Gran Canaria Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Gran Canaria
Despite Spain's entry into the European Union, the Canary Islands have special status as a free trade zone with minimal import duties. Because of this, items such as alcohol and tobacco are much cheaper than elsewhere in Europe.
Electrical and IT goods are not as competitive as they were before the recession and with fake goods prevalent, guarantees should be fully scrutinised – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Las Palmas provides many opportunities to melt your credit card. Popular shopping centres include El Corte Inglés and Las Arenas. The street of Calle Mayor de Triana is also a hotbed of commerce.
In southern Gran Canaria, the biggest variety of shops can be found in the four-storey Yumbo Centre with retailers selling everything from shoes to Champagne. For something more bijou, explore the lanes off the main street which are home to funky fashion and hand made jewellery outlets.
The island's markets also provide a good way to find locally produced handicrafts and souvenirs. The Saturday and Sunday morning farmers' market in San Mateo is by far the best, but the one in Santa Brigida is also worth visiting, as is the Sunday morning San Lorenzo market outside Las Palmas.
If you're out and about on a Sunday, take a trip to Teror for its street market (open until 1400) where you'll find the famous chorizo de Teror, a spicy sausage, and morcilla de Teror, a sweet black pudding.
Canarian basketry, embroidered lace, pottery, aloe vera products and gourmet coffee from Agaete, the world's most northerly coffee plantation, are the island's most popular souvenirs.
Monday to Saturday 0930-1330 and 1700-1900 are the usual hours, though some bigger shops and those in tourist areas tend to stay open all day. Most shops are closed on Sunday.
Nightlife in Gran Canaria
The resorts of Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas are Gran Canaria’s hedonistic hotspots. Renowned for their great nightlife and laid-back attitude, they are enjoyed by those of every sexual orientation.
The Yumbo Centre (www.cc-yumbo.com) and Kasbah Centre are the epicentres of the nightlife scene with a heady mixture of gay and straight bars, clubs and family-friendly pubs.
In Puerto Rico the noise and neon emanates predominately from the Centro Comercial. Over in Las Palmas, Plaza de España is at the heart of the action, especially where live music is concerned – El Cuasquías in Vegueta and Cafe El Gallinero are the premier venues for local bands and DJs.
Many bars welcome children and it's not unusual to see toddlers sitting with their parents until late. Perhaps not one for youngsters is the risqué and enduringly popular drag queen show at The Music Hall Tavern (www.musichalltavern.com) opposite the go-karting in Las Palmas. Tickets include a three course meal with drinks included and transport to and from the venue.
Meanwhile, high rollers can take on the penny punters at the island's two casinos – one in Las Palmas (Casino Las Palmas) and the other in San Agustín (Casino Gran Canaria).