Masca is a mountain village in the west of Tenerife and regarded as the most beautiful and picturesque village on the island. Masca is at 650 m altitude about 100 inhabitants. During the day it is overrun by tourists, but in the early mornings and evenings it regains its authenticity.
The Masca Gorge is a canyon running from Masca until the coast, and albeit a strenuous 3-hour walk either way, it is one of the most popular treks on Tenerife through forests of cypresses and palm trees.
Masca was a Guanche settlement before the Spanish conquest of 1496. There is a popular myth that Masca used to be a pirate hideout, but there is no evidence for the claim although it certainly helps to draw tourists to the village.
Until the 1980s, Masca was informally called the lost village because it lacked road access and could only be reached by horse, donkey, or by foot. This isolation allowed Masca to preserve much of its authenticity.
Reaching Masca by car takes about 30 minutes from Santiago del Teide, due to the rather steep and narrow mountain road TF-436. The 1 mountain pass has a bus stop and parking space to enjoy the view, as well as a street vendor during the summer season. When descending towards Masca there is a 1 viewpoint with roadside parking spaces for about 5 vehicles, giving a magnificent view over Masca and the Masca valley.
Parking near the village itself is very limited and it may take a while to find a space. There are some 2 parking spaces along the main road before the roundabout is reached.
An on-the-budget itinerary starts by taking a public bus to Santiago del Teide (e.g. line 325, exit the bus at the church - 3rd or 4th stop in the city), followed by a public micro-bus to Masca (line to Buenavista del Norte, line 355). The bus from Santiago may get full (especially the one before noon), but there should be taxis waiting nearby. Taxis directly from Los Gigantes to Masca should cost around €25, compared to approx. €5 for the bus.
When the gorge is open, one of the companies providing the boat service is Masca Express. They have offices in the marina, nearby bus station in Santiago and it is also possible to buy tickets directly at the beach. Reserving via internet upfront gets you a few euros discount, and it should not be a problem to shift departure time, should you arrive at the beach sooner than planned. It is possible to take a longer boat trip, which is then combined with fish-watching at the sea.
- TITSA (bus). South Tenerife is served by the following bus routes 040, 111, 343, 416, 417, 418, 420, 424, 447, 448, 450, 467, 471, 473, 477 and 483. Tenmás is the ticket.
Masca is very small, and the only way to get around is by foot. Some of the paths are rather steep and slippery even in dry weather, so it's highly recommended to wear proper walking shoes or sandals with a good grip. Beware for the steel handrails, they tend to splinter at the welded joints.
Getting around by bike is difficult and not recommendable, leave bikes on the main road and walk into the village on foot.
- 2 Masca square (Plaza de Masca). 24/7. Beautiful square with a giant laurel tree in its centre. Free.
- 3 Chapel. Appears to be closed to visitors permanently.
- 4 Masca gorge viewpoint (Mirrador de Masca). 24/7. One of the best viewpoints int the Masca valley, overlooking the Masca gorge (Spanish: Barranco de Masca). Free.
- 5 Masca viewpoint. 24/7. Viewpoint overlooking the entire Masca valley, with the Teno Massif in the background. Parking space is limited to about 5 or 6 cars, but it's worth a stop if there is space available. From here, there are no more opportunities to stop along the side of the road until reaching Masca village. Free.
- Closed since 2018 (check the boat service website for updates):
1 Masca Gorge (Barranco de Masca). 24/7. Widely regarded as the most beautiful trek to be made on Tenerife, the Masca Valley runs from just south of Masca until the 1 Atlantic coast. The starting point is in 2 Lomo del Medio, right next to the Masca village. The 8 km long hiking trail is quite demanding and takes about 3 hours either way. There is a 3 ferry terminal that offers a connection to Los Gigantes, but must be booked in advance. Along the way, hikers are rewarded with unique volcanic formations, dated to Miocene age basaltic lava flows. Free.
There is a 1 souvenir shop just below the TF-436, selling just about any of the souvenirs you'll find elsewhere on the island: jewelry with basalt and olivine, pottery, seashells, sculptures and postcards, pens, memoralia, aloe vera based products, and many "handmade" items supposedly crafted on the island.
The restaurants in Masca are only set for day tourism and close at 18:30 at the latest.
Some of the restaurants offer simple rooms, e.g. the "El Guanche" in one of the oldest houses in the village, the old school. There are three double rooms there, each costing €35 per night. The rooms are neat and clean and some of them offer a fantastic view of the valley. However, they are simple and rustic and do not have their own bathroom.
The Teno massif is known for its steep cliffs and pointy rocks, so take care when walking and stay on the marked paths whenever practical. There is no medical infrastructure in Masca, should you require medical attention then Santiago del Teide (30 min away) is the best option.
Pickpockets commonly roam around the village, targeting tourists, so keep a close eye on valuable items.