Old Town Vegueta
Culture, history, art
Vegueta is the cultural heart of Las Palmas and was the spot where the city was founded by the Spanish back in 1478. It's violent beginnings and later attacks by British pirates and the Dutch navy, and Columbus' unplanned visit in 1492 make it a fascinating spot to explore.
The old town also compact and easy to find your way around as everything of interest is with a couple of minutes' stroll from the Santa Ana Cathedral. See our guide to the most interesting museums and galleries in Vegueta for pointers on what to visit.
Don't miss the Casa de Colón museum with lots of info about Christopher Columbus and the links between the Canary Islands and the Americas, but do read our article on the truth about 'Columbus' House'.
The Museo Canario is a fascinating introduction to the island's original Canarii inhabitants and the Guanches of the Canary Islands.
For more modern fare, head to the CAAM modern art gallery
Food and drink
The Casa Montesdeoca is a fabulous restaurant set in the courtyard of a medieval palace dating back to the 16th Century. The food is superb and it has one of the city's best wine lists (try the Don Justo Gran Canaria red) and even does its own brand of superb cigars (ask for a 'puro de la casa').
There are plenty of other places to eat in the streets between the cathedral and the market, all offering lunch menus and decent local and Spanish food. It's also worth popping into the Vegueta Market to see the displays of tropical fruit and veg.
Triana district is just north of Vegueta and only a couple of minutes walk away. It's been voted the top outdoor shopping area in Spain and has a vast range of fashion brands such as Mango, Desigual, Zara and H&M plus lots of independent boutiques in the lanes running off the Calle Mayor or high street.
Triana is definitely worth a wander and there are lots of cafes and restaurants if you feel like a break.
Vegetarians should head up the hill to Calle Perez Galdos as there's a cluster of vegetarian and vegan places around the ever-popular Deliciosa Marta. This street is about as close as Las Palmas gets to a hipster hangout (bicycles with flower pots, little shops selling things, etc).
For more shopping, including Las Arenas mall, see our ultimate guide to shopping in Las Palmas.
Las Canteras beach
Being dead honest, there isn't much to see in between Triana and the Puerto district next to Las Canteras beach. If you're only in the city for a day, we recommend getting a bus or taxi from San Telmo square all the way to the beachfront (ask the taxi to drop you off at Playa Chica and you're right in the middle of the beach). Playa Chica is the best place to try snorkelling at Las Canteras as the rocks just off the beach are packed with beautiful wrasse, damsel fish and bream.
The three kilometre golden-sand Las Canteras beach is one of the world's great city beaches and its promenade is lined with local restaurants and cafes. Spend the afternoon walking the beachfront, or sit down in the sunshine (yes, it's often sunny in Las Palmas) for lunch.
From the north end of Las Canteras the waterfront promenade continues for a couple of kilometres until you get to El Confital; the city's wild beach and home to one of Europe's top surf waves. There's only a boardwalk here these days although 25 years ago it was a shantytown.
If you're only in Las Palmas city for a day, then you probably don't have time to do much else after seeing Vegueta and Triana and Las Canteras beach.
However, here's a few other spots that are worth a visit if you have an hour to spare.
Las Palmas' marina is just south of Mesa y Lopez shopping street and Alcaravaneras beach (did you know that Las Palmas has lots of beaches?). It's a sporting marina with lots of yachts and motorboats plus a strip of waterfront restaurants including the Embarcadero, the only one in the city where you can eat hanging out over the water and feed the fish while you dine.
This quaint Canarian square was built as a tourist attraction in the 1950s and still hosts traditional Canarian dancing at the weekends. It's a quiet spot and the highlight, along with the Neo-Canarian architectural flourishes, is the Nestor Museum in the square. Nestor's spectacular series of storm paintings, featuring monster fish, are displayed in a circular room and alone are worth the entrance fee.
Also, don't miss the spectacular hanging balconies of the Hotel Santa Catalina next door, and the vast park and lake full of fish right next door at Parque Doramas.
The Gran Canaria Botanical Garden, called the Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo is actually in Tafira rather than in Las Palmas city. However, it is gorgeous and it's part of the Las Palmas municipality so it counts.
This huge garden is the place to go to see the hundreds of plants that only grow in the Canary Islands. They are dotted all over the garden amongst the lakes, lawns, cactus and succulents, palms and forests.
More on the Jardín Canario including transport.
Las Palmas' Poema del Mar aquarium is now open and is getting great reviews. The main viewing window for the main tank is nothing short of epic and the whole aquarium is packed with beautiful marine creatures (but not dolphins or any marine mammals).
Getting to Las Palmas
The easiest way to get to Las Palmas from the resorts is by bus. Head to your nearest bus station and get on a fast bus to the city.
From Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés, you want bus Number 50. See the details in our Maspalomas and PDI transport guide.
Avoid Bus 1 as it is a slow bus that stops all the way down the east coast and takes hours to get to the fun bits of Las Palmas.
From Las Palmas you can also catch a bus to almost anywhere else in north and central Gran Canaria. See out Las Palmas bus transport guide for details.
From anywhere in south Gran Canaria, just drive to the main GC1 motorway and follow the signs for Las Palmas. It's about 35 minutes from Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles, 45 minutes from Puerto Rico and 55 minutes from Puerto de Mogán.
To bypass the city and head straight to Las Arenas shopping centre and the south end of Las Canteras beach, take the GC3 just past the Las Terrazas mall (you need to be in the left-hand lanes). Then follow the signs for Galdar until you come down the big hill and see the beach and the Auditorium. To park at Las Arenas, follow the signs for Galdar until you cross the big white bridge and then turn right for Las Arenas. You get three free hours in the Las Arenas car park.
For Vegueta and Triana, don't turn off the GC1 and carry on straight along the coast until you see the cathedral on your right. Turn off at the underpass and you are in Vegueta. The easiest place to park is the paid car park by the market. There is also a car park underneath San Telmo square that is useful if you are going shopping in Triana.
A taxi from Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés to Las Palmas will cost a minimum of 50-60 euros and far more if you are further round the coast at Puerto Rico and Puerto de Mogán. Between four or more (you can order big taxis at your reception desk) it's not too expensive but it is far dearer than the bus.
Lex Says: For more info on Las Palmas city, read our detailed Las Palmas city guide.