Visit Masca, the most beautiful village on Tenerife

Having walked extensively across all the Canary Islands, I'd claim that not only is Masca the most beautiful village in Tenerife, it's the most beautiful in the Canary Islands.

When anyone asks what are the must-see places on Tenerife the reply is automatically 'Mount Teide', quickly followed by 'Masca'. The tiny hamlet, hidden in the folds of the ancient Teno Massif in the west of Tenerife, is one of those places where no amount of poetic description can prepare first-time visitors for the reality of its beauty. When you rent a villa in Tenerife, don't miss out on this awe-inspiring village.

It's a gasp inducer if ever there was one.

Masca, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
For more ideas on top attractions on the island, take a look at our pick of the 10 best free things to see and do on Tenerife.

How to get to Masca

Part of the 'WOW' impact of visiting Masca is the journey to get there. The easiest route (easy being a relative term) from Tenerife's southern resorts is via Santiago del Teide, itself a contender for inclusion in the top 10 picturesque Canarian villages.

From Santiago, a narrow road winds up to a small pass with views into a fantastical land. That part is only the appetiser. After that, the road writhes around the steep slopes, with switchback after switchback as it descends into what could easily be a lost world. It's an exhilarating drive but not one for nervous drivers used to driving in straight lines in urbansville. Locals tell of having to drive some visitors' cars back to 'civilisation' because drivers are too nervous to attempt the return journey.

Road to Masca, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
On the way down there are a couple of natural viewpoints which are handy for a breather and which also allow car drivers a few moments to wallow in what is one of the most spectacular scenes anywhere, whilst one eye will spot the intestine of a road that still lies ahead.

It's only five kilometres from Santiago del Teide, but the drive feels an awful lot longer.

See our list of the top 10 views on Tenerife for more suggestions of places to be 'wowed'.

Why visit Masca?

The obvious answer is because the location is exceptionally beautiful. Masca is more a collection of rural houses linked by rough stone walkways than a village, although its popularity as one of the top tourist attractions has resulted in more restaurants and shops than you'd find in the average agricultural caserio.

Flower lined, cobbled walkways, Masca, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
What makes Masca stand out from other hamlets in remote beauty spots on Tenerife is the fact that the main centre runs along a ridge underneath a bullet-shaped pinnacle that lends it a mini Machu Picchu look. Steep ravine walls rising on either side of the hamlet add to the drama and La Gomera framed in the V of the ravine leading west to the ocean is a bonus.

Guides have spun colourful tales about the small community, suggesting it was once a pirate village; not a claim that goes down well with residents. But there is an intriguing air about Masca, aided and abetted by tales of witchcraft and legends (this time from local records rather than the over-active imagination of tour guides).

Most visitors arrive on excursions, having a quick wander round and taking a few photographs before heading off to another attraction. However, the best way to see it is to D-I-Y. Arrive early or late in the day and take time to explore the steep, rough walkways that deter the masses, keeping parts of the hamlet quiet even during busiest times.

Lomo de Masca, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
Although a visit to Masca is memorable in itself, a way to make it even more so is to hike from the hamlet through the Masca Barranco to the ocean and a waiting boat nearly 3 hours down the trail.

It's one of the best things to do in Tenerife: a wondrous route, descending beside trickling streams and jade pools, cane thickets and swaying palm fronds whilst all the time the ancient barranco walls close in ominously above.

Combine a visit to Masca with the walk through the ravine and not only do you get to enjoy one of the most stunning views in the Canary Islands, you also get one of the most incredible travel experiences into the bargain.

If you're into exploring holiday destinations on foot, check out the best areas for walking on Tenerife.