Travel Guide Europe Spain Canary Islands Tenerife



Teide, Tenerife

Teide, Tenerife

© nautilus

Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain. Because of the southern location you have an almost 100% guarantee for sunshine during your stay. It doesn't mean that Tenerife is only there for the people who want to spend their days at the 'playa'. The volcano that dominates the skyline of this island is awaiting climbers to visit the summit at 3,718 metres.




Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and like the other islands of the Canary Islands, Tenerife also has a volcanic history, which explains the black beaches of the island. Almost all the sandy beaches you will find on the island are man made. The beach of El Medano is one of the few natural sandy beaches, with its 2km length is also the longest of Tenerife. The island lies in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 kilometres from Morocco and Western Sahara. The Teide volcano on Tenerife is officially the highest mountain of Spain, topping the Mulhacén in the Sierra Nevada by more than 200 metres.




  • Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital (jointly with Las palmas gran canaria) of the Canary Islands. is located in the northern part of the island, has a population of about 230,000 and is home of the Parliament of the Canary Islands.
  • Adeje - Small town located outside of Playa de las Américas.
  • Icod De Los Vinos - The town is surrounded by vineyards. The old dragon blood tree El Drago milenario is the city's biggest attraction.
  • Garachico - Charming town on the north coast situated below Icod de los Vinos.
  • La Laguna - Tenerife's second largest city and Canary Islands' largest university town located northwest of Santa Cruz. La Laguna was the former capital of the island
  • La Orotava - The old town has given its name to the great valley running from Las Cañadas volcano crater at 2,000 metres down to the Atlantic Ocean. La Orotava is known for its architecture and trandtionelle Canarian environment.
  • Las Americas - is one of the most popular tourist destinations, was built in 1960 as a result of the expansion of the adjacent Los Cristianos.
  • Vilaflor - is the highest village of Tenerife with an altitude of 1,400 metres.
  • Puerto de la Cruz - with an area of ​​8.73 km ² is the smallest municipality in the Canary Islands, it was where in 1886 began the tourism in Tenerife.
  • Candelaria - has a great religious and historical importance, since in it the Guanche and Spanish cultures came together around the image of the Virgin.



Sights and Activities

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  • The beaches - Playa de Las Teresitas (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), Playa de Las Americas (Las Americas), Playa de La Arena (Santiago del Teide), Playa El Camison (Arona), Playa El Medano (El Medano), Playa Jardin (Puerto de la Cruz), Playa de Las Vistas (Los Cristianos), Playa El Bolullo (Puerto de La Cruz).
  • Teide Volcano - The Teide Volcano with an average altitude of 2,000 metres above sea level (top over 3,700m), represents one of the most spectacular examples of volcanic development and is a good example of what is called Alpine-volcanic ecosystem. The enormous biological richness of the Park include a beautiful flora that has a high percentage of endemic plants and a large number of small animals. This national park, created in 1954 in recognition of its volcanic and biological value, is the largest and oldest of all the Canarian parks with a surface area of ​​18,990 ha. Besides the Teide National Park it is surrounded by the Corona Forestal Parque Natural, which with its 46,612.90 ha is the largest protected natural area on the Canary Islands. The World Heritage Committee took up Teide National Park on UNESCO's World Heritage List, 27 June 2007.
  • Pyramids of Guimar - Located in the town of Guimar on the east coast of the island. These pyramids are characterized by five levels of rectangular shape, which are like the pyramids built by the Maya and Aztecs in Mexico. They are currently part of the ethnological.
  • Whale and dolphin tours. - From Puerto Colon and Los Cristianos depart many boats each day. Some tours have a warranty, so if you do not see anything on the trip, so you can get your money back or come again another day. Many of the trips have also swim stops.
  • Submarine - From Puerto Colon, you can also get out and sail with a submarine, where you can really see life under the sea surface.
  • Masca - A small mountain village of 90 inhabitants, lies at the head of the Masca Gorge. Masca is one of the highest villages on Tenerife, and the rock behind it almost lends a ‘mini Macchu Picchu’ look to the village. The hike from the village to the bay will take between 3 and 5 hours, depending on how many photo breaks you work into the walk. This is a ravine hike, full of view points, flora and fauna and epic photo opportunities. This is a steady hike – bring walking shoes and plenty of water. You’ll need to catch a water taxi back to Los Gigantes, which adds to the experience.
  • Acantilados de Los Gigantes - A giant cliff high up to 800 metres high along the western coast.
  • Auditorio de Santa Cruz - Its majestic profile has become one of the architectural symbols of the city, it's also considered the most elegant and modern building in the islands and one of the most emblematic buildings of Spanish architecture.
  • Siam Park - Siam Park is a Thai-themed water park in Tenerife’s Costa Adeje, covering 48 acres with the largest collection of Thai buildings outside of Thailand and a great selection of water slides and rides, both family-friendly and adrenaline-filled. It is considered to be one of the best in Europe, and it certainly makes our list of the best things to do in Costa Adeje. Alongside the water slides there is the Lost City, a children’s play area with dozens of different games, a Thai floating market, Siam Beach, a wave pool which offers surfing lessons and Thai restaurants.
  • Cueva del Viento is a set of caves which were created by lava from the eruption of the Pico Viejo volcano. There are 18km of lava tubes which you will explore with a tour guide. Walking through the maze of underground tunnels you will discover fossils, lava stalactites, lava lakes and at least 190 species of insects which live in there.

La Laguna - La Laguna (or San Cristóbal de La Laguna) might have passed its role as capital over to Santa Cruz in 1723, but the lively student town remains one of Tenerife’s most important cities, linked by tram to Santa Cruz. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, the Old Town of La Laguna is most famous for its colonial architecture and strolling the cobblestone streets unveils a number of historic gems, including the elegant townhouses of Las Casas Consistoriales and a number of noteworthy churches. Don’t miss a visit to the landmark Church of the Conception, where you can take in the views from the bell tower; the early 20th-century Teatro Leal, with its exquisite interior paintings and murals; and the bustling marketplace of Plaza del Cristo. The city is also home to some of the island’s most important museums, so you can brush up on local history at the Museo de Historia, then indulge in some interactive fun at the innovative Museo de Ciencia y El Cosmos.

  • Garachico - Less than an hour’s drive from capital Santa Cruz, in north Tenerife, lies the historic town of Garachico. Garachico’s main attractions include the natural pools carved in the rugged volcanic landscape, the elegant Plaza de la Libertad, the 16th-century Castillo de San Miguel and the ex-convent of San Francisco. But a quiet stroll through its cobbled streets will also reveal a selection of colonial gems, old churches, restaurants and cafés full of local charm.

La Orotava Valley - Stretching out from the shadows of the Teide Volcano and framed by the rolling peaks of the eponymous mountains, La Orotava Valley is home to some of Tenerife’s most scenic landscapes. With its lush banana plantations and vineyards, steep cliffs and pine-clad mountains, this is prime hiking terrain and a number of well-known trails run through the valley. Highlights include the Mirador del Humboldt viewpoint, which offers an expansive panoramic view over the valley below; the historic town of La Orotava, famed for its unique architecture and botanical gardens; and the volcanic sand beaches of El Bollullo, Martín Alonso and El Rincón.



Events and Festivals

  • Carnival of Santa Cruz - is one of the most important in the world, attracts 1 million visitors each year and is considered second only to that of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In 1980 it was declared an "International Festival of tourist interest" and now aspires to become a World Heritage. In 1987 it entered in the Guinness Book with 250,000 viewers in one square, a record that still holds.




Tenerife's climate is perfect for a week of enjoying the sun and do some trips across the island. Summers are mostly between 25 °C and 30 °C during the day and still above 20 °C at night. Winters are about 6-8 °C colder on average though it's still quite warm, even at night. Note that the north of the island is somewhat cooler and wetter than the south, but still fine. Frost and snow on El Teide (the highest mountains of Spain) is quite common, especially during winternights.



Getting There

By Plane

Tenerife is serviced by two airports: Tenerife North (TFN) and Tenerife South (TFS).

These airports receive a lot of flights from all over Europe, Tenerife South Airport having by far the most possibilities. Lowcost airlines like Easyjet (from London and Manchester) and Ryanair have found their way as well, the last having most flights, including to/from Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Glasgow, Madrid, Porto and Weeze (near Düsseldorf). Numerous other airlines serve Tenerife South though, the choice is wide. The public bus service TITSA offers cheap and quick services to all parts of the island and line 340 connects to the other airport Tenerife North Airport which is 71 kilometres by road.

Tenerife North Airport (TFN) is located about 10 kilometres from the city. Tenerife North mainly serves other Canary Islands, cities in mainland Spain, and several cities in Germany. Also, two airlines fly here to/from Caracas in Venezuela.

Tenerife is also connected with other Canary Islands by a smaller airline called Binter Canarias.

By Boat

Trasmediterránea and Fred Olsen, are the main operators between the Canary Islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera. Trasmediterranea also travels to mainland Spain (Cádiz).
Naviera Armas runs weekly services between Portimao in mainland Portugal to Madeira and on to Tenerife, with connections to other Canary Islands, like Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.



Getting Around

By Train

There are two tram lines in the metropolitan area of Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal de La Laguna.

By Car

There are many car rental companies like Avis, Budget and Hertz that offer rental cars at very affordable rates (usually from around €20 a day). You can pick up a car at most tourist areas as well as the airports. If you are in the possession of a driver's licence, a rental car is the best option for discovering remote locations on the island. Renting a car straight from the airport can cost as little as €100/week. When choosing one of the cheapest companies (like Goldcar), make sure to understand the terms & conditions, since there may be hidden fees or tricks.

Most of the road network is in good shape, although roads in the mountains may be less well maintained. Fallen rocks blocking the road are a recurring hazard, especially on roads carved into the mountain side. The highways around the island are toll-free and mostly limited to 120 km/h. Everything called "Calle" or "Camino" in the rural and residential areas is likely to be very narrow and potentially steep and curvy.

By Bus

The local bus network that runs across the island is called Titsa. You can buy single or return tickets directly on the bus. Remember to carry exact money if possible. The bus routes that are of most interest to tourists are marked with a green square on the line chart on the bus time table. With a Titsa Bono card you're travelling with a 50% discount on journeys over 20 kilometres. Bono card is sold at bus stations and some shops. Several people can travel on the same Bono card.

By Bicycle

Cycling can also be a flexible and environmentally friendly way to get around the island. Tenerife is less than 100 km long, and fairly easy to explore with a city bike or mountain bike. Most of the major roads are well maintained and not too steep, although you'll need to take your time to get up El Teide if you wish to climb the volcano on a bicycle! The TF-28 for example leads from the capital Santa Cruz to Candelaria, Güímar, and all the way down to Granadilla de Abona on a nearly perfectly asphalted road surface.




Local taverns are called guachinches, typical for the Canarias and particularly common on Tenerife and Gran Canaria. They serve their own wine accompanied by homemade traditional food, often grilled fish or roasted meat. Stews of all kinds are very common and only cost a few euros for a portion. This blog keeps an overview of the best guachinches on the island.

Fish is a large part of the local diet with restaurants that allow you to choose a fish from their selection (often hand caught) which they will cook for you. Black potatoes called Papas arrugadas are served unpeeled, wrinkled and crusted with salt ready to be dipped into a local sauce.

As in the rest of Spain, tapas are eaten a lot with local specialties including garlic sauces, fried beans and squid. Typical Spanish meals such as tortilla (potato omelette) and paella (rice dishes) are common too.

Fast food is becoming increasingly common on Tenerife, catering to younger demographics and tourists. Restaurants with international cuisine (Indian, Chinese, ...) are abundant in larger cities. Especially in the south of the island, there are plenty of restaurants serving exotic foods such as hamburgers, pizza, fries, etc. There are 15 McDonald's including some on the beaches. In touristic hotspots such as Playa de las Américas, menus are available in numerous languages ranging from English and German to Russian and some Scandinavian languages, making it very easy to choose even if you are not familiar with the local dishes' names or don't understand Spanish.




The nicest bars are found in Puerto de la Cruz, La Laguna, and in the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife. They serve a wide variety of locally produced beers, wines, and liqueurs. The best wines also originate from the north of the island, where cultivation of the malvasia grape variety has a long tradition since export began in the 17th century. 50% of Canary wine denominations originate from Tenerife. In addition, countless wines are produced in house by guachinches in small quantities, often as mixtures of red wines with fruity wines.

Beers produced on the island are also widely available, most notably Dorada (gold) and Reine (queen), although their taste is not particularly special. Because of the size constraints (arable land) on the island, the entire production is consumed domestically, so you won't find these beers anywhere else.

The abundance of fruits also yields a variety of liqueurs and other drinks with high alcoholic content, most notably banana liqueurs.

The coffee Barraquito (also called barraco) is a Canary specialty and very popular on Tenerife and on La Palma. It is served in a small glass, with a base of condensed milk, espresso, and a shot of Licor 43 (Cuarenta Y Tres). It is often served after the meal, finished with cinnamon and lime zest.

The south of Tenerife has a 'booze scene' reputation, with Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos providing ample locations for those that enjoy 24 hour clubbing and drinking, with clubs charging between €10 and €25 entrance. The drinks available are the same as the rest of Europe (predominantly British) with prices being slightly less than those of continental Europe. Better alternatives are found in the north of the island, especially in La Laguna, where there are no entrance fees and drinks have a higher price/quality ratio.




To preserve the authenticity of its historic towns and cities, there are few hotels close to tourist hot spots — hotels like those in Calle San Agustín in San Cristóbal de La Laguna are reserved for the happy few with deep pockets. Instead, authorities have deliberately opted to build accommodation where it's less of an eye sore: in the desert in the south of the island. Unfortunately, these are very far away from the locations and attractions of interest to visitors, which are all concentrated in the northern and eastern regions of Tenerife! You'll be one or more hours (depending on whether you're travelling by car or TITSA bus) away from the nearest attraction if you accidentally get stuck in a desert town!

When booking accommodation, pay close attention to the address of the venue. Keep in mind that the entire island is administratively part of a Spanish province called Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and some hotels have been known to exploit this naming confusion to trick travelers into believing they are actually booking a bed in the city Santa Cruz de Tenerife. In reality, there is a chance you may be booking a featureless concrete room somewhere in the desert 70 km south of the capital! If the address you have been given points to a location in Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas, or Costa Adeje, you probably want to look elsewhere unless you are on a tight budget — in which case AirB&B can offer better alternatives.

Tenerife is an immensely popular holiday destination for many continental Europeans, and therefore hotel accommodation is in high demand. Expect to pay hefty rates for a nice room close to the historic centre of San Cristóbal de La Laguna or La Orotava. Hotels like the MC San Agustin submerge travellers in the atmosphere of a Spanish colonial city, but have only a few rooms and sell out quickly — you'll need to book months in advance and be flexible with your dates. A less glorious but more budget friendly alternative is searching for a hotel room in Puerto de la Cruz, where high rise hotel blocks were built in the 1960s and 1970s to accommodate for slob tourists. Hotel blocks like Valle Mar are incredibly ugly on the outside but rooms are surprisingly comfortable, even at discount rates if you're prepared to travel in the less popular winter season.

Another alternative is looking for hotels in smaller, less popular towns such as Tegueste, La Esperanza, or San Andrés. Accommodation there is generally cheaper, and has the added advantage of being less crowded. Those looking for a beach holiday will likely find something to taste in one of the brand new residential areas of Puertito de Güímar.

Wild camping is prohibited in Tenerife. Along with a few commercial campsites, there are free comunal campsites called acampadas. The acampadas are usually in the inland, usually above 1000m altitude, they have water and toilets. To sleep at one free acampada, you have to book the night in advance on the website of the town council (cabildo). You are a guest of the island and are allowed to spend a night on a wonderful campsite for free: to show recognition, take care to leave the place as clean and tidy as possible before leaving.

View our map of accommodation in Tenerife




See also Travel Safety

Tenerife is generally a safe place to visit but as always, beware of pickpockets. Do not take electrical devices, credit cards or large amounts of cash to the beach if you plan to leave your goods unattended while swimming. Walking alone late at night in certain suburbs is not advisable, although the inner parts of town aren't problematic. Take note that when walking through Playas De Las Americas there is a lot of clubs round here and some drunkenness in the night hours. Taxis are widely available, and not too badly priced.

Camping and sleeping at the beach is only permitted at allowed zones. Doing so in frequented beaches may lead to arrest.

Many, many shops on the island selling electrical and optical goods as well as cameras. You may think you are getting a bargain from these smooth talking salesmen but you aren't. You will overpay for something you could buy cheaper at home and even cheaper off eBay. Your goods may be faulty. Your guarantee will probably be worthless. Your video camera may be SECAM which means a B&W picture in the UK (PAL). These shops are everywhere in the tourist areas and so many people have been cheated by them for so many years. Also, beware of places that sell video games (mainly for the Nintendo Game Boy or DS) as they are usually bootlegs.

If you are holidaying in Tenerife you are probably going to be approached by "scratchcard touts" whose main aim is to part you with several thousand pounds for worthless contracts for time-share apartments. This view is backed up by the UK's Office of Fair Trading who suggest that every year 400,000 UK consumers fall victim to these scams in destinations such as Tenerife, the Costa del Sol and Gran Canaria. On average each victim loses more than £3,000. Bogus "scratchcard touts" offer cards that will always be a winner, but to collect their prize, people need to attend a lengthy presentation and are persuaded into signing a contract for an "exclusive" club on the basis of false claims as to the price, range and quality of holidays available. The OFT's is advising people to ask three simple questions: can you take away the contract to consider at your leisure? Is everything you were promised in the presentation in the contract? Do you know exactly what you are getting for your money? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then simply walk away.

The other main irritant on Tenerife are the Lookey Lookey men who try to sell you sunglasses, watches, jewellery and other cheap knick-knacks known as Lucky Luckies. They are quite harmless and generally don´t mean to cause trouble, they are just trying to make a living, but a firm NO generally works!

Natural Hazards

Tenerife is a volcanic island. The latest outbreak was 1909 from the El Chinyero vent in the northwest part of El Teide. On geologic time scales this is very recent, and although El Teide is dormant, it is still considered to be an active volcano. However, it is constantly monitored very closely so that an upcoming eruption would hopefully be detected well in advance.

Falling rocks are a constant issue in many parts of the island, and you will often find paths, beaches or even roads temporarily or permanently closed due to the danger.

The sun is extremely strong this close to the equator so use plenty of high factor sun cream and do not sun bathe between midday and three o'clock (this is when the beaches are busiest anyway). Remember that the sun is even stronger up in the mountains, even though it may feel cool and breezy.

There are no scorpions or snakes to worry about. Mosquitoes can bite at night, especially away from the coast, but they do not carry malaria or similar diseases.


Accommodation in Tenerife

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Tenerife searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


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