There are so many things to do in Tenerife – the island is undoubtedly is the brightest (and biggest) gem in the Canary Islands’ crown. The mesmerizing place is a joy for all the senses regardless of what time of the year you visit. Since it offers a whole pack of exciting activities, I’ve “narrowed down” the best 33 things to do in Tenerife! 😁 For extra convenience I’ve pinned all of them on the map below, so feel free to refer to it at any time. The colors mark the different parts of Tenerife that we will review in a bit. So, let’s buckle up and take a deep dive in one of Spain’s hottest spots.
How to get to Tenerife
First things first, we need to reach Tenerife in order to enjoy all its glory, right? 😁 If you prefer going there by plane, there are 2 airports that operate both domestically and internationally – Los Rodeos Tenerife North Airport and Reina Sofia Tenerife South Airport. You can check the deals on Spain’s national airline – Iberia, as it offers frequent lights to Tenerife from Spain mainland and other locations throughout Europe. On the low-cost side, Wizzair and RyanAir are also good options.
Since there are no direct flights from Bulgaria, we actually flew through Barcelona. You can also fly to Madrid – there are tons of low cost flights from both cities to the Canary islands! However, you can also take an exciting alternative route. Take a ferry! ⛴ 🌊 There are 2 ports in Tenerife where the ferries stop: Santa Cruz on the Northeast coast and Los Cristianos on the Southwest coast. You can basically fly to Gran Canaria and take the ferry from there. The sailing will take less than 2 hours, but surely will leave memories that linger! If you have some (or a lot) of extra time in hand and want to extend the experience, you can also take a ferry directly from Spain. Nevertheless, it takes about a day and a half to reach and start exploring the best places in Tenerife. Check out here all the available ferry tours.
Best time to visit Tenerife and the Canary Islands
Truth is, there isn’t one straight answer when it comes to the best time to visit Tenerife. As annoying as it sounds, it depends on what you’re after! One thing good to keep in mind is that thanks to its subtropical climate, the temperatures there don’t vary that much throughout the year. Still, the different seasons hide their own charming offerings.
If you like the idea of swimming all day and partying all night, then I recommend visiting between June and September, just as we did. The temperatures at this point of the year are the highest, so summer is ideal for backpackers who like more dynamic holidays. 🏖 Bear in mind that the waters of the Atlantic are a bit colder than the Mediterranean, so if swimming is a top priority for you – pick a date later in the summer. Spring is also a great option, but keep in mind it can get quite busy – especially the week before the catholic Easter holidays. Generally, if you plan on visiting during the hot months – make sure to book well in advance as it can get pricey.
Winter, on other hand, is ideal if you’re into hiking! And this is truly one of the best things to do in Tenerife. The temperatures start lowering around October, but they still remain nice pretty much during all the “cold months” until March. There are 2 perks I can think of when it comes to the winter season. First – you can nail sweet discounts on accommodation and travel tickets! And second – what’s better than hitting sunny beaches and mountains in winter, when most other countries are shivering? If you’re curious to know more about the country, check out this post on what Spain is famous for.
Things to know before visiting Tenerife
Okay, let’s get back for a moment on our previous point: climate and seasons. One vital thing to know before going to Tenerife is that the weather on the North and South of the island can be very different. In addition, if you’re into astrophotography or stargazing, the nights can get pretty cold up at the Teide National Park even in June. This is especially true during winter. So if you want to enjoy the island in its full glory and visit all the best places in Tenerife, make sure to bring both a bathing suit and a proper winter jacket! Sounds a bit too much, but the climate there is quite unique and it’s part of what makes Tenerife so charming. It literally offers something for everyone.
It also doesn’t hurt to know that the water of the Atlantic is pretty cold, even during summer. There isn’t really much you can do about it, but I wanted to save you the unpleasant surprise. 😁 We’ve covered some basics, but there are a lot more Spain travel tips you can explore. However, now that we’re prepared on what to expect, let’s jump straight to some of the best things to do in Tenerife!
Things to do in Tenerife – Northwest
We started our journey on the rugged and fascinating Northwest side. We rented a car right away (at the airport), and I highly recommend you do the same so you can cover all the best places in Tenerife quickly and comfy! The Northwest part of the island shelters a sheer diversity of amazing little villages, so don’t hesitate to take your time and explore them. Some of the other great things to do in the area include:
1. Admire the “Los Gigantes” cliffs
Los Gigantes, translating “the giants”, is a beautiful resort town nestled in the west and is among the best places in Tenerife. Its main attraction are the mind-bending rock formations after which the city is named, situated at 500-800 meters above sea level. The cliffs rise above the sea across a huge part of the coastline, offering a breathtaking panorama! Even though the cliffs’ area is restricted for visitors because of the unique nature there, you can still gaze at them either while sailing in the sea, or from the shore. Take a boat trip around Los Gigantes! If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot some whales or dolphins. 🐬 This brings me to our next point:
2. Hop on a whale watching tour
I’m sure I don’t have to convince you much of it, but this is one of the absolute best things to do in Tenerife! Especially if you love wildlife in its natural habitat like us. Tenerife is among the top destinations in Europe to admire whales and dolphins throughout the entire year. There are an estimated 400 pilot whales wowing the visitors each season, but the biggest number of those sea fellas can be seen during winter. 🐋. Here’s a top-rated whale watching tour in Tenerife.
3. Admire “Charco el Diablo” rock formations
Continuing our rocky off-the-beaten path, seeing “Charco el Diablo” is one of the best things to do in Tenerife. The illustrious volcanic rock formations are hugged by numerous natural pools, which are perfect not only for taking pictures but also for swimming. One of the best things about “Charco el Diablo” is that it’s not so popular among tourists. So there’s a very high chance you might admire it all by yourself. Pretty neat, right? A quick tip: in case you decide to go, I recommend being in comfortable shoes instead of sandals or flip-flops. As much as they’re mesmerizing, the rocks can also be quite slippery.
Looking to explore more of Spain on your layover to Tenerife? Here are some of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
4. Enjoy the view from “Mirador de Archipenque”
Located in Puerto Santiago, this is a must-see destination for any visitor to the island. “Mirador de Archipenque” is one of the best places in Tenerife for multiple reasons. First off, it offers the finest view of Los Gigantes from above, along with numerous other top-notch views. You can take a pleasant walk uphill that will gift you with amazing panoramas. Or, you know, take your car and drive to the viewpoint. 😁 Once we reached the top, we sat down for a bit in the restaurant and treated ourselves to Tenerife’s world-famous red wine (vino tinto). 🍷 Pretty much any time of the day is perfect to enjoy this magnificent place, but seeing a sunset there will surely give you a lifetime memory!
5. Drive to “Masca” village
I wouldn’t be exaggerating to name “Masca” Tenerife’s most beautiful and picturesque village! Masca is nestled in the heart of Teno mountains at about 750-meter altitude. It has less than 100 permanent inhabitants, and it’s truly one of the best places in Tenerife for a good mountain hike and to connect with nature. Even though it’s usually quite touristy, Masca’s magical ambiance created by the vegetation, the trees, and the fresh air surely makes it worth the visit. And if all this is still not enough to win your heart, just wait until you reach the top and see the view from there!
6. Watch the sunset at “Punta de Teno”
Okay, hands down – this is one of the best things to do in Tenerife and one of my favorites! You can go on a mountain hike in Teno but make sure you absolutely reach in time to see the sunset at Punta de Teno. This is one of the most mesmerizing places to enjoy a golden hour. The picturesque lighthouse surrounded by volcanic mountains and the sea all cut the edges of the ultimate romantic scape! 🌅
Things to do in Tenerife – North
Moving on to the next stop of our Tenerife itinerary – the North. Just as we mentioned a bit earlier, the climate in the North can be more chilly compared to the South. So if you’re visiting in winter, be ready you might have to take your warmer clothes out of the luggage before you jump to your first activity.
7. Take a photo of the “Dragon tree” in Icod de los vinos
Alright, you’re probably thinking “What’s the hype, it’s just a tree”, right? I thought exactly the same, but as you can probably guess, the Dragon tree (el Drago) is not just a regular one. Truth is, even though Dragon trees can be found at a few places around the island, worldwide they’re quite rare. The one in Icod de los vinos is special because of its age and enormous size. It’s even considered to be the oldest on the planet, which puts it among the best places to go in Tenerife and a must-see spot! 🌳 Unfortunately there’s an entrance fee, but here’s one bonus hack: you can see it for free from the nearby town square.
8. Explore a lava tube – “Cueva del viento”
So here’s something you don’t get to experience every day… “Cueva del viento” (or Cave of the wind) is the biggest lava tube in Europe and one of the biggest worldwide! This unique place was formed nearly 30,000 years ago from the eruptions of the Pico Viejo volcano. 🌋 Apart from being one of the longest lava tubes in the world, it’s also the most complex one. With a unique network of galleries on several levels, lava lakes, lava stalactites, and so much more – the lava tunnel is surely one of the best places in Tenerife, especially for cave fans! You can explor it for about 3 hours, and I recommend going in long trousers and comfy hiking shoes. You can find more info here, as well as tickets online for the guided tours.
9. Walk around the town “La Orotava”
Speaking of visiting the best places in Tenerife, this picturesque authentic town is one of the oldest in the Canary Islands, and totally worth the visit! The must-see places there include:
- Casa de los Balcones – undoubtedly the top attraction in La Orotava! Just as the name suggests (“The House of Balconies”), the 16-century house offers a glimpse of the most authentic architecture across the Canary Islands – the wooden balconies. You can find a free parking lot right across the street
- Victoria Gardens – some of the finest gardens in town (among many), created in the 19th century and perfect for a relaxing stroll
- Townhall – pretty much every building in La Orotava offers a genuine view of its unique architecture, but the Townhall definitely tops the list
- Try the local food! – make sure you don’t leave the town without trying the tantalizing meals and desserts it can offer 🍤
10. Admire the “Mirador de Humboldt” overlook
Since one of the best things to do in Tenerife is enjoy its jaw-dropping panoramas, here’s another one. The Mirador de Humboldt offers a once-in-a-lifetime 360 view of the entire Orotava Valley, nearby volcanoes, and the peak of Teide. Grab your favorite coffee or refreshments from the nearby cafe and get a delight for all your senses!
11. Relax at the pools of “Lago Martianez”
Time to have some fun in the island’s top-notch amusement park! Lago Martianez offers a sheer diversity of some of the best things to do in Tenerife. In this enormous complex, you can swim in open-air salt pools, relax on floating islands, hide in the shades of tall palm trees while looking at the sea, enjoy the local food in the restaurants… what better way to complement your trip?
12. Have a meal in “Garachico” town
Garachico is yet another authentic little town located on top of a 500-meter cliff. Along with its architecture and local spirit, another exciting thing you can experience is the food. The place is ideal for spending a few hours and trying out the local meals in any of the small restaurants. Of course, it’s always safe to bet on the fresh seafood if you’re into it, but this time I had a traditional grilled cheese with honey which I totally recommend! Don’t forget the glass of local wine as well, of course.
Things to do in Tenerife – Northeast
Moving on to our last stop on the North – the Eastern part.
13. Go to the best beach in Tenerife – “Las Teresitas”
This is the most iconic and beloved beach in Tenerife for a reason. Actually many good reasons, to be frank! Las Teresitas is an artificial, golden sand jewel, touched by clear blue waters and covered in palm trees. It’s about 1,300 meters long and is highly admired by tourists and locals alike. You can enjoy an entire list of amenities, such as cool beach bars and restaurants. Its calm waters make it ideal for a family trip, and list it among the best places in Tenerife!
14. Admire the beach from above – “Mirador de Las Teresitas”
Apart from strolling on its long golden sands and taking a dip in the water, another awesome way to enjoy Las Teresitas is from the mountain above it. Mirador de Las Teresitas is a top attraction and one of the best places in Tenerife, that draws backpackers from all around the globe for a mind-bending view of the beach. This will be one of the finest photos you will be taking during your trip on the island, I promise!
15. Savor the viewpoint of “Mirador Gaviotas”
This viewpoint gives a glimpse at a bit more different beach than Las Teresitas, but surely quite authentic. Gaviotas beach has volcanic black sand and rugged shore, offering an untouched wild beauty that will leave you speechless.
16. Spend an afternoon in the capital of Tenerife – “Santa Cruz”
Our trip to Tenerife wouldn’t be complete without seeing the capital, right? Santa Cruz is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, offering a whole bunch of exciting activities and places to visit. One of the best things to do in Tenerife and Santa Cruz specifically is visiting the world heralded annual festival! The Tenerife festival is the second largest in the world after the one in Rio de Janeiro.🎠🎊 Not bad, right?
If you’re not around at that time of the year, no worries, there are plenty of other things you can see and do. Some of the best ones include:
- Mercado Municipal Nuestra Señora de Africa – an iconic market with more than 300 stalls
- Adán Martín – The Auditorio de Tenerife is the building with probably the most unique architecture on the island
- Parque Maritimo Cesar Manrique – an illustrious park with pools and great views nearby the Auditorio de Tenerife. The entrance fee is EUR 2,50 that are absolutely worthy
17. Escape the heat in “Anaga park”
It’s time to put on the backpack again and jump on another hiking adventure! ⛰ The Anaga Rural Park is located less than an hour drive from Santa Cruz, and is among the best places in Tenerife for hikers. The steep peaks and deep forests of the mountain range make an amazing escape from the city dynamics. And just when we thought the trip there couldn’t get better, after the long walk we decided to go and check out the wonderful rocky Benijo beach! But more about it in a bit. The park also offers several hotels if you decide to spend the night there.
18. Check out the epic views from “Mirador Cruz del Carmen”
Getting back to the trademark of Tenerife – the jaw-dropping views. While you’re exploring Anaga, make sure to stop at the Mirador Cruz del Carmen and savor the ultimate views over the southern parts of the mountain. The viewpoint is located at over 900 meters above sea level, so you will absolutely enjoy the bird’s eye view.
19. Explore “San Cristóbal de La Laguna”
Okay, so we reach the second most populated city on the island. La Laguna is a pure gem, a UNESCO world heritage, and a must-see location in Tenerife. Strolling down the streets is like a walk back in time, thanks to its retained architecture that dates back to the 16th century. The colorful buildings, wooden balconies, charming courtyards, and friendly locals make La Laguna one of the best places to go in Tenerife. Of course, we didn’t miss one of the local guachinches – a traditional local meal served in the restaurants. And if you want to treat yourself to something special for dessert – go for bienmesabe! 🍮
20. Watch the sunset at “Benijo beach”
Just as I promised earlier – going back with some more details on Benijo beach. This magnificent rocky beach can give you one of the most romantic moments of our Tenerife fairytale so far – the sunset. Well, we weren’t lucky with the weather at all, but this place is worth coming back to – it’s a favorite for many photographers. If you decide to go there, you might want to keep in mind the tides – during the low ones you can enjoy the beach on its widest. Here’s its exact location: https://goo.gl/maps/1c8eQhSJzBLoPvew5
Things to do in Tenerife – South
Congratulations, you conquered the North! Next stop – Tenerife South. The Southern part of Tenerife is generally more popular among tourists, and thus more crowded. It offers some of the finest (and most) accommodations. So let’s check some of the main attractions that make it so appealing to visitors.
21. Take the perfect Instagram shot at “Playa Amarilla”
This small beach with volcanic sand and stones might not be ideal for whole-day beach fun, but it surely is one of the best places to go in Tenerife because it’s super Instagrammable. Its yellow rocks and edgy 50-meter shore draw the figure of the most unique landscape on the island. Apart from taking pictures, the beach is ideal also for sunbathing and even snorkeling in its crystal clear waters! So don’t forget your goggles. 😁
22. Go for a challenge with “Barranco del Infierno” – the toughest hike in Tenerife
Okay, time to see who are the tough hikers around! Barranco del Infierno is a highly popular ravine located in the city of Adeje. It has around a 6-km long hiking trail and is very beloved by local and visiting explorers. Starting from the ravine, the trail will take you all the way up to the highest waterfall in Tenerife. Since it’s highly popular and among the best things to do in Tenerife, make sure to make a reservation in advance, as only 300 people are allowed to access it per day.
23. Chill at “Playa de las Americas”
Known as the “party capital of Tenerife”, this resort is one of the most packed and popular across the island. It’s super lively and the beautiful sandy beaches offer a full pack of diverse activities, such as golf, sailing, sunbathing, and even windsurf. It’s especially famous among the younger visitors as there’s a huge variety of bars and clubs, and the nightlife is booming. There are also many options for accommodations since most visitors prefer to stay there. Even if you don’t want to book a night, it’s definitely worth the visit as it’s one of the best places in Tenerife.
24. Visit “Puerto Los Cristianos”
Another widely heralded and super touristy place on the island. Puerto Los Cristianos is the largest town in the area, and just like Playa de las Americas above, it’s one of the places in Tenerife with countless activities. It’s particularly attractive among watersports lovers (especially Playa los Cristainos). Our personal favorite beach is Playa de los Tarajales because it was less crowded, but frankly, all the beaches there are amazing. If you have some more time, going on a boat trip and seeing dolphins and whales is also a great option!
25. Go snorkeling at Roque Druchii
One of my personal favorites among the best things to do in Tenerife – snorkeling with turtles!! Don’t miss your chance to see amazing sea creatures in their natural habitat – you won’t regret it.
Things to do in Tenerife – Teide National Park
We reach the largest national park of the Canary Islands, and one of the best places in Tenerife specifically. The park is named after the Teide mountain, which also shelters Spain’s highest peak. With its mind-blowing craters, petrified lava rivers, unique landscape and volcanoes the park hides numerous attractions. We’ll check out some of the most amazing ones in more detail below. Before you go there, keep in mind the park is pretty cold, especially at night. After all, its highest peak is above 3000 meters, and most parts are over 1800 meters above sea level. The Teide region is also greatly popular among photographers – it’s hides many perfect places for astrophotography in Tenerife.
26. Go on top of the world – Mount Teide
Okay, let’s get straight to the (highest) point. The iconic volcano lies over 3000 meters above sea level and is truly among the best things to do in Tenerife. Depending on your preference, there are various ways to reach the summit. Your best bet is the cable car that will reveal some unforgettable views. If you like the idea, there are options to book a tour with a local guide. It’s also possible to get free tickets, but bear in mind they have to be booked well in advance – about 1-2 months, otherwise you will only be stuck with a guided tour option. Another amazing experience for the bravest of you – take a night hike to catch the breathtaking sunrise! ☀️
27. Test yourself with the 13 km “Paisaje Lunar” hike
Just in case Barranco del Infierno wasn’t challenging enough for you, here’s something even better. You can push your boundaries with this majestic moon-like hiking trail, that was formed by volcanic eruptions. The good news is you can choose between 2 routes. The longer one is called Vilaflor de Chasna. Starting from Vilaflor, it’s 13 km and lasts around 4-5 hours. If you prefer a shorter route, then you might like this one better. It’s about 8 km with a duration of 2-3 hours.
28. Walk around “Roques de Garcia”
Another simply unique and breathtaking rock formation! Formed after millions of years of erosion, it would be fair to call Roques de Garcia the most popular formations and some of the best places in Tenerife. Thanks to the warm red nuances and super unique landscape, this place gives you the feeling of an alien planet and is an absolute must-stop location for any visitor.
This is an amazing place for astrophotography in Tenerife (and stargazing), but bear in mind there might be people there during the night too.
29. Go stargazing near “Mirador de Samara”
If you’re a star-lover (or a passionate night photographer) like me, you’re going to absolutely love this! Mirador de Samara is a beautiful spot surrounded by forests with a view to both Pico Viejo and el Teide. Since there’s very little light pollution from buildings nearby, it’s simply perfect to watch the Milky Way core and stargaze! I promise this is on the top list of the best things to do in Tenerife. There’s also a small parking spot nearby. If you’d like to book a guided stargazing tour – that’s also a great idea.
30. Enjoy the amazing “Corona Forestal”
This massive forest is the largest protected area on the Islands, and is yet another great place for hikers and mountain bikers. 🚵♀️ This is most certainly one of the best places to go in Tenerife, and it would be crazy to leave before seeing it. The picturesque forest hosts a wide diversity of local vegetation and wildlife, and the unique scenery of vibrant green hills touching the deep blue waters next to them will simply leave you speechless.
31. Stop for a break at “Las Cañadas del Teide”
This iconic building is the only hotel in the Teide National park, and is a must-stop destination. I recommend going to the restaurant for dinner to get a front-row view of the starry night, but frankly, there is no bad time to enjoy it. Here you can check more info and book your stay there.
32. Check out the “Montaña Rajada – Minas de San Jose”
Montaña Rajada is another breathtaking peak that rises nearly 2,500 meters above sea level. The unique and rocky desert scenery in Minas de San Jose will make you feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie.
33. Find the endemic red flowers – “tajinastes”
“Tajinastes” (also known as Tower of jewels) are beautiful red flowers that are unique for the Canary Islands. You should definitely keep an eye for them. They usually bloom in May and early June and we were super lucky to see and photograph a few. Some spots where you can find them include: Tabonal Negro, Los Azulejos (Las Palmas), and Llano de Ucanca. Good luck! 🌺
There are also a few options for 7-hour jeep safari at Teide National Park. We didn’t manage to try them, but I’m absolutely sure they’re great fun!
Things NOT to do in Tenerife
Alright, let’s have some real talk for a moment. Every now and then it’s good to remind ourselves that tourism is not just about taking the perfect camera shot, Instagram story, or having careless entertainment. Just like in any other scenario, while traveling our actions (or lack of such), have a great impact on our surroundings.
So as our Tenerife fairytale reaches an end, I dedicate this section to something quite popular – tourist attractions involving animals outside of their natural habitat. I know – sometimes visiting the zoo seems like an awesome idea, especially when traveling with kids. Trust me, I’ve been in the same position… but let’s not forget the bigger picture. A few hours of casual entertainment for us usually means a lifetime of endless struggle for the trapped animals. How much better and cooler would it be to see these fellas in their natural habitat instead? Like the whale watching boat trips or snorkeling with turtles that we talked about earlier! 🐳 🐢
So let’s get to the point. Below I mentioned 2 widely popular attractions in Tenerife involving animals in captivity that I will personally avoid at any cost.
* Why you shouldn’t visit Loro Parque
This massive zoo contains thousands of diverse animals inside its doors, and it’s widely associated with animal cruelty. From a huge variety of birds to rare lions, tigers, and sea creatures including even orcas – Loro Park is highly popular and often criticized by the public and world organizations like PETA. Throughout the years Loro Parque in Tenerife has been involved in multiple accidents, including orcas attacking trainers during performances, and even a bird smuggling scandal.
* Why you shouldn’t go to Siam Park
A massive water park that “complements” its facilities with sea creatures kept in absolutely unnecessary captivity and questionable conditions. Based on visitors’ impressions, they are often left with a bitter taste after buying a ticket and seeing the animal cruelty inside. From super tiny water tanks for sharks that you can “enjoy” only for a few seconds while sliding to numerous animal performances. The water park also keeps various farm animals inside.
Where to stay in Tenerife
If you do decide to visit all the stops mentioned in this list, you might be wondering where to stay in Tenerife. The island is large enough for you to choose two spots for your accommodation, but you can still choose just one spot for sleeping. We chose the latter – we only stayed in the area of Los Cristianos (Playa de las Americas) – there are tons of supermarkets and restaurants around. We didn’t end up going out too much, but it was still good to be in a relatively busy area. Bear in mind that the closer you are to the beach, the noisier it will be.
In case you choose two different spots in Tenerife for accommodation, it’s a good idea to pick one hotel in the South-Southwest and one in the North. You will definitely save a bit of time driving.
Where to stay in Los Cristianos
- Best-rated apartment, affordable – Modern Apartment Los Cristianos Center – Booking.com rating: 9.0, price per night: 35 EUR
- Best-rated apartment, luxury – First line sea, luxury penthouse apartment , sea and sunset view – Booking.com rating: 9.6, price per night: 100 EUR
- Luxury hotel – Iberostar Selection Sábila – Adults Only – Booking.com rating: 9.1, price per night: 150 EUR
Where to stay in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
- Best-rated apartment, affordable – Casa Relajación – Booking.com rating: 9.2, price per night: 50 EUR
- Best-rated apartment, luxury – Casa Tiago – Booking.com rating: 9.8, price per night: 200 EUR
- Luxury hotel – Iberostar Heritage Grand Mencey – Booking.com rating: 8.8, price per night: 120 EUR