national park in Tenerife, Spain
Europe > Iberia > Spain > Canary Islands > Tenerife > Teide National Park

Teide National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional del Teide) is Europe's most visited national park with over 4 million visitors in 2016. With an area of 190 km² it occupies the highest 10% of Tenerife's land area, one of the Canary Islands which administratively belong to Spain. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and has since been one of the 12 Treasures of Spain.

The park is known for its 2 volcanoes, 1 El Teide (3,715 m) and 2 Pico Viejo (3,135 m), the only peaks on the Canary Islands above 3,000 m above sea level.

Understand edit

Vibrant red flowers of the Teide bugloss
A Canary Island lizard

Teide National Park is the largest and oldest national park on the Canary Islands and the third oldest in Spain, declared a national park in 1954. It is located in the municipality La Orotava, and famous for its active volcanoes El Teide and Pico Viejo.

Mount Teide is the highest mountain of Spain if measured from sea level, the highest volcano in the Atlantic Ocean, and the 3rd highest volcano in the world measured from the ocean floor with a total elevation of 7,500 m. Mount Teide is the most famous natural icon of the Canary Islands, and a popular sight on postcards. Its crater has a diameter of over 16 km with jagged edges called the cañadas at altitudes between 2,000–2,500 m. The volcanic massif of Mount Teide and Pico Viejo rises above the crater.

Mount Teide is a decade volcano, identified as one of the 16 most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its history of explosive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. This makes Mount Teide one of the best studied stratovolcanoes, although most of the research takes place in summer as its summit is covered by snow in winter.

History edit

The area of the national park has been of significant historical value, dating back to the Guanche era as evidenced by archaeological remains in the mark. For the Guanches it was a place of worship, much like Mount Olympus for the ancient Greeks, who considered it an entry to hell. After its designation as national park in 1954 it was awarded the European Diploma of Protected Areas in 1989, an award which has been renewed every 5 years since in recognition of the conservation efforts taking place.

Landscape edit

The landscape of the park is mountainous, and the peak of the volcano is visible from most parts of the park. Elevation increases inland, and the flanks of El Teide itself are rather steep. At lower altitudes, the slopes of the park are covered in Canarian pine trees, giving the temperate zone a characteristic look. At higher altitudes and inside the crater, the landscape is rocky and barren, with only low shrubs and grasses preventing high winds from carrying dust in the air.

Flora and fauna edit

The lava flows on the flanks of Mount Teide erode into a nutrient and mineral rich soil that supports very diverse flora, including 168 vascular flora species of which 33 are endemic to Tenerife. The Canary Island pine tree (Pinus canariensis) covers slopes between 1,000—2,100 m in dense pine forests, with a timberline about 1,000 m lower than that of continental mountains of comparable latitude. Beyond 2,000 m vegetation becomes more scarce, although the Canãdas (caldera ridge) provides enough protection against wind to allow the Canary Island juniper tree to grow where otherwise only shrubs would flourish.

The white broom (Spartocytisus supranubius) is the dominant flower in the park, recognizable by its white and pink flower petals, but often confused with the Canary Island wallflower which has white and violet petals. The Teide daisy can be found at altitudes close to 3,600 m, whereas the Teide bugloss (Echium wildpretii) grows pyramidal flowers that can reach 3 m in height and can be recognized afar by their vibrant red colour. The Teide violet (Viola cheiranthifolia) can be found right up to the summit of Mount Teide, making it the highest flowering plant in Spain. Characteristic to the climate with high altitude, intense sunlight, extreme temperature variations, and lack of moisture are the high flower production and reduced leaf exposure area of many species, often giving the park an unusually colourful landscape. Flowering takes place in late spring and early summer, so the best months to visit the park for botanists are May and June. There is a huge variety of fauna as well, of which 70 species of invertebrates are only found in the park (mostly beetles and spiders). The number of vertebrates is comparatively small, with only 10 bird species nesting in the park, 3 endemic reptile species (the Canary Island lizard, the Canary Island wall gecko, and the Canary Island skink). The only endemic mammals are bats of which multiple species reside in the park. Numerous invasive mammals have been introduced, including rabbits, mice, rats, feral cats, and hedgehogs.

Climate edit

See weather box.
Teide Observatory
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

The weather conditions in the crater and at the top are very stable, and clouds usually reside below 2,000 m. Though, you should check whether Calima   is going on or coming up, because this will definitely interfere with the great views you have from here.

Get in edit

By bus edit

There are two public buses per day at around 09:00 going either from Puerto de la Cruz (Línea 348[dead link]) or Costa Adeje (Línea 342[dead link]) to the Teide crater. They will return to their origin at around 16:00.

As of 2023, the price from Adeje is €8.05 and from Puerto de la Cruz €6.20. It seems that during the week the price drops by 30%.

By thumb edit

If you find a good spot, e.g. near Vilaflor, Chío or Camino de Chasna, it is possible to find a lift up into the Teide crater. Hitchhiking is certainly easier for the way down than up—just in case you are planning to hike a part.

By car edit

A rental car gives the most freedom to get into and around in the park, and enables stops at the numerous viewpoints (Spanish: mirador) along the way traversing the Coronal Rural Park into the Teide National Park. Car rentals start at €15 per day–see Canary Islands#By rental car. There are car parks at most sights and relevant spots—without guarantee of availability. The road is in good condition but there is a speed limit of 70 km/h throughout the entire National Park, so count an hour to get from the southern part of the island into the crater, and longer from the northern part.

By taxi edit

A taxi from the airport to the bottom of the cable lift may set you back up to €150.

On foot edit

Hiking into the crater can be an option, since there are numerous trails leading from the lower altitudes of the island into its higher ones. For comprehensive trails, reliable maps and GPS navigation use OpenStreetMap, which is leveraged by this travel guide and many mobile apps like OsmAnd or

Fees and permits edit

Looking back down at the gated S-10 trail head and the upper cable car station.

Access to the summit of El Teide, i.e., the climb from La Rambleta at the upper cable car station (3,555 m) to the summit (3,715 m) on the S-10 Telesforo Bravo Trail (168 m) always requires a permit, which can obtained online. Permits are issued free of charge, but unless you're a volcanologist or part of a registered mountaineering society, the chance of obtaining a permit last minute is small, as acess is limeted to a maximum of 200 climbers per day. Permits sell out months in advance (applying at least three months before is recommended), and if you are assigned a slot, you may need to have flexible travel plans to use it. If you do obtain a permit, you must show ID along with the permit.

In case you could not get a permit, it may not come as a surprise that local tour agencies can almost always organize a tour at any given day, even on short notice. This option is much pricier, though, starting at around €75 for a guided tour with permit and cable car ticket.

Between 09:00–17:00 (first and last ride of the cable lift), access to the trail is controlled. The exception seems to be a situation when the cable car is not running (eg. due to strong wind). In that case there are only a few people around the top station (La Rambleta) and there might be no one to check the permit.

Between 17:00–09:00 (outside of the cable car hours) access to the summit is not controlled. You are still supposed to have a permit, but controlling staff may not even bother if you come down from the summit after 09:00 when they started checking for the permit. These times are well inside the range of sunrise and sunset and thus offer the best times to experience the summit. However, this also means you will either have to climb up or down in the dark to enjoy the summit during sunrise or sunset. The busiest time is generally the summit at sunrise, even though the sunset seems much more convenient—arriving at the accommodation at around 23:00–00:00 for a good night's sleep instead of waking up in the middle of the night a driving tiredly into the crater at around 01:00–02:00. If you are lucky, you will sometimes even be the only one on the summit at sunset.

Although climbing to the highest peak of the Canary Islands in the early morning is an unforgettable experience, the upper cable car station also offers magnificent views, and does not require a permit.

Get around edit

Map of Teide National Park

By bus edit

Between about 10:45–16:00 bus line 341[dead link] will circle almost hourly between 1 El Portillo and 2 Parador del Teide, with stops at the 3 Visitor Center, 4 El Portillo Alto, 5 Minas de San Jose, 6 Montaña Blanca and the 7 cable car (Teleferico del Teide).

By thumb edit

It is possible to see the crater by thumb. There are more than enough friendly tourists travelling the crater by car, you just have to find a convenient point where cars can stop.

By car edit

A car is the easiest. Sometimes streets can be closed due to snowfall—check in advance.

By bicycle edit

Race biking or e-bike is also not unheard of. However, there is no bike rental place in the park.

On foot edit

Hiking in the crater is possible and many dedicated and well marked trails exist to have you visit the interesting sights of the crater—see #Hiking for more details. Though, it is probably not a good idea for quickly get from one sight to the other, since the distances are quite large. But hitchhiking does work.

By cable car edit

The cable car will take you closer to the summit.

From the car park area the view isn't particularly special; you'll have to ascend further to the top for the real goods. There are no roads available, so unless you're up for a hike the cable car is your only option. It's a 10-minute lift to 3,550 m.

Tickets are sold for a specific departure time and sell out quickly. Buying one on the day itself means you will have to wait for hours at best, but in the high season more likely it's not possible at all. Get your ticket a couple of days in advance for a guaranteed spot. Return tickets are €40 (as of November 2023), half price for the residents and children. A one-way ticket is €22. The return ticket is valid for 1 hour; if you miss it, you will have to pay additional €22 to go back down (however, this limitation does not seem to be enforced). You can cancel or change your booking online free of charge until 18:00 the previous day. This is also where you request a refund or different time slot if the cable car is not be running due to weather.

Children under 3, pregnant women, people with heart problems, physical disability or motor impairment cannot use the cable car due to health risks that come with the high altitude as well as safety concerns in case of an evacuation.

  • 8 Lower cable car station (at an altitude of 2,350 m). 09:00–17:00, the last ascent to the top is at 16:00.
  • 9 Upper cable car station (at an altitude of 3,550 m).

See edit

  • 1 Pico de Teide. Daily 24/7 (cable car 09:00–17:00), permit required. If there is no cloud cover, you have an amazing view all over the island, the neighbouring Canary Islands. If you are lucky, you may even get to see the African mainland. Usually clouds develop in the morning; hence, you are best advised to get to the top as early as possible. Permit is free, cable car tickets from €22.    
  • 2 Roque Cinchado (Roques García). 24/7. Rock formation considered emblematic to Tenerife, at about 1,700 m below the summit of Mount Teide. It is a volcanic formation belonging it a lineup of large rock formations all of which are remnants of the former summit known as Roques García. The 27-m-high rock pillar is composed of sedimentary rock layers, with its upper layers intruded by 2 sills of lava which made the upper part of the pillar more erosion resistant. Free.    
  • 3 Mirador de Chío. A good viewpoint for the sunset watching.
  • 4 White Mountain (Montaña Blanca). 24/7. A parasitic cone of the Teide caldera, and with 2,748 m the third tallest peak on Tenerife after Pico del Teide (3,715 m) and Pico Viejo (3,135 m). Free.    
  • 5 Chinyero (Reserva natural especial del Chinyero). 24/7. Volcanic cone one the slopes of El Teide, at a distance of about 10 km of its summit. Its height above sea level is 1,556 m but due to elevation of the landscape the cone is only 60 m tall. Its last eruption occurred on 27 November 1909, and was the last volcanic eruption on Tenerife to date. An area of 2 km² was covered by lava and ash, but no humans were injured. During its previous eruption in 1706, Garachico was heavily damaged by its lava flows. Free.  

Do edit

  • 3 Teide Observatory (Observatorio del Teide), TF21. Astronomical observatory on Mount Teide at 2,390 m altitude, operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. Opened in 1964, it became the first major international observatory with telescopes from different countries being installed because of its superior observatory conditions. The observatory consists of multiple buildings, some of which can be visited on guided tours. €21.    

Hiking edit

There are dozens of available routes, their description (in Spanish) alongside with some practical information, like trails' length and difficulty available at this link.

Don't underestimate seemingly short walks, as the low oxygen levels can make the terrain challenging even for experienced walkers. The surroundings can be anything from cat litter-like lapilli to sharp magma stone, snow, and ice. While the sun can be merciless, the temperatures at the top are around 0°C freezing point, varying +/-7°C during the year, and during day and night, so you will need proper clothes and maybe gloves. At the top there are some places with warm sulphur steam where the sunset or sunrise can be endured comfortably, but don't rely on it.

Pico del Teide edit

From the upper cable car station of at 3,550 m the hike up to the Teide peak at 3,715 m can take 30 min to 1 hr, depending on your physical abilities. Permit required.

From Montaña Blanca to the upper cable car station (via Refugio Altavista). This walk can be challenging, and there are no facilities along the way, but if you take your time, there is nothing to be afraid of except for the occasional case of mild altitude sickness. The 8.8 km hike starts at the Montaña Blanca parking lot and bus stop on TF-21 (2,300 m) and usually takes about 3–5½ hours one way, depending on your level of fitness (trailrunners can manage to run up 2 hours). Note that parking is very limited even early in the morning. After a relatively gentle start on trail #7 from the parking up a 4x4 track for around 4 km, you begin the steep and spectacular climb, ascending 530 m (1,740 ft) in just over 1.5 km (0.93 mi), where you will reach the Altavista Refugio at 3,260 m (10,700 ft). After a 1 km (0.62 mi) and 250 m (820 ft) ascent, trail #7 ends, joining #11. Turning right here optionally leads you to the nearby La Fortaleza viewpoint, but the main section to the left follows the contour around El Teide to the cable lift. If required for descent, always check if the cable lift is operational before you set off, as it does not run in poor weather conditions and closes without warning. The weather conditions here are very stable, and clouds usually reside below 2,000 m. Nevertheless, checking the weather beforehand won't hurt. The hike down is considerably faster (2–3 hr) — watch your steps as there can be loose gravel parts of the way. Alternatively or for the hike down, you can also take the Pico Viejo–Roque Cinchado–Parador route, which is 9.3 km. You just need to coordinate your parking properly or need to take a hitch or bus back to the original starting point.

Pico Viejo edit

A moderately demanding hike (hiking boots recommended) is possible from El Teide. One reasonable itinerary is leaving car at "Boca Tauce" (interesection of TF-21 and TF-38), taking bus line 342[dead link] from there to the cablecar, going up and then just descending via 4 Pico Viejo, Narices del Teide and back to Boca Tauce. It takes around 5–6 hours from the top to bottom.

Alto de Guajara edit

Paisaje Lunar below Guajara

Climbing 5 Mount Guajara   (Alto de Guajara) is not restricted. The 2,718 m (8,917 ft) high peak can be accessed either from north (e.g. hotel Parador), which will take approximately 2 hours, or from the south via Vilaflor or Granadilla de Abona passing by the impressive 6 Paisaje Lunar.

The latter is considerably more difficult, as you start wither at 1,400 m or 650 m and thus expect a 4–6-hour hike, but there is the 1 Caseta del Aqua with drinking water along the way, depending on which way you choose. There is also an astronomical observatory along the ridge at the southern end of the crater from here.

Buy edit

There is a 1 souvenir shop at the base station of the Teide cable car, selling exactly the same "handcrafted" souvenirs as can be found in every other souvenir shop on the island, except at a higher price: jewelry with basalt and olivine stones, ornamental decorations in lizard shapes, seeds for endemic plants, cacti, drago and pine tree saplings, post cards, and so on.

Eat & drink edit

Options for eating are sparse in the National Park, so it is a good idea to plan ahead and pack a picnic. The same goes for water supply; it is highly unlikely to find any form of surface water on your hikes, so make sure you bring enough to stay hydrated.

There are some restaurants/bars in Portillo Alto and El Portillo at the northern edge of the National Park. In the South, Parador de los Cañadas del Teide Hotel (see sleep section) has an upper-budget restaurant with mediocre food.

There is a cafe at the lower cable car station which serves sandwiches, cakes, ice cream and coffee—probably not that affordable. They have a monopoly on food and drinks in the park, so everything is seriously overpriced. Check pricing of individual items before committing to a purchase.

The upper station has neither shops nor cafés, but a coffee vending machine.

Sleep edit

Lodging edit

  • 1 Parador de los Cañadas del Teide, +34 902 54 79 79. The only proper hotel at the mountain. From €230 depending on the day of the week.
  • 2 Refugio Altavista (at 3,260 m (10,700 ft) and accessible by foot only), +34 922 0100 440, . Closed as of November 2023..
  • 3 Altavista Shelter (right behind the Refugio). Has 3 bunk beds and thus space for 6 people, probably 2-3 spaces more on the floor if you have a mattress. There might even be some sleeping bags in the shelter—there were some as of Jan 2022. It is open 24/7, probably due to the closure of the Refugio—the situation might change if the Refugio reopens. It will fill up in the morning, when the masses hike up for the sunrise, but if you went for the sunset in the middle of the week, you will be lucky. Check the Google reviews for the current situation. Free.
  • 4 Casa Tajinastes del Teide, 31 Calle el Portillo, Portillo Alto (behind the Restaurante Papillon). Probably the only holiday home available for rent within the National Park.

Camping edit

As anywhere else on the island, wild camping is not allowed in the national park. However, there are some free and official camping sites that are fairly close (by car) to the borders of the park—prior online registration required, but there is always space. The last three require at least a 2–3-hr hike from the crater.

Stay safe edit

At 3,715 m, El Teide is the highest mountain in Spain. The rapid ascent by cable car can lead to altitude sickness. Most people come here directly from sea level, which can be stressful. If symptoms start to manifest you should descend immediately; at peak times the wait for the cable car descent can be over an hour. Details on what to expect can be found at Altitude sickness#Illnesses at altitude.

At the summit, strong winds are not uncommon which significantly reduces temperatures. Irrespective of temperatures on the beaches, a trip to El Teide (or even just the National Park) can be very cold, with snow at the peak common until typically March/April on average. In Winter expect a few feet of snow and ice, and strong winds so prepare accordingly.

Go next edit

  • Icod de los Vinos – Under Teide, though far by road, with Cueva del Viento the largest lava cave in Europe and the fifth-largest in the world
  • Vilaflor – The highest town on the island, on the southern flanks of El Teide
  • Puerto de la Cruz – A laid-back, more family-friendly resort with the Loro Parque Zoo
  • La Orotava – A stately and beautiful city
  • Anaga Rural Park – Jungle and national park at the other part of the island
  • Santiago del Teide – A desert town between Teide National Park and Teno Rural Park, and many other hiking destinations

This park travel guide to Teide National Park is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.