A holiday in Las Palmas means a potent mix of beautiful beaches and charming city sights. As the capital of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas has many strings to its bow and whether you’re more inclined to laze around on golden sands or sample the unique culture, Las Palmas will have you more than covered.
If sunbathing is the order of your stay then you will find a number of beach options to keep you busy. Alternatively, if you prefer to wander through the city then there a number of amazing attractions to snap photographs of too. Las Palmas has, at times, a mainland-Spain feel. But it also possesses a jazzed up vibe with an eclectic mix of other cultures, including African, Chinese and Indian, meaning no matter which one of those specific cultures best suits you, you’ll be able to find a place you feel comfortable in.
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Spanish
- Time Zone: GMT +0
- Average flight time: 4h 40m
When to go
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One of the biggest draws for visiting Las Palmas is the splendid beaches on offer but we’ll deal with those a little bit later and instead focus on some sights away from the beautiful coast. A lot of Las Palmas’ most famous culture and heritage is accessible from the city’s old town area of Vegueta. The area has a seemingly endless number of interesting examples of architecture and even it’s very layout sets it aside from the rest of the neighbourhoods. Vegueta’s very narrow streets are lined with bars and classical buildings that give you a feel of the Las Palmas culture of old.
Wine and Dine
Canarian cuisine is absolutely essential when trying to understand the distinct culture of the island. The food in Las Palmas completely encapsulates that, with simple and fresh ingredients while always giving you plenty of variety. Being an island it of course has many seafood and fish dishes to show but also has a number of meat and vegetarian dishes to choose from.
Starters are presented in tapas-like dishes called enyesques. A lot of the dishes involved in this starter include the local sauce of mojo which consists of oil, garlic, vinegar, salt, red pepper, thyme, oregano and coriander among several other spices. This unique sauce brings out the Canarian flair no matter what dish it is covering. A popular dish is Sancocho Canario, boiled fish with potatoes, sweet potatoes gofio and that sauce mojo again. The main meats used in the city are pork, chicken, rabbit and goat. A local favourite meat dish is Pucherio Canario, which is a local soup made with chicken, beef and pork.
In Las Palmas you can spend restful days on the beach with your loved ones and watch as they all enjoy the beautiful sand and calm waters. The still water in Playa Grande is the perfect condition for getting the youngsters in the water and as a parent you’ll never need to worry about the current getting too strong.
Close by, you’ll find the Museum of Science and Technology where you can spend the whole day learning new and interesting titbits to share with your family. As it's a hands-on museum, your children will also learn practically as they have fun doing some cool experiments.
Action and Adventure
Those looking to keep fit and active on holiday will find many activities to keep them occupied in Las Palmas. Due to the immense amount of beaches on the island, there is of course a number of water-sports on offer, from snorkelling and diving all the way to kayaking and jet-skiing. Whether you’re a novice or expert, you’ll be sure to find some water workouts that suit you.
Away from the water there are also a number of pastimes to get your blood pumping. Caldera de Bandama is a volcanic crater that is 1000 metres in diameter, 200 metres deep and its highest peak is an enormous 569 metres high. Even before you embark on one of the many amazing routes around this volcanic site, the trip to get here is one that will amaze you with its elegance and beauty. The country road leading to it winds through several vineyards and gives you some amazing photo opportunities. Walking around the site will not only stretch your legs but also give you some amazing vistas to take in. Those seeking some extra adrenalin can even climb down into the crater via a steep path, which takes around 30 minutes.
Life's a Beach
The resort of Playa de Las Canteras is home to many of Las Palmas’ most popular beaches and this strip of beaches is so long that the locals split them into different parts with their own names and even traditions. At the northern end of the resort is Playa Grande, simply translated as Big Beach, and it has a number of coconut palm trees lining its area. It has a spacious sand area and due to an offshore lava reef, some of the calmest waters you’re likely to find in Europe.
Another beach in the area is Playa Chica and it has more of a local and less populated feel. Not a beach for parasols and sun loungers, Playa Chica has open space on the sand and many restaurants overlooking the breathtaking ocean. The beach also has a mini-reef and it is a popular destination for snorkelling. La Cicer is another of the many beaches here and it is one known for its many games like beach tennis and football, while it is also a popular spot for surfing.
Nightlife is lively in Las Palmas and is one of Gran Canaria’s youngest cities. There are plenty of clubs and bars to keep you entertained during your stay. The Paper club is a favourite with students and has a mixture of bands and DJs playing all kinds of music and also has a terrace to cool down on. For an outdoor venue head to NYC Taxi bar for beers and rock music American style. Sala Nasdaq is excellent for live music and then if you are still in the mood for dancing Bravia is a great late night club that’s always popular. Las Palmas is full of trendy young people from all over the world and the nightlife reflects this with cafes and bars providing relaxed and varied entertainment. Las Brujas is definitely worth a visit, a club in a 15th Century converted manor house.
There’s nothing quite like spending a day at the beach with your loved one and with that in mind Las Palmas offers another isolated beach which is perfect for doing just that. Playa de Guigui is an isolated stretch of sand only reachable by boat or foot. So why not set out on a leisurely stroll along the coast and make your way to this scenic beach and make the most of the serenity on offer there?
Another amazing sight to see for all couples is Puerto de Mogan, this mini network of canals has been dubbed ‘Little Venice’ by visitors and it’s easy to see why. With a number of cosy cafes and restaurants in the surrounding area, Puerto de Mogan is the perfect place to stroll around hand-in-hand with your loved one. And when you want to make a move away from the water, the lush green Jardin Canario is a gorgeous botanic garden where you can revel in the peace and quiet.
Gran Canaria is big on festivities and celebrate whenever they can and with huge aplomb. Expect religious processions, jazz and dance festivals with excellent food, music and fireworks throughout the summer. For some history there are a few great museums in Las Palmas looking at the rich culture of the island. The museum Casa de Colon, translated as Columbus House because it was where Christopher Columbus stayed in 1492, is an extensively and elegantly built building which is rightly popular with all tourists. An attractive building with ornate doorways, beautiful latticed balconies and carved wooden ceilings, has 13 permanent exhibition rooms, a library and study centre. It also has several spaces reserved for temporary activities, such as lectures, seminars and exhibitions. Museuo Canaria contains local pottery and artefacts and the Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro contains old paintings and contains access to the stunning cathedral ceiling. There is also a science museum in the Santa Catalina square, an excellent place to take children for an afternoon.