What’s the highest point in Spain? It’s Mount Teide, the volcanic mountain towering Tenerife. It is visible from most of the other Canary Islands as well with a summit of 3,718 metres. The mountain is an active volcano that last erupted in 1909. The surrounding planes, desolate rock landscape and weird formations make up the Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
DRIVE / WALK / SEE
There are plenty of walks you can do in the National Park, but there are also some areas where you definitely can’t walk because the rocks are quite unstable (it looks in places as if giants ploughed the land). Driving right through the park doesn’t take too long, but I’d set aside a day for a decent investigation. There’s somewhere to stop almost every 500 meters with some kind of weird rock formation, or geological astonishment, like green rocks!
You can see Teide’s peak on a good-weather day, and catch a cable car part of the way up. You can walk up even further, but apparently to go right to the top, you need to apply for a free permit a week in advance. It seems to be quite heavy going, and you can get light-headed from the altitude, but I can’t speak from experience.
Even when the weather’s great, it can still be fiercely cold and windy, so a windbreaker-raincoat is essential. I’d even recommend a scarf, gloves and a hat if you plan to walk (given, I was here in winter!). To manage temperatures, wear layers. I would suggest brining along sunnies, sun cream, lots of water, a hat, plenty of snacks and of course a camera. There is a shop and cafe near the chapel – see above (further away from the cable car) – but it’s not exactly cheap.
There’s a cafe, tourist shop and fancy hotel restaurant, called Parador de Cañadas del Teide (you’ll see plenty of cars parked there) where you can stop for souvenirs, snacks, lunch and a toilet break. The food at the restaurant is great, although it was definitely the most pricey meal of the holiday. Other restaurants are less central but I’m convinced that almost all of them would offer great views.