If the stunning and surreal Teide National Park looks familiar, then you're probably a science fiction fan as this unique landscape has starred in various films and TV shows. Located in the centre of Tenerife, this amazing location really shows off the island's unique volcanic landscape, so if you're looking for a day trip unlike any other, this national park should be right at the top of your list of places to see on Tenerife. The red sandstone rocks and sparse, desert plants create a wild and untamed landscape, with the towering Mount Teide sitting at the heart of the park. This active volcano is also Spain's highest peak and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With around three million visitors flocking to the park every year, it's one of the country's biggest attractions and a real change from the usual beaches and waterparks. Covering around 47,000 acres, Teide National Park is the largest of all the national parks in the Canary Islands. There are plenty of trails to explore or take you up 3,718m to the summit of Mount Teide if you're feeling active.
Mount Teide cable carIf you don't want to take the long hike up the mountain, the Mount Teide cable car makes getting to the top much easier. The mountain is over 3,500m high, and the cable car starts at the base station 2,356m up. It takes visitors up to the top in just eight minutes, saving you a good hour's walk and providing you with some epic views along the way. You can also hire an audio guide, which will tell you all about the Park and the mountain as you glide up to the top. The Mount Teide cable car is open from 9am to 5pm, and from July to September the car stays open until 7pm, giving you the chance to see the sunset from a unique vantage point. You are limited to a stay of one hour at the upper station, so time your visit appropriately. You can apply for a permit to go into the crater, giving you an extra hour at the top. If you want to get to the top of the crater, it's about a 40-minute walk from the cable car top station. From the lookout, you can enjoy breathtaking views down over twisting lava flows and craters created by the volcano. On a clear day you can look out across the island and towards the ocean.
Prepare for your visitWhile it may be warm and sunny at the bottom, the altitude means that temperatures drop away dramatically at the summit, so our top tip is don't do this trip in shorts and a t-shirt; wear appropriate clothing, especially if you're heading up the mountain during the spring or autumn. You'll also need to wear comfortable shoes, as the terrain at the top of the mountain can be challenging. It's very bright at the top, so pack your sunglasses to protect your eyes, and make sure you take some drinking water with you if you're going on a hike into the crater.
Lights, camera, actionMount Teide is spectacular, but there's a lot more to see and do in the park. The landscape is scattered with volcanic rock formations and has been the setting for movies and TV shows. Hollywood is rather fond of Teide National Park, and it's popular with location scouts from all the big studios.
Other attractions in the parkRock Cinchado is one of the most photographed of the park's rock formations, and is an emblem of the island that appears on badges, postcards and advertising. You'll find it signed off the main road that leads up to the cable car, and it's a popular stop-off point for the tourist coaches. If you want to escape the heat of the lava fields you can also find trails through the pine forests in the lower reaches of the park, which offer some shade from the sun.
How to get thereThere are various ways to visit Teide National Park. You could book onto an organised excursion from your resort, or hire a car and make your own way there. The roads of the island are easy to negotiate and taking this option gives you more flexibility to spend as long as you like taking in the extraordinary scenery. The drive to the park is spectacular, and if you want to spend a little more time exploring the region, this is the best option. Free parking is available at the Teide Cable Car base station. There are only 220 spaces so get there early if you want a spot. The car park is open from 8am to 6pm, and until 8pm in July to September. You'll also find a shop and information centre at the cable car base station, as well as a restaurant, café and public toilets.