Winter sun: cycling Tenerife, Canary Islands

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  • TL:DR

    Easy and cheapish to get to, good value bike hire from Pro Bike Hire, cheap food, courteous drivers and bike friendly accom. make Tenerife a good escape from grey winter London. Just make sure you pack your climbing legs…

    • Cost: week including bike hire, flights and food cost about £600pp.
    • Flights: low cost carriers only really
    • Bike hire: some options, we used Tenerife Training Pro Bike Hire - very happy with bikes and service, friendly too and credible with plenty of info on their site
    • Accommodation: plenty of apartment hotels - villas further up the mountain also a good option
    • Food: some excellent local food and wine to be had around Orotava - good quality stuff from supermarket too. Spanish love their meat, and so do we. Win.
    • Other things to do: Hike. It's great. Also possible to hike to the very peak of the Teide volcano if the weather is good, but requires a permit in advance.
    • Le Photos: Flckr

    Where to go, renting bikes, flights, accommodation**

    So, Doctor Cake and I spent a week in Tenerife after posting this question in the AQA thread:

    Where can we go for a last minute cycle touring holiday in early November that won't be horrendously expensive or freezing cold?

    Mallorca seems like a good bet - any other suggestions?

    AndyP's suggestion of Belgium was swiftly rejected,

    Lanzarote / Fuerteventura. Or any of the Canary Islands.

    Not really touring, as such, but decent cycling nonetheless.

    TW2's suggestion was spot on though.

    Which Canary island? A quick Google revealed that Fuerteventura will be windy and a bit bleak, and Tenerife would be hilly with a lusher landscape. The later please. Not sure why I didn't do much research into Lanzarote. Oh well.

    I shot off a load of emails to bike hire companies to figure out the pricing - we really didn't want to fly our bikes over. Tenerife came in good, because Leslie at Pro Bike Hire could do Mountain bikes and road bikes for the week for £200ish including delivery to our accommodation. Excellent.

    Having firmed that up we sorted out flights via Thomson came in at £400 for two returns that flew at reasonably sensible hours. Given that we were booking this a couple of weeks before we flew it didn't seem bad. It's a four hour flight, so you get your moneys worth.

    jet2, and Thomas Cook also fly to Tenerife but BA doesn't it's only the cheapie carries that seem to go there now. We decided 15kg luggage would do between us, and it just about did…helmets went on as hand luggage (essential to have em in Spain).

    Leslie's site is a bit of treasure trove of information which made finding accommodation a bit less stressful - we chose Apartments Cassablanca, an apartment hotel, on the north of the island in Puerto de la Cruz which is pretty much the main tourist spot and where a lot of the routes that Leslie has on his site originate. 60 euros a night for a week.

    Planning rides

    I converted the local routes on Leslie's site to GPX files and popped them on my Garmin via Bikeroutetoaster and downloaded the OpenStreeMap tiles for the Canary islands. The plan was to firm up what we wanted to do when we arrived - this was probably the area where I was least prepared but the routes I had seemed like a good started for ten.

    Bikes, flights, routes and a bed sorted - on with the trip.


    Our flight landed at the South Airport so we bussed it over to the North. The trip was about 12 euros each, half the price of a pre-booked transfer but not as cheap as some resources would have you believe and required a change at Santa Cruz, the main town.

    There is a direct bus from the South Airport to Puerto, but it's not frequent. Total trip took about two hours, but we weren't in a rush and it was nice to see the south of the Island. It was hot - about 25 degrees.

    Bus terminated at Puerto and we took a cab to the apartment - cabs aren't expensive and there are lots of them. It was at this point where you start to get a feel for how hilly the place is - we'd lost about 1000 feet in just coming from the freeway to the town.

    The apartment was very nice - big, good bed, nice kitchen, lounge and TV. Only minor quibble was that it looked out on to a road which was quite noisy in the mornings.
    Getting the bikes**

    Leslie dropped the MTBs off the next morning - a pair of Ghost hardtails that were more than enough bike for us. I ride MTB quite a bit but DC doesn't so I wanted to keep things simple. My initial plan for the first day was to ride up to a park north of Puerto called La Caldera. Leslie suggested that it would be a slog to get there though and offered to drive us up the volcano instead, and he recommended a ride down from the top that wouldn't test us too much.


    It's worth talking about the geography at this point. Tenerife is a volcanic Island - the main, dormant peak, Teide, dominates the island. The main towns are all on the coast with smaller towns and villages higher up the mountain that gradually give way to forest then a desolate moonscape as you approach the ridge of the island and then the summit. At many points steep cliffs drop into the ocean.

    As a road cyclist what this means to you is that the lower, flatter bits of the island are quite built up with freeways or major roads and big towns - the more rewarding roads are up but requires you climbing gradients and durations you find in the Alps. You are rewarded with less traffic as you gain altitude but your ability to climb will be tested. The vast majority of the roads are ridable except the large freeways TF-5 and TF-1. As the road number increases, the quieter it gets.

    As an MTBer you'll need to be higher up the mountain in the trails around the national Teide park. To get there you need a vehicle - riding up there is an option if you are die hard, but it's a 20km climb that will take about three hours. You can get a taxi up or you can take a special bus from Puerto that leaves around 9am and goes straight to the top of the volcano. From there you can dive straight into trails. You can also ride in the Caldera park, but the rewarding trails all flow from the Teide national park.

    Puerto - where we stayed - is directly on the cost and dominated by hotel apartments and curiously, German tourists. Everyone speaks English. The oldest town on the island, Orotava, is just up the mountain, separated from Puerto by a freeway. Further up is La Caldera park, then higher still is Teide national park. Other significant towns nearby - Los Realejos to the west and Santa Ursula to the east.

    **Riding **

    Mountain -

    The first day we descended the volcano - gentle switchback fireroads that took us down the north face, through the national park then into La Caldera and finally down via the road into Orotava. There was almost no need to pedal, and the terrain wasn't too testing, although the change in terrain as you descend kept things interesting - from ash, to rocks, to mud, to the streets north of Orotava and the epic road descent back to Puerto that works the bikes brakes very hard. A wrong turn can take you very far down the mountain though, so you need to be careful not to cut your ride short by descending too quick.

    The scenery was glorious and the weather very charitable. We took our own lunch as there aren't any opportunities to buy food until you've descended so far as to being close to home.

    Day two: we decided to take the MTBs back up the mountain on the bus from Puerto. We arrived 30 mins before it departed and loaded the bikes - front wheels off and in the under the bus storage they went, no problem. Apparently the bus gets busy so you need to be there early if you want to try this. There's also nothing to stop you from taking your road bike up in the bus and riding the roads back into the north or south of the island if descending is your thing. When we reached the bus stop the weather had closed in a bit. The plan was to ride further up the the peak, past the space observatory, then follow the road to a point where trails took us back into Orotava.

    Unfortunately after ascending then descending again on road the weather had turned nasty - strong winds and some rain - and DC's brake pads had gone. On closer inspection mine had very little life in them making me think that it would be unsafe to ride the trail back to Orotava - you simply can't ride here if you aren't confident in your brakes. So I called Leslie and he came to pick us up - took about an hour to arrive. This was a bit of a turn up for the books because it was quite cold at our altitude and it was raining hard when he arrived. Rather than fix the bikes and carry on we decided to call it a day.

    So lessons learned: when MTBing in Tenerife check your brake pads before you leave and bring spare pads with you. I do actually do this when I MTB in the UK but I guess I just expected things to be fine for some reason. And it can be cold at the top, and it can rain - bring something that will keep you warm and dry if you need to stop. Again obvious.

    Road -

    We had road bikes for the rest of the week which Leslie dropped off. A pair of PX carbons with 6700. My first time on a plastic bike. To keep things entertaining the weather had definitely turned though - cloud and rain forecast until we left. Bugger.

    So - road cycling is made interesting by the geography - if you aren't climbing you are descending. Drivers are very courteous and give you much room - coming back to London has been a bit of a shock to say the least. So a massive thumbs up to the driving there. What isn't so great is that if you are on the lower levels of the island there is a lot of traffic - everyone drives as there are no alternatives. It's best to climb up then traverse the mountain to escape the traffic. Tarmac is generally good but there are some choppy bits.

    Day three: we rode out east on day three towards Juan Fernandez on a loop. When we arrived at Los Narantos it was raining very hard so we stopped at a cafe for coffee and cake - locals were very friendly and the cake was great. Owner of the cafe tried to convince us to return to Puerto - I think she was trying to tell us the weather was very bad. No we said, we'd continue. Five minutes later we were heading back, past the cafe where we waved, to Puerto - a glorious fifteen mile decent in what felt like a warm shower. When we arrived at Puerto the sun was out there so we followed the road all the way to the beach to check out the sand - it's black, volcanic stuff. Never seen that before, a black beach.

    Day four - more rain. West this time along the coast was planned, but the road was busy and fast so we opted to climb to Los Realejos which was by far the more interesting option. Swains Lane for a mile or so, before a winding road to Icod el Alto.

    We then returned by Orotava, past a landslide, and were rewarded with a cracking lunch at Hotel Rural Victoria. This was one of those serendipitous things - DC didn't want to ride the steep wet cobbled streets into modern Orotava on the return journey so we walked, and that took past the hotel where we were drawn to the Michelin guide stickers - after cycling its food we love - the menu looked fantastic and the place lovely, but we were soaked, a bit grubby and had bikes. They also had a lunch menu, three courses for ten euros including a beer. If you don't ask you don't get - DC went in, batted her eyelashes and five minutes later we were rewarded with a cracking lunch in a lovely setting, our bikes inside drying off. Amazing.

    Day five - rest, and a hike. Took the bus to La Caldera and had a wonderful hike up the volcano. Was misty and wet but that just added to the beauty of it. We didn't have a map - gambled on it being well signposted and it was - epic win, and some epic climbing in proper Hansel and Gretel woods. Rained hard on the way back down, took the bus home from the tiny village of Pinolere.

    Day six - Rode back to Los Realejos and continued further to La Guancha where I punctured. Returned again via Orotava. Booked dinner at Hotel Victoria Rural and had a tasting menu and a cracking local bottle of wine, excellent stuff. Bikes collected by Leslie, tried the pool at the hotel - freezing!

    Day seven - bus back to airport and home. We planned to get the direct bus to the south airport from outside the apartment, but it was full when it reached our stop. Some very unhappy German tourists. Took bus to Santa then changed to south airport. There was a big crash on the freeway on the opposite direction causing our side to back up due to rubbernecking. Flight home fine, unremarkable.
    In retrospect**

    A good escape. Shame about the weather, glad it didn't stop us, but it prevented any all-day epic rides. Some great riding to be done and some amazing scenery - well worth the trip if you want to test your climbing.


    Stay further up the mountain, somewhere smaller like Los Realejos or Orotava. You can ride out on to quiet roads rather than have to have a minor battle on your hands. Not such a good idea if you want to MTB though and need to get the Peurto bus.

    Leave plenty of time getting to / from the airport - if there are traffic problems you will suffer

    Bring food with you on rides - as you go up shops and bars dry up quick

    Bring a good mix of clothing - changeable weather and temperature drops quick as you go up

    Drink the local wine in Orotava - it's good, and it doesn't cost much

    If you want to climb the peak of the volcano book a permit early in advance - if you leave it till when you get there you won't be able to do it.

  • Flight home fine, unremarkable
    This is the same flight I catch after any enjoyable holiday. Nice write up, looks like a fun trip.

  • just back from a week on tenerife.

    family holiday but got a day on a bike.­1092

    22 miles straight up!
    bloody knackering but a superb climb.

    the scenery is amazing and changes as you go up, the roads are incredible.

    20 miles down hill is pretty intense!

  • Chapeau!

  • Off there next week!

  • Bump - also off to the canaries (prob Tenerife) in Jan. Anyone got any tips where to stay? Need a balance of non-cycling stuff as I will have a pregnant gf in tow...

  • I'm off to Lanzarote in Jan long weekend, flights were £47 return with Norwegian I believe. Bike hire seems very cheap too.
    I can't wait for some winter sun!

    Edit; Are look pedals a standard/ available or should I take mine with me?

  • We hired bikes from Free Motion and they had all likely types of pedals, even for grimy SPD shoes... I think you just tick a box on the booking, we were on Gran Canaria, but they also have a branch on Lanzarote.

  • Excellent. Saves a wanted advert

  • Mariel at @oadventuresontwowheels should be just the ticket for the two of you

  • Free-Motion very good on Gran Canaria but have only this year started offering rentals on Lanza

  • I'm happy to take my own bike as I'm a sensitive soul about bike fit, finding somewhere nice to stay seems the harder bit - I'm not so keen on the full package holiday vibe, but how easy is it to find somewhere with a better atmosphere and some character - or am I aiming a bit too high?

  • There's plenty of ch0ice of all sorts of things in all parts of the island on Airbnb (at least for GC). We found an amazing one, well off the beaten track. We were a bit unlucky with nearby roadworks that restricted our route options a bit, but its not something you normally think of checking in advance, and even if you did I'm not sure if you could.

  • I’m in Lanzarote now, with 5 others. (6 is a good number re Cab’s etc)
    Our Villa is great. Went for a quick spin yesterday. Hired from evolution Cycles, have a carbon trek emonda. They were very helpful.
    Think we might try Tabayesco, one of the big 3 climbs here, today. Think the LFGSS KOM might be out of reach especially as I have a bit of a cough :-(

  • It’s a stunning road over the top

  • Yeah looks amazing. And the north costal road! Can’t wait to get out

  • There is also a great cake shop in Tahiche called Levain that is a must visit. And if you have a chance to do some sightseeing, Cesar Manrique created some amazing places. The Jameos Del Agua, Mirador Del Rio, his home in Haria and the foundation in Tahiche are all great.

  • Can you get a ferry to Gran Canaria for a day or two?

  • 36 mins up Tabayesco 2nd on LFGSS :-(
    Calves were cramping early which was a bit odd. Grew in to it though. Amazing views!!

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  • I’m going to Lanzarote in March, ostensibly on a family holiday, but I will try and do a few rides. @GoatandTricycle any unmissable climbs in your opinion?

  • Tabayesco, 9.5km is pretty good. Has a great view. I’m currently number 1 on LFGSS, so go beat it!
    We didn’t do it but the steepest is in the south in to Femes, not very long I understand.
    The north Mirador has good climbs either way to it.
    In the whole you are either up or down. Not much flatness. Going up in to the National Park is quite a long steady climb. Wind direction plays a big factor.

    Your recommendation for the bakery was good but was closed for holiday :-(

  • These are my write-ups from last winter in Tenerife and then Gran Canaria. There's some route ideas in there and lots of pretty pictures to get you booking.

  • And now GCN have produced the first in a series of bucket list rides, featuring the second half of the route I described (albeit in reverse). It looks like some sections have been resurfaced since I visited too.

  • One of the nicest things about riding in GC is the lack of British cyclists there

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Winter sun: cycling Tenerife, Canary Islands

Posted by Avatar for Howard @Howard