Hundreds of years ago, sailors would rejoice when the Canary Islands appeared on the horizon. These volcanic islands were rich and fertile, and offered plenty of food, fresh water, and sheltered ports for wearing travellers on their way back to Europe. The port city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has welcomed thousands of sailors, including one Christopher Columbus, who anchored there on his way to the New World. But over the past few decades, Gran Canaria has become popular with a new kind of traveller: the tourist. The local beaches, accessible port, historical city centre, and diverse nightlife have turned Las Palmas into one of the most popular tourist resorts in Europe. Every year, millions of families, couples, and young people arrive in the city to stay at one of the many hotels and resorts. Although this is Spanish territory, English is commonly spoken and there is a huge expat community living in and around the city of Las Palmas.
Location: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria–where Europe and Africa meet
The Canary Islands may belong to Spain, but they are far closer geographically to Africa. Located just off the coast of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean, Gran Canaria benefits from the warm African weather, and its sheltered location among the other islands. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is set around a busy port, with ferries, cruise ships, and yachts coming in and out every day.
Business: Service industry success
With its warm climate, sheltered beaches and Spanish connection, Gran Canaria is a favourite holiday location with European tourists. As a result, the local service industry is thriving, with budget-friendly and luxurious resorts and villas working to capacity all year round. The traditional fishing industry also benefits from the tourist influx–freshly caught seafood can be found in most of the city’s hotels, restaurants, and tapas bars.
Culture: Culture capital of the Canaries
As the co-capital of the Canary Islands, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria takes its cultural responsibilities very seriously. A wealth of museums is available in the city, including the 19th century Museo Canario, the Casa Museo de Colón, and the interactive Maritime Museum. Music festivals take place in and around the city throughout the year, but the biggest event on the calendar is the Fiesta de San Juan, which is held in June.
Activities: Explore the island
While the city of Las Palmas has no shortage of fitness facilities and sporting activities, it is the island’s natural terrain that is just begging to be explored. Jog along the beaches at La Laja, Las Canteras, Las Alcaravaneras, or El Confital, learn how to surf or scuba dive, or head inland to discover the island’s natural parks and nature reserves.