Credit: Kayak

A complete port guide to Las Palmas

Author: Melissa Moody

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Blessed with sun, sand and sea, the Canary Islands are holiday heaven. Gran Canaria’s colourful capital adds culture and cuisine, making a great day out for cruise guests.

The lively capital of Gran Canaria is Spanish through and through, but it’s also a dot in the ocean off the coast of North Africa.

That means it offers an intriguing mix of cultures – not just European and African but Chinese and Indian too, thanks to the Canaries’ central position on ancient trading routes.

Today the city is known for its duty-free shopping and sandy beaches, so it’s the perfect place for a port stop.

But dig deeper and you’ll find a rich array of architectural styles to admire, and a vibrant culinary scene based on fabulously fresh seafood and traditional staples such as gofio (roasted flour) and papas arrugadas (new potatoes).

Visit in February and you can enjoy the annual Las Palmas festival – a dazzling spectacle not unlike Rio carnival, featuring exotically dressed performers and colourful floats.

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A tip to sunny Las Palmas wouldn’t be complete without a bask on Las Canteras Beach. Credit: Local guide Gran Canaria.

Best sights


The city’s earliest settlement, this beautiful district should also be your first stop. Here you’ll find an old town full of picturesque, pedestrian-only streets and squares, built in a mixture of architectural styles dating from the 15th century onwards.

And while you’re here, don’t miss the chance of a visit to the lively daily market and nearby Triana shopping area, which is full of great local clothes and gifts.

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Las Canteras beach

A tip to sunny Las Palmas wouldn’t be complete without a bask on the beach – and with four on offer, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

The most famous among them is Las Canteras, a two-mile stretch of sand with a unique coral barrier that shelters bathers from the waves.

Above the beach there’s a fine promenade with some enticing restaurants and bars serving authentic local food and ice-cold beers.

Visit the stunning Catedral Santa Ana in the garden. Credit: Wikipedia.

Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno

If you love contemporary art, make a beeline for this airy modern gallery (CAAM to its friends). Hiding demurely behind two neoclassical facades in Vegueta, the gallery houses some great examples of modern Canarian and African art, as well as striking Spanish paintings and sculptures.

The collection numbers some 2,600 pieces but the gallery is small enough not to be overwhelming.

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City Garden

A British enclave in the days when Britannia ruled the waves, the Ciudad Jardín district is a cool oasis of palm trees, foreign embassies and elegant homes for the more well-to-do locals.

Visitors should head to the beautifully kept Holy Trinity church and the landscaped Parque Doramas, noted for its indigenous flower displays. On Sundays there’s usually a family-friendly outdoor show here, all for free.

Picaro offers an innovative take on Canarian Cuisine. Credit: Picaro.

Best restaurants & bars


With its white brickwork and industrial-chic decor, Picaro is one of the smartest contemporary restaurants in Las Palmas.

It’s also known for its original cuisine, so expect unusual dishes such as Spanish vegetable curry and hot dogs with homemade chipotle ketchup. If you crave something a little more familiar, the crisp, creamy croquettes are excellent.

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Amigo Camilo

Seafood is a must-try when visiting Las Palmas, and Amigo Camilo is considered among the very best places to enjoy crisply battered octopus drenched in lemon, grilled squid, fried whitebait and juicy red prawns.

Whatever is fresh and flavourful that day, you’ll find it on the menu here, ready to tuck into. In fact you can choose your fish from the selection on show and have it cooked to order.

Triana market is famous for its dazzling displays of fresh fruit. Credit: Las Palmas Property.

La Tasca de Mawa

After a day splashing in the surf, join the locals for a sundowner at this hugely popular bar. Here you’ll find a vast choice of local beers, including the produce of the bar’s own microbrewery.

They offer some impressively tasty snacks, too, including local seafood stew with fresh bread, tender octopus and succulent tortillas. It’s a lovely place where visitors are warmly welcomed.

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Triana market

For something a bit more casual, this indoor food hall is a great place to grab a bite on the run. Inside you’ll find a lively bar and a range of stalls selling filled rolls, but the market is also known for its incredible array of local fruit, so don’t miss the chance to try delicious peaches and bananas.

And if you’re staying for lunch, head to The Mojos And The Papas for tapas or El Sibarita for a cheese-and-ham platter and a glass of wine.

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What to expect

Gran Canaria is a popular destination, attracting sun worshippers to its abundant soft-sand beaches. Las Palmas is visited by many cruise ships, so there’s plenty to see and do for cruise passengers.

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When to go

Las Palmas basks in year-round sunshine, with very mild winters. Temperatures are highest between July and September but many holidaymakers prefer to visit when it’s chilly and miserable at home.

Follow in famous footsteps at Santa Catalina Hotel. Credit:

Getting around

Beaches are walkable from the cruise port but if you have mobility issues or time is short you’ll find plenty of taxis to get you where you need to be. Alternatively, a smattering of Spanish will enable you to explore the local bus network.

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Where to stay

There’s an abundance of hotels, with options for all budgets. History buffs could stay at the historic Hotel Madrid, where Spain’s General Franco finalised plans for the 1936 coup that brought him to power.

Or, if you’re feeling flush, head to the five-star Santa Catalina hotel, once stayed in by Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie and Maria Callas, and still the choice of visiting royalty.



A seven-night ‘Atlantic Islands’ cruise aboard Marella Explorer, round trip from Las Palmas via Tenerife, Madeira and Lanzarote, departs March 6, 2023, from £930 including flights (

P&O Cruises

A sevn-night ‘Canary Islands’ cruise aboard Azura, round trip from Tenerife via Madeira, Las Palmas and Lanzarote, departs November 4, 2022, from £599 including flights (

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