When people come to Las Palmas, they either head to Las Canteras beach, or they wander the cobbles of Old Town Vegueta and Triana districts. Then they do some shopping, often along Calle mayor de Triana, recently voted the best outdoor shopping area in Spain.
However, most people miss the little streets that run off Triana’s high street and this is a real shame. While they lack the big names of the main shopping drag, they are full of small independent shops and charismatic local bars and restaurants.
It’s worth just wandering around these side streets and dipping in to the shops as they sell far more original goods than the big names on the main drag.
This pedestrian street is my favourite in the whole historical area of Las Palmas because of how old and new blend together.
If you start at the south end of Calle Cano, the architecture is medieval with squat old buildings with stone doorways and heavy-set doors. Note the traditional wooden balconies on the top floors.
There’s a restaurant right on the corner setting the tone with excellent Spanish ham and traditional food served at outdoor tables.
As you walk north along the street you come to the Casa Museo Perez Galdós set in the splendid old building where Benito Perez Galdós, one of Spain’s most famous novelists and Spain’s leading 19th Century literary figure, was born in 1843.
You don’t have to read his detailed accounts of middle-class Spanish life to appreciate the museum. It’s a beautiful house with internal courtyards, high, wooden ceilings and lots of fascinating information about the author and the period he described so well with his pen.
Further north along Calle Cano and the medieval gives way to the early twentieth century with art deco wrought iron balconies replacing the more traditional wood. The shops here are local in character with hairdressers and even a nursery mixed in amongst the boutiques.
You’re never more than a few metres from a restaurant with outdoor tables shaded by big parasols. One popular place is Mr Kale, a thoroughly modern spot that caters to vegetarians and vegans. It serves healthy smoothies and snacks nd is opposite a boutique selling shoes that cost more than most people’s entire holiday.
Or, stay on Calle Cano for the Libreria del Cabildo, a spectacular bookshop with the best collection of Canary Islands books I’ve ever seen in one place. Drop in between 09.00 ands 13.00, or 16.30 to 20.00 on weekdays, and have a browse as you’re sure to find something to read on the beach.
Calle Cano ends at the Plaza de San Bernardo in a flourish of restaurants serving modern Spanish and traditional Canarian food.
The other side it turns into Calle Viera y Clavijo and the facades slowly become more recent until you reach the beginning of modern Las Palmas. There’s a lovely sushi hole-in-the-wall, a Bang and Olufsen store, and plenty of clothes and shoe shops to keep you occupied.
Viera y Clavijo is lined with Jacaranda trees so if you in Las Palmas in early summer the street is carpeted in electric mauve flowers.
At any point you can drop down one of the cobbled side streets and come out on the much busier and commercial Calle Mayor de Triana for a hit of contemporary high street fashion. Or, head a block up the hill to Calle Benito Perez Galdos for what is Las Palmas’ most hipsterish street with its home decoration boutiques, tattoo parlours, and a cluster of vegan and upmarket restaurants.
Keep walking south along Benito Perez Galdós and Calle General Bravo and you get back to the pretty Plaza del Cairasco with its tall palm trees and outdoor cafes. From here you are just a couple of minutes walk away from the Cathedral and the museums and galleries of Old Town Vegueta.
Article published originally on the excellent Hello Canary Islands website.
Tapas are not a traditional thing in Gran Canaria. You don't get the free tapa with every beer that is so common in Mainland Spain, except on Tapas nights.
That said, there are places that offer something similar to the tapas experience in the capital Las Palmas.
Toma Pan y Moja, on ther beachfront at the southern tip of Playa Chica, is one of the best.
It has sunset views, outdoor tables (the ones furthest from the door get less breeze) for hot days and a cosy interior for those cooler winter evenings.
The papas con mojo with heirloom black Canary Islands potatoes are delicious (summer season only). The cold tomato soup (salmorejo) is very tasty, the croquetas excellent and the ham is decent quality. Try the tortilla española with avocado if you dare!
With friendly service, generous portions and fair prices, Toma Pan y Moja is always a good bet for a snack on the Las Canteras beachfront.
The Alis Bar on the rooftop of the Royal Hideaway Santa Catalina Hotel in Las Palmas is intentionally but achingly trendy but doesn't really have that much atmosphere. It feels like the kid of place people go to look at each other's Gucci trainers rather than to have fun.
It's decorated in a sparse, modern sytle with stripey mock-wood planks, the standard white outdoor furniture, lounger beds, etc. The staff are easy on the eye but not in much of a rush and the drinks are, as you would expect from a 5-Star Hotel Bar, quite pricey for Las Palmas. Think 6 euros for a bottle of 1906 beer and double figures for cocktails.
We hope that the Alis bar turns down the trendy a little over time and becomes somewhere that you'd actually want to spend some time. The location and the view deserve a little more that it offers at the moment. We think that if you want a hotel rooftop bar experience in Las Palmas, both the Bex design Hotel amd the Aloe Hotel offer a better experience.
Bululú, quite appropriately on the corner of Calle Venezuela and Olof Palme in Las Palmas, is a South American restaurant that looks towards the Caribbean and beyond for its inspiration.
Its food is a fascinating fusion of South American and Latin Caribbean ingredients and dishes with a healthy hint of Lebanese influence mixed in.
If that sounds like too much geography for one restaurant, don't worry: Bululú pulls it off. This is a restaurant that really understands food and specifically what makes Latin American food so delicious.
It plates up an elevated mix of sweet, hot, rich and crispy in every dish. Pabellon criollo with crispy arepas and bananas fried to the point of caramelisation. A fatoush salad that is generous and moreish, hummus with marrow and curry, served with excellent falafels. For dessert, a rich quesillo with just the right amount of dulce de leche.
The quality food comes with service to match. Friendly, efficient, always smiling, happy to advise. In fact, Bululú pretty much has this whole restaurant game nailed down.
Great value and just the perfect spot for lunch in Guanarteme if you are bored of the tyranny of always having to sit on the beachfront.
Book for a weekend table or arrive early for weekday lunchtime as Bululú has a loyal local crowd.
Tel: 828 66 10 79
Breakfast by the beach has always been a bit of a challenge in Las Palmas. Most of the bars and restaurants along Las Canteras beachfront will do you an early cofffee but they really start with the lunch crowd.
However, things are looking up and several Las Canteras spots now do a decent breakfast and brunch. It must be all the Digital Nomads roaming the city demanding avocado on toast!
There are now several franchise bakeries doing passable coffee, pastries and cakes. However, the beachfront Starbucks is currently closed.
To be fair to La Oliva, it has been offering a good value breakfast for years. Its English breakfast is perfect except for the frankfurter. The service is efficient and you can't beat the location under the palm trees at the north end of Las Canteras. La Oliva is always a solid choice.
On the corner called Punta Brava where La Cicer ends, The Crunch (the former Cafe Mozart) now offers a range of breakfasts from scrambled eggs to pan am tomaquet. The place has been redecorated and combined with the clothes shop next door and a second Spanish tapas bar. All rather confusing and hipsterish but at least the toilet door signs are recognisable. The food is good, the service is slightly less grumpy than before and the double chocolate pastry twist (early birds only) is buttery and delicious.
Brunch at The Couple will set you back at least 12 euros each with coffee but its cooked breakfast and, yes, avocado on toast are worth the extra spend. The service is friendly, portions generous and if you are a two-course brunch kind of person, hit the crepes.
Cafe Suecia on Thomas Miller; Redecorated but still has that lovely warm old-school Swedish feel; it now does proper espresso as well as Scandi-style filter coffee. You have to try the almond crossant.
La Quila on Playa Chica does a mean chocolate croissant and a decent eggs and bacon.
Parallel to Mesa y Lopez, the pedestrian Ruiz de Alda has become a firm favourite as a lunch spot for Las Palmas locals.
It's always busy but most places have a free table even at peak times. As always, if you want a guaranteed spot, turn up early at 13.00 on the dot before the locals finish the morning shift and head out to lunch.
We've tried many of the restaurants and so far the general quality and value is good. Here are my top recomendations at the moment...
Mr Kale at the west end is always a good bet for poke bowls and wok dishes, especially if you get the 2-for-1 main course offer from its Facebook page.
Pinxe Tacos at the far west end of the street does a small but well-curated selection of tacos, sopes and nachos. Excellent for a light lunch at its outdoor tables but there isn't enough on the menu for a substantial meal.
For a big menu del dia with three courses, drink and coffee (12 euros) head to La Tasca de Lua about half way along the street. Modern Spanish food with sold Asian-inspired dishes depending on the day. The Thai beef rice I had last time I was here didn't look like much but was delicious.
If you just fancy a burger, the 200 Gramos half way down the street is always a solid option but remember to ask for yours "bien hecho" as the default way to serve burgers in Gran Canaria is pink inside.
Llevame al Huerto is the spot for vegetarian although the restaurant is actually more flexitarian with some seafood and dairy options.Everything is fresh, well-presented and tasty.
Late January and early February is the perfect time to explore Las Palmas' only remaining wild valley; The Guiniguada Barranco. It's when it's at it greenest and the white echium bushes are in full flower.
It's an easy walk between Triana and Santa Brigida past the Jardín Canario botanical garden. The path has recently been widened so you can now walk or mountain bike all the way to Santa Brigida town without having to scamble over the barranco floor.
From the start of the trail by Triana, it is 8.8km to the Maipez bar just below the Jardín Canario. From here you swap into the Barranco de Santa Brigida and a further three kilomtres takes you past La Calzada village to arched bridge popular with bungee jumpers. The trail continues for 5km up the wide valley floor all the way to Santa Brigida past Angostura and Las Meleguinas villages.
The lower part of the trail goes past banana plantations before the valley gets wilder and you leave the ridgetop houses of Las Palmas behind. The top half is greener and narrower with more banana plantations and some big houses. Between the Maipez and the Angostura bridge the barranco is narrow and steeper while the ñast part is a is a mix of fruit orchards, farms and palm groves.
There are no shops or toilet facilities along the way so take plenty of water and snacks. The trail is wide and not steep although bits of it are cobbled and awkward on a bicycle. The top half of the walk has several picnic sites with shade and benches.
Normally, you can keep walking along the roadside to the bottom entrance of the Jardín Canario, then up through the garden to the bus stop for a ride back down to Las Palmas. However, the JC is only open via the top entrance at the moment betwenn 09.00 and 14.00.
If you want to stop walking at the Maipez (9km from Triana) the best option is to call a taxi (less than 10 euros back to the city). The Maipez itself is still open although you aren't allowed inside at the moment. Its devilled eggs (huevos rellenos) are a good snack after a long walk.
The best radio taxi service in the area is TARA: 928 460 000
Every January the Guiniguada Valley explodes into colour as the white echiums flower alongside daisies and nasturtiums.
The echiums in the Guiniguada are Echium decasnei with white flowers but you do get the odd blue plant as well (see photo right). In the lower part of the Guayadeque Valley many of the E. decasnei have blue flowers.
The palm trees in the lower part of the valley are nesting sites for ring-necked parakeets and there are pairs of kestrels all along the trail; we saw two mobbing a buzzard. Gran Canaria blue tits, chiffchaffs and Berthelot's pipits (running along the ground) are common.
So, you've booked your hotel room or Airbnb apartment in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria city and now you're wondering where to go and what to do. Here's our guide to making the most of your time in the city.
The Reina Isabel is Las Canteras beach's poshest hotel and the only one with a rooftop swimming pool overloloking the sand. It's the Port District's Grand Dame.
There's more to Gran Canaria than tourists, beaches and sunshine although the island's capital Las Palmas gets plenty of each. As a place to work and live Las Palmas has a few extra things going for it too.
It's no surprise that Las Palmas is currently second on the influential Nomad List of top remote working locations around the world, and the only place in the top five that isn't in Thailand. Here's why...
Gran Canaria's only cathedral is a mishmash or architectural styles because it was built over 500 years.
La Vegueta was the original Las Palmas and hasn't changed much since Columbus visited, except the bits that the Dutch burned down.
The annual sand nativity scene on Las Canteras beach is the world's biggest and a must visit if you come to Las Palmas in December.
Thousands of people turn out to watch the ARC Rally, the world's largest transoceanic rally, leave Las Palmas at the end of November. Here's where you need to go for the best views.
In Las Palmas, you can eat the world with cuisines from over 50 countries on offer. Here are 20 of our favourites national restaurants.
There's more to Las Palmas city than the Las Canteras beachfront, although it is pretty amazing. Here's a useful breakdown of all the most desirable Las Palmas property areas.
The Las Palmas carnival runs from January 29 until February 21 with much of the action on the last weekend.
Gran Canaria hosts two separate food-and-drink events this weekend. One in Santa Catalina Square in Las Palmas, the other at Puerto de las Nieves in the north-west.
Las Canteras beach is a no-take reserve so there are loads of fish, especially where Luis Morote street meets the sand.