Introduced to Las Palmas as a winter destination by vloggers visiting the Nomad City event there and Nomad Cruise which starts there, we wanted to see how Las Palmas matched up to their reports of the city.
The airport is small and not difficult to navigate. Outside bus 60 taking you direct to Las Palmas for 3 euros for the 30-40 minute journey. The bus was fairly empty unlike the bus heading to the tourist resorts in the south of Gran Canaria. It skirted along the east coast of the island, with hulk like ships dotted up the coast and big wind driven waves crashing against the shore.
It stopped first at the San Telmo bus depot in the south of the city. Not realising there was another stop closer to Playa Las Canteras beach at Parque de Santa Catalina we got off here.
Looking at Google maps on mobile phone it became obvious that we had a 50 minute walk across the city to the hotel by Playa Las Canteras. We could have got a taxi or another bus but the weather wasn’t too bad and it gave us chance to see the city. Google maps took us directly to the hotel past the Parque Doramas which gave a leafy respite to the long city streets.
Another option could have been to have a look round the Vegueta old town district which is close to San Telmo before starting our walk. This has pretty old buildings, cobbled streets, the Santa Ana cathedral, a market and a museum.
Arriving at our hotel in the middle of Playa Las Canteras beach we had a rest and then went out to look at the beach. The beach is 3 km long and has a reputation as one of the world’s best city beaches. The beach was pretty nice and heading north along the promenade it was clear the reason that Las Palmas had become popular with digital nomads was the beach rather than the city streets which were a bit dingy in the winter weather.
There are many shops and restaurants along the promenade, primarily aimed at tourists. In the short time we were there we didn’t find a favourite restaurant, but there were plenty of options. As well as spanish and european food there were also some chinese restaurants and a hong kong food restaurant that had all you can eat buffets. These ranged from 7 euros to 13 euros for all you can eat.
In the back streets there are a number of small supermarkets where you could buy food if you were self catering. Our hotel room had a small kitchen included with cooker, fridge and utensils so we were able to eat in the hotel quite cheaply some meals. There was all you can eat breakfast included on the ground floor which was ok and had a good range of food.
The temperate was 17 degrees C while we were there, and while this was 10 degrees hotter than the UK, it wasn’t exactly warm and there was no one sitting on the beach. The only people we saw in the water were people learning to surf on the southern end of the beach. They were having fun, but were all wearing wet suits. Passengers on our return flight were saying that they had been in the south of the island at one of the resorts there and the weather had been ‘roasting’ – it seems the north of the island is generally less warm due to its geography.
Also it had been sunnier for the past few weeks, but we arrived there with a winter storm and there was a good deal of rain and high winds while we were there. We stayed in the hotel reading while it rained and went out for walks up and down the beach and around the city in between. There were always hardy walkers and joggers on the promenade even in the worst weather, but they didn’t look exactly happy.
The southern end of the beach had quite a number of surfers, both beginners and some more expert surfers further out. Along this part of the beach there were some surf shops, beach shops, wall murals and bars. In better weather this would have been a good part of the beach for a younger crowd to hang out and socialize. It was pretty quiet in January. Down at the far south of the beach there is an events auditorium with a lighthouse on top dedicated to a Canarian tenor Alfredo Kraus and a very large statue of this fellow on the promenade. There is a beach park with exercise bars for doing pull-ups etc and a small skate park.
While we were there the Carnaval de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was being held and there were free events in the Parque de Santa Catalina. We saw an event where 1500 school children were dancing in turn on the stage. The carnival goes through January into February and was an interesting cultural event to see.
By Parque de Santa Catalina there is a market, a large mall and docks for cruise liners to pull into so passengers can see the city. The mall is 5 stories high and has bars and restaurants giving good views across the city and harbour.
The north end of the Las Palmas promontory is overlooked by three small volcano cones on ‘La Isleta’. There is not much building on them and they provide a backdrop to the city. Reading on the web, they have been used by the military and you have to get permission to enter. There is the district of the town called La Isleta at the foot of them, which you can visit, that is the old fishermens quarter.
We only had two full days in Las Palmas, but it was enough to get a feel for the city, and in bad weather was plenty of time to be there. In good weather you could happily stay there longer – maybe another couple of days, but for longer than that you would need to get out into the island to see more of what it had to offer.
The part of the island between the airport and Las Palmas was not very nice, with unpleasant development, industrial plants and wasteland in between. Most of the resorts being in the south of the island, which I guess are more pleasant. The roads looked quite reasonable to drive on, and if you hired a car or scooter you could get into the center of the island which is said to be quite beautiful.