Introducing Las Palmas (Gran Canaria)
Las Palmas is the biggest port in Spanish history and the largest city in the Canary Islands. It has a cosmopolitan look and feel about it while being the ninth largest city in the country of Spain. Juan Rejon, who took the island from a group of indigenous people that are now extinct, founded the port in the late 15th century.
The streets are lined with palm trees and due to its mild climate; you can always find well-groomed avenues with colourful floral displays. While many people visiting here are sun worshippers, the city of Las Palmas caters to all ages and offers beautiful scenery, plenty of excellent restaurants and activities. The island itself has many landscapes from beaches to high mountains, a large city and small villages tucked throughout.
The Canary Islands are known for their ideal year round spring climate with sunny days and warm water with very minimal rain each year. Gran Canaria has an abundance of sandy beaches and very near to the city of Las Palmas is the long sandy beach of Playa de las Canteras which is a stretch of sand lined by a promenade with snack bars and tapas restaurants.
For some beautiful architecture, visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of the La Vegueta district of the city, exhibiting 15th century mansions. Palmitos Park is a great activity for the entire family and offers animal experiences with dolphin and bird shows, reptile displays and aquariums. The large park also had tropical gardens and an orchid house.
The main square of Plaza de Santa Ana has the first church built in the Canary Islands and cannot be missed with its twin towers, located in the Vegueta district of the city. The Pueblo Canario is an arts and crafts district located only a 10-minute walk from your cruise terminal and is the site to a traditional Canarian village that offers shops and galleries.
- Getting around
Free shuttle buses run every few minutes from the cruise port gates to the city market and taxis are available outside the terminal and while most are usually metered to travel within the city boundaries, negotiating is common for any other distance or an island tour.
One of the best ways to explore the city itself is by foot and heading into town you can follow the main pavement from the port, Avenida de Maritima del Norte, taking you to Plaza de Santa Ana which is the main square. Just off this Avenue is Parque Dormas located in the garden area of the city, a park where you can enjoy the authentic Canarian flora including Dragon trees and a traditional village dating to 1939.
- Beyond Las Palmas
This island offers many natural features of sandy beaches that dot the coastline of the island while the volcanic interior has rugged gorges and craters. The highest peak on the island, Pico de las Nieves, shows views over palm groves and small cliff-hanger villages such as Fataga and even the Tamadaba Nature Reserve filled with pine forests.
The road up to the Arucas Mountains, beginning only about a mile from the city, shows off beautiful views of the rugged coastline and the quaint town of Arucas, the islands banana capital, with small cobbled streets and whitewashed houses.
The town of Teror, located about 14 miles from the city is a beautiful country town that not only offers a lovely drive to get there but is famous for its houses displaying intricately carved wooden balconies, often overflowing with bright bougainvillea. Teror is also the home of the 16th century Basilica of Our Lady of the Pines.
- Local activities
Relax at Maspalomas Beach
Located on the southern tip of the island about an hour from the port is Maspalomas Beach, a beautiful vast expanse of sandy dunes. Although located between large resorts, the beauty of the area is not detracted from and offers surfing, sailing and warm water for swimming. There are walking routes through the dunes delicate ecosystem or for something unique, take a camel ride around the dunes and the fresh water lagoon.
Casa de Colon (Columbus House)
Casa de Colon, a 15th century Spanish mansion where Columbus is said to have stayed in 1492, is now a museum filled with pre-Colombian artefacts, charts and navigational maps related to Columbus’ journey. As one of the most beautiful buildings in Las Palmas, it is free to enter and located just off the cathedral square.
Spiritual Plaza de Santa Ana
The Plaza de Santa Ana is a beautiful square in town with old architecture overlooked by the Cathedral, the Bishops Palace and the old city hall. With sculptures, benches and eateries, it is a nice place to relax and enjoy while taking in the local life.
- Local cuisine and drinks
A blend of Spanish cuisine with African and Latin influences combines fresh local seafood and tapas with many restaurants serving excellent paella. You can find an abundance of fruit due to the ideal growing climate, with bananas, papaya, melon and mango to name a few.
Pata de Cochino asada, slowly cooked pig leg, is only made locally in this certain tasty style.
- Where you are docked
Puerto de Las Palmas, also known as Puerto de la Luz, is located in the north west of the city. Ships dock at the Santa Catarina terminal; a port for both cruise ships and the intra island ferry service.
With a sail-effect canopy, the cruise terminal is equipped with seating and convenient amenities such as bank machines and toilets. The shopping complex opposite the port, El Muelle, has a wide range of shops and more amenities.
- Regional weather
Las Palmas has a rich sunny climate for most of the year. The islands microclimate can interrupt the sunshine with overcast grey skies and showers, however these never last long.