With over 350 km of diverse coastline, excellent beaches, and wondrous mountains there’s a lot for tourists to see and explore in Tenerife. Visitors tend to flock towards Costa Adeje, Playa de Las Americas, and Los Cristianos in the south, along with Santa Cruz and Puerto de La Cruz in the north.
With Africa to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean surrounding the island, the weather here is wonderful all year round. At 3,715 m, the Teide Volcano on Tenerife also boasts the highest peak in all these Atlantic islands. Needless to say with over 5 million annual visitors, Tenerife is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain, as well as, all of Europe.
Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands in Spain, has been populated from around 500 BC, by Guanches, an African tribe who were stunningly blonde with blue eyes. With the Spanish conquest in 1494, European migration began. Tourism in Tenerife, however, only started in 1890.
A couple of decades later in 1909, the Chinyero Volcano erupted, and this novelty actually increased tourism. At present, it’s been over a hundred years since this last volcanic eruption, but tourism has taken over as a mainstay in Tenerife’s economy.
Tenerife is an amazing island of contrasting landscapes and activities. Many tourists coming here think of it as an ideal place to make their permanent residence.
Many come to Tenerife for the parties. The island nightlife never seems to runs dry, no matter the season, either near the beach or in the city centers. There is an amazingly high number of nightclubs, pubs, and themed music, drink specials, and more.
You will fall in love with the island’s beaches, as they are considered some of the best in Spain, and in all of Europe too. You’ll get almost all types, with Tenerife’s beaches being busy or very intimate ones, other with lots of restaurants, bars, cafes, or simply wild and remote locations.
There are eight Blue Flag beaches in Tenerife that offer crystal clear and peaceful waters. The best golden-sand coastlines are mostly situated in southern Tenerife in Costa Adeje, Playa de Las Americas, and Los Cristianos.
Some of the most exotic beaches however are in the north, like Playa de Las Teresitas, Playa Benijo, Playa de La Tejita, Playa de El Bollullo, while , Playa del Duque, Playa Fanabe, and Playa Jardin attract many a tourist.
What might seem like a small land size at 2,000 sq km, Tenerife boasts landscapes with great diversity. Luxuriant pine forests and snowy heights have merged with volcanic desserts, black and golden beaches. Whether it’s coastal or altitude vistas you prefer, there’s a place in Tenerife that’s suited to you.
Where to Stay
Northern Tenerife has a wonderful history in San Cristobal de Laguna and excellent beaches near Santa Cruz, the capital city. In Parque Rural de Anaga and northern coast to the north, you’ll see some of the remote and beautiful landscapes you can find on the island. The sunsets over Playa Benijo are almost dreamlike.
When to Visit
With its pleasant and constant temperatures that average 28°C in summer and 22°C in winter, Tenerife is called the Island of Eternal Spring. The warmest months are June through October, which attracts the greatest number of tourists. But you can also enjoy great days on the beach and lovely water, even in the winter months.
The prices are reasonable all year long, however, keep in mind that the most crowded times are during the school holidays when numerous families choose Tenerife as their destination. Many Europeans also visit Tenerife in December through February as an escape from the bad weather, snow, and cold in their home countries.
Taking place annually in February or March, this famous Tenerife Carnival gathers thousands of tourists from around the world. Every town in Tenerife celebrates day and night during Carnival, whereas the biggest party can be found in Santa Cruz, the island’s capital.
Places to Visit
At 3,715 m, Teide Volcano is both the real and literal top attraction of Tenerife. It’s also the highest peak in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the Islands of the Atlantic. When measuring from the ocean floor, Teide stands a whopping 7,500 m above sea-level and is the fourth-highest volcano in the world.
The volcano is the main draw of Teide National Park, which was named UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. With over three million annual visitors, Teide also holds the titles of The Most Visited Natural Wonder of Spain, The Most Visited National Park in Spain and Europe, as well as, The 8th Most Visited Natural Wonder in the World.
One of the most famous and picturesque locations for trailing and wandering around is Masca Valley. This is a 4.5 km route that provides hikers with amazing views through rocky valleys towards the sea. The Los Gigantes Cliffs are an iconic symbol that dwarfs the coastline above Costa Adeje. The impressive size of the cliffs gives to a legend that they guard the entire island against winds, thus contributing to its amazing mild climate.
What to Do
Rest assured that you will never lack things to do in Tenerife, as the nightlife and shopping are sublime, and there are enough festivals to keep you coming back all year long. The theme park and zoo turnstiles never stop spinning in Tenerife, with the island even having one of the best water parks in the world.
The stargazing in Teide National Park provides some of the clearest night skies in the world, while the wildlife tours of dolphin and whale watching bring tourists out in droves. Diving and snorkeling also popular in Tenerife, as are water sports like surfing and kiteboarding.
The theme parks in Tenerife as some of the best in the Canary Islands, with Siam Park being voted the #1 Water Park in Europe on TripAdvisor for several years. This Thai-themed water park also boasts the highest wave pool in the world, and they also allow you to surf on it.
Once a simple bird park, Loro Parque is now a marine park, zoo, and aquarium all rolled into one.
With over 13.5 hectares (33 acres) the Loro Park is simply massive and boasts having 4,000+ parrots, Europe’s Largest Dolphin Pool Show, The World’s Largest Penguin Exhibition, and is only one of two marine parks in Europe to house orcas.
Beyond Carnival, there are several organized festivals in Tenerife, specially dedicated to saints and city sacred patrons. They are an unforgettable experience, with celebrations several days long, flower petals on the streets, music, and firelights.
Tenerife is one of the greatest places on Earth to watch the night sky, being recognized as such by the Starlight Foundation. This is due to the closeness to the equator and the low levels of pollution.
You can enjoy taking sea rides to watch the abundant marine life, swimming alongside your boat. You have the chance to encounter up to 21 marine mammal species along the coasts, bottlenosed dolphins, sperm whales, orcas, and more.
You can make scuba diving and snorkeling all year round. As the underwater life is abundant and colorful, Tenerife is called Europe’s Hawaii. You’ll get to encounter exotic trumpet fish, barracudas, parrotfish, stingrays, and turtles.
Tourism drives the shopping train of Tenerife, so no matter where you’re staying they’ll be stores all around. From malls to markets, you’ll find so many designer clothes and souvenirs, that you’ll have to be selective when deciding what to buy.
Siam Mall, found in the Siam Water Park, is a luxurious shopping palace with a Thai-theme that house over 70 stores. In Centro Commercial Plaza del Duque you’ll find a unique shopping experience in the Canaries with high-quality brands and excellent customer service.
If it’s exclusive, luxury brands you’re after, then Centro Commerical Safari in Playa del Las Americas with help feed a need for exquisite restaurants and designer labels like Armani and Boss.
The Mercado de Los Cristianos is a very big, yet always crowded place where you can buy almost anything, from fresh food to fake items fashion, and jewelry. The Mercado del Agricultor or El Medano Market is a Sunday treat with a hippie atmosphere, where you can buy handmade items, jewelry, clothing, and home decor.
The Mercado San Miguel de Abona is a beloved farmer’s market where you can buy locally produced fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, wine, and honey.
What to Buy
Lava souvenirs are very popular with tourists, as locals carve the attractive black lava rocks into all sorts of items, such as plates, ashtrays, fridge magnets, cups, photo frames, necklaces, and earrings. While pearl jewelry is an expensive purchase, the pearls from the Tenerife area are one of the biggest and prettiest in the world. Buying them directly on the island can be a real bargain.
You’ll probably notice a lot of goats while driving in Tenerife, so it should come as no surprise that queso de cabra, the locally made goat cheese, is very tasty. Aloe also grows everywhere on Tenerife, so you’ll find numerous aloe products in Tenerife shops with cosmetic, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory properties. If you get a sunburn, you’ll find yet another great use for aloe.
Food and Drink
The foods of Tenerife are influenced by the Spanish, Catalan, African, French, and Arabic cuisine, while coffee liqueur, wine, and locally brewed beer are staple drinks.
What to Eat
You really need to try papas arrugadas, wrinkled potatoes with mojo sauce that contains spicy peppers.
You might also want to try the local specialties that contain gofio, a flour made of roasted grains, almogrote, a soft paste with cheese and spices, or bienmesabe, a dessert with honey and egg yolk.
Then, of course, you can delight yourself with all types of fresh fish, octopus tapas, as well as local bananas, papayas, and other delicious fresh fruit grown in Tenerife.
What to Drink
Tenerife is an island covered by many acres of vineyards due to its climate. The local wine is full of tannin, a naturally occurring polyphenol, which adds bitterness and astringency, as well as complexity. Typical glasses are filled with vino tinto, blanco, and rosado, or red, white, and rose wine.
The locally brewed Dorada Beer is a tourist favorite, but there are others like Reina and J&M Cerveza Pilsen are worth a popping a cap. You should consider draining a pint of Tierra de Perros at Cervezas Guaberze, a microbrew in Las Realejos or head to El Sauzal and the Tacoa Cerveceria brewpub.
If coffee is more your thing, then you’ll find barraquitos, a coffee with liquor and milk pretty much everywhere you want to order one.
How To Get There
With over 1 million annual passengers arriving in the Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife it’s the second busiest cruise port in all of Spain, and second only to Barcelona. Most major European cities offer direct flights into Tenerife, and you can easily island-hop between the other Canary Islands by flight or ferry too.
Two airports also serve the island with Tenerife South Airport (TFS) or Reina Sofia Airport being for those looking to visit the resort towns of Costa Adeje, Los Cristianos, Los Gigantes, and Playa de Las Americas.
Tenerife North Airport (TFN) or Los Rodeos Airport is found in San Cristobal de La Laguna and provides quick access to Santa Cruz, Puerto de La Cruz, as well as the mountainous area of Parque Rural de Anaga.
If you have an adventurous spirit, then the best way to travel around Tenerife by renting a car. There are a great number of rent-a-car companies on the island, so pricing can be competitive at times, and negotiation even possible in low-season. Advanced reservations can generally save you money.
There is also a very good bus network covering all the tourist cities, as well as several other tourist-only buses around the island. Taxis in not really recommend between destinations, but if staying in a place like Costa Adeje, you can easily reach Playas de Las Americas or Los Cristianos without paying more than 10 € for a taxi ride.