Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, and likely the most popular. The Spanish island is just off the West coast of Africa, a flight time of approximately 4.5 hours from London airports.

Tenerife's otherworldly volcanic landscape, year-round sunny weather, and incredible beaches in hues of yellow to black make it an ideal choice for those looking for a little paradise close to home.

Rather than regurgitate travel advice on Tenerife, we visited the island ourselves to find out which beaches reigned supremee, which activities were unmissable, and which of the island's attractions would make your trip the most memorable.

Whether you are going all-inclusive or living like a local, these are the gems you'll want to include in your Tenerife itinerary.

"TENERIFE'S OTHERWORLDLY VOLCANIC LANDSCAPE, YEAR-ROUND SUNNY WEATHER, AND INCREDIBLE BEACHES IN HUES OF YELLOW TO BLACK MAKE IT AN IDEAL CHOICE FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR A LITTLE PARADISE CLOSE TO HOME."
Mount Teide Tenerife

Church in Tenerife

Cactus in Tenerife

"THE STUNNINGLY DRAMATIC LUNAR-STYLE LANDSCAPE OF THIS AREA HAS OFTEN BEEN COMPARED TO WHAT WE IMAGINE IT TO BE LIKE ON THE MOON."

Teide National Park

At 3555 metres above sea level, Mount Teide is the third biggest volcano in the world. The stunningly dramatic lunar-style landscape of this area has often been compared to what we imagine it to be like on the moon. The volcanic rock backdrop consists of eye-catching rock formations that were, at one time, beds of hot lava. You can get most of the way up Mount Teide by cable car, and once there walk the rim of the volcanic crater. If you want to hike the further 200 metres up to the summit you'll need a permit - a limited number of which are reserved per day.


Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de La Cruz has a charm that is distinctly Canarian. Although its port has a long history of exporting both sugar and wine, it is now a delightful harbour where you can find colourfully painted fishing boats and harbourside restaurants serving the catch of the day.

Church lovers will want to visit both the Chapel of San Telmo and Church of Nuestra Senora de La Pena de Franca. This pretty white-stoned church was founded in 1626, apparently by the local fishermen. Although it has been struck by both fire and floods, it has been rebuilt and rebuilt again, and is now an icon of local determination and reverence.

Hotel Taoro, which overlooks the Puerto de la Cruz, was once the go-to destination for celebrities of their time such as Agatha Christie and Sir Winston Churchill. The rich and famous would came here for their health or to escape the British winter long before sunbathing became popular. Wander the lush botanical gardens situated behind the hotel and you'll come across water landscapes, waterfalls and secret pathways - as well as the occasional jogger!

Situated in Puerto de la Cruz, the wildlife sanctuary of Loro Parque has performing dolphins, whales and penguins, as well as parrots. There is, however some debate over the treatment of animals at the park, so when we visited Tenerife, we decided to give it a miss.

"IT IS NOW A DELIGHTFUL HARBOUR WHERE YOU CAN FIND COLOURFULLY PAINTED FISHING BOATS AND HARBOURSIDE RESTAURANTS SERVING THE CATCH OF THE DAY."
Town on coast in Tenerife

street in Tenerife

Santa Cruz Tenerife

"If lunar scenery is the tourist's desire, Tenerife can easily be his island of the Moon."

Olga Achtenhagen for the NY Times, 1964
Tweet:

"IF YOU ARE HIKING IN TENERIFE, DO YOUR RESEARCH CAREFULLY AND CHOOSE A WALK THAT IS SUITABLE FOR YOUR FITNESS AND ABILITY, TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE HEAT THAT YOU MAY NOT BE USED TO."

Walking

Walking is big in Tenerife, and there are even specially-built shelters, or Choza, to rest and recover in while on your travels. Keen walkers will love the Anaga Mountains (Check out the Mercedes Forest in particular.), in North East Tenerife. Here you can walk the Anaga Peninsula, or through Afur valley, taking in lush rainforests that date back from the Ice Age, as well as enjoying the dramatic coastal views.

An equally famous walk starts from Masca Village, set in a gorge, which makes for an impressive but advanced hike down to the sea.

If you are hiking in Tenerife, do your research carefully and choose a walk that is suitable for your fitness and ability, taking into consideration the heat that you may not be used to. Walking Tenerife is a great site to check out before you embark on any epic journeys.

Coast by Tenerife Beach
White sand on beach in Tenerife Coastal beach Tenerife

Swimming and watersports

There are two main choices for water babies in Tenerife: the sea or Lago Martianez. The latter is a stunning man made lake complete with fountains and a choice of pools which are perfect for paddling, swimming or simply lazing about.

If watersports are more your thing, look no further than Costa Adeje which is home to top beaches El Duque Torviscas and Fanabe, which both also boast amazing sunsets. For a beach experience with a difference, travel through banana plantations to the volcanic black sands (but be careful, they're hot!) at Playa Socorro. Most resorts have a range of watersports on offer, from parascending to jet skiing. In high season we'd recommend searching for your particular resort and booking online before you leave as demand can be high.

If sand and surf are your thing, you may want to read our post on the best beaches of Tenerife.

Dolphin spotting

Apparently, one third of the world's dolphins and whales travel through the Canary islands every year, meaning that you have a good chance of getting up close and personal with them on one of the dolphin and whale boat tours that run from Los Cristianos. Dive in, enjoy a swim with the dolphins, or just watch from the deck and take some memorable photos.

Wine and dine

Tenerife has a reputation for being the best of the Canary Islands for foodies. Respected gourmet Canarian chef Victor Cruz has his own restaurant, La Cuchara de Victor Cruz in Santa Cruz. Here you will see traditional Canarian and Spanish dishes with a modern twist. Michelin-starred Kabuki is found at the Abama Hotel in Guia de Isora. It's another great example of fusion food, but this time with Japanese and Western cuisines. Get the degustación or tasting menu for the full experience.

If you're happy to try something more basic, look for Restaurantes Tipicos. You'll find yourself eating with the locals and trying authentic national dishes. For a mixture of comfort and luxury, try Lucas Maes, an Italian restaurant close to Puerto de la Cruz. Here you can look out past banana plantations and out to the sea while dining on exquisite pasta dishes.

For more Tenerife holiday ideas, check out our post on the Hidden Gems of Tenerife and if you'd like help choosing travel insurance, take a look at our Tenerife Travel Insurance page.


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