Gran Canaria, Spain cruises
Its capital city, Las Palmas, sits on the northwest of the island and regularly welcomes cruise guests from around the world. It’s even played host to Christopher Columbus, who called here while on his way to discover the New World in 1492.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria port guide.
The port of Las Palmas, where your Gran Canaria cruise will dock, is just a stone’s throw from the brightly painted streets and stunning architecture of this infinitely charming city.
The ninth-largest of Spain’s cities, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria provides the perfect backdrop to create long-lasting vacation memories. Savor spectacular scenery, mouth-watering cuisine, and unending opportunities to relax and explore, while immersing yourself in the city’s cosmopolitan culture and historical character.
Top landmarks and sights in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
There’s no shortage of intriguing architecture and dreamy vistas for you to admire in Las Palmas. The city is also surrounded by an array of sandy beaches, perfect for spending a leisurely afternoon strolling, lounging, or paddling in the island’s sparkling waters.
Take in the panoramic views at the top of the Santa Ana Cathedral, which also houses an impressive selection of religious art dating back to the 15th century, or head to Playa de las Canteras, a popular beach with locals that’s within walking distance of port.
A visit to the tiny village of Puerto de Mogan – also known as “the Venice of the Canaries” due to its picturesque bridges – is another lovely way to spend an afternoon in Gran Canaria. You’ll find traditional bars and restaurants lining the marina of this quaint fishing town, and a market on Fridays that attracts visitors from all over the island.
You can even step into the past and walk in the footsteps of famous explorer Christopher Columbus by exploring the house that’s said to have been his place of refuge during his stay on the island in 1492.
Things to do in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
If you’re looking to squeeze the most into your day in Las Palmas, you may wish to take advantage of the hop-on-hop-off bus which departs nearby to the port terminal. The scenic route includes stops around the old town of Vegueta, the Santa Ana Cathedral, and Santa Cataline Park, and includes an audio tour complete with headphones.
Venturing a little further afield will open up the sandy dunes of Maspalomas – a landscape that wouldn’t look out of place amongst the dunes of the Sahara Desert. Together with sandboarding, the refreshing shallows of the nearby ocean make Maspalomas a perfect spot for snorkeling and diving. The subtropical waters here offer some of the best marine life on the island, with colorful species like parrotfish, damselfish and glasseyes as well as larger rays, barracuda, and angelsharks.
Another popular attraction located on the Northeast of Gran Canaria is the natural reserve of Caldera de Bandama. Formed by volcanic activity over 2000 years ago, Caldera de Bandama is composed of a 3281-feet-wide crater in which you can climb up to 1795 feet high and 709 feet down, offering views you won’t find anywhere else on the island.
Eating and drinking near Las Palmas de Gran Canaria cruise port.
Gran Canaria, like its sister Islands, is surrounded by marine-rich waters and much of the native diet centers on seafood. Many restaurants fish for the day’s fresh catch each morning using their own boats, so what you’ll find on the menu come lunchtime may only have been swimming in the open sea hours earlier.
If you do decide to eat out during your time ashore, popular fish dishes to try include Sancocho Canario (salted fish served with potatoes and olive oil) and Caldo de Pescado (a light fish broth simmered with vegetables). If visiting in wintertime, you may also come across Baifo – a traditional dish made from goat meat marinated in aromatic herbs as well as generous amounts of garlic.
Another popular dish you’re likely to encounter on Gran Canaria is Papas Arrugadas (also known as wrinkled potatoes). You’ll often find these paired with another local staple, Mojo. A traditional sauce that’s enjoyed across the Canarian archipelago, Mojo, comes in two distinct flavor combinations and can be fiery hot or delicately herbaceous, depending on whether you opt for the red or green variety.
Shopping in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Las Palmas is home to some of the best retail experiences that Gran Canaria has to offer, so if you’ve stepped ashore to shop you’ll be in good company.
You’ll find a plethora of smaller souvenir stores and family-run shops selling homemade goods within the city center and across the island, in addition to local markets offering a mix of fresh food and vacation keepsakes.
If high fashion is more your style, take a stroll around the Las Arenas mall. The plentiful range of shops here offer the likes of designer brands alongside smaller, independent, boutiques.
Getting around: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria transport.
The Las Palmas cruise terminal is conveniently positioned just a short walk from the city center. If you’re planning on traveling further afield, or you prefer to catch a cab, you’ll find local taxis waiting outside the terminal, as well a bus service that can transport you around the island.
Alternatively, you can join the hop-on-hop-off bus, which passes by several sites of interest and includes an audio tour. A further option is to take a horse-drawn carriage which, when available, can provide a memorable way to travel the short distance between the city center and the cruise terminal.
Ferries are also available to take you to other islands in the Canary archipelago. If you do choose to journey outside of Gran Canaria, independent of an organized Cunard Shore Experience, just make sure you allow plenty of time to re-join your ship in port.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria port facilities.
Cruises calling at Gran Canaria dock at the Port of Las Palmas. The port is ideally located just a short stroll from the city center, as well as being close by to the El Muelle shopping center – a cosmopolitan hub of bars, restaurants and shops.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria quick tips.
The official currency used in Gran Canaria is the Euro. If you need to change money on arrival you’ll find currency exchange bureaus across the island, and plenty of ATMs where you can withdraw cash. If you do elect to use your card, just be mindful that you may incur a fee from your card issuer.
Many shops, restaurants, and bars will accept debit or credit cards; however, you may need cash at smaller stores or cafés.
Tipping around 10% is generally expected in bars and restaurants. In taxis, tips are not required but it is considered polite to round up your fare to the nearest Euro.
If you see an IGIC service charge on your bill, this stands for Canary Island General Indirect tax (the equivalent of VAT in the Canary Islands) and is not, as you might assume, a tip.
Gran Canaria enjoys a beautifully warm climate most of the year, including in winter.
The coastal areas of the island tend to stay mild and sunny, while the climate of inland areas varies depending on altitude and slope exposure.
Typically, temperatures on the island reach their hottest between June and September, when you can expect a daily average in the region of 88° F.
Temperatures during spring can be a little more fickle as Gran Canaria generally experiences more rainfall during this season.
Winter, however, is a popular time to visit, with daily temperatures often exceeding a pleasant 68° F and plenty of sun to keep beachgoers satisfied.