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Winter escape to Tenerife

Two winters ago, we decided to escape to the Canary Islands to enjoy a bit of cycling in the sunshine. The trip ended up being one of our best holidays ever, with some mind-blowing rides that deserve to be on your wish list.


If you’re not sure where to take your bike this winter, don’t look any further and join us for 6 days of epic cycling.


We chose to stay on the Northern part of the island in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, as there were a few rides we wanted to do on that side of the island. We also hired a car to have more freedom with the starting points of our rides and to explore the whole island when we weren’t cycling.


Here is a little write-up about 5 awesome days of cycling.


Cycling road in Anaga National Park in Tenerife


Day 1 - Anaga National Park Taster

51 km | 31 mi loop from Santa Cruz de Tenerife


Rating > Difficult

Terrain > Long climbs and technical descending

Elevation Gain > 1,140m | 3,740ft


It’s Day 1, and we take some time to get ready because we have to take both bikes out of their bags and build them. A quick lunch after that and off we go. We’ve opted for a short one as it will be dark from 6pm, but what a first ride!

Within a few kilometres, we start climbing a stunning winding road with possibly the smoothest tarmac we’ve ever seen (we’re a bit traumatised from the Surrey & Kent potholes). The vegetation itself is fascinating and we keep looking over our shoulders to not miss any of the incredible views.



Soon we get caught up in fog and reach the top of the climb. Time to put our jackets on! There, we have 2 options: to turn towards the coast and Playa Roque de las Bodegas before climbing back up, or go down towards La Laguna. Since we’re short on time, we decide to save the first option for another day and head home.


Cyclist in Anaga National Park, Tenerife, cycling paradise

The descent is just amazing, pure thrill through the jungle of the National Park! We only stop to check out the view from the famous mirador de Jardina and to take a photo of our Canyons by one of the colourful walls of the beautiful San Cristobal de la Laguna.




Day 2 - First ascension of Mount Teide

102 km | 63 mi from Los Cristianos


Rating > Difficult

Terrain > Long climb with some rolling sections and descending with switchbacks

Elevation Gain > 2,700m | 8,858ft


It’s Day 2 and a big one. Today we’re climbing a giant: Mount Teide! The summit of this active volcano is the highest point in Spain (3,715m) and we’ve decided to attack it from sea level. It’s only a 45-minute drive from our Airbnb to Los Cristianos, a popular beach in the southwest of the island.



The sun is shining and it’s already above 20 degrees when we start climbing in the morning. We’re roasting, half regretting our choice of long sleeve jerseys. The punchy climb to get out of Los Cristianos doesn’t help with this either. We quickly forget about being too hot though; not only are the landscapes something we’ve never seen before but also change very quickly as we climb. First, we ride along dry, sandy surfaces with the occasional cactus poking out, then we cross a dense forest of pines and cedars trees before landing on open terrain with red earth and less and less vegetation.



This is already the most incredible ride we’ve ever done, and it gets even better when we reach the crater of the volcano. It’s now 4 degrees. We’re riding in the middle of dry lava flow from the last eruption in 1909 - it’s simply amazing!


Cycling road / cyclist on the road to volcano Teide in Tenerife: best winter cycling escape

We get a coffee and a sandwich from the restaurant near the cable car and turn back: we have to keep moving so we don’t freeze and to get back to Los Cristianos before sunset. All our layers are now on, and we’re grateful for the 4 pairs of gloves we remembered to bring. We attack another stunning descent. The moon is out, which delivers the most surreal experience, and we get back to the beach just in time for the most beautiful sunset. What a day.


Cycling road / cyclist on the road to volcano Teide in Tenerife: best winter cycling escape


Day 3 - Stroll around Puerto de la Cruz


Puerto de La Cruz, Tenerife, colourful houses on the coast

After all the climbing yesterday, we decide to take a rest day to walk around Puerto de La Cruz. We instantly fall in love with the city: streets full of pastel houses, palm trees and cactus everywhere, seaside avenues, dozens of cute restaurants… We will simply let you enjoy the photos.



We then head to the stunning colonial town of La Orotava, the perfect spot for the best views of the coast and the valley. Some choose to attack the climb to Teide from here, to which we say “chapeau”, because there are some serious gradients on the way out of town.




Day 4 - The other side of Anaga National Park

42 km | 26 mi from La Laguna

Rating > Difficult

Terrain > Rolling hills with some very steep gradients

Elevation Gain > 1,330m | 4,363ft


By day 4 we (our legs) want an easy ride. Bear in mind that there are no flat rides in Tenerife, “easy” still requires some elevation, so we just pick a shorter route.

We choose to explore the part of the Anaga NP that we ran out of time to ride on day 1 and start climbing from La Laguna. It’s actually quite cool to do the route in the opposite direction to our first day. It feels very different and the first 10 km of forest reminds us of a hobbit village; we understand why it’s nicknamed “the enchanted forest”.



After 14 km of climbing, we turn left to go to the village of Tanagana. The descent is incredible (although we know we have to climb back up it later!) and when we reach the coast at Playa del Roque de las Bodegas, we are speechless. We did not expect such a view: wave after wave, the ocean waves crashing on the cliffs, and the silhouettes of the sharp mountains cut out against the sky. For half an hour we just stay there, taking it all in.



We know we need to make a move though, because there is some savage climbing ahead of us and, as always, we are in a race against the early sunset. For the next hour or so, we love every single minute of the ascent: it’s golden hour and the scenery couldn’t be more epic.


Cyclist on the road in Anaga National Park in Tenerife , cycling holidays

We probably enjoy it a bit too much, as we have to do the last few kilometres through the forest in pitch black with no so strong lights… spooky! Undoubtedly another amazing day on the island though.



Day 5 - La Masca

36 km | 22 mi from Buenavista del Norte


Rating > Difficult

Terrain > Rolling hills with some very steep gradients

Elevation Gain > 1.170m | 3,838ft


We plan to climb Teide again tomorrow, so for today we opt for a short ride. The elevation tells us that it will be plenty though, and we are really looking forward to climbing the famous Masca (also known as the Spanish Machu Picchu). We start the ride in Buenavista del Norte, which gives us the option to ride to Punta Teno after La Masca if we still have energy.

Time to attack the climb. This 25 km weaving road on the side of the mountain is an absolute cycling dream. Each bend delivers the most incredible views; you almost forget your legs, even though some of the gradients are spicy.



When we get to the village of La Masca and its famous rock, we finish our gummies and decide to turn down to save our legs: the road keeps going up with some sections at 30%.

On our way back we stop for a coffee and a sandwich at the Mirador La Cruz de Hilda: we are such suckers for a “lunch with a view” and this one is solid.


Cycling road & village of La Masca in Tenerife , cycling holidays

As always in Tenerife, the descent is an absolute treat. We head back to the car and decide not to ride to Punta Teno. Instead, we go for an evening stroll in Garachico where we treat ourselves for a bougie dinner at La Quinta Roja: don’t miss it, it’s Spanish food at its best.



Day 6 - Second ascension of Mount Teide

100 km | 60 mi from La Esperanza


Rating > Difficult

Terrain > Long climb with some rolling sections and descending with switchbacks

Elevation Gain > 2,370m | 7.775ft


It’s our last day, so we want to treat ourselves. What’s better than a second ascension of the volcano? Today we attack Teide from the East. The official climb starts from La Laguna but we’re here for the views so we park the car in La Esperanza and get straight into the national park.

We had expected the climb to be similar to the one we did from Los Cristianos, but quickly get proven wrong. We cross natural reserve after natural reserve, with some pretty dense vegetation, and suddenly emerge at what feels like the top of the world. In the distance stands the snow-capped summit of Mount Teide, looking majestic.



Cycling towards the volcano is pretty special, and the moon-like landscape is very different from the other side. It’s very black and dark at first, then becomes red again. Our favourite section is probably the bend where we can see the layers of different volcanic eruptions: “La Tarta del Teide” or “Teide Cake”.


Cycling road to volcano Teide in Tenerife: best winter cycling escape

This time we stop a lot, simply to soak in the surreal atmosphere, to have a closer look at the volcanic rocks & minerals and to imagine what the lava flows running down the island would’ve looked like. It’s a unique experience. It’s what we love the most about exploring with the bikes: when cycling and travelling discoveries become one.



With big smiles on our faces (and all the layers we have with us), we start the 50 km descent back to where we started. Today was the most incredible ride of our life and we know we will be back.


Cycling road to volcano Teide in Tenerife: best winter cycling escape

In fact, we're back in February! Are you coming?



 

Disclaimer

All routes are illustrative only and users take full responsibility for their own safety when following any routes suggested on the Moloko Cycling website or app.

Only follow the route if safe and legal to do so, local traffic laws always take priority.

Take care to ride safely and respect other road users.




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