Insider tips: Planning a trip to Las Palmas
Travel blogger Check Out Sam lived in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for one month to experience everything this little city and the island has to offer. Here are some best tips when visiting the capital of Gran Canaria:
What should I do on my first trip to Las Palmas?
Immediately head to the stunning Playa de las Canteras and walk along the embankment. From there you get great views over Las Palmas and if the sky is clear you can even see Tenerife! I suggest you book a tour or rent a car from Las Palmas too. There are plenty of options around the capital of Gran Canaria. Visit the rough north or be surprised by the rocky center. The island truly is stunning and Las Palmas is the best place to organize your day trips from.
What are some hidden gems to see in Las Palmas?
Since it's not really in the city center of Las Palmas, a lot of people skip the Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo. Don't! This botanical garden is well worth some of your time. It showcases a huge variety of plants that are (almost) only found on the Canary Islands. The paths at this attraction can get quite steep and take you down a cliff from where you get stunning views. However, this also means that you should be quite careful when visiting this stunning attraction!
How much time should I spend in Las Palmas?
There are not a lot of sights in Las Palmas itself, so you can easily visit all of them in about two days. However, this city is also the perfect starting spot to discover more of the island. Most highlights of Gran Canaria are never much further away than a one hour drive from Las Palmas. Depending on what you want to see in the area, you should add another three days to your itinerary.
What food is Las Palmas known for?
Just like in the rest of Spain, the Canarian people are very proud of their tapas. A lot of them are similar to the one you can find in mainland Spain, but with a Canarian twist. Definitely try out the papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) with their delicious mojo sauce. Their shrimp with avocado salad is also something I would suggest to everyone and last but not least: try some of their cheeses! They go from soft, to milky to hard and I'm sure there's a flavour for everyone!
What is the best way to get around Las Palmas?
Since the city's not that big, walking is probably the easiest option to get from one sight to another. The historical part of Las Palmas is still quite far away from the areas near Playa de las Canteras. Therefore, make use of the cheap public transportation. Taxis are also not very expensive, so especially when you're travelling with multiple people this is probably the cheapest ánd fastest way to travel. If you want to visit sights in Gran Canaria that are elsewhere on the island, I suggest you rent a car or book a tour.
What are the best months to visit Las Palmas?
Gran Canaria has great weather year round, although evenings can still be quite chilly until April. However, winter and spring on this island are really quite amazing since there are a lot of events going on! In November the Winter Gay Pride is celebrated all over the city (but even more so in Maspalomas). For about one week, lots of great events are organized and stunning performances of drag queens and other allies of the LGBTQI+ community can be visited. An even bigger celebration is the Carnival of Las Palmas. In February and/or March, carnival is celebrated for three weeks or more. Most of these events take place in the Santa Catalina Park. Here you can witness the Carnival Queen or the Carnival Drag Queen being chosen.
What are the best neighborhoods for food?
The promenade at Playa de las Canteras has lots of great restaurants. You'll find a lot of tapas, but also plenty of good Italian, Asian, South-American, ... food. In the historical city center, you'll find a mix as well.
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
Shopaholics will love Las Palmas! There are lots of (huge!) shopping malls such as Las Arenas and La Ballena, but also several Corte Inglés chains where you literally can find anything. At the car free Avenida de Jose Mesa y Lopez you'll find plenty of chains and big department stores.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Las Palmas?
I again recommend to stay at the historical city center or somewhere close by Playa de las Canteras. At both areas, you'll find everything you could ever need to enjoy your visit to Las Palmas.
What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Las Palmas?
Head out on the water for a fun day of snorkelling, dolphin spotting or even try some exciting paragliding. On the pristine waters around Gran Canaria, you and your family will definitely have a lot of fun!
What is the best thing to do in Las Palmas for solo travelers?
For both solo travelers, couples, families or friend groups I recommend to rent a car. Don't just stay in Las Palmas, but venture out to the north or center of the islands for some stunning landscapes and beautiful hikes. Solo travelers can easily make friends along the way to some highlights, whereas couples just have to enjoy romantic sunsets at places like Roque Nublo or the nearby viewpoints. Families or friend groups will love all these activities too, since it'll be a great way to bond with each other over the stunning nature.
What is the best thing to do in Las Palmas for couples?
Take a stroll along the boulevard of Las Canteras and pick one of the many great restaurants (or cocktail bars) to watch the sunset from. If it's not too cloudy, they are often spectacular!
What are the best annual events in Las Palmas?
Every year, carnival is hugely celebrated all around the island (February and March). In Las Palmas however, you'll find the biggest celebrations. Stunning performances and awesome parades move towards the city center and transform the whole city into a colorful paradise! As I said earlier, the winter gay pride is also an excellent way to discover the love for life this island has. And if you can't get enough of these celebrations, just come back in May! Because that's when the summer pride is being organized!
What are the best areas for outdoor activities around Las Palmas?
In Las Palmas you're never far away from the beautiful rough interior of the island or the rugged northern coast. You can go explore both areas with a guided tour or rent a car and head there on your own. I personally really enjoyed the (easy) hike towards the Charco Azul waterfall, a visit to the famous Roque Nublo and the GC 200 Route from stunning Agaete to the Mirador del Balcon.
What are the best beaches around Las Palmas?
You will find the most relaxing beaches of the island on the south. From Las Palmas it takes about one / one and a half hour to get there. Playa de Amadores is man made but has a Caribbean vibe and the beach of Maspalomas (with the famous dunes!) is perhaps my favorite of the whole island. If you're looking for more authentic beaches you need to be in the north, which is closer to Las Palmas. I recommend the beach of Agaete for its stunning views, the Salinas del Bufadero for an authentic experience (rocks, not sand!) and of course Playa de Las Canteras in Las Palmas itself.