The Santa Catalina cruise terminal in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria is a large, busy port with many cruise lines and ships regularly docking here. Read on for our top recommendations to things to see and do when visiting Las Palmas.
Las Palmas is a relatively large city and has around 380,000 inhabitants. It is the 9th biggest city in Spain and a 3rd of the island of Gran Canaria is under UNESCO protection. When stepping off the ship there is no real cruise terminal or facilities but you will be greeted with taxis, tourist information representatives and hop on hop off bus tours.
Las Palmas is a port where there is a lot that is easily reachable by foot and you don’t need shuttle buses to get you into the main town. Pretty much as soon as you step off the ship you are in the heart of the city centre and immersed in life here in Las Palmas.
Santa Ana Cathedral
For some history, culture and awesome panoramic views be sure to head to the Santa Ana Cathedral when visiting the old town of Las Palmas. This is a stunning cathedral which even has an elevator that you rise to the tip for panoramic views over the city – a great photo opportunity!
Located in the south wing of the Cathedral is the Diocese Museum of Sacred Art which is dedicated to religion and religious art. There’s plenty to see here with art dating back to the 15th century.
Entry to the cathedral costs €2.40 for adults and is free for children. It costs an additional €1.50 to use the lift to the top to enjoy those views – well worth it in our eyes.
City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
As with many ports, you will find the hop on hop of buses waiting for you close to the port terminal. Tickets cost approximately £20 and include audio commentary and free headphones and a map.
There are 11 stops on the tour taking you around Vegueta (the old town), Santa Ana Cathedral and Santa Catalina Park. As always with the city sightseeing buses, you can hop on and hop off as much or as little as you like and the total route takes about an hour depending on traffic.
We always really enjoy taking these buses as they give you a good overview of the city, the audio tells you all about the sights and they are a good means of transport too as you can get on and off at so many stops! They do get really busy during peak seasons and when ships dock though so prepare to queue and sit inside at times.
Playa de las Canteras
If you fancy a visit to the beach then a trip to Playa de las Canteras is recommended. This 3km sandy beach is a popular one with locals and tourists alike and has plenty of restaurants and places to grab a light lunch or something to drink. The prices aren’t too bad either!
The beach is easily walkable from the cruise port, just carry on past the El Muelle shopping centre and you will reach it! A treat for relaxing, people watching and listening to the waves – gosh I wish we were there right now! Apparently it’s a pretty good snorkelling spot too!
El Muelle is the islands main shopping centre and has lots of large stores and smaller boutiques. The cruise dock is really close to El Muelle and so you won’t need to travel far to do a bit of retail therapy! There’s also a cinema here too and some places to eat as well.
We don’t tend to bother with shopping much when at home let alone when on holiday but I know for many visiting the Canary Islands there’s a chance to grab some bargains so I am sure El Muelle won’t disappoint!
Many cruise lines offer excursions to the Bandama Crater. This is the perfect place to witness amazing views over Gran Canaria and an ideal photo stop.
Arehucas Rum Distillery
A little further from the port is the Arehucas Rum Distillery. A well as being an important factory on the island there is also a museum here. Visitors can take a guided tour around the distillery which details all about the process of distilling rum and offers guests the chance to try some tasters too – yum!
The distillery is open Tuesday to Friday 9am to 2pm and costs €4.20 to enter which I think is a bargain given the free tasters! It’s also free for children to enter although we don’t encourage they make the most of the tasters!!
Christopher Colombus Museum
A place we would love to visit is the Colombus Museum. This is a house dedicated to famous explorer Christopher Colombus ad it apparently the house he stayed in whilst one of his ships was being repaired in the year 1492!
There is loads to see within the museum including many exhibitions, a study centre and a library too. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm and on Sundays from 10am to 3pm. Entry costs €4 per person which is another decent entry price we think.
The sandy dunes of Maspalomas is about 60km south of the cruise port and are well worth a visit. This unique landscape is one not to be missed and is great for a hike. There are often also camel rides along the beach too if that’s your bag. Lots of cruise lines offer transfers and excursions that include a stop off here so do check those out if you are interested in visiting.
Shore Excursions and Tours
A really fun sounding excursion advertised on crusingexcursions.com is the ‘hidden gems of Gran Canaria’ tour. This is a 4-hour tour that leaves directly from the cruise port and visits a variety of places across the island. Places of interest include the Bandama Crater viewing point, the picturesque Canarian towns of Acucas and Teror, before finally the botanical gardens. Rates for this tour starts at €32 per adult which might rival some prices offered by cruise line excursions.
Viator offers a bunch of tours in Gran Canaria offering something for pretty much everyone by the looks of their website! There’s a 40-minute camel riding tour around Maspalomas from €11 a person, a 2 and a half hour dolphin and marine wildlife boat tour from €32 per person and even a 2-hour off-road buggy driving adventure in the natural park of Fataga fro €54.99 per person. Be sure to check out the links for more information, up to date prices and times.
With so much on offer in Gran Canaria, we are sure you will find something that takes your fancy when docking on this beautiful island! If you have been before and can recommend something you enjoyed whilst visiting then do let us know in the comments below!