3 Reasons Las Palmas is the Top Digital Nomad Destination in the World

3 Reasons Las Palmas Is The Top Digital Nomad Destination in the World

By Alex Swallow and Nisha Kotecha

 

Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria, could stake a very strong claim for being the top destination for digital nomads and location independent people in the world.

In this article, we’re going to tell you why.

The three points we will make as to why it is the best in the world are:

  • Because – Who wouldn’t enjoy living there?
  • Because – The city really cares about digital nomads and is doing more all the time
  • Because-  Nomad List said so!

As well as presenting our own reasons, the article is packed full of quotes from both digital nomad and Las Palmas experts…..

Welcome to #laspalmasdegrancanaria ! #digitalnomad #city #grancanaria #paradise #laspalmas #thecanaries

A photo posted by Alex Swallow digital nomad (@oneswallow) on

To introduce ourselves first- we are Nisha and Alex, aka A Nomad Couple.

We’re new digital nomads from England who have made Las Palmas our first stop, renting an Airbnb apartment a few minutes from the main city beach. We love it here and we think not enough people in general and digital nomads in particular know how brilliant it is. If you’d like to learn more about us please look out for us on Twitter, Instagram, or join our fast-expanding digital nomad group on LinkedIn.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.

We know choosing the ‘best’ is very subjective- it depends what your preferences are.

We also appreciate we are new nomads and we might fall in love with the next place we stay in too.

Even so, we are pretty well travelled and know a good thing when we see it.

Plus, we think we’re going to make quite a convincing case!

Reason 1- Who wouldn’t enjoy living there?

Coming from the UK, we appreciate it more than most that Las Palmas has one of the best climates in the world. Despite being part of Spain, it is much closer to Africa- just across from southern Morocco.

According to the fascinating website, thebestclimateintheworld.com, the Canary Islands as a whole have a 19C average in winter and a 23C average in summer, with 4800 hours of sunlight a year. Coupled with some of the clearest skies in the world, an amazing diversity of climates (Gran Canaria itself has been described as a continent in one island), stunning flora and fauna and tropical products grown right on your doorstep, there is a lot to enjoy about the environment here. You haven’t tried a banana until you’ve tried a Canarian banana.

Put in more practical terms, we were in the sea on Christmas Day and on the beach on New Year’s Eve.

The Canaries seem to have the best bits of Spain- great festivals, great ham, great wine while retaining their unique culture and charm.

Las Palmas FC were promoted last year to La Liga (the Spanish top division) meaning that the superstars of Real Madrid and Barcelona have to come over. We went to watch a home game and the atmosphere was brilliant.

3 Reasons Las Palmas Is The Top Digital Nomad Destination in the World

Las Palmas FC vs Real Betis

 

Matthew Hirtes runs the website Gran Canaria Local and is one of the gurus we look to to teach us about the island. He says:

‘Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a fantastic hotspot for digital nomads. It’s the major city of the Canary Islands, the Mid-Atlantic archipelago which enjoys balmy African winters over bleak European winters. There are more and more co-working spaces opening to supply the demand’.

Las Palmas has two main central focus points- one is the city beach (with the port on the other side) and the other is the old town, where Christopher Columbus stayed while he was repairing one of his ships.

The city beach in question, Las Canteras, is the finest we’ve ever seen. These photos will give you a flavour of what it is like. Plus if you’d like to see it in it’s entirety, here is a video of a walk along it. The beach, several kilometres in length, is protected by a reef which extends along its length- apart from at the surfing end- and the water is warm and shallow. An amazing promenade filled with restaurants, shops and in certain places, hotels, follows the beach for the whole way.

Las Palmas is particularly good for surfing (take a look at this short video). There are numerous surf schools along the city beach and conditions in different areas for beginners and experts alike.

Prices here- particularly for rent, for food and for drink are very affordable. To give a few examples, for lunch we sometimes have the Menu del Dia or ‘daily menu’. The cheapest example we’ve found is 6.5 Euros. For that you get three course plus bread and a drink! Alcohol is very cheap- a bottle of rum made on the island costs just under 10 Euros everywhere we’ve seen it in Las Palmas. I still can’t believe we get to drink coffee that looks like this at a brilliant price. If you’re into coffee, coffee is actually grown here! If you’re into wine, there is unique viticulture, both due to the climate but also because the vines are incredibly old (pre-phylloxera). Las Palmas is normally listed as either the 9th or 10th biggest city in Spain so there is a decent choice when it comes to shopping, restaurants and more. In Vegueta, the old town of Las Palmas, there is a ‘tapas tour’ every Thursday where lots of restaurants offer tapas and a drink at a reduced price. We’ve been twice and it’s excellent.

Here are a few tips for vegetarians from Nisha:

‘When we first got to Las Palmas I was not expecting a lot of choice for vegetarians in the supermarkets and restaurants. So I wasn’t surprised when there wasn’t! However as time has gone by I have discovered a few places that are pretty good for vegetarians.

For example, San Andrea, currently ranked #11 on TripAdvisor, have lots of delicious vegetarian options.

3 Reasons Las Palmas Is The Top Digital Nomad Destination in the World

Veggie Lasagne from San Andrea

 

We have also found a few burger places that cater well for vegetarians, such as 200 gramos and Natural Burger. I still sometimes find it a bit annoying that ‘vegetal’ sandwiches have fish in them, but at least I had read about it before ordering one!

Luckily Matthew Hirtes, mentioned above, is vegetarian so if you are too his blog is a must read!’

Not sure why you would, but if you ever got bored of Las Palmas there is a lot to see and do on the island. So far we’ve been to the pretty market town of Teror, set in the mountains and home to Gran Canaria’s most important religious site (plus a very fine mineral water and a unique type of sausage) and to the south of the island- the tourist resort of Maspalomas and the nearby Aqualand, the best water park we’ve ever been to. You can find so much more on the Gran Canaria Local and Gran Canaria Info sites.

Getting around Las Palmas and getting around the island is generally quick and cheap by bus. There are no trains though one is planned- can’t believe they got rid of the monorail that used to be in the city!

My lovely wife looking towards the lovely cathedral in the old town of Las Palmas

A photo posted by Alex Swallow digital nomad (@oneswallow) on

Also, it is easy to get to the other islands that make up the Canaries, by sea or by air. Whether you are tempted by the highest mountain in Spain on Tenerife, kitesurfing in Lanzarote, or the unique whistling language of La Gomera, you could spend a lifetime exploring.

As we’ll explain more below, the whole of the Canaries are working together to set themselves up as a top digital nomad and coworking destination and new coworking spaces are springing up all the time.

Alex Bramwell, of Gran Canaria Info and an amazing source of information about the island, says:

‘I’m now a Las Palmas resident and a big fan of the city, but (old fogey warning) I was wandering the world with a laptop and a camera before the anyone had come up with the digital nomad concept. With 40 countries under my  belt, I think Las Palmas has something that many cities that pull in the tourist lacks; Authenticity. Yes, it has the obligatory cobbled old town, the beachfront restaurants full of cruise ship passengers and the guided tours, but it also has the little shops, the local bars and an atmosphere that comes from being a place where people live rather than visit.

For digital nomads, Las Palmas has just the right balance between services and fun that you need to work and play hard.

Did I mention the beach and the surfing?’

Looking over the old town in Las Palmas from the cathedral tower

A photo posted by Alex Swallow digital nomad (@oneswallow) on

We can’t imagine you would regret coming here. There is something for everyone and due to cheap flights to mainland Europe it is a way to go someone entirely different without having to spend a great deal of money to get there.

The beautiful video below shows how stunning the main city beach is:

 

Reason 2- The city really cares about digital nomads and is doing more all the time

While we’ve been here we’ve gone to several digital nomad meetups and Alex spoke at the Gran Canaria Business Week conference

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Nacho Rodriguez runs one of the main co-working spaces in Las Palmas, CoWorking C (Nisha’s a member). He’s also vice president of ACEC which champions co-working and collaboration in the Canary Islands.

Here’s a video interview with him.

Nacho:

‘The Canary Islands are the only destination in Europe where you can find 7 unique islands as 7 unique remote work locations with probably the world’s best weather’

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During his presentation for Gran Canaria Business Week, for which he was also one of the organisers, Nacho showed just how many co-working spaces are springing up all over the Canaries.

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Even more impressively, he outlined the spirit of cooperation rather than competition between them and the desire to make the Canaries as a whole a real destination for digital nomads. Vast numbers of people already come to the islands for a holiday- more than 13 million a year. If just a small part of that number came here as digital nomads, it would be an example to the world.

 

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Our view is that it doesn’t feel like there are swarms of digital nomads here yet, but there is enough for a community and a huge amount of potential for more to come.

Carlos Hernández Medina organizes digital nomad meetups in Las Palmas.

Carlos says:

‘Las Palmas is a nice cosmopolitan and open-minded city with the best urban beach of Europe and an amazing warm winter. As a digital nomad, you can feel here as if you were at home’

This online community is helpful if you want to be a digital nomad in Las Palmas as is this article from Alex Bramwell.

As for your coworking options in the city, this, also from Alex, is very helpful.

Some of the main options include: Coworking C, mentioned above, (they even offer craft beer from the Canaries!), Surf Office, and The House– newly opened, interesting review here.

Here’s Richard Clarke of the House giving a presentation:

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The ideal situation of Las Palmas for digital nomads seeking adventure was highlighted in November, when the Nomad Cruise left from here.

Around 150 digital nomads from all around the world, went from Gran Canaria to Brazil.

We had the chance to meet them, including at a party on the roof of a hotel the night before their departure:

Here’s a video of the cruise  if you’d like to get a taste of what they got up to.

Johannes Voelkner organised the cruise and is one of the leading figures in the digital nomad space through his company web work travel.

Johannes:

Las Palmas has everything you need and is definitely a great destination for digital nomads. There’s not many great places with such a good nomad community in Europe. Add the surf, young international community and the fact that it’s offer good weather all year round and you have place that should be high you every digital nomads bucket list.

By the way, the next nomad cruise sounds amazing and is going from Columbia to Portugal in May this year (2016). Details here.

 

 

Reason 3- Nomad List said so!

The final reason is that Nomad List gives Las Palmas such a high score. Currently it is number 3 in the world and it held the number 1 spot for a while.

The next highest place in Europe in the world rankings is currently in 21st place!

Nomad List is the premier ranking system for digital nomad destinations and allows you to directly compare them.

Despite being so highly ranked and despite reports such as this one in the New York Times, Las Palmas sometimes feels like a hidden gem. We’d love more digital nomads to get to know it and enjoy it as much as we have.

 

#thisissparta #leonidas #gerardbutler #the300 #300 #graffiti #streetart #graffitiart #laspalmasdegrancanaria

A photo posted by Alex Swallow digital nomad (@oneswallow) on

Just for the sake of fairness it is good to briefly consider if there is anything major that makes Las Palmas a less than ideal destination for digital nomads. We’d say there are only two main things. The first is that it isn’t a major city, in terms of population, world ‘importance’ or size of the economy. This doesn’t matter to us (especially as we have come from living in London) but it might matter to some people. The second is that at times the level of English isn’t great. Don’t worry, we aren’t the sort of people who expect everyone to speak English- far from it- but it is confusing sometimes to see English written in so many places and then encounter people in customer service roles who can barely speak a sentence. Of course, it’s not a bad idea to learn Spanish!

But overall, we think Las Palmas is an incredible destination for digital nomads and one that is only going to get better.

 

As digital nomad Jerome Knoot comments:

‘Las Palmas has everything a digital nomad could wish for; great weather, high internet speed, good lifestyle and of course one of the best CoWorking places of the world: CoWorkingC!’

This article by André Gussekloo, was one of the reasons we felt inspired to come to live in Las Palmas in the first place.

If you have any other tips about Las Palmas or Gran Canaria- or if you want to debate why it is or isn’t the best place for digital nomads in the world, please do so below. Or, join our LinkedIn group and tell us there.

Oh and if you want to order a beer while you’re here- or buy us one (!) here’s your guide!

 

Thanks very much to everyone mentioned in the article for their quotes and contributions

 

 

6 Comments
    • No worries André, and thanks we definitely will let you know if we make it over to Lanzarote – we’d love to check out what the other islands are like 🙂

  1. Hi Alex – I’m in you LInkedIn Group fro Digital Nomads. It’s a good article, but I must say, if you lived in more places, you would find others that more aptly deserve the title “Top Digital Nomad Destination”. Currently, I live as a Digital Nomad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. With about 9,000 digital nomads in the city, it is and has, for a couple of years, been the Digital Nomad Capital of the World. There are many reasons for this. Among my several projects, I am working with a research unit at Chiang Mai University on a project about the Digital Nomad movement here and it’s impact on the regional economy. We are looking at best practices to maximize economic benefits while celebrating local, traditional culture. In the longer term, this research will be used in consultation with other aspiring Digital Nomad Hubs globally.

    • Hi Tom- Thanks for your comment and apologies for the late reply. I respect your viewpoint, but I think it’s a matter of opinion. There can’t be an objective assessment of what is better as everyone has their own view of what is good. For example, I greatly value being near water, both because I grew up near the sea and also just because I like the way it freshens the air and the opportunities it offers for quiet contemplation. Therefore, despite having many advantages, Chiang Mai might not be as good for me- or for the many people who like going to the beach, enjoy surfing etc. Secondly I would dispute that somewhere having a lot of digital nomads makes it the best- merely the most popular. Having a large amount of digital nomads in a location is not something I am personally interested in when deciding where to try living myself- it is nice if there are at least a few around, but there are other things that are much more important to me. Also, I have no doubt that Chiang Mai is a great place for many digital nomads- but every digital nomad I know already knows about it. Somewhere like Las Palmas is a great alternative (so I wanted to make sure that more people heard about it), especially for Europeans who (for a wide variety of reasons both personal and professional) might prefer to be a short flight rather than a long-haul flight away from home. In the UK (I don’t know where you’re from) the Canaries are seen as a holiday destination so most people wouldn’t think of going there to work. I would also say that the preferences of digital nomads will depend very much on their age, previous experiences of travel, personal interests etc.

      I’d be very interested in reading your research by the way- if at some point you are in a position to be able to share it, please get in touch.

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