Las Palmas

Imagine this scenario: with your work or business done for the day, you decide there is still enough sunshine hours left to enjoy a soak in the crystal blue waters by the bay or relax and take in the cool seaside breezes while sipping a cocktail. If you are in the city of Las Palmas, this is easily a possibility what with four beaches and the “best climate in the whole world” according to a Syracuse University study.

“The city of everlasting spring” is the capital and the most populous city in the Canary Islands. This holiday haven combines the best of both worlds – a modern, cosmopolitan city with the laid-back atmosphere of a seaside resort. Because of its location and climate, Las Palmas is ideal for many outdoor sports and recreational activities such as running, cycling, skydiving, paragliding, surfing, tennis and golf. In 2014, it will be one of the venues for the FIBA World Championship.

Las Palmas is made up of five districts or neighborhoods: Vegueta which is the oldest district, Centro, La Isleta Puerto-Cantares, Ciudad Alta and Tamaraceite-San Lorenzo.

With an economy that is predominantly buoyed by tourism, Las Palmas’ jewels are its four lovely beaches. Playa de Las Canteras is the largest and most popular amongst locals and visitors alike. A 3-kilometer stretch of golden, powdery sand is protected by a natural reef barrier on one end and beyond that is a row of shops for all types of water sports and activities. On the northeast of the harbor is Playa de Las Alcaravaneras, the second longest beach in the city.

Calm waters, cool breeze, golden sand and a stretch of cafes, restaurants and bars keep beach lovers and sun worshippers coming back here even after summer. Surfers and water sport enthusiasts head to Playa de la Laja and Playa del Confital. Both are near the port of Puerto de Las Alcaravaneras and are favored for their rugged, unspoilt beauty.

For those who prefer to stay on terra firma and the comforts of the city, Las Palmas still has a lot to offer by way of entertainment. Vegueta which has been named into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site has several historic attractions such as the 15th century neo-classical and Gothic-inspired Catedral de Santa Ana, the Iglesia de San Telmo which was among the first religious structures built in the city, and the Iglesia de San Antonio Abad which, according to legend, was where Columbus sought for divine intercession before his expedition which led to the discovery of the Americas.

A number of museums and theatres are impressive examples of medieval architecture as well: Casa Museo de Colon was the former residence of the city’s early governors; Teatro Perez Galdos was built during the turn of the 20th century and is now used as a venue for concerts and musical performances; and the Museo Canario holds a collection of the Gran Canaria’s history from its ancient origins. There are also a number of parks and gardens where a leisurely stroll can be had – Parque San Telmo, Parque Doramas, Plaza de la Feria, Plaza Santa Ana and Triana to name a few.

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