Hiking and tapas in Spain. Mmmm….two of our absolute favourite things. So when thinking about how best to celebrate quitting my job and retiring early – they seemed a pretty good place to start.
Travel had long been the driver for our early retirement plans. Removing that annual holiday allowance constraint and becoming free to roam at will. So I think some people were surprised when we picked Spain as our very first slow travel experience after retirement.
There were some good reasons for it. My path to quitting my job was not the smoothest – a story for another time. For a fair while though we weren’t entirely sure when I would be leaving. That was a little stressful to manage.
I also knew I’d need some time to decompress after finishing work. A breathing space. So we wanted something familiar but new. Something that would soothe and inspire at the same time.
Our previous travels in rural Spain had seen us fall in love with the food, the hiking and the culture. It ticked all our boxes and we were excited about being able to delve deeper for longer.
And so I planned our longest ever trip as yet at that point. A whole 47 nights away! This is the start of our tale…
Days 1 - 9: Hiking in Spain: North Tenerife
One of my favourite tricks when planning a road trip is to pick a less frequented area of a popular destination.
It might sound crazy but go with me on this. It means easy and cheap transportation to get there. But not the crowds and lack of any real local feeling that so often accompany the known hot spots.
North Tenerife is one of those places. As an island, Tenerife is much better known for its large resorts by the beaches in the south. Absolutely fine if that’s your thing.
Us though – we were after some good hiking and food. So we headed north, staying near to El Sauzal and Tacoronte. A small AirBnB with a massive terrace. Perfect apart from the squeaky bed!
I love this part of Tenerife – there’s no hint of English language as you walk around and the scenery is gorgeous. Dramatic cliffs and the huge massif of Teide constantly peeking out.
Plus it’s so well located for exploring and getting out and about. Before long we were ready for our first hike – and it was a good ‘un…
An awesome day hike in Anaga Mountains
The Anaga mountains are a particularly special place. We only managed one walk over that way – but it was spectacular.
This was a 7.5 mile hike which sounds easy – until you realised how much up and down it involved! Well worth it though as we wandered from mountain to coast and back over another ridge. Every which way you looked was just gorgeous.
It was the perfect warm sunny day too. Something which happens far more on Tenerife than our other favourite hiking ground of Snowdonia!
All that sunshine and uphill really does make for a good sweaty work-out…
And just for those fellow travel geeks like me – here’s a map of the route we took. You have no idea how pleased I was to do this as my first ever map on my blog!
It’s definitely an area we’d happily spend more time in exploring. Although it’s not far in distance it’s a bit of a drive to get there still just because of the tiny, twisty roads. And it’s defn hire car territory, very limited public transport options.
It’s actually worth doing even if you don’t plan on hiking when getting there. There’s a handy small village halfway round this route with a typically pretty town square. With accompanying sunny tables and refreshing beverages. Love it 😉.
The whole hike was simply a joy from start to finish. Exactly the kind of day hike we enjoy. Challenging, stunning. And with refreshments in the middle.
We returned ‘home’, happy and tired. Ready to plan out the next hike. However, the one downside to North Tenerife is because of the weather patterns, it can occasionally be cloudier than the south. Nothing like we see here in the UK, especially as it’s not cold with it.
But the next day was forecast for a cloudy one. And so a fun tip for if and when it happens – simply find a hiking trail above the clouds!
Hiking Above The Clouds Around Teide
Teide is one of those great things it’s just handy to know about for random pub quizzes, in that it’s actually the highest point in Spain at 3,715m (or 3,718m depending on who you ask!) above sea level.
It’s also actually still classed as an active volcano – though the last eruption was back in 1909 so nobody really considers it as such.
Hiking to the top of Teide itself is pretty strictly controlled, requiring either a permit (200 allocated a day) or a stay at the Altavista de Teide hut near to the summit (54 spaces).
There is also a cable car option for those who can’t or don’t want to slog it up. Us though – this time round we weren’t interested in getting to the top but in exploring some of the surreal territory of its national park.
And since it was one of the cloudier days in the north – a quick drive and we were above them and back to being bathed in sunlight. Awesome.
We’d picked a reasonably short walk as we were late out that day. Then it was just so good we ended up doing two!
Here’s that exciting map thing again…
Overall these two walks were still about 7.5m – but much easier than the Anaga mountain hike and far less ascent/descent involved.
The first loop is all about the view of Teide and slightly surreal landscapes like these..
The track was very easy to follow and it was much more of an enjoyable walk than a hike. Perfect for what we wanted that day. But it did mean we still had plenty of energy left on getting back to the hire car.
And so we set off on the second loop. This one is all about overlooking the Oratova valley and out to sea. Like this..
So yeah, North Tenerife is great for hiking – but it’s also awesome for other reasons.. Leading neatly into – tapas, beer and wine….hey, life’s all about balance, right?!
Craft Beer, Wine Tasting...What's Not To Like?!
Well, you know how it goes…you burn a lot of calories on these kinds of walks. And to be honest, even just walking around El Sauzal is a great work out – it has far more than its fair share of steep roads and paths.
So it’s good to know this area is also well-stocked with great cafes and small bars. Most are dotted around the very pretty town square but there’s a couple which are perched right on the cliffs.
Both are great to sit at with a chilled beer in hand and just enjoy the dramatic views…
The beer in Spain is perfect for hot, sunny weather. Especially if you can track down Alhambra which is one of our favourites. But every now and then you just want something a bit different to a really good lager.
Enter Tacoa Brewery. Located in the top half of El Sauzal, you know you’re going to like a place when it’s tagline is “0% Bullshit, 100% Craft Beer”.
It’s a little pricier than the standard 1-2 Euros you pay for a beer everywhere else but nothing outrageous. And they have some really interesting options to try out. I particularly enjoy their IPA and S always enjoys the opportunity for something darker.
Plus since they brew inside the taproom itself you get to enjoy the sight of lots of copper and stainless steel. Well, us beer nerds do anyway 🤣
There’s a nice sunny terrace out the front plus the whole building is pretty cool, with the industrial theme continuing. It’s a great place to be able to wander out to from the town center for sure.
But even we can have our fill of beer – shock, gasp – it’s true!! Fortunately, one of the other delights of this area is that the whole Oratova valley is known for its lush, fertile land. And therefore has more than a few vineyards scattered about.
Whilst a lot of the grapes are harvested and turned into wine through the local co-operative there are still plenty of places making their own wines.
And in El Sauzal, you just happen to have the very handy ‘Casa Del Vino‘ – which lets you sample a great selection..
Any regular readers will know we do enjoy a good glass of wine and fell in love with wine tasting on our first trip to South Africa. Whilst it wasn’t quite that good it was still a fun way to spend an hour or so. Worth it in our view anyway.
And yes, it’s walkable from town 🤣
So all in all – our first visit to North Tenerife was pretty much everything we wanted it to be. Something new but familiar. Full of discovering new ways to enjoy old interests.
The perfect start to our first big trip away. And thus it flew by. Meaning before we knew it – it was time to move onto the next stage of our first big adventure. Flying over to the island of El Hierro for our second ever house-sit.
But that’s a tale for another time….hope you enjoyed this one in the meantime!