Ex-pat and digital nomad guide for Las Palmas of Gran Canaria, Spain.
The warm temperatures, low cost of living, and relaxed lifestyle of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria have made it a popular choice for international ex-pats and digital nomads alike.
I came to Las Palmas having no clue it was such a hotspot for remote workers. Thanks to this community and the general friendliness of locals, I was able to quickly transition to life in Las Palmas. Of all the cities I have lived in, this was the easiest I found to settle into.
If you are considering Las Palmas for your next home, vacation, or workcation then this guide will help you to find:
- Fun things to do in Las Palmas
- Best restaurants in Las Palmas
- Las Palmas bars
- Las Palmas apartments and share accommodation
- Las Palmas coworking
- How to get around Las Palmas and Gran Canaria
- 5 excellent Gran Canaria excursion
Overview of Las Palmas
Las Palmas is the capital city of island paradise, Gran Canaria, and has an average yearly temperature of 24C (75F). In addition to Gran Canaria, there are six other main islands that make up the Canaries. These subtropical oceanic islands are located off the west coast of Africa but are actually a region of Spain, after being colonized in the 1400s.
One of the best and worst things about being on Gran Canaria is that you are on an island. Its closest neighboring country, Morocco, isn’t necessarily the cheapest to travel to or from (it may be more cost-effective to fly via mainland Spain). But despite being almost 1300 kilometers (800 miles) from the rest of Europe, it is possible to find low-cost flights from a selection of destinations such as England, Norway, Germany, and Spain.
Once you are in Las Palmas you won’t want to travel too far anyway. The city of 380,000 residents is a marvelous mini-cosmopolitan and the rest of the island has a diverse landscape waiting for you to explore.
Fun things to do in Las Palmas
5. La Isleta and Playa de El Confital
No trip to Las Palmas is complete without a wander up to the northern district of La Isleta. The old fisherman’s area is now a maze of winding streets between buildings. Stick to the coastal path for street art and gorgeous sea views.
If you continue north you will come to El Confital beach. A totally different terrain from the main beach of Las Palmas, Las Canteras, El Confital is more rugged and wild. As there are no restaurants or vendors up here, make sure you take plenty of water, snacks, and shade from the sun.
4. Santa Catalina Park
I actually didn’t step foot in Santa Catalina Park until my last day in Las Palmas. Despite it being a popular nightlife spot, I had always tended to stick to Plaza Farray which was closer to my apartment. After seeing Santa Catalina in person, I would definitely recommend a visit.
3. Vegueta and Triana
Thursday night Tapas in Vegueta is an institution. Each Thursday from 8 PM the local bars and restaurants around the old town serve pinchos (small sandwiches), tapas (small plates of food), glasses of beer or wine from as little as €2 each. If you have been to other Spanish cities that have tapas nights (or free tapas with a drink purchase) like Granada, Andalusia or Gijon, Asturias than you might not be as impressed. However, it is still a fun night out with the streets packed with happy people and impromptu music performances.
Make your visit even better by arriving in the afternoon to explore Vegueta and the next neighborhood of Triana. You can take the bus to Parque San Telmo, then walk along Calle Triana admiring the historic architecture. If you are interested in history, there is Casa Colon, a museum about Christopher Colombus, who stopped on Gran Canaria when sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. Rumour has it that the real reason he had to stop here was due to his crew sabotaging the ship but I don’t think you will find this version in the museum.
Before joining Tapas Night, grab a cocktail at one of the rooftop bars like Azotea Benito where we enjoyed an amazing sunset of Vegueta.
2. Mercado del Puerto and Mercado Central
Mercado del Puerto is great for a night out of tapas and wine (open every day except Wednesday), whereas, Mercado Central (open every day except Sunday) is the perfect place to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables. Both markets offer produce and eating out options but the atmosphere is very different. On a night at Mercado del Puerto you can see some of the locals dressed up, which is not so common in laid-back Las Palmas.
If food markets are your thing, then there is also Mercado de Vegueta, which you can reach by bus or taxi.
1. Las Canteras
The best things in life are free, and that is true of all the top places in Las Palmas including the main beach, Las Canteras. This is where the small city meets the sea, with a coastal walkway in between. I spent many nights walking up and down this pathway. If you like to exercise, this is a great place to jog or power walk. If you go south towards Las Arenas mall, you will find two sets of public outdoor exercise equipment.
Then during your days, you can be a beach bum. Try different spots on this long stretch of beach until you find your favorite. I highly recommend investing in a sun umbrella (either from the cheap shops or El Corte Ingles) to avoid getting a horrible tourist burn.
If you are into surfing, then you will find waves at the southern tip where the sand is blacker. There are also many surfing schools that operate in Las Palmas.
Best restaurants in Las Palmas
Cafes and restaurants
Avenida Mesa y López, 43
The only regret I have from my time in Las Palmas was that I didn’t go to Cafe Regina more. Easily the best coffee I tried on the island (feel free to challenge my claim in the comments if you know better). The beans come from Colombia, the staff are on point, and the price is very reasonable (I paid around €1.40 for a cappuccino with soy milk).
Also, a great place to bring your laptop and get some work done.
Calle los Martínez de Escobar, 51
Pachichi is a cozy tavern that serves cheap but authentic food. Order everything on the menu and a bottle of wine for the table, then enjoy. Only open for dinner (8pm to midnight, Tuesday to Saturday) and can get pretty crowded so don’t go too late in the evening. The room also seems to amplify all the noise so it can be difficult to have conversations if you are in a group. I suggest swapping seats regularly so you can talk to different people at the table.
Calle Galileo, 13
Go to Tasca Galileo and thank me after. This cozy restaurant is also popular with both locals and tourists, so if you want to go for dinner arrive just before 8 PM when it opens (you will see a line forming outside) or after 10 PM. Another option is to head there for lunch (12-4 PM).
I went there twice and shared three dishes between two people, which was more than enough. The Queso Frito Salsa Melon (fried cheese with melon sauce) is unexpectedly divine. Also good is the Judiones Golosos (white beans with a sauce), Risoto Setas Frito (risotto with fried mushrooms), and Carrillera (tender slow-cooked beef). Ask your waiter for current recommendations on dishes and wines.
Calle Sagasta, 78
If you are looking for value for money, then Gran Playa is your restaurant. It can be pretty busy around lunchtime, but our group of seven was seated after 15 minutes of waiting. The portions are huge and they offer menu del dias (a drink, main, and dessert) for less than €10.
Las Palmas bars
Plazoleta de Farray
This square is where the intersecting streets of Fernando Guarnarteme and Rafael Almeida meet. No matter which night of the week it is, you can find people drinking and eating in the outdoor seating of the restaurants and bars. A great and relaxed atmosphere.
Plaza de Fray Junípero, Local 7
Malasana is my favorite bar in Las Palmas, not only for the atmosphere but also the beer. I loved the Jaria, a Gran Canarian artisanal Indian Pale Ale. The food menu includes burgers and fries, and everything I tasted was delicious. There is indoor and outdoor seating available.
The Paper Club
Calle Remedios, 10
Somehow I never made it to The Paper Club but everyone I spoke to said that this was the best club around. They also have live performances that you can check on their Facebook page. It’s in the Vegueta-Triana area so you will need to go by bus or taxi.
Las Palmas apartments and share accommodation
If you are traveling to Las Palmas on business, to work online, or are looking for accommodation that comes with an instant community then I recommend Restation coliving and coworking. Restation residents get work-friendly accommodation, 24/7 access to a separate co-working space, free coffee/tea and snacks, and an invitation to all Restation events.
I stumbled across this group by attending one of their events and became fast friends with many of the residents. Although I didn’t stay in either of the Restation apartments, I did visit for a Thanksgiving dinner and heard rave reviews from all the guests that I met.
Idealist for short-term rentals
For the time that we stayed in Las Palmas, my boyfriend and I rented a shared apartment that we found on Idealista. The cost was €330 per month including water, electricity, internet, and a cleaner once per month to clean the common areas. The upside was that we were two blocks from the beach but our apartment was very crowded with four other people (and one bathroom!).
You can find shared accommodation on Idealista from €170 per month, per person and studios from €400 per month. If your Spanish isn’t great and the owner doesn’t speak English, then you might need to go through a Real Estate.
For cheap and quick accommodation, try Lua-Lua Hostel. My boyfriend stayed here while searching for an apartment before I arrived. It is in a central location with good reviews on Booking.
Las Palmas coworking
If you have your accommodation already sorted but need a place to work that isn’t your hotel bed, then you can book coworking access to Restation by the day (it’s cheaper if you book by the month).
Even though I had a desk in my apartment, I still came to Restation to work when I needed a change of environment or when the Wi-Fi wasn’t working at home. Maria gives you a key for 24/7 access whether it be in the middle of the night or a Sunday morning.
Transport in Las Palmas
Las Palmas is a very walkable city. In the case that you need to travel further distances, there are public buses called “guaguas”. The bus routes around the island aren’t extensive, so for a day trip, it might be easier to rent a car. If you want to arrive at the island in style and save time, you can book an airport transfer.
5 excellent Gran Canaria excursions
1. Puerto de Mogan
Puerto de Mogan is a small and colorful fishing area in the south. It is very popular with tourists and there are a few resorts here, but I think it is best for a half or full-day.
If you are traveling from Las Palmas, the 91 bus goes from San Telmo Station in Vegueta to Puerto de Mogan. Or you can take multiple buses and stop at Maspalomas on the way. From Maspalomas, take the number 1 bus.
Another Instagram worthy-spot, Maspalomas not only has a wide, sandy beach but also its infamous coastal dunes.
If you find yourself at Maspalomas in the evening, there is a strip of tourist bars and restaurants where you can get a cocktail and some German food while listening to 80s music.
If you take a road trip from Northeastern Las Palmas to anywhere south, all roads seem to pass through Tejeda (that’s not entirely true but I did find myself here on three different occasions). Tejeda is a destination in its own right with a gorgeous public pool and mountainous backdrop.
It is possible to arrive by bus, but it could take a couple of hours from Las Palmas so a car might be easier.
Agaete holds one of the biggest celebrations on the island, La Rama, on the 4th of August each year. But don’t worry if your trip doesn’t coincide with this event because there is still plenty to see and do on a regular day.
The port town, Puerto de las Nieves, is completely painted white with green doors. There is a collection of little restaurants and bars where you can snack on Spanish Tortilla (fried potato and egg) or papas arrugadas (boiled potatoes with a local sauce called Mojo Canario).
Then after your lunch, walk along the seaside until you reach Las Salinas, where there are three natural saltwater pools.
5. Cuatro Puertas, Telde
Cuatro Puertas is an ancient site that was used by the indigenous Canarians, “Guanches”, before the arrival of the Spanish (the Guanches either died during the invasion or were assimilated into Spanish society).
These man-made caves were carved into the mountain to provide shelter and protection to the Guanches from the elements. There are some inscriptions and drawings on the cave walls but many were made for a movie and some of it is graffiti.
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