Tenerife is the undisputed tourist mecca of the Canaries. Its bustling ports and cosmopolitan towns are never without a horde of tourists. Not very far from the busy capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, though, is the Anaga Mountains. Remote, unspoiled and untouched, the air of tranquility is a welcome respite from the noises and the crowd.
Unlike Mount Teide, the Anaga mountain range has maintained a low profile. Hidden from plain view, it has managed to avoid the mad rush of tourism. Such is a testament to the diversity of things to do in Tenerife as only a few manage to reach its northeast corridor before its time to go home.
For those who do reach the Anaga Mountains, a splendid sight and experience await. Whether it is following the footsteps of the ancient people or taking a scenic drive, an experience, unlike any others, beckons.
The Oldest Part of the Island
Millions of years ago, a series of violent volcanic eruptions led to the formation of a land mass. Shaped by nature, the mountain ranges in the south came to be known as El Roque del Conde. To the west is the Teno Mountains while Anaga Mountains is in the northeast. Throughout human history, volcanic activities are synonymous with devastation. But that was how the island of Tenerife along with the other islands in the archipelago came to exist.
Guanches were the first inhabitants of Tenerife. Thriving in what is now the town of Anaga, they lived in deep mountain caves while their livestock roamed in its lush grassland.
If anything, history has time and time again proved that change is inevitable. And change did come for Anaga mountains when the Spaniards came. Blood of both the natives and the conquistadors stained its soils. Wails echoed in its mountains. Although the most defiant, Tenerife ultimately fell under Spanish rule in 1496. Soon after, agriculture swept many parts of the island.
The Anaga Mountains is not only a participant in the island’s birth. It has also witnessed the changes. From its volcanic origins to rural lands for the Guanches. From battlegrounds to sugar cane terraces. One thing that did not change is the abundance of natural beauty and resources.
It was declared a natural park in 1987 but later reclassified as a rural park in 1994. A little over two decades later, in 2015, UNESCO finally declared it a World Biosphere Reserve. Today, it is home to the largest number of endemic species in Europe.
Why Go Northwest
Hailed as the hikers’ paradise and greenest part of Tenerife, Anaga mountains has a lot to offer. Living up to its billing is never a problem with the large nature sanctuary though.
The Lauri Silva has been around for millions of years and continued to thrive and mesmerize. Ancient caves, once abodes, now capture the imagination of visitors. Centuries-old farm terraces high up the mountains are a sight to behold.
While the landscape and its peak offer its splendor to all visitors, often overlooked is its coast. Hence, it is a shame that there are people who missed one of the most breathtaking scenery in Tenerife. Taganana, sprawled on the mountain stretch overlooking the Atlantic, is stunning just as the winding road and its majestic views of the green ridge and the vast blue sea. Go by car or by foot. By all means, go.
The Hiking Haven
Chamorga to La Laguna trail is one of the most popular and the longest route. It is up to 36 km long and would take around 8 hours to finish. On some days, hikers walk in the clouds (literally) for a couple of hours. Some enjoy the cloudy course, while others prefer an uninterrupted view of the coast.
The route from Cruz del Carmen to Chinamada, meanwhile, takes hikers pass the bewitching terraced fields. In this part of the Anaga Mountains, the weather is often pleasant and ideal for trekking and, of course, farming. Seeing the hard-working farmers on the field is immensely humbling. It is an experience that one never forgets.
From Punta del Hidalgo in the north, there is also a trail to Santa Cruz or Valleseco in the south. Of course, guests can also opt to trek from south to north. While the trails from both ends are easy at the start, it can become challenging at different points. Either way, this route begins and finishes with an incredible view of the coast and the Atlantic Ocean. But the highlight of the trail is Cruz del Taborno, the highest peak of Anaga Mountains at 1,024 meters.
As an option, guests may also try the route from Benijo to Roques de Anaga. With panoramas of both the mountain and the sea, the walk with nature can’t get any more compelling.
The Winding Roads to Nature’s Wonderland
Playa de Las Teresitas is the secret seaside paradise of Tenerife. The roads to the north pass by the secluded beach. Unlike the others on the island, its shoreline is often devoid of tourists. There aren’t many establishments around either. Just a stretch of golden sand that outsparkles the sea and the towering mountain behind it.
For travelers going from west to east, there’s but one route to take. The road from La Laguna to Chamorga is a 35-km long road with impressive views of both the north and south. It runs along the watershed ridge and is more than an hour-long drive full of nature’s many splendors.
From Chamorga, drive west to see the cultivated terraces of Taganana. The winding road offers a captivating view of the whitewashed houses and fields by the mountain slope. The sight of greens meeting the calm blues is also dramatic. And that’s just on the way to the hamlet. Imagine how beautiful it must be once already there.
To get to the northernmost part of the island, take TF-134 from Taganana and just drive. Along the road are the jaw-dropping rock formations of Roque Las Bodegas, Roque del Fuerta and Roque del Dentro, and the dazzling waters.
Tenerife is a relatively safe place, but hiking alone is a good idea. It is best to let family or friends know the details of the trip, especially the time and destination. The Anaga mountains is a large place. In case something goes wrong, that information will be invaluable.
Anaga is popular amongst mountain bikers, and they use the walking trails as well. So, watch out for them as they tend to appear out of nowhere.
Please put on hiking boots. Although parts of the trails are easy and smooth, others are also rugged or slippery. As for the best time to explore the massif of Anaga, it is at its best during springtime.
Time flies so fast when going around Anaga Mountains. With so much to see and pictures to take, people rarely ever check their watches. Until, of course, their tummies start to rumble. No matter how entertained they are, one thing is for sure; they are bound to get hungry. And the restaurants in Anaga are waiting for them, with stories about the land and menu in one hand.
La Cueva Restaurant
Anaga is different from the rest of Tenerife, so why dine the usual way? The La Cueva Restaurant is, as its name suggests, a restaurant carved into the mountainside. They have a sunny terrace where most tourists prefer to sit and eat. Here, they feast on the sumptuous food while soaking in the magnificent views of the mountains. As for the locals, most often prefer to stay inside the cave.
The must-tries include queso fresco (fresh goats’ cheese), escaldón de gofio, and albóndigas (meatballs). Chew on delicious authentic Canarian cuisine and add “ate in a cave” in the list of new experiences.
Restaurante La Ola
Restaurante La Ola is entirely under the radar, but it is one of the best in this part of the island. It also has a direct view of the sea.
What makes this charming restaurant exceptional is their creativity. They don’t just settle with the usual fried fish. Instead, they wear their artistic apron on and create their own dishes. They also add a personal touch to enhance traditional Canarian cuisine. What’s more, all the bread they serve are specially baked in-house. No wonder the whole place smells heavenly.
The most popular dishes in this charming restaurant are their seafood and salads. Don’t miss the calamares, grilled cherne, tuna salad, and goats’ cheese salad. Their other must-tries are broken eggs, Canarian pork, steak, and vegetarian pesto lasagna.
Los Roques de Anaga Restaurant
Diners listen to the sound of the crashing waves or marvel at the views while waiting for their orders. Is there an even better way to wait?
Anything on the menu of Los Roques de Anaga Restaurant is superb. If it’s too hard to decide, try their best ones: cherne, prawns in garlic oil, and canary potatoes. Pair those with a grappa shot or cold beer. Oh, and their cappuccino is excellent too.
How to Get There
Titsa Bus is the official bus service company of Tenerife. They are cheap and very reliable, so many tourists prefer them over taxis or car hires. At the moment, they have four bus lines to and around Anaga Mountains:
- From Santa Cruz to Chamorga – bus line 947
- From Santa Cruz to Igueste de San Andres – bus line 945
- From Santa Cruz to Taganana- bus line 946
- From La Laguna to Punta de Hidalgo – bus line 50.
Because Anaga is the hiking haven of Tenerife, of course going around by foot is the most fashionable way. Some even go by bike. For tourists opting to hire a car, scenic views await in its many roads.
Anaga Mountains Is a Treasure Chest
With so much natural and historical riches, Anaga Mountains is one for the ages. Visiting is a given, and about the only question is where to begin.
Trails on magnificent massif with fantastic views are a good enough reason for most hikers. Its mountains with hamlets of whitewashed houses between terraced fields are spectacular. The Lauri Silva forests in its expansive grounds are straight out of a mystical story. Finally, it has rugged coasts with fascinating rock formations and tranquil beaches.
For many visitors of Tenerife, the island is a jewel worth wearing each season. But far from being a stone, the Anaga Mountains is a treasure chest waiting to be opened.