Las Palmas, Canary Islands
Founded in 1478 on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, the sea-faring city of Las Palmas is magical. Cliffs majestically rise in the north; seductive beaches bustle in the south. And the island's position off the coast of West Africa give the city an incomparable flair of cultural diversity. Tangles of centuries-old cobblestone streets lead to Gothic buildings, opulent former homes of nobility, and chatty bars and restaurants.
What We Love
Explore Galore: The museum Casa de Colón (House of Columbus) is a lovely example of Canarian architecture, with carved wooden balconies, interior patios, and a fountain. Inside, you'll find exhibits dedicated to the explorer’s voyages; he anchored here in 1492. See ship models, Columbus diary snippets, and maps from long ago.
Yesteryear Is New Again: Vegueta is the city's oldest neighborhood, with buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries. Today it’s a hip enclave buzzing with bars and boutiques. The area's classic sites — Santa Ana Cathedral, chapel of San Antonio Abad, and Plaza de Santa Ana — are all worth a visit.
Local Tastes: The colorful markets of Mercado del Puerto, Mercado de Vegueta, and Mercado Central are fun to wander. Each has its own ambience and inventory.
Best Known For
A Shore Thing: The city side beach Playas de las Caternas stretches nearly two golden miles. Its adjacent promenade is perfect for a strolling, biking, and eating. Open-air restaurants offer local specialities to go with the awesome views. And the sparkling waters teem with colorful fish promising excellent snorkeling. Further south is a break that beckons surfers.
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Who It's Best For
Summer Lovers: In addition to city touring, Las Palmas’ most popular offerings include watersports, sunning, and just lounging on the sand.
Relaxed Diners: Spaniards linger over meals — and with good reason. Dishes are crafted with fresh local ingredients like fish, avocado, and mango, and paired with Gran Canaria wines.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
En Garde!: Don’t leave possessions unguarded on the beach while taking a dip, or hang your bag on the back of restaurant chairs — pickpocketing is common.
Laura Manske is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Redbook, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan.