choose
The vast majority of apartments, hotels, bars, restaurants or coworking places are located near Las Canteras beach.
The district offers plenty of opportunities for meetings, participating in cultural events or doing physical exercises. You can find here many shops and two big shopping malls. In every place, you can easily walk through picturesque streets. There are also bike paths available in the nearby area. The smell of fresh croissants and coffee combined with a view of the rising sun recompensate crowds on the beach. Although it is one of the most touristy districts, it has not lost its local character – just turn into one of the smaller corners to experience the authentic Spanish atmosphere.
A lot of people opt for longer stays in other parts of the city near the historic center Vegueta, mainly because it’s less touristy and less crowded.
What to see in Las Palmas
- LAS CANTERAS | the longest beach in Las Palmas that is 4 km long and goes from the north district of Isleta to the south; within the beach, there is a natural swimming pool, which protects the coast from the waves
- LA CICER | the main surfing spot in Las Palmas, a meeting point during the day and the night with many bars and pubs in front of the sea
- LA ISLETA | a district located on the north side of the island. The biggest part of the neighborhood remains undeveloped and offers phenomenal views of the rocky coast and the ocean from a few peaks
- VEGUETA | a historic district with beautiful architecture including a cathedral, monuments, and museums; the biggest concerts or festivals take place in Vegueta
- PORT | the area where the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is located. One of the main meeting points is Santa Catalina Park
Highlights not to be missed in Gran Canaria
You can reach dozens of unique destinations on the map of Gran Canaria with a car or a scooter. Among the many natural parks, exotic gardens, peaks, and rock formations don’t miss especially:
- NATURAL POOLS | areas near the coast with different depths where the ocean water accumulates
- PICO DE LAS NIEVES, ROQUE NUBLO | these are the two highest peaks of Gran Canaria (1949 m and 1813 m) with volcanic origin
- MASPALOMAS | due to its extensive hotel infrastructure and high temperatures for most of the year, Maspalomas is now the primary tourist destination in Gran Canaria. While in the area, do not miss the spectacular dunes located in the nature reserve of Dunas de Maspalomas
- PUERTO DE LAS NIEVES and other small coastal towns | Gran Canaria should be explored slowly. Discover new routes or turn off the road and have a break in small coastal towns. This is how you can get to know a local, authentic atmosphere of the island. Just walk through the fishing villages and admire the peaks of the mountains rising over the white houses – nothing more is needed!
Off the beaten track
- NATURAL GEYSERS | not always marked on the map, so to find them you need a lot of curiosity and patience; while exploring the island, you can reach natural geysers where turbulent waves are coming up and down the craters
Canarian cuisine isn’t very different from the famous Spanish classics – you can choose between green peppers Pimientos de Padron, Spanish egg and potato omelet Tortilla Española or fried potatoes Patatas bravas. For the main dish try a delicious paella, black rice with fresh seafood (Arròs Negre), octopus (el pulpo) or mussels (mejillones) in different varieties. Served with an authentic Canarian wine, it’s admired by many from the very first taste!
At the same time, many international cuisines can be found in Las Palmas too – walking the narrow alleys step into the Indonesian, Thai, Japanese or Mexican restaurant. It is worth remembering that in Las Palmas is served a lunch called Menu del Dia at competitive prices (10-15 euro for a three-course meal with bread and drink included).
Where to eat in Las Palmas
- BIOLOCO | authentic, cozy and friendly place with vegan and vegetarian cuisine; wide selection of burgers, salads, cocktails, and appetizers, including traditional Canarian patatas bravas with mojo sauce
- LA HIERBA LUISA | a place with an intriguing interior decor and a kitchen with an inspiring combination of flavors located in the historic center
- RESTAURANTE ALLENDE | a romantic restaurant with Spanish dishes presented in a modern, minimalist form
- LA CATALINA BY BED&CHIC | the modern bar on the rooftop of the stylish hotel with a great selection of cocktails and live music
- 200 GR. | there are several stores of this brand in the city – each of them has a unique design and character ad, what’s the most important, offers an impressive selection of burgers and appetizers
- LA BIKINA | a Mexican pub in the middle of Las Canteras with a wide choice of tacos and tables situated right by the ocean
- HELADERIA PEñA LA VIEJA | from my point of view, the best ice cream in the city! Try especially an orange flavored chocolate and cactus sorbet
Surfing, yoga, and jogging in the mountains – free time in Las Palmas
Although the exact center of the city is relatively small, the entire agglomeration extends far along the island. Las Palmas is surrounded by the ocean and a few high peaks, what gives you many opportunities to explore the nearby area during the physical activity. Choose from cycling and walking trails, little-known jogging trails through the mountains or the lookout points perfect for morning yoga. Yoga classes, fitness centers and public open air gyms are all easily reachable. Morning jogging through the main promenade or the beach, swimming in the natural pool, or finally the first steps on the surfboard gives the incredible dose of energy for new challenges and further explorations.
How to start
- OCEAN SURF | one of the surf and paddle surfing schools available on the island. The team offer group or individual lessons and boards rental in a reasonable price. Always available to the customer, they provide support and assistance regardless of the level
- POWER YOGA | the yoga school in the northern part of Las Canteras, offers a fantastic view of the ocean, especially during the evenings’ session. Professional teachers, free classes on the beach, paddle yoga sessions. The only obstacle for those who don’t know the language well could be the fact that lessons are held in Spanish
Exhibitions, concerts, festivals and more
While in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, spend your leisure time participating in the cultural activities – both during the weekdays and weekends. Concerts, meetings, workshops or exhibitions are held almost every day. During my stay, I visited the 17th edition of the Las Canteras International Film Festival, combined with several days of Spanish and international artists’ concerts. Every Thursday, the main streets of the Vegueta district are filled with restaurateurs offering small sandwiches with toppings (Pinchos) and local beers for 1 euro. In fact, throughout the whole week, you may join street shows or intimate music improvisations on the rooftops.
How to get connected in Las Palmas
- MEETUP.COM | in Las Palmas, Meetup.com platform is thriving, with many people involved in building local communities focused on travel, technology, business, cuisine, and sports themes
- LOCAL FACEBOOK GROUPS | communities of residents and visitors are organized on numerous groups on Facebook. I’d especially recommend Gran Canaria Digital Nomads group with many common activities and insights
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – other insights
When to come to Las Palmas
The temperature in Las Palmas remains approximately the same throughout the year and is around 20°C, making the city an ideal all year round base.
Transportation in the agglomeration of Las Palmas is efficient. Daily and night buses operate regularly within the city. A one-way ticket costs less than 1 euro if you purchase a card. What’s more, the card entitles both residents and tourists to use the bicycles available in the city – the first 30 minutes are free. From the city center, it’s easy to take a bus to other parts of the island.
How to get to Las Palmas
Las Palmas is reachable almost from every major city in Europe, with the cheapest connections from Barcelona and Madrid operated by Ryanair and Vueling.
If you have any additional questions related to Las Palmas or Gran Canaria in general, don’t hesitate to contact me! Or if you have other insights, share with me your thoughts in the comments below. Hope to hear from you!
Find more photos from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Instagram!