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I just finished a long trip, and with the gpx/kml track, I want to generate a nice looking map of our route. I only want to do some basic things like overlay the route over a basemap with significant locations and borders shown, show different days of the track by color, etc.

I'm new to GIS, but I set up QGIS and imported the gpx track no problem. Before I embark on learning enough GIS to accomplish the above though, I'm wondering if GIS can do this sort of cartography? Every GIS use-case I've heard is for some sort of map analysis, so I'm wondering if just generating a custom formatted and nice looking map is not in its realm of capability.

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QGIS is a very good tool for cartography. It is in my mind the best choice to make a nice looking map in not too much time.

You'll have to learn GIS basics though before you're able to set everything up correctly. There are lots of resources to be found in this question/answer.

Note that it's an older post and some of QGIS' features have evolved quite a bit since. It's now entirely possible to make really good looking maps without any post-processing in graphics software.

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