Masca

Tenerife's top picturesque village, balancing on a rocky plateau in the Teno Mountains, it includes among its highlights a small museum, a handful of good restaurants and a stamina-testing hike down the gorge.

The village of MASCA, in an impressively isolated and picturesque gorge, is generally considered Tenerife's prettiest village. And outside the hours of 11am and 5pm, when streams of crowds and tour buses beset the village, it's hard to argue with this opinion - the village's pretty old stone houses looking out across palm-trees and improbably steep ravine walls towards the Atlantic Ocean. So, if you're happy to arrive in the village early, and are fit and energetic enough for the hike down the incredible, narrow gorge to the sea, then visiting the valley is likely to be among your most memorable experiences on Tenerife.

Considering it was only connected by road to the outside world in 1991, and is a good three-hour hike from the coast, it's hard to imagine quite what inspired the village of Masca in the first place. However, fertile valley soils spawned a relatively large six-hundred strong community here at one point. Now the population hovers around one hundred, with many of the old stone houses of the village lying vacant and most of the villagers remaining here only to service tourist needs. For the hardy, the six-hour return hike down the impressive steep-sided Barranco de Masca, from the village to the sea, is a must.