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Visitors to Gran Canaria who rent cars can experience all this sun-kissed island has to offer. Stay in the capital, Las Palmas, to enjoy the beaches and nightlife before heading out for adventure in the countryside. Head down to Tejeda, and you'll be rewarded with astonishing views across the volcanic island. A car will unlock all the best places on Gran Canaria, including beaches secluded from the busier crowds.

It's your choice: Where to go on Gran Canaria

Las Palmas, a popular choice for visitors, is the island's main city and offers an excellent choice of beachside restaurants, shops, and nightlife. It's only 20 minutes' drive from Gran Canaria Airport. As the island is fairly compact, you can drive from end to end in about 40 minutes, making car journeys a quick and efficient way to see the breadth of gorgeous Gran Canaria. On the opposite side from the capital is Playa del Inglés, a hub for sun seekers of all persuasions. Whether you appreciate a family-friendly atmosphere on golden sands or are looking for great clubs and bars, Playa del Inglés is a superb choice. Nearby Maspalomas, featuring stunning dunes and a majestic bird sanctuary, is ideal for nature lovers, and the sleepy fishing port of Puerto de Sardina is a tranquil escape on the island.

Things to do on Gran Canaria

When you rent a car on Gran Canaria, the best things to see and do will be at your fingertips. Visit Tejeda, a village at the foot of a volcano. Hike up to the peak for sublime views of Gran Canaria, looking out for unique rock formations, flora, and fauna as you ascend and collect enviable snaps for your photo album. When you need a break from exploring, head to the beach at Playa del Inglés or Las Canteras near Las Palmas. Here, you can engage in thrilling water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing, or just lie back with a cocktail and soak up the sun. Gran Canaria is well known for its nightlife, particularly at Las Palmas and Playa del Inglés. There's a thriving LGBTQ+ scene here, with Gran Canaria's gay bars being renowned.

Important info about Gran Canaria

This volcanic, sunny island enjoys pleasant weather year round. It's a popular spot for European visitors looking to escape their rainy hometowns and catch some rays in winter. It's definitely hottest around July and August, but the thermometer never strays far from the 20s throughout the year. While midsummer is ideal for hitting the water, spring and autumn are ideal for driving and general exploration, with fewer crowds then. The island's exquisite cuisine draws on traditional Canarian ingredients mixed with mainland Spanish influences. Try mojo, a signature sauce packing a spicy and garlicky kick that's served with many savoury dishes, and paella. Spanish omelette and grilled fish are popular, too. Of course, being a place so favoured by international visitors, Gran Canaria has plenty of home comforts as well, including British-style cafés serving full English breakfasts.

Weather in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Country Spain
Language Spanish, English (very common around the resorts)
Currency Euro
Time-Zones Western European Time
Country Code +34

Good to know

You'll be pleased to know that car rental and driving on Gran Canaria are a breeze – its driving regulations are similar to those of mainland Spain. You'll just need your full driving licence. The usual speed limits are 120km/h on motorways and 50km/h in towns, but keep an eye out for signage indicating otherwise. Whereas the blood-alcohol limit is 0.05%, as always, you should avoid alcohol completely when getting behind the wheel. Drivers and passengers are all required to wear seatbelts, and children under 12 are not allowed to ride in front passenger seats. Driving is generally very easy, and traffic is usually light. Even in the mountains, the roads are well maintained and fitted with safety barriers, though taking extra care on the winding roads is a good idea. The island boasts amazing views, and renting a car lets you experience them easily.

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Our tour suggestions for Gran Canaria

Aside from the main towns of Las Palmas and Maspalomas, there are many charming villages and natural wonders to explore by car. Head to Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, just across from Maspalomas. It's home to secluded beaches, and the kids will love its wonderfully entertaining Angry Birds Activity Park. For more fun, how about driving to the Inagua Nature Reserve for cycling, hiking, and dramatic views with barely another human in sight? The experience suits active travellers who appreciate the road less travelled. Alternatively, discover the old fortress at Isleta, a beautiful parkland jutting out into the sea just up from Las Palmas. Inland towns, featuring miles of green countryside in their surroundings are also a must-see. One to add to your list is the small community of Valleseco ('dry valley'), where there's a lagoon that's ideal for birdwatching.

What to bring your friends from Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria has a distinct culture, influenced by its ties to mainland Spain. Although you may associate rum with the Caribbean, it's commonly believed to have originated on Gran Canaria. A bottle makes for a wonderful gift for friends who like a tipple. Hand-rolled cigars are another popular product, and their quality is usually very high at the shops here. You'll also find all sorts of stalls selling bits and pieces for the beach, which can make good-value presents – flip-flops, beach hats, sunglasses, and jewellery are just a few ideas. In terms of food, if you've found you can't get enough of delicious mojo sauce when eating in Canarian restaurants, why not buy a few bottles to savour with the family back home?