This is a tough ride on quiet roads through the Anaga rural park. You'll find stunning laurel forests, deep ravines, craggy peaks and tiny hamlets. The route predominantly follows the TF-12, which many say is the most beautiful road in Tenerife.
One of the great things about this ride is you can easily flex the distance and elevation gain as, once you've left the towns, you're (pretty much) on a loop of the TF-12 with optional add-ons. If you "just" did the TF-12 you'd still get a good sense of the Anaga region while reducing the distance to 50 km and elevation gain to 1,324 m. Why not start with the basic loop and then decide which, if any, of the out and backs you want to add on (see our Tips below) for more information.
Route map and profile
Distance: 92 km
Elevation Gain: 3,100 m
Max Grade: 33 %
All metrics in this guide are approximate
Our three favourite things about this ride are:
- 1The views. You have to remember to keep your eyes on the road and not the incredible vistas... Particular stand-outs were the panoramas all the way up the climb from San Andrés, down over Taganaga, along the TF-12 between the turn off to Afur and Las Carboneras and from the Mirador Cruz del Carmen viewing platform.
- 2The forest. This is the ride to do when temperatures soar: once you're up on top of the ride, the TF-12 passes through cool, green woodland. We were surprised just how green and cool it was, especially compared with the barren moonscape of Teide, just up the road.
- 3The sense of isolation, particularly down the tiny roads to Afur and Las Carboneras. There are very few other people around and the ancient villages feel lost in a time warp, a million miles from the high-rise party towns of Playa de la Américas.
1. La Laguna to Turn off to Taganaga: 0-26 km
San Cristobal de La Laguna ("La Laguna") is a beautiful starting point for this ride: the only UNESCO World Heritage Site protected town in the Canaries, with elegant buildings that reflect its colonial legacy. The traffic between La Laguna and Santa Cruz de Tenerife is less enjoyable. See our Tips below for more.
Once out of the city, you hit the seafront road that passes huge, industrial docks. The TF-11 follows the coast to San Andrés. This is where the 16 km flat warm up ends and it's time to test the legs. It's about 10 km (av. gradient 5.8%) to the top, on the quiet, twisty TF-12 that curves it's way up lushly vegetated slopes with jaw-dropping views in all directions.
2. Turn off to Taganaga to turn off for Las Carboneras: 26-79 km
At the top of the climb you come to your first decision: down to Taganaga or continue on the TF-12.
To help you decide we describe the TF-12 and then each of the out and backs that take you steeply downward, before you retrace your route up to the TF-12 once more.
The TF-12: If you stay on the TF-12 and don't head down from the ridge, it's roughly 10.5km until the descent begins. It's a bit lumpy, but tame by Tenerife standards, with an average 4.3% gradient, 600 m of climbing and 300 m of descent over those 10.5km. It's a gorgeous ride, through shaded woodland, often cutting through cliff faces and interspersed with views over the richly carpeted slopes of the Anaga mountain range.
To Benijo and back (18.1 km, +845 m): This is probably the most beautiful of the three out and backs. We also found it the most busy and came across a coach doing a three point turn around a particularly tight corner near the bottom (there was also a guy skateboarding down, with two mopeds accompanying him - totally insane!). Like the Sa Calobra in Mallorca, as you speed down the hairpins, you know you're in for a painful return journey. If you can take your eyes off the road, the views are epic. The whitewashed villages at the bottom of the mountain sit next to a crashing shoreline and make a good stop for a breather, though you won't want to eat anything too heavy with the return leg ahead of you!
To Afur and back (13.4 km, +827 m): You may be tempted to stop at the Casa Santiago restaurant which is in a sunny spot with a fabulous view. If you resist the temptation, you'll find yourself cycling through dense woodland which soon opens out into views of vertical ravines leading down to the sea. Watch out for some crumbly rock debris on the road and we spotted some patches of moss too. We found this road much quieter than the road to Benijo; there was a heavy sense of isolation, as if you were riding a road not often explored. Afur is a tiny village, with a church and a little rustic restaurant where you can get a drink, bread and cheese.
To Las Carboneras and back (9.8 km, +439 m): The easiest of the three out and backs, the start of the descent is wooded with ferns and an almost Cornish smell in the air. We passed steeply terraced fields planted with crops and little yellow flowers dancing in the breeze. The view opens out in places and the road is dotted with houses. We pulled up in Las Carbonaras to wonderful birdsong and an air of tranquility exuding from this brightly coloured village. It's in a sunny spot and the road to the village is lined with palm trees. You'll also find a pretty main square, behind the exuberantly orange church. There's a bar and somewhere to eat too.
3. Turn off for Las Carboneras to La laguna: 79-91.5 km
After the turn off for Las Carboneras, it's a twisty descent back to civilisation: 12.7 km with 526 m of descent and 57 m of climbing. After Las Mercedes, you leave the TF-12 and you're back to more traffic and urban sprawl.
If you want to extend the ride, about 1 km after the Las Carboneras turn off, there's a turn up the TF-114 to Mirador Pico del Inglés (1 km each way, 50m of climbing). We managed to miss it, but would love to know what it's like; tell us if you've done it, by commenting below.
While there's not an over-supply of places to re-fuel, you should be fine if you take supplies with you and plan. On the TF-12, at the turn off to Afur there's Casa Santiago. There's also two restaurants at Mirador Cruz del Carmen, one by the side of the road and the other under the Tourist Information Centre.
If you do the extensions to Benijo you'll find restaurants there and in Taganaga and Almáciga, on the way down. There's also the very basic inn at Casa Jose Cañon in Afur and Bar Restaurante Tesegre in Las Carboneras.
We stayed at Belive Playa Arena, which worked well for us. From Playa La Arena it's about an hour and a quarter's drive to La Laguna.
You can find more information about this hotel and our suggestions for hotels in La Laguna and other towns, in our ultimate guide to Tenerife for cyclists.
Alternatively, our best towns for cyclists article should help you decide the best town for you.
TIPS for cycling anga rural park
over to you!