What to do in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria on your stopover
Tuesday, 17 August 2021
Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria, is a place where the city meets the sea. Once described as having “the best climate in the world”, this Spanish haven off the coast of Morocco has plenty to offer visitors stopping off on a Canary Islands cruise.
The team at Visit Las Palmas opened up about that city’s rich history: “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.”
If you find yourself wondering what to do in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria during your time in the city, read on to discover our top suggestions.
Explore the Old Town
Vegueta, also known on the island as Old Town, is the original heart of Las Palmas. With worn cobbles underfoot and sun-faded paint on the buildings, as you walk these streets, you’d be forgiven for thinking you have stepped back in time. 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 historical buildings.
As well as offering stunning architecture, Vegueta is also a great place to stop for lunch with options for every type of traveller. Stop in a tapas bar for a mezze of local delicacies, visit a restaurant for a sit-down dining experience or stop by the Mercado de Vegueta and browse stalls filled with local ingredients to create your own picnic.
READ MORE: Must-try Canary Island’s food specialities
Visit the Las Palmas Cathedral
One of the highlight’s of Vegueta is the Las Palmas Cathedral and everyone who comes to the city should be sure to visit. The Catedral de Santa Ana is a Roman Catholic Church that was commenced in 1500 however, construction didn’t finish for nearly four centuries giving the final building a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture. Situated on the Plaza de Santa Ana, the church is one of the most iconic sights on the island.
Insider’s tip: If you want to get a great view over the city, there is a lift that can take you up the ‘twin towers’ which offers vistas over the city and harbour for only €1.50.
Retrace Columbus’ steps
Also located in Vegueta is Casa de Colón. Whether fact or fiction, no one knows for sure, but it is thought Christopher Columbus stopped here whilst his ship was repaired in 1492. As well as Columbus, the building has had other notable guests, being the home of the first governors of the island and later the birthplace of opera tenor Alfredo Kraus. Now, the building is open as a museum with 13 exhibition rooms featuring many artefacts relating to Columbus and his travels.
Hike volcanic landscapes
One of the most unique things to experience whilst visiting the Canary Islands is the myriad volcanic landscapes. Each island is slightly different, and Gran Canaria is no exception with some amazing hikes and natural landscapes for those who want to explore them. South of the city centre, you can find Caldera de Bandama, a volcanic crater now filled with volcanic ash and local flora.
If you are willing to travel further out of the city, at the centre of the island you can find the Nublo Rural Park. With such volcanic marvels as Roque Nublo, Roque del Fraile and La Rana, you can see the lasting effects of eruptions that took place around 4.5 million years ago.
Enjoy the arts and culture
The city of Las Palmas has plenty to offer a culture lover who is looking to learn more about local history or enjoy the arts. At the opposite end of the Plaza de Santa Ana to the cathedral, you can find Gabinete Literario, a place that some describe as the cultural centre of the Canary Islands. The building’s unique façade alone is worth the visit, however, what’s behind its wall is much more interesting as the home of the society which helps develop Gran Canaria’s literary, cultural and scientific offerings.
Or why not visit El Museo Canario? This archaeological museum was established over 140 years ago and now includes a collection featuring many prehistoric remains from the early, island residents.
Soak in the sun
If your holiday style is more laid back, or you’ll just be hoping to soak up some of that amazing Canarian sun whilst on the island, there are plenty of places you can visit to do so. If it’s sand between your toes you’re looking for, head no further than Playa de Las Centras. This is one of the city’s best urban beaches and is perfect for sunbathing, it’s also only a short walk from the port, Puerto de Las Palmas. One of the things that makes 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.
Insider tip: If you plan to spend the day at Playa de Las Centras, why not stop off at Mercado del Puerto on the way to pick up some fresh local produce for lunch? You’ll walk past it en route from the ship.
Or, for something more inland why not take a walk around Parque del San Telmo? Just tucked away from the beaches, this park is a hub of activity and is a great place to stop off for lunch or grab a coffee.
READ MORE: 10 Canary Islands facts you didn't know
What to do in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria on your stopover
- Explore the Old Town
- Visit the Las Palmas Cathedral
- Retrace Columbus’ steps
- Hike volcanic landscapes
- Enjoy the arts and culture
- Soak in the sun
If you were wondering what to do and what to see in Las Palmas city on a Canaries cruise, you’re now equipped with a great range of activities, from hiking ancient volcanos to retracing one of the most famous voyager’s steps, to choose from on your stopover.
For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog page.