Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: The Complete Guide

Las Palmas De Gran Canaria
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Tony Hisgett

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, commonly known as Las Palmas, is the capital city of Gran Canaria island in the Canary Islands, situated on the Atlantic Ocean. It holds the distinction of being the capital and the largest city in the autonomous community of the Canary Islands, and ranks as the ninth-largest city in Spain with a population of 383,308 as of 2010. Additionally, it stands as the fifth-most populous urban area in Spain and is the ninth- or tenth-most populous metropolitan area in the country. Located in the northeastern part of Gran Canaria, approximately 150 km off the coast of Morocco, Las Palmas enjoys a hot desert climate moderated by the Canary Current, resulting in consistently warm temperatures year-round. With an average annual temperature of 21.2°C, Las Palmas is renowned for its exceptional climate, described by climatologist Thomas Whitmore from Syracuse University as “the best climate in the world”. Established in 1478, the city served as the de facto capital of the Canary Islands until the seventeenth century. It is home to the Canarian Ministry of Presidency, half of the ministries and councils of the Canarian government, and the High Court of Justice of the Canary Islands.

History of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Early History

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria traces its origins back to the late 15th century when it was founded in 1478. The Spanish Crown established the city as a strategic port and defensive outpost during the age of exploration and colonization. Its location on the northeastern coast of Gran Canaria, along the Atlantic Ocean, facilitated trade routes and maritime activities with Africa and the Americas.

Capital of the Canary Islands

By the early 16th century, Las Palmas emerged as a significant administrative and economic center within the Canary Islands. It became the de facto capital of the archipelago, serving as the seat of governance and trade hub for the Spanish Empire in the Atlantic. The city’s port played a crucial role in the transatlantic trade network, contributing to its growth and prosperity.

Cultural and Economic Development

Throughout the following centuries, Las Palmas continued to thrive culturally and economically. The city attracted settlers from across Spain and other European nations, enriching its cultural diversity. It became known for its vibrant arts scene, educational institutions, and religious landmarks, reflecting its role as a cosmopolitan center in the Canary Islands.

Modern Era

In the 20th century, Las Palmas experienced significant urban development and expansion. The growth of tourism, particularly from mainland Europe, transformed the city into a popular destination for beachgoers and sun-seekers. The construction of modern infrastructure, including hotels, resorts, and entertainment venues, bolstered the local economy and established Las Palmas as a leading tourist destination in the Canary Islands.

Present Day

Today, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria remains a dynamic city known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and scenic beauty. It continues to attract visitors from around the world who come to explore its historic neighborhoods, sandy beaches, and diverse culinary offerings. As the capital of Gran Canaria and the Canary Islands, Las Palmas plays a pivotal role in regional politics, governance, and tourism, ensuring its continued prominence on the global stage.

Visiting Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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Best Time to Visit Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Spring

Spring, from March to May, is an ideal time to visit Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. During this season, the weather is mild and pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C. The city begins to bloom with colorful flowers, and outdoor activities such as beach visits, hiking, and sightseeing are enjoyable without the intense heat of summer. Spring also coincides with cultural events and festivals, offering visitors a chance to experience local traditions and festivities.

Summer

Summer, from June to August, is the peak tourist season in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The city experiences hot and dry weather, with temperatures often reaching 30°C or higher. This is the perfect time for beach lovers and sunseekers to enjoy the city’s beautiful sandy beaches, such as Las Canteras Beach. Water sports and outdoor activities thrive during this period. However, it’s essential to stay hydrated and use sunscreen due to the strong sun.

Autumn

Autumn, from September to November, is another excellent time to visit Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The weather remains warm, with temperatures gradually cooling down from the summer highs. Average temperatures range between 22°C and 27°C, making it comfortable for exploring the city’s attractions, hiking in the nearby mountains, and enjoying outdoor cafes and restaurants. Autumn also marks the harvest season, offering opportunities to taste local fresh produce and wines.

Winter

Winter, from December to February, is the off-peak tourist season in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 23°C. While it may be cooler than other seasons, winter in Las Palmas is still relatively warm compared to many other European destinations. This is a great time to visit for travelers seeking a quieter experience, cultural exploration, and outdoor activities such as golfing, hiking, and visiting historical sites without the crowds.

Each season in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria offers its own unique charms and activities, ensuring that visitors can enjoy the city’s vibrant culture, beautiful landscapes, and pleasant climate year-round.

Average Temperatures in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

  • January 21°C 1
  • February 21°C 3
  • March 22°C 2
  • April 23°C 1
  • May 24°C 0
  • June 26°C 0
  • July 26°C 0
  • August 27°C 1
  • September 26°C 2
  • October 26°C 3
  • November 24°C 2
  • December 23°C 2

How to get to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, located on Gran Canaria island in the Canary Islands, Spain, offers several transportation options for travelers:

By Air:

The main gateway to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is Gran Canaria Airport (LPA). It serves domestic and international flights from major cities across Europe and other continents. From the airport:

  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available outside the arrivals terminal. The journey to downtown Las Palmas takes approximately 20-25 minutes, depending on traffic.
  • Public Bus: The Global Bus Line 60 connects the airport with downtown Las Palmas and other parts of the island. Buses operate regularly throughout the day, offering a convenient and budget-friendly transportation option.

By Sea:

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a popular port of call for cruise ships traveling in the Atlantic Ocean. Cruise terminals are located near the city center, allowing passengers easy access to attractions and services in Las Palmas.

By Ferry:

Ferries connect Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with other Canary Islands such as Tenerife, Lanzarote, and Fuerteventura. Naviera Armas and Fred Olsen Express are the main ferry operators, offering both passenger and car ferry services. The ferry terminals are located at Puerto de la Luz, a short distance from downtown Las Palmas.

By Car:

Gran Canaria island has a well-developed road network, making it convenient to explore Las Palmas and other parts of the island by car. Major rental car companies operate at the airport and downtown Las Palmas, providing options for travelers to rent vehicles for self-guided exploration.

By Bus:

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has an efficient public bus system operated by Global. Buses connect the city with various neighborhoods, attractions, and other towns on Gran Canaria. The main bus station in Las Palmas is San Telmo Bus Station, centrally located for convenient access.

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