Beautiful, serene, challenging, and an insight into the nature, culture, and history of Tenerife – these are just some of the characteristics of Tenerife’s walking trails. Whatever your experience and fitness level, you can find a route to suit. Just follow a few simple guidelines. Those heading on Tenerife package holidays who fancy testing out the island’s walking trails need to wear sturdy and comfortable footwear, take a map or get directions, make sure you have water, a bit of food, and sun protection.
Here we take you through the 10 best walks to try in Tenerife, most of which take a leisurely four to five hours. So, best foot forward, let’s go.
Malpais De Rasca
This is a fairly level walk from Las Galletas to the lighthouse that is visible from Los Cristianos, and beyond to Palm Mar.
On the motorway side of Las Galletas beach, a rough track leads down to rugged coast through cactus and tabaiba plants. Rock pools fill and empty with the tide, and attract crabs and small fish. Back on a concrete path you pass acres of banana plantations before dropping onto the protected reserve of Malpais de Rasca. The lighthouse will draw you like a beacon. There are two, the old squat house from 1898 and the candy-striped automatic newcomer from 1978. The wide, flat area beyond has the remains of old stone houses, cereal crops and land where tomatoes were grown. It’s possible to push through to Palm Mar, but most walkers retrace their steps via bird spotting around the wild plants and shrubs.
Red Mountain may be the name, but the mineral-packed rock face at the far end of Tenerife South runway offers so many shades and hues depending on the time, the weather, and maybe even your mood. It’s a short but steep climb of 171 metres, but the views are a fine reward.
Heading into El Medano you can approach the peak from the public campsite and café, or the overflow car park. Either way you follow a choice of trails between the sand dunes and the bushes, and wild grass of the nature reserve – a bird spotter’s delight. The track pulls you to the far side of the mountain and a series of sharp rises well used by all ages. It will take around an hour to reach the peak to the square stack and rest area. Now you can survey the 360-degree view, from the multi-coloured surfing kites on El Medano beach to the craggy coast beyond.
On the other side, I’m sure you will avert your eyes from La Tejita nudist beach and enjoy the sweep of the coast as it passes the airport, and further inland the volcanic ridges of Arona and Adeje have their own tales to tell. Underfoot the red dust and rock is even more impressive as it is framed by small plants and bustling lizards among the aged cracks in the ground. The trip down is quicker, but go easy as the incline can force your pace.
Camino De La Hoya
From the top end of Valle de San Lorenzo, the Mirador La Centinela and restaurant mark the entrance to this pleasant walk down through the valley and up into San Miguel. The craggy cone of Roque de Jama dominates the skyline and this is a quiet and peaceful stroll through the site of old pumice and stone quarrys, despite the main road skirting the walk. A few tumbled down old houses are worth a peek and the water trough hewn into the rocks still has a small flow. The steep path beyond leads to a tarmac road and beyond that there’s another dip down and up El Lomo with a wooden bridge over a stuttering spring. Look out for the old pottery kiln and keep an ear cocked for birdsong.
San Miguel has plenty to offer, including Casa de Capitanes, a large rural house showcasing the old way of life. The church square is also worth seeking out – the spire is visible from most points. Three hours should cover this trek, and those on holidays in Los Cristianos can easily get back as public buses link either end of the walk with the town.
Casas De Altavista
Arona town is a short bus or car ride up into the hills from Guaza roundabout and there are detailed guide boards and signposts for the four popular routes that feed off the church square.
Casas de Altavista is a circular walk that gives a good insight into the changing moods of the area. Left from the plaza and past the football ground you will find a little dirt track heading up. The water channels, a variety of blooms, and birdsong make it a pleasant walk. The view of Arona spreading out below and the sound of the church bell are a contrast to the popular tourist resorts you can see beyond. The rough track links to a tarmac road, where the old houses and farms begin. Even though many have been modernized, the old features still give clues to their agricultural past. Following through to the road down again you can see another rough track running up to Vilaflor, a long steep stretch that was a trade route. Although the road looks modern there is very little traffic, so you have time to survey the surrounding peaks and in the winter the almond trees look beautiful in bloom. Coming down into Arona town from the other side you can see the old Los Lavadores where the mountain streams converge. This is a shorter walk of about two hours, so you might like to use the spare time to enjoy a cool drink at one of the small, cheap cafés or bars at the end of your journey.
Roque Del Conde
Also accessed from Arona town is this tough but very rewarding walk that takes you up “table top mountain”, which dominates views from Adeje and Los Cristianos. The church square is again the start point but you head out across the main road and down a lane past the landing point for the many paragliders that enjoy the local air currents. Dipping down between two old houses, a rough path takes you over iron water pipes and up and down a small ravine. An old concrete viaduct lies to the north, but the signs will divert you to the west for the steep and deep ravine called Barranco del Rey, where farmers still herd their goats. About an hour into the walk an outcrop of rock makes a great viewing point for a rest before the big push up the steepest part. The plateau isn’t as close as it looks, and you will appreciate your grippy shoes on some of the worn paths. The summit views are spectacular, outward most of the south coast and inward to the Barranco del Infierno and several volcanic peaks, including Mount Teide. The breeze at the top is very welcome. Retracing your steps, it’s quicker going down. Many people use this walk so if you are unsure of the route, keep others in sight or take a breather until fellow hikers approach from either end. The route is similar in time to lesser rivals at just over four hours, but the steepness pulls on the leg muscles so maybe try a smaller walk first.
Here comes another pair of contrasting walks, this time from the town of Santiago del Teide. Camino Real was an old trade route to the coast so if you start in Santiago del Teide it’s downhill all the way and the temperature rises from the town at the edge of the pine forest. The entry point is at the lower end of the town, but there are buses linking both ends of the walk if you want to leave a car. Old stone walls guide your start before the uneven path dips down, the basic walk is under four hours but you can add two challenging add-ons involving steep climbs.
The first, Risco Blanco, leads to a side view of the white rock volcanic cone set against the sea beyond. The second, Cruz de Los Misioneros, means pushing through wild grass and bushes to a ledge that reveals different views of Risco Blanco and the valleys around it. If you stick to the straight and narrow, you will have to cross the partially dry stream and then funnel down a steep track. Emerging on a wider path, the sea looms up ahead and a cultivated part of the valley shows how they make the best use of very little water. Caves carved into the high rocks on your other side tell their own tale of basic living many years ago. The final stretch brings you out by net-covered banana farms. Take the track to the left and you come out just above Los Gigantes.
Santiago Del Teide to Arguayo
Destructive but strangely beautiful, that’s the lava flow from Tenerife’s last eruption and it’s a big feature of this walk. There are several shorter choices leading off from behind the town hall but this 9 km route has everything. The path is well signposted and leads up through the almond trees and every February people flock to enjoy the pink and white blossom. Up above the reservoir is Chinyero, the 1909 eruption stopped short of the statue of the virgin after it was brought out from the church. A shrine to this “miracle” and an annual service takes place in the clearing, but moving on from here the lava path spreads out like a lunar landscape full of strange formations. Further on, the pine forest closes in as the route circles around to just below its start point.
There’s a real feel of history on this walk and it’s surprising to see how trees and shrubs have prospered, especially against recent large summer fires. Mount Teide looms large along the route and in winter months the peak can be covered in snow. The route is challenging due to the different surfaces and it can be cold and exposed in winter months. There’s a steep zig zag descent into Arguayo through the almond orchards before reaching the small village. It’s just a short taxi or bus ride to link the circle back to Santiago del Teide.
The most famous and stunning of Tenerife walks. This can be accessed from Santiago del Teide by a shuttle bus a few times a day, but the only way to Los Gigantes from the Masca beach at the end of the walk is by a service boat for 10 euros, five for children, although it’s easier to book an all-inclusive package and advisable to go in a group. Nothing can prepare you for the magnificent views that unfold as you drive down the tight corkscrew road into Masca village. Steep shifting shingle tracks take you down the route and into the high-sided ravine, where high rock stacks, dribbling water sources, and precariously balanced trees compete for your camera’s attention. A stream meanders through as big clearings open up as natural rest points and nifty footwork is needed to cross the small gulleys. Wild cats and lizards scamper around with ease but it is best not to feed them – the ecosystem is finely balanced on this time-locked trek. It’s a glorious feeling of achievement as the valley sides start to open out onto the shingle path that leads to a pebble beach and sandy cove. The prominent rock where the shuttle boats moor up is also a popular swimming point. The walk itself is just shy of five hours and the boat trip takes about 20 minutes.
The Samarines coastal path starts with a walk up and behind the Basilica for wonderful views of the church plaza, the Guanche statues, and the coast leading up to Santa Cruz. The local council has recently serviced this walk so stones guide you along past the mass of bushes and flowers. The clifftop soon dips down over dry river beds and onto a series of small shingle coves. Playa de La Viuda is a wide dark sand beach lined by a collection of very basic old houses in a fishing community. The sea is often lively along this route so think carefully before taking a dip. The Samarines is supposed to be just over two hours for a return trip but if you’re feeling fit you can keep going and head for Guimar. The bulk of the extension to this walk is Malpais de Guimar (the badlands), which is a long stretch of rising and falling hard sharp rock that will make your feet ache. If you stick with it, the Montaña de la Mar makes a useful natural viewpoint before reaching the fishing zone of El Puertito on the outskirts of Guimar. The full route will set you back a good five hours or more.
A beautiful village to visit, high up in the clear air and it has a fine walk that can be entered from the low point of the village or beyond the football ground at the top. Either way, there is some parking and some steep points along the route. From the top, the path rises through an army of pine trees and along a well-maintained course with large stones and sawn-off logs to shepherd you in the right direction. Halfway along there is a clearing and a cliff edge that looks onto a fertile valley with red soil and pine cones coating the floor. A zig-zag downward path leads to a reservoir alongside a shaded resting spot where you can sit on cold iron water pipes. There are not many flat stretches and the path soon rises again through old tree roots until you reach an old abandoned cottage that combines 130-year-old wood with modern touches like solar panels. Dry ravines cut across the final part of the walk and there’s another incline past meadows of flowers. Look out for the tall red tajinaste, a symbol of the area. It’s a testing four-hour stroll but with plenty of shade and cool breezes, and those views are among the best in Tenerife!
Barranco Del Infierno
You may be expecting this famous Adeje walk to be in this top ten, but at time of press it was closed again due to a fatal accident at the end of October 2015. Last time it was closed for years, so don’t hold your breath. Check the Barranco Del Infierno website for any news of its return.