Hiking Mount Teide – Spain’s Highest Mountain

Have you ever wondered what Europe’s highest volcano is? Spain’s highest mountain? The world’s thenth highest island? The highest point above sea level among Atlantic islands? The third highest island volcano of the world?

Sure you have, you smarty pants. Daily questions of life.

Well, the first time I have heard of this 3718 meters high king of the Canary Islands was when my parents couldn’t stop raving about it ever since they discovered the island group as their favorite destination ever. Today they’re hiking Mount Teide at least two times during each of the two or three times a year they visit.

Well, I usually stick to spontaneous road trips. Crazy cycling tours. Deserted paradise beaches. That kind of stuff. Now however I joined – and was not disappointed!

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A dark blue sky, wide lava fields of black and red sparkling stones, in the distance the snowwhite lines of an observatory – the mood above the clouds on Tenerife is breathtaking. Literally. Oxygen is actually getting somewhat thin up there. But I promise, it’s worth it. Acutally, Teide National Park is the most visited national park in Europe! In 2007, it became a UNESCO world heritage site. Making any passionate outdoorer’s heart jump, the national park’s staff has moved and cut the countless lava stones to create 36 amazing hiking opportunities for every level, varying from an hour to a whole day.

Mount Teide’s demonic origin and its course

The island’s natives Guanches actually called it “Echeyde” – referring to a demon who was supoosed to have lived there. He had captured the sungod, resulting in Tenerife thrown into darkness. However, the sungod was rescued by the boss God (following the native people’s prayers who were afraid of the dark), and the Pilón, the “sugar loaf”, henceforth locked the demon into the mountain. Obviously the reason for all the volcanic action in Tenerife’s history ever since. The last major eruption was in 1798. Eventually, the Spanish language developed its name to “Teide”.

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Apparently the Teide is a source of fascination across times – the ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote “It is said to stand so tall that one cannot see its summit on account of the clouds which in summer as well as winter envelope it, and it is called by the inhabitants a Pillar of Heaven”. Some even say, the Canary islands are the highest, and last remaining part of the sunken Atlantis. In today’s ages, the otherworldly landscape has served an excellent scenery for science fiction blockbusters like Star Wars or Planet of the Apes and the all time classic Once Upon A Time In The West.

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Best time to visit Mount Teide: An everlasting spring

Temperatures on the Canary Islands are known for their almost not existing fluctuation with mostly 22°C and above during the day. But don’t let that deceive you (as it did for me), it’s chilly up on Mount Teide! With easily 10 or more degrees less than down at the beach, do pack a jacket and long pants for hiking. And good shoes And sunscreen. And water. Well, you know the drill.

Anyway, check the forecast in advance, since access can be denied due to snow, ice, and other conditions. Even when you wouldn’t expect it. Cause you were just working that tan at the beach. But believe me – you might just be surprised be 10 cm of snow when driving up to the national park. Well, when that’s the case and you need a quick source of inspiration – check out Spain’s tourism info for alternatives!

Hiking Mount Teide

Best chances for a cloudless view are rather in the mornings. If you’ve got the necessary pocket money, take a rental car to avoid the daily packed tourist bus caravans. If you rather spend that pocket money on a well earned drink in the evening, there are indeed plenty of buses taking you from anywhere between Las Américas and Puerto de la Cruz. And all the other corners. Or hitchhike and even get a meal along with the drink?

The trails are well marked with signs, there are countless maps to be found in any tourist information, or you can even book a guide leading you through the national park. Many even speak German. I know that cause when my family and I went hiking Mount Teide, we came along a group of, let’s say, rather aged people led by a dynamic Spanish looking guy, chatting to my mum about her two pretty daughters who were climbing up a gigantic boulder for a (not at all stereotypical) picture.

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Climbing up and down rocky lava hills, tramping through trickling volcanic ash or relaxed strolling through Canarian pine forest – there’s something for everybody. And no matter which lookout you’ll choose, whether you’re walking one of the many trails or the path at the upper station – the audience is international, the comments are all the same “amazing, unique, incredible“.

You’ll want to take regular breaks, not only to catch your breath, but to admire the surrounding volcanic cones, lava flows and caves with their extraordinary colors and shapes. Looking up, you might discover the white-yellowish smoke emerging from lavastones, a sign of the volcano’s ongoing growls. Reminded me a lot of New Zealand actually!

Climbing Mount Teide – Get to the top

If you want to make your way up to the peak – haven’t been there myself, but it’s supposed to be the literal highlight of a stay on Tenerife – you’ll probably want to take the cable car. Unless you’re that super fit adventurous crazy people hiking up there.

But let’s stay with the cable car. Within 10 minutes, it’ll take you from the base station at 2356 meters all the way to 200 meters beneath the peak. It costs 27 € return for adults and is accessible daily from 9 am to 5 pm, providing that weather is playing along. Up there, you’ll have one hour to hike up the narrow path towards the outlook and back – a longer stay is not permitted. Because of the indeed thing air, it’s advisable to only do so in perfect health condition, people with heart problems or high blood pressure might want to reconsider. But hey, the national park itself already blew my mind, so let’s keep our spirits high!

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If you want to visit the actual top (meaning, beyond the upper station La Fortaleza), you need to get a special permit that you have to apply for several days in advance (to be done here or at the national park’s office). The permit itself is free, the reason behind is to limit the daily number of visitors to 150. To keep it clean, to keep it safe.

And if you still haven’t got enough …

More information on hiking Mount Teide and other good-to-know’s to be found here and here, also referring to more amazing hikes on Tenerife and the other Canary Islands.

Happen to be far from Europe? Then why not check out these Top 50 Long Distance Hiking Trails In The US for example. Next to all basic information it is a fun read that’ll get you into adventure mode in no time!

 

Oh, and last but not least: life-long gratefulness and honor to my amazing parents for some of these pictures!

 


 

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Hiking Mount Teide – Spain’s Highest Mountain
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44 thoughts on “Hiking Mount Teide – Spain’s Highest Mountain

  • December 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm
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    How did you know I had these burning questions in my mind in regards to Spain and her highest mountain??? I love all of the fascinating history you’ve included in this post, it’s always so interesting to me to hear the stories of these fantastic places. The park itself is really pretty and the different terrains have such different characters. Thanks for introducing me to this place, it’s one more addition to my ever-growing list of places I must visit!

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    • January 11, 2017 at 6:51 pm
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      Maybe I’m really good at reading thoughts, even over thousands of kilometers of distance… hihi. I’m happy you enjoyed it and hope you’ll make it one day, so I can read about your perspective and enjoy your personal highlights as well!

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  • December 7, 2016 at 6:25 pm
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    I love how extra-terrestrial some of the landscape looks! I haven’t done any hikes in that kind of landscape, so it would be very interesting to see it from above! And I definitely know what it’s like to be winded from altitude! Whenever my family and I would go down to Oregon and go for a run at the end of the night, we would be walking a lot more than normal from the higher altitudes! (And that wasn’t even that much of an altitude difference!) I would definitely love to visit Tenerife! Thanks for all the amazing travel inspo!

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    • December 15, 2016 at 10:10 am
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      Yay! Thanks for the feedback, I’m happy to hear you liked the post. I haven’t really experienced doing fitness in different altitudes before (max of 1km maybe), so I was really suprised what big of an effect it had. Well, if you’re interested in that kind of hikes, I can also recommend some trips in New Zealand, like the Tongariro Crossing along the scenes of Lord of the Rings!

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  • December 4, 2016 at 7:38 pm
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    Wonderful article and pictures! Always nice to share Ann experience like that with your parents especially when you share the love of travel. Gorgeous spots and definitely will have to check it out!

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    • December 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm
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      Glad to see I could “infect” some with the awesomeness of this place! I’m sure you’ll enjoy 🙂

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  • December 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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    I’m actually the crazy one who hiked the summit in the dark from the hut for an overnight stay at the top. Nothing beats all that work to catch the sunrise atop Teide. Nice write up on the logistics. I went solo and did the bus thing plus hitchhike and of course as you noted you gotta get a permit to stay at the hut and climb up the tallest volcano in Europe. Always one of my favorites in Europe- unique and fascinating landscapes.

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    • December 6, 2016 at 1:31 pm
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      Haha, I wouldn’t have imagined any but you going on such an adventure! Sounds like an amazing experience I didn’t (yet) have the chance to make! Just one in NZ where we climbed up East Cape to see the first sunrise, but that’s hardly comparable. But I think after succeeding in all those challenges, the feeling when finally reaching the top will be even more intense.

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  • December 3, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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    I’ve never heard of it but I live a good hour Jr. And this seems fun! Your definitely right though it does look like something out of Star Wars!!

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    • December 6, 2016 at 1:26 pm
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      Great to hear you agree! Was funny walking there and imagining science fictions happening right next to you haha

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  • December 2, 2016 at 2:13 am
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    The landscapes look really out of the world. No wonder they have featured in various Scifi movies. I love the pristine feel of the place. Also the legends associated with Teide sound so fascinating.

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    • December 2, 2016 at 8:32 am
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      Can only totally agree! Thanks Vyjay 🙂

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  • December 1, 2016 at 4:04 pm
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    I have visited this island but never made it to Teide. Now I regret that 🙂 I guess I wasn’t into hiking when I was a teenager. But I do remember how beautiful it was in Canary Islands, and warm. I never knew Teide was part of Unesco Heritages Sites, interesting!

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    • December 2, 2016 at 8:35 am
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      Oh I know that too well! So many places I missed when I was little because I really really didn’t like that outdoor stuff. Well – at least I got it at some point 😉 And there’s heaps of time to catch up!

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  • November 29, 2016 at 7:30 pm
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    I wasn’t sure if I wanted to goto Tenereife, but now that I have seen your photos and read this post I SO WANT TO VISIT! The island looks beautiful and I could hike for hours. Thank you for sharing 😀

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    • December 2, 2016 at 8:35 am
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      Haha yippieh! Glad to hear!

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  • November 28, 2016 at 10:47 pm
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    You have made me want to go there ’cause before reading this post I changed my mind about Canary Islands after my last trip there! Well, I have never been to Tenerife but I spent 10 days to Gran Canaria and I really didn’t like it! We have to give another chance for everything, so, I will try to go there another time, maybe to Tenerife Island! thanks for sharing it

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    • December 2, 2016 at 8:37 am
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      I haven’t been to any other of the Canary Islands, but can imagine that Gran Canaria is more touristic. The happier I am to hear that you can imagine giving it another try now! Tenerife really has those wild secluded sides where you feel like lonely walking another planet. And the crammed tourist walkways at the beach as well of course, but hey, where don’t you.

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  • November 28, 2016 at 9:34 am
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    I wonder about (and Google) random fact like that all the time. I’m not much of a mountain climber but Tenerife looks soectacular. Another random fact … Tenerife was the site for the dealiest crash in Aviation history when two planes collided on the runway.

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    • November 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm
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      Oh that is a sad fact I didn’t know of 🙁 And although flying is one of the safest transport options ever, you’d probably rather not think of it when sitting in a plane right there. Cause yeah, Tenerife is really worth a visit!

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  • November 28, 2016 at 1:27 am
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    What an amazing place to hike. I like that there are a variety of options. As you get older, you need more choices! I also enjoyed reading the myth about the volcano. Cool story!

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    • November 28, 2016 at 1:16 pm
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      Haha that’s something I love about the whole blogging business – as I research for the places I want to write about, I learn so much stuff that I didn’t at the initial visit. Thanks 🙂

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  • November 27, 2016 at 11:30 pm
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    It might not be “all green” place but i’d love to try that one for a hike. I’ve been to forest-y hills and mountains, but that would be on my list as well

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    • November 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm
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      True, it’s something really unusual. But you’ll have the greener places further down, pine forests, palm trees and alike. This island definitely has a lot to offer!

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  • November 27, 2016 at 9:30 pm
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    My parents love going to Tenerife to go walking. They have been quite a few times. I really need to go. Thank you this really informative post and the great photos. You have really made me want to go 🙂

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    • November 28, 2016 at 1:14 pm
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      Yippieh, glad to hear! Our parents definitely have that in common haha.

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  • November 27, 2016 at 9:29 pm
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    So nice! We have been there 3 months ago, yes its really a fascinating place. It was really amazing to see the slight changing of the plandscape from green palms at the bottom to the moon landscape on top. Thanks for sharing your impressions!

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    • November 28, 2016 at 1:13 pm
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      I totally agree! Glad you enjoyed the time there as well 🙂

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  • November 27, 2016 at 9:23 pm
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    Mount Teide looks awesome! I had never even heard of it before reading this post but I am really getting into hiking so it is definitely going on my travel bucket list! To be honest, Tenerife isn’t a place I had ever really considered going to until recently but I hear so many good things about it I have completely changed my mind.

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    • November 28, 2016 at 1:13 pm
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      Glad to hear! It’s definitely worth a visit, the most southern point of Europe – pure joy!

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  • November 27, 2016 at 6:26 pm
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    Great photos! I’ve never hiked above 1000m so have never experienced the air issue! Really want to very soon. This looks like a great walk.

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    • November 28, 2016 at 12:42 pm
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      It was indeed! Actually, my sister and I sprinted up the last 200m and we were stunned how fast we were gasping for breath!

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    • November 28, 2016 at 10:41 am
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      Well further down it is – but up there it’s quite a moon-like landscape. It’s stunning to drive up there, from the azure sea and deep green pine forests, slowly thinning, to be then surrounded by those black lava stones!

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  • November 26, 2016 at 10:40 am
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    It’s so beautiful! It looks directly out of a Planet of the Apes movie or something. I’ve never been but I always see cheap flights and bundles from Germany so I might have to go see it for myself!

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    • November 28, 2016 at 10:36 am
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      Haha exactly, that was actually filmed there! Flights have indeed been cheap (from Frankfurt), so it’s definitely worth a go.

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  • November 26, 2016 at 7:14 am
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    Wow, this looks sooooo amazing! I’ve always wanted to visit this place when I was in Spain the last few times, but never made it. You’ve inspired me to definitely make the trip next time around!! Thank you.

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    • November 28, 2016 at 10:35 am
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      Yay, great to hear! Welcome, fellow wanderluster 🙂

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  • November 25, 2016 at 9:36 pm
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    I love hiking and I am always looking for new places to venture to. I never knew about this mountain in Spain and after seeing your post, I am definitely adding it to my list. Thank for the tips to in regards to the permits always good to know these things.

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    • November 28, 2016 at 10:33 am
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      Happy I could be of help! Yeah this place wasn’t at all on my mind either before my parents actually went. Very glad I joined!

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  • November 25, 2016 at 9:14 pm
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    My kids love superlatives so we are always looking for the highest, hottest, lowest, whatever-est spots. This would be a perfect hike for us. Parts of the landscape remind me of Craters of the Moon in Idaho, USA.

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    • November 28, 2016 at 10:32 am
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      Haha, I can definitely relate to your kids’ adventure lust in this way 🙂 I’ve never been to the US yet, but have just googled the Craters – incredible pictures!

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  • November 25, 2016 at 7:11 pm
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    Oh this looks AWESOME! I’ve been wanting to go to the Canary Islands, but didn’t want a “resort” experience. Thanks for sharing this!

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    • November 28, 2016 at 10:31 am
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      I found that, although Tenerife does has that kind of resorts, there’s a lot of genuine, rather wild places around – and great hostels! Definitely worth a visit 🙂

      Reply

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