8 Things to Do When Visiting Las Palmas City in Canary Islands, Spain
La Palmas is sometimes called the beautiful island due to its stunning landscape. There is a soaring volcano, and beautiful stretches of beaches. It often has clear blue skies and a lack of pollution. It can be a great getaway for anyone living in a big city loaded with polluted air. Likewise, people from places where there are no beaches would love Las Palmas beaches.
Las Palmas is one of the biggest cities in the Canary Islands part of Spain. It sits on the northeastern part of Gran Canaria Island. It is located in the northeastern part of the island of Gran Canaria, about 150 km (93 mi) off the coast of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean.
Gran Canaria Island which is the most heavily populated island in the area has more than 700,000 inhabitants which includes Las Palmas. Las Palmas is the judicial and commercial capital of the Canary Islands.
The island is known for its sunny weather and splendid soft-sand beaches. Las Palmas port is a frequent stopover for cruise ships from Europe, America and Africa. It also plays an important role in business and trading in the region. Before exploring the island of Gran Canaria, it’s definitely worth the effort to spend time in Las Palmas.
Las Palmas experiences a hot desert climate. Fortunately it is offset by the local cooler Canary Current. That current helps keep the temperatures moderate throughout the year.
Who lives in Las Palmas?
With a population of more than 383,308 as of 2010, Las Palmas is the biggest and 9th or 10th largest city in Spain. The city was founded in 1478.
It was considered the de facto capital of the Canary Islands until the seventeenth century. As of 2008, almost half of Gran Canaria’s population lives in Las Palmas. That’s about 18% of the Canary Islands’ total population.
The majority of the population is Spanish. However, throughout history Las Palmas received lots of immigrants from mainland Spain and countries from every continent. There is a large Venezuelan community as well as historical minorities such as Indians (Sindhi) and Koreans plus a growing Chinese population.
The Culture of Las Palmas
Las Palmas offers a variety of cultural events. There is theater, cinema, concerts, opera, dance and visual arts. It hosts the Canary Islands Music Festival, the International Film Festival, and the Theater and Dance. There is a City Festival in June.
The famous Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is known worldwide. It is one of the main attractions for tourists. The Vegueta and Triana neighborhoods, in city center are included in the tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
If you are planning to go on a vacation with your special someone or your family there are many sights to see and things to do. But here are eight must do activities when visiting Las Palmas City.
- Explore the Town and Visit the Locals
- Go for a Swim at the Beautiful Beaches
- Visit Vegueta District or Old District
- Take an Educational Tour
- Visit the Elder Museum of Science and Technology
- Visit Poema del Mar Aquarium
- View the Sights and see the landmarks
- Nature and Parks of Las Palmas
Read below for more information on these eight activities you can enjoy on your Las Palmas visit.
1. Explore the Town and Visit the Locals
Las Palmas is home to a very strong Spanish culture. You can see it once you set foot on the shores. When you explore the town, make sure you bring your camera along with you. Then you can take photographs of the beautiful streets and scenes of Las Palmas.
The streets are adorned with palm trees and beautiful flowers. You also have the chance to enjoy local dishes and pastry favorites. There are many cafes, boutiques and tapas which are all around. Santa Catalina is one of the iconic 5-star hotels found in Las Palmas. It has been housing royalty and celebrities from all over the world.
2. Go for a Swim at the Beautiful Beaches
One of, if not the main reason why Las Palmas is frequently visited by tourists, is because of their beautiful beaches. You can opt to go to Playa de Las Canteras or Playa de Las Alcaravaneras or Playa del Ingles.
Playa de Las Canteras is hailed as the longest city beach in the world. Playa de Las Alcaravaneras is the beach area of Playa de Las Canteras. It is very popular with all tourists and even the locals.
For those who prefer restaurants by the bay or bars, Playa del Ingles is your destination. It is situated near the city port wherein you will have plenty of choices for drinks and food. From there you can watch the beautiful sight of Maspalomas desert.
3. Visit Vegueta District
Vegueta district, also known as the Old District, will take you to old Las Palmas. The streets are still made of cobble stones and houses are still of the conventional type. This district was even acclaimed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the 90s. You do not need to ride any transportation when touring around the Old District. Everything can be visited on foot.
Drop by Santa Ana Square and walk around Vegueta market where you get to interact with the locals. Try their products and bring some home. You can also tour around Museo Casa de Colon and the Museum of the Canary Islands. Three other places to visit are Episcopal Palace, Town Hall and Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno.
4. Take an Educational Tour
Triana is another important historical structure in Las Palmas City. It may have become a commercial center now because it is a highly pedestrianized zone. It is still considered as a historic monument.
You can also find the Casa Museo Perez Galdos and Plaza del Cairasco Square. Inside the square, you can find the Gabinete Literario cultural center where their frequent exhibitions are conducted. If you want to relax or go on a picnic, go to Parque Doramas or San Telmo Park.
5. Visit the Elder Museum of Science and Technology
Most exhibitions in the museum have information in both Spanish and English. Also while there you can use the internet computers.
There are exhibitions, workshops, interactive exhibition rooms, and a children’s room. There is also a greenhouse with a complete ecosystem inside and a wide screen cinema.
This museum has a notable interactive character, which is very clear through it’s motto “Forbidden not touching”. The museum has information adapted for any age. Students and children have a lower entrance fee to the museum.
6. Visit Poema del Mar Aquarium
The Acquarium features “the jungle”, where they have reproduced the landscapes from the five continents. The other part, Arrecife, takes you on a trip where you will experience a large and colorful selection of coral and fish. Further down in Deep Sea section, the deepest part, where you can see fish and sharks through the world’s second largest panama window in the aquarium.
“Poemo del Mar” supports the conservation of endangered species in the Atlantic Ocean, in collaboration with the Loro Parque Foundation. That’s an organization with over 20 years of experience and with more than 100 conservation projects in 30 countries.
7. View the Sights See the Landmarks
There are lots of buildings and churches and other structures to feast your eyes on. Visit the shopping area of Triana. It is situated around the shopping street Calle Triana and close to the historic Vegueta. Triana is located in the heart of Las Palmas. Shops and banks began to settle there back in 1852. People on the streets there are very friendly and helpful. It is an ideal shopping area to discover the real Las Palmas.
See the Santa Ana Cathedral in the heart of the Vegueta quarter. It is the first church of the Canaries. Construction started around 1500 and was not completed until almost four centuries later.
You can still see some remarkable pieces of art in the chapels of the cathedral. They include many statues, most of which are from the famous religious sculptor José Luján Pérez. You’ll also find the Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro (Sacred Art Museum) which exhibits many valuable sacred artifacts and some noteworthy paintings. It includes works by Dutch masters, and a collection of Spanish sculptures, gathered from the last four centuries.
In Vegueta, you’ll find El Museo Canario. In this museum they celebrate the history and indigenous people of Gran Canaria. You can see how the ancient people dressed and lived. See their funeral rites and how they preserved the deceased.
If you want a modern artistic experience, then the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno (CAAM) has collections from Canarian artists such as sculptor Martín Chirino and painter Manolo Millares (both born in Las Palmas), as well as international collections from Latin American, African, and European artists. Admission is free to the museum.
There is also a lot of graffiti and street art around Las Palmas. You’ll find some of the best in the skate park at Santa Catalina. Also check out the murals along the promenade.
Plaza de Santa Ana was onstructed in early 16th century. It lies at the heart of historic Las Palmas. You can wander this historic square and view its traditional Canarian-Spanish architecture. View its many attractions, including the city hall and the Cathedral of the Canaries.
Want a short break? Then relax in the shade at one of the plaza’s cafes, some of which serve traditional Spanish tapas. Watch out for the many bronze dog statues guarding the Cathedral of Santa Ana. You can check the square’s event schedule for live music and other performances.
8. Nature and Parks of Las Palmas
There are several parks and other nature sights in Las Palmas. There is the Pico de Bandama viewpoint. It has a great 360 degree view of Las Palmas, the Caldera, the central mountains and the sea. You can park along the road then hike around the caldera in about an hour and a half or less. This would be a good experience for nature lovers.
Jardin Botanico Viera & Clavijo is a unique garden erected on the side of a ravine. There are examples of every kind of vegetation found in the Canaries. This would make a great day trip in Las Palmas. It’s located in the outskirts of the city, close to the university campus.
There is also Parque de San Telmo. This is a nice, smallish park, which may be fairly busy with people since it is near a bus stop. You can chill out for a time or just watch the world go by. There is a nice art deco café in one corner of the park. Take a look at the small church which is at the opposite end of the park from the art deco café. It has an outside seating area where you can sit in the shade. There is a nice bandstand, a kiosk, and a kids play area.
Getting around Las Palmas
Las Palmas is generally low-cost. However a few attractions are priced rather high for what you get. Buses are frequent. Taxis are inexpensive (especially compared to some other travel destinations). There are numerous walkways along the coastline offering beautiful views of the surrounding scenery. Walking around the city is also very easy.
Spectacular LAS PALMAS in GRAN CANARIA, a walking tour (SPAIN)
by Vic Stefanu – World Travels and Adventures
Published on Youtube on Jul 4, 2013
A walking tour of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria (Spain). Vic Stefanu, firstname.lastname@example.org. Gran Canaria is one of Spain’s Canary Islands, off northwestern Africa. It’s known for the white-sand beaches stretching along its southern coast, from happening Playa del Inglés and Puerto Rico to quieter, family-oriented Puerto de Mogán and San Agustín.