Tenerife is one of the most unique places to visit during a trip to Europe. Whether you are planning to visit the island as a part of a much larger vacation or as the only destination on your itinerary, this small Spanish island will definitely satisfy the travel itch.
The country’s crown jewel, Teiede National Park will satisfy the most adventurous of travelers. History buffs will also have plenty to dive into, especially in San Cristobal de la Laguna, one of the island’s UNESCO world heritage site.
However, no matter how you like to spend your time travelling, you won’t be able to escape the allure of Tenerife’s fantastic beaches. In fact, Santa Cruz is one of the best places to visit in Tenerife due to its colonial architecture set alongside pristine white-sand beaches.
There are also plenty of places to go scuba diving, not only in Santa Cruz, but in many different places around the island. The fact that there are so many Tenerife attractions makes this the ideal place to spend your European holiday.
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How to Get to Tenerife
The easiest way to arrive in Tenerife is by air, and there are two major airports on the island. In the north is Las Rodeos International airport and in the south is Reina Sofia airport.
Both airports can be reached from most major European cities, like Amsterdam, Madrid, Dublin, London, and many more. Obviously, you will want to arrive to the airport that is more central to your itinerary. The airports can also be used to access other islands in the Canary Islands.
You can also arrive in Tenerife by boat. There is a ferry that leaves once a week from Cádiz and stops at ports in Los Cristianos and Santa Cruz.
While the ferry can be a more memorable journey, it does take two whole days to make the trip. The Canary Islands, after all, are located much nearer to the southern tip of Morocco than they are to Spain.
Transportation on the Island
Once you actually arrive at the island, renting a car is the most efficient way to see all of the Tenerife points of interest.
The easiest place to do this is at the airport when you arrive. If this is what you plan to do, I recommend booking a rental car ahead of time to save yourself time at the airport. Many people fear that road conditions aren’t the greatest on the island, but it’s actually quite the opposite.
Due to the tourist infrastructure from Tenerife holidays, the roads will be some of the best you see in Europe. If renting a car isn’t in the budget for you, you will still be able to move around the island quite easily.
There are public buses and coach buses that go between all major cities. Once you are settled in a city, plan on using taxis to mobilize yourself around the city or coast.
What to Expect in Tenerife
Tenerife holidays are fantastic, which is why tourism is booming on the island. It’s one of the few true islands where Europeans can escape the city and have a truly relaxing beach vacation.
It really caters to everyone, whether you are looking for an adventure or a relaxing escape. The Canary Islands are a part of Spain. So you will also be able to have a rich cultural experience during your time in Tenerife.
You guessed it! Seafood is king on the island of Tenerife. The most common dishes are caldereta de pescado and sancocho canario.
Both are types of fish stew that are very rich in flavor. They typically contain multiple different types of seafood, and are accompanied with the island’s most popular side dish, papas arrugadas.
These are small boiled potatoes smothered in a red chili sauce, mojo rojo. Most traditional restaurants on Tenerife will serve a “menu del dia” for lunch. This dish will normally consist of grilled meat accompanied with vegetables, rice, and beans.
While the Canary Islands have their own unique cuisine, you will also see the strong influence that Spanish culture has. Typical dishes like paella, tortilla española, and gazpacho can be found on the menus of most restaurants.
Also, tapas are very common on the island. The two most common drinks are a honey rum that is served after meals and locally grown wine that perfectly accompanies meals.
If you’re planning to party hard in Tenerife, be prepared to choose from a large variety of different liquors and beers.
Weather in Tenerife
One reason that Tenerife has remained such a popular tourist destination is its awesome weather. May, June, and July are the hottest months, and the average temperature hovers around 24 degrees Celsius. However, the country
Is much busier during the prime summer months. The weather in September, October, and November is still great and if you visit during this time you won’t have to worry much about crowds.
The other months are cooler and wetter, but the Canary Islands still provide an awesome escape from the cold European winters.
Money in Tenerife
Tenerife isn’t the cheapest of destinations, but this makes it more favorable for people who want to avoid traditional backpackers. The island uses the euro as currency, and there are plenty of ATMs located all around the island.
If you’re arriving from somewhere other than Europe, I recommend avoiding currency exchange. You will get a much more favorable rate from ATMs. You can anticipate spending about 50 euros/day on lodging, 40 euros/day for food, and 20 euros/day for other expenditures.
One way to take away the hassle from budgeting is to stay at one of Tenerife’s many all-inclusive resorts. Obviously, they are much more expensive.
However, they will make your stay on the island much more stress-free. Tipping is practiced in Tenerife and is normally around 10% of the total.
Safety in Tenerife
Tenerife is a very safe place, but you will still want to follow the normal safety precautions when travelling to a foreign country.
Be aware of pickpockets, stay off the streets if you are alone at night, and never leave your drink with strangers.
There is a strong police presence on the island, which eases any concerns travelers have.
Things to do in Tenerife
Tenerife isn’t unlike any other island in the world. At other places, its common for locals and travellers alike to complain about “island fever”. This is the feeling of claustrophobia or boredom due to being located so near to a shoreline.
On this island, there are simply too many attractions or points of interest. If you are travelling on a budget, there are also plenty of free things to do in Tenerife.
The southern coast of Tenerife is home to the best scuba diving in Europe. There are schools and dive sites in almost every major city that tourists visit on the coast. The visibilty around the Canary Islands really reveals all types of wildlife that can be found in the water.
No matter if you are an expert diver or just starting out, you will be able to find a diving service that can accommodate.
Some of the best sites, like La Arona, La Restinga, and La Catedral are located off the coast of other Canary Islands. It’s easy to book and catch a ferry with one of the agencies at Tenerife.
Even though it’s an island, Tenerife boasts a wide range of topographical elevation. Teide National Park is famous because of the cable car that takes people to the top of Mount Teide. However, the peak can be reached by hiking as well.
In fact, there are a bunch of different hikes around the park. Parque Rural de Anage and Pico Viejo are two other places where hikers will have a blast.
You can do day hikes, but there are also many places to camp at the parks around Tenerife.
Relax at the Beach
The beaches in Tenerife are what helped this island become the popular tourist destination that it is today.
The beaches white sands and crystal clear waters will remind you of places in the Carribean. Los Cristianos is the most popular beach, but el Medano, Playa Jardín, Playa del Camison, and Fañabe are great places to visit.
See some animals
One of the most unique things you can do in Tenerife is kayak with dolphins. This experience is something bound to make your trip memorable.
Another place to see some animals is the famous Monkey Park, where you can feed a bunch of different monkeys that are found on the island of Tenerife.
If you are hiking in Tenerife, keep your eyes and ears open and you are bound to see something that you’ve never seen before.
Unusual Things to do in Tenerife
Tenerife doesn’t deserve to be written off as a typical tourist destination. There are plenty of unusual and unique things to do on the island that make it very special. For example, Carnival is a huge celebration on the island.
There are huge parades and festivals that often last for multiple days. The best place to celebrate in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz. Each town on the island also has an annual Romería.
This is a festival unique to the Canary Islands and is great for cultural buffs wanting to sample some of the best traditions and food that the island has to offer.
Tenerife is one of the main places where Europeans go to unwind, and partying hard is often the main objective on their agenda.
Santa Cruz is one of the best places for nightclubs, but other major beach towns like Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas, and Costa Adeje are guaranteed to give you a great night out.
Places to Visit in Tenerife
Teide National Park
This National Park is what makes Tenerife special. With 2 volcanoes over 3000m in elevation, you will completely forget that you are on a small island in the Atlantic ocean.
Riding the cable car to the top of Mount Teide allows for views of the entire Canary Islands. Mount Teide is also a UNESCO World Heritage site! There are also a bunch of different things to do in the park to satisfy more adventurous travelers.
Santa Cruz is the largest city on the island of Tenerife and is home to spectacular historical buildings, great restaurants, and incredible open-air markets. There is also the Museum of Man and Nature, which details the history of the Guanche people who originally inhabited the island.
Nearby is San Cristobal de la Laguna, which feels like taking a step back in time. There are also incredible beaches in Santa Cruz, like Playa de las Teresitas, Playa de Antequera, and Playa de la Pinta.
Los Cristianos is the most popular destinations for Tenerife holidays. Located on the southwest tip of the island, this place is perfect for those seeking a traditional tourist experience.
There are plenty of great bars and restaurants to keep you busy at night, and 2 awesome beaches to spend your days at. Los Cristianos is the epicenter of tourism in Tenerife.
Masca is often regarded as the most beautiful village on Tenerife. In fact, many people compare its location on a ridge to Macchu Picchu. It is a really small village with a few houses, but the views are spectacular.
Hiking around the village is incredible, with waterfalls and caves accenting incredible views of the Canary Islands. Making the trip to Masca is definitely worth the effort.
Los Gigantes Cliffs
Los Gigantes is a town on the west side of Tenerife, but it is most well known for the massive cliffs that border the ocean.
The cliffs rise up too 800 meters in places, and there are small beaches sandwiched in between them. Los Gigantes is one of the most impressive Tenerife attractions.
Where to Stay in Tenerife
There are so many different places of interest in Tenerife, and fortunately, the island has a variety of accommodation options at each place. If you are travelling on a budget, you will want to stay in hostels around the island.
The backpacker and partier paradise is Los Cristianos. So if you want to avoid that scene, I recommend planning to stay somewhere else or shelling out for a more luxurious accommodation.
Airbnb and VRBO are becoming very popular on the island, and are a great way to find a place if you want to spend a longer period of time in Tenerife. There are also a lot of resorts on the island.
I recommend these if you want to stay in the same area during your trip. However, I have found that the traditional, family-owned hotels on Tenerife exceed expectations more often than not. Many hotels also serve food!
Tours to do in Tenerife
Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Tour – These tours are best from Los Cristianos! Booking a tour makes it easy to find a boat and have a professional point out the different types of wildlife you can see. You will also be able to see the stunning skyline of the islands as your venture farther out into the sea.
La Gomera Tour – La Gomera is another island in the Canary Islands. It is much more laid back than Tenerife and an excellent place to spend the day for culture buffs. The locals use a sort of whistling language to communicate with one another across deep ravines and gorges on the island.
Most tours also include an incredible local lunch. If you want to see another island aside from Tenerife, I recommend La Gomera.
Jeep Tour in Teide National Park – Taking a jeep around Teide National Park is by far the best way to see as much of the park as possible. Going with a tour guide also makes it easy to learn about the ecology of the area.
I recommend this tour for nature-lovers because guides will be able to point out all of the different signs of volcanic activity over Tenerife’s history.
Recommend budget tours in Tenerife
- Mt. Teide and Masca Valley Tour in Tenerife
- Teide by Night with Stargazing Experience
- Teide National Park Tour Including Transfers and Cable Car or Observatory Tickets
- Loro and Siam Park Twin Ticket
- Medieval Show and Dinner at Castillo San Miguel with Transfer
- Pirámides de Güímar Admission Ticket
- Snorkel with Turtle (Boat trip included) in Costa Adeje
- Coasteering and cliff jumping
- High Performance Paragliding Tandem Flight in Tenerife South
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