Hidden in the folds of the Teno Mountains, Masca is a must-visit for anyone with a penchant for jaw-dropping natural beauty and intriguing history. The quaint village, often hailed as the Canary Islands’ answer to Machu Picchu, captivates with its traditional stone houses precariously perched on dramatic slopes and a backdrop that could easily grace the pages of any prestigious travel magazine. Even the drive to Masca is an adventure in itself, with narrow, winding roads providing a thrilling prelude to the stunning panoramas and serenity that await. In contrast to other destinations in Tenerife, it is also a guaranteed peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of tourist hotspots. So, for vacationers seeking the charm of a sleepy village and the untamed elegance of nature with a hint of historical mystique, Masca is your slice of paradise, promising an experience that’s nothing short of magical.

The famous bullet-shaped rock of Masca towers above the village – ©luiswndp

Pirates, Peaks, and Hidden Past

Masca packs a lot of history into its small footprint, and its story isn’t your run-of-the-mill historical tale. This is largely because it remained relatively hidden from the wider world until quite recently. This isolation has preserved not just the natural beauty of the area but also added a sense of intrigue around its past.

The village’s origins are somewhat murky, with evidence suggesting it was settled by the Guanches, the indigenous people of the Canary Islands, long before the Spanish conquest in the 15th century. The Guanches utilized the area’s challenging terrain to their advantage, living in harmony with the rugged landscape.

Fast forward to the post-conquest era, and Masca’s narrative takes a swashbuckling turn. The village’s remote location and the difficulty of access made it a perfect hideout for pirates. Yes, you heard that right—pirates! Legend has it that these buccaneers would stash their treasure in the caves dotting the mountainside, and the village became a haven for those looking to disappear off the map, so to speak.

In more recent history, Masca remained isolated well into the 20th century, with access to the outside world limited to treacherous paths and trails. It wasn’t until the 1970s that a road was finally built, connecting Masca with the rest of Tenerife and opening up its stunning landscapes and captivating history to the world’s curious eyes.

Things to Do in Masca

With entertaining things to do and places to see in Masca, it’s no wonder why this village is among the most visited tourist destinations in Tenerife. To walk around the village is to get an in-depth understanding of its rich history and culture, even without a guide. The few establishments reveal a lot about Masca’s heritage and architecture. Moreover, the surrounding lush forest tells stories of how the Guanches may have lived their lives all but a world away from civilization.

Masca Church

Standing out against the greenery of the mountain backdrop is the white-washed Masca Church. The church, small as the village is small, can only hold up to eighty people. The church is connected to the village square, which also doubles as a viewpoint to the ravine beneath.

Masca Musuem

Perched on the mountaintop town is the small and unimposing Masca Museum. It houses primal tools, unique artifacts and living conditions of the isolated Guanche settlement.

Masca Hiking Sunset
Sunset After a Long Walk in Masca – ©violin

Masca Ravine Walk

There is no better way to explore the ravines of Masca than by wandering on foot. The route starts from the village through the Masca Barranco down to the beautiful Masca Beach. It’s a marvelous path, descending beside trickling streams and jade pools, cane groves and swaying palm trees. During the walk, visitors can’t help but admire the rich flora and fauna in the area as well as the ancient ravine walls looming ominously above.

Visitors who are physically fit would not find it difficult to hike down the gorge, but there are some parts which can be a little tricky. In general, the trail is easy to follow and well sign-posted.

Masca Beach

Believed to have been a pirate hideaway, the small Masca Beach on the coast is a three-hour walk from the village. The hike, already a reward in itself, is through stunning sceneries and interesting rock formations. Upon arrival, visitors may enjoy the tranquillity of the beach and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. This secluded, narrow beach features black sand and rousing, shimmering sea. From the sand, volcanic rocks soar and curl around the bay, giving the beach a lagoon feel.

It is worth bearing in mind that once down the beach, walking back to the village takes much longer and requires a high level of fitness. Alternatively, visitors may take a boat from the coast to the nearby Los Gigantes.

Masca Beach
Masca Beach is Worth the 3-Hour Walk – @violin

Cruise from Masca Beach to Los Gigantes

Visitors who want to skip the hiking back to Masca village part may take a water taxi or kayak to the nearby Los Gigantes. These activities are perfect for those who to just sit back and relax after the strenuous downhill walk. The dramatic vertical sea cliffs of Los Gigantes, with some places 400m high, are best viewed from the water. Furthermore, visitors may even have a close encounter with dolphins and other sea creatures along the way.

Feast of La Consolacion

The Fiesta de la Consolación takes place in the first week of December. Villages wearing traditional dresses bring out their musical instruments for a magical evening of Canarian music. This is a fun local experience that visitors must try when visiting Masca.

Getting to and Around Masca

The easiest route from Tenerife’s southern resorts is via TF-1. Once you reach Santiago del Teide, take the TF-436 all the way to Masca. Along the way, narrow roads wind up to a small pass with stunning landscape views. The road writhes around the steep slopes, with switchback after switchback as it descends into what could be a lost world. It’s an exciting drive but not one for nervous drivers and passengers. Alternatively, vacationers may take the TITSA bus line 355 straight to Masca, which takes about 2 hours.

Road Canyon Masca Tenerife
Road to Masca – ©violin

As for visitors driving from Puerto de la Cruz or other northern towns, take the TF-5 up to El Tanque and switch to TF-82 until TF-436, which leads directly to Masca. This takes about an hour and is the easiest and fastest route. For those considering public transportation, taking a bus is also an option. Line 363 connects Puerto de la Cruz with Buenavista del Norte, and from there, line 355 goes to Masca.

Where to Stay

Accommodations in Masca, while limited, are designed to blend in with the spectacular natural surroundings and provide a peaceful, intimate retreat after a day of exploring. Staying in the village means immersing yourself in the tranquility of nature, with breathtaking views right at your doorstep. Here are the top 3 accommodation options that promise a memorable stay in this picturesque village:

Casa Rural Morrocatana

Casa Rural Morrocatana is your home away from home in the heart of Masca, offering four fully equipped houses complete with all the amenities needed for a comfortable and adventurous stay. Enjoy the convenience of free WiFi and explore the scenic surroundings with their bicycle rental service. For ease of travel, airport transportation and a shuttle bus service are available, ensuring your journey is as smooth as possible. After a day of hiking and exploring, relax on the sun terrace or make the most of the outdoor furniture to soak in the breathtaking views. Book Now!

Sweet Home Masca

With two delightful units to choose from—a cozy double room and a spacious one-bedroom apartment featuring a large double bed and a living room sofa bed—your comfort is guaranteed at Sweet Home Masca. Each space is equipped with good free WiFi and a tea/coffee maker, ensuring your mornings start perfectly. But it’s the views that will truly captivate your heart. Both the apartment and its balcony, along with the serene garden, offer stunning vistas that epitomize the beauty of Masca. Whether you’re sipping your hot cup of morning coffee or unwinding in the evening, the spectacular scenery from your accommodation and terrace promises a backdrop you’ll never forget. Book Now!

Casa Guergue

Casa Guergue offers the perfect blend of homey comfort and stunning natural beauty, making it an ideal retreat for families, friends, and even your furry companions. This charming two-bedroom house comes complete with a garden and terrace, providing stunning mountain views that promise to enchant. Stay connected with complimentary WiFi available throughout the property, and enjoy the convenience of two bathrooms, ensuring everyone has their space. The outside BBQ facilities invite you to indulge in memorable outdoor dining experiences under the stars. Plus, with pets allowed, your whole family can enjoy the serene beauty of Casa Guergue. Book Now!

Where to Eat

Considering the small size of the village, there is a limited number of restaurants and cafes to choose from. Even so, guests find themselves more than satisfied with the delicious traditional cuisines served at each bistro.

Restaurante El Guanche

Enjoy the heart of Masca’s culinary scene at Restaurante El Guanche, where traditional flavors meet innovative dishes in a cozy, welcoming setting. Feast on their best-sellers, like the mouthwatering eggplant vulcano or the fresh baguettes adorned with avocado and tomato salsa, each bite bursting with local zest. The avocado salad and goat cheese drizzled with exotic cactus sauce are sure to tantalize your taste buds, while the Tarte el Guanche, a delightful homage to traditional Guanche cuisine made of corn meal, flour, and onions, served with apple sauce and mojo rojo, offers a taste of history. Don’t miss out on the octopus salad and the iconic Canarian potatoes, staples that perfectly encapsulate the essence of the island’s flavors.

Restaurante La Piedra

Located right next to the village square, Restaurante La Piedra is a charming, family-run gem offering a warm welcome and dishes that make you feel right at home. Treat yourself to their crispy fried croquettes that melt in your mouth, or share the love with a Tapas platter for two, featuring an enticing mix of Spanish cheeses, hams, shrimp, palm honey, and olives. Wash it all down with a refreshing cactus (prickly pear) lemonade, a local favorite that perfectly complements the vibrant flavors of Masca. Dive into hearty mains like the beef and rabbit goulash served with potato, or savor the tender rabbit in salmorejo, a dish bursting with authentic Canarian flavors. For cheese lovers, the grilled local cheese drizzled with honey and accompanied by two different mojo sauces is a must-try. Seafood enthusiasts will relish the calamari in Canarian red sauce, while the classic tortilla Spanish omelet offers comfort in every bite. And for the sweet tooth, the homemade cakes are the perfect finale to a delightful dining experience.

Mirador de la Cruz de Hilda

Perched atop the scenic landscape of Masca, Mirador de la Cruz de Hilda is more than just a viewpoint—it’s a feast for the senses. With sweeping vistas of the valley and the quaint village below, it’s the perfect spot to pause, savor, and soak in the beauty of Tenerife. While their menu boasts a limited but delectable selection of local delights, each dish is a celebration of authentic flavors. Start your day right with a lovely cup of steaming hot coffee or indulge in a tapas platter brimming with irresistible bites that showcase the region’s culinary prowess. Quench your thirst with refreshing cactus or papaya juice, then treat yourself to the grilled cheese with mojo and palm honey, a true taste of the island’s essence. For a light yet satisfying option, the ham and cheese board is a crowd-pleaser, while the apple cake and honey-almond cake offer a sweet finale to your meal. And if you’re craving something savory, don’t miss out on the ham roll or the hearty ham, cheese, and egg sandwich.

Great view from a restaurant in Masca Tenerife
Great view from a restaurant in Masca Tenerife – ©rh2010

Traveler Tips

To make the most of your trip, consider these traveler tips:

Early Arrival: Masca attracts a lot of visitors, especially during peak season. Arriving early helps you avoid the crowds, secures better parking spots, and allows you to experience the village’s tranquility.

Wear Comfortable Footwear: Whether you’re exploring the village or going on the famous Masca trek, comfortable, sturdy shoes are a must. The terrain can be uneven and, in places, quite challenging.

Stay Hydrated: The Tenerife sun, combined with hiking or walking around, can quickly lead to dehydration. Always carry a reusable water bottle. Many places offer potable water to refill your bottle.

Respect the Environment: Masca is stunningly beautiful, and it’s our responsibility to keep it that way. Stick to marked paths, dispose of your waste properly, and respect wildlife.

Pack Snacks and Sun Protection: There are limited shops in Masca, so bring snacks, especially if you plan to hike. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are also crucial to protect against the sun’s rays.

Capture the Moment, but Stay Safe: Masca offers countless photo opportunities, but always be mindful of your surroundings, especially near cliffs or when hiking the gorge.

Plan Your Transport: The roads to Masca are narrow and winding. If you’re not confident driving, consider taking a bus or joining a guided tour. Parking is limited, and the road may sometimes be closed to manage traffic flow.

Check Weather Conditions: Weather can change rapidly in the mountains. Before heading out, especially for a hike, check the weather forecast to avoid any surprises.

Respect Local Culture: Masca is not just a tourist destination; it’s a place people call home. Respect private property, and be considerate of the local way of life.

Consider Staying Overnight: If you want to fully experience the tranquility of Masca, consider spending the night. Accommodations are limited, so book in advance.

FAQ

Is Masca suitable for children?

Masca can be a suitable destination for families with children, offering a unique opportunity to explore its breathtaking landscapes and learn about its rich history. That said, parents should be mindful of the village’s terrain and the nature of the activities available. The hike down Masca Gorge, for example, might be challenging for younger children due to its length and the rugged path. Within the village itself, while there’s much to fascinate children of all ages, the uneven, steep pathways and high viewpoints require close supervision. Families must assess the suitability of activities based on their children’s ages, interests, and abilities. With proper planning, a visit to Masca can be an enriching experience for both adults and children, full of adventure and exploration.

When is the best time to visit Masca?

The best time to visit Masca is from April to October. During these months, the weather is generally warmer and drier, making it ideal for hiking, exploring the village, and enjoying the stunning landscapes. This period offers the best conditions for outdoor activities, with less chance of rain and more sunny days. However, it’s also the peak tourist season, so the village and trails may be more crowded, particularly during the warm summer months of July and August.

If you prefer a quieter, more relaxed Masca experience, consider vacationing in the shoulder months of April, May, early June, late September, or October. During these times, you can revel in the pleasant weather while avoiding the peak season crowds. Always double-check the local weather forecast before planning your trip, as conditions can change, and some trails may be less accessible during or after heavy rains.

How accessible is Masca for travelers with mobility issues?

Masca presents certain challenges for travelers with mobility issues. The village itself is perched on mountainous terrain, characterized by steep, narrow streets and pathways that may not be easily navigable for those with limited mobility. While the main areas of the village, such as the village square and some viewpoints, are accessible to a degree, the uneven and sometimes slippery surfaces can pose difficulties.

For travelers with mobility issues wishing to experience Masca, it is advisable to plan ahead. This might involve researching the most accessible viewpoints, limiting the visit to the village center where the terrain may be more manageable, and consulting with tour operators that accommodate special mobility needs.

Masca: Undeniably Magical

Visiting Masca is like stepping into a breathtakingly beautiful painting, where nature’s handiwork is on full display. This hidden gem offers a blend of stunning landscapes, rich history, and a touch of adventure that appeals to travelers of all types. While the journey to Masca can be an adventure in itself, with winding roads leading you through dramatic scenery, the destination is undoubtedly worth the effort. From exploring the quaint village streets to trekking through the famous Masca Gorge, there’s an undeniable magic in the air. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast, a history buff, or simply in search of tranquility away from the tourist crowds, Masca promises an unforgettable experience that captures the heart of Tenerife’s wild beauty.