The diverse volcanic island of Tenerife has attracted tourists for years, drawn to the year-round sun, beautiful white sand beaches, lively nightlife and safe atmosphere. But did you know that the largest Canary Island, aka the “Island of Eternal Spring” also has an abundance of interesting things to see and do for families, couples and groups alike? Tenerife as a fly-and-flop destination will be the last thing on your mind!
Climb Mount Teide (or cheat and take the Cable Car) - Mighty Mount Teide dominates Tenerife’s skyline, towering 12,198 feet (3,718 meters) over the island. And you too can make like Edmund Scory, who made the very first ascent in 1582, with a hike across the striking volcanic landscape. Tackle the La Rambleta path which takes around five hours to complete, as you trek amongst the endemic flora and fauna. The last eruption was in 1909 and the Teide National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternatively you can catch the cable car to the summit of the world’s third tallest volcano, which takes just eight minutes!
Meet the parrots at Loro Parque – Parrot Park, aka Loro Parque is hugely popular with families and the zoo and themepark is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The brainchild of a former German Ambassador who was obsessed with parrots, today the park houses some 4,000 parrots from 350 different species. Operating in the Puerto de la Cruz region since 1972, the park provides a valuable insight into parrot breeding and preserving species from extinction. In addition there are also killer whales, penguins, sea lions and dolphins across the vast site.
Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Head to Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz, in February and you’re in for a real treat as the annual Carnival is held. The most spectacular festival in Europe is second only in the world to the mighty Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The lively and colourful festival attracts more than a million revellers from around the world, and has deeply historical roots. The two week long fiesta is believed to date back to the early 1600’s.
Take a hike along the Camino de Chasn Path – There are well marked and maintained footpaths across all four corners of Tenerife, offering safe and interesting walks, to experience the unique landscape up close. Take the Camini de Chasn path which allows you to experience the culture and nature of the Corona Forestal Natural Park first hand. This is a medium to high difficulty walk lasting nine miles at an estimated 6-8 hours. The route takes in the Paisaje Lunar, the bizarre lunar-scape around the Vilaflor village. There are of course shorter (and longer) walks around the island as well as easier (and more difficult) routes – just pick up a local map with trails marked.
Browse The Museum of Nature and Man – Spend a few hours at the Santa Cruz (just voted the cheapest city in South Europe) museums, the Museo de la Naturaleza y El Hombre, which features the archaeology and natural history of this Canary Island. Kids will love the macabre skulls and mummies and the grownups will appreciate the history of the Guanche people, as well the detailed flora and fauna around the island.
Swim in the secluded Masca Valley bay – This trip is not for the faint hearted as the beach takes around 2 hours of nimble navigating to reach, but is well worth the trouble. Masca village itself lies in a deep lush valley which in itself takes very careful driving to reach. Either brave the steep meandering roads yourself or take the bus into the valley. Just 30 minutes or so from Los Gigantes, the dip in the emerald waters within the bay will be much needed. Laze around on the pristine beach, but do be aware that public nudity isn't against the law in Spain! Don’t forget to take drinks and snacks as there are no vendors at the bottom!
Wander the town of Garachico – The serene and picturesque small town of Garachico has pretty gardens, traditional churches and intriguing museums. There are even horse drawn carriages plying their trade along the roads. Don’t miss the striking white bell tower of the 16th century Iglesia de Santa Ana church which is just off the main plaza. Visitors can also take in the Castillo de San Miguel fortress which also dates back to the 16th century as well the rich and varied sculptures within the Museo Chillida Leku open-air museum.
Try Scuba diving in Tenerife – with an abundant marine life and superb facilities, Tenerife is the perfect destination for both experienced and beginner divers and watersports enthusiasts. Scuba amongst shipwrecks, walls and caves year round. Explore the Condesito Shipwreck which has an intact cabin and hull. Dive with rays, turtles, moray eels and colourful fish species which call this crisp blue sea home.
Take in a round of Golf in Costa Adeje – There are nine top quality golf courses on Tenerife and the 27 hole course in Costa Adeje is slam bang in the middle of the prime tourists centers. Opened in 1998, the course is designed to work with its natural surroundings and offers views out over La Gomera Island. The club also hosts various tournaments throughout the year and there is a fantastic driving range based on three levels as well as a practice bunker.
Experience the rural beauty of the Anaga Mountains - The north east corner of the island is filled with the magnificent Anaga Mountains which offers a fantastic opportunity for hiking. Follow the well-worn donkey trails across the mountain faces, steep ravines, lush forests and quaint villages. The protected region is simply breathtaking and the pockets of families living traditional lives, sometimes in caves, is amazing. This really is part of hidden Tenerife and is off the usual tourist trail. And with little light pollution, makes a perfect spot for stunning night photography.
Soak up the atmosphere in La Laguna – The former capital of Tenerife and now the second most important city is historic La Laguna. Located in the Aguere Valley, La Laguna is regarded as the religious and cultural capital of the island. The city is teeming with architectural wonders such as the Bishop’s Palace, the San Fernando University, traditional 17th century Spanish houses and the impressive Catedral de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.
Soak up the nightlife of Playa de las Americas – Ok so we can’t write a post on Tenerife and not mention the perennial party town of Playa de las Américas. With buzzing nightlife and plenty going on 24/7 this is the perfect base for partying and festivities. To put yourself at the heart of the action, head to the Verónicas strip which is bursting with live music clubs, cabaret bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Families will appreciate the vast array of activities available during the day, whilst the revellers sleep. And of course the beaches along the main strip are superb with 24/7 facilities. And if your stomach can handle it the next day, the waves in Playa de las Americas make this one of the most awesome surf spots in the world.
Try whale and dolphin spotting – The south west coast of Tenerife offers superb whale and dolphin spotting opportunities all year round. Colonies of pilot whales as well as free living whales reside very close to the coast. In fact 21 different species can be spotted here including the killer whale and blue whale. Bottlenose dolphins can also be spotted in the waters jumping and lobtailing. Take your camera for the ultimate shot: whales spurting water from their blowholes.
Wander the historic La Orotava town – If you’ve come to the Canaries seeking traditional Spanish architecture and atmosphere, then the pretty town of La Orotava is for you. Its historic centre is bursting with interesting buildings and architecture, including the Ermita del Calvario hermitage, Santo Domingo Church and the intriguing Casa de los Balcones, aka house of the balconies. The Orotava Botanical gardens, La Hijuela del Botánico, have more than 3,000 various plant species, which makes for a pleasant day out.
Explore the beach with a difference at Las Teresitas – Picture five kilometers of golden sand interspersed with tropical palm trees, and you’ve got Las Teresitas. Apparently the sands were shipped over from the Sahara desert! The popular family-friendly beach lies a few kilometers from Santa Cruz and with a breakwater, the waters are ideal for safe swimming and snorkelling. Pack a decent book to while away the hours and you could almost be in Hawaii!
Beach bums will love Los Cristianos – There’s a reason that tourists have been flocking to the holiday resort of Los Cristianos since the 1960’s; the long heavenly beaches! Los Cristianos beach itself is 400 meters long and is shielded by the port and harbour, and Las Vistas Beach is the other side of the port at the end of Marine walk. It’s also a popular spot to soak up the fringes of all the hubbub, without being at the heart of the action.
Soak up the sun, sand and watersportsat Costa Adeje – The purpose built tourist resort of Costa Adeje has pristine sandy beaches and a wide variety of watersports on offer. Try water based activities including windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, parasailing and snorkelling. Surfing is popular here thanks to the year-round strong Atlantic Ocean winds. The beaches are long and luxurious; check out Fañabé, La Troya and del Duque. And for more watery activities, head to the nearby waterparks including Siam Park and Aqualand Water Park.
Hire a boat and sail the islands – Fancy yourself as captain of your own boat? Then hire a sailing boat or charter a catamaran and head for the seas! Spot whales and dolphins at your own pace or head west to the secluded bays and coves on La Gomera, another much smaller Canary Island. Scoot eastwards towards ran Canaria to admire the picturesque volcanic landscapes.
Try your hand at deep sea sports fishing – Nothing beats a day at sea, with nothing but a fishing rod for company! And with opportunities to catch (and release of course) barracuda, rays, sharks, marlin and skipjacks. Go in a small group and let your competitive streak run wild. This is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Tenerife.
Discover Puerto de la Cruz Old Town – Not to be confused with the capital city of Santa Cruz, Puerto de la Cruz lies in the lush and fruit plantation region of Orotava. The fishing port area of the Old Town is bursting with authentic Canarian character and the narrow winding cobbled streets are lined with traditional Spanish cafes, luxury boutiques and top quality restaurants specialising in fresh fish.