Cities close to sea always have a great appeal – think of Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona or Beirut, just to name a few. I would definitely add Las Palmas to this list. Many tourists visit the island of Gran Canaria for its great beaches but neglect the capital – what a shame. Las Palmas is blessed with a bay and a marvelous sandy beach that reminds me of the famous Copacabana in Rio. It is a hotspot for culture, gastronomy and shopping. Here`s why this Spanish city is part of my favorite metropolises in the world.
Photo: The picturesque Old Town of Las Palmas - KHL
Sure, this does not only refer to Las Palmas but to the whole archipelago of "Canarias", the islands of “eternal spring”. It hardly gets extremely hot and you always have that fresh breeze from the Atlantic Ocean. I love the winters in particular – very pleasant and always great for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
Photo: Sunset at Las Canteras - KHL
Las Palmas has a few beaches but Las Canteras is definitely the highlight. A long sandy beach with shallow waters, along a boulevard with cafés, shops and restaurants – just awesome. Walk that nice promenade until you reach a headland and just continue – you will find impressive rocks where the water crashes against the coast and also a few restaurants. And the sea is surprisingly clean for a city … and so is the beach. Let`s go for a swim!
Photo: Las Canteras - that`s what I call a nice Beach! - Patronato de Turismo
Did you know that Christopher Columbus came through the Canary Islands on his way to the “New World”? There is a fabulous museum about this conqueror in Las Palmas , the "Casa de Colón". And many more exhibitions…visit them while exploring Vegueta, the old town of Las Palmas.
Photo: Casa de Colón - a must-see in Las Palmas! - KHL
Yes, you will find shopping malls such as El Muelle just next to the harbour and the big Spanish department store El Corte Inglés. However, I recommend to stroll through the Triana, a historic street with beautiful old buildings. Take a look at the small side streets with interesting shops, cafés and restaurants … authentic, hip and trendy.
Photo: Shopping Mall "El Muelle" just next to the Harbour - Patronato de Turismo
When shopping in the Triana, just continue your way to the Plaza de Cairasco with its beautiful art-nouveau buildings and palm trees. You cannot miss the cathedral Santa Ana. Just stroll through the small streets and admire typical houses with the gorgeous balconies – this is one of the most beautiful old towns in all of Spain!Photo: Cathedral Santa Ana in Vegueta - KHL
Las Palmas is party city. You can enjoy outdoor events year-round. Sip your "café solo" or "cortado" in one of the many street cafés. Enjoy a dinner “al fresco”, followed by a drink at the yacht harbour with its stylish places. Tip: the fabulous Allende Muelle – excellent food, wines with a view … Or stroll along Las Canteras between the beach and the harbour – you will find loads of restaurants, bars and even salsa clubs. Parts of this area have the charme of the 70s – find out for yourself.
Photo: Drinks "al fresco" at Plaza de Cairasco in Vegueta - KHL
Garden City – located between the Parque Santa Catalina and the beach. Elegant villas with abundant nature – flame trees, jacaranda and, and, and. One of the most beautiful residential areas which was originally created by the British who came here long time ago to enjoy the fantastic climate. Don`t miss to visit the “Pueblo Canario” just next to the Hotel Santa Catalina and the beautiful Parque Dorama – it gives a great overview on the island`s history with daily performances.
Photo: The splendid Parque Dorama - Santa Catalina
You will find lots of fresh fish and seafood for sure. When visiting the Canary Islands I always love to eat the so-called “papas con mojo”, little potatoes (unpeeled) which come with a red spicy sauce – just to die for. I could live on that for days. Treat yourself with a delicious, sinfully sweet dessert and a strong Spanish coffee while enjoying a breath of fresh air.
Photo: Delicious desserts at Allende Muelle - who can resist? - Allende Muelle
I have to admit that the hotel scene of Las Palmas is not too impressive. Recently, a few private boutique hotels have come up and you will certainly find the big Spanish chains such as AC, Meliá and NH. Although I am usually more into new design hotels, the Santa Catalina continues to be my favorite in Gran Canaria`s capital. A historic place which dates back to 1890 – by then the Santa Catalina was considered as Europe`s best hotel! There is great information about the history on www.hotelsantacatalina.com. Located just next to the Pueblo Canario and the beautiful Parque Dorama, the patio is THE meeting point for local business people. Enjoy chillin`at the poolside under giant palm trees or a treatment in the spa (by the way, the gym is excellent…). Make sure to have dinner at “La Terraza” – where chef Thomas Leeb combines local specialties with a refined touch of his home country Austria. He still loves “Wiener Schnitzel” but his favorite is squid ("chipirones") with risotto, hazelnuts and beluga caviar – doesn`t sound bad, or? The hotel is a bit far from the beaches but you will find a bus station just at the doorstep.
Photo: Voilà - the grand old Lady! - Santa Catalina
Photo: Award-winning Chef Thomas Leeb awaits you at "La Terraza"
Most people just come to Gran Canaria for sunbathing. Too bad! They just miss a very interesting interior of this precious island, with surprising landscapes. Canyons, volcanos and gorgeous forests, little rural villages and abundant nature. Rent a car or a jeep and explore the “mini continent” as Gran Canaria is often called. The West Coast is spectacular – giant rocks next to Agaete and San Nicolas. Arucas used to be the capital of bananas – here you will find examples of Canary architecture, including an impressive cathedral. The picturesque village of Teror is famous for its historic houses with the typical balconies. Just very close to Las Palmas you will find the Bandama crater in the elegant neighbourhood of Tafira, home of the university – awesome! And yes, you can do all that easily in one day.
Photo: Nature at its best: Valle de Agaete - Patronato de Turismo
Yes, most tourists spend their whole vacation in the South and visit Las Palmas just for a day. You can do it the other way round! There are excellent bus connections from the capital to Maspalomas – take the non-stop ones which are comfy, with A/C and travel in less than an hour. Spend a day in the magic dunes of Maspalomas (you may see nudists – many of them should better put on something ;-)) and sip a coffee or cocktail at Maximilian`s, one of my fav spots just next to the Atlantic Ocean (and the lighthouse) – heaven on earth. Stroll along the new boulevard up to Costa Meloneras, you may have time for dinner at Ciao Ciao, an excellent Italian restaurant right on the beach. The sound of the waves mix with some nice music.
Photo: Protected Area: the Dunes of Maspalomas - Patronato de Turismo
Well, I believe that a combination of Las Palmas with the South of Gran Canaria is just ideal. You can enjoy sun and beach, culture, history, nature, shopping and gastronomy at the same time – what else can one ask for?
Photo: KHL enjoying the Sunset at Costa Meloneras - KHL
You will find more information on Las Palmas and the island of Gran Canaria here: