Cities and towns
Visitors that venture beyond the southwestern part of Tenerife will discover some beautiful places, such as the old port of Garachico to the north that is seemingly untouched by modern development.
Also worth exploring is the attractive northern resort town of Puerto de la Cruz, with its Botanic Garden, black-sand beaches, promenade, and saltwater lido. A short drive away is the old capital, San Cristobal de La Laguna, now a UNESCO World heritage site, whose grid system of calles and plazas has been beautifully preserved for browsing, grazing and shopping. Also not to be missed is the capital Santa Cruz, with its avant-garde architecture.
One of Tenerife’s main attractions is its natural embassy, Loro Parque, near Puerto de la Cruz. It has a huge free-flight aviary that is home to emus, cockatoos, and kookaburras, plus a penguin pool and an aquarium with over 100 marine species. Also perfect for families, Siam Park, near Los Cristianos, is a 48-acre Thai-themed water park with hair-raising slides, and a wave pool and beach. More relaxing activities include drifting down the Mai Thai River or shopping for souvenirs at the Floating Market.
Tenerife has its own characteristic cuisine, based on its quality produce. Visitors can sample the local tuna, black pork, goats’ and sheep’s cheeses, and a range of organically grown tropical fruits. The local eateries specialise in using these ingredients, and there are five Michelin-starred restaurants on the island.
The distinctive Tenerifean wines can be sampled at a local bodega; some of these also offer culinary workshops, where visitors can learn to make the green and red mojo sauces that Canarians enjoy with traditional yellow-fleshed boiled potatoes.
The quality and clarity of Tenerife’s sky has led to its designation as a Starlight Destination, and it is home to the Canary Islands’ Institute of Astrophysics. As the tallest mountain in Spain, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Mount Teide is the ideal spot for serious stargazing. Visitors can take a tour up the mountain to marvel at its Mars-like landscape with its unique flora and fauna.
When the sun goes down the focus moves upwards, to see the universe spread out before you – it’s not to be missed!
Guests seeking sports and adventure experiences have a wealth of options in Tenerife. There are 1,500 km of hiking trails, mountains and caves for climbers, plus all the watersports: surfing, windsurfing, kite-boarding, diving and fishing. Cycling, on- or off-road, with bike or e-bike, is popular and visitors can choose from a range of routes on quiet roads and trails with spectacular sea views. The island also attracts paragliders.
The UNESCO Heritage site at Mount Teide is the jewel in Tenerife’s crown. Rising to 3715 metres, it dominates the island, and its volcanic craters and its slopes are home to plants and fauna adapted to its aridity and extreme temperatures. Walkers will also enjoy the Teno Rural Park in the northwest, particularly the scenic shepherds’ trail from Teno Alto to Teno Bajo, which takes in the lighthouse at Punta de Teno. There are also trails through the Anaga Mountains to remote villages and rock caves.
As a volcanic island, Tenerife has an unusual mix of black- and white-sand beaches. Most of the white-sand beaches are in the south, such as Playa del Duque and Playa Torviscas in Costa Adeje, or Playa Las Vistas in Los Cristianos. The natural black-sand beaches can be found on the remoter coasts. Playa Jardin in Puerto de la Cruz has a waterfall and palm trees, and even wilder is Playa de Benijo in the Anaga Rural Park. El Medano on the south coast is one of the world’s best beaches for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Whale and dolphin watching
The island is home to a permanent colony of bottlenose dolphins and over 400 pilot whales, which can be spotted year round. Boat tours leave from various ports in the south and track the different marine species that pass through the channel separating Tenerife from La Gomera. Guests may also see turtles, sharks, osprey and kestrels.
The main Carnival takes place in the capital, Santa Cruz, in the week before Ash Wednesday in February. There are gala processions, parade floats, theatrical shows, side street parties and various competitions. The title of carnival queen is hotly contested, and the costumes are dazzling. Murga drama groups compete on stage with singing and dancing acts, and the city is a riot of colour, music and celebration. Smaller carnivals are held in Los Cristianos and Puerto de la Cruz.
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife has the best selection of accommodation too, and visitors can choose from a range of four- and five-star hotels and a variety of Spa and wellness centres. Guests of Hotel Bahia del Duque can opt for a wellness retreat led by therapists and nutritionists. The Oriental Spa Garden was awarded Best Spa Hotel in Europe by Condé Nast Johansens.