Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – the urban side of an island

Airbnb, Allende, Canary Islands, Gran Canaria, Las Canteras, Las Teresitas, Naviera Armas, Quebeque, Spain, Tapas, Tenerife

Every year around springtime, me and one of my best buddies Paulo look for a place to escape. First, from winter, or what is left from it, and second, to recover from our long winter nightwork, that takes a lot of energy away.

This year we decided to have a look on one of the most visited tourist spots in western europe, Gran Canaria. Every person that knows me a bit can imagine that I’m not surely making the classical tourist vacation, like staying one week in the same hotel and hang around tasting its all inclusive meal plan. (not that I have anything against it – but I can do it for sure when I’m 50 and have no fantasy left)

So, decided that it will be the Spanish island, we opted for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, aka the “big city”. I wanted to live as local as possible and as far away as I could from Playa del Inglés, famous vacation spot for every all inclusive tourist. I found an apartment on Airbnb right on the beach of Las Canteras, and I mean, RIGHT on the beach! Just arrived we were welcomed by our supersweet host Marleny, who showed us our apartment: a simple one bedroom studio with a terrace. What a view! We had a big terrace overlooking the whole playa with tanning chair, table and chairs for 4 people. I think I spent the first 10 minutes on it staring at the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and just hearing what the waves had to say.

Our AirBnb Apartment: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo

The quarter of Las Canteras reminded me a lot of a smaller version of Venice Beach in California. You’ll see a lot of joggers and sporty people using the common areas right on the beach to train their bodies. Addicionally, there’s street art everywhere!

Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo
Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo
Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo
Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo
Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo

I am a big fan of Spain since I’ve visited it the first time back in 2008. So tapas are a must for me everyday I spend there. Tapas are a selection of lots of regional (and non) little bites, that you can combine together so that you’ll get a whole meal. I absolutely like to share a variety of tapas with my co-traveller accompained by one or two good glasses of red wine. C’mon, doesen’t it sound like paradise on earth?

Wandering around the district I’ve spotted a few nice places, where you can enjoy exactly this type of meal at almost every time of the day. (see “Practical infos” below). Please, please, please: If you order tapas order the local “Mojo”: oven baked potatoes with a variety of 2 or 3 sauces – delicious!
Las Palmas City has to offer way more than just the beach and a few graffitis. Taking a walk to the old town, there’s a lot to see, especially if it comes to colonial buildings, they give to the city a kind of “down in the past” and untouched athmosphere.

Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo
Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo

Since I knew that we would have been staying there for one full week, I decided to explore the surrounding islands. I booked a one day ferry trip to Tenerife, the closest island to Gran Canaria (approx. 2.5 hours ferry ride). Tenerife is sweet: very similar to Gran Canaria, but with a few unique touches. The first thing I’ve noticed for example, was the huge flower wall right on the side of the harbour. Very colorful and already with a touch of summer, surrounding all the green trees and the park at the harbour itself.

Flowerwall, Tenerife Harbour

Another Plus that Tenerife has is the big Auditorio designed by star architect Santiago Calatrava, who also designed our little train station Stadelhofen here in Switzerland. Very reccomandable for a quick bite is also its café. This modern building is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen during my trip there. Surrounded only by salty water and a lot of decorated stones with handmade portraits of famous singers and bands.

Auditorio de Tenerife
Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo
Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo

Another must thing to do in Tenerife is a visit to the local beach. A 15 minutes bus ride away from the city centre you’ll find the little town of Sant’Andres, which has the closest beach in the surroundings. Mostly visited by locals, it’s a little peaceful paradise with fisher boats and one cute cuban bar (a mojito there is a must!). Spending there the remaining afternoon was so relaxing, I almost didn’t want to leave!

Photo: Courtesy of my Friend Paulo
Las Teresitas Beach, Sant’Andrés

Pracitcal infos:

Where to sleep: Marleny’s apartment on Airbnb offers the perfect accomodation for 2 people. Self catering isn’t a problem since the flat has its own little kitchen. We spent a few evenings eating our own dinner on the seaside terrace.

How to get around: Gran Canaria hasn’t really a railway system. Instead, they connect the most part of the island with buses. But please don’t ask on the street about buses: the locals call them Guaguas. Tickets are avaliable on the bus for 1.20 Euros per ride.For emergency or practical reasons, taxis are very reasonable priced.

Ferries: Naviera Armas offers all ferry itinerarys and fares. Funny thing: on every ride you’ll find an entertainement program (I know ferries from Italy, but they only ride you from A to B :D). On one way we had local folk music and all people going crazy (it was 9 AM!), on the other way around we experienced a bingo night.

Where to eat: Las Canteras offers a few good tapas restaurants like Restaurante Quebeque and especially for dinner the Taperia Allende: their porra antequerana (an andaluzian soup) is simply amazing!

Shopping: There is a big shopping centre right near the beach of Las Canteras featuring all the big Spanish brands like Zara, Pull&Bear, Bershka and Stradivarius. A big Primark store is also provided.

Weather: The Canary Islands have a warm climate all over the year. However, it can get quite fresh during the evenings because of the ocean breeze: so take a light scarf and a sweater with you.

Cuban Mojito Bar, Sant’Andrés

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