One of the largest cities in Spain, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria provides an urban escape for visitors to the beautiful Canary Islands. A 50-minute drive along the island coast takes you from the tranquility of our Radisson Blu Resort, Gran Canaria to the hustle and bustle of a beachside city.
A pit-stop for Christopher Columbus en route to and from the Americas, the 500-year-old city center shows its age with charm and dignity. The Plaza de Santa Ana’s entrance is flanked by bronze statues of dogs, in a reference to the eponymous canarias of the island. Some claim that the animals were once worshipped on the island, but it’s also been suggested that the word actually refers to monk seals, which were known in Latin as ‘sea dogs’.
Look out for the district’s well-preserved historic buildings, including the Casa Regental, a 17th century structure that houses Gran Canaria’s high court of law; the Casas Consistoriales, or town hall; the Palacio Episcopal, or bishop’s palace; and the Santa Ana Cathedral. Stop by the Museo Canario to view a large collection of pre-Hispanic objects, including jewelry and mummies, that date from 500 BCE to the 15th century.
Caldera de Bandama
Escape from the tourist-heavy crowds in Las Palmas by driving out to a true natural wonder: Caldera de Bandama, a volcanic crater 3,281 feet in diameter and 656 feet deep. Drive up the crater’s 1,867-foot peak, Pico de Bandama, to its observation platform, where in clear conditions you can see the north and east coasts and sometimes even the island Fuerteventura. The Bandama area is also the main wine-producing region in Gran Canaria and contains several family-owned wineries, which are popular stops on walking tours.
Just a few kilometers from Las Palmas you’ll find the stunning Canary Gardens, created by the botanist Eric Ragnor Sventenius. He selected the site for the gardens in 1952 and worked to collect native plant species from all the Canary Islands, persuading them to thrive in a single spot. There are over 2,000 species of plants endemic to the Canary Islands, many of which are endangered, and Sventenius’s original concept has led not just to a garden, but to entire departments of scientific research on the flora of the islands.
Casa Museo de Pérez Galdós
Heralded throughout all of Spain and considered the most important writer to hail from the Canary Islands, Benito Pérez Galdós is a national hero. His childhood home, which he left at 19 to study in Madrid, is now a museum dedicated to his life and works. A guided tour gives you detailed explanations of each memento, as you wander past the lovingly preserved original furnishings and art once owned by Galdós.
Playa de Las Canteras
This district is the location of Gran Canaria’s first tourist resort, and is still packed with restaurants and beach clubs. From the northern end of the beach you can walk to La Isleta and the old fisherman’s quarter, while on the southern end of the peninsula you’ll find the Castillo de la Luz, or Castle of Light. Originally built in the late 15th century, it historically served as a point of defense for the Las Palmas harbor.