Hiking in the Canary Islands: Tenerife
The Canary Islands offer year-round sunshine and rugged, volcanic landscapes ideal for exploring on foot. For hiking fans of all abilities, there are tons of trails on offer, from easy coastal rambles to challenging mountain peaks.
If you’ve never visited the Canaries before, we think Tenerife is the place to start – you get a diverse mix of flora, fauna, and terrain – with some truly stunning views. We’ve picked our 5 favourite trails on the island.
Best time to go?
It all depends on how much heat you like to handle, but assuming you want to avoid the scorching mid-summer (when things can reach a fiery 35°C), Spring is the best time to get your hike on.
From March to May, the weather will be pleasantly warm and predictable. Autumn is good too, with temperatures in October and November hovering around the mid-20s. Just bear in mind that snow can appear on Mount Teide from October onwards, something to factor in when you’re prepping your gear.
1. Roque de Taborno
Difficulty: moderate, 1.5 – 2 hrs
From your starting point in the tiny village of Taborno, keep to the right of the church, and descend the steps to a viewpoint. You’ll get a good idea of what lies ahead, with your destination in the distance – an unusual rocky outcrop formed some 7 million years ago.
Follow the narrow path with care, as there are steep drops either side. As you make your way around the looping path through wild scrub (trousers recommended!) you’ll discover a couple of interesting caves to explore.
Take in the fabulous sea and mountain views as you go. Part of Anaga National Park, this area offers exceptional panoramic vistas, so be sure to have the camera charged up. When you reach the Roque, pause over the dramatic scenery before heading back the way you came to complete the circuit.
The area is pretty exposed. Be prepared to hike the trail another time if the winds get up – make your safety a priority. Decent lightweight hiking boots are a must, along with long pants to protect against scratches and scrapes. The number 275 bus goes to Taborno, with timetable information on the Titsa website.
2. Mount Teide Summit
Difficulty: hard, 8 – 10 hrs
The world’s 3rd highest volcano is there for the taking. You can reach the summit in one of two ways – via cable car, which leads to La Rambletta, for a 40 minute walk to the top, or a 6 hour-plus hike from Montana Blanca. Either way, you’ll need a permit to reach the peak. These are free and can be found on the national park website.
If you’re not taking the cable car option, then your adventure begins at trail 7, Montana Blanca. The path takes you through some magnificent volcanic formations before becoming a steep climb – this is a physically demanding hike.
You’ll traverse over lava fields and through ancient craters before reaching the Alta Vista refuge, where you can stop to recharge before stepping onto trail 11 towards La Rambletta. Show your permit, then head for the summit on trail 10. There’s a two-hour window to complete the round-trip, so keep an eye on the time as you go.
At the summit, you’ll find yourself 3,700m up. The views are far reaching and magnificent – you can even catch a glimpse of other islands in the distance. To descend, either retrace your steps, or take the cable car to the base station.
This high up, things start to get chilly, even in the Canaries – get your cold weather gear sorted. With permits snatched up quickly, you might find yourself unable to reach the summit – as an alternative, consider a guided hike, where the permit comes as part of the package. Gradients reach 60% at points, so be prepared for a tough climb, and bring plenty of water/snacks.
3. Chinyero Loop
Difficulty: easy, 2 – 2.5 hrs
This straightforward 7km walk begins at the Arena Negras picnic area in Teide National Park. It’s a case of following the signs all the way to Chinyero, so there’s little chance of getting lost. Your gently ascending hike will take you on a loop around Chinyero, Tenerife’s youngest volcano.
As you ramble around the volcano, you’ll cross over lava flows, evidence of the last eruption in 1909. You will notice a constant change in terrain, which takes in black ash and soft pine forest floors. Reaching the foot of Chinyero, take in stunning views of Mount Teide to the north, looming dramatically in the distance.
Make your way back over lava fields and into a forest of shady pine. Keep an eye (and ear!) out for the Great Spotted Woodpeckers that make the forest home, as well as the beautiful Blue Chaffinch, symbolic of the island.
The walk is suitable for children, and can be done in a sturdy pair of trainers. There is no mobile phone signal – if you plan to detour, you’ll need a physical map. As always, keep water with you, and be sure to bring plenty of sunblock.
4. Tagana Beach from Afana
Difficulty: moderate, 3 – 4 hrs
Starting at Afana village in the northeast of the island, this scenic hike takes in impressive rock formations, coastal views and black sand beaches.
From the village, find the whitewashed church, and follow the sign to Tamadiste Beach. The trail will take you up and down a few rocky outcrops (look out for mountain goats) before leading you down to the black sands of the beach.
After photographing the lizards that lounge on the rocks, head up to the trail, following the signpost labelled Taganana. You’ll eventually be greeted with a fine vantage point over Taganana village, where you can stop to admire one of the oldest churches on the island before descending to the beach. From here, you can either choose to retrace your steps, or follow the signs through the forest to loop back to the start.
There is a fair bit of steep climbing here, but nothing too extreme. Hiking boots are a must, along with water and energy bars. A few sections heading downwards can be a little unstable, so take it easy, and go slow. A bus (76) goes from La Laguna to Arfur village, or you can park just below the church.
5. Trail of the Senses, Agana Rural Park
Difficulty: easy, 10 – 40 mins
This accessible hike is designed for all ages an abilities and is made up of 3 trails. Beginning at the visitor centre in Agana Rural Park, trail 1 consists of a wheelchair-friendly wooden walkway leading through a laurel forest. Boards along the way encourage visitors to stop and smell, see, or touch various natural forms along the way.
Trails 2 and 3 are a little more challenging and these bring extra elevation and stairs. Trail 2 features a bridge and suspended walkway, while Trail 3 leads to the Llano de Los Loros lookout point where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of a ravine and lake, as well as Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz.
Only trail 1 is accessible for those in wheelchairs, and you can expect the trail to be busy at peak times in the summer. Take road TF-12 to the start point, either by car or bus.