Gran Canaria Itinerary: Your Perfect 4 Day Road Trip Itinerary [2023]

Gran Canaria is one of the eight Canary Islands, located off the Northwest coast of Africa, not far from Morocco. 

Although it’s less popular than Tenerife, Gran Canaria is an incredible destination for hiking, spectacular beaches, and great cuisine, all in a rich variety of gorgeous landscapes.

I spent two wonderful weeks in Gran Canaria on one of my trips to the Canary Islands, where I also visited Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote.

During that time, I explored the lively capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, relaxed on beautiful sandy beaches, hiked the trails in the heart of the island, visited charming little towns, and sampled tasty Canarian cuisine.

Tejeda village at Gran Canaria, Spain, on a sunny day with old-fashioned architecture and cactus
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If you don’t have two weeks for your stay in Gran Canaria, don’t worry!

I’ve distilled the best of the best into this 4-day Gran Canaria itinerary combining relaxing beach time and great food with hiking, cultural visits, and a few hidden gems. 

Get ready for a packed Gran Canaria road trip itinerary allowing you to discover this island’s stunning nature and gorgeous towns.

But first, let’s quickly talk a few logistics: getting into Gran Canaria and where to stay!

Getting Into Gran Canaria

Photo of the wonderful island of Gran Canaria summer vacation, driving on a road, car rearview mirror and windy road on the coast

The Gran Canaria airport is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the island’s capital, Las Palmas (where I suggest you stay in this itinerary).

This Gran Canaria itinerary is quite quick-paced, so it only works properly if you’ve rented a car — I suggest picking it up at the airport right away.

Plus, Gran Canaria is an easy island to drive on, so it’s even more ideal for renting a car than Fuerteventura or Lanzarote, which are more rugged.

I use Discover Cars to search for the best price on my rental cars whenever I’m traveling Europe (and beyond). 

They search through 500+ rental companies, large brands and small local agencies alike, to give you the best possible price on your rental.

They’re also very upfront with all the terms and conditions — what insurance is included, what mileage policies are, how to filter out the kinds of cars you want, etc. — and there’s no bait & switch in their pricing.

Plus, Discover Cars has their own internal rating system for all the different rental companies, so you can check past customer experiences easily, which can give you peace of mind when renting from an unfamiliar local company.

I suggest picking up your car from Gran Canaria airport for the best prices and the smoothest start to this itinerary.

Where to Stay in Gran Canaria

Las Canteras Beach (Playa de Las Canteras) in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary island, Spain. One of the top Urban Beaches in Europe. 3 km stretch of golden sand is the heart and soul of Las Palmas

Las Palmas is an ideal place to base yourself, since it’s well-connected to most spots around the island.

Plus, it’s close to the airport, making this short 4 day Gran Canaria itinerary all the more convenient.

Here are a few accommodation recommendations, depending on what kind of trip you’re planning:

5 STAR STAY | The lovely Santa Catalina is designated a Royal Hideaway Hotel, part of the Barceló Resort chain. You’ll definitely feel like royalty with its regal-inspired architecture and interior design, stunning outdoor pool, rooftop bar with excellent views, and its wellness center complete with hot tubs and Turkish baths!

MID-RANGE BOUTIQUE | For a charming and elegant hotel that’s more refined than resort-like, look to Boutique Hotel Cordial Malteses. With just 27 rooms, restored to their original architecture as much as possible while being given all the modern comforts, you’re guaranteed a quiet and intimate stay. A short walk from Plaza Santa Ana, it has an incredible location too!

BUDGET-FRIENDLY BEACHFRONT | Just across from Playa de Las Canteras, you’ll find the stunning and surprisingly affordable Hotel Aloe Canteras. The rooms are minimalistic and well-designed, a little on the small side but very recently renovated so they feel modern. Some rooms even have lovely balcony views of the sea!

Day 1 of Your Gran Canaria Itinerary: Las Palmas

Spend the morning exploring Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Photo of the colorful houses in the town of San Juan, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands

Spend the morning of your first day exploring the island’s capital. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the largest city in the Canary Islands, so there’s plenty to do. 

With its long sandy beaches, museums, walking trails, and many traditional restaurants, Las Palmas would require several days to explore fully — but we’ll make the most of what we have!

You can start the morning off right by strolling along the seaside promenade at Las Canteras Beach and stopping for a delicious breakfast.

Las Canteras Beach at Gran Canaria, Canary islands, Spain, with mountain peaks and city skyline in the distance and just a few people walking on the beach

Un Lugar Café serves great coffee and delicious baked goods, while LUWAK is the place for smoothies, bowls, and toasts.

If you want to escape the crowds, go for a walk around Playa del Confital

While this may not be the best beach to relax and swim, it’s a beautiful spot for a stroll and usually not too crowded.

From the beach, you can also go on a short and easy coastal hike to Lomo de los Dos Morros.

Small pedestrian cobblestone street with colorful facades of houses in old district Vegueta in the city of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain

Another area to explore in Las Palmas is Vegueta, the city’s historical center and the first area to be developed. 

It’s one of the most colorful parts of the city, with colonial architecture and brightly painted houses, so it definitely shouldn’t be missed!

Here, you can visit the beautiful Catedral de Canarias in the lovely Plaza Mayor de Santa Ana and the Patio de los Naranjos.

Cathedral de Santa Ana de Canarias on Gran Canaria island, Spain. Historic cathedral on the Saint Ana square in Las Palmas.

If you’ve got time for a couple additional stops, check out the history museum Museo Canario, and Casa de Colón, a museum set in a former governor’s house about Christopher Columbus.

Be sure to check out the lively Mercado De Vegueta too, and stroll through the quaint Parque San Telmo.

If you stay in the area for lunch, try the tasty tapas at La Travesia de Triana or the unique dishes at Triciclo.

Visit Arucas.

the historic town of arucas with a modern sign that says "arucas" with a heart symbol on a sunny day with the town in the background

After lunch, you can spend some more time exploring Las Palmas and visiting one of the museums or get in the car and drive to Arucas

The small town is less than a half-hour drive to the west and is best known for the imposing Church of San Juan Bautista towering over the small houses of the historical center.

Given the awe-inspiring size and magnificent architecture of the church, it is often referred to as the Arucas Cathedral.

However, the church is not actually a cathedral or a basilica — just a really impressive plain old church!

Church of San Juan Bautista, Gothic Cathedral in Arucas, Gran Canaria, Spain.

After admiring the beautiful church from the outside, check the inside too. Entrance is free of charge — score!

After visiting the church, explore the small town and the charming Jardín de la Marquesa, a small botanical garden with exotic plants. 

Lastly, if you’re curious about the history of rum in the Canary Islands, take a tour of Destilerías Arehucas

(Quick note for scheduling: the distillery is only open in the afternoon on Fridays. If you’ll be visiting on any other day, you may want to switch the itinerary and visit Arucas in the morning if this is something you want to do.)

Drive back to Las Palmas for dinner.

Lit up building of the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at twilight, after the sun has set in the Canary Islands.

Once you’ve explored Arucas, drive back to Las Palmas in time for a sunset stroll before dinner.

In my two weeks there, I found many gorgeous sunset spots — one of my favorites is the area around Alfredo Kraus Auditorium!

For dinner, you have several options for both traditional Spanish food and international cuisines.

Head to Bochinche El Chato or Restaurante Tasca Galileo for tapas (pair it with local Lanzarote wine if you can!), El Novillo Precoz for traditional Uruguayan food, or Trattoria Pizzeria Calabrè for delicious Italian dishes.

Day 2 of Your Gran Canaria Itinerary: Dunas de Maspalomas & Puerto de Mogán

Drive to Maspalomas. 

Begin your second day of this Gran Canaria itinerary by driving south for about 40 minutes to the resort town of Maspalomas

Here, you can explore the nature preserve Dunas de Maspalomas, a vast area of over 400 hectares of dunes extending towards the coast, making you feel like you’re in a giant desert.

Before you explore the dunes, you can stop by the nearby town of Playa del Inglés to fuel up with a coffee or late breakfast. 

The town is spread along a sandy beach bearing the same name and has plenty of bars and restaurants.

I suggest stopping by Cappucino House or Calma Café, then going for a walk along the Paseo Costa Canaria, a lovely coastal pedestrian walkway.

Lastly, before you set off to actually explore the nature preserve, enjoy a gorgeous view of the dunes from Mirador Dunas Santa Mónica.

Explore Dunas de Maspalomas.

the sand dunes of maspalomas on the island of gran canaria with the ocean in the background

The easiest way to explore the impressive nature preserve is to simply walk around!

You can start near Hotel Riu Palace and meander through the dunes to Playa de Maspalomas.

The walk can take anywhere between half an hour and over one hour, and at times you will truly feel like there is nothing other than sand around for miles. 

Be aware, there are trails and you should stay on them, as walking on the dunes is no longer permitted as of 2020. 

Gran Canaria camel ride with a person guiding you through the dunes

Another exciting way of exploring the area is by joining a camel tour. This half-hour guided camel ride is a unique way of exploring the dunes (and you are just off the coast of Morocco, after all!). 

However, be sure to book ahead of time, as tours tend to sell out a few days in advance.

If you want to skip the camel ride, another great activity to try in Maspalomas is joining a surf lesson.

The area, like all of the Canary Islands, is very popular for water sports and surfing in particular, so you find plenty of surf schools around. 

You can also book this 2-hour surfing course for a fun morning activity.

Visit Puerto de Mogán.

Traditional Colorful Buildings With Boats In Front And Mountain In The Background in Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria.

After exploring Maspalomas, it’s time to visit one of the most charming seaside towns in Gran Canaria, Puerto de Mogán

To get there, you’ll just have to drive for about 20 minutes west.

Tip: If you add Puerto de Mogán on Google Maps, it may lead you to a place inland, so you’ll want to double-check that it’s the coastal spot, or type in Playa de Mogán to be sure.

The town is absolutely adorable, with its white-washed houses with brightly colored trim, a delightful marina, and a couple of small beaches. 

Romantic streets of Puerto de Mogán with white houses with colorful trim and pink flowers

As if all that wasn’t enough, Puerto de Mogán is also the ideal place to stop for a delicious seafood lunch.

Try the cozy Taberna Mar Azul or the beachfront El Pescador.

After lunch, wander around the narrow alleys filled with colorful flowers and lovely souvenir shops. It almost feels like being on a Greek island! 

If you want to spend some time at the beach, you may find that the ones close to town are a little (or a lot!) more crowded than you’d like.

For bigger beaches, drive back toward Maspalomas.

Relax on the beach at Playa de Amadores.

Picturesque Playa del Amadores) near famous holiday resort Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria on Gran Canaria island, Spain on a sunny day

You’ll notice plenty of wonderful beaches between Maspalomas and Puerto de Mogán. 

This area is very popular among Northern Europeans, so big chain hotels and resorts are all over.

Despite being such a tourist hotspot, the beaches are truly spectacular, so it’s worth spending a few hours basking in the sun, even if you have to weave through some large groups.

One of my favorite beaches in the area is Playa de Amadores.

With stunning turquoise waters, light golden sand, and a mix of beach clubs with their iconic yellow-and-blue umbrellas and free portions of beach, there’s something for everyone. 

While you’re there, you can either rent a sunbed or lay your towel on the sand and go for a swim.

Nearby, you’ll also find plenty of bars and restaurants if you get hungry or want to cool off with a refreshing drink or some ice cream.  

Have dinner in Las Palmas.

Wrinkled potatoes with mojo picón, typical dish of Canarian food, accompanied with beers, Gran Canaria, Spain

Drive back to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in time for dinner before enjoying a good night’s sleep.

I gave you a bunch of my favorite spots above for the first night, but other great restaurants worth checking out for dinner include Rincón de Triana and Amigo Camilo.

Day 3 of Your Gran Canaria Itinerary: Pico de las Nieves & Roque Nublo

Drive to Pico de las Nieves.

View from the Pico de las Nieves to the west of Gran Canaria, left Roque Nublo, behind Tenerife island with Teide volcano.

At the very center of Gran Canaria, you can reach the island’s three highest points: Morro de La Agujereada, Pico de las Nieves, and Roque Nublo

Since you’ll be traveling along winding mountain roads to get there, you should have an early start to the day. Also, be sure to bring water and food!

Start by driving from Las Palmas to Pico de las Nieves. This is the easiest peak to reach by car, roughly one hour from the capital. 

Several walking trails are also available, like the gorgeous one connecting Cruz Grande to Pico de las Nieves.

However, this trail requires nearly a full day out and back — not something you really have time for on this Gran Canaria road trip.

Pico de las Nieves is the second highest peak in Gran Canaria, after Morro de La Agujereada, which you can see from the viewpoint.

Panoramic view from the Pico de los Pozos de las Nieves. View of the city of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, in the island of Gran Canaria.

Be sure to also drive to Pico de los Pozos viewpoint for a spectacular view over the Riscos de Tirajana protected area.

You can also do the short hike to the nearby Ventana de Morro if you’re in the mood to really soak up the natural beauty of this gorgeous landscape!

To save a bit of time, I recommend driving to Pico de las Nieves, then do the shorter hike to Roque Nublo.

Hike to Roque Nublo.

Wild plant in bloom and small pine next to Roque Nublo, one of the many summits of Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

After exploring the area around Pico de las Nieves, it’s time to get back to your car and drive to the Degollada de La Goleta parking lot, roughly 15 minutes away. 

This is the departure point for the 1.5-km hike to Roque Nublo, the third-highest peak in Gran Canaria and probably the most iconic one.

Roque Nublo translates to Rock in the Clouds, and it’s a 67-meter-tall volcanic rock formed by a volcanic eruption millions of years ago!

The total hike to the peak and back takes just over an hour, but you can also do a circuit trail around Roque Nublo, which takes around 45 minutes and skips the elevation gain.

Ventana del Nublo, Natural Monument Roque Nublo, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

If you want to skip the extra hike around Roque Nublo, you can do another short but beautiful hike from Ventana del Nublo.

This hike takes roughly an hour (read this guide from my friends’ Sabrina and Kati here!), and the trailhead is only five minutes away, just before the trailhead to Roque Nublo as you drive from Pico de las Nieves.

If you choose to do the Ventana del Nublo hike, you can do it before or after Roque Nublo since you can drive back the same way to reach your next destination, Tejeda.

Drive to Tejeda.

Panoramic photograph from a park in Tejeda, one of the most beautiful towns in Spain. In the center the Church and in the background to the left Roque Bentayga and to the right Roque Nublo

Roughly half an hour from the Degollada de La Goleta parking lot, you’ll find the beautiful town of Tejeda

There are two ways to get there, circling around Roque Nublo by driving either east or west.

Choose the road you prefer depending on the sequence of the hikes you choose to do.

Tejeda is a charming town surrounded by Gran Canaria’s peaks and offers spectacular views over the mountainous area.

The historical center is small but delightful, so be sure to wander around for a while and enjoy the views.

Typical canarian house with wooden balcony in the mountain village Tejeda, Gran Canaria, Spain

When in Tejeda, you absolutely have to stop by Dulceria Nublo to buy local pastries.

The historic bakery is a popular spot among visitors, so you may need to stand in line for a bit, but it’s worth the wait. 

If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, or just want to have a late lunch instead, Tasca Bar La Dorotea serves delicious tapas.

Visit the historic town of Teror.

City street - Beautiful colorful typical spanish colonial architecture, Teror city, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

On your way back from Tejeda to Las Palmas, you can stop for a short visit to Teror, about 45 minutes from Tejeda. 

The town is among the oldest on the island, known for its colorful colonial houses and gorgeous churches.

Religion played a big part in the town’s foundation following the reported miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary in 1481, and Teror is still a popular pilgrimage spot.

Basilica Nuestra Senora del Pino and traditional houses at the main street of Teror at Gran Canaria, Canary islands, Spain.

While you explore the beautiful historical town, be sure to visit the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pino, and check out the lovely shops selling souvenirs and local products. 

The town boasts a variety of bars and restaurants if you want to have a coffee break or even dinner, depending on the time you get there.

However, most places are only open until late afternoon, so plan accordingly!

If you want to stay for dinner in Teror, try the tapas at La Gaveta de Cristo or Bar Nuevo Iris.

Alternatively, you can drive back to Las Palmas for a more varied choice, since the drive back only takes roughly half an hour.

Day 4 of Your Gran Canaria Itinerary: Agaete & Parque Natural Tamadaba

Drive to Agaete.

Old living houses with terraces in Agaete, Gran Canaria, Spain

After your last day spent hiking in the mountains, it’s time to relax by the sea!

Start your day by driving to Agaete, a coastal town in northwest Gran Canaria, roughly a half-hour drive from the capital.

Agaete is better known for the Puerto de Las Nieves, the harbor that connects the island to Tenerife… and better yet, its stunning natural swimming pools. 

Natural pools Las Salinas de Agaete in Puerto de Las Nieves on Gran Canaria, Spain.

The town is fairly small, so you can drive straight to the natural pools and find a good spot. And great news — access to the pools is free!

Just south of Agaete, you can explore the Tamadaba Natural Park, an area dominated by lush pine forests, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve — that’s up next.

Before exploring the natural park, have lunch in Agaete or buy some food to carry with you.

If you choose to have lunch in Agaete, try the tapas at Bar Salsamora Boutique or grab a quick sandwich at Meson del Bocadillo Agaete.

Explore Parque Natural Tamadaba.

Playa de Guayedra beach, Tamadaba Natural Park on the coast of the ocean near Agaete, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain

The stunning Tamadaba Natural Park extends over almost 20,000 acres between the western coast and the highlands, offering beautiful hiking trails, stunning viewpoints, and remote beaches.

You can choose between two routes to explore the area, the GC-200 running along the coast and the GC-216 in the highlands.

From Agaete, the GC-200 is the fastest and most convenient.

However, the GC-216 drives through the highest points and boasts spectacular viewpoints. 

Gran Canaria, landscape of the mountainous part of the island in the Nature Park Tamadaba, hiking route to Faneque, the tallest over-the-sea cliff of Europe

Given the limited time available on this Gran Canaria itinerary, I recommend exploring the area along the coast.

Another option is that you can also spend less time in Agaete (or wake up earlier) and do both… because why choose if you don’t have to?

Begin by driving along GC-200 from Agaete. 

The first stop is Playa de Guayedra, a remote rocky black sand beach backed by mountains.

Gran Canaria, dark volcanic sand beach Playa de Guayedra in Agaete municipality

You can climb down to the beach, only accessible on foot, or stop by Mirador de Guayedra to enjoy the view.

Keep driving south to reach one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the area, Mirador del Balcón

You can drive along the winding road GC-200 for more panoramic views or take the faster highway GC-2.

Mirador del Balcón looks over a rugged portion of the island’s coastline known as Dragon’s Tail, for, well, obvious reasons!

View of volcanic cliffs and Atlantic ocean from the lookout terrace Mirador del Balcon on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain.

From here, you can either drive back the same way to get back to Las Palmas or continue to La Aldea de San Nicolas de Tolentino for a short break before exploring the highlands of the natural park.

Grab some delicious churros at Cafetería Churrería Mis Niñas before you drive to Mirador Llanos de La Mimbre.

Along the way, you’ll pass by several stunning viewpoints, like Mirador del Molino.

Mirador del Molina at Presa del Marralillo, Artenara, Gran Canaria, Spain

The drive from San Nicolas to the parking lot near Mirador Llanos de La Mimbre takes roughly an hour, but it’s absolutely scenic the entire way. 

From there, it’s a 1.5-kilometer walk to the viewpoint.

The sunset from here is probably the most spectacular one you’ll see on the island, so I’d try to time your arrival to line up with sunset if possible.  

Lastly, drive back to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for one last dinner before ending your trip!

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