Home to towering peaks, mysterious cloud forests and remote black-sand beaches, the Anaga Rural Park is one of my favourite attractions in Tenerife. Despite being home to such staggering natural beauty, this park is often missed off people’s itineraries. This is down to a combination of its location in the very northern tip of Tenerife and the fact that this park is very much not on people’s radars.
In this article I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Anaga Rural Park.
- What is the Anaga Rural Park?
- Are There any Fees to Enter Anaga Rural Park?
- How to Get to Anaga Rural Park
- Things to Do in Anaga Rural Park
- What to Wear for Your Visit to Anaga Rural Park
- Anaga Rural Park Packing List
- Final Thoughts
What is the Anaga Rural Park?
The Anaga Rural Park is an area of natural beauty in the very northern tip of Tenerife. The park consists of sharp, jagged peaks and deep ravines. Roads wind dizzyingly around mountains with panoramic views which stretch all the way to the ocean.
In the park you will find traditional villages set on narrow ridges above steep ravines, some of the most picturesque beaches I have ever seen in my life and rare cloud forests.
The park encompasses most of the Anaga Massif, with a vast area of 140 square kilometres. Despite its large size, the area is sparsely populated with only 22,000 inhabitants.
The spectacular mountains and ravines within the park formed as a result of a volcanic eruption between 7 and 9 million years ago.
The Anaga Rural Park was classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2015 in acknowledgment of the fact that it is home to a vast range of endemic species.
Are There any Fees to Enter Anaga Rural Park?
There are no fees to enter the park and also no parking fees. The park also has no official entrance, or boundaries.
You do however need to apply for a free permit if you wish to hike through El Pijaral, also known as the Enchanted Forest (Bosque Encantado), and you can incur a hefty fine of €600 if you attempt to hike there without one. The permit is in place to keep visitor numbers to a minimum (no more than 45 per day) in order to cause the least amount of disruption to the area. You will need to apply several months in advance, especially if you are planning on visiting during peak season, due to the popularity of the trail.
If applying for a permit sounds daunting to you, don’t worry, there are plenty of stunning hikes through other enchanting forests in the Anaga Rural Park which don’t require a permit. We’ll get to those later in this guide.
How to Get to Anaga Rural Park
Getting to the park via car is perhaps the easiest way to visit Anaga Rural Park, especially as it gives you the freedom to stop off at some of the many gorgeous viewpoints that you’ll undoubtedly encounter on your trip. The major drawback to driving is that parking can prove challenging, especially in the middle of the day.
Public buses are definitely an option, though they do require some planning and have some limitations in terms of their routes and timetables.
Below I’ll go through the different options of getting to Anaga.
Anaga Rural Park by Bus
The best places to get buses from are Santa Cruz (Tenerife’s capital) and San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Tenerife’s second largest city). You can view bus timetables and prices here.
If you are travelling from southern Tenerife, you may wish to make your visit to one of these cities on the same day as your visit to Anaga in order to break up your journey.
The main drawback with taking a public bus is that you are limited in where in the park you can visit. If you take the bus from Santa Cruz, unless you get a bus to San Cristóbal de La Laguna and then onwards, you can only visit one side of Anaga, and vice versa if you get a bus from San Cristóbal de La Laguna.
Still, it’s worth considering as buses are reasonably frequent, journey times are not too long and bus fares are really reasonable.
Buses from to Anaga Rural park from Santa Cruz
From Santa Cruz, buses to Anaga are fairly regular. You will need to take the Route 946 bus which departs from Santa Cruz’s main bus terminal. It’s roughly a 40 minute bus journey to Taganana, a gorgeous coastal town with beautiful beaches and a handful of delicious eateries and it only costs €1.25.
It’s worth noting that the Route 946 bus does operate at infrequent intervals. There can be anything from 40 minutes to 3 hours in between buses. The shortest intervals are in the morning.
The bus journey itself yields some pretty impressive views as you drive through the heart of the park in order to reach your destination. Look out for the many beautiful hamlets perched at the edge of the majestic ravines and admire the weathered shapes of the peaks that surround the winding road.
Buses to Anaga Rural Park from San Cristóbal de La Laguna
San Cristóbal de La Laguna is located just below the Anaga Rural Park. Getting the bus from this city is quick and convenient.
There are several bus lines that you can take in order to get to Cruce Carboneras – an area within the park where there are numerous forest hikes – Routes 76, 77 and 275. All buses depart from Intercambiador Laguna, the main bus station in the city.
Although the 275 bus can get to this destination, journey times can take over an hour so I’d recommend you take 76 or 77 instead. Journey times on the 76 or 77 are roughly 25 minutes. You can expect to pay around €1.25 for your bus fare.
The journey will take you through dense cloud forests. There will be gaps in the forests where you can admire stunning panoramic views of the landscape.
There is a bus stop at one of the best viewpoints on the route, Mirador De Jardina, which overlooks San Cristóbal de La Laguna with Mount Teide in the background. There are some hikes near this viewpoint so you may wish to stop here for an hour or so before journeying onwards to Cruce Carboneras. If you plan on making this stop, it’s advisable to do so in the morning where the buses are more frequent. You also have the option of taking either the 274, 275 or the 76 bus to Mirador De Jardina, giving you more flexibility in your journey.
Anaga Rural Park by Tour Bus
There are a couple of group tours that you can book on which feature the Anaga Rural Park. The benefit of tours is they enable you to see parts of the park that you may be forced to miss due to the limitations of public bus timetables. They also take out the stress of finding somewhere to park. However, tours definitely are a more expensive option and it’s debatable if you really need a tour guide to get the most of your visit to Anaga. As a rough guide, tours can range from around £30 to over £100 per person for the day. Prices may be cheaper for children.
Several tours also include city tours in both Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal de La Laguna. These 2 city and Anaga tours are advertised as 9 hours in length so it will be quite a long day if you opt for one of these and it’s debatable how much of each place you will actually get to see.
Anaga Rural Park by Car
Perhaps the best balance between cost and flexibility for your visit to Anaga would be to hire a car and drive. You can even hire a car just for the day if you know that you won’t be using it much on your overall trip in Tenerife.
Cicar is my preferred rental company in Tenerife, offering a superior service (in my opinion) to other companies. You can hire a budget car from Cicar for around €30 just for the day – more reasonable than if you were to book a group tour. Pre-booking your car isn’t strictly necessary but I would recommend it if you are in Tenerife during peak season.
From southern Tenerife you would journey along the main TF-1 highway to the island’s north. From there you have two different routes available to you.
Route 1: TF-12 through San Cristóbal de La Laguna
From the TF-1 highway follow signs to San Cristóbal de La Laguna which should take you to the TF-2 highway. The TF-2 will then join the TF-5, heading north west. Exit the motorway at San Cristóbal de La Laguna, junction 8B. You would then follow the road straight up through the city (the TF-13). Exit onto the TF-12, following signs to Anaga.
The TF-12 takes you straight into the Anaga Rural Park. Upon entering the park you will encounter a breathtaking viewpoint called Mirador De Jardina. The panoramic views overlook San Cristóbal de La Laguna and on a cloudless day you may even be able to see the summit of Mount Teide in the background. There’s ample space to park at the viewpoint.
You can either hike near Mirador De Jardina or you can continue your drive deeper into the park where the landscape only gets more beautiful.
This route will take you through the cloud forests. You won’t get as many spectacular views as the second route (which we go into below) but once you have passed the restaurant Casa Santiago, views do open up around you.
Route 2: TF-12 through Santa Cruz
This route starts the same way as route 1, following the TF-1 motorway to the north. Follow signs for Santa Cruz which should take you to the very end of the TF-1. Once in Santa Cruz, follow the main road (Av. Reyes Catolicos) straight through the city. You will pass Santa Cruz’s port on your right as the road becomes the TF-11.
I personally find the views on this route just that bit more spectacular than route 1. Before you even enter the park you will see your first hamlet tucked on a narrow ledge above a ravine.
When you reach the town of San Andrés, turn left onto the TF-12 and prepare to be amazed at how stunning the drive really is. This road takes you into the heart of the park. The drive is so spectacular that it’s actually an experience in itself.
Which Route is Best?
You may have realised that both routes follow the TF-12. Yes, it’s the same road but the routes simply start at either end of the road. I’d personally recommend driving into the park via route 2 (via Santa Cruz) and leaving via route 1 (via San Cristóbal de La Laguna). This way you experience both routes as they really do have their own offerings. Route 1 takes you into the magical forests whereas route 2 shows you more dramatic cliffs and ravines.
Things to Do in Anaga Rural Park
The Anaga Rural Park offers something for everyone. Whether you are an avid hiker, someone who likes dining in authentic restaurants or someone who’d rather hit the beach, there really is something for you.
Let’s delve into some of my favourite activities within the park.
Walk Through Anaga’s Magical Cloud Forests
Cloud forests, also known as laurel forests, date back to the Tertiary period, making them prehistoric. The Tertiary period took place between 2.6 million and 66 million years ago.
Up until 22,000 years ago, these incredible forests were found across much of northern Africa and southern Europe. Today they are not as common, though can be found on islands in the Atlantic ocean (Canary islands as well as the Azores and Madeira islands), as well as parts of Asia and Africa.
Laurel forests occur in areas of high altitude where there is high humidity and stable mild temperatures. They have obtained their nickname of cloud forests as they are frequently within the clouds.
The forests are easily recognisable and are quite magical in appearance. Tall, dark trees stand mystically on either side of the winding road through Anaga, their trunks twisting and coated with thin layers of green moss.
There are many places in Anaga where you can hike through the forests but one of the most accessible places is in an area known as Cruz del Carmen. Perched upon a bend in the forest road, this area consists of a restaurant, car park and visitor centre. Cruz del Carmen houses the start to numerous hiking trails, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
I wouldn’t rely on the main restaurant being open as unfortunately it was closed for my arrival, despite online sources stating it was open and it being a regular weekday. But if you are hungry, it’s not all doom and gloom as the visitor centre serves food.
When I visited in mid-morning, the car park was painfully full. We took to circling it a couple of times before eventually creating our very own parking spot near to the visitor centre. As afternoon kicks in it’s quite common to see people parking at the side of the main road due to how full the car park gets. I’m not sure if the parking is regulated here but there were no road markings saying you couldn’t park on the road.
There are countless trails that start at this spot with varying range of difficulties. I opted for a trail called Sendero de los Sentidos which translates to Trail of the Senses. The trail claims to be wheelchair friendly and access is via a wooden walkway.
I must say, sticking to the trail was slightly challenging as so many trails seem to snake off from it. There are signs highlighting the routes but they do become infrequent at points. I knew I had definitely veered off the trail as the ground became terribly uneven and steep, not suitable for wheelchairs.
Despite the car park being incredibly full, the walk was very peaceful. I only passed a couple of people, mostly finding myself in blissful solitude, only the sounds of my footsteps and chirping of birds keeping me company.
The forest is definitely beautiful. Slender moss-coated trees engulfed the walkway, their branches intertwining with those of neighbouring trees as well as trees on the opposite side of the path. Their branches were like a network, combining all trees together.
The hike really can be as long or as short as you wish. You can turn around at any point or you can join onto another trail when two trails cross paths. I spent around an hour in the forest.
The walk is stunning at any type of year, even if you’re visiting Tenerife in winter, like I did. The walk is warmer in the summer months but there’s something refreshing about the cool mountain air that you feel when walking here in the winter.
Enjoy Tapas and Spectacular Views at Casa Santiago
Casa Santiago is a restaurant perched upon the spine of a mountain. The views are incredible, the service is friendly and the food is delicious and authentic.
If you decide to eat here then I highly recommend the Papas arrugadas (Canarian wrinkly potatoes) and local goat’s cheese.
I found that the waiters didn’t speak much English so knowing a couple of Spanish words is highly recommended.
Casa Santiago can be found on the main road through Anaga, not too far up the road from Cruz del Carmen. It’s the only restaurant in the area so you can’t miss it. There’s a small car park out the front which fits a handful of cars.
Visit One of Anaga’s Jaw-Dropping Beaches
I could honestly list each beach on this northern stretch of coastline as an individual highlight in Anaga because they are all stunning but I decided to pop them together here as realistically, you probably won’t sunbathe on them all.
Surrounding the towns of Taganana, Almáciga and Benijo are numerous black-sand beaches. Majestic craggy peaks border the beach fronts and pinnacles of pointy rocks protrude from the Atlantic ocean at frequent intervals.
Some of my favourite beaches in the area include Playa de Roques de las Bodegas and Playa de Benijo. The beaches are next to each other and are equally stunning.
The sea is pretty rough so swimming is not recommended unless you really know what you’re doing. It’s much safer instead (and warmer) to sunbathe and admire the gorgeous views.
There’s lots of parking behind the beaches and I didn’t have any issues finding a spot.
Enjoy Fresh Fish at Restaurante El Frontón
Restaurante El Frontón is located in the village of Benijo. It’s the best recommended restaurant in the area and a visit will easily show you why. Not only does the restaurant have mesmerising views of the nearby beaches and cliffs, but the food is some of the best I’ve had in Tenerife.
Restaurante El Frontón is a seafood restaurant so eating seafood here is a must! The fish is all fresh, caught that very morning.
I enjoyed the fresh catch of the day that had been purchased from a local market that morning, grilled as per our waiter’s recommendation. We also selected some papas arrugadas (Canarian wrinkly potatoes) because they really are the thing to have in Tenerife!
Admire the Views at Mirador Risco Amogoje
Mirador Risco Amogoje is one of my favourite viewpoints in Anaga. It’s located just above the town of Taganana (on the TF-134) and has a sweeping view of the coastline including all of its stunning beaches.
In the far distance you can see Anaga rocks, huge rocky structures isolated off the coast, surrounded by ocean. In the foreground, within the ravine beneath the viewpoint are a couple of houses and further down the ravine, bordering the ocean was the tip of a village called Almáciga.
What to Wear for Your Visit to Anaga Rural Park
Your clothing choice really comes down to what activities you plan on doing in Anaga Rural Park. If you want to do a bit of everything (hikes and beach) then I would recommend wearing sturdy shoes for walking and packing some flip flops and sandals for your visit to the beach later.
The weather can be unpredictable in Anaga. Whilst it didn’t rain on my visit, it was cold and windy and so I wrapped up in leggings (or you could wear long trousers), a T-shirt and hoodie. Cloud forests are well-known for being damp so it’s advisable to bring a waterproof layer for your hike.
My best recommendation is to check the forecast before you set off and to be prepared for all weather and that means bring several layers.
Anaga Rural Park Packing List
Definitely bring a backpack with you. It’s handy for keeping extra clothing layers and a change of footwear if you plan on hitting the beach later on. I’d also recommend bringing one reusable water bottle per person, especially if you are hiking. You may wish to bring snacks as, especially away from the coastal towns, shops aren’t abundant. I’d also recommend bringing sun cream (it can get quite sunny) and a camera to capture the magnificent scenes that you will witness.
Anaga Rural Park really is one of the most beautiful parts of Tenerife. I have no doubts that you’ll enjoy your time in the park if you are a fan of nature and scenery.
As when visiting all nature parks, please be a responsible traveller and ensure you take nothing from the park and you leave no traces of your visit either. Follow designated trails as carving your own way causes unnecessary damage to the earth. Take all your rubbish home with you if you don’t see a bin. Beautiful places like this only stay beautiful if we work together to take care of them.
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