The cable car provides the easiest way to get up to the peak of El Teide. The views are great – unless a big cloud is covering the peak, in which case you won’t see a thing. On clear days the volcanic valley spreads out majestically below, and you can see the islands of La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro peeking up from the Atlantic. It takes just eight minutes to zip up 1200m.
Each cable car holds around 35 passengers and leaves every 10 minutes, but get here early (before noon) because at peak times you could be queuing for two hours if you haven't prebooked. Booking your ticket online will indeed save you pain: you'll need to purchase a slot at a specific time (aiming for the earliest slot is advisable so you can find parking, otherwise you may find yourself stranded if you are driving; alternatively factor in time finding somewhere to park into your schedule).
Also, a few words of warning: those with heart or lung problems should stay on the ground, as oxygen is short up here in the clouds. It’s chilly, too, so no matter what the weather’s like below, bring a jacket. Be aware that weather conditions often force the early closure of the cable car – strong winds can whip up suddenly and the cable car can stop running with very little notice. This is normally not a huge problem for casual visitors who’ve caught the cable car up the mountain as a park warden based at the top cable-car station will inform everyone that it’s about to stop running, but for hikers climbing all the way up the mountain and intending to take the cable car back down it can be a very serious issue indeed.