Gran Canaria is among the most popular Canarian resorts. In addition to numerous ocean beaches stretching over 230 kilometers along the coastline, this place attracts travelers with its unique natural locations, parks, and entertainment complexes, as well as excellent quality of the road surface.
Indeed, driving a car along the local roads is a popular way to explore the island. If you wish, you can pick up a car hire at Gran Canaria airport and in just a few moments travel from sunny beaches to foggy shores or cold mountain peaks and back.
But the island will surprise you not only with a series of wonderful beaches, the number of fashionable resorts and changing landscapes. Gran Canaria’s diverse sights are no less impressive – they include archaeological and architectural monuments, religious buildings, amazing museums, picturesque botanical gardens, and much more. What to see in Gran Canaria? Check out the greatest spots to visit with your hire car…
Maspalomas Natural Dune Reserve
With an area of about 400 hectares, the park is rightfully considered to be the natural pearl of the island. The fabulous static and shifting dunes on the ocean coast were declared a nature reserve in the 1990s to keep the area away from the rapidly growing chain of coastal hotels. The best view of the Maspolamas dunes is available from the lower level of Avenida Tirajana. You can stroll through the arches of the Hotel Riu Palace Maspalomas to a loggia surrounded by a botanical garden. You won’t only catch incredible views there, but also see the varied types of vegetation of the Canary.
Cruz de Tejeda
Cruz de Tejeda is a greenish-gray stone crucifix that denotes the geographical center of Gran Canaria. Historic royal roads run through the central part of the island – these ancient paths laid by the Guanches are perfect to explore in a hire car. From the viewing platforms, you can admire the island’s most beautiful landscapes. Look west to see the sacred stone cog Roque Bentayga, revered by the Guanche tribes. In the southeast, you’ll find the Pozo de las Nieves peak – the highest Gran Canaria’s point, as well as the often cloudy basalt monolith Roque Nublo, which has become the symbol of the island.
In the north-east, you can see the small town of Vega de San Mateo in some distance. It’s even possible to see the high volcanic pyramid Teide on the neighboring island of Tenerife in clear weather.
Playa de las Canteras
Las Palmas’s major beach is a 3 kilometers-long line of golden sand that runs along the ocean coast. Playa de las Canteras is considered by many to be one of the best urban beaches in the world. The attractive seaside promenade Paseo de las Canteras is closed to car traffic, allowing vacationers to enjoy the beauty of the ocean while walking, jogging, or cycling along the beach.
The amazing La Barra reef runs parallel to the beach. It serves as a natural breakwater for safe swimming, and at low tide it retains water, forming a giant pool off the coast of the beach, which is ideal for snorkeling.
Arucas Municipal Park
The terraced gardens of Parque Municipal de Arucas de las Flores, with fountains, pavilions, sculptures, and tropical plants, are a prime example of French-style landscape design. Particular attention is drawn to the rare evergreen tree Quillaja Saponaria, several magnificent Dragon trees, as well as some amazing flowering plants and delicate bamboo groves.
The park has a complex system of irrigation canals and watercourses. On the south side of the square, the garden is adjoined by Calle Heredad, where you will see the beautiful neoclassical building Heredad de Aguas de Arucas y Firgas – one of the most beautiful local urban structures built-in 1908.
Roque Nublo is an impressive volcanic rock of unusual shape located at an altitude of 1,803 meters above sea level – it rises 80 meters above the surrounding volcanic landscape.
This solid block of stone is undeniably the symbol of Gran Canaria and can be seen in the background of almost all tourist photographs taken in the western part of the island. Roque Nublo is perfectly visible from the window of your hire car if moving along the GC-600 road.
The quiet and atmospheric village of Themisas, with its distinctive stone houses and cottages set against the backdrop of inaccessible sheer cliffs, makes a lasting impression. From the cliffs, you can see the entire ravine descending to the sea.
When approaching the village along the road that runs through the natural park, pay attention to the terracing of the slopes on both sides at the top and on the descent into the valleys. They look very pretty, so get your camera ready as well.
Caldera de Bandama
About 6 km south of Tafira Alta is the impressive volcanic crater Caldera de Bandama – this is one of the largest extinct volcanic craters in Gran Canaria. Its depth is 200 meters, and its diameter is 1,000 meters. There’s an observation deck at the top, which offers stunning views both inside the crater and beyond. If you are in good physical shape, you can go down to the bottom of the crater. The journey to Caldera de Bandama begins at GC-802 road, where you will also find a cozy local restaurant and winery.