• Canary Islands,  Gran Canaria,  Las Palmas,  Spain

    Las Palmas – Perfect combination of beach vacation and city life


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    Known as the capital of Gran Canaria, cozy Las Palmas is the perfect combination of beach vacation and city life, as well as wonderful sights and activities. Las Palmas is located in the northern part of Gran Canaria and its long beach Las Canteras is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Las Palmas’ relaxed beach atmosphere, numerous attractive restaurants and tapas bars, and the sunny local way of life attract tourists year after year, again and again. And I don’t wonder why!

    We traveled to the Canary Islands at the end of January. We thought for a long time about what would be a nice destination and for a while we also thought about returning to our own home island, Sal, in Cape Verde. However, in the end we wanted to stay inside Europe and in January there are not many options if you want to go somewhere warm. I’ve already been to Tenerife twice myself, so I didn’t want to go back there again (even though it’s a nice destination). At the same time, we wanted to be sure that we could also experience ordinary local life during the trip, and we didn’t want to be in the middle of large hotel areas. We conveniently found a really nice Home exchange -home for our trip in Las Palmas. The capital was the only right choice for us as our base, because even though there are tourists, there is also so much more in Las Palmas.

    Our accommodation and views
    Las Canteras beach


    WHAT GRAN CANARIA?

    Gran Canaria is one of the largest islands of the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, about 210 km west of the Moroccan coast. It is known for its wonderful beaches, diverse nature and subtropical climate, which means warmth all year round. Gran Canaria has mountains, valleys, deserts and lush forests, as well as wonderful beaches.

    The island’s most famous landmark is certainly Roque Nublo, a huge basalt rock formation that offers spectacular views all around. Another popular destination is the sand dunes of Maspalomas on the south side of the island. During this trip, we didn’t have time for either, because we just focused on enjoying the city life and the sunshine in Las Palmas. Also we weren’t attracted by the news of large numbers of Portuguese manowars along the sand dunes and beaches of Maspalomas at this time, nor by the stomach disease epidemic that was going on on the south side of the island. Next time then.

    Las Canteras


    Gran Canaria pampers travelers with various activities such as boat trips, hiking in the mountains and sunny beaches. The island has several small local villages to explore, a lively nightlife and plenty of restaurants, shops and cultural events. Since we love the sun and the sea, we mostly stayed at the beach. We ate a lot of tapas and got to know the city center and different neighborhoods. I also have to say that the city atmosphere of Las Palmas reminded me of the times when I lived in Valencia. Spain is a dear country to me and this place also managed to surprise me in a positive way. Luckily we chose Las Palmas.

    Get to know Gran Canaria and book an island tour for yourself and your travel group here, where you can see and experience all of the island’s attractions easily and effortlessly in one day!


    LAS PALMAS – CULTURE AND BEACH

    Las Palmas is the capital of Gran Canaria and at the same time the largest city on the whole island. There are many historical and cultural attractions in Las Palmas, and although the city is very popular with tourists, you can also experience the usual local way of life and atmosphere here. A fun way to get to know Las Palmas is, for example, riding the Hop on Hop off bus while admiring the city scenery.

    The old town of Vegueta is a historic and beautiful area to spend the day when you wish to do something different also during your beach vacation. Here, it is worth visiting at least the Plaza Santa Ana square and the cathedral located on its edge, as well as various museums, if you are interested in history. The colorful buildings and narrow streets of the old town created its own wonderful and charming atmosphere.

    Plaza Santa Ana
    Cathedral
    Vegueta
    Vegueta


    Triana is a lively and cozy place with plenty of restaurants and cafes, as well as shopping opportunities. Calle Maior de Triana, the main pedestrian street, is also located here, which is also the main shopping street. Here you can certainly find amazing clothes and accessories for every taste.

    Triana
    Triana


    Playa de las Canteras is Las Palmas’ largest and most beautiful beach, with an atmospheric wide beach promenade next to it. There are numerous different cafes and beach restaurants along the promenade, with different price levels. Near Canteras beach is also the lively Plaza de Espana square, where the city’s second popular shopping street begins with also very good shopping opportunities.

    Las Canteras beach promenade
    Las Canteras


    Santa Catalina area and Parque Santa Catalina are also located near Las Canteras beach and are definitely one of the charming and liveliest areas in the city. Here are restaurants and cafes as well as bars and nightclubs for many tastes and good public transport connections around the rest of the city, as well as direct bus connections to the south of the island. Our accommodation was located here, right in the middle of Parque Santa Catalina and Las Canteras beach. From the window of our apartment, you could see the sea diagonally and the swaying palm trees around. Just the perfect place for a vacation!

    Santa Catalina


    During the trip, we also visited the white village of Agaete, more about that next time. From Gran Canaria, our journey continued to Fuerteventura, which loosely reminded us of the island of Sal in Cape Verde.

    The charming area of Triana and Vegueta


    CHECK OUT THE BEST ACTIVITIES AND GUIDED TOURS IN LAS PALMAS AND GRAN CANARIA:


    HAVE YOU BEEN TO GRAN CANARIA? DID YOU STAY IN LAS PALMAS? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE AND BEST TIPS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! 🙂

    <3: Tiina Johanna

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  • Portugal

    HOME EXCHANGE IN LISBON – BACK TO PORTUGAL


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    Home exchange in Lisbon last September was a long-waited return to Portugal for me. For a long time, we had thought about leaving Cape Verde for Europe for a while, so that my husband could get to know my background more and my friends and family. Island life in Cape Verde is relaxed and sunny, but change is always good and my longing to return to Portugal kept on growing.

    In September 2023 we put our dogs in the care of our relatives, packed our bags, jumped on a plane and finally traveled from Cape Verde to Lisbon. The feeling of happiness when we saw the already familiar orange-roofed houses of Lisbon approaching from the window of the plane!

    As accommodation we had a Home exchange home in the Campo de Ourique area. We carried all six of our overstuffed suitcases to the cozy first floor home, where we were greeted by a friend of the owner of the apartment. He introduced us to the place and gave us the keys. We settled into this traditionally cozy Lisbon holiday base well. Here we would spend the next 10 days.



    ALWAYS CHARMING LISBON

    Lisbon offered us everything we hoped for. It was wonderful to return to my old home city, where I loved to live. For my husband, this was the first time in Portugal and in all Europe, so I could act as a tour guide and at the same time enjoy his happy and surprised expressions while visiting amazing places.

    We toured the center of Lisbon, admired the views of the Tejo River in the sunshine at Praca do Comercio square, got to know the old town of Alfama and the colorful Bairro Alto, where I have spent several fun evenings while living in the city. We spent time with our friends who live in Lisbon and went for a walk in my old neighborhood in Saldanha. We also went to spend a day in Sintra, because my husband had to see the famous Palacio da Pena during his first visit to Portugal. My husband is a big football fan and Benfica in particular is one of his favorites, so I had to take him to see the Benfica Stadium.

    Bairro Alto
    Bairro Alto
    Alfama
    Alfama
    Bica
    Benfica Stadium


    Lisbon is a great destination for a long or a short city break and offers culture, history, sights and lots of different things to do. There are also wonderful beaches near Lisbon, so the city is an excellent choice for combining a beach holiday with an urban adventure.

    Campo Grande
    Praca do Comercio


    CHECK OUT THE BEST TOURS AND ACTIVITIES IN LISBON:


    HOME EXCHANGE – FREE ACCOMMODATION FOR YOUR TRIP

    Home exchange is a great way to get free accommodation for your trip, but above all it’s a great way to travel differently and experience life from a local perspective. At the same time, you get the chance to meet new people from all over the world, and sometimes with good luck, these acquaintances even grow into proper friendships. Homes are ordinary people’s homes, so you shouldn’t expect any hotel experiences, and homes often show their residents in one way or another in the form of goods, interior design and personality. Those who are fond of home swapping know that these aspects are the reason why home exchange is the so amazing.

    Home Exchange in Lisbon is not our first home exchange. We have experiences already from many places and home exchange has enabled amazing travel experiences in different parts of the world, such as in San Francisco, Valencia and the Canary Islands.

    If you are interested in HomeExchange and the free accommodation it enables when traveling, check out this link to the HomeExchange website and explore wonderful homes around the world! When you join, you will also receive a gift of 250 Guest Points, which you can use in your future home changes.


    HomeExchange.com is a popular and very reliable site, which is also familiar to many from the movie The Holiday. In the movie, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap homes with each other and get to know each other’s lives and homes in different parts of the world using this website, which we also use to swap homes.

    Home exchange can be done by swapping houses at the same time with another person/family, where you travel to someone’s house to stay and they come to yours. This is the most traditional form and the essence of home exchange. It is also possible to make an exchange at different times, where, for example, you travel to someone else’s home and he goes somewhere else, but comes to your home for a home exchange some other time, and then you go somewhere else.

    The third option is exchanging with using Home exchange points, the principle of which is pretty much the same as, for example, renting an apartment, but instead of money, renting is done with home exchange points, i.e. Guest Points. Staying with points also means that no one will come to your home, but you will give your points as compensation. We ourselves have tried each of these forms, always depending a little on the situation and needs of the trip. Each of these has worked admirably and I can recommend each of them very warmly as a form of Home exchange. 🙂 Grab 250 home exchange points here and join!



    SEE ALSO THERE ARTICLES ABOUT LISBON:


    ARE YOU INTERESTED IN HOME EXCHANGE? HAVE YOU ALREADY TRIED HOME SWAPPING? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES BELOW! 🙂

    <3: Tiina Johanna

    Remember to follow me on Social media!
    Instagram:@tiinaunderthecoconut
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    *Photos: Tiina Johanna, blogger
    *Photo editing: Loov.fi “Tropical blues” presets – check it out!