Las Palmas is the place where the city meets the sea. With a Spanish feel and powerful mix of cultures thanks to its busy port, Las Palmas is one of the most exciting destinations on any Canaries cruise.
The bustling streets full of locals and visitors alike are a great place to soak up the sun whilst immersing yourself in the fusion of cultures only a port city like this plays host to. Las Palmas is used to stopover guests, and the locals will welcome anyone into their city for any amount of time.
We spoke to the team at Visit Las Palmas who told us some more about its history: “Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was chosen by Trip Advisor as the first emerging tourist destination in Europe in 2016. Although the city has a long tradition as a tourist urban destination in the sixties we have witnessed a new explosion in the most populated city of the Canary Islands.
“The Gran Canarian capital, founded in 1478 is a unique historical centre on this side of the Atlantic and grew in the twentieth century around the port. The growth of the port has endowed the city with a cosmopolitan character, accustomed to welcoming visitors from all corners of the globe.
“In addition, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has regularly welcomed British travellers since the late twentieth century. The British founded the first large companies of the port, they settled in the neighbourhood of Ciudad Jardín and created pioneering golf clubs and tennis. Tourists like Agatha Christie herself stayed in the capital, in anticipation of the British public that would arrive in the sixties, along with Scandinavians and Germans.”
Curious about visiting Las Palmas on your Canaries cruise, read on to find out some of the different ways you can spend your time in this seaside city.
Vegueta, also known on the island as Old Town, is the original heart of Las Palmas. People first settled here at the end of the 15th century and its streets and squares are home to some of Gran Canaria’s most historic buildings.
As you wind through the streets, you’ll notice the paint is peeling from the buildings and the cobbles underfoot are worn. The sun beats down on the old stone and it feels as though you could have been transported back in time. If you want to experience the real heart of the city, then head to Vegueta.
After a walk, there are pretty outdoor terraces waiting for you to take a break and absorb the atmosphere around you. Find tapas bars and restaurants, or just stop off at Mercado de Vegueta to pick up some fresh fruit to eat in the sunshine.
How long will it take? 2 hours, allow a little more time if you would like to stop for a long lunch.
Las Palmas Cathedral
In the heart of Vegueta is the Las Palmas Cathedral. Construction of this Roman Catholic church was completed in 1570 and still stands proud to this day. The original gothic architecture is beautiful, and the stained-glass windows within are a marvel. Often, experiencing a cathedral is the best way to experience what really makes a city.
Stand on the square in front of the cathedral for some great shots, and then get the lift up to the top of the tower for a great vantage point over the city. This is the perfect stop off for anyone looking to experience the bones of the city.
How long will it take? ½ an hour to an hour.
Casa de Colon
Also in Vegueta is the Casa de Colon. This museum documents Columbus’ voyages as it is thought he once stopped here in 1492. The building also used to be home to some of Las Palmas’ early governors and is much more opulent than the other houses in the Old Town.
If you are a bit of a travel geek this is a great place to go learn some more about the city. On the ground floor is a model galleon and the crucifix is said to have come from Columbus’ ship. Upstairs there is an art gallery.
How long will it take? 1 ½ hours.
Playa de Las Canteras
By far the most popular part of Las Palmas is Playa De Las Canteras - the beach. This large city beach sweeps along the promenade and is the perfect place to soak up some sun, swim in the water and relax. If you aren’t looking to explore any of the city you can easily while away the hours here. Along the promenade are plenty of bars and restaurants, and on the beach, there are activities for everyone.
Known as the jewel in the crown, Las Palmas is incredibly proud of its beach and you can see that when you go there. The beach is very well kept and it’s lucky enough to experience fantastic weather basically year-round. One of the things that make the beach so special is ‘La Barra’, a long rock formation out in the bay which protects the shore from strong tides and is also home to a large marine life reserve.
How long will it take? Anywhere from an hour to the whole day.
Jardin Botanico Canario Viera y Clavijo
If one of your favourite things to do is take a leisurely stroll around a garden, then Jardin Botanico Canario Viera Y Clavijo is for you. This hidden gem is a great place to explore the flora and fauna local to the Canary Islands and is any cactus lovers’ dream.
The vast garden has cliff paths and forests perfect for any budding walker. There are also lakes full of fish, and dragon trees. The park is home to almost 600 species and thanks to that there is always something in flower. There is even a waterfall at the south end of the gardens. The garden is just outside of the city but you will be able to get a bus up to visit it and trust us, it will be worth it.
How long will it take? 2 hours.
Caldera de Bandama
Only a short drive outside of the city is Caldera de Bandama. Also known as Gran Canaria’s magic cauldron, Caldera de Bandama is an old volcano crater. A popular place for walkers and nature lovers, this is a beautiful place to hike and get a great view over Gran Canaria.
Catch a bus from the city and remember your walking boots, either wander down into the old mouth of the volcano or walk around the outer rim. Not too many people can say they have walked into the cauldron of a volcano, you could be one of them!
How long will it take? Including journey time plan 3 hours if you intend to hike it, 1 if you just want to see it.
Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno
Jump into the rich and varied art scene of Las Palmas by heading to the Centro Atlantic De Arta Moderno (CAAM.) The Las Palmas home of modern art is hidden behind a traditional exterior which would deceive most onlookers.
Find this museum in Vegueta near the Casa de Colon and the cathedral. If you are an art lover there are some fantastic exhibitions here that will really make you think. Most of the work is by prominent Spanish speaking artists but with art there is no language barrier.
How long will it take? 1-2 hours.
Castillo de la Luz
This old fort greets you as you disembark your cruise ship. The Castillo de la Luz is overlooking all visitors to Las Palmas, as it has been since 1494. Much to many visitors’ surprise, behind the stone walls, is an art gallery, full of work by a Canarian sculptor.
This ingenuitive use for this old fort means the restoration work done on the building is fantastic and it is a real treat to experience. If you are an art lover or a history lover this quick stop right next to the port is a must.
How long will it take? 1 hour.
Museo Elder de la Ciencia y la Tecnolgia
The Musea Elder de la Ciencia y la Technologia is a science museum and popular attraction in Las Palmas. This museum is full to the brim with interactive elements, making it a very exciting place to get hands on with science and learn something cool.
Including things like a replica space station, 3D cinema and planetarium this is perfect for children (or big kids!) as it is full of exciting features. Have some fun and learn something new here, you can even sit inside a fighter jet!
How long will it take? 2-3 hours to properly experience all it has to offer.
Now, the only thing left to do is plan what you are going to do with your time in Las Palmas on your next Canaries cruise!