Walking & Hiking in La Palma
Enchanted forests, black volcanic landscapes, steep mountain hikes and stunning coastal views all make for some great walking experiences in La Palma. Whether venturing out on your own or with a knowledgeable walking tour guide, you’ll find a variety of options with regards difficulty, distance and things to see along the way. We booked two very good organised coach trips with Natour Trekking, plus ventured to the top of the Southern volcanoes and walked around towns, villages and coastlines under our own steam which worked out well for our two week stay.
Walking Under Your Own Steam
Much of La Palma can be explored on your own if you set out with adequate footwear, equipment, maps and a good deal of energy for the steep hills! We saw many people using walking poles and as keen photographers, we discovered our monopod doubled as a useful pole in times of need! It’s always best to walk with someone rather than venture out on your own for obvious reasons and always carry plenty of water with you to avoid dehydration.
Although we enjoyed the organised tours with Natours, we preferred the freedom of walking in our own time and at our own pace which allowed us to take photos and really relax and enjoy the surroundings. We believe that you’ll see a great deal more this way and there is always something ‘just around the corner’ to explore.
The Walks We Achieved
The two walks below from start to finish are LONG! However, we are not super-fit so they are achievable and you can just do parts of them if preferred.
The walks describe our personal experiences during February 2008. Whilst some things may have changed over the years, the locations haven’t so we hope it is still a good source of reference. Our walks have been published for use by website visitors on the understanding that Outdoors Views are not held responsible for the safety or well-being of those following the routes that we describe. Routes and footpaths were correct at time of publication.
WALK 1 – Fuencaliente Volcano Route Down to the Lighthouse
Details correct February 2008
Walk as far as you want to with this route which has different options for all levels of walkers and includes two very different volcanoes plus the Fuencaliente lighthouse. You can do the route in reverse from bottom to top if you are feeling very fit!
Our walk starts from the visitor centre at Volcán San Antonio (1) and takes you past Volcán Teneguía (2) and then down to the coastline where you will find the Fuencaliente Lighthouse (3). The route is in two parts so you can just complete the first or second part if preferred and rather than walk to the lighthouse, just back-track the way you came to return to the car park whenever you wish to return. There are buses available from the lighthouse which will take you back to Fuencaliente but make sure you check the timetables as it’s a long walk back up again!
Please consult a detailed map for distances and actual routes.
- Starting Point: Volcán San Antonio Visitor Centre, Fuencaliente
- Facilities: Car park, toilets, museum
- Notes: Volcán San Antonio is a fairly easy, short and gentle track. Just after Volcán San Antonio, the track is steeper but then turns into a steady and gentle slope down to the lighthouse. You have the option of climbing Volcán Teneguía if you want a bit of excitement along the way! Trails are well-marked, even and off road apart from the last part from the lighthouse to the La Palma Princess hotel (4) which involves road walking if you choose this route.
- Highlights: Incredible volcanic landscapes and flowers plus a great sense of achievment at the end!
How to Get There
From La Palma Princess Hotel – you can catch the bus from the hotel reception to Fuencaliente town, buy any food and drink needed and then walk the short distance down to the Volcán San Antonio from the town. Alternatively, ask the driver to stop at Volcán San Antonio itself which is just before the main town. If arriving from another part of La Palma, head for Fuencaliente and then follow the signs for the Volcán San Antonio which will take you down the hill and into a well-marked side road on the left which leads to the car park and visitor centre.
The visitor centre has photographs, displays, a projection room and seismographs plus toilet facilities.
The Walk – Part One – Volcán San Antonio
The first short part of our walk takes you halfway along the top rim of Volcán San Antonio which sits 650 metres above sea level and offers views of the west coast of the island. To begin, follow the marked trail to Volcán San Antonio from the visitor centre (you shouldn’t be going down at this point!) which takes you on a somewhat bumpy and uneven path along the top of the volcano (shown left). The path is fairly wide but has steep drops on both sides and it can be windy so take care. The views are great from the top and you can see La Palma Princess hotel on a clear day. The trail will only take you half-way round in an anti-clockwise direction so you have to return on the same path but we felt it was worth the short trip and this is a good little path for those who want to see and stand on a volcano without having to hike a long way.
Bear in mind that compared to Volcán San Antonio, Volcán Teneguía is also well worth a visit as it represents a completely different landscape with regards formations and the colours are spectacular so if you can make it down the hill (and back up again!), you’ll be glad you did.
The Walk – Part Two – Volcán Teneguía
From the visitor centre, follow the steep path downwards in a southerly direction towards Volcán Teneguía for approximately 1 km until you meet the wide gravel track/road. Bear left on this and follow it along.
For a good viewpoint and brief stop along the way, leave the track and walk down the short trail that leads to Roque Teneguia which is a large pale-coloured rock offering a colourful array of interesting flora and rock formations. Backtrack up the trail to rejoin the main track where you will bear right in a north-easterly direction to continue.
Walk further along the main track for approximately 3/4 km to reach the lower part of Volcán Teneguía where you have the option of following the steep trail up to the top or continuing along the route towards the lighthouse.
Climbing Volcán Teneguía
To reach the top of Volcán Teneguía, turn off the main track onto the lower track that leads to the volcano and follow this along. Water channels can be seen on the right hand side and we saw many flocks of small birds flying around here as we approached. At first site, the volcano doesn’t look that impressive but the spectacle improves upon approach and ascent and many different coloured lava structures can be seen together with a volcanic crust covering the landscape in most directions. The colours are incredible and well worth seeing.
For the ascent, sturdy walking footwear, some nerve and a good bit of oomph is required to get you up the rocky, narrow and sometimes worrying track leading up. However, it looks far worse than it is from the bottom and once you are up at the top, you’ll be glad you made it and proud of your achievements if the prospect terrified you in the first place (as it did me!).
At the top, you can continue along the narrow open path to the very end but take care as there are steep drops on either side and it can be windy. (I was feeling a bit nervous at this point and then we saw a young, athletic mother clamber easily up the track to the top and then lean over the edge to have a look. The poor baby who was in a forward-facing baby carrier looked rather alarmed and will probably have a fear of heights for the rest of his life!).
The route down again can be a little tricky so take your time if you feel you need it.
Head back to the main track / road again where you can either return up the track to the car park and visitors centre or continue down the track to the lighthouse.
Down to the Lighthouse
The gentle track to El Faro can be found by walking in a southerly direction and is clearly marked with large red and white striped posts.
The route is good and descends down a nicely laid out, fairly easy going track through black volcanic landscapes and colourful flora. You’ll reach a main road so cross over this and continue following the red and white marked trail towards the wind turbines and lighthouse on the coast.
Next to the Fuencaliente lighthouse you’ll find a small museum and toilets together with a beach area and a car park. Check the opening hours, we only just made it before it closed.
Options at the end of the walk:
- If staying at the La Palma Princess Hotel and you still have some energy left, you can walk back along the quiet coastal road to the hotel which is the option we chose. The route is fairly interesting with black sand beaches on one side and volcanic landscapes on the other that then opens up to rows and rows of banana plantations before reaching the hotel. It’s approximately 6 km from the lighthouse to the hotel and the route is almost flat all the way.
- Buses: there is a bus service that runs from the lighthouse to La Palma Princess hotel and Fuencaliente so you can walk the route all the way down to the bottom and then catch the bus back to the visitors centre. Please check the bus time-table though and try to avoid catching the last bus home.
- Walking: you can return the way you came back up to the visitor centre but it is a fairly steep hike back up again so only attempt this if you feel you are up to it.
Reviews from Outdoor Views
Although it was long and hard and we were exhausted by the end of it, we really enjoyed the route and felt a great sense of achievement so it was well worth the effort. The volcanoes were far more impressive than I expected and I loved the way the scenery, colours and flora changed throughout the walk. Climbing to the top of Volcán Teneguía was the highlight but the whole day was enjoyable despite the bouts of rain and low cloud.
We used the ‘Walk! La Palma book’ for reference which we recommend with the route being fairly easy to follow for the majority of the way.
Make sure you take plenty of water with you, some food and a light jacket as it can get colder in the higher areas and allow plenty of time for this walk. It took us a whole day and we didn’t get back to the hotel until early evening but it was a great day out and all we spent was the bus fare!
We are fairly fit but not superfit so judge the level of your abilities before attempting the whole walk!
WALK 2 – Los Llanos, Tazacorte and Puerto Tazacorte Circular Walk
Details correct February 2008
A long circular walk through pretty towns down to the ocean and back through banana plantations. Walk the whole route to sleep really well at the end of the day or pick certain sections and travel by bus or car in-between if preferred.
Our (long!) circular route starts and ends in Los Llanos. It’s an enjoyable and varied walk that allows you to travel by foot as far as you want to. You can or walk the whole distance as we did.
Please consult a detailed map for distances and actual routes.
- Starting Point: Los Llanos Bus Station
- Notes: Mainly good roadside footpaths, a fairly long but gentle slope down to the ocean, ocean front flat, last part through the banana plantations quite steep and hard work!
- Facilities: Car parking, bus station, toilets, shops, cafes & bars, beach
- Walking Notes: Good, gentle roadside footpaths throughout the towns. A fairly long but gentle slope from Tazacorte to Puerto Tazacorte. Puerto Tazacorte promenade level, pleasant and easy. Puerto Tazacorte to Los Llanos through the banana plantations is on a steep rugged path and hard work!
- Highlights: Lovely towns, beautiful coastal views, varied walk and a great sense of achievement at the end!
Our starting point is from the bus station in the town of Los Llanos. We arrived by bus from Fuencaliente but you can get to the Los Llanos bus station by foot, car, bus or bike depending on your location.
Part One – Los Llanos to Tazacorte
From the bus station, travel a short distance in an easterly direction to the Plaza de Espana and spend some time looking around the beautiful church and the square which has open air cafes and shops along the various roads that meet in this area. I loved it here!
Once you’ve had a look around the town, there are several options to continue onto Tazacorte by foot. We travelled in a southerly direction until meeting the main road, Carlos Fransisca Gazmira, crossed this and then travelled westerly and turned down G. Tague. The tourist information office is a few yards down this road on the left hand side.
When you reach the point where the road forks into different roads, consult your map as to which way you wish to take as there are a number of options available. We took Calle Las Rosas which offered a shortcut through the banana plantations and then joined the main road into Tazacorte (LP-122). This route was good but there were a couple of scary looking dogs in the street plus some very loud, unseen barking ones which seemed harmless upon passing but intimidating all the same!
The main road into Tazacorte is good with a paved footpath all the way along. We saw beautiful Bird of Paradise and very unusual trees along this part of the route.
Follow the winding road in and, once you reach the main Tazacorte plaza, there is a very good supermarket there with toilets just inside the main door. This is a great opportunity to stock up on drinks and snacks for the rest of the route if needed. From the plaza, head straight down towards the sea and bear right where you will come across a very pleasant seated area overlooking the banana plantations and the sea beyond. There are some lovely coloured traditional balconies here too.
There is an interesting area with a museum, statue and old-style buildings in the banana plantation area below the seated area which is accessible by Calle Miguel de Unamuno and eventually leads down to a high coastal path with opportunities to see birds of prey and good sea views via the plantations. You’ll need to back-track to the main road again to continue onto Puerto Tazacorte.
Part Two – Tazacorte to Puerto Tazacorte
Once leaving Tazacorte, follow the LP-122 towards Puerto Tazacorte which is a pleasant and well signposted route. The main road zig-zags quite a few times but look out for the shortcuts via steps which cut out many sections and make the walking route shorter and easier.
At the end of the descent, you’ll reach the main promenade of Puerto Tazacorte (pictured above) which has a few cafés and ice-cream shops with the port entrance behind. The promenade then leads to a fine volcanic beach with a number of bars, cafes and restaurants all colourfully painted and within a small area. The beach has a children’s play area and seemed to be very popular with families and visitors alike.
Part Three – Puerto Tazacorte back to Los Llanos
We made our way out of town towards Los Llanos on Av Taburiente which follows the route of the river, passing by a lovely white church on the left and small cafe’s on the right. Just after the last of the cafes, the next point of the walk is either to cross the river at a suitable (and safe) point or walk along the road back to Los Llanos de Aridane.
At this point, we had a lot of trouble figuring out whether this was the way we were supposed to be going but a very lovely Spanish farmer crossed the river from the other side ladened with a large basket of bananas and after a lot of pointing at the map and some attempted Spanish, we finally felt satisfied that this was the route to take and crossed the river without getting wet boots! He also gave us a bunch of lovely fresh bananas too.
Once on the other side, you’ll need to find the path through the banana plantations which is easy once you’ve found it but hidden well at the start. The trail can be seen with a wall and bananas trees to the left and right. Take the trail through the banana plantations and you’ll start the gradual ascent which gets steeper as you go but the views from the hills are great.
If crossing the river is not an option, continue along the main road up towards Los Llanos de Aridane but the trail is definitely the preferred route due to traffic on the roads and it offers a shorter route.
From the trail, you’ll cross and walk up a few parts of the road so keep a look out for the trails instead of taking the longer road route where possible, just keep heading east. This part of the walk is by far the most testing for both the walker and the map reader so allow plenty of time to complete the last part from Puerto Tazacorte to Los Llanos. The track is steep!
Eventually you’ll meet a small tarmaced road which joins the main road which then takes you on a steady run back into the town of Los Lllanos from where you began many hours ago!
There are toilets near to the bus station in various cafes and bars if the station facilities are closed.
Honest Reviews by Outdoor Views
Firstly, this was a LONG walk! Despite thinking we were never going to make it up the final hill and that we’d miss the last bus home, we really enjoyed our own route which offered variety all the way along and was relaxing and enjoyable apart from the last final hike back to Los Llanos. The towns were all lovely and quite varied and it was great to see them at our own pace which you can’t do on an organised trip. I loved Los Llanos and could have spent longer there had we had the time.
The final hike up the hill was hard work but good all the same. I am not superfit but managed it, despite the boiling hot weather in February so I would recommend a good sunhat, strong suntan lotion and plenty of water if trying this walk at any time of the year. It was really hot the day that we walked!
We caught a late bus back to Fuencaliente as the walk upwards took longer than anticipated so bear this in mind if you have to get back to the bus station in time and always find out when the last bus home is. Although the bus station was open till late, for some reason they close the toilets so we went into the nearest bar to use the facilities and freshen up before our bus ride home.
All in all, a great day out and about exploring at our own pace with some adventure and we did sleep really well at the end (or should I say collapsed in a heap)!
Recommended Walking Equipment
- Sturdy, comfortable walking boots that you are used to wearing
- Lightweight waterproof jacket & trousers
- Water bottle
- Map & compass (for your own walks)
- Small backpack for carrying water, snacks and other items
La Palma Organised Walking Tours
Joining an organised walking tour in La Palma is a great experience and provides all you need for a good day out without worry. The coach picks you up from a convenient location, you visit the most interesting areas, the guides take care of you and you are then returned to your pick-up point at the end of the trip.
The guides knowledge of the flora, fauna and the island itself adds to the experience and they are generally happy to share what they know. Some areas of La Palma can be a bit hazardous, especially in the Caldera with falling rocks, so travelling with a guide ensures your safety and guides you along the correct paths and routes without any worry. You generally need to take a packed lunch on the tour and some areas can be steep so know what you are letting yourself in for.
We did find that the actual travelling times can be quite long if you are one of the first to be picked up but it’s a great way to see the island and travel in comfort whilst you do so. Check when booking as you may not want to sit on a coach for half the day!
If you are hoping to do the Caldera tour which is the highlight of the island, book the trip as soon as you arrive and for the early part of your holiday. Despite booking two dates during two weeks in February, we were unable to go due to weather conditions which caused the Caldera to close. If your trip is cancelled for any reason, they should be able to put you on the next available trip but it is popular and rain can stop play so bear this in mind!
We used Natour Trekking for all three tours that we booked and found them to be very professional, knowledgeable and interesting and would highly recommend them.
Most popular walking tours offered:
- Teneguia Tour
- Dream Paths
- The Enchanted Forest
- Down to the Fishing Village
- The Wild North
- Caldera de Taburiente
- The Volcano Route
- The Roof of the Island