Discover the best of Gran Canaria, from dreamy beaches to desert dunes, with our 8-day itinerary
Balmy all year round with pristine beaches and spectacular mountainous landscapes, Gran Canaria is a perfect destination for an off-season holiday. Its capital, Las Palmas, is the bustling main city of the Canary islands and the place to mingle with locals and take in the culture and cuisine. The mountainous hinterland instead is dotted with traditional villages and offers up spectacular views of the Caldera de Los Marteles and the Pico de las Nieves, the heart of the island. Finally, the south, which includes Maspalomas and Puerto Rico, boasts paradisiacal beaches and an astonishing desert landscape.
The best way to visit the island is by renting a car, which allows you to travel quickly and independently and also reach more remote destinations. That’s why we’ve created the perfect road trip that covers all the main attractions of the island while also fitting in some well-deserved relaxation.
Take a look at the map below to see all the stops on our 8-day itinerary in Gran Canaria and read on for all the details:
Day 1: Gran Canaria Airport – Las Palmas
Welcome to the Gran Canaria!
The first day on the island is the best moment to start looking around, organizing the last details of your road trip and, of course, relaxing and getting into vacation mode. We recommend you rent a car at the airport and head directly to the capital, Las Palmas, just 20 minutes away. The city is also a great starting point, easing you into the road trip with plenty of services, dining options and hotels.
In terms of culture and activities, Las Palmas has more than enough to keep you entertained. Begin with a drink at sunset then join a night tour of Las Palmas that lets you explore the Las Canteras neighborhood and the historic center. The former is popular with locals, especially at night for the Mercado del Puerto, a market packed with local delicacies, tapas and beer. Vegueta, instead, is the city’s oldest neighborhood and is particularly atmospheric when it’s lit up at night. Here, you’ll find the Cathedral of Santa Ana, in gothic and neoclassical style, la Plaza Mayor de Santa Ana and the Casa de Colón, where Christopher Colombus is said to have stayed in 1492.
Day 2: Las Palmas
After a restful night and a not-too-early wake-up, your second day is all about getting to know Las Palmas better. Start at the isthmus of Guanarteme, which connects the popular area of Isleta with the rest of the city. You’ll find plenty of options for a satisfying breakfast along with a scenic promenade where you can stretch your legs. If you’re traveling with family, don’t miss the Poema del Mar Aquarium, one of Europe’s most spectacular spaces devoted to the underwater world, spread over 129,166 sq ft.
The area is also perfect for your first traditional Gran Canaria lunch. Bochinche El Chato is a small, cozy restaurant, run by a family, where you can feast on excellent tapas made from local ingredients. If instead you’re in the mood for something a little more upmarket try De Contrabando, which serves up a fantastic combination of Spanish and Thai cuisine.
In the afternoon it’s time to relax on the city beach that you glimpsed the night before. Considered the most gorgeous urban beach in Spain, Las Canteras has 1.9 miles of golden sands, ideal for some lazing in the sun. Its waters are also wonderfully calm and brimming with marine life thanks to a volcanic rock barrier that protects it from the tides. If instead you prefer a less crowded and wilder beach Playa del Confital in La Isleta, a little further north, is the beach for you. Finally, if you have the time and want to continue exploring the city, board a Hop-on Hop-off bus that will shuttle you to all the city’s main attractions.
Day 3: Las Palmas – Tejeda
From Las Palmas to the Botanic Gardin
On the third day leave the coast behind and begin your adventure in the hinterlands. First stop is the unmissable Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo, just 15 minutes from the center of Las Palmas. The largest botanical garden in the whole of Spain, its 66.7 acres are packed with the rich and varied flora of the Canary Islands. Wander through the cacti, dracaena and palm trees and be amazed by this lush paradise.
From the Botanic Garden to Teror
After getting your fill of plant life, hop back in the car and head to the picturesque Teror, which sits 1781.5ft high in the mountains. Surrounded by verdant nature, Teror is one of the oldest settlements in the Canary Islands and its history is deeply connected with the Marian apparitions and the cult of the Virgin of the Pine (patron saint of Gran Canaria). Stroll among the colorful buildings and treat yourself to the traditional aniseed donuts and marzipan sweets from the area. You can also visit the beautiful basilica, one of the most important religious monuments of the islands, and admire the panorama of traditional terraces from the main square. Finally, finish with an indulgent lunch at the Restaurante El Encuentro de Teror, where you can enjoy a taste of the famous local cheese.
From Teror to Tejeda
With your stomach delightfully full, it’s time to head to the last stop of the day: Tejeda. The journey from Teror takes about 45 minutes and passes through mountainous landscapes of sublime beauty. Tejeda is a town 3445ft above sea level where you can enjoy spectacular views of the caldera and the Nublo Rural Park. A paradise for those who love hiking in nature, there are also several cultural attractions that are worth visiting, including the Sculpture Museum of Abraham Cárdenes, dedicated to this eponymous Canarian artist. Additionally Tejeda is the ideal access point for Roque Nublo, the famous basalt rock which, due to its distinctive shape, has become one of the symbols of the island. In Tejeda or Cruz de Tejeda (10 minutes away) there are several options to stay overnight, so you can admire a wonderfully starry night.
Day 4: Tejeda – Telde
From Tejeda to Pico de las Nieves
The fourth day of the road trip is dedicated to volcanoes, calderas and mountains. In the morning wake up in one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, surrounded by traditional houses and an amazing volcanic landscape. After a hearty breakfast (which you’ll need!), it’s time to leave Tejeda and drive up to Pico de las Nieves (6391ft high). The drive will take about half an hour.
While the Morro de la Agujereada peak may be 30ft higher, the Pico de las Nieves is considered the symbolic heart of the island, largely due to its position. From the lookout above you’ll enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the Canary Islands.
From Pico de las Nieves to the Caldera de los Marteles
Next on the itinerary is the Caldera de los Marteles. This basin-shaped crater is 262.5ft deep and has been a recognized nature reserve since 1994. If you feel like exploring it on a short walk, park at the Barranco de Guayadeque Parking. From here, you can reach the panoramic viewing point above the crater in around 30 minutes by foot. Along the way, you can also admire the Presa de las Cuevas Blancas dam.
From the Caldera de los Marteles to the El Centro restaurant
Feeling hungry? Head to the El Centro restaurant, 45 minutes away by car. Set in the rocks of the Guayadeque ravine (Barranco de Guayadeque), it’s a fantastically atmospheric spot for a meal.
From the El Centro restaurant to Telde
After lunch it’s time to get to the last stop of the day: Telde. The second largest city in Gran Canaria it’s known for its beautiful old town. Stroll through the narrow streets lined with colorful colonial houses, take a seat in one of the lively squares or enter the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint John the Baptist. The beaches of Telde are also considered among the most beautiful in the Canary Islands and aren’t very touristy (yet).
Day 5: Telde – Maspalomas
Head south along the highway until you arrive in Maspalomas, around half an hour away. You’ll find more tourists in this town than in northern ones, but this doesn’t attract from its seaside charm. Top on the list of things to do is a camel ride in the dunes of Maspalomas. Considered a nature reserve since 1987, the striking desert landscape is sure to entrance you.
You’re bound to have worked up an appetite after your desert excursion. Enjoy a hearty lunch in one of the many restaurants on the Maspalomas seafront. You might even be able to sneak in a quick dip off the famous beach: Playa del Inglés. Then it’s time to check into the hotel and take a rejuvenating siesta, in preparation for a thrilling evening at the Holiday World Wooland. The only amusement park in the Canary Islands, it has over 30 indoor and outdoor attractions that will entertain the whole family.
Day 6: Maspalomas
The morning of the sixth day is for discovering nature and the animal world. Palmitos Park, just a 15-minute drive from Maspalomas, is a huge wildlife park with numerous animal species and beautiful gardens. The park is particularly known for the diversity of its bird park, while there’s also an aquarium for marine creatures and areas for reptiles and mammals. Finally, the garden boasts the largest collection of orchids in Canary Islands.
After lunch kick back on a dreamy beach. The Playa de Maspalomas, which starts from the town’s lighthouse, is so huge it seems almost endless. Take a walk on the dunes from the lighthouse until you arrive at Punta de Maspalomas, where the beach changes and becomes the Playa del Inglés. The sea is slightly rougher around Punta, which is why it’s a popular spot for surfers.
Day 7: Maspalomas – Puerto Rico
On our last full day we leave for Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria in the morning. This popular seaside resort has a sandy beach and a harbor ideal for soaking up the sunshine. If you’re up for something a touch more active we recommend taking a glass-bottom boat to Puerto de Mogán. During the excursion you’ll sail along the rocky coast of the island and arrive at the lively port of Mogán, considered by many to be the most beautiful place in Gran Canaria. Thanks to its skinny canals and colorful houses it’s also earned itself the nickname “Little Venice”. Go for a wander to take in its charms before returning to Puerto Rico for a last afternoon at the beach.
Day 8: Puerto Rico – Gran Canaria airport
It takes just over half an hour by car to get to the Gran Canaria Airport from Puerto Rico. If your flight time permits, you can make a few last-minute purchases or maybe even visit the beach one more time.
Organizing a trip to the Gran Canaria?
Our TUI Passes might be just what you’re looking for. Access top activities and attractions in Las Palmas, Maspalomas and the north of the island, in a single ticket at a special, discounted price. Choose between 1, 3, 5 or 14 days and explore the Gran Canaria in the best possible way.
Our experiences in Gran Canaria: