On Trains & Buses

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Getting Around Tenerife by Bus

Posted on December 3, 2022

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Buses at Intercambiador, Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Spain

This is another in a series of posts where I cast my mind back to better times. This time, it is a winter sunshine trip to Tenerife at the end of 2018 with a return in early 2019. Aside from using a shuttle service booked through easyJet to get from the airport to my hotel in Santa Cruz, I travelled everywhere else using the island’s bus network, operated by Titsa, if I could not do so on foot. There is a tram system around Santa Cruz, but everywhere I needed to go was walkable, so it was not something that I needed to use.

Most stay in the southwest of the island for easy access to beaches, but I was after hillwalking. The result was that I stayed in the island’s administrative centre, a long way from the main airport in the south. Once there, it proved to be a useful location for any nearby hills and for getting further afield as well.

My first trip out from my chosen base was born of necessity, and I was bound for Puerto de la Cruz on my first whole day of the trip, the last Sunday of 2018. The morning was sunny, but the sky clouded over by the afternoon. My destination for the day is another of the holiday bases on the island and offered chances for reaching the higher parts of the island.

They would prove useful later, but my journey that day was an out and back affair with no change of vehicle. What I can remember now is the early start that I made, partly because reaching the main bus interchange (the Intercambiador) involved a significant walk, one that I had not made before. The way there was not unpleasant, and I would get to know its landmarks over coming days.

Once there, I seem to remember picking a high perch in the bus, possibly near the back of the vehicle. That guaranteed better views away from the built-up areas and beyond the island’s northern airport, a regional affair that I did not use. What I cannot recall is any sense of overcrowding and the efficiency of the experience. That impression was set to pervade the rest of the trip.

The next day was New Year’s Eve, but I did no travelling by bus for reasons now unknown to me. A day walking through local hills more than sufficed, and I was about to learn how determinedly the locals celebrate the arrival of a new year. On New Year’s Day, the bus service was vastly better than what you would have in many parts of England. In fact, it felt close to full service.

On my way to the Intercambiador, I passed many who were walking home from New Year celebrations. Formal attire seemed to be the way to do things from the way in which most were dressed. Being in walking attire, I must have looked different. The bus service to Igueste de San Andrés was less frequent than others, but it got me to what became the base for the most adventurous hike of my trip; passing along a steep slope on a narrow path above seawater also does that for me. For my return, I had quite a wait because of the two-hourly frequency and my tardiness. Though I was wondering in the dark with the place being quiet, the bus did turn up as expected, so there was no need to have thought of trying to ask someone for a drive.

After the largely enjoyable travails of the day before and the anticipated altitude, I was constraining my ambitions for a day trip to the island’s lofty centre. That needed a change of bus at Puerto de la Cruz, and the connection from there was more of a tourist service. The first bus filled up easily, and I saw mountain bikes being loaded into its side lockers too. Usefully, there was second one as well, so I got onto that one. The altitude gain was brought home to me by the oozing of a bottle of sunscreen when I opened it rather than the steepness of the climb being make effortless by the bus.

It was just as well that our course was a zigzag one until the first stop where some disembarked. There was call to El Teide too, which was where most got off the bus. They surely were bound for the cable car as were all the others who had gone there by car, making the bus driver’s job more challenging. It was for the Hotel Parador stop that I was bound. That was the terminus where buses were parked awaiting their return journeys. In the meantime, I pottered about Rocques de Garcia while keeping my eye on the time as much as on the views, since I did not want to get stranded with my flight back to the U.K. scheduled for the following day.

In the end, there was no need to fear in this barren desert-like landscape. Getting there had meant that I could not use the travel card that I had picked up in Santa Cruz; on the day payment was needed instead. That was a pre-paid affair, and got me around much of the island once I had acquired. The next day, it would get me to the airport too.

Information for bus services to and from the airport struck me as being strange, though everything else on the Titsa website was as informative as it needed to be (there also is a version in English). They even suggested that there is no direct service from Santa Cruz there at all, but I got all the way without the change for which I might have been prepared. My arrival had been by night, so I took no chances and stuck with the shuttle bus that I already mentioned. In contrast, my departure was in daylight, so I could be more adventurous.

Overall, my impression of the Tenerife bus network was that it worked far better than some places where I have been. Services were extensive with plenty of room onboard. Only the Parque Nacional del Teide services were very full, so one need not fret at being left behind. Timekeeping was very good too. All in all, it felt like how a bus system should be operated.