Situated in the northeast of the island between two bays, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a lovely capital city that offers magnificent scenery. With a population of more than 380,000, it is Spain's seventh largest city. The city is a major tourist destination and is home to many excellent bars and restaurants. Its Las Canteras Beach, over three kilometres long, is one of its main attractions. Check out my choice of top attractions to visit in Las Palmas.
Las Canteras promenade walk
The jewel in the crown of Las Palmas is Las Canteras Beach. It is a long strip of sand that stretches for kilometres along the bay. Las Canteras is also known as the Changing Beach. Since the beach is constantly changing, it looks different every day. As you stroll along the promenade, you will see different statues all along the beach as well as talented sculptors who work hard throughout the year to make sand figurines. At Christmas, they make a huge sand Nativity scene. Among the permanent statues on the promenade, notice a statue of Mary Sánchez, one of the island's most renowned folk singers. The statue was placed close to her childhood home. I also found the statue of a fisherman cleaning a fish interesting. There are also other statues along the promenade. If you have enough time, continue your walk to Playa del Confital (El Confital Beach).
Playa del Confital
Located next to Las Canteras Beach, it has a completely different vibe. Las Canteras and El Confital beaches are linked by a promenade along the coast with views of the entire El Confital Beach. El Confital has rock pools, a wooden boardwalk and world-class waves. Locals go to this beach for picnics at sunset and surfing as well as for nude sunbathing at a designated place. It is also excellent for snorkelling and diving. At low tide, lots of small pools emerge among the rocks to splash in. There are no showers or food outlets available and public toilets can only be used in summer. However, you can enjoy the fantastic view of the sea and the city all year round.
The Vegueta neighbourhood of Las Palmas was the first settlement after the Spanish conquest of Gran Canaria in 1478 by Captain Juan Rejón. For centuries this area was a walled town and the first urban settlement on the island. Vegueta is home to many of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s most iconic buildings. Santa Ana Cathedral, Cristopher Columbus House, and the Canarian Museum are worth visiting. Columbus stopped there in 1492 on his return voyage, seeking repairs to his ship.
Casa de Colón
More than 500 years old Casa de Colón (Cristopher Columbus House) is one of the most beautiful and emblematic buildings in Gran Canaria. Columbus brought his ship to the Port of Las Palmas at the end of the 15th century to make some repairs before his first voyage across the Atlantic. The museum within the building showcases Christopher Columbus, the Canary Islands, and America and is excellent for an in-depth look at this crucial chapter of world history.
Address: C. Colón, 1
Plaza Santa Ana
One of the main squares in the city is the Plaza Santa Ana (Santa Ana Square), named after the patron saint of Gran Canaria. The square is surrounded by interesting historic buildings, including the cathedral. The Casas Consistoriales building across the cathedral used to house the town hall until 1977 when it was moved to another place. Now it is the site for the Tourist Information Office and has an exhibition space for the most important works of art in Gran Canaria.
The eight mysterious cast iron dog statues are a fascinating feature of the plaza. The most prevalent story is that the statues were gifted to the city by a French captain after their stay on the island. Another one is that they were donated to the city by Londoner James Miller at the end of the 19th century.
Santa Ana Cathedral
Construction of Santa Ana Cathedral started in 1497 but was not finished until the end of the 20th century. Some parts of the cathedral were never built, so there is still an empty space for future chapels and churches. The building combines the neoclassic, gothic, and renaissance styles because of the different times it was built. Its cloister with wooden balconies is one of the few of its kind in Spain. The cathedral’s towers provide great views of the historic neighbourhood.
Parque Doramas (Doramas Park) is next to the Pueblo Canario and the emblematic Hotel Santa Catalina. With an area of 47,800 m2, it has dragon trees, ficus, palm trees, and other native species. Its cascading fountains and extensive vegetation invite visitors to relax after a long day. A couple of impressive sculptures complete the landscape in the park. Walk up the hill to get a fantastic view from the top overlooking the city next to the Gospel Church.
The Pueblo Canario is the recreation of a Canarian village in the heart of Las Palmas. Designed by Miguel Martín Fernándes de la Torre and his brother Nésto, the Pueblo Canario depicts a traditional Canarian village with houses, a town square, and a chapel, taking its guests back in time. Be sure to visit it on a Sunday or Thursday to enjoy a free show with folk dances and songs. Check with the Tourist Information Office when the shows take place. While in the Pueblo Canario, visit the famous Museo Nestor (the Nestor Museum) dedicated to the renowned artist and painter Nestor Fernandez de la Torre.
Address: C. Francisco González Díaz, 6
Santa Catalina Hotel
Surrounded by extensive gardens, the Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel is located next to the Pueblo Canario and within a 5-minute walk from Las Palmas Marina. Sir Winston Churchill, King Charles III, and the Spanish royal family are among the famous guests who have stayed at the stately Santa Catalina. Built in the late 19th century, it has a grand, colonial design with high ceilings and chandeliers. This hotel features an outdoor pool, three restaurants, a rooftop bar, and a wellness centre. Even if you do not plan to stay there, take a look at it or visit a bar or one of the restaurants.
Address: C. León y Castillo, 227
The Botanical Garden Viera y Clavijo is located in Tafira, about nine kilometres southwest of Las Palmas. It is Spain’s largest garden covering 27 hectares with a broad range of flora from across the Canary Islands, including many rare and endangered species. The botanical garden was established in 1952 by an extraordinary Swede, Eric Sventenius, who wanted to gather the islands’ botanical riches in one place. In 1973, he lost his life in a fatal road accident. His grave lies in a shady laurel forest area of the Garden. After Eric’s death, other naturalists took up his work.
The botanical garden is divided according to its different species, allowing visitors to see the diverse ecosystems within the island. It has the Laurel Forest, Palm Tree Square, Island Garden, Hidden Garden, World Garden, and Ornamental Macaronesian Garden, which groups together all the endangered species from the Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Madeira or Savage Islands).
The best time to visit the garden is in spring when the majority of the plants are in gorgeous bloom.
The garden is open every day except for public holidays. If you travel by public transport, take a bus No. 303 or 311 departing from San Telmo bus station. An alternative is the yellow bus No. 7 from the city theatre. Get off at the bus stop Campus Universitario. From there, you have to go about five minutes on foot to the upper entrance of the botanical garden. A tour of the garden leads you downhill, and at the end of your visit, you will reach the lower entrance of the garden. To return to Las Palmas, go back to the upper entrance uphill because the nearest bus stop is there.
Public buses in Las Palmas are convenient and easy to use. You can buy a ticket from the driver either with cash or a credit card. Google Maps show bus routes for your trip.
If you want to swim in a pool and have underwater massages, try GO fit Las Palmas. I really enjoyed its pools and sauna.
Address: C. Secretario Padilla, 88, 90
Allow at least two days to visit the sites mentioned in this article.
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Author: Anita Sane
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