If we're planning to spend a few days in Gran Canaria and want to have a good idea of the island as a whole, we need to leave at least one day to explore the capital: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This great city has beaches, but it also offers interesting cultural activities, spacious areas for strolling and a wide range of leisure options to guarantee a great day out.
MORNING: Exploring the Historic Centre
A good time to begin our walk around the city is 10am. We’ll start by visiting the oldest and most typical area of the city, the Vegueta district, with numerous narrow cobbled streets lined with houses in the traditional architectural style of the Canary Islands. We stroll through the streets like Balcones or Espíritu Santo until we reach the Plaza de Santa Ana square, the site of the Santa Ana Cathedral. The best way to really get to know a city is by mingling with the locals, and the Vegueta market, a stone's throw from the cathedral, offers a fantastic chance to do just that. Morning is the ideal time to experience all the usual hustle and bustle while we pick up a few typical local products such as cheese. Things to remember This area is also home to the Museum of the Canary Islands where we can learn all about the history of the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands. Other buildings of interest in this area include the Episcopal Palace, the Town Hall, Casa de Colón (Columbus’ house) and the shrine of San Antonio Abad. Shopping and tapas area At around 12:30 is a good time to explore one of the main shopping and business areas: Mayor de Triana street and the surrounding area, with its numerous Modernist buildings. There is a wide range of shops of all kinds, including crafts shops and big-name boutiques. The area is also full of outddor cafés where you can enjoy a few tapas and even have lunch. Among the most delicious Canary Island recipes to try are the papas arrugadas (baby potatoes boiled in their skins) with mojo (a spicy sauce) and sancocho (poached fish). If we visit any of the restaurants in the area around the Hurtado de Mendoza and Cairasco squares we are guaranteed to be served a delicious meal. One of the architectural highlights of the Plaza del Cairasco square is the beautiful building which houses the Gabinete Literario cultural centre. It is well worth visiting one of its exhibitions in order to see inside. Also recommended is a visit to San Telmo park, and particularly if we’ve got children with us. While they play in the park, we can relax at a table near the Modernist pavilion and the small shrine there. Things to remember So far we haven’t covered any great distances, so the tour can easily be done on foot. It’s also the best way to browse these quiet streets, many of which are closed to traffic (as is the case of Calle Mayor de Triana)
AFTERNOON: A little peace and quiet
After lunch we’re sure to feel like taking a quiet hour’s rest and to make the most of the pleasant weather which is such a constant feature of the city. We can choose between an outdoor café in the marina, surrounded by recreational boats and the sea; or the Pueblo Canario leisure and culture centre in the Parque Doramas, where we can enjoy our coffee in a typical Canary-islands courtyard. A trip to the beach in the heart of the city Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is always the ideal place for relaxing, but visitors find this option particularly attractive when they discover the Las Canteras beach. This is the city’s main beach, and has over three kilometres of golden sand. A swim in the crystal-clear waters is practically compulsory, and we’re bound to see some fish. The ocean is usually as calm as a millpond, so the beach is perfectly safe for bathing. After cooling off, we’ll make for an outdoor café in the Paseo de Las Canteras promenade to have a little refreshment on the seafront. The attractive scenery and the mild climate make this the ideal place for a stroll, so we can walk along to the end of the beach until we come to the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium, from where we can enjoy beautiful views all along the beach. Things to remember A good way of getting around the city is in the tourist bus, which stops at most of the points of interest. One of the main bus depots is in San Telmo Park, and offers excellent connections between the area where we’ve spent the morning and where we plan to spend the afternoon. The Pueblo Canario hosts folklore shows every Sunday morning. If we are travelling with children, it is well worth visiting the Elder Museum of Science and Technology, which features an interactive tour and is very near the Las Canteras beach.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the busiest city on the island for nightlife, and we’re bound to find whatever entertainment we’re looking for. If we feel like something more leisurely after our day’s sightseeing, we can opt for something from the programme of musical events in the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium or in the Pérez Galdós theatre. If we feel like dinner and a few drinks in a soothing atmosphere as night falls, there are a multitude of restaurants and outdoor cafés of all kinds in the Vegueta district. In the area around the Triana neighbourhood there are venues offering live music, or salsa and commercial sounds. Finally, if we’ve got any strength left for a long night of music, the place to choose is the area of the Port, the Las Canteras beach, the streets around the Plaza de Santa Catalina square and the marina.