As the largest island, Tenerife has become the primary entry and exit point to and from the Canary Islands. It’s precisely for this reason that many travelers who have the intention of transferring to the neighboring islands opt to stay overnight or a few days before heading out. But for those who choose to stay in Tenerife, there are countless things to do, sights to visit, and adventures to embark on and experience.
The gateway to the Canaries comprises the northern, southern, and the metropolitan areas. With over 31 cities and municipalities, one can imagine that a single visit is not enough to get a complete Tenerife experience.
Beaches and Water Sports
It’s impossible not to go to Tenerife and get some sun, sand, and surf in your system. Check out the rustic seaside villages of El Puertito, La Caleta, and Los Abrigos for a feel of the old fishing villages. Grab some fresh seafood by the ocean at local diners over some native wine and watch the sunset. On the southern coast of Tenerife, the white sand beaches of Playa de Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Vistas are perfect for relaxing. Escape the crowds and head to El Medano for a more relaxed vibe where the beaches are among the best kiteboarding and windsurfing destinations in the world.
On the north, the artificial Playa de Las Teresitas is easily accessible from the capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The town of Puerto de la Cruz features a couple of gorgeous beaches. One is Playa Jardin filled with beautiful flowers. The other one is Playa Bollullo, a secluded cove perfect for those looking for peace. All around Tenerife, one will find endless options for snorkeling, scuba diving, and cetacean watching. While Costa Adeje is where many of the jump-off points for these tours and activities are, numerous beaches around Puerto de la Cruz are perfect for diving, surfing, jet skiing, kayaking, and even just swimming.
Mountains and Geological Formations
When in Tenerife, visiting the Teide National Park is a must. One of the attractions here is Teide Volcano, where tour on wheels and foot could be found on the way to the hill. Availing of the trips could further enhance the appreciation of the volcanic bases of the island. Teide National Park is also home to several famous rock formations including Los Roques.
Tenerife has many quaint towns situated in valleys that only come into view after a steep and winding drive or commute. The main island is also ripe with mountains including Montana Roja at Granadilla de Abona that opens up and divides two of El Medano’s most popular beaches, and Montana Amarilla at the municipality of Arona. These fascinating landscapes offer a peek into Tenerife’s varied topography – from lush forests to arid, rocky surfaces.
Nature and Wildlife Reserves
Hike to the regions of Tenerife that is practically virginal compared to the tourist-centered municipalities. Explore the Mercedes Forest at the Anaga Mountains where you can traverse through some natural sceneries like no other, and emerge at the sunny coast of Punta del Hidalgo.
For those looking for other areas of interest (and perfect for trailblazers and hikers), check out the Chinyero Volcano Walk within the borders of the massive Teide National Park where visitors are visually treated to the contrast of greens from the trees and black from the volcanic rocks. And if conquering the uneven terrain becomes monotonous, set out for an overnight excursion in the area and go stargazing on a clear night. The park offers numerous lookout points in chronological order explaining the relationship of the sky and Mount Teide.
Besides Teide National Park, another gorgeous hiking trail that showcases Tenerife’s spectacular sights is the Las Canadas National Park found in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Those looking for cave exploration or spelunking, Cueva del Viento near Icod de Los Vinos is an 11-mile three-leveled maze of caves that will test your fear of the dark.
Museums and Towns
Tenerife has some of the most picturesque towns in the Canaries. The further north one goes, the less touristy. Apart from the hidden village of Masca, another scenic hamlet flanked by mountains and a rugged coastline is Garachico. This town, retaining the authentic feel of Canarian culture, is also famous for its volcanic tide pools where visitors could swim.
Head to the university town and UNESCO World Heritage site of La Laguna, filled with preserved mansions in pastel colors from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Those with a penchant for antiques need to visit Museo de la Historia de Tenerife to understand the history and culture of the Canary Islands fully.
Spread across Tenerife’s vast landscape, museums of all kinds have mushroomed to both inform and entertain visitors and locals alike. La Laguna is home to Fundacion Cristino de Vera, a gallery showcasing the works of the famed Spanish painter. The historical town also holds the location of the Science and Astronomy Museum as well as the Teide Observatory.
On the other hand, the capital of the island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is where one could visit Museo Historica Militario de Canarias, Circulo de Bellas Artes, and the Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre.
On the western coast of the island, Icod de Los Vinos also has a few attractions making it worth the trip. Guest could enjoy wine tasting at the Museo de Malvasia and see the famous doll collection of ARTlandya.
Water and Amusement Parks
Home to Europe’s best water park, the southern coast of the island features the much-loved Siam Park, a gigantic amusement complex that is perfect for all ages. The municipality of Adeje is also home to Aqualand. While nearby, Karting Las Americas allows guests to drive go-karts.
Puerto de la Cruz, meanwhile, is the home of Loro Parque which doubles as a garden and zoo as its main attraction. The town is also the address of Lago Martianez, another water park with subtler features and having several landscaped pools.
Golf and Wine
Something to interest the adults, Tenerife offers one of the most scenic golf courses in the world, as well as many remarkable vineyards. With a full 18-hole golf course in the town of Adeje, the famous Golf Costa Adeje offers an arresting view of the vast greenery and the rocky cliffs that barricade the island from a restless ocean. A variegated landscape allows Tenerife’s wine producers to create a diverse slew of whites and reds. Most of Tenerife’s local wines come from any of these origins: Abona, Tacoronte Acentejo, Valle de Guimar, Valle de Orotava, and Ycoden Daute Isora.
The island features such a diverse topography that its flora is just as varied, thus making Tenerife’s parks beautiful destinations to visit when one needs a quick reconnection with the beauty of nature. Puerto de la Cruz has numerous gardens of all kinds including Jardin Aquatico, Jardin Botanico, and Jardin de Orquideas de Sitio Litre.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife also has its fair share of gardens, including the Mirador de Jardina and the Palmetum. Other gardens worth seeing if you’re in the area include the Jardines Victoria at La Orotava and the Parque del Drago at Icod de Los Vinos.
Dining Experiences at Tenerife
Because the island has become a hodgepodge of cultures over the years, Tenerife’s cuisine ranges from traditional Canarian to contemporary international. Depending on where you are on the island, expect to get a taste of the location’s delicacies and cuisine. Of course, the southern coast is where visitors can find everything to please the palate, from fine-dining options to the good old English pubs. Northward, rustic seaside villages like that of La Caleta offers freshly caught seafood in most of their dishes. Paella never gets old on the island, along with some tapas to go with cocktails or local wine.
Apart from cuisine, Tenerife offers memorable dining experiences like no other. For those who can afford, eating a lunch spread of paella, cheeses and matched with wines in the middle of a dolphin watching excursion in the middle of the Atlantic can’t be topped. Naturalists can enjoy picnicking in the numerous gardens and parks of Tenerife, while adventure-seekers will find dining in a restaurant located in a cave (going to Punta de Hidalgo) an experience like no other.
Accommodations in Tenerife
When in Tenerife, the chicest and posh hotels can be found on its southern coast, mostly in the resort towns of Costa Adeje, Los Cristianos, and Las Americas. Four and five-star accommodations in the area include the lush Sheraton, Costa Adeje Gran Hotel, and even the coveted Royal Garden Villas & Spa. Outside of the resort towns, accommodations are less expensive depending on location. At Puerto de la Cruz, families can choose to stay in its many five-star hotels including Bahia Principe San Felipe and Hotel Botanico Y Oriental Spa Garden.
For more affordable options, choose any of the numerous apartments in the area of Puerto de la Cruz just like Apartamentos Casablanca or Apartamentos Masaru. Couples looking for watersports and a romantic stay should consider the adults-only hotel at El Medano, Hotel Arenas del Mar. On the other hand, apartment rentals via Airbnb could be cheaper than a hotel room, especially when traveling as a group. Head to the more rural areas of Tenerife in the towns of Erjos, Icor, Taucho, and Tijoco, just to name a few, for apartments that cost around €50 per night.
Why Tenerife is the Tourist Island of the Canaries
Apart from its sheer size, Tenerife offers so many activities to cater to all types of travelers. Naturalists will enjoy the gorges of Masca Valley and the breathtaking views of Teide National Park. Couples who want a peaceful getaway can find solace in the rural but colorful coastal town of Garachico. Families can discover endless fun in the numerous water parks in the southern coast while adventure seekers won’t be disappointed with the unlimited hikes around the island. But what truly attracts visitors every year is Tenerife’s weather. The sun is a constant even in the winter months, producing an endless summer that many have fallen in love with, prompting them to extend their stays or relocate permanently.
Tenerife is absolutely a gorgeous place where winter virtually doesn’t seem to exist. The main island’s disparate panorama allows various sceneries and experiences. Arid lands on one side of the island easily transform to an out-of-this-world visual trail. On the other hand, just across these same desert-like conditions would reveal the quintessential island paradise of golden shores and clear blue waters. The combination of cultures of the locals and the settlers, both old and new, has created a contemporary Canarian culture that is as unique as it is diverse.