Gran Canaria is one of the largest of the Canary Islands, an archipelago belonging to Spain off the coast of northwest Africa. An island that can be visited year-round, it’s one of my favourite go-to places when I need some winter sun. Most visitors stay on the south coast, the warmest and driest part of the island and where most of the beaches are. However, on my various visits, I’ve discovered many spectacular places in Gran Canaria on day trips by car. Arguably the most scenic Gran Canaria day trip is the route through the centre of the island. The imposing mountains, deep ravines, lush vegetation and charming whitewashed villages are absolutely stunning!
Driving in Gran Canaria
Much of the island’s road network is concentrated on the east and south coasts, with several important arteries running through the central mountains. Driving in Gran Canaria is easy as the roads are good and clearly signed. As in continental Europe, one drives on the right side of the road. I recommend hiring a car to explore the island, especially the interior.
The two main highways start in the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the northeast of the island. Highway GC-1 connects the capital with the airport and the south coast, while GC-2 runs along the north coast to the west. Various secondary (but well-maintained) roads traverse the mountainous interior. These roads are winding, with many hairpin bends, but the spectacular scenery is more than worth the effort.
Due to the mountains and rugged west coast (much of which constitutes the Gran Canaria Biosphere Reserve), I don’t advise driving around Gran Canaria in a day. Rather, I recommend spending at least 2 days to do this. There are, however, plenty of things to see in Gran Canaria by car which can easily be done in a day.
A scenic Gran Canaria day trip by car
GC-60 road to Tejeda
In my book, the most scenic day trip in Gran Canaria is a drive through the central mountains. If you’re staying along the south coast, kick off this road trip in Maspalomas and follow the GC-60 road to Fataga.
There are various mirador or viewpoints along the way where you can stop to take in the amazing views. The first viewpoint is the Mirador Astronómico de la Degollada de las Yeguas. Located just a 20-minute drive from Maspalomas, this mirador is also popular at night for visitors who come to view the starry skies.
Continue along the GC-60 past the palm-studded valley of Arteara and various attractions such as the Camel Park and Aloe Vera farm to Fataga. This charming village is nestled on a ridge overlooking a ravine and is surrounded by huge mountains on two sides.
This area is also popular with hikers – there are numerous paths through the valley and up into the mountains. Some scenes from the Netflix series The Witcher were also filmed in this area. While you’re here, don’t miss a stop at the Fataga viewpoint.
After Fataga, the road takes countless twists and turns before arriving in the next village, San Bartolomé di Tirajana. From here, you can continue along the GC-60 to Tejeda or return to the south coast via the GC-65 road.
Option 1: GC-65 to Santa Lucia de Tirajana
This road is just as spectacular (and winding) as the GC-60 and passes gorgeous villages such as Santa Lucia de Tirajana. Don’t miss the Mirador El Guriete for fantastic views of the canyon.
The GC-65 road ends back at the GC-1 highway which will have you back at the south coast in no time. I did this shorter route from/to Maspalomas, including stops and a lunch break in San Bartolomé, in about 4 hours.
Option 2: Continuing along the GC-60 to Tejeda
The other option from San Bartolomé di Tirajana, which I recommend, is to continue this Gran Canaria day trip along the GC-60 to Tejeda as the scenery just gets wilder and more spectacular! You’ll pass huge mountains and canyons, towering rock formations and unique fauna, all part of the UNESCO-declared Gran Canaria Biosphere Reserve. Get off the GC-60 road for a bit to visit the incredible rocky towers of Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga. You can stop at these places to go on a short hike and take in the amazing views.
Tejeda is a lovely village with a charming old centre. Overlooking a massive ravine, the scenery around Tejeda is absolutely stunning! Tejeda, with its numerous restaurants, is also a great place for a lunch break. In February, this village is famous for its almond blossom festivals.
After Tejeda, there are two ways to return to the GC-1 highway, which takes you to Las Palmas or the south coast: the long and curvy way via Artenara and Teror along the GC-21 road, or a shorter route along the GC-15 or GC-151 road towards Santa Brigida. On the GC-21, plan a stop in the beautiful town of Teror, famous for its well-preserved historic centre.
From/to Maspalomas, the GC-21 option takes about 6 hours (including stops) whilst the GC-15 option is an hour shorter.
Instead of hiring a car for this day Gran Canaria day trip, you can also opt for one of the tours which take you through the mountains.
Read about things to do in Lanzarote and places to visit in Lanzarote by car, another stunning Canary Island.