The best way to see Gran Canaria is hire a car for a day or three. Whilst we have a fantastic bus service to many larger towns and resorts, getting to the smaller ones takes time without a car. All of the islands roads are well looked after and signed posted, there's motorway driving along the entire east and north coasts and even those windy roads up through the mountains are an easy drive...... in most places.
So, here's a route that will ensure you see most of the main towns and villages and sights around the island. Let's start with the most essential in case you've only got the car for 1 day and leave that 3rd and challenging one for last.
Maspalomas - Fataga - San Bartolome village - Cruz de Tejeda - Teror - (Las Palmas) - GC1 Motorway home.
The GC-60 is going to take you from the north-east corner of San Fernando (ask for carratera Fataga if you get lost) all the way to Tejeda. After just 15 minutes of relaxed driving you'll already spot the first and perhaps largest of the "miradors" you'll find on this route offering spectacular views of the entire southern mountain range.
From here the next hill down is the worst part of your day and lasts little more than five minutes so once you've driving dwon, the rest of the day is a breeze. Next stop Fataga which by the way was one of the original villages in place with the Spanish came to conquer the island form the Guanche tribes and can date back it's origins 2000 years. It's also one of the most beautiful villages on the island with whitewashed buildings with red-tiled roofs.
As you leave the village be sure to look back at the spectacular view over the entire village... unless you're the driver. Now you'll be driving along some very windy roads up your first real mountain, next stop either Hotel Las Tirajanas for a coffee out on their terrace with the most amazing panoramic views over southern part of the island. If you're doing good on time and don't plan on stopping in Las Palmas then next stop San Bartolome village.
Now you'll be driving for a good hour before you reach Tejeda. Stop as you like to take in the breathtaking views of the countryside. Tejeda town is a great place to stop for lunch. I can highly recommend restaurante "Let Me Take You" though there are several others to choose from in the same area. Half an hour around the corner and next stop is Cruz de Tejeda. You could stop here for lunch there's a couple of traditional if not touristy tapas style places and the rather posh parador. Be sure to head to the far sides of the road for the views form here.
From here it's down-hill all the way. Passing through the Pinos de Galdar pine forest you're heading to the popular and beautrful town of Teror, known for its wooden roofs and balconies and it's also home to the island's Patron Saint so be sure to check out the amazing church.
You're in the north of the island now which is more residential than anywhere else thanks to the climate making it spring all year round here. You'll be passing through several modern-day villages until you come to the GC3 ring-road. You have two choices now depending on time and how tired you are. Stay on the GC3 until you see the exit for the GC1 then it's motorway all the way back to your resort or you can head in to Las Palmas city. If you choose the city stick to Vegueta and Triana (the old quarter) as you won't have time for anything else. There's a seperate article on Las Palmas which you'll see really needs an entire day to see.