In this article I told you about all the hiking possibilities offered by the Teide National Park, but I promised to come back to one of them in more detail: the ascent of the Teide volcano (by day or by night).
The Teide, with its 3718m is actually the highest mountain in Spain and one of our plans when coming to Tenerife for the winter was to climb to the summit to admire the sunrise over the Canaries. And to tell you the truth, we enjoyed the view so much from up there that we went up there twice (once with our friend Faustine and once with a few people from Nine Coliving).
If you want more ideas about things to do in Tenerife, check out this post
On the other hand, as I explained here, the volcano is protected by a UNESCO World Heritage National Park (which is a good thing given the number of tourists who visit it per year) which will add some constraints to climb the Teide volcano as you will see.
Well, let’s get down to business. Here is all you need to know to climb the Teide volcano.
Routes to get to Teide (with map)
There are actually 2 main options to climb to the top of the Teide volcano:
- You can take the cable car (the black spots on the map) and simply make the last climb to the top (if you have obtained a permit to pass… we will discuss it again just below). Be aware that the last bit of ascent is less than 1km long but still for 200m of climb!
- You can park in the Montaña Blanca car park (at an altitude of about 2300m) and climb to the top via the Altavista refuge (the blue route on the map below). This option is of course much more challenging because the path to the top is about 8kms(5 miles) for a 1350m (4400 feets) climb! Allow 3 to 5 hours of walking depending on your physical condition.
There is also another path that climbs to Teide via Pico Vieijo (after Pico Vieijo, the path continues up to the cable car and then to the top) but this path is even longer and is generally not chosen for the climb to Teide. On the other hand, you could go down this side if you don’t want to follow the same path as the ascent through Montaña Blanca.
To get to the Montana Blanca car park, there are not many options: you have to rent a car! (especially if you want to go up at night). As always, we went through Rentalcars to rent our car in Tenerife because it is on their site that we found the best prices. And if you can, avoid the Goldcar company because we’ve heard very bad feedback about them here.
The permit to access the top of the Teide (and its limits)
For the preservation of the site, access to the summit of the Teide is limited to 150 people per day and a permit must be requested to access it. The permit is 100% free of charge. (The use of the permit only concerns the last end to reach the top of the Teide since the arrival of the cable car. You can easily climb up to the arrival of the cable car without a permit)
The problem is that there is so much demand that you have to book it several months in advance! It’s obviously a little annoying because it forces you to plan a long time in advance and it becomes impossible to organize your hike according to the weather (it’s a bit silly if you’ve booked everything and on the day you want to leave the weather is bad )
But the trick to know is that in fact this permit is not necessary if you climb to the top of the volcano before 9am (arrival time of the 1st cable car cabin)! This leaves us with the following options to climb to the top of the Teide:
- During the day, having obtained a permit for the last part of the climb to the top of the volcano.
- Without permit option 1: In 2 days by sleeping at the Altavista refuge (you will have to book the night) then by climbing to the top for sunrise (so passing before 9am)
- Without permit option 2: In 1 day by doing all the night ascent to reach the top for sunrise.
As for us, we climbed to the top of the Teide twice, hiking at night from the Montaña Blanca car park. But we will still describe for you all the different options below.
Hiking Teide by night in 1 day
It is the most flexible option but it is also the most difficult of the 3 (since we go up and down in 1 day). By going up at night, you will not need the permit or to book a night at the Altavista refuge (the refuge is often full several weeks in advance). This is clearly the best option if you want to avoid booking your hike weeks in advance and adapt to the weather.
As I told you, we always chose to go up at night because there was never any room at the Altavista refuge and we also wanted to be sure to go up in good weather. But I can reassure you right away, going up to the Teide by night is not as difficult as it seems. Basically you just need to have a headlamp in addition to the usual equipment and follow the path which is super well marked.
The departure time will depend on your physical condition. For example, when I went up for the first time with 2 friends who were in better shape than me, we left at 4am from the Montaña Blanca car park and arrived at the top around 7am. On the other hand, the 2nd time we went up with friends from our coliving who were a little less used to this kind of hiking and we left at 2:30 in the morning from the parking lot.
The first part of the ascent is done on a wide track and climbs slowly (perfect to warm up). If the night is clear, there is hardly any need for the headlamp to light up. Moreover, when you turn off the lights, you can admire the Milky Way and the magnificent starry sky… what an experience to hike under the stars on the Teide volcano.
After maybe 4-5 km, we reach the beginning of the trail and that’s when the serious things start. Even if the path is technically speaking easy, the slope becomes much steeper which should warm you up well 😉 . After 2 km of good climbing, we finally reach the Altavista refuge for a well-deserved warm break.
In the refuge, a screen shows the time of sunrise, the temperature at the top of the volcano and the wind. If you are fast, it takes about 1 hour to get to the top, if not 2 hours. After the refuge, it continues to climb steep enough to a flatter part to reach the arrival of the cable car. At this point, the first lights of the day should be well present and the summit is in sight.
Then we start the last climb to the top of the Teide (the path that requires a permit after 9am). This part is short (7-800m) but it is the steepest part of the whole hike. With altitude, the legs are heavy and the breath is a little short. However, we reach the summit quite quickly and the reward for our efforts is right in front of us: the sun rising above the sea of clouds.
We then witness a superb spectacle that I had the chance to observe on Rinjani in Indonesia: the volcano is so big that its shadow projects far ahead of us at sunrise. That’s really impressive!
The smell of sulphur at the top is very present and many fumaroles remind us that we are on an active volcano. In fact, if you are too cold, you can always get closer to one of them to warm up 😉 (if you can stand the smell of rotten eggs)
After enjoying the beautiful sunrise lights, it’s time to go down again and you have 3 options:
- Go down to the cable car and take the cabin down (option I recommend if you are already very tired and have €13.5 for the ticket:) ). No need to book tickets in advance… this is the option we chose the 2nd time with our Coliving friends because many people were very tired.
Go down the same path as on the ascent. If you still have the energy, I highly recommend this option because when you go down by day, you will have a completely different perspective than when you go up and the landscapes are really breathtaking.
- Go down through the Pico Viejo. This is perhaps the most spectacular option with a view of the huge crater of Pico Viejo. But know that if you go down this way again, you will have to find a means of transport once on the road to get back to the Montaña Blanca car park (by lifting your thumb it shouldn’t be a problem;)). For more information you can take a look at our hike on the Pico Viejo.
To sum up, if you are not at the end of your strength, I really recommend that you walk down to take the time to enjoy the lunar landscapes of the Teide volcano.
Spend the night at the Altavista refuge and climb in 2 days
This option is quite interesting because by cutting the climb in half and sleeping at the Altavista refuge, you make your task easier and you also take more time. You can enjoy the late afternoon and the view from the refuge.
Then you just have to get up around 5am to do the last part until the top of the volcano to admire the sunrise. I do not give you the details of the path because it is the same as for the night ascent.
So on paper this seems to be the best option… but the problem is that the refuge is usually full weeks in advance. And so we end up with the same problem as for the permit, we have to plan the day of the ascent weeks ahead, which is not great for flexibility and weather. After the refuge looks pretty good and a night costs only 20 euros… so if you can book a place it’s a great option.
Climbing with the Teide cable car
So if you think you won’t be able to walk up from the car park, you obviously have the option of the cable car which will take you up to 3555m. Then you will need the permit I mentioned at the beginning of the article to take the last part that will take you to the top about 200m higher. Please note that the Teide cable car is open every day from 9am to 5pm (7pm in summer) and that the return ticket costs 27€.
Important note: The cable car activity is stopped if the winds are too strong!
Remarks and practical information
Weather on Teide
Statistically speaking, Teide is probably the place on the island where the weather is most often good! It is very common for clouds to stop at an altitude of 2000m, which means that in the national park we are above it. In short, never forget to take sunscreen and a cap/hat if you go up during the day because the sun is strong!
Another important point to mention is the temperatures! The summit of Teide and its 3718m is high, even very high! In Tenerife it is over 20°C at the seaside and this almost all year round, so it would be easy to “forget” that gaining 3700m of altitude REALLY changes the situation in terms of climate. (I see you smiling, but I swear to you that we met some people who were going up in cable cars in shorties/tags with a small sweater and who once up were absolutely freezing). 😉
During the day, the temperatures at the top vary according to the sunshine and the wind (which can blow hard). In winter it is generally between -1° and 5° during the day and in summer the range would be between 8° and 12° for days of bright sunshine and no wind.
The above temperatures are those observed during the day, so if you go up at night know that you can do up to -8° in winter and close to zero in summer!
the gear to take with you
You will have understood it, to climb the Teide you must be well equipped because it can be very cold, especially if there is wind. So here is the list of things I suggest you take with you:
- a headlamp if you go up at night
- a cap to protect you from the sun that hits very hard
- a hat and gloves
- a windproof jacket and a down jacket
- at least trail type shoes
- at least 2 litres of water per person
- snacks because you will need energy
Difficulties: mountain sickness and altitude difference
Finally, I would just like to advise you not to minimize the difficulty of this hike (especially if you are climbing all at once from the car park). Certainly there is absolutely no technical difficulty because the path is very well marked out but a climb of 1350m is not insignificant for everyone. It’s still a hell of a climb and you have to be ready to sweat.
The 2nd very important point not to be neglected is mountain sickness. To tell you the truth, during our 2 climbs I felt the effects of the altitude with a slight headache. It must be said that we lived in La Orotava at 400m above sea level and that in a few hours we found ourselves at an altitude of more than 3500m! The body generally does not appreciate such altitude changes too much in such a short time. Moreover, during our 2nd ascent with our friends from coliving, 4 out of 9 people gave up before the summit because of mountain sickness. To put all the chances on your side, drink plenty of water! But don’t insist if you have a headache and want to throw up… it’s not worth it and it’s better to go back down.
Other hikes in Teide National Park
There is not only the ascent of the Teide which is an interesting hike in the national park (far from it). Here are some other hiking ideas that may be of interest to you:
You’ll find all these hikes (including maps) in this article
Now you have all the information you need to climb to the top of the Teide volcano. We wish you courage for the climb and above all, enjoy the crazy view from up there.
Note: This article contains affiliate links. By booking your car in Tenerife via this link you will of course not pay anything more, but we will receive a small commission. Rentalcars is the platform we systematically use when we book a car, including here in Tenerife where we have decided to rent a car for the duration of our stay.