As with most archipelagos, the Canary Islands are often featured under ‘popular beach destinations’. But the volcanic nature of these Spanish isles offers a wide variety of terrain – the coast is literally shadowed by towering ranges!
When you’ve had enough of lounging on black-sand beaches; go for a hike. After all, you’re not just walking to craggy cliffs, deep forests and breath-taking Mars-like landscapes. Hiking in Canary Islands means fully immersing yourself in nature.
Let’s take a look at some of the best places to go hiking on the Canary Islands.
1. Garajonay National Park, La Gomera
The obvious choice for hiking in La Gomera is Garajonay National Park. In fact, it’s almost a rite of passage for hikers! The ancient laurel forests look something out of fantasy books, sprawling and misty around the branches. Within the dense vegetation are waterfalls and beautiful scenic points. Break through the canopies to find sweeping views of sharp valleys and terraces.
2. Taco to Lo del Gato, La Gomera
Any barranco across the island is worth hiking through, but the gorge between Taco to Lo del Gato is especially stunning. It’s less about panoramic views and more about focusing on the details. Palm trees dot one valley; a creek runs through another. The canyon path features varied sights and landmarks such as an abandoned hydroelectric dam. If you’re looking for traces of history, this La Gomera hike is great.
If you’re unsure about hiking in La Gomera without support, then check out InnTravel for their great range of Canary Islands hiking holidays.
3. Parque Natural de la Corona Forestal, Tenerife
Hiking in Tenerife merges the cultural with natural – Parque Natural de la Corona Forestal is a great example of that. The largest protected natural area within the Canary Islands; it hosts ancient trade routes that connected the villages. Where the lunar landscapes formed by soft beige ash create rather unique vistas, you also have the relaxing and peaceful scent of pine forests.
Highly recommend starting your hike at Vilaflor village, the highest on Tenerife.
4. Peak of Mount Teide, Tenerife
You can’t go higher than the Peak of Mount Teide; Spain’s highest peak. The climb totals 16.3 kilometers with exponentially increasing elevation, a tangible difference felt through crazy drops in temperatures. It’s rather surreal when you reach the top, especially for those lucky enough to catch a sunrise!
The Altavista Refuge is a great place to stay overnight if you happen to reach the summit in later hours. Keep in mind that you require a permit for this hike, so secure one in advance.
5. Anaga Rural Park, Tenerife
Host to multiple trails through the northeastern region of Tenerife, Anaga Rural Park is made for both causal hikers and professionals. A 47.5-kilometer hiking trail starting from Cruz del Carmen loops through rock cliffs, past sea stacks, and into dense laurel forests.
Not into the coast? The Canal Walk takes you to the highlands, where watercanals break into valleys and rural hamlets. The Punta del Hidalgo a Chinamada is a classic route leading you to the fascinating village of Chinamada, whose cave houses are built into the rocks.
6. Arenas Blancas coast, El Hierro
For those who like exploring the wild and untouched, I suggest hiking in El Hierro! In particular, Arenas Blancas lies far west of the island – a sprawling, volcanic landscape. The easy trail SL EH-3 cuts through to the rocky coastline, where rough waves crash against the cliffs. Here, you really feel the strength of nature. The blackened terrain itself is also something to marvel at.
7. Sabinosa, El Hierro
For more off-the-beaten-path adventures, amble over to the peaceful town of Sabinosa. It’s the trailhead for the La Dehesa Circuit, a moderate trek around 5 kilometers long. Set off for the sloping grasslands where the hillside path directs you into verdant forests. From there, bizarre junipers that battled fierce winds (and lost) keep you company through the forestry and rocky patches. This hiking trail really gives you a taste of how nature has transformed over time.
8. Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote
Hiking in Lanzarote can be summed up in one word: Mars. Looking out of the world, the lunar landscape of Lanzarote is the result of constant volcanic eruptions. As you trek through Timanfaya National Park, you can still feel the heat under your feet. Take the flat trail of Ruta del Litoral along the craggy coastline to photograph the otherworldly sights. The black-sand beaches, cinder cones, layered and pock-marked terrain will make you speechless.
9. Roque Nublo, Gran Canaria
Sometimes it takes destruction to experience creation. A massive volcano eruption millions of years ago had left Gran Canaria rocky and rugged. Over time, erosion formed dramatic outcrops and resulted in one of the world’s largest free-standing rocks – the Roque Nublo. The 5-hour hike from El Garañón is challenging but worth the effort! The summit is also an ancient site of worship, perfectly blending natural beauty with cultural significance.
10. San Pedro, Gran Canaria
Hiking in Gran Canaria is another way of sightseeing! Trekking to certain summits will let you take in its entirety, from the southern beaches to bustling capital city of Las Palmas.
The Tamadaba hike in San Pedro is a pleasant 22-kilometers walk, trailing through the islands largest nature reserve. When you’re done indulging at the hamlet’s coffee plantations, step onto the trails for pine forests and views of the Puerto de Las Nieves port. You’ll even come across the cave houses of El Hornillo, which pre-dates the 15th century!
11. Barranco de Pecenescal, Fuerteventura
Like Lanzarote, hiking in Fuerteventura features an astonishing contrast between sea and land. A semi-arid desert region stretches long beside teal-colored waves, mountainous ridges curving gently down on one end. It looks like a lizard’s back! The 10-kilometer trail starts with desert flora and soft dunes, which then leads into volcanic hills. As you walk down the sloping hillside, the views open up to reveal an endless sandy beach.
12. Isla de Lobas, Fuerteventura
Isla de Lobas is actually a small island offshore of Fuerteventura’s northern coast. You do need a permit to visit as it’s a protected area; it’s for free. The main hiking trail runs along the eastern coast of the island and back through the center, allowing you to climb a small volcano if you wish. Most of the terrain is flat, offering amazing views of its white-sand beaches and shallow waters. Since tourist traffic is low here, you can bask in 3 to 4 hours of absolute peace and serenity.
13. Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma
La Palma may be small but embodies the word ‘versatile’. Meandering paths take you from sheer cliffs to woodlands and epic craters.
One of the best hikes in La Palma is the climb up its highest peak (a whopping 2,426 meters), where the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory resides. Telescopes are poised above the cloud layer with 360-degree views on clear days. On misty days, you get eerie and mystical vibes – observe how the white domes dot the dark, dry landscape.
14. Pico de la Nieve, La Palma
Have you ever hiked above the clouds? One of the most spectacular peaks you’ll ever climb, the linear trek of Pico de la Nieve is a must! You’ll climb through pine forests, straight to a viewpoint above the clouds. Even breaking through the tree line yields amazing views, as it showcases the entire eastern half of the island. You might even spot the giant telescopes atop the Muchachos.
15. Barranco de la Angustias, La Palma
For the best hiking in La Palma, dive into the Barranco de la Angustias. It’s not an easy hike, rounding 5 hours in total, but it shows how nature may very well be earth’s greatest artist.
Of the wet rocks and countless waterfalls on your hike, the most special is aptly named Cascada de Colores. Minerals have dyed the rocks a burnished orange and mustard, while moss and algae brings in the greens, oranges and yellows. If you love color, this is the hike for you.
16. The GR131 Trail
Okay, this one isn’t a place so much as an epic trail – but that’s the point. There’s no single ‘best place’ to go hiking in the Canary Islands; all of them carry their own charm and character.
The GR131 trail is an epic island-hopping route, covering every island in the archipelago. Starting at Lanzarote, it’ll take you weeks to challenge the 651 kilometers. Trudge over alien-like landscape formed by volcanic eruptions, the black-sand beaches, misty laurel forests and colorful gorges! If you could only experience one part of it, many hikers have fallen in love with the Gran Canaria section.
Hiking in the Canary Islands
There’s honestly no end to the hiking trails on the Canary Islands! If you’re on a time crunch, I suggest choosing the type of landscapes you’d like to explore and picking your island based off that. Tenerife is the perfect starting point for those who like variety in both scenery and difficulty.