Tenerife is Spain’s largest Canary Island and a well-known tourist destination. Year-long sun and miles of sandy beaches make it an excellent destination for a relaxing holiday at any time of year.
Many people underestimate the small Canary Island and the diversity of activities it has to offer. You can drive from the north to the south of the island in just over an hour, making it easy to see as much as possible during your Tenerife visit.
Whatever adventure activity you enjoy, you can find it when visiting Tenerife. Check out this list of things to do in Tenerife to make your visit to this volcanic island unforgettable!
- 12 fun things to do in Tenerife North
- 1. Hike in Anaga National Park
- 2. Marvel at the Historic Towns
- 3. Go Mountain Biking in the Ancient Forest
- 4. Trek in the Masca Valley
- 5. Check Out the Natural Pools
- 6. Go on a Yoga Retreat
- 7. Get Views of La Gomera from Punta de Teno
- 8. Go Paragliding
- 9. Visit Spain’s Highest Peak Volcan Teide
- 10. See the World’s Oldest Drago Tree
- 11. Go Wine Tasting
- 12. Have Dinner at a Guachinche
- 11 fun things to do in Tenerife South
- 1. Visit a Working Bannana Plantation
- 2. Surf the Waves at Playa de las Americas
- 3. Visit the Los Gigantes Cliffs
- 4. Take a Boat Trip
- 5. Try KiteSurfing in El Medano
- 6. Go Horse Riding
- 7. Check Out Siam Park
- 8. Go Whale and Dolphin Watching
- 9. Try Scuba Diving
- 10. Visit the Guanche Statues in Candaleria
- 11. Visit Some Other Canary Islands
- Where to stay in Tenerife
- Enjoy Your Trip to Tenerife
12 fun things to do in Tenerife North
The north of the island of Tenerife is much less touristy than the south and a must when you are exploring Tenerife.
There may be more rain in the north, but that means there are lush green forests and mountains to explore, as well as many undeveloped, beautiful black sand beaches. Here are the highlights in the north of Tenerife.
1. Hike in Anaga National Park
The diversity of the hiking trails in Tenerife is one of its best-kept secrets. Whether you want laurel forest, desert, mountains, or even rainforest-like trails, you can find them in Tenerife. First up on the list of what to do in Tenerife has to be the infamous Anaga National Park just outside Santa Cruz.
Anaga National Park is one of Tenerife’s most popular hiking destinations for a reason. Its stunning trails and sea views make for an adventure you won’t forget in a hurry.
In Anaga rural park, you can walk from the forest down to the sea, marveling at the mountain ranges on your way down. Popular routes include the more accessible loop trail starting in Taganana village and a more challenging, adventurous trail at Chamorga.
Another unmissable stop while in Anaga rural park is visiting Playa de Benijo. There are two stunning nearby hikes – one is very long and will take you most of the day, the other popular hiking route is only 5 kilometers but very steep and challenging. Your reward is a swim in the beautiful, clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean and a stunning sunset.
2. Marvel at the Historic Towns
When you think of Tenerife, you may visualize big resorts and endless hotel buildings. While there are parts of the island like this, there are many beautiful old towns to visit in the north of Tenerife.
If you want to see traditional Canarian buildings head to La Orotava or the UNESCO World Heritage Site San Cristobal de la Laguna.
These stunning historic towns have a Spanish feel, but the historic Canarian architecture has a unique style. Both San Cristobal de la Laguna and La Orotava have many brightly painted houses with intricately carved pinewood balconies, shutters, and doors.
In La Orotava, you can visit the famous house of the balconies – La Casa de Balcones. Another interesting museum called Museo de Artesania Iberoamericana contains artifacts from all over South America brought back to Spain by the colonists.
La Laguna is a culinary hub and the home to the oldest university in the Canary Islands. The city has a young vibe and is excellent if you want to party with the locals.
Other historical towns worth visiting are Garrachico (the old capital city until the volcano last erupted in 1909) and Icod de Los Vinos.
The capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife is also worth visiting while you’re in the island’s north; it’s a small city with just over 204,000 people. However, there’s an abundance of things to do in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, from cultural activities, shopping, and museums, as well as some great restaurants.
Go to the Museum of Nature and Man to learn about the island’s indigenous history and check out the modern art museum. If you fancy something cultural watch the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra play at the Auditorio de Tenerife. Another cultural highlight in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the annual Santa Cruz carnival every February. The Tenerife Carnival is one of the biggest in Europe!
Santa Cruz also has its own white sand beach, just outside the city called Playa de las Teresitas. The 1.3km long beach was man-made in the 1960s with 270,000 tons of sand imported from Western Sahara.
3. Go Mountain Biking in the Ancient Forest
The Laurel forests on Tenerfire are some of the most ancient forests in Europe; they date back millions of years to the Cenozoic Era. They can, of course, be fun for hiking in, but if you’re looking for a more adrenaline-filled activity, why not try some mountain biking?
The Corona Forest at the foot of Mount Teide is a popular spot for mountain biking. You can easily hire a bike from Puerto de la Cruz and head up to the forest. If you aren’t keen on self-navigating, you can book a guided bike tour with local experts like Ride Base.
If mountain biking isn’t your thing, there are dozens of other cycle routes on the island. Whether a road bike or an e-bike is more your style, you’ll find a route to suit your level. Biking in Teide Park is an exceptional experience. Did you know that professional cycling teams from all over Europe send their cyclists to Tenerife for altitude training?
4. Trek in the Masca Valley
The famous Masca valley is one of the must-see spots in Northern Tenerife. Not only is the small village of Masca a great photo opportunity, but there are also many trails all around it that offer breathtaking views.
There’s a varying difficulty when it comes to the trails, so something for everyone. If you’re not a big hiker, you can always sit and have a beer at one of the little cafes overlooking the valley. It’s a very scenic spot to have a drink!
5. Check Out the Natural Pools
There are natural swimming pools created by the volcanic rock from one of Mount Teide’s eruptions all around the island.
These natural pools are locally known as Charcos. There are dozens of them in the north of the island.
Famous Charcos include Charco Mujeres, the Garrachico Pools and Charco de la Laja. Whether or not you can swim in them depends on the tide and the season, but all the same, they make for a beautiful spot to chill out and relax and snap some photos of this natural phenomenon.
6. Go on a Yoga Retreat
Due to the year-round warm weather, Tenerife makes the ideal location for wellness activities. The number of different yoga and mindfulness activities is growing on the island, and there’s always a new class or event to try out.
The beauty of the island and the opportunity to be close to the mountains and the sea make it a great destination to relax on a yoga retreat.
If you also enjoy hiking, you could try a hiking and yoga retreat such as Wanderlust Yoga Retreats in Puerto de la Cruz. This retreat gives you a unique chance to stay in a historic Canarian house surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens and banana trees, where you practice yoga every day.
7. Get Views of La Gomera from Punta de Teno
Punta de Teno is the furthest, most westerly point on the island. The rugged west coast of the island is beautiful and marked with the Teno lighthouse. There are also secluded beaches and hiking trails in the Teno mountains above the lighthouse.
The Canary Islands of La Gomera and La Palma are Tenerife’s lesser-known neighbors. From Punta del Teno, you can get fantastic views of both islands on a clear day. The recent volcano eruption in La Palma can also be seen from this point. (Note; it’s unpredictable how long the volcano will continue to erupt.)
The road to Punta del Teno is popular amongst cyclists as cars are not allowed on the road during the day. You can only drive your car to the spot before 9 am in the morning and after 7 pm at night. During the day, the road is closed to minimize its use.
8. Go Paragliding
What better way to see a new place than with a birds-eye view? Paragliding is a popular activity in the north of Tenerife. Most companies will take you up to Teide National Park to the volcano’s base to start your flight.
You’ll then float down over the ancient pine forests, over the historic town of La Orotava, and land on one of the beaches in Puerto de la Cruz. It’s a breathtaking experience not to be missed if you want to do some thrill-seeking on your trip!
9. Visit Spain’s Highest Peak Volcan Teide
Teide National Park is the most visited national park in Spain for a reason. When you’re there, it feels like another world and is the home to Spain’s highest peak – Mount Teide which stands proud at 3,719 meters high.
There are so many hikes in the Teide National Park, you’ll never get bored. You can, of course, climb to the summit of the volcano, but that’s no easy feat. You also need to book a permit months in advance if you want to make it to the very peak of the volcano during daylight.
If you want to climb up at night and wait to watch the sunrise at the top, you don’t require a permit. Climbing up the volcano at night is also a great opportunity to see the night sky. Mount Teide is one of the best places in the world to see the stars due to the altitude and lack of light pollution.
You may also like to take the cable car up to the base of the peak at 3,555m. You still can’t climb to the very top of the volcano without a permit, even if you go up by cable car. Be aware that you should always book the cable car far in advance (it gets busy!) and that it is often not in operation due to high winds.
10. See the World’s Oldest Drago Tree
An ancient dragon tree may not sound like the most exciting activity to do while traveling, but El Drago Milenario is an exception. This ancient tree native to the Canary Islands is 21meters high and the oldest dragon tree left in the world. You’ll find the tree in the beautiful old town of Icod de Los Vinos.
Its actual age is a debated topic, but many scientists believe it to be more than 1,000 years old. Take a stroll in the Parque del Drago to marvel at the tree from all angles; you also have spectacular views of the volcano popping up in the distance behind the tree.
The town of Icod de Los Vinos is also worth checking out after you’re done snapping photos of the tree. Take a stroll along the cobbled streets, check out the historical buildings, and visit the butterfly museum.
11. Go Wine Tasting
Wine tasting may not be something you’d consider for a visit in Tenerife, but in the north of the island, many vineyards grow ancient vines in the volcanic soil. The vines in Tenerife never got infected with a fungus that affected the rest of Europe in the nineteenth century. That fungus changed European wine forever. So if you drink Tenerife wine, it’s like stepping back in time.
Taste local wines at a vineyard such as Bodega Monje; you need to book in advance but won’t be disappointed by the views of the ocean and the volcano from the terraces.
Many wineries offer guided tours around the vineyards and often have a wine museum. So if you’re a wine lover, be sure to check out the local Tenerife wines.
12. Have Dinner at a Guachinche
A Guachinche is a traditional restaurant typical to the Canary Islands.
Usually located in rural areas, often on a farm, locals open up their kitchens to serve local dishes. You can try dishes like ropa vieja (a beef dish), Canarian potatoes (papas arrugadas) with mojo, and goat's cheese along with very cheap (not particularly delicious) wine they make on their land.
If you want a fun, local experience and dinner with great views, visit a Guachinche! It’s definitely one of the more unusual things to do in Tenerife.
11 fun things to do in Tenerife South
When you’re done exploring the north’s cobbled streets, natural wonders, lush forests, and Mount Teide, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the south of the island. The south of Tenerife has a bit of a bad reputation for being full of drunk British tourists, retirees, and endless golf courses.
But don’t fear, there’s still plenty of adventure to be had! From boat trips to beautiful beaches, wildlife, and breathtaking hikes, you won’t have a chance to get bored in the south of Tenerife.
1. Visit a Working Bannana Plantation
Ever wondered how bananas grow? Want to know what a banana flower looks like? Then check out one of the tours on offer at the banana plantations in the island’s south. Bananas are Tenerife’s (and the Canary Island’s) biggest export, and getting to learn more about banana cultivation is fascinating.
A guided tour, such as the one at Finca Las Margaritas is a great way to get to know more about this interesting plant.
You may even get to try some banana wine, and a traditional Guanche snack called gofio.
2. Surf the Waves at Playa de las Americas
There’s so much more to Playa de las Americas than lounging on the beach. It’s a top surf spot on the island with pretty reliable conditions. You’ll see people riding waves there pretty much every day of the year.
Playa de las Americas is very beginner-friendly if you want to try surfing lessons. There are also larger waves to the right of the beach for those with more surfing experience. The first time you surf at Las Americas, getting a surf lesson is good idea. The reef break can make it a little challenging to get in and out of the water on your first attempt.
3. Visit the Los Gigantes Cliffs
The Acantilados de Los Gigantes, or giant cliffs as they are known in English, are one of the most popular attractions in Tenerife. These impressive cliffs stand at over 600m high and go as deep as 30m down into the ocean.
You can see the Los Gigantes cliffs from a boat; there are plenty of kayak tours that leave from the town of Los Gigantes too. Or, if you prefer dry land, there are dozens of hikes above Los Gigantes town that offer incredible views down over the cliffs. Many hikes in the Masca Valley and from Santiago del Teide have fantastic viewpoints overlooking the cliffs.
Alternatively, you could spend your day exploring the natural saltwater pools situated at the bottom of the cliffs.
4. Take a Boat Trip
Hiring a boat is a great way to explore the island’s south coast. If you have a boat license, you can hire your own boat, or if you prefer, you can go on a boat tour.
If you choose a tour, the driver will usually stop off at some of the south’s best beaches for you to swim, as well as some great snorkeling spots. If you’re really lucky, you will see dolphins and turtles.
5. Try KiteSurfing in El Medano
It was no lie that you can do just about any adventure sport in Tenerife! El Medano is the island’s kitesurf and windsurf hotspot.
In El Medano, you can take kitesurf, windsurf or regular surf lessons or just chill out at one of the hip cafes and bars or the beach in the cute, small town.
6. Go Horse Riding
Several horse ranches on the island offer lessons and treks for tourists. Usually located in the more mountainous regions of the island, there are many horse-friendly trails for keen riders and beginners to check out.
7. Check Out Siam Park
Siam Park in Costa Adeje is Tenerife’s Thai-themed water park that’s definitely worth a trip if you visit Tenerife. According to TripAdvisor, it’s the number one water park in the world, and it must be said, the rides are enjoyable.
The park has over 20 rides that are very well thought through, and every ride has a different twist. Ride on the vertical drop called the “Tower of Power’ if you dare!
The creators of Siam Park have even built Siam beach, where you can go and relax with a drink and a snack if high adrenaline water slides aren’t your thing. There’s also a large swimming pool with artificial waves.
8. Go Whale and Dolphin Watching
You can see whales and dolphins in their natural habitat off the south coast of Tenerife throughout the year. Pilot whales and Bottlenose dolphins live all year round in the waters around the island. A whale watching tour will cost you about 30EUR, and you are 90% guaranteed to see the dolphins and whales.
Just to manage expectations – if you’re expecting giant orcas or blue whales, don’t get your hopes up! Pilot whales look like large dolphins, and it can be a bit of a letdown if you were expecting to see large whales.
Whale watching makes for a great day trip from anywhere in the south of the island. Tours usually leave from Puerto Colon in Costa Adeje.
9. Try Scuba Diving
Many people try out scuba diving while in Tenerife. Although there isn’t much in the way of coral around the island, there are many interesting fish and turtles. For more experienced divers, there are some excellent wreck dives around the island.
Radazul and Los Cristianos are well-known dive spots in Tenerife that have dive shops and schools where you can hire diving equipment.
10. Visit the Guanche Statues in Candaleria
The small historic town of Candalaria has a beautiful cathedral which and is the place of veneration of the patron of the Canary Islands, the Virgin of Candelaria. The square in front of the cathedral is a pilgrimage site.
To the left of the square, you can see the bronze statues of nine aboriginal kings. These Guanche kings were the rulers of the Tenerife Canary Islands before the Spanish came and colonized it in 1494.
11. Visit Some Other Canary Islands
If you exhaust this list of the best things to do in Tenerife, why not check out some of the other Canary Islands? You can easily take a day trip to La Gomera or La Palma from the south of Tenerife. You can take a boat across to these islands in just over an hour.
Ferries regularly leave from Los Cristianos in Costa Adeje.
The boat trip to Gran Canaria takes around 2 hours and leaves from Santa Cruz.
Where to stay in Tenerife
Looking for where to stay on Tenerife can be a little overwhelming as there are hundreds of options!
Here are some great choices for the north of the Island:
Budget: Hotel San Borondon, Puerto de la Cruz
A stone’s throw from the beach, this simple hotel is a great place to base yourself if you want to tick off the activities in Tenerife north. It may be a budget hotel but very clean and well looked after with beautiful gardens and swimming pool.
View on Booking.com
Luxury: Hotel Botanico Oriental Spa Garden
A luxury hotel with a spa in Puerto de la Cruz, it has very high ratings and is well situated to access the Teide National Park and many of the hikes in the north of the island.
View on Booking.com
Chain: Iberostar Heritage: Grand Mencey
If you want to stay in Tenerife’s capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife, this is a great option. Within walking distance to all the shops, bars, restaurants, and museums, the hotel is in a beautiful historical Canarian building. It has vast gardens, a stunning pool, and an exceptional wellness center.
View on Booking.com
Here are some accommodation options in the south of Tenerife :
Budget: La Tortuga Hostel
A basic but beautiful option, La Tortuga is a short walk to the beach and includes all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay on Tenerife, even a swimming pool and breakfast!
View on Booking.com
Luxury: Los Gigantes Cliffs Ocean Views Apartment
If you prefer some self-catering, book yourself into these highly rated apartments. Enjoy views of the famous cliffs and a location very close to all the Tenerife things to do, such as the Masca Valley and Mount Teide.
View on Booking.com
Chain: Iberostar Selection Anthelia
If you’re looking for a bit of luxury, this beachfront, adults-only hotel could be perfect for you. It’s in the central tourist hub of Tenerife and within close walking distance to many attractions in Tenerife.
View on Booking.com.
Remember you don’t have to stay in a hotel, here are some other options for accommodation in Tenerife:
- Rent an apartment or villa on Airbnb
- Camp for free in many locations on the Island (the year-round sun makes this feasible)
- Attend one of the many wellness activities or yoga retreats on the island, you will get to stay at one of the beautiful private fincas or retreat venues in Tenerife, and the accommodation is included in the price
- Rent a van and try out some #vanlife
Enjoy Your Trip to Tenerife
Hopefully, you’ve found something on this list to do on your trip in Tenerife. As you can see from the variety on the list, the island is diverse and exciting.
From the natural pools and black sand beaches in the north to the golden sand of Playa de Las Teresitas and the buzzing capital city, you’ll never be bored of things to do in Tenerife.
A final fun fact to leave you with: the Tenerife flag is the same as the Scottish flag because St Andrew is the patron Saint of the island.
Enjoy your trip, and don’t forget to share this article with your travel buddies.
This article is by guest writer Sarah Wisbey, a freelance writer, digital nomad, and yoga teacher based in Tenerife. She loves exploring everything the island has to offer, and sharing her knowledge of secret spots with the guests on her Tenerife yoga retreats.
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