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Cycling in Tenerife

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Photo: Oliver Clarke (CC BY 2.0)

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The largest island in the Canary Islands archipelago, you’ll find plenty of incredible opportunities for cycling in Tenerife. Riding around this volcanic island, you can whiz around the southern coastline, take switchback after switchback upwards and marvel at cloud forests. 

Cycle routes in Tenerife are nothing short of breathtaking. Much of the island harbours exquisite, rugged nature with jagged cliffs on the northern coastline, extraordinary forests and the magnificent Mount Teide. This staggering volcano is Spain’s highest point and you can ride right up to the Martian landscape of its summit. 

With fantastic beaches, fresh seafood in every cafe and a welcoming atmosphere, exploring Tenerife on two wheels is an endlessly enjoyable experience. 

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Volcanoes, forests and fantastic terrain

Cycling in Tenerife is fantastic for lots of reasons. For a start, it has plenty of sunshine and seductive seawater for jumping into after a day-long ride. Secondly, the people are friendly and the food is exceptionally good, particularly in backstreet cafes. But let’s face it, the main reason cyclists love Tenerife is because the landscape is scrape-your-jaw-off-the-ground beautiful. 

In the north of the island you can pedal your way around the incredible Anaga National Park. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has astounding geography, with jagged mountain peaks and mystical sub-topical laurel forests. Pedaling here is hard work on the legs without a doubt but its heart-wrenching beauty is the perfect reward. 

In the south, Mount Teide dominates and its 12,198-foot (3,718 m) summit can often be found above the cloud. Cycle routes in Tenerife are seldom easy but when you pedal around Teide’s humongous base, you’ll see why Tour de France pros have been known to train here. If you’re after serious altitude training, you can ride all the way up and enjoy riding routes northeast from the dry and desolate landscape at these heights. 

Choosing the right season for cycling

Bike rides in Tenerife can be enjoyed all year round thanks to warm weather throughout winter. Summers are hot and early afternoon can be far more exhausting than necessary. The shoulder seasons are more manageable and winter temperatures are perfect for biking.

Thanks to Tenerife’s extraordinary range of altitudes, if you’re chasing cool weather then bear in mind it gets colder the higher you climb. In winter, you could ride along in warm sunshine at sea level yet see snow on Teide.

The very south of the island is dry and desert-like, with cacti and scrubby surroundings found where Teide blocks prevailing rains. In the north, you’ll see the considerably more lush, verdant landscapes and come across mist and rain more often. Rainfall is unusual in summer and it mostly occurs over winter, which might be a welcome relief halfway up a mountain. 

Preparing for perfect cycling

There are few places in Tenerife that resemble flat land. As a result, the island’s cycle routes always involve some climbing, usually a lot of climbing, even if you stick to the low foothills. It’s a good idea to be both mentally and physically prepared for strenuous rides. 

Hydration is the key to great bike rides here, so always ensure you have plenty of water with you. With harsh sunshine, sun protection is vital, as is fantasising about dinner on the harder inclines.

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