10 Things to Do in Tenerife
10 Things to Do in Tenerife
Have you already been to Tenerife? Either you haven’t been there yet or you want to go back, let me share my list of 10 Things to Do in Tenerife. Located in the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, opposite the northwestern coast of Africa, Tenerife is the perfect destination for an all year round getaway. I just came back from a long weekend in Tenerife and I immediately fell in love with the beautiful natural landscapes of the island.
Due to its location, Tenerife benefits from great weather all year round and even in Autumn and Winter time you will find warm temperatures. I visited Tenerife in the second half of October and it was 26 degrees Celsius during the day and 21 degrees at night.
Tenerife is the biggest island in the Canary Archipelago, that is part of Spain. The diversity of landscapes, beautiful beaches, interesting cities to visit and a huge offer in terms of accommodation, restaurants and things to do, makes it a great destination for all types of travellers.
I recommend to stay in Tenerife for at least 5 days to be able to explore everything the island has to offer. I visited it during a long weekend and I didn’t have enough time to go to some of the places I had added to my bucket list.
You can also combine Tenerife with a visit to one of the other 7 main islands from the Canary Archipelago. The easiest option is to do a day trip to La Gomera, which is visible in the horizon from the south of Tenerife. You can easily book a day tour including the ferry ride and transfer to the most beautiful places in this small island. But it’s also possible to take a domestic flight from Tenerife to another island in the Canary. Check my travel guide to Fuerteventura for some additional travel inspiration in the Canary Islands.
How to get to Tenerife? Tenerife is very well connected with many European cities and there are numerous direct flights arriving to the 2 airports of the island: Tenerife South Airport (the biggest and busiest one, where most of the international flights land) and Tenerife North (mainly domestic flights within the islands, but some international flights also land there).
It’s very easy to travel around Tenerife as it has great road infrastructures, public transports and many touristic operators offering tour options across the island. I decided to rent a car at Tenerife South airport, which was a great choice as it allowed me to visit the places I wanted at my own pace.
Where to stay in Tenerife? That’s not an easy question to answer because it really depends on the objectives of your trip and places you want to visit. There are many different areas in the island. Some are more touristic in the south and the west, near the most famous beaches and coastal towns. Some other areas more secluded and remote, are located in the north and in the center of the island. Regarding accommodation, there are options for all preferences and budgets, from luxury resorts to small hotels and local accommodation. I stayed in Costa Adeje, a coastal area conveniently located near some of the places I wanted to visit the most, like Masca Valley or Teide Natural Park.
Now let me share with you my list of 10 Things to do in Tenerife. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Explore Teide Natural Park
If you decide to go to Tenerife, Teide Natural Park is the first place you should add to your bucket list. Located at the heart of the island, this is one of the oldest natural parks in Spain and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007.
The highlight of the natural park is not surprisingly Teide Mountain, which is actually a volcano and its last eruption occurred in 1909. It is more than 3700m high, being the highest peak in Spain. But all the surrounding area is absolutely amazing with black fields of lava and impressive rock formations that seem to be out of this world.
It’s easy to get to Teide. If you prefer to go in a tour with a group, there are many offers from different tour operators. If you decide to explore it on your own, it will take you less than one hour driving from Costa Adeje and the roads are quite good.
On your way to Teide, as you drive up in the mountain, you will see different landscapes and vegetation, from laurel woods to pine forests standing out in deserted and dark soils. You will also pass by several viewpoints. It’s worth to stop and to admire the different perspectives of the dramatic landscapes of Teide. Narices del Teide (which means Teide’s Nose), Boca Tauce and Llano de Ucanca are some of the viewpoints not to miss.
You will get to the heart of the natural park near the cable car station, where you can find a parking area. Before getting to this area, you will drive in a road with some of the most epic (and Instagrammable) views to Teide mountain.
You can take the cable car to the summit, where you will be rewarded with the most amazing views. While you ascend in the cable car, you will see the different volcanos that formed the island millions of years ago, being Teide the most impressive one.
The area near the cable car station is also a mandatory stop and one of the highlights of the park with dramatic rock formations. You can easily spend a few hours walking around and it is also the starting point of some hiking trails. Don’t miss the rock formations Roque Cinchado, Roque Garcia and the viewpoint La Ruleta.
Please be aware that the main attractions in the natural park are at 2000m high and if you take the cable car to go to the summit, you will be at more than 3000m. It can be quite chilly. So you should dress accordingly with layers and a proper jacket, and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Get lost in the stunning Masca Valley
No trip to Tenerife is complete without visiting Masca Valley. I had heard this before and after visiting Masca, I couldn’t agree more. It immediately ranked in my top of must see places in the island.
Located at 750m in the Teno mountains in the western side of the island, Masca has been considered the prettiest village in Tenerife. According to the legends, centuries ago the pirates used to hide in Masca settlement due to its remote location. Even if it has not been proved, the story adds to this place a mystery environment. Nowadays it is inhabited by less than 100 people.
Masca beauty is outstanding with lush vegetation, breathing views to the surrounding mountains and a unique atmosphere in the village. Some people even call it the Machu Picchu of Spain.
Be aware that many visitors head to Masca everyday. You can get there driving, by bus or in an organised tour. If you decide to drive, it’s important to know that the mountain roads heading to Masca are not for the fainted of the heart. The roads are sinuous and vertiginous and I recommend to take a car only if you are a very experienced driver.
Try to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon, because there are not many parking spaces around Masca and it can get busy. A very good option is to go to the the viewpoint Mirador de La Cruz de Hilda where you can have a coffee or grab some food in a restaurant with great views to the valley. I was told you can park your car there and take an hiking trail to Masca.
Don’t miss in your way to Masca from Santiago del Teide another great viewpoint, Mirador de Cherfe.
Enjoy the coastal views at Los Gigantes Cliffs
Not far away from Costa Adeje, another highlight of Tenerife is Los Gigantes village. It is home to the world famous dramatic cliffs Acantilado de los Gigantes (meaning Giants’ Gorge).
It’s worth to stop in this village to admire the views to the cliffs and the sea. Mirador Archipenque is one of the most famous viewpoints to Los Gigantes and the neighbour island La Gomera. But my favourite one (and less known) is at the end of Calle el Pino, framed by a lovely white balcony.
Los Gigantes is a nice typical village with many options of restaurants and shops. You can also go to a black sand volcanic beach, Playa Los Guios, or to the natural pools.
See an iconic Dragon Tree
Did you know that the dragon tree is one of the symbols of Tenerife? You can actually see a living National Monument in the Millenial Dragon Tree Park located in Icod de los Vinos, in the north of the island. It is believed that this iconic dragon tree is over 800 years old, having 18 meters high and a perimeter of around 20 meters.
If you go there, take some time to explore the Millenial Dragon Tree Park. It has displays of some of the island traditions, like the ancient burial traditions by the Guanches, the first inhabitants of the Canary Islands. It is believed that the Guanches arrived to this archipelago from Africa in the first or second century BC.
Go beach hopping in Costa Adeje
At the southwest coast of Tenerife, Costa Adeje is a great destination if you are a beach lover and intend to spend some time just relaxing and enjoying the warm Atlantic waters. In this area you can find beaches for all tastes and preferences, from volcanic black sand beaches, to rocky cliff-wrapped caves, naturals pools and golden sands.
I have to say that my favourite ones in Tenerife were the black sand beaches. Coming from Portugal and having visited many destinations with gold or white sand paradise beaches, I absolutely loved the unique and dramatic black sand shores.
Don’t miss Playa de los Guios near Los Gigantes, Playa de Fañabé or Playa de la Enramada. All of them have black sands. Some other great options in Costa Adeje are Playa del Duque, Playa Abama or Playa de Las Vistas with golden sand.
There are also many other amazing beaches outside of Costa Adeje. Playa de las Teresitas at the North with golden sand transported from the Sahara and palm trees. The spectacular and rough Playa Benijo with its unique rock formations and cliffs. Or Playa Jardin in Puerto de la Cruz.
Visit Caleta by day and by night
Also located in the southwest coast of Tenerife, La Caleta is still almost a hidden secret in the island, and one of the places I liked to visit the most. It’s located at less than 10m drive from Costa Adeje, but you will feel like entering a completely different world.
La Caleta is a small fisherman village that has preserved the authentic and traditional ways of living in the Canary Islands. This village has also become a culinary hotspot in the island, offering many typical fish and seafood restaurants with terraces facing the sea. It’s also the perfect place to experience the tasty Canary cuisine.
There are no sand beaches in La Caleta, but some rocky beaches and refreshing natural pools inviting to take a dip in the warm Atlantic waters.
Admire the Rock Formations at Playa de la Montana Amarilla
Another impressive landscape at the southwest of the island is Playa de la Montana Amarilla, not far away from Costa Adeje, only a 15m drive.
This is a stunning rocks and pebbles beach with impressive yellow cliffs carved by the waves. It has been declared a Natural Monument due to the uniqueness and beauty of the landscape.
There is a spot nearby with a sunbathing area, which is ideal if you plan to spend some time around.
Visit San Cristobal de la Laguna
One of the most interesting cities to visit in Tenerife is San Cristobal de la Laguna, which is full of history and culture. Due to its strategic location far away from the ocean and potential pirate attacks, it was the first city to be settled in the island.
It is now the second largest city in Tenerife, after Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
San Cristobal de La Laguna has a beautiful Old Town where you can easily spend a few hours walking by historical places like Plaza del Adelantado, Nava Palace, the City Hall, Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios or Casa Lercaro – the Museum of History of Tenerife.
Spend a day at Anaga Rural Park
In the northern-eastern region of Tenerife, you will find one of the highlights of the island, Anaga Rural Park. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit, but I read it’s totally wort a visit so make sure to save enough time to go there.
A highland of mountains with amazing natural landscapes, sharp peaks, deep ravines and laurel forests, it has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2015.
What to do in Anaga Rural Park? Tanagana, a disperse hamlet with white houses surrounded by beaches and rock formations, is a must visit. Stop at the viewpoints Mirador de Jardina and Mirador Risco Amogoje for stunning views. And last but not least, take a dip at the remote Playa Benijo. With black sands and the unique rock formations Roques de Anaga, it has been considered the most beautiful beach in Tenerife.
Anaga Rural Park is also well known for its many hiking possibilities through scenic forest and coastal trails.
Fall in love with Tenerife’s Sunsets
Tenerife has some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. I stayed in Costa Adeje in the southwest of the island, which is the perfect place to admire the sun falling in the ocean.
Basically every location in this coast will offer beautiful views for the golden hour, either you choose to stay at the beach, in a terrace with sea views or up in the mountains in places like Masca Valley or Teide summit.
I will share one last tip. Head to Fañabé Beach, walk by the black sands and you will eventually get to some rock formations at the right side of the beach. Just wait for the sun go down. It’s magical!