We’re regular visitors to Tenerife. We both holidayed there as kids, had our first holiday together there and now my in-laws live there. Despite all these trips I’ve only ever been to the coast. This time, holidaying with our friends, I wanted to do something more cultural. So we opted to go up Mount Teide. Below I detail the options available when visiting Mount Teide so you can plan the trip thats perfect for you: whether thats a quick visit or a full day hike.
The Volcano: Mount Teide
Tenerife, like all the canary islands, is a volcanic island. The volcano is called Mount Teide and it’s not only the highest point on the island, but the highest peak in all of Spain at 3,718 metres high. When visiting from the coastal resorts at sea-level thats a big altitude difference to cover in only a few hours!
The area surrounding the volcano peak is a designated national park and a UNESCO world heritage site (I seem to have visited a few of them this year – including Singapore and Iceland). It has various sections of pine forest, lava fields and rocky hills. The area can be visited year round, though summer months will maximise the chance of fair weather on the peak. We visited in November and due to snow fall on the peak the previous day the cable cars to the peak were closed, but we were still able to explore the crater at c.2,350m above sea level.
What to do on Mount Teide
High altitude villages
As the national park is at such a high altitude from sea-level, its a good idea to stop en-route and visit the local villages. We stopped at Vilaflor on the way up (1,400m) and Restaurante El Rancho near the village of Chío on the way down. These quaint little villages serve authentic Canarian cuisine as well as sell local produce (such as banana liquor, olive oils and Canarian made homewares). If you have time there are also historic sites to visit; the church in Vilaflor dates from the seventeeth century.
Cable car to the Peak
There is a cable car for the final 1,200m climb to the peak. It costs €27 per person for tourists. Unfortunately, during our visit in November the cable car was shut because temperatures at the peak were below freezing. Visiting in summer months will increase the chance of fairer weather at the peak.
If this moon-like landscape is strangely familiar, that’s because it’s the set of many films such as One Million Years B.C and Wrath of the Titans. There were even film crews there during our visit, filming for Rambo V.
Surrounding the peak of the volcano is a crater, 17km in circumference. Within the crater you can find the base cable car station, a small shop, church and cafeteria. Even if the cable car is closed (as it was on our visit) there is still plenty to see for an hour or so (without going on the hiking trails). The landscape is the real attraction though – there are various photo-points allowing you to maximise your shots.
Teide National Park is packed full of hiking trails. They are clearly signposted with helpful signs at each start point detailing the walk length, difficulty and elevation changes. If you do plan to hike, come prepared. The climate up the volcano is a world away from the coast. During our visit the coast was a sunny 25 degrees whilst the crater was around 8 degrees. The peak was below freezing, with a wind chill taking the temperature even colder!
How to Visit the Teide National Park
There are few different ways to get to the National Park:
Half or Full Day Tour
Given it was our first time visiting, we opted for a tour which was only €15 per person. We booked at one of the many excursion shops dotted around the tourist resorts. There was an option of pick up times (we went for the earliest one at 7.35am) and this meant we had a guide giving us useful information throughout the day. The bus stopped at a variety of photo-points, the visitor centre in the National Park crater as well as bars and restaurants in the high-altitude villages on the way up and down.
Whilst this was a good introduction to the mountain, there was little time for exploring independently.
If you fancy something different there are also ‘Visit Teide by night’ tours, which include star gazing.
There are lots of places on the island to hire a car. If you’re happy driving the winding roads to the National Park it’s a good option and gives you the opportunity to spend the day as you wish. Car parks in the National Park were free to park in.
A happy medium is the green Titsa bus. These buses service the whole of the island, including the national park. From the tourist resorts of Costa Adeje, Las Americas and Los Cristianos you can catch the 342 bus for €9.90 – €10.90 (depending on pick up point) to the National Park. Bus 348 services the park from Santa Cruz. Going by Titsa bus will give you the freedom to spend as much time as you’d like there and explore the walking trails.
Its best to book your seats in advance, which can be done by visiting the main bus stations in Costa Adeje or Los Cristianos or clicking here (must be booked 48 hours before trip time if booking online).
I woke the morning after our visit and noticed from our balcony that Teide was covered in even more snow! So much snow had fallen that the access roads were closed even though it was a balmy 26 degrees in the coastal resorts. I’m so pleased we hadn’t booked for the Friday! You can check out the snow fall here.