Driving in Gran Canaria | Best day trips by car around Gran Canaria

driving gran canaria spain
Roads in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the island's capital

Driving in Gran Canaria, the second most visited Canary Island after Tenerife is generally easy and offers a convenient way to explore the island.

We admit that some visitors might find driving in Gran Canaria somewhat challenging, especially those who are not accustomed to driving in mountainous terrain or in areas with narrow and winding roads.

Even so, we recommend all visitors hire a car when visiting Gran Canaria and venture out and explore the island at their own pace, to see all the amazing breathtaking views of the ocean and the mountain landscapes.

Advice for driving in Gran Canaria & things to keep in mind

Here are some key points to consider about driving in Gran Canaria:

  • Drive on the right side of the road
  • Roads in Gran Canaria are usually well maintained
  • You need to have your original driving license with you in order to hire a car in Gran Canaria. 
  • Mountain roads: Gran Canaria is a volcanic island with mountainous landscapes, and some roads can involve steep ascents, descents, and sharp turns. Driving on these roads may require extra attention, especially if you're not used to such terrain.
  • Narrow and Winding Roads: Some roads, especially those leading to more remote or rural areas, can be narrow and winding.
  • Traffic Congestion: In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the island's capital and popular tourist areas, traffic can become congested, particularly during peak tourist seasons. Finding parking in busy areas may also be challenging.
  • Weather Conditions: Weather can change quickly in mountainous regions, especially during the winter months, when fog or rain may affect visibility and road conditions. It's essential to adapt your driving to the weather conditions and exercise caution if the weather becomes adverse.
  • Speed Limits: The speed limits in Gran Canaria are similar to those in mainland Spain. In urban areas, the speed limit is usually 50 km/h (31 mph), while on main roads, it's 90 km/h (56 mph), and on highways, it's 120 km/h (75 mph).

Scenic Gran Canaria drives - best day trips by car in Gran Canaria

We always hire a car while visiting Gran Canaria and we do day trips around the island and we still manage to find new and interesting places to visit each time.

Especially for first-time visitors to Gran Canaria, we'll suggest some day trips to help you explore more villages and charming towns, in different areas of the island.

1. Mountain drive in Gran Canaria: Fataga, Roque Nublo, Tejeda

roque nublo gran canaria
Drive to see Roque Nublo, the iconic rock of Gran Canaria

GC-1 is the highway in Gran Canaria and it helps you navigate the island faster, although it is not currently complete around the island, but it does make driving faster and easier between certain points. 

However, there are a lot of incredible landscapes to see in the mountains of Gran Canaria, which is why we recommend doing this drive if you want to see some of the best sights. 

Starting from Maspalomas, drive on the G-60 road toward Fataga, where you should stop to have a look around and even grab a coffee at one of the many bars and restaurants that have a nice view. Another recommend stop on the way to Fataga is Mirador Astronómico de la Degollada de las Yeguas with spectacular views.

From Fataga you stay on the GC-60 for 18 km, where you turn right onto GC-600 up to Aparcamiento de la Degollada de La Goleta where you can park the car. This is where you can park the car before going on a 1-hour trek up to Roque Nublo. You should know that this parking gets crowded quite early in the day, and it may be difficult to find a place to park. Usually, there are many cars parked on the side of the road, but sometimes there will be Police officers in the area issuing parking fines to those parked illegally, so keep this in mind before leaving the car parked illegally. 

The hike to Roque Nublo is quite easy and the views are incredible, as you can even see Tenerife and Mount Teide on clear days. 

From Roque Nublo you can hop back into the car and drive towards Cruz de Tejede, where you can stop at Parador de Tejeda to see the views. From Cruz de Tejeda we advise you to go towards Tejeda, to see this lovely village hidden in the mountains, where you can even stop for a nice lunch.

From Tejeda, you should get back on the road back towards Cruz de Tejeda, and back on the GC-15. You can drive back to Maspalomas via Vega de San Mateo and Santa Brigida, admiring more landscapes from the car and stopping along the way.

The last section of the way back will be via GC-1, so via de highway, where it will be fast and easy to drive to the south.

  • Total distance: 139 km
  • Driving time: ~ 3 - 4 hours
  • Route: Maspalomas - Fataga - Roque Nublo - Cruz de Tejeda - Tejeda - Vega de San Mateo - Santa Brigida - Maspalomas

Pretty towns of Gran Canaria route: Arucas - Firgas - Teror

arucas gran canaria
The cathedral in Arucas, a must-see in Gran Canaria

Arucas, Firgas and Teror are three charming towns in the north of Gran Canaria that you should visit if you want to see the local architecture and experiment with local life, food and culture.

From the south, you can drive on GC-1 to Arucas, your first stop, where you can have a stroll through the town and of course, stop to see the amazing cathedral, which is the most imposing church on the island.

From Arucas you can drive to Firgas, the city of water in Gran Canaria and the source of the Firgas bottled water that you can see in all shops around the island.

From Firgas you can head to Teror, one of the most charming and authentic villages in Gran Canaria, walk through the pedestrian area and see the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pino. 

Tip: if you start your route early in the morning and you don't mind walking, you can also stop to visit the botanical garden before going to Arucas. It is a really lovely place, you can see so many local plants and flowers and entry is free.

  • Total distance: 156 km
  • Driving time: ~ 2.5 - 3 hours
  • Route: Maspalomas - Botanical Garden - Arucas - Firgas - Teror - Maspalomas

While driving in Gran Canaria can present some challenges, it can also offer a unique opportunity to explore the island's diverse landscapes, picturesque villages, and stunning viewpoints at your own pace. If you feel uncertain about driving in unfamiliar environments or mountainous regions, you can still rely on public transportation, such as buses or taxis, to get around the island.

Ultimately, your driving experience in Gran Canaria will depend on your driving skills, confidence, and familiarity with driving in different terrains. With some preparation and a cautious approach, many visitors find that driving in Gran Canaria can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. 

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