In this article I would like to help you concerning the car rental in Gran Canaria without paying too much. Here we go!
Although the island is well connected by public transport (so called guagua on the Canary Islands), unfortunately the long distances and the number of stops make that you lose a lot of time on the way. If you really want to explore the island on your own, I recommend you to rent a car. By the way, in my article Gran Canaria: Tips for your trip you will find some further information in order to plan your trip.
As a popular holiday destination, of course there are many car rental agencies on the island: international ones and local ones that are much cheaper. Among them there is a lot of competition and often the quality is neglected. On the other hand, the hotels usually work together with some companies and their recommendations are not always the best. Always check the website of the companies before, you can often find some special prices or deals.
Renting a car is cheap in the Canary Islands. A week can cost you less than 150€ with fully comprehensive insurance and about 75€ without it. Here I will recommend you those that I think they are the best and which also have given me the highest confidence.
Where can I rent a car in Gran Canaria?
I have rented a car at several companies on the island, but there are definitely two that convinced me 100%. Important for me are the condition of the car, the contract conditions, the flexibility in picking up and dropping off, the service and of course the price, and everything was always perfect.
Sometimes it can happen that the car you ordered is not available. In these cases you will get as “compensation” a car of a higher category and without extra charge. Not bad either! I have already had this experience twice. The car was bigger, but that didn’t bother me.
CICAR – Canary Islands Car
Leading company on the Canary Islands with a wide variety of vehicles and many years of experience. What does it offer and why do I recommend it?
- The fuel level must be the same on drop-off as on pick-up, other companies give you the car with practically no fuel or charge you for refuelling.
- Second driver for free.
- New cars with very few kilometers.
- There is no mileage limit.
- The airport office is open until 1 am.
- They provide the child seat free of charge.
- Companies with the most offices on the island and you can return the car to any one you like or have it delivered to your hotel and drop it off there at the and of your trip
Another company that also convinced me, especially when I rented on other islands, is AutoReisen. It has the same characteristics as CICAR, but normally it’s cheaper.
There is only one office on the island, which is located at the airport and is open until 2 am. The lower price is also due to the fact that there are fewer different vehicles and that they are usually not in the same good condition as CICAR. To be honest, however, it never bothered me, because all the cars I rented were more than acceptable. My advice is to check the prices for both and make your decision depending on that.
Other car rental companies
According to the website rentalcars.com these are the best rated companies, also with the same fuel conditions. I only recommend them if you think that you do not need a fully comprehensive insurance (I explain below why it is recommended). Without this insurance you can save up to 50%.
Avis (8,9 Punkte): https://www.avis.co.uk/
Hertz (8,9 Punkte): https://www.hertz.com/rentacar/reservation/
Thrifty (8,9 Punkte): https://www.thrifty.com/
Budget (8,6 Punkte): https://www.budget.com/
TopCar (8,5 Punkte): https://top-car-hire.com/en/
Sixt (8,4 Punkte): https://www.sixt.com/
Dollar (8,0 Punkte): https://www.dollar.com/
General tips for car rental
How far in advance do I have to book?
Normally it is not necessary to book in advance, but I recommend it. Although there are quite a few car rental companies on the island, it would of course be great if you could rent the car from one of the two companies I recommend. This is why I recommend you to go straight to the reservation of the car after booking flight and hotel.
What kind of car do I need?
Well, the answer here will not be the most perfect one, especially if you come with a big family. It depends, and it depends a lot. You’ll have to decide what you want to do with the car before you make the reservation. Are you just gonna drive to the beach? Or do you want to drive around the island? Maybe just moving around the city?
City or coastal area
If you want to get around in the city or on the coast, for example in Las Palmas or in the area of Maspalomas, I recommend a small car. There are parking problems and you really don’t need more
Mountain area or many persons
If you want to go to the mountains, things look different. The small cars of the car rental companies usually have little power and in higher altitudes you probably have difficulties. It’s not a problem but I would advise you to take a bigger car of the compact or middle class. For two people the most suitable car is a VW Polo or a Seat Ibiza. Moreover, the new models are usually equipped with turbo, so they don’t suffer from “altitude sickness” and consume less. The price is usually around 30 to 35€ per day.
Is a fully comprehensive insurance necessary?
I personally recommend you to book one if you choose a company where this is not included in the price. On the Canary Islands it is very common to park al golpito, which means until it slightly “docks”. The parking spaces are not very big and the risk of a small dent is always present, even if it is not your fault. Of course the price is higher then, but you can be sure that there will not be any kind of disaster. Remember that people tend to be more careless with a rental car than with a private car.
Do I need a GPS?
The island is small and you won’t get lost, but if you want to go the inland areas, you won’t get around it. But that’s not the only reason: there are several hidden radars on the island. If you are unlucky and get caught, you will have to pay a fine (100-200€) and the administration of this by the rental company. I recommend to use a navigation system with integrated radars. The easiest way is to use your mobile phone with Google Maps or the Waze app.
Main season and most important events
In the Canary Islands, where main season is all year long, car rental is usually not a problem. The demand in the summer months is of course a little higher than in the winter months but it is also very important to consider events like Easter and the carnival in Las Palmas or Maspalomas and also the Gay Pride. So book your car early enough.
Travel to the other islands
If you plan to take the ferry with your rental car to other islands, please check at your company first to see if they allow you to take the car to another island. At AutoReisen it is not allowed, CICAR told me last time that you have to call and tell them which island you are travelling to, but that there is no problem.
Generally, the roads in Gran Canaria are in a very good condition. In the inner part of the roads they are also quite good, but they are small. There are many (narrow) curves and every now and then the hard shoulder is practically non-existent, not to say directly on the slope. Even if you are a skilled driver, you have to be very careful, especially if you meet other cars. The inhabitants here are used to it and usually drive quite fast. Therefore, please read exactly the last paragraph “How to drive in Gran Canaria”.
The island has two highways: the GC-1 that starts in Las Palmas (north) and ends in Mogán in the south (passing the airport) and the GC-2 that leads from Las Palmas to Agaete at the west. If you want to make a tour of the whole island and plan to drive from Mogán to Agaete, you have to use the GC-200. As a curiosity, it should be mentioned that the distance is a quarter of it, but it takes almost as long as the drive on the GC-1 and GC-2.
Parking in Gran Canaria
Usually it is very difficult in the city, please be patient. Looking for a parking place can easily take up to 30 minutes. It is an island with many cars, so many that if it were a country, it would be the sixth in the world with the most cars per inhabitant. That means: about 800 per 1000. In the capital and in the tourist areas it is often impossible to find a parking place and if you do find one, it is usually not for free.
Most accommodations have a private parking area, but if they don’t have one, you either have to take out a weekly/daily subscription to a parking garage (sometimes it’s not that expensive) or try to find empty spaces to park, especially at night. To make sure you don’t get a ticket or pay too much or waste half of your day looking for a gap, I will explain you more in the next paragraph.
Parking spaces at the roadside
In all big cities you will find colored side strips that allow you to park. Here you have some helpful advices to avoid finding a parking ticket on your windscreen, especially in Las Palmas.
- white or colourless zone: you can park always and as long as you want
- blue zone: limited parking area, normally for a maximum of two hours and 1€/hour
- green zone: preferred for residents, for non-residents maximum one hour, even if the cost is 1€/hour.
- yellow zone: no stopping area or loading/unloading area, you may park here from 8pm to 8am. On Saturdays it is only forbidden in the morning, on Sundays it’s for free. Don’t forget to leave early in the morning if you park here during the day (Monday until Friday), because the fines can be up to 200€ or the towing service does its job very well. Basically this zone means that you should not park there. If you see something yellow free, you probably cannot park there.
Shopping centres or private parking spaces
Many shopping centres in Las Palmas offer 3 hours parking for free (CC El Muelle from 10am to 12pm, CC Las Arenas from 9am to 10pm). These are the ones located near the Las Canteras beach. Do not exceed this time, because what you save in 3 hours you will pay by staying 30 minutes more.
Shopping centres like Los Alisios or La Ballena have free parking, but they are far from the beach, the centre, etc. They are perfect if you want to go shopping ?
In other parking areas, such as SAGULPA next to the Las Arenas shopping centre or next to the Poema del Mar, you can stay all day for 2,50€. This is actually the cheapest way to get a parking possibility for the whole day.
The city has many parking spaces, but they are quite expensive. The mentioned ones above are the ones I use myself daily, as they are the cheapest. Sometimes, the daily price is up to 16€
In the old town it is impossible to find an area without paying. There, I simply recommend the SAGULPA parking area next to the market hall in Vegueta where the price per hour is not higher than 1,50€.
Other areas and other advices
In the interior of the island, in the northern area and in the small towns it is not difficult to find parking spaces, as there are not as many cars as in the capital. Often there is not even a coloured area.
In the south it depends a lot on where exactly you are going or to which beach you want to go (the more touristic the place, the more likely you will have to pay for parking). Here are some examples: In Playa de Amadores I recommend you to be there before 11am, otherwise the free parking spaces will be full. There is an underground parking, but it costs 6€ per day. In Mogán the situation is the same. Just before you arrive near to the beach there is a white area where you can park. Arriving at the beach there are lots of parking lots, but in blue. In Playa del Inglés, you pay on the main street, the Avenida de Tirajana, as well as on the streets that leave from there. You can find areas without colour, but these are normally quite far from the beach.
The fuel is cheaper in the Canary Islands than in the rest of Europe. Gas costs about 1€ and diesel about 0,90€. Each petrol station sets its own price, but the difference is usually less than 0.05€ per litre. DISA, BP, Cepsa and Shell petrol stations are the most common.
How to drive in the Canary Islands
Even if it is not so important to know, but you want to be well integrated in the canarian traffic, these unwritten rules will be very useful. In Gran Canaria the traffic is very aggressive, but at the same time, the people are very friendly on the road, they give way very often and just that you know: they use headlights or horn if necessary.
To drive in Gran Canaria you must consider the following things
- Short flash means that you have right of way, long flash means that you have done something wrong…you would rather not like to hear what the other driver is saying behind his wheel.
- If you are the typical left-hand driver on the highway you will be “told” by blinking or flashing lights to change the lane
- Short, single or double horns are a friendly warning, but if it’s longer, something has gone wrong as well.
- In the mountains, when the roads are narrow and the cuves are very closed, it is quite normal to beep the horn just before you pass. This is only a warning for the driver from the oncoming direction – if there is somebody.
- Another rule for adrenaline-rich mountain rides: drive well-behaved on the outer lane to leave room for possible frights.
- Also try to use the engine brake on long rides, that means by shifting down a gear. If you use the normal brake, it can get so hot that it will be no longer working
- Hand signals that simulate a duck’s beak or fist being opened and closed mean that your light is either on or off when it shouldn’t be.
- There are people who keep the parking space free for another driver. Do not be angry if the car is not around. It is probably just turning around somewhere.
- You see a line of cars behind you? Try to use your blinker or hand signal on a straight line to let them pass
- Be careful at roundabouts with more than one lane. The rule is that the inner lane is only used when you want to make anplease “u-turn” and change direction. But many people ignore this and drive as they want. Caution is therefore required if someone suddenly cuts off the track.
- Concerning taxi drivers, they behave just like in other countries – you just can’t change them.