The Ultimate Guide to Things to do in Tenerife

Welcome to the enchanting island of Tenerife, the largest among Spain’s Canary Islands, where the sun never takes a vacation, so you can! Tenerife is the place to luxuriate if you desire to lounge on warm beaches with a cocktail or ice cream in your hand as the gentle waves fondle your feet.

If sunbathing on golden beaches is not your metier, how about hiking up Spain’s tallest volcano or diving into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean to witness the wonders underneath? Tenerife is more than just a destination; it is a location of diverse cultures and experiences. From its energetic festivals and cultural parades to its tranquil nature trails, this is where memories await to be made. That is not it; if you are chasing those Instagram-worthy moments, trust us, the stunning volcanic scenery here is a surefire way to rack up those likes! Whether it is the must-see tourist spots, the paths less visited, or the delectable must-try eateries, we have covered everything below. So, grab your essentials and get prepared for an indelible adventure.

Attractions in Tenerife

If you are tired of your monotonous 9-to-5 routine and yearning for a getaway that can get you the best of both worlds, then Tenerife might be your perfect stop. Situated in the midst of the Atlantic, this Canary Island is a treat for those who are looking for a bit of adventure, serenity, or merely a refreshing change of scenery. Whether it is the sunny beaches or the hustle and bustle of urban life, Tenerife has it all. Let’s take a look at some of its most popular tourist attractions.

1. Mount Teide: Conquering Spain’s Highest Peak

Standing tall and proud, Mount Teide is not just Tenerife’s landmark but also Spain’s highest peak. This colossal volcano has played an enormous role in shaping Tenerife’s culture. Hiking up the rugged trails of the mountain range gives travelers stunning views, where they can see the earth meet the sky and the lush vegetation melt into rocky terrain. Whether you love hiking or want that perfect bird’s-eye view of an Instagram shot, one thing is for sure: you will not be disappointed.

Mount Teide: Conquering Spain’s Highest Peak
Mount Teide: Conquering Spain’s Highest Peak

2. Santa Cruz de Tenerife: More Than Just a Capital

Santa Cruz embodies the spirit of Tenerife—it is dynamic, colorful, and teeming with energy. This lively metropolis is a fusion of cultures, flavors, and melodies. From the iconic wave-like architecture of Auditorio de Tenerife, to the happening markets where locals sell everything from farm fresh goods to handcrafted mementos, there is never a dull moment there.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife: More Than Just a Capital
Santa Cruz de Tenerife: More Than Just a Capital

3. Puerto de la Cruz: Where Traditions Meet the Present

Puerto de la Cruz, once a humble fishing village, has now gracefully evolved into a resort town that attracts tourists from all around the world. Yet, amidst its vibrant bars and luxury hotels, the essence of its past still lingers. The town’s cobbled streets, colonial constructions, and traditional plazas echo the sagas of its vast maritime history.

Puerto de la Cruz: Where Traditions Meet the Present
Puerto de la Cruz: Where Traditions Meet the Present

4. Majestic Volcanic Landscapes: Nature’s Masterpiece

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a geological heaven, narrates the story of its history through its landscape. Hidden among the volcanoes are numerous caves and valleys, offering both splendid views and exciting exploration prospects. Whether you want to uncover the secrets of the Cueva del Viento or explore Malpais de Guimar, they are swamped with adventures!

Majestic Volcanic Landscapes: Nature’s Masterpiece
Majestic Volcanic Landscapes: Nature’s Masterpiece

5. Beautiful Beaches: The Sun, Sand, and the Endless Atlantic

A visit to Tenerife would not be complete without enjoying its sunny beaches. From the white shores of Playa de Las Teresitas to the unique black sand beaches of Playa Jardin, Tenerife has a beach to suit every preference. You can surf, snorkel, sunbathe, or sip a cocktail by the waves—the choices are endless.

Beautiful Beaches: The Sun, Sand, and the Endless Atlantic
Beautiful Beaches: The Sun, Sand, and the Endless Atlantic

6. Exploring Teide National Park

While Mount Teide is indisputably the star attraction, Teide National Park is the stage that amplifies its grandeur. The national park covers 200 square kilometers and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You name it, and Teide National Park has it—from a diverse canvas of plants and animals to natural pools and spectacular views of panoramic landscapes.

Exploring Teide National Park
Exploring Teide National Park

7. Soak Up the Sun on Playa de las Americas: More Than Just Golden Sands

Playa de las Americas is a beach located in Tenerife South. The joy of unwinding in such a place can surpass several things. After all, what could be more soothing than the stretch on the golden sand, the sun gently caressing your skin while your feet feel the cool embrace of the water? As the sun sets, the nightlife by the beachside comes alive. Whether you prefer to dance, dine, or stargaze, every moment here is a cause for celebration.

Soak Up the Sun on Playa de las Americas: More Than Just Golden Sands
Soak Up the Sun on Playa de las Americas: More Than Just Golden Sands

8. Discovering Historic La Laguna: A Trip Back in Time

Stepping into the narrow streets of La Laguna feels like a journey through time. This charming town, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a blend of flagged streets, colorful mansions, and historic churches. Before Santa Cruz became the capital, La Laguna was the center of Tenerife, seamlessly combining the charms of the past and the present.

Discovering Historic La Laguna: A Trip Back in Time
Discovering Historic La Laguna: A Trip Back in Time

9. Whale Watching in Los Gigantes: Nature’s Grand Theatre

Imagine a scene where colossal cliffs dive into the deep blue sea, and just when you think the spectacle could not get any better, a school of dolphins or even a giant whale graces the view! Boat excursions in Los Gigantes offer exactly what people wish. The waters at the Southwest Coast are known for their abundant marine life, especially the pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins, making it one of the prime locations for whale watching in the Canary Islands.

Whale Watching in Los Gigantes: Nature’s Grand Theatre
Whale Watching in Los Gigantes: Nature’s Grand Theatre

10. Siam Park: The Water Kingdom

Is this Thailand? The Maldives, perhaps? No, it is Tenerife’s Siam Park that dazzles with its water park attractions designed with a Thai theme. It is not every day you can slide down a dragon-themed chute or surf in the world’s largest swimming pool. Whether you are a thrill-seeker looking for an adrenaline rush or a family wanting some fun under the sun, Siam Park guarantees a splashy escapade.

Siam Park: The Water Kingdom
Siam Park: The Water Kingdom

11. The Mesmerizing Pyramids of Guimar: A Mysterious Legacy

Six-stepped pyramids, made entirely out of lava stone, await exploration in the town of Guilmar. Similar to the pyramids of Gaza, the history of their origins remains unknown, which is a topic of deep interest among tourists. Surrounded by a beautiful garden, these pyramids invite visitors to ponder the mysteries of ancient civilizations.

The Mesmerizing Pyramids of Guimar: A Mysterious Legacy
The Mesmerizing Pyramids of Guimar: A Mysterious Legacy

12. Vibrant Carnivals and Festivals: The Heart of Tenerife

If one thing captures the spirit of Tenerife, it is its carnivals. The streets become alive with colors, music, and dance. The most notable is the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, second only to Rio’s famous carnival. With vibrant parades, intricate costumes, and beats that make your heart dance, attending a local festival in this charming town is a must-do experience.

Vibrant Carnivals and Festivals: The Heart of Tenerife
Vibrant Carnivals and Festivals: The Heart of Tenerife

13. Icod de los Vinos: Where Ancient Mysteries Meet Wine and Charm

Exploring the beautiful town of Icod de los Vinos is like stepping into a time capsule, where history, natural marvels, and a touch of vineyard enchantment come together. At the heart of Icod de los Vinos stands a living legend, “El Drago Milenario,” or the Thousand-Year-Old Dragon Tree, which is believed to have spent over millennia and is amongst the world’s oldest and largest of its kind.

Icod de los Vinos: Where Ancient Mysteries Meet Wine and Charm
Icod de los Vinos: Where Ancient Mysteries Meet Wine and Charm

Beyond the awe-inspiring dragon tree, Icod de los Vinos invites you to stroll along its historic, narrow streets adorned with delightful squares, quaint shops, and traditional Canarian architecture. For adventurous souls, this town offers a unique opportunity to explore its subterranean world, most notably the Cueva del Viento (Wind Cave).

What to Eat

Tenerife is the epitome of a tropical paradise. The sun shines a little brighter, and life seems perfect here. Its scenic beauty is undeniable; however, Tenerife’s authentic charm lies in its culinary offerings and local delights, making traveling here a true pleasure.

Savouring Canarian Cuisine

The Canary Islands have a rich culinary history. The local dishes, deeply entrenched in tradition, resonate with bold and subtle flavors. In Tenerife, people do not eat meals; they partake in a centuries-old culinary heritage, a blend of influences from the Spaniards, the indigenous Guanche, and African and Latin American civilizations.

Savouring Canarian Cuisine
Savouring Canarian Cuisine

Must-Try Dishes:

1. Papas Arrugadas, Mojo Sauce, and Gofio

The quintessential Papas Arrugadas is more than a mere meal—it is a testament to Tenerife’s simplicity and taste. Enhanced by the zesty Mojo sauces, each mouthful bursts with bold flavors. Another integral part of the island’s gastronomy is Gofio, a staple in the its culinary tradition and a fundamental ingredient used in everything from soups to desserts.

Papas Arrugadas, Mojo Sauce, and Gofio
Papas Arrugadas, Mojo Sauce, and Gofio

2. Fresh Seafood Delights

The Atlantic Ocean generously blesses Tenerife with a glut of seafood. Anglers with their daily catches are a common sight; therefore, the island’s seafood is always fresh. Savoring dishes such as sardines, mussels, and seafood paella do not just provide a culinary experience but also anecdotes of the island’s historical bond with the sea.

3. Tasting Local Wines

The wines of Tenerife are as varied as its topography. Tenerife’s volcanic soil sets wine apart, adding a unique flavor to it. Exploring a nearby vineyard is not merely a wine-tasting experience—it’s a voyage through its historical roots.

Tour Guide

1. The Best Time to Visit Tenerife

Tenerife’s allure is evergreen, quite literally. Thanks to its diverse microclimates, there is always a part of the island that is perfect to visit. Above all, it presents a treasure of basking in its warm weather glory throughout the year; however, the months between April and June or September and November offer a sweet spot of splendid weather and fewer crowds. And if you are someone who loves cultural immersion, the carnival in February is an unadulterated joy.

2. How to Get Around

Exploring and getting around Tenerife is an exciting adventure. The local buses, ‘guaguas,’ are efficient and connect significant landmarks, but renting a car would be a viable option if one is inquisitive about exploring other tourist attractions as well. The wind in your hair, the open road, and Tenerife’s scenic routes—it is a gateway for lasting memories. Viable

3. Accommodation Options

Tenerife’s hospitality is legendary. Whether it is resorts providing breathtaking Atlantic views or charming, rustic casas rurales nestled in the heart of quaint villages, Tenerife has accommodation options for every type of traveler and budget. Choosing a local stay lets you immerse yourself in authentic Canarian hospitality—an experience that hotels often cannot replicate.

4. Budget Tips for Travelers

A trip to Tenerife does not have to break the bank. The island has many different local eateries where you can enjoy authentic meals without spending extravagantly. Tenerife boasts an array of attractions, as nature has been generous enough to offer several without-cost adventures, and beaches and hiking trails come on top. The island caters to both luxury travelers and budget backpackers.

Beyond the picturesque postcards, Tenerife beckons with aromatic dishes, stories in every glass of wine, and local secrets that only the keenest travelers can discover. It is an island waiting to be explored, tasted, and cherished.

Fun Facts

This island is much more than just the sun-kissed beaches and iconic cocktails with tiny umbrellas (although they are fabulous, too). Tenerife is a mixture of history, nature, culture, and beyond. If you are an intrepid traveler, you will cherish exploring the territories situated in less frequented locales. Here are a few fun tips to make your trip even more memorable.

1. Tenerife: The Island of Volcanoes

Did you know Tenerife is basically a massive volcano? No kidding! Mount Teide is the highest point in Spain and is also a volcanic park. You would think an active volcano might deter tourists, but it is quite the opposite.

2. The Magnificent Drago Tree

As ancient monuments enrapture the world, Tenerife remains nonchalant with its old tree. Yes, the Drago tree, an iconic symbol of the Canary Islands and its natural habitat, is believed to have existed for around a thousand years. With its gnarly branches and dragon blood sap (not as mythical as it sounds), this tree has a formidable aura.

3. The History of Canary Island

The Canary Islands were not just Christopher Columbus’s brief stop before he sailed to America—they were also involved in the history of aboriginals, pirates, and other Spanish conquests. They have been mainly engaged in many turning points in global history.

4. Tenerife’s Starry Nights

In Tenerife, you will find stars, galaxies, constellations, and perhaps even a shooting star if luck is on your side! Tenerife’s skies are a cosmic playground. If you are looking for one of the top stargazing spots on earth, Teide National Park stands out. The lack of light pollution ensures that on a clear night, the universe reveals its full splendor.

Scams to Avoid

Navigating any tourist destination comes with its own set of challenges. While Tenerife is generally safe and welcoming, it is wise to keep an eye out for a few common pitfalls.

1. Tourist Traps

Like any sought-after destination, Tenerife has its share to lure tourists with ostentatious exteriors but dismay in terms of value or authenticity. Be it restaurants that serve ‘local cuisine’ (generic dishes with a hefty price tag) or attractions that do not live up to the hype, it is good to research or ask locals for recommendations.

2. Pickpocketing Hotspots

During day trips to crowded spots, such as the lively Mercado de Nuestra Senora de Africa or the bustling Playa de las Americas, it is important to watch out for pickpockets. Stay vigilant about your belongings—consider wearing your backpack in the front and refrain from displaying valuables openly.

3. Overpriced Souvenirs

Do not hurry to purchase those tiny trinkets that promise to encapsulate memories, but often gather dust as most stalls or shops price their items a tad too ambitiously. The handcrafted items are worth their weight in gold (not literally), but some generic souvenirs might be cheaper elsewhere.

4. Unlicensed Taxi Services

When your feet are weary, and you want to get back to your accommodation, an awaiting taxi seems like a blessing. However, ensure that it is licensed, as unlicensed cabs may charge exorbitant fares and not follow the safest routes.

Local Culture and Etiquette

The culture and history of Tenerife are vibrant, which explains many of its local customs. Understanding the local traditions will undoubtedly enhance your experience on the islands.

Local Culture and Etiquette
Local Culture and Etiquette

1. Greetings and Courtesies

In Tenerife, greetings go beyond being mere words—they represent a genuine warmth and hospitality. When you meet someone, whether a local or another traveler, a friendly “Hola” (Hello) is how you initiate a conversation. People in Tenerife are generally approachable and willing to help. Handshakes are common in formal settings, but do not be surprised if you are greeted with a kiss on both cheeks, especially during a first meeting! It is simply a gesture of friendliness.

2. Tipping and Bargaining

Tenerife is not a place for aggressive bargaining, but there are etiquettes regarding tipping and bargaining you should know. While dining at restaurants, leaving a tip is a nice gesture but not obligatory. If the service charge is not included in the bill, paying about 10% is a courteous way to acknowledge good service. In local markets, you can engage in friendly haggling, especially when buying souvenirs or handcrafted items. It is not common in bigger stores; you may negotiate a better deal in smaller and local shops.

3. Respect for Siesta Time

The siesta is a small tradition that is followed in most parts of Spain, including Tenerife. During the siesta hours, which usually last between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. during the day, countless shops close their businesses. This much-needed break in the hottest part of the day allows the locals to refresh themselves. It is a part of the local rhythm, so make sure to plan your activities accordingly. During siesta hours, you may find the streets quieter, and some businesses temporarily shut, so it is an excellent opportunity to unwind and soak up the laid-back atmosphere of the islands.

An important aspect of tourism is exploring and respecting the local culture, which not only allows you to enjoy an immersive experience but also fosters the friendships you make, encountering the people along the way.

Things to do in Tenerife – Conclusion

Apart from their renowned calm-water beaches, the Canary Islands boast lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and a myriad of ecosystems. It does not matter whether you are a beach bum, a mountain enthusiast, or an explorer fascinated by the past, there is something in Tenerife to captivate every kind of adventurer!

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