Gran Canaria excursions: Discover the top five road trips
Gran Canaria excursions don't just include busy Jeep safaris and late night pub crawls. Why not get out and about to see what the island has to offer for yourself, from quaint villages and quiet beaches, to memorable restaurants, challenging hikes and unrivalled views. We are, of course, talking road trips.
Gran Canaria excursions: Exciting drives and destinations
To help you navigate your way around this popular Canary island, here are five top destinations which make excellent Gran Canaria excursions with a hire car, although there will be some walking involved too, so they aren't just for petrol heads:
1. The north coast
Forget the GC-1, the functional motorway that links Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to the major resorts in the south, bypassing the airport in the process. To feel the sea breeze in your hair and smell the salt of the Atlantic, hit the north of the island and the GC-2 for a memorable Gran Canaria excursion.
The GC-2 starts at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and ends around half an hour, and exactly 34km (rounded down to 21.1 miles), later in Agaete. The capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a day out in its own right. Head to Vegueta for culture, Triana for shopping, and Las Canteras for Europe's finest urban beach.
Agaete offers simpler pleasures. Its port, Puerto de las Nieves is home to the island's best festival, the Fiesta del Rama. At the start of August, locals recreate the pre-Spanish inhabitants' prayer for rain by bashing the Atlantic with branches brought down from the mountains.
Popular stopping points on this Gran Canaria excursion include Arucas, where you can see the Gaudiesque church that looks like a cathedral. Coastal Arucas includes Bañaderos' El Puertillo, the Little Port, which houses both a beach and saltwater swimming pools. Closer to Gáldar, you'll find Sardina del Norte which is the best place to dive on the island.
Just before you reach Gáldar, you'll cross Santa María de Guía's Puente de Silva. This is where a particularly fast and furious scene of, erm, Fast & Furious 6 was filmed, one of 15 locations in all.
2. Gran Canaria's west way
Novice drivers should not continue past Agaete, in the direction of La Aldea de San Nicolás, if they intend staying behind the wheel during their Gran Canaria excursion, for the GC-200 is a fiendishly-difficult near-40 km stretch of tarmac. One which takes even the most experienced motorist an hour to negotiate.
If a white-knuckle ascent on a coastal road which snakes its way westward is your thing, you're probably an adrenaline junkie. And the perfect match to get the motor running on this highway. Make sure you do this epic drive whilst you can as they're building a tunnel between El Risco and La Aldea in order to shave time off what to some GC natives is part of their daily commute.
El Risco is a great stop-off on a Gran Canaria excursion, especially if travel sickness is kicking in. If you want to spend more time than a quick drink or snack, head down to the beach which has a World's End Finisterre look and feel. Walk up instead of down to reach El Charco Azul. The Blue Pond swells in size in winter months, and in popularity during the summer. It's a family-friendly hike nonetheless which also offers breathtaking views of neighbouring Tenerife.
3. Roque Nublo
The rock that sold a million and more postcards is more accessible than you think, and yes, you can actually touch it when you take a Gran Canaria excursion to visit it.
Park your car in the La Goleta car park on the GC-600 close to Tejeda. Half an hour later, you'll be posing for what will turn out to be some super snaps to wow the folks back home.
4. Barranco de Guayadeque
Once upon a time when Gran Canaria was still known as Támaran, the island's residents used to live in caves, and some still do this side of the Spanish Invasion as you'll see in this beautiful ravine which divides Agüimes and Ingenio in Gran Canaria's southeast, where you can enjoy a lunch in a cave restaurant on your Gran Canaria excursion.
Combine an educational visit to the Centreo de Interpretación Arqueológica with a hike in surprisingly verdant countryside. Agüimes is the prettier village of the two although if you persevere with negotiating Ingenio's urban sprawl, its central parks and cobbled streets will be a reward for your eyes. For a beach less touristy, Ingenio also boasts the small but perfectly formed El Burrero.
5. Caldera de Bandama
Our final Gran Canaria excursion tip take you to the very tip of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria's municipality, where you'll find the Caldera de Bandama - a crater measuring 1km wide and 200m deep.
Named after a 16th Century Flemish merchant Daniel van Damme who planted vines here, it now only has one surviving resident: eightysomething Agustinito who continues to farm here.
As you can see, there's a wealth of activities and sights to enjoy on Gran Canaria excursions away from the busy beaches and lively bars, especially if you have your own set of wheels to get exploring. For more information on Gran Canaria, check out our detailed holiday page and if you fancy seeing what car hire offers are available, visit our deals and discounts section.
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