When it’s your first time in Gran Canaria, it may be hard to choose what to see and what to do in just a week or two of holidays.
There’s so much to see on this island. And depending on your interests, you might get overwhelmed by all the great places Gran Canaria has to offer.
So, what now?
You’ve arrived in Gran Canaria. You’ve picked up your hired car. And you are ready to start discovering the destination. But you don’t want to end up with an exhausting day.
No problem. Here’s what to do:
Visit the historic center of the capital to spend the day following Columbus’s footsteps
Let us show you a few hotspots in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
1. Stroll through the farmers’ market
The municipal market is the oldest market in the city. The Mercado de Vegueta is where past and present come together. Here’s the ideal place to get fresh fruit, meat, and fish from the Canary Islands – for a good price.
Don’t forget to buy some of the famous Canarian cheese. There are about 140 different types of cheese from the archipelago, and you can try before you buy.
And when you need a pause, enjoy a coffee made from freshly milled coffee beans in one of the market’s little bars.
2. The Ermita de San Antonio Abad
Most people don’t know about it, but the Ermita was the church in which Christopher Columbus prayed for success before starting his journey to discover the New World in 1492.
Closely related to the long history of Gran Canaria, the chapel is a must-visit for all history buffs.
3. Casa de Colón
The Christopher Columbus House is one of the most photographed locations in Gran Canaria.
The history of the Canary Islands and its relationship with America is the focus of this cultural institution.
The museum includes 13 rooms with permanent exhibition halls, a library, a specialized research center, and diverse spaces for temporary activities.
The current building integrates several houses, one of which is the former Governor’s House. Columbus stayed here in 1492 to ask for help to repair his caravel, La Pinta.
4. Iglesia San Francisco de Borja
The first school in Las Palmas started in a house in Vegueta provided by the Spanish Inquisitor Romero.
At both sides of the school, offices of the Inquisition occupied the nearby houses.
Jesuit priests operated the school, and after a while, they built the church of San Francisco de Borja in Baroque style out of the school.
Gloomy-looking from the outside, the church’s interior is a jewel in which beautiful fresco paintings show scenes of saints like St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Borgia, and others.
5. Museo Canario
The Canarian Museum, close to the cathedral and the Plaza de Santa Ana, is a privileged spot. It’s often traversed by visitors on their way through the city’s old quarter.
The museum’s archaeological collection contains materials and artifacts related to the prehistoric and historical population of Gran Canaria.
The collection also includes some items from the other islands of the Canarian Archipelago. The origin of this collection dates from 1879 with the founding of the Canarian Museum.
Thanks to contributions from private individuals and public institutions, the Museo Canario still grows.
The largest archaeological collection in the Canary Islands, the museum shows you innumerable objects, both complete and fragmentary. The collection includes ceramic vessels, animal skin objects, bones and skulls, and other anthropological remains.
6. Plaza Mayor de Santa Ana
The Plaza Mayor de Santa Ana is one of the most emblematic places in the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, located close to the most important building of Canarian architecture, the Cathedral de Canarias.
The Plaza Mayor takes its name from the proprietor of the Cathedral Basilica of the Canary Islands and general patroness of the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
7. Catedral Basilica de Santa Ana
In the heart of the Vegueta quarter sits the twin-towered Santa Ana Cathedral, the first church in the Canaries.
Los Reyes Católicos, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, ordered the construction of the Cathedral after they conquered Gran Canaria from the Moors in 1478.
Its construction started around 1500, and it took almost four centuries to complete. Several architects and artists influenced the development during the centuries. The result is three architectural styles: Gothic, Renaissance, and Neoclassical.
Though historians don’t know much about the original plans of the church, some existing drawings show clearly that the creation began as a Gothic structure with three naves of the same height.
The Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro (Sacred Art Museum) in the cathedral’s south wing shows you many valuable sacred artifacts, unique paintings, and sculptures from the last four centuries.
Use the lift in the south tower (Facing #6 in this list) to reach the top of the cathedral. You get a beautiful view over the city and its harbor.
Enjoy your day tour through Gran Canaria’s history, and once you’ve seen all the places, get a taxi to have a romantic sunset dinner at the Playa de las Canteras. (Tell the driver, “La Puntilla.”)