When we chose the island of Tenerife as our winter destination, the Teide volcano was clearly a factor. It must be said that this 3718m mastodon is not lacking in interest! It is nevertheless the highest peak in Spain and its volcanic / lunar landscapes leave no one indifferent. As you might expect, it is also an ideal playground for the nature and hiking enthusiasts that we are;). And then volcanoes have always left us with very strong impressions when travelling, as in Indonesia on the Rinjani, Ijen and Bromo, or in South America with Cotopaxi in Ecuador or Parinacota in Bolivia. No wonder that we wanted to come and discover Tenerife and its Teide!
In this article, we will share with you our experience of the Teide National Park and give you some tips / hiking ideas to discover it in its most beautiful aspects.
The Teide volcano and its national park
Attention!!! Minute Wikipedia 😉
When you have such a marvel on your island you might as well protect it (and protect yourself too since Teide is an active volcano and its last eruption dates back to 1909). The area around the Teide and its caldera is therefore protected by a national park that covers about 1/10 of the entire area of the island of Tenerife. It is also one of the oldest national parks in Spain and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007… No wonder there are so many people visiting it (more than 3 million tourists per year)
If you look at an image of the Teide taken from above, you will notice that the volcano is actually surrounded by a kind of large basin at 2000m altitude (the caldera) and that it is more or less the surface of this basin that is protected by the national park. Looking at this image, you may also think that the volcano seems truncated and you are right. In fact the original volcano was even bigger (something like 4500m) and collapsed a long time ago on itself forming the caldera. Teide and Pico viejo in their current form only came later.
End of minute Wikipedia 😉
There are 3 ways to visit the Teide National Park:
- By car: The only road that crosses the park (the TF-21) is spectacular and we really recommend that you do it at least once.
- With a tour: Many tour companies offer different day trips to the national park. Some involve hiking, others are more for taking pictures. See the tours
- On foot: There are many hiking trails through the park and it is them that will allow you to discover all the facets of the Teide away from the crowd.
Here are two maps of Teide National Park that may be useful to you.
The weather on Teide
Tenerife has a little nickname: the island of eternal spring. So even this reputation is rather well founded (it is 20-30 degrees all year round and at the seaside there is almost no season), it is not possible to summarize the weather in Tenerife so easily.
The simple fact of having such a large volcano in Tenerife creates strange weather phenomena (microclimates) and the weather can be completely different a few kilometres away on the island. For example, the south of the island is generally sunnier but also much drier and desert-like than the north, which is much greener. It is also very common to see clouds forming very locally (for example in La Laguna where it often rains) and a few kilometres further away the sun shines.
But there is a constant in Tenerife is that if you go up to the Teide, when you pass the height of the great pine forest that surrounds the caldera, you will be above the clouds and there is a good chance that you will be under the sun (in the 2 months we have been in Tenerife it must have rained only once on top… or better said, it snowed).
The Teide is also the only place on the island where you can really observe the seasons. It is not uncommon for the volcano to cover itself with snow in winter (because of the “small drop” in temperatures:) and in spring you can observe many endemic plant species that flower and are found nowhere else.
One last thing to know is the temperatures. Given the enormous difference in altitude between the sea and the top of the Teide, be aware that it can be very cool in the morning and evening in the national park. For example, I remember leaving one morning early to go hiking and it must have been 5 degrees at 2000m in the park (then as soon as the sun shines it is immediately 15-20 degrees). Or when we climbed to the top of the Teide, it was almost 0 degrees up there at sunrise! The conclusion is that it is better to have several layers to be able to dress according to the temperature.
Visit the Teide national Park by car (or by bus)
To get a first glimpse of the Teide, there’s nothing like a little road trip through the park on the magnificent TF-21 road that crosses the caldera from side to side. To make it easier for you, we have prepared a small interactive map with the main points of interest not to be missed.
Whether you are going up to the Teide from the south or the north, I really advise you to stop already at the different points of view that you will encounter on the roadside before entering the national park. The vegetation below 2000m is completely different and you will first cross a magnificent pine forest that covers the flanks of the Teide. The view of the Teide volcano is spectacular in some places.
Once in the park, there are several very interesting places where you can park and explore (let’s assume that you arrive on the Laguna – Orotava side for order. You will find all these points on the map):
Minas de San Jose: A very beautiful part of the park where the landscapes are a little less rocky and where you can go for a walk on the volcanic sand. The opportunity to hike on another planet!
- Montana blanca: A small car park at the beginning of the path that climbs to the top of the Teide by the south side. Even if the car park is more designed for people who go up to the Teide, there is also a way to make shorter and more difficult walks from this point.
- The cable car: Parking at the lower station of the Teide cable car. We’ll give you more information about the cable car a little further down.
- Roques de Garcia: It is the largest car park in the Teide National Park and it is also the beginning of a pretty 3-4km loop around funny rock formations. We’ll give you more details about this hike below. The car park is generally crowded (there are quite a few tourist buses that stop there) but if you have the courage to walk a little, you will quickly be on your own.
- Narices del Teide: Change of scenery to arrive in the black volcanic rock that testifies to the last big eruption of Pico Viejo in 1798 (you will see very clearly the flow from this point). There too you will find a small car park which is the starting point for the hike to get to the Pico Viejo, which we will talk about below.
- Montana Samara: Located a little lower than the Narices del Teide car park, this point is an ideal starting point for walks in a part of the park where pines grow on volcanic sand (with a very beautiful view of the Pico Viejo and the Teide). It is a magnificent part of the park not to be missed under any circumstances.
- Obviously to make a Road-Trip to the Teide you need a car. As every time we have rented a car for 2 years, we have again used Rentalcars to rent our car in Tenerife because it is on their site that we found the best prices.
- Leave early in the morning. As I said earlier, Teide Park is VERY touristy! Certainly the road is very wide and there is not too much traffic problem but the parking lots are all tiny and from the end of the morning, it is very difficult to park to go for a walk around the Teide.
- If you do not wish to rent a car, know that there are also several day tours leaving from different parts of the island. See the tours going to the Teide National Park
- Perhaps prefer the end of the day on the Narices del Teide, Montana Samara side for sunset.
- There are 2 buses that also allow you to board the Teide without a car (the TF-342 from the south and the TF-348 from the north). Unfortunately, each of these 2 lines has only one bus that leaves in the morning and one that returns in the late afternoon.
Hikes in the Teide National Park
Well the car is very nice but let’s be honest, to fully and especially more quietly discover the lunar landscapes of the Teide National Park, you will have to use your legs a bit ;). Below we have prepared a list (which will probably grow even more) of beautiful hikes to do around and on the Teide volcano.
las Roques de Garcia
- Distance 3.5kms
- Altitude change: +- 155m
- Level: easy
- Durartion: 1-2h
- Start: Parking de Roques de Garcia (on the map above)
This is a nice walk that you can easily do during a day of road trip in the national park. The trail starts at the large Roques de Garcia car park and goes around funny rock formations with a very beautiful view of the Teide and Caldera. Don’t worry too much about the crowd that is building up in the parking lot, as soon as you have walked 500m, you will be quiet! The well-designed trail begins flat along the right-hand side of the rock formations to an information sign. The trail then becomes narrower while continuing in the same direction to reach a crossroads. Do not take the path that climbs to the right to the top of the Pico Viejo (well, if you want, you can of course;)) but return by the path that goes down to the left to a plateau. Finally, the path goes up to the car park, passing to the left of a large rock called “the cathedral”.
Hiking on Pico Viejo
- Distance 13.9kms
- Elevation: +- 1100m
- Difficulty hard
- Duration 5-6h
- Start Parking de Narices del Teide on the map above
Now I warn this hike is a whole different level than the previous one, it is better to count the day to do this loop without too much haste. Moreover, it is still better to be in good physical condition because it is 14km long with more than 1000m of climbing and descending and it is very hot! (but it’s well worth it:))
The path begins at the Narices del Teide car park and you must follow the number 9 indicated on the signs and on the first map you find at the top of the article. The trail begins by descending along the TF-38 from a distance into the black volcanic rock of the last eruption of Pico Viejo. After a little over a kilometre, you reach an area with a few trees and then an information sign indicating the Pico Viejo on the right.
This is where the serious things start and we start the climb to Pico Viejo. First, we cross an area dotted with bushes and plants. Then, as the climb progresses, the vegetation disappears and gives way to lunar landscapes. We pass Chio Mountain and if we turn around and the weather is clear, we can see the island of La Gomera which seems to float away over the ocean. You arrive at a crossroads that allows you to either go up to the left to the Pico Viejo crater via “el Calderon” or to the right via the “Teide nostrils”. We chose the right path but in any case the two meet at the crater of Pico Viejo.
The ascent continues even more so. We pass over the “Teide nostrils” where the last big eruption of Pico Viejo took place. It is easy to imagine the violence with which the lava came out of there and then descended to the city of Guarachico. The climb is quite tiring because we walk on a kind of sand / volcanic rock. By exaggerating, it’s a bit like walking two steps forward to move back one step.
We then go around the crater of Pico Viejo on the right to see the Teide rising in front of us. We pass a path that climbs to the left until the southern peak of the crater (I advise you to go there because it is a very nice viewpoint on the crater with the Teide as a backdrop). We continue to arrive behind the crater until we reach a crossroads. We do not take the main path which continues to climb up to the Pico Viejo viewpoint and the Teide summit but we take a left to reach the Pico Viejo summit.
For the descent, we go around the crater by the same path as on the ascent. Once above the “Teide nostril” we take this time on the left to pass just below the nostril crater. Then we reach for a short moment the path taken on the ascent to go down to the left directly to the car park, passing through the middle of the black rock flow. As the terrain is quite soft, the descent is much faster and less tiring than the climb.
Hiking Teide (Teide summit)
- Distance 8.1kms (one way)
- Elevation +- 1350m
- Difficulty hard
- Duration 3-5h to go up, 2-3h to come down
- Start Parking de Montana blanca (on the map above)
Obviously, climbing the Teide to watch the sunrise from the top was one of the things I absolutely wanted to do in Tenerife. The view from the summit is absolutely incredible, above the sea of clouds and you can observe the triangular shadow of the Teide which projects itself into the distance during sunrise and sunset.
So it is certainly a good climb of 1300-1400m from the car park to the peak of the Teide. But the path is extremely well marked out and does not represent any technical difficulty at all. On the other hand, there are some unexpected points that can make this ascent more complicated than expected. So I wrote a complete article about the ascent of the Teide and the various ways to reach its summit (this article is already too long;)) but here is in summary what you need to know if you want to climb to the peak of the Teide:
- From 9am onwards, a permit is required to complete the last part of the ascent to Teide (from the cable car arrival station to the summit). So even if I knew that a permit was needed, what I didn’t know was that you have to book it months in advance because there are so many applications! The permit is free and can easily be booked here but personally I didn’t want to book a date 2 months in advance with the uncertainty of the weather. This gave me the opportunity to climb to the top of the Teide before 9am.
- Most people go up in 2 days and sleep at the Altavista refuge to go to the top of the Teide at sunrise. This solution allows you to cut the hike in half and reach the top without a permit (before 9am)… the ideal solution a priori! Here too you can easily book your night at the refuge on this site (for about 20 euros which is rather cheap) but the refuge was full several weeks in advance… It is therefore impossible to book only a few days in advance to keep a little flexibility.
- Do not underestimate the effects of altitude. So certainly the Teide is not at 6000m but if you spend your holidays by the sea, the difference in altitude with the summit is still huge (3700m). So get in quietly, drink a lot and if you don’t feel well, don’t insist! We are not all equal in the face of mountain sickness.
So to avoid having to apply for a permit and having to book at the refuge, we decided to go up to Teide by night from the Montana Blanca car park. So as you can read in this article, even if it’s still a good sport, the ascent of the Teide is going pretty well at night;)
Just go for the pleasure of the eyes, another small picture of my friends Faustine and Rémi at sunrise at the top of the Teide
The beautiful Samara hike
- Distance 5kms
- Elevation +- 250m
- Difficulty easy
- Duration 2-3h
- Start The Samara Mirador Parking lot (on the map above)
This hike is our favorite in the Teide National Park…. Indeed, this small loop crosses a part of the park that is rarely visited and yet is really beautiful with its pines growing in the volcanic sand. In addition, this part of the park is south facing and we really advise you to come here in the second half of the afternoon to see the sunset:)
The loop starts at the parking lot of Samara. We take immediately to the right following the indications of path number 13 (which we will follow all along). The trail gently climbs through the pines with Montana de la Botija facing us and then goes around it to return to the starting point on the other side. Once you reach Montana de la Botija, you will see several paths that allow you to climb to the top, which I strongly recommend you to do since the view is sensational. Once you have almost returned to the starting point, you can also take to your right to climb up to the Mirador de Samara which also offers very beautiful panoramas (especially at sunset)
On top of montaña Guajara
- Distance 9.2kms
- Elevation +- 600m
- Difficulty moderate
- Duration 4-5h
- Start Parkingnext to Canadas del Teide
Mount Guajara, at 2718m, is in fact the highest mountain in Tenerife after the Teide and Pico Viejo. In our opinion, it is also the place where we have the most beautiful view of the Teide of the whole national park. The hike starts at the parking lot of the hotel and restaurant Paradores, just next to the bus stop. We take the path that starts just behind and joins the 7 Canadas trail. Once you have reached the track, continue opposite on the path that goes up towards Mount Guajara on the right (you are advised to go up this side because it is the steepest slope). The path climbs steadily but without much difficulty and we already have a very nice view of the Teide behind us.
At the pass, take the path on the left that goes up towards the summit. The path goes under a rocky bar and then turns left into a corridor (here it climbs a little steeper). After the corridor, the path is flatter again and it is easy to reach the top of Guajara Mountain. You will find a shelter there which was also the site of an old observatory with a magnificent view of the Teide.
For the descent nothing complicated… we took the option to follow the ridge and therefore take the most direct path but it is also possible to go back a little further and take a left on a slightly less steep path. After the descent we reach the 7 canadas trail to return to the parking lot and complete the loop.
Small hike in the Corona Forestal
- Distance 5-6kms
- Elevation +- 100-200m
- Difficulty easy
- Duration 2-3h
- Start There are several parking lots along the road
I called these two small walks “Corona Forestal” (or forest crown) because they are simply located in the large area of protected pine forest that surrounds the Teide volcano. You can see on the map above that I actually indicated 2 small hikes along the road that goes up to Teide from La Laguna. I like this area very much because we are on a large ridge that gently climbs to the Teide in the middle of this magnificent pine forest. You will have some spectacular views of the volcano and the surrounding area.
In fact, to do these little hikes you have to park at the level of the red and green flags (and take the car between the 2 rides). The first one is a little lower and crosses the forest to access great clearances with a view to fall on the volcano. The 2nd is a short loop to a rock rather nice for the pictures… judge for yourself
The Teide cable car
If there is indeed a cable car that climbs almost to the top of the Teide (up to 3555m to be exact)! So I have to tell you that I’m not a big fan of this kind of facility, but with more than 3 million tourists a year visiting the park, it was almost inevitable. So if you want to climb almost to the top of the Teide without sweating, it is possible every day from 9:00 to 17:00 (19:00 in summer) for the modest sum of 27€ round trip (which you can buy on this site.
However, if you want to climb to the top of the Teide, as I told you earlier, you will need a permit that is reserved several months in advance. The view from the cable car’s arrival on the Caldera is not too bad though and you can also take a short walk to the Pico Viejo viewpoint or the Fortaleza viewpoint without a permit;)
Star watching from the Teide National Park
This is an activity I hadn’t necessarily thought of before our arrival, but it turns out that Teide National Park is one of the best places in the world to observe the stars (there is a very important scientific observatory that can be visited). Indeed, at more than 2000m and far from any light pollution, the Teide is the ideal place to observe and photograph the starry sky.
The most important thing you need to think about if you want to admire the stars and the Milky Way is to climb up to the Teide if possible on a new moon night. Indeed, it is the nights when there is no moon where you can best observe the sky and photograph it. In addition, to observe the Milky Way, the best time to do so is in spring because the galactic centre (the brightest part of the Milky Way) is in the open sky at night.
And if you want to take beautiful pictures at night, you need of course a camera with a fairly large sensor (Full Frame or APS-C), a wide angle lens with sufficient aperture (f2.8 and below) and a tripod for long exposures. As far as I’m concerned, I have a Sony A7ii body with a Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D lens and a very light Sirui T-025X Carbon tripod. For more details on choosing a camera, you can also take a look at this guide I wrote.
Guided night tours
For our part, we always came to Teide “alone” at night (sometimes with colivers, but always without a guide). As far as we are concerned, the main attraction was to see the Milky Way and to photograph it. However, if you are interested in astronomy it is also possible to do night hikes with a guide who will explain more about the stars. These 3 hour hikes are organised once a week and cost 16€ per person.
We hope that this article on the Teide National Park will be useful to you and help you prepare your outings to the highest peak in Spain. But believe us, Tenerife has much more to offer than the Teide volcano and the southern beaches. This island has an exceptional diversity and we still have some nice surprises in store for our next articles.
In the meantime we wish you a great start to the new year 2019 and we look forward to seeing you soon.
P.S. This article contains some affiliate links for services such as Rentalcars, Getyourguide or Civitatis. Of course, we only recommend services or objects that we use ourselves and that we consider interesting for you. If you use one of our links to make your purchase or reservation, we will receive a small commission (you won’t pay a penny more) that will help us to continue our work on this blog and offer free and independent content.