Santa Cruz’ Plaza de Julio 25, seriously Spanish traditional design; not much of that visible in the rest of the Canaries! Tenerife photo by Koppchen.
Like most of the islands Tenerife’s climate is fine year-round, though the north section of the island tends to be cooler and wetter than the south section.
December – February is a busy time, with many visitors being of the older generation, while families and younger tourists tend to fill the beaches and trails May – September.
Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín (aka dildo gigantico) in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Photo by Diego Delso.
This extraordinary contemporary structure is the work of one of Spain’s most famous architects, Santiago Calatrava and reminds different people of different things, including a vast breaking wave or a medieval war helmet. It’s a venue for concerts, opera, ballet and musicals. See the daytime view below.
Best Places to Go (towns)
Santa Cruz is the capital of Tenerife, a busy port town on the east coast of Lanzarote with fine shopping, tree-lined avenues and squares.
A daytime view of the Auditorio along with Parque Maritimo designed by the Canary master-artist, Cesar Manrique (RIP). Photo by Koppchen. These artificial lagoons are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the Canary Islands as visitors seem to be strangely unnattracted by coarse grey sands and rough sea water, even if it isn’t especially cold.
Marti Dehesa mansion in Santa Cruz. Photo by Koppchen.
Things to do
• Loro Parque (Puerto de la Cruz), set in lush landscaped gardens, claims to house the largest parrot collection in the world, but also orcas (killer whales), sea-lions, dolphins, gorillas, tigers and a huge penguin house where 12 tons of snow falls every day.
• Aqualand (Costa Adeje) A wild and wet water theme park.
• Parque las Aguilas (aka Eagle Park or Jungle Park) is a zoo and botanical park housing over 500 birds and animals in acres of jungle.
On the Jungle Raid you can walk across suspension bridges, waterfalls, lagoons, through caves or take a ride on the jungle toboggan.
• Animal Farm Granja is a traditional working farm 10 minutes drive from the resorts of Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. The caldera is considered an area of ‘extraordinary natural importance’ by the government and surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and is a good destination for families.
• Monkey Zoo Park (just off TF1), 5 minutes from Los Cristianos and Las Americas is another kid-friendly attraction where tourists walk through the animals’ environments, feeding them, stroking them and being used as a climbing frame.
• Piramide de Arona (popular entertainment shows).
• Magma Arte y Congreso Centre (concerts and festivals).
• La Hacienda (big variety shows).
• Pleasure Island (family theme park).
• Visit the 1, 000 year old Drago Tree in Icod de los Vinos which is between 650 and 5000 years old and sprouted from the blood of slain dragons. Obviously.
Wheels meet again
• Off-road rides with Motocross365 in San Miguel. A motorcycle licence is preferred but not essential; Motocross365 can supply you with gear and boots. Prices start from €175 per day.
• Go-Karting (Karting Club Tenerife, off TF1 at Parque de la Reina) great facilities and good safety record, with two different courses, a serious 1200m long course for 16+ years-old, or a junior course for kids.
• Quad Park (La Camella) 10 minutes from Los Cristianos. This off road adventure park is fun for the all the family, with no license required.
• Downhill Biking. No pedalling is required on this 22 mile downhill bike ride from volcano to the sea. Wooooah! Now that’s my idea of a relaxing bike ride!
Best Tenerife Walking/Hiking Trails
Barranco del Infierno trail, photo by Ronny Siegel.
• Barranco del Infierno, (aka Hells Gorge, Adeje region), 3kms each way. This is Tenerife’s most popular walk, of medium difficulty and taking about two hours each way, it starts and ends at Calle los Molinos, Adeje old town.
The trail wanders through and around steep ravines, bizarre rock outcrops, stunning mountain peaks and ends at a surprise waterfall. The panoramic views en route are awesome.
This walk costs 3 euros; only 200 hikers a day are allowed on the trail and only 80 can be on it at any one time so it’s best to book ahead.
Mt Teide trail. Photo by Fornax.
• Mt. Teide summit. At 3, 718 metres above sea level, this is the highest mountain in Spain. Part of the summit route can be completed by cable car but fitter tourists can do a six hour hike up on the path that starts from Montaña Blanca, next to the road. This is the only ascent route allowed.
• Masca Valley to the sea. Masca is a picturesque village perched on dramatic rock ridges. There is a spectacular three hour hiking trail from the village down the narrow path to the beach and Masca Bay, surrounded by the cliffs of Los Gigantes.
• Isla Baja offers a variety of lovely coastal trails scattered with inviting rock pools and opportunities to see Mount Teide from another angle, as well as visit a couple of delightful little towns such as Garachico.
• Las Cañades, another of Tenerife’s top hikes provides well-marked paths in bleak and surreal landscapes; in this case ‘top’ is the operative word since the average altitude for Las Cañades is around 2, 000 metres.
This trail is a great tourist draw so the car parks can fill up quickly in season.
• North Anaga Mountains, excellent marked walks at about 1, 000m, past mountains, terraces, along the coast and through forests and cute villages where cold beers await you. Low and chilly cloud is not uncommon.
• The Orotava Valley, more spectacular walking though valleys and forests but with a distinct lack of supplies en route and possible low, cold cloud.
• Ride horses from Aldea Blanca, a traditional Spanish farm 10 Km from Los Cristianos, or for a more up-market experience trot along to the Rancho Bonanza.
• Mount Teide at 12, 402 ft Mount Teide is Tenerife’s most obvious landmark and the peak can be climbed or accessed by cable car.
• The Cliffs of the Giants (Los Gigantes) drop steeply into the sea from 800m up. Hike above them or take a boat ride from across the bay towns of Los Gigantes or Puerto de Santiago.
• Piramides de Guimar are interesting step-pyramids, similar to those in Egypt and Mexico.
• Whale Watching from Puerto Colon, Los Gigantes or Los Cristianos with different tour operators and different styles – swim off the back of the boat, sail on a catamaran, have a generous picnic aboard. Bottlenose Dolphins and Pilot Whales are most-spotted but sometimes Sperm or White Whales pop their flukes up.
• Jet bikes and parasailing are widely available.
• B. O. B. Diving. Breathing Observation Bubble diving requires no breathing apparatus and goes down to 5 meters. Guided dives last 25 minutes.
• Scuba Diving. Learn to scuba dive in one day and then head for superb Abades Cove.
• Submarine Safaris operate off Amarillo Golf, Golf del Sur and Costa del Silencio; doing 1 hour underwater tours.
• Inter-Island Tours run trips to unspoilt La Gomera island.
• Vitanova Spa (Hotel Gran Tacande) offers different experiences ranging from Turkish baths to icy showers.
• Aqua Club Thermal (Torviscas) features a large pool with 300 water jets.
Tenerife’s Best Beaches
Tenerife now has many fine, imported, yellow (aka ‘golden’) sand beaches with superb facilities around the tourist resorts instead of black sand that is prevalent in the Canaries. If beach colour is important to you, check before you book.
Playa de las Teresitas
Playa de las Teresitas, Tenerife.
Las Teresitas is commonly considered to be Tenerife’s best beach and a prime target for anyone staying in Santa Cruz. It had a makeover in 1973 with the addition of 4 million sacks of yellow sand imported from the Spanish Sahara. Teresitas beach is 1. 5 kms long, scattered with palm trees, cafés, bars and marine sports facilities. Volleyball and aerobics are popular activities.
Playa de las Americas beaches
Playa de las Cuevitas and Playa del Bobo in the town of Playa de las Americas.
Playa de las Americas is a culture-free beach resort offering good value warmth but with almost no recognition that tourists are on Spanish territory- bars, restaurants, large screen TVs showing soccer, night-long action at full volume, a promenade built for staggering on and all the chip butties and burgers necessary for beach freaks who can’t handle foreign food.
Los Cristianos beaches
Playa de los Vistas in Cristianos. Photo by Wouter Hagens.
Los Cristianos resort town sports one of the best, safest and longest yellow sand beaches on the island thanks to a big hole in the Sahara desert. It comes with with all the usual facilities such as lifeguards and toilets but Cristianos also bans hawkers on the beach, smoking, dogs, music, tents, fishing and ball-games. I’m guessing that sex on the beach would be frowned on too, but who knows, north Europeans are always excited by winter sunshine.
There’s also a useful harbour for marine activities and not far away various competing kid-friendly water parks such as Aqualand, AquaPark Octopus and apparently the best – Siam Park (” fabulous, great fun, best lazy river with a twist, huge waves in the wave pool, reasonable priced food, loads of choice. Don’t miss the Singha beer. great day out. Can go again within 10 days for half price but you must buy the tickets before you leave so take some extra euros”).
Playa de Torviscas is a stretch of mainly white sand beaches that include Playa del Duque, Fañabé, Torviscas, San Eugenio and the original Playa de las Americas.
Playa del Médano – a small family resort with a 2km beach washed by shallow waters but with constant breeze, so ideal for windsurfing but not so good for sunbathers.
Naturist beaches in south Tenerife
Playa de Diego Hernandez – a nudist beach near La Caleta.
Playa la Tejita is an attractive and well-sorted nudist beach, 2 km west of El Médano.
Playa la Pelada – a small, secluded beach of black sand 2 km the east of El Médano.
• January 5th (night) – Procession of the Three Kings in Santa Cruz, Los Cristianos, Puerto de la Cruz and other towns.
• May 1st, May Day is a national fiesta with celebrations in Santa Cruz for the whole month.
• June, Corpus Christi: Carpets of flowers and volcanic earth are spread around in La Orotava, La Laguna, Icod de los Vinos, Adeje and other towns.
• June, Music Festival of the Canary Islands: A classical music festival with international participants.
• August, Fiesta of the Holy Virgin, an island-wide celebration.
• Second Sunday in August, Romería of San Rocque in Garachico and a Festival of International Folklore in Los Cristianos.
• September, Sabandeño Festival: An International Folklore Music Festival in La Laguna.
• November, Festividad de Todos los Santos, All Saints Festival, a national holiday.
• End of November, San Andrés, new wine tasting in Icod, La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz.
• Christmas (Navidad) Festivities including concerts, nativity plays, christmas lights and other events.
Puerto de la Cruz and Las Americas both have popular gay attractions bars, clubs and more.