Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Tips for a weekend trip

The Canary Islands are feted for their beach holidays and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a premier destination for those looking to soak up some sun year-round.

View across Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Image credit: Juergen Sack/iStock
View across Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Image credit: Juergen Sack/iStock

The premier port of the mid-Atlantic, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a popular cruising destination within Spain’s Canary Islands. But as a sub-tropical paradise that’s a couple of hours away from the Iberian Peninsula by plane, it deserves more than a day trip.

With five beaches to plant your towel on, there’s no shortage of tanning space within the capital city of Gran Canaria, which enjoys warm temperatures throughout the year. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital of the easterly half of the Canary Islands, lording it over Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Graciosa, and Lanzarote. It is also located a mere 150 kilometers off the Moroccan coastline.

Take a look at a few reasons why you should ditch the one-day trip and stay a weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Places to explore

Explore the cobbled streets which Columbus once walked

When Christopher Columbus dropped by in 1492 on his way to sailing to the Americas, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was a young town recently created by Spanish settlers. The fledgling Castilian city governor received Columbus in what’s become known as the Casa de Colón: a museum dedicated to Columbus’ voyages.

A short walk away is the adjacent 16th-century Catedral de Canarias, another impressive building worth checking out, complete with a palm-tree-motif ceiling.

Further west into the city is the Ermita de San Antonio Abad chapel, where Columbus is believed to have said his last prayer before resuming his journey after a month confined to shore.

Colonial houses in Vegueta. Image credit: herraez/iStock
Colonial houses in the city’s old town Vegueta. Image credit: herraez/iStock

Art galleries and museums – Get with the cultural beat

While many will have heard of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s status as a tax-free shopping destination, some may be shocked to discover the non-commercial museums and art galleries spread throughout the city.

Learn about Gran Canaria’s original inhabitants, the Berber-descended Canarii, at El Museo Canario in Vegueta, the capital’s original neighborhood. For something altogether more 21st-century, check out the nearby avant-garde art gallery, CAAM. Things are similarly cutting-edge at the Centro de Arte La Regenta, which is located at the Parque Santa Catalina end of Calle León y Castillo.

Las Canteras – Hit Spain’s best urban beach

Some Spanish mainlanders claim San Sebastián’s Playa de la Concha as the country’s premier urban beach. Sure it’s beautiful, but you can’t take advantage of it every day of the year like you can at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s Las Canteras, can you?

Playa De Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Image credit: Juergen Sack/iStock
Playa De Las Canteras in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Image credit: Juergen Sack/iStock

Novelist Agatha Christie was quite a fan of the waters in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, opting for its surf over that at Tenerife’s Puerto de la Cruz, the popular bucket-and-spade destination for moneyed Europeans at the time.

One of her favorite activities was to take a daily dip at Playa de Las Canteras, which has a square named after her at the most westerly section of the beach, La Cicer. This is where the surfers brave the waves, although there are gentler swimming conditions about three kilometers east in La Puntilla.

Caldera de Bandama – Explore the city’s magic cauldron

One of the Gran Canaria capital’s most bewitching features is the out-of-town Caldera de Bandama. The volcanic crater is easily reached by cross-country Global bus, just follow the trail to the pit of the 1,000 meter-wide crater.

Where to eat, drink, and party

Hestia – Embrace the new wave of Canarian gastronomy

Thirty-something Gran Canaria native chef Juan Santiago Fuentes is an authority on keeping the traditions of local cuisine alive by revitalizing them. These days, he’s winning the stomachs and minds of foodies with his latest culinary (ad)venture, Hestia.

The beautiful restaurant sits in the north of the city, just above Las Canteras beach, where you’ll be treated to catches of the day dressed in the most amazing way. Think amberjack belly gyoza with cauliflower puré and wreckfish sashimi with coriander and chili cold soup and chili pepper oil. 

Samoa – The taste of tradition in Alcaravaneras

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s second beach in terms of popularity is Playa Alcaravaneras. This is also the name of the adjoining neighborhood which houses a classic café-cum-restaurant in Restaurante Samoa. Go for the Russian salad and stay for the calamares.

TAJ Rooftop & Lounge – Al-fresco food and drinks with views

Closer to the beachfront lies Hotel Silken Saaj, an establishment that is proving increasingly popular with the business traveler.

Up top, the hotel’s TAJ Rooftop & Lounge offers pimped-up street food such as goat and quince gyozas with ponzu sauce and classic cocktails in relaxed surroundings with Atlantic vistas.

Chef Jose Carlos Romero Espino is a protege of the celebrated Roca brothers, which means you’ll be able to sample some of the finest cuisine this side of Catalonia. 


Matthew Hirtes

Freelance journalist Matthew Hirtes swapped the football pitches of the UK for the beaches of the Canary Islands when he relocated from London to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the mid noughties. The onetime deputy editor of The Official Chelsea Magazine is now the go-to-guy for all things Canaries.