Las Palmas, Gran Canaria - Guide to the Canary Islands for Digital Nomads and Expats

It's been an incredible two months here on Gran Canaria and it's a place that I could definitely see myself moving to as a permanent resident. I first heard of the Canary Islands and Las Palmas in general just months ago when a few digital nomad friends I met while traveling told me that they had given up their life of constant travel and have settled down on the island of Gran Canaria. I've heard of a lot of good destinations for nomads to become expats including Thailand, Bali, Columbia, Mexico, and Portugal, but Gran Canaria seemed to have an advantage over all of them and I had to see it for myself to find out first hand. This post has now been updated for 2019 during my second trip to Las Palmas.

If you've ever been to Gran Canaria, you may hear how it's like a smaller, cheaper version of Barcelona on an island with warm weather year round. You may have heard that second to Chiang Mai, it's the biggest digital nomad hot spot in the world, and that those who come here often decide to become residents and stay forever. The good news is that all of that is somewhat true, but before you go packing your bags, let me take the time to properly explain the pros and cons of living on Gran Canaria long term as an expat, digital nomad, or online entrepreneur. In this post i'll be talking about the costs of living, where to find apartments or accomidation, and review coworking spaces, the food, lifestyle, and give you all of the info you need before considering a move to Gran Canaria. 

How to Get to Gran Canaria:

The good news for Europeans is the fact there are tons of cheap, direct flights from all over Europe including Dublin Ireland, Vienna, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Zurich, Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Prague, Lisbon, Italy, and Spain. I flew here from Ukraine which currently doesn't have a direct flight which meant I had to stop over in Germany for a night first, but was still relatively easy and cheap. For my 2019 trip, I flew from Sri Lanka with an overnight stopover in Switzerland. 

From the U.S., Canada, Australia or Asia you'd have to first fly into one of the countries or cities above. The good news is that flights can be had for cheap, the only downside is that because it's Europe, even international planes are often small, which means it's not usually worth upgrading to business class since overnight flights with layflat seats aren't popular. That means, whether you fly the cheapest economy seats or business class, you'll be taking a lot of shorter flights and sitting upright most of the trip. 

Once you're at LPA airport in Gran Canaria however, it's super easy to get around and there's even a cheap and easy 45 minute airport bus that goes straight from LPA to where you'll be staying in Las Palmas. for just around $3. If you take a taxi from the airport, expect to pay around $33 for the same trip. However, the good news is that once you've in Las Palmas, it's relatively cheap to take taxi's locally, so an easy hack is to take the airport bus (#60) to San Telmo bus station in Las Palmas, then take a $5 taxi directly to your apartment or hotel.

Map of Gran Canaria - LPA Airport and Las Palmas

Introduction to LPA:

I met a bunch of people who left Chiang Mai and the nomadic life and moved permanently to Gran Canaria recently and just spent the past 2.5 months checking out it for myself. It's technically part of Spain and the EU, but since it's located off the west coast of Africa, it's warm year round. It's an island with amazing beaches, surfing, and scuba diving, and has really good infrastructure and over a dozen co-working spaces.
Best of all, the island actually welcomes digital nomads and encourages us to get permanent residencies.

It's also cheaper than living in Barcelona or Berlin, while having all of the amenities like being able to order from Amazon, and having big stores where you can buy anything like Ikea, Decathlon, and a huge electronics store called Media Market. Even better there are multiple islands close by to explore, sand dunes, mountains, and even a rainforest just an hour away. Here's what a typical day in the life of a digital nomad or remote worker looks like living in Las Palmas.

Why Las Palmas?

So you might be wondering why we chose to live on the north eastern tip of Gran Canaria in the capital city of Las Palmas when the south in Maspalomas is much more beautiful, has better weather year round, and has more things to do as a tourist. Well the answer is because even though the south of Gran Canaria is great for holiday makers on vacation, Las Palmas is a much better place to live year round and long term, or to live as a digital nomad or online entrepreneur. 

The problem with Las Palmas however, is that at first glance, it's a bit ugly. Don't get me wrong, I love it here and have came to appercaite it's beauty, but honestly, when I first arrived, my expectations were too high and I thought that my friends who told me about how amazing it is, was wrong. So here's the thing, Las Palmas isn't a high class, beautiful city with amazing architecture, ocean views and a resort like feeling. It looks and feels more like a small, low to mid-class, grungy city that to has a very city nice beach and happens to be on an island. Don't come here expecting it to look or feel like a tropical island resort, because it's not and like me, you'll be disappointed if you do. Las Palmas is strange for the fact that as soon as you are even a block and a half from the main beach boardwalk, you suddenly forget that you're near a beach or on an island at all.

But that's actually the main reason why I love Las Palmas as much as I do, and that hundreds of other digital nomads and expats feel the same. It's the fact that you can have a normal city life, have the conveniences of everything you want from home, while being able to walk a few blocks or drive a few miles and be out in nature or in the sea.

Hanging out with friends on Las Canteras Beach

Las Canteras Beach

If you watched my snorkeling video, depending on where else you've been in the world, or if you are comparing it to the freezing waters in the U.K. or the warm tropical waters of Thailand, you may be thinking, wow that sunset looks nice, or wow, that doesn't look that impressive, I've seen better. In both cases you'd be correct. But even though I've been snorkeling and scuba diving in Thailand, Australia, Bali, Indonesia, Borneo, California, Hawaii, and the Caribbean, I can honestly say that swimming and snorkeling off of Las Canteras Beach here in Las Palmas is my favorite place in the world and it's the place I do it most often.

Even though there are nicer beaches and oceans else where in the world, none of them are as clean, convenient, and easily accessible as the one here in Las Palmas. In most places you need to drive to a beach, take a bus, or otherwise go out of your way to get there. But the way Las Canteras is situated, it's often faster and easier to walk along the beach when getting around the city as it's a straight line as opposed to zig-zags in the city center. Also since it's such a long beach, wherever you live in the city, you're just a short walk away, meaning it's possible that you'll pass it 3-5 times everyday just going to and front work, the gym, or to restaurants to meet friends. They clean the beach daily, so even though you can sometimes still find cigarette butts from inconsiderate smokers, in general the beach is very clean, and since this is Europe, locals don't throw trash in the ocean or dump garbage like they do in Indonesia and Malaysia, which means the water isn't polluted.

Being a long beach, even though certain spots are often crowded, it never feels annoying as there aren't touts trying to sell you anything, and the beach chair rentals are limited to certain spots, it gives you plenty of room to lay out freely. It's also a great places to watch sunsets, tan topless, or leave your things while you go for a swim or a snorkel.

Snorkeling in Las Palmas

It's a bit strange to say that even though I've snorkeled with amazing fish life in other places around the world including sea turtles, sharks, and manta rays in crystal clear waters, snorkeling off of Las Palmas is actually my favorite. It's not the best snorkeling, and depending on the day and the tide, conditions can range from wavy, cloudy and terrible, to really good but still not very fishy. But the reason why I like it so much is the fact that it's super convenient to go everyday after work. If you go during low tide and swim out to the rock reef, you'll be surprised on how clear it can get and how much fish you can see. I've even seen a couple of hard to find species like octopus, flounders, crabs, and even a spotted snake-eel which was really cool especially since they are not poisonous and non-dangerous but look like they could be.

The best place to snorkel off of Las Canteras is opposite CrossFit Las Canteras during low tide, if you swim all the way out to the rock reef. You don't need fins, and you can buy a cheap mask and snorkel at any of the local variety shops or at decathlon. I recomend buying the cheap $3 snorkel as those tend to work better than the fancy ones with the water purge/exhaust valves. As for masks, just find one that fits. Since the water temperatures are a brisk 22-24c most of the year, you don't need a wetsuit or even a rashguard. But if you get cold easily, you can invest in one if it prevents you from enjoying the ocean. You can also find rockier spots around the island that often have more fish life such as just in front of the Surf Hostel. I've also swam past the rock reef to check it out and it was gorgeous. But I wouldn't recomend it to most people as the current could take you out into the open ocean and is dangerous. Also it's too deep to snorkel and would be better with scuba gear. Luckily there is decent scuba diving on the island as well!

However, the reason why I love snorkeling on Las Canteras as much as I do, isn't just because there are cool fish to see, it's the fact that it's protected by a natural rock reef which means that during low tide, you can safely swim long distances without worrying about currents, tides, boats, jet skis or any other dangers as there's nothing but you, a few other swimmers, and the occasional paddle boarder.

If you want to bodyboard or surf, you can simply go to the south of Las Canteras, or the very north at La Confidential during the right tides and have that as well. You can rent a surfboard and a wetsuit for just 10 to 15 euro for two hours.

Quiksilver Pop up Shop on Las Canteras Beach

My first AirBnb in Las Palmas came with Surf Boards!

Nature in Gran Canaria

Perhaps my favorite thing about the island of Gran Canaria is the fact that within a 1 hour drive, you have what feels like 7 different continents. You have the capital city of Las Palmas which feels like you're in a smaller Barcelona. You have the touristy beaches in the South as well as the sand dunes in Maspalomas which make it look like you're somewhere in Egypt. You mountains and peaks of  Roque Nublo at 1,813m high and a nice trek. During some years it even snows above 1,000m. But at the same time you have what looks like an Arizona desert in La Confital, cactus in the center, all while an hour away you have small waterfalls and rainforest in laurisilva.

On the same beach, depending on the tide, you can have volleyball, surfing, bodyboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. It's really amazing how much diversity there is on one relatively small island. The only problem is that most people never leave their area and go to to explore. But since buses run everywhere, and car rentals are relatively affordable, there isn't an excuse not to take weekend trips to go explore. You even have a Decathlon store which sells really good sporting equipment at fantastic prices, which means you can go buy yourself a decent pair of $12 hiking shoes and a $5 backpack, snorkel set, or whatever else you may need once you get here.

The only problem is that aside from the one group that Erik, a Danish expat is currently hosting, there isn't an easy way to meet other people to go on hiking trips or nature exploration with. So if he's not currently in town, it's not always that easy to go out and see what the island has to offer. But even though it may not seem like they exist, if you ask around or look hard enough, especially if you search in Spanish, you'll find all sorts of cool things to do such as Hiking Groups or  Acroyoga in Las Palmas. The fact that all the photos in this blog post are taking on the same island, and all within a 1 hour drive of each other is insane. I don't know of anywhere else in the world where you can do that with maybe the exception of San Diego, which is another city I love.

Adventure in Gran Canaria

For my 2019 trip, I did a few more adventure sports including zip lining, caving, repealing, rock climbing and paragliding for my first time ever, all with a great couple that runs Fly in Canarias.

Here's a video I filmed on my buddy David Vu's GoPro that captured a bit of Gran Canaria from the sky and what it's like to fly over it on a paraglider for the first time!

Where to Stay in Las Palmas

Even though the city of Las Palmas is relatively small at around 3.3km or 2 miles if you're walking from the very south of the beach near the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium to the very north of the beach near Isleta, it still takes 40 minutes which is fine to do once in awhile, but it's much easier to stay in the center and closer to the beach if you want to have easy access to everywhere you'll need to go on a day to day basis.

Circled in Green is my favorite area in Las Palmas to stay as it's in the center of the beach where most things happen, most of the restaurants and bars are, where the popular Santa Catalina is, and where the best part of the beach is. Staying here means that you're usually a 15 minute or less walk from any coworking space, coffee shop, gym, meetup, yoga class, or bar. If you can't find an apartment in the green zone, you can stay anywhere within the blue zone which is still walkable, but be prepared to walk 30 minutes on average wherever you may go and up to 45 minutes. The problem with Las Palmas is the fact that because of all of the one way streets, dead ends and zig-zags, you'll never actually take a bus or a taxi to get around within the city meaning you should be prepared to walk wherever you go, and if you're going to walk anyways, you might as well do it along the beach, which is why I recomend staying there. But if you ask any locals, they'll say that anywhere pictured on this map below is still a fine area to be in as it's all considered the city center, but just like living in New York, there are more desireable areas than others. 

Not pictured on this map is the old city of Vegueta which is just 30 minutes sound of Las Palmas by bus or a $6 Taxi ride. It's also a nice place if you don't care to live by the beach.

Apartments, Airbnb and Accommodations

It's not cheap or easy to find housing in Las Palmas, but it's doable, you just need to follow my advice and be prepared to take some time doing so. Honestly, compared to places like Chiang Mai, Thailand where you can just show up and find a monthly rental for easy and cheap, here it's a lot more difficult. The good news is that it's possible, you just need to do some work arounds.

Apartments aren't actually that expensive in Las Palmas or buy or to rent long term. You can find a great 1-bedroom apartment in the green zone for around $700 a month if you're staying long term. The problem is the fact that Airbnb rentals are overpriced in hopes that tourists who don't know any better will fall for the trap and pay the outrageous rate of $2,000-$3,500 a month for something that should be half the price. The good news is that after learning the trick, all you have to do is use google translate to craft a message into Spanish, and message every Airbnb that you are interested in with the same message asking for an additional 40-60% off the monthly price. In my experience over 80% of landlords replied and many of them were happy to discount the rental as they know what they were asking for was ridiculous.

You can also find a coliving house like Restation or The Roof or any of the other ones that are popping up in Gran Canaria all of the time. If it's your first time using Airbnb, here's a $40 off coupon for Airbnb valid for your first trip. If you're staying for 6+ months, the best way to find housing is to book an airbnb for 1-2 weeks, then meet a local agent that will show you around.

The message I used to negotiate this 2BR from $2,500 to $1,300 a month

2018 Update: It looks like it worked for my buddy AJ as well!

The Siesta Lifestyle

In most places you can show up and find an apartment within a few days, but in Gran Canaria, being part of Spain, things work slower here so be prepared. Luckily since we weren't in a rush and we had friends on the island already, we were able to figure things out within a few weeks, but it wasn't as quick and easy as we were expecting, mainly due to the siesta lifestyle. Many businesses don't open until 10 or 11am then close again from 1:30pm - 4:30pm, and almost everything is closed on Sundays. This means that if you want to get anything done, you'll need to time it right, get lucky or come back another day. An example would be trying to register for ByBike, the awesome free for 15 minutes at a time bike rentals. The way you register is go to the office, which is closed 70% of the time, they give you a website URL to register and tell you to wait for 2 days to get an email. You get that email, confirm it, which tells you to wait again. Then you print out that email and bring it back to that office to register...which you'll then realize is closed or the holiday/siesta or weekend. Some people get lucky and get it done within days, but things like this often take people weeks or months as it's easy to forget about and put off.

It also means that if you're looking for a place to come relax, take it easy, and chill out, Gran Canaria is a great place to live long term, or even retire, as you'll see with a ton of older people here in thier 60's and 70's. However, if you're looking to hustle hard, eat low carb, paleo, or build a business, and network with other like minded entrepreneurs, you might be disappointed. But then again, it depends on your ideal schedule. For me, I enjoy waking up early, working until 4pm, going to exercise, then having dinner before 7pm and sleeping before 11pm. Here however, a lot of restaurants don't even open until 8pm, which means dinners are often late and start at 9pm, with drinks, tapas and bread until midnight.

Things are just slower paced here, and if that's what you enjoy, or maybe need as a break from your normal routine, it's a great place to be. Personally, I can see myself coming here for 2-3 months a year to relax and go into business maintenance mode while enjoying tapas and wine a few nights a week. But even though there are plenty of coworking spaces, fast internet, and the infrastructure needed to go into growth mode and build a new online business, you may feel the lack of outside motivation as most others will be enjoying life nice and slow and easy, waking up late and drinking beer and wine at least a few nights a week. There are also a lot of holidays where everything is closed.

Typical Restaurant Hours: Closed Sunday/Monday, Closed for Breakfast and Lunch, then closed again for dinner.

spanish holidays
Taken at my friend Julie's apartment! 

Digital Nomads in Gran Canaria

The good news is that Gran Canaria is very open to attracting remote workers and digital nomads and wants to bring in jobs, knowledge, and infrastructure. Unlike places like Thailand where expats and digital nomads are simply tolerated, here in Las Palmas, we're actually welcome with open arms which is a refreshing change. There are a ton of coworking spaces in Las Palmas and there are a bunch of events here such as Nomad City and the Nomad Cruise. Seeing the photos from these events may make you think that Las Palmas is already a hot spot for digital nomads and it kind of is, if you know where to look or when to come.

Las Palmas has the foundation to become the next Chiang Mai, but at least as of 2017, it still need a bit more promotion to really get it going. The problem is that even though there are plenty of digital nomads on the island, there aren't that many regular events which means it's hard to meet each other. You could pass through there for a week and aside from the handful of people you meet at a coworking space, you might not realize there are 50-100 other nomads in Las Palmas working from home or other places. I've tried to do my part by helping to set up Nomad Coffee Club Las Palmas with the help of Maria, Myriam and a few of the other coworking space owners in hopes that there will continue to be weekly or at least bi-weekly meetings over coffee where nomads can meet each other, network, make new friends, and share knowledge on how to be successful with their online businesses.

When you come to Las Palmas, be sure to join the various facebook groups including the Nomad Coffee Club (Las Palmas) and Gran Canaria Digital Nomads.

digital nomads las palmas
At the first Nomad Coffee Club in Las Palmas meetup!

LPA Coworking Spaces

When people say they are coworking in Gran Canaria, they typically mean the city of Las Palmas. But in terms of layout, comfort, natural light, and other things that make the best coworking space, GoCoworking is actually the best space on the island that I've seen. Read this blog post for the qualities I look for in an ideal coworking space.  However, the biggest problem and the reason why I don't work from there is the fact that it's a 30 minute bus ride or a 1 hour walk away from Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas which is where I choose to live. If you don't plan on using the beach often, then definitely check out GoCoworking as it's a great space.

But for those who want to live in Las Palmas, don't worry, you have 9 other spaces to check out, and my best advice would be to go to all of them for a free trial day to check them out for yourself and see what you like the best. Before I came, I had heard from guys like Chris the Freelancer and others that Coworking C was the most popular digital nomad space so I was tempted to just go straight there, but as much as I liked it, I'm also glad that I took the time to look around and find one that suited me and my needs to best. For example, I really liked ReStation for it's live in community, and liked the layout of The SandBox. And I might have really liked CoCo or some of the others if I had lived more in that direction and if they had a community, but for me I ended up working out of Soppa De Azul because the location on the north end of the beach was a perfect excuse for me to walk on the sand for 20 minutes each direction to and from home everyday. I also liked the layout, community of artists, and the fact that it had a little kitchen area in the front where I could make a salad and keep my half a roast chicken in the fridge for the next day. They also had some spaces for me to record podcasts which is something I do twice a week that most other nomads probably don't need to.

The best thing about coworking spaces on Gran Canaria is the surprising fact that all of the owners treat each other as friends and not competition which really makes it comfortable to bounce around. Nacho the owner of Coworking C, would invite me over to BBQ's at The Roof Living Space and Carlos the owner of The Sandbox would host monthly digital nomad meetups over Tapas. Maria the owner of Restation not only helped me start up the coffee club here, but would also have weekly mastermind meetups. For whatever reason, Las Palmas is way better setup in terms of coworking spaces than Chiang Mai, even though it's not yet as popular of a nomad hotspot.

This year for 2019 I worked out of the new coworking space on Las Canteras called Work Labs mainly because it was close to where I was staying but also because my friends Louise and Ed were working out of there.  The owner was super cool and had actually read my article about ideal coworking spaces and was super owner to suggestions. I also gave a talk at the Nomad Coffee Club LPA which was cool to go back to especially since it was a packed bar with over 40 local nomads and expats showing up!

At "The Roof" Co-Living Space with Nacho

At the Nomad Coffee Club LPA Meetup!

Internet and Data

Once set up, the internet and mobile data on Gran Canaria is actually very good. The problem is that unless you are a resident of the EU and already have a post-paid data plan on your phone, in which you can now roam for free within the EU. For Americans and others there aren't any mobile phone shops in LPA airport or places that sell SIM cards aside from maybe the spar supermarket in the airport. That means that we had to ask a random taxi driver to call our airbnb host to come meet us and let us in, then try to find a local phone shop during their opening hours to get data.

The good news is that once we set it up, you can renew online, and it is relatively cheap at around $15 a month for 4GB of high speed 4G internet. Coworking spaces here start from around 100 euro ($125 after tax) a month and have stable connections of 30mps down/25mps upload which is plenty fast enough. All of the Airbnb's I've stayed at also had decent wifi speeds, with my current one having a super fast speed of 100mps down/20mps up. The only problems is that every single house I've lived in has had thick walls which meant the wifi never reaches the bedrooms. A hack is to move the router into the hallway, but it doesn't always solve the problem. Aside from that, Spain and Portugal have gotten rid of net neutrality which means that even with 100mps down speeds, things like Netflix and Youtube are throttled making them sometimes outrageously slow to buffer.

As for coffee shops and cafes, even though there are a few decent ones like Cafe Regina, there aren't that many good options to work from and some coffee shops don't have wifi at all, which boggles my mind in 2017. As for 2019, there's now a Starbucks on the beach which may be decent to work at but doesn't open until 9am.

Internet Speed in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Visas and Residency

One of the big reasons why Gran Canaria has become so popular with a lot of nomads is the fact that it's relatively simple to come here as a tourist, then stay long term as a resident. Most nationalities including Americans get 90 days automatically and if you're part of the EU you can stay for up to 6 months at a time with no issues. Unfortunately for Americans, Canadians, Australians and anyone else in the green zones in the map below, once our 90 days are up anywhere in the schengen zone, which is most of the EU, highlighted by dark blue on the map, we then need to leave the entire zone for another 90 days. That means that digital nomads wanting to live in Gran Canaria, can't just make a visa run to Morocco or back to another country in Europe then come back after a few days or even a few weeks. We'd have to completely leave the EU/Schengen zone until our 90 days every 6 months completely resets. That means if we want to live in Gran Canaria for the full 3 months, we won't be able to visit Portugal, Germany, Poland, or anywhere else the Schengen this trip.

If you want to stay longer, you'll need to become a resident.  The good news is that it's actually possible unlike places like Thailand. Bad news is that it's a huge pain in the ass, especially for non EU citizens due to Spanish bureaucracy. If you're a citizen of the EU, you can just show up, get 6 months, fly home to visit, and come straight back without issues. But you'll still want to look into getting an NIE Number (below) once you get here to do things like rent apartments and get internet service in your name long term, as well as qualify for perks like 75% discounts on flights and ferries to other islands and to mainland Spain.

I've had a few expat friends go through the process and even though they all eventually got it, they all said it was a huge pain in the ass because of Spanish business hours, language barriers, excess paperwork, unnecessary bureaucracy and getting the run around by government workers who often find it's easier to tell you go to somewhere else and hope that you give up or that someone else helps you instead. But as long as you are committed and are willing to spend a few weeks doing it (even though it technically should be able to be done in a day) you can follow the instructions here to get your NIE (ID number) and Residencia.

One the best options for digital nomads and those working online is actually the Non-Lucrative Visa which is also known as the Non-Profit Visa or the Retirement Visa  as it allows you to live here as long as you don't take local jobs and you can prove that you have either enough savings ($30,124) or online/investment income to support yourself. If you think $30k is an insane number that you'll never be able to save up, read my book Life Changes Quick to see how I went from almost zero to $30k in less than 2 years. You can read about it on this family's blog post about getting it. But basically, even though getting the visa is possible, it's a huge pain in the ass with a ton of paperwork, FBI background checks, background checks for any country you visited for more than 6 months in the past 5 years, English to Spanish translation requirements for every single piece of paperwork you submit, and a ton of other crazy bureaucratic paperwork. Another option if you want to invest half a million euros would be the golden visa and if you want start a business you can apply for a Spanish entrepreneur visa.

Citizen's of the Green can stay anywhere in the Dark Blue for 90 Days

When to Visit

For me, even though I really like Gran Canaria, because it's too much of a hassle to stay longer than 90 days at a time, I'd decided to just use it as a temporary place to hang out for a few months each year instead of a place to actually live long term. But since that only allows me to spend 3 months in any 6 month period here.

By leaving the Schengen zone going to either Ukraine or Bulgaria, Croatia, or Romania for 3 months I could technically leave the Schengen zone and let my visa rest, while still staying in Europe to enjoy the summer months here. The only downside is the fact that even though Gran Canaria is known to have decent weather year round, and is one of the only places in Europe that doesn't snow or isn't otherwise freezing in the winter, it still gets cold here and drops down to 15c/59f degrees at night which is pretty chilly. The best news is that even if it's cold and cloudy here in Las Palmas, you can always drive an hour to the south and enough sunshine on the beaches there as it's always a few degrees warmer and sunnier in the south because of the mountains and microclimates.

The best time to come to Gran Canaria is whenever it sucks somewhere else in the world as the weather here is decent year round which is a huge selling point of the Canary Islands in general. High season is Dec-Feb but mainly because it's freezing in other parts of Europe during those months. The weather in LPA is very good during summer months, but since it's also very good elsewhere in Europe, the island can be relatively quiet. Las Palmas has been voted along with San Diego as the most pleasant weather in the world year round, and having lived in both, I can vouch that both places are perfect shorts and t-shirt places with the occasional need for a long sleeve at night.

Monthly Temperature in Gran Canaria

Food in Gran Canaria

Similar to Barcelona, restaurants in Las Palmas are really hit or miss. There are some really good places, and some really bad ones as well, especially if you just walk into a random restaurant without looking up reviews first. In general, the rule is, if you see a slot machine in restaurant, the food probably isn't very good but then I've had a decent menu of the day at these types of bar cafeterias. So really you'll usually end up eating at home most meals or end up just having a basic sandwich or a local dish like Ropa Vieja which is a nice mixture of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) peppers, and often a mixture of beef, pork, or chicken which is actually really good.

My favorite restaurants in Las Palmas are, Maday Tasca which is really good Spanish Asian fusion food (even though I normally hate fusion restaurants), Basal Grill Beach (for the ribs) and
Tasca Galileo (great tapas and wine). For bars food and amazing value for cheap drinks, the winner is definitely Bodegon Pachichi and on thursdays the entire street in Vegeta that turns into $2.50 tapas and wine night. Outside of the capital, closer to the south of the island, there was also a super authentic restaurant with homemade cheese, bread, and on weekends even roast entire pigs. It's out of the way but worth checking out, Vaqueria Las Salinas  if you ever rent a car and are passing by.

But my favorite things aside from eating out in Las Palmas is probably visiting the fresh fruit and vegetable farmer's markets and cooking at home so make sure you visit Mercado Central, de Vegueta and del Puerto. A typical lunch will cost you around 8-10 euro and usually includes a soup and a main, plus a drink, coffee or dessert. For dinner you'll usually pay around 15 euro at most restaurants. But pinchos (little bread tapa things) and sandwiches are cheap as well as small plates at places like Pachichi, so it's possible to go out for a glass of wine or beer plus a snack for 4 or 5 euro which is a good deal.  

Traditional starters at Vaqueria Las Salinas. 5 euro a dish average.

Flaming chorizo at Bodegon Pachichi + a 1 Euro beer

My Overall Thoughts:

It took me a few weeks to really start appreciating Las Palmas, and Gran Canaria for what it is and all that it has to offer. It's hard not to have high expectations when you first arrive as people often make it sound like paradise which is why I'm trying to downplay it a bit in this blog post and in the videos. I want to manage your expectations before you arrive, because even though it's technically an island with good weather year round, nice beaches, a wide range of topography, good food, wine, decent costs of living, and sounds amazing on paper, the best thing you can do is come with low expectations and allow enough time to let it grow on you as it doesn't have the initial wow factor like other places do.  Unlike some other places where I instantly thought, omg this is amazing, Gran Canaria is one of those places that the longer you're here, the most you get to know the locals, find good places to eat, figure out how to navigate the often overly complicated Spanish bureaucracy, take the bus or rent a car to drive around, the more you'll like it.

It's not like Thailand, Mexico or Bali where it looks like paradise in photos. But also unlike tropical islands, Gran Canaria has a real city where locals live here year round, businesses run, and you really can have a normal, fully functional life. That being said, if I was European and had to either A. stay relatively close to home but wanted to escape the cold winters, or B. had to stay in this time zone, I would absolutely live and possibly move to Las Palmas full time. But as an American citizen, the visas and the bureaucracy doesn't make it easy for us to spend more than a couple months here at a time. It's far cheaper and easier for us to live in Thailand or places like Playa Del Carmen, Mexico as full time tourists than it is for us to become residents of Spain. So even though I like it here a lot and will miss my long walks on the beach and daily sunset snorkels, and even though I still think Gran Canaria is a great place to live, the longer I stay here, the more I like it, and I can see why so many people move here permanently, I won't be one of them, at least for now.

I can definitely see myself coming back in future years as the island really does have a lot to offer. It's a great place especially if you enjoy speaking Spanish and want to learn it fluently as it really is required to live here long term. And if you can imagine yourself staying up late and going for tapas and wine a few nights a week while enjoying the occasional surf, snorkel, or hike on weekends. This island has great potential for digital nomads and is already perfect for Europeans wishing to get out of the cold while staying close by and in their time zone!

In the sand dunes of Maspalomas in the South

More from Las Palmas: 

Listen to the Travel Like a Boss Podcast Episode 175 for more.

Online Income Update from Gran Canaria 

Let me know what you think of Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands, and Las Palmas in the comments below. Feel free to ask me anything as well and I'm happy to add it to the FAQ!

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

Questions? Like this Post? Comment below! 

Like This Post? Share It!

Johnny's Travel Guides 3921267692267332207

Post a Comment

  1. Seems like it sucked but you had to write something for content.

    1. If it sucked, I wouldn't have stayed for 3 months. =)

  2. Is the non-local population (tourists/nomads etc) relatively young or old people. I was in Tenerife for a month (and didn't manage to cross to GC) and it was mostly old people..

    1. It's a huge mix. Most of the tourists have traditionally been older, but especially with the digital nomad boom, there are more and more young people moving there for months or years at a time now.

  3. Great article. Keep up the good work!


Please take a second to log in before you comment. I've turned off the anonymous commenting option. I'm open and respectful with you, please be the same back. Stay positive, trolls and spam comments will be automatically deleted.


Home item

Blog Archive

Are you an Insider yet?

Search this Blog

Keep in touch


Any product or service I recommend on this blog I personally use and would recommend to both friends and family. All links on this site are affiliate links so please use them in the resources page or anywhere on the blog if you want to give me credit for referring you.

If you want to learn more about how to start your own blog and make money as an affiliate by earnestly recommending products, check out my course Income Boss.

Featured Post: Read Me!

2020 Travel Plans and 2019 Recap: 11 Countries Traveled!

Want to start an online business?

Want to start an online business?
A post written for friends and family - Step by Step instructions on How to start your own online store.