Masca is one of the most beautiful villages in the Canary Islands. Surrounded by mountains and with far-reaching coastal views, this tiny part of Teno Rural Park is just waiting to be discovered. Highlights include a rich local history, the Masca Gorge hike and tasting goodies made from cactus.
Masca in northwestern Tenerife is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on the island. It’s an unspoiled village with only about 100 permanent inhabitants. Though not as high as Mount Teide, it is more than 600 metres above sea level.
Masca’s popularity as a day trip destination is unwavering and this is due to the dramatic location and landscape. The village clings tightly to the ridge it’s perched on and the road to Masca is a steep and winding one. This has hairpin bends, plus views of fertile hillsides and deep ravines. Driving here isn’t for the faint-hearted, but for confident experienced drivers the panoramas are incredible.
Once you’ve travelled the Masca road, cobbled streets lined with immaculately-kept homes and palm trees await. Here you can fully unwind, sample food and drinks made with cactus or take off on a hike. The route to the coast via Masca canyon is a favourite among walkers.
To discover what to see and do in this mountainous village within Teno rural park, read on. Also covered is where to eat, the accommodation options and tips regarding Masca parking. This is the complete guide to what to do in Masca, Tenerife.
How to Get to Masca
There are 3 ways to reach the village. You can get the bus to Masca; drive here if you have a hired car; or take an organised tour.
This option is for experienced and fairly fearless drivers only, as the mountain road is steep and packed with sharp bands. The simplest route is via Santiago del Teide, another of the most beautiful villages in the Canaries. Despite how long it can take, it’s just five kilometres (or three miles) between Santiago del Teide and Masca.
While it begins in a more tame manner, the drive becomes more difficult as you ascend. For some it’s adrenaline-inducing; but for others it’s terrifying. Locals say that some tourists have abandoned their cars in the village, too scared to embark on the return journey!
By Public Transport
Some small local Guaguas (buses) can take you to Masca. From Santiago del Teide, catch bus number 355. This trip takes about 15 minutes, and costs 1,45€. From Buenavista del Norte, catch bus number 355 or 365. From there the journey takes about 30 minutes, and costs 2,10€.
By Organised Tour
You can take a bus trip that includes Masca on the itinerary. These can be booked in advance, and often include other sites such as Garachico and Icod de Los Vinos. We recommend a full day tour visiting Teide, Masca, Garachico and Icod de los Vinos.
Parking at Masca
Do bear in mind that parking spaces in Masca can be very difficult to find. If you do drive, it’s best to go very early or later in the day, as you’re more likely to find a place to park. Avoid arriving between 11am and 5pm.
Don’t try parking on the roadside, as you’re certain to be fined. Local police patrol the area every day.
So you fully understand how complicated parking in Masca can be, here’s a short story. Friends of ours once drove to Masca, and after arriving found that there was no place to park at all. They asked police what they should do, after travelling all that way via the incredibly steep road. The answer was simply along the lines of “go back to where you came from and try another day”.
Things to Do in Masca
Stop at Viewpoints en Route
The first of the things to do in Masca, Tenerife begins before you even arrive. If you’re driving via Santiago del Teide, then do make a stop at one or both of the viewpoints along the way.
Do take care, though. Make sure not to leave any valuables in your car – even if it’s locked – where thieves could see them. It could take those who prey on unwitting tourists just moments to steal your belongings.
Mirador de Cherfe
The first viewpoint you’ll pass is Mirador de Cherfe. From here you can enjoy 360 degree views of Masca village, Mount Teide, the Teno Mountains, the Atlantic Ocean and even the Canary Islands of La Palma and La Gomera. The spot is best at sunset, but can be windy, so do bring another layer to wear.
Location: Google Maps
Mirador de Masca
After Mirador de Cherfe you’ll then pass Mirador de Masca while making your ascent. Due to the higher elevation, the views of the peaks, coastline and small mountain village are even more spectacular from here.
Location: Google Maps
Snap the Best Photo from the Car Park
The car park at Roque de Catana is actually the best spot for snapping an incredible image. From here you can fit both the unobscured, 600 metres plus rock and the village into the frame. The iconic rock is one of Tenerife’s most photographed sites.
Discover Plaza de Masca
Once you head into the village you’ll come across Masca square (located here). This has shady laurel trees, a scattering of benches to sit on and great views over Masca gorge and the trail.
Explore Masca Church
Masca’s small Church of the Immaculate Conception dates from the 18th century. It’s a visually striking structure due to its whitewashed volcanic stone and wooden frontage. The cypresses on the mountainsides create the perfect backdrop.
Pay a Visit to the Visitor Centre
We highly recommend stopping at the Masca visitor centre. You can get updated information on various hikes in the area and also helpful people who work there will recommend you what to see in the village. An insider’s tip – you can use a bathroom here for free instead of paying for it at a restaurant.
Where: Find it on Google Maps here.
Delve into Masca Museum
The building housing Masca Museum was once a school for the Guanches – Tenerife’s native people. The museum now allows visitors to get up close to what rural Canary Island life was really like via various artefacts, photos and informational panels.
Also explained at the museum is Masca’s past, including its architecture, agricultural traditions and residents. The isolation of the village from the rest of Tenerife is a key factor in its history.
Dine out with a View
All Masca restaurants come with a very special side helping of the most magnificent views. Some of the eateries here are also very good in their own right. The best foods to sample here include preserves, ice cream, cakes and juices made with cactus.
El Guanche restaurant in Masca is the village’s top-rated eatery. Canarian potatoes, tapas dishes and foods made with cactus are things to try here.
The sun-drenched terrace here is the ideal place to try generous portions of Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine.
This is the place to try local specialities made with cactus – including cake, ice cream, pie and lemonade.
Try a Cafe and Observation Deck with Mesmerising Views
The observation deck and cafe at Mirador La Cruz de Hilda is just five minutes’ drive from Masca. For the price of a chilled or hot drink – or even a light lunch – you can experience the mesmerising views from here. There’s also a good gift shop for picking up souvenirs, and parking is free.
Location: Google Maps
Take a Hike Down to the Secluded Beach
Though there’s no Masca beach in the village itself, you can take a hike down to a remote, secluded part of the local coastline. The route takes you via the gorge, so you can expect unparalleled scenery.
The Santiago del Teide trail is rated as challenging, and has in the past closed for safety reasons. This was following several fatal incidents which were thought to be the result of carelessness. So make sure you dress appropriately, wear hiking boots and take water and snacks with you. If you aren’t wearing the right shoes, you’ll not be permitted to proceed!
As well as stunning views of unusual rock formations and the black sand lagoon, you may encounter local flora and fauna along the way when completing this Masca hike in Tenerife. Timing-wise, those who’ve trekked here say it takes anywhere between four-and-a-half and seven hours to complete.
Though it was possible a few years ago, you can no longer catch a ferry to Los Gigantes from the beach. The safer route reopened in 2020, but with no ferry service. Some say this may be available again in future, but there is as yet no word on when this might happen. So, for now, your only option is to make the ascent back up – and this is far tougher than the descent.
You need to book for this hike, and it’s only available during the mornings of weekends and public holidays. Places book up quickly, so do plan months ahead. Children under eight cannot participate, book your hike here, find more information on the hike via the official website or check the hike map here.
Book an Overnight Stay for an Unforgettable Experience
There are no hotels in Masca, Tenerife, but you can stay overnight in an apartment if you want to. This is ideal for those following the Masca hiking trail, which is time-consuming. Spending the night here is also an unforgettable experience!
The village is less touristy during evenings and the early morning, so you can appreciate the peace fully without the crowds. Apartments are available in Masca, and here are some we recommend.
Sweet Home Masca offers a double room without a kitchen as well as a complete apartment. The latter has a lounge with a sofa bed, so is suitable for families. The terrace here is ideal for savouring those breathtaking sunset views.
Casa Berna is a two bedroom holiday home in Masca. It accommodates up to four and has a garden with a patio, barbecue and of course incomparable views. This property has modern amenities like a flatscreen TV and a full kitchen.
Live Masca offers on-site parking, free WiFi throughout and a spacious outdoor terrace. The air-conditioned apartment has lounge and dining areas, a kitchen and satellite TV. Guests can also use the pool at this property.
Backed by mountains and flanked by palm trees, this traditional Canarian home has a double bed and a sofa bed. The garden here is a key feature, offering views of the coastline as well as the rocky beauty of the mountains.
To explore Tenerife to the fullest and at your own pace, we highly recommend renting a car. Our favourite place for car rental is the RentalCars website. It allows you to compare different providers and pick the best deal. You also get the best protection and flexibility for booking terms.
We also recommend taking at least one guided tour. Our favourite place for booking tours in Tenerife is GetYourGuide.
Top 3 excursions on the island:
- A whale and dolphin watching (pick by location: Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes).
- Stargazing in Teide National Park
- Kayaking and Snorkeling with Turtles
The best hotels for families with kids (in our opinion):
Luxury: GF Victoria (Costa Adeje) or Bahia Principe Fantasia (Golf del Sur)
Mid-Range: Spring Hotel Bitácora (Playa de las Americas) or Iberostar Bouganville Playa (Costa Adeje)
Budget: GF Isabel (Costa Adeje) or Paradise Park Fun Lifestyle Hotel (Los Cristianos)
The best adults-only hotels:
Luxury: Iberostar Grand El Mirador (Costa Adeje) or Gran Melia Palacio de Isora (Alcalá)
Mid-Range: Tigotan Lovers & Friends (Playa de las Americas) or Iberostar Selection Sábila (Costa Adeje)
Budget: Barceló Santiago (Puerto de Santiago)
Top hotels for everyone:
Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama or Bahia del Duque (Costa Adeje)
Mid-Range: Hard Rock Hotel (Playa Paraiso) or Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa (Costa Adeje)
Budget: Alexandre Hotel Gala or Olé Tropical Tenerife (both Playa de las Americas)