Last updated on December 20th, 2023
One of the must-do things in Gran Canaria is to go on a road trip as this island is full of scenic drives with pretty old villages and dramatic mountain vistas. Driving in Gran Canaria is easy (very similar to driving in Tenerife) and roads are in excellent condition.
So you can pretty much go on one big road trip around the island or on shorter drives in different directions which will create a sense of adventure like you are on a mini expedition.
After spending almost a year in Tenerife and going on multiple road trips there, Anya and I couldn’t come to Gran Canaria just to chill in one of its hotels. Of course, we had to rent a car and drive around, especially considering the fact that the majority of its sights are spread out throughout the island and accessible by car only.
Eventually, we explored the entire island which ignited me to write this post and share our favorite drives. Each of them is fascinating in its own way but if you have enough time in Gran Canaria, then combine them all in one big road trip to see the best sights of this isle!
Where to Rent a Car to Go Driving in Gran Canaria
There are many companies that rent cars in Gran Canaria. But in my experience, the good price-quality ratio comes from EconomyBooking and OkayMobility.
They always have lowest prices and are honest companies, unlike some others like for example GoldCar or Thrifty which tend to rip off customers. Also, they are not pushing insurance in case customers have their own one.
Compare prices and what’s on offer with DiscoverCars, the most budget-friendly rental car aggregator.
Most Scenic Driving Routes in Gran Canaria (Among All That I Took!)
Gran Carania Road Trip Through the North
Suggested Route: Guía – Firgas – Arucas – Teror – Tejeda – Caldera de Bandama – Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- Distance: ~ 120km (75 miles)
- Driving Time: ~ 3 – 3.5 hours (without stops)
- Best Time to Go: year-round
- Navigation Link: Google Maps
- Where to Stay: Parador Hotel for the mountain escape or Suites 1478 for a secluded hideaway
If you are looking for road trip ideas in Gran Canaria that give a good introduction to local life and show a historical part of the island, I recommend you start with this drive (which you can do as a whole or split into 2 smaller road trips). It is also a great route to follow if you are staying in the north or northeast.
I strongly suggest you start from Guía and leave early for this trip as it is going to be packed with sightseeing. Chances are you might be staying in Las Palmas (or around it), but even then it is not a long drive to your first stop – the town of Guía. Start there and drive east.
The reason I recommend you drive from Guia to Las Palmas (and not vice versa) is because some places that I mention on that side close early or are more action-packed in the first part of the day. If you start a road trip from Las Palmas, you may miss some of them.
When you start in Guia, besides the city itself, there is the whole municipality with the largest and most spectacular Gran Canaria prehispanic granary, natural pool, El Brezal Nature Reserve with scenic hiking trails, and of course the Historic Town Center with homes from the 16th-17th centuries. The town also has this unique place to visit – a factory where traditional Guia sweets are manufactured.
But besides the sweets, it is also the center of flower cheese production which was made here since the 16th century and is a special product.
After Guia, I suggest you drive to Firgas and then to Arucasis, other old towns going back in its history to pre-Hispanic times. Firgas is a charming town with one of the most iconic staircases with cascading fountains – the Paseo de Gran Canaria.
Arucasis is home to the Church of San Juan Bautista, a neo-Gothic cathedral that is one of the most iconic landmarks in Gran Canaria and is almost on all cards that show the island.
Without hiking and swimming in the pools, you’ll end up spending between 3-4 hours on these mentioned activities. After that, you can drive to the next town Teror which is a great place where to stop for lunch and see more of traditional Canarian and Spanish architecture.
It is also a place where to visit a Perfume Museum together with the shop and purchase some unique scents that have been made here through generations.
For the full road trip suggestions and exact things to do on this route, I suggest you read my post about the Guia to Las Palmas drive.
Grand Carania Southern Road Trip
Suggested Route: Mogán – Mirador de Puerto de Mogán – Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria – Barranco de la Verga – Arguineguín – Meloneras – Maspalomas – San Agustín – Agüimes
- Distance: ~ 70km (75 miles)
- Driving Time: ~ 1.5 – 2 hours (without stops)
- Best Time to Go: year-round
- Navigation Link: Google Maps
- Where to Stay: so many cool hotels on this stretch of the road. If you want to slow down in a hotel with the largest pool, Lopesan Costa Meloneras is #1 pick. To be closer to dunes, Hotel Riu Palace Maspalomas is right by the park’s entrance.
This road trip covers the majority of highlights in the southern half of the island. The route is especially great for those who stay also in the south or in the northwest Agaete.
If you stay up north in Las Palmas, then perhaps it is better for you to start in reverse from Agüimes. But generally, there isn’t that much driving as all stops are relatively close to each other.
So, if you start from Mogan (or Puerto de Mogan as a more common name), you’ll arrive in a charming fishing town with very narrow streets, colorful houses, and a lively port. Sometimes people refer to Puerto de Mogan as a “little Venice” because of the whitewashed houses, colorful bougainvillea flowers, and canals that meander through the town.
If you haven’t had breakfast yet, you will find some delish items here or even just a cup of coffee is a must in this place to embrace the atmosphere of the town.
After this stop, continue driving to Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria where you can spend a couple of hours or entire day, depending on what you like to do. Overall this is a bustling touristy resort town with a nice marina, luxurious hotels, its own beach, and various watersports.
One of the other highlights here is the Angry Birds – a themed amusement park featuring zip lines, a playground, a laser maze, and a gift shop. It’s a great place to take kids for a couple of hours of fun if you are driving in Gran Canaria with the family.
One more place worth mentioning here is the Playa de Amadores. This beautiful beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. It’s also a great spot to relax and enjoy the views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Before you leave, stop at Borondon’s viewpoint for beautiful views of the Puerto Rico valley and ocean.
Barranco de la Verga is going to be the next stop on this road trip. It is a small town just down the coast. There is a popular tourist resort, Anfi del Mar, which is known for its artificial sandy beach, boardwalk, tropical gardens, crystal-clear waters, and luxurious hotels. It is easy enough to spend there half a day or even longer.
Next locations that are worth checking out are Arguineguín and Meloneras. The first one has a vivid fishing village atmosphere with fishermen’s market and scenic promenade along the coast. And the second one has an iconic Lighthouse, fancy shopping centers by the water, many spas, golf courses, and cute beachfront cafes.
Meloneras is one of the best places where to stay on the island as it boasts some of the nicest Gran Canaria hotels.
The next stop on this drive should definitely be Maspalomas with its main attraction the Dunes Nature Reserve. And it is exactly what it sounds like – waves and waves of dunes. It is something that just seems surreal for the Canary Islands. I’ve seen the same landscapes when driving in Dubai and Doha but didn’t expect to find it in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a small island.
Ideally, you want to come here right at dawn, when the site is serene without people, with the best light, and before the heat comes. Of course, it is not possible if you come here during your one-day road trip through the South. In that case, be very careful staying out in the open sun due to the excessive heat, especially in the summer months.
If you do decide to visit the Dunes of Maspalomas on a one-day drive (without staying overnight in the area), then come to park your car near the Hotel Riu Palace, then follow the street through the building (which is part of the hotel), and then follow the designated pathways.
One more stop that I recommend you to make before reaching the last point of interest on this road trip is San Agustín, a sleepy beach district part of Maspalomas. Come here for dinner as Restaurants with terraces overlooking the Atlantic Ocean offer shellfish dishes while market-like food stalls are scattered throughout popular shopping centers.
As you get closer to nighttime, continue to Agüimes, a historic town located inland on the island. The number one thing to do here is to explore the town’s old quarter, which is home to a number of well-preserved colonial buildings.
Grand Carania Western Scenic Road Trip
Suggested Route: Agaete – Puerto de las Nieves – Mirador del Balcón – Los Caserones – La Aldea de San Nicolás – Artenara – Guía
- Distance: ~ 100km (65 miles)
- Driving Time: ~ 2.5 – 3 hours (without stops)
- Best Time to Go: year-round but possible road closures in winter
- Navigation Link: Google Maps
- Where to Stay: Hotel Agáldar for a traditional stay or Occidental Roca Negra a mini 4-star resort
This road trip focuses on scenic views that you will find in the North-Western part of the island and this is an indeed spectacular area. The drive is best for those who stay anywhere in the north, as I would suggest starting in Agaete. For instance, it takes about 30 minutes to get there from Las Palmas.
If you wish, however, to stay closer, there aren’t many hotels in that area, mainly airbnbs. But take a look at this hotel – Hotel Agáldar in the old town of Gáldar or for a more resort-like stay Occidental Roca Negra directly in Agaete.
Once you had your wonderful breakfast and a cup of coffee in Agaete, why not stop in Puerto de las Nieves? This is a little coastal area (part of Agaete) where you would start your journey on the island if you were to come here by ferry from another island or even Cadiz on the Spain mainland.
Here you’ll find more nice places to get a cup of coffee for the go and watch ferries depart from the port with an absolutely stunning background of Tamadama Natural Park.
There are also cafes, shops, and a few streets to stroll through, so it is worth spending some time here. But when you are ready to drive, hop in a car and finally head down South-West by GC-200 road.
Aim for Mirador del Balcón – a truly beautiful viewpoint. However, when you are driving GC-200, at some point soon there will be a turn onto GC-2. This is a new road leading through a tunnel. While it is faster, you won’t actually see anything. Stay on GC-200 instead and drive by a windy road along the cliffs.
After that head to Los Caserones. It is only a small village but it is in a very nice location. There are also a couple of cafes and bars and a small Archeological museum featuring the traditions of the village together with its flora and fauna.
From here, it’s just a short drive to La Aldea de San Nicolas de Tolentino. There is not whole a lot to do directly in town but if you drive a little more south, you’ll come to one unique place which is Cactualdea Park, a botanical garden with extensive collection of cacti and other succulent plants from various parts of the world.
In Cactualdea, you can have a snack (there is a cafe with light food and sweets) and this is where you can try a cacti juice, from a cactus right from the garden!
For a more filling lunch, I recommend you either come with your own food or wait until Artenara, another charming village with a couple of decent cafes which is also among the highest villages on the island, sitting on an elevation of 1,270 meters.
One of the unique aspects of Artenara is its traditional cave houses, known as “Cuevas.” These dwellings are built into the rock face and provide a fascinating glimpse into the local architecture. Some cave houses have been converted into accommodations, offering visitors a chance to experience this traditional way of living.
From Artenara, I suggest you take a mountainous road GC-70 towards Guia full of scenery, a few vista points and small settlements built on both sides of the mountains. At some point, when approaching San Juan village, the road starts to wind by a deep canyon with white houses built right on the edge of cliffs.
This Gran Canaria road trip compared to two previous road trips is different in that way that it offers more scenic driving rather than stops. So you can always combine it with the first drive and detour to Tejeda with its hiking trails and Parador Hotel.
Do you plan to go driving in Gran Canaria and need more tips to plan another road trip route? Get in touch and let me help you with a personalized itinerary!
Discover Other Islands of the Canary Island Archipelago
- Tenerife North – what to know before you go
- Best Northern Tenerife Activities – things to do with & without a car
- Beautiful Towns in Tenerife – most beautiful on the island
- Loro Park – tips for making the most of your visit