Tenerife is in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, 322 km (200 miles) from the coast of West Africa, with excellent weather year-round. The island, which is the largest of the Canary Islands, is relatively small at 2034 square kilometres (786 square miles), making it easy to see most of the island by car. Residents of the island speak Spanish, however, most will also speak English, particularly in more touristy areas.
The island has a range of landscapes consisting of lush beaches, deserts, humid rainforests and volcanic landscapes. Tenerife’s volcanic landscapes have featured in movies, including Star Wars, Fast & Furious 6 and Clash of the Titans. Tenerife is home to many fiestas, with the majority in the summer months. Look out for brightly coloured costumes, music and of course incredible food. Local delicacies include papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes cooked in saltwater, traditionally served with mojo sauce), sardines, parrotfish and grilled octopus.
Tenerife is dotted with beautiful beaches. While some are very touristy, there is always a quiet place just off the beaten track waiting to be explored. Here are 20 things to do in Tenerife.
- Top 3 Tenerife Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Tenerife
- 1- Visit Mount Teide
- 2- Explore Los Gigantes
- 3- Go Whale Watching
- 4- Visit The Beautiful Village Of Masca
- 5- Escape From The Crowd To Punta de Teno
- 6- Bath In Garachico’s Pools
- 7- See The El Drago Tree
- 8- Explore The Ancient Capital Of San Cristobal de La Laguna
- 9- Visit The Enchanted Anaga Forest
- 10- Explore Santa Cruz de Tenerife
- 11- Go Star Gazing
- 12- Marvel At The Cave Houses In Chinamada
- 13- Kayak Along The Coastline
- 14- Learn To Surf At El Medano
- 15- Go On A Vineyard and Winery Tour
- 16- Learn About The Solar System At Mount Teide Observatory
- 17- Party On The Beach At Playa de las Américas
- 18- Play On The Beach At Playa de Troya
- 19- Discover La Casa de Los Balcones
- 20- Learn The Mysteries Of Guimar Ethnographic Park
20 Things To Do In Tenerife
1- Visit Mount Teide
Mount Teide is the world’s third-highest volcano and is the most voluminous, created more than 170,000 years ago when a former volcano collapsed.
The volcano is the highest peak in the Canary Islands and the whole of Spain.
Since its formation, many of its eruptions have come not from the central caldera but from around the volcano’s base, as it is much harder for lava to reach the peak.
Canary Island aboriginals, known as Guanches, believed that Guayota, the king of evil, lived inside the mountain.
Teide translates to Hell.
According to the legend, Guayota kidnapped the god of sun and light, Magec, and imprisoned him inside the volcano.
The Guanches prayed to their supreme god Achaman for mercy, and he defeated the evil Guayota and plugged up the crater.
You can walk to the top of Mount Teide and drive towards the peak from many different routes.
A cable car at the main car park, followed by a short walk, will take you to the top of the mountain.
Mount Teide is at 38300, Tenerife.
2- Explore Los Gigantes
On the southwest coast of Tenerife is Los Gigantes, 500m (1640ft) cliffs overlooking the ocean and the small fishing village of Los Gigantes.
The best place to view Los Gigantes is from the Archipenque Mirador viewing point, just above the village.
For a more dramatic view, head out to sea to see the cliffs emerging from the waters.
While visiting Los Gigantes, call into one of its fish restaurants.
The fish are fresh daily from local fishermen and taste incredible in beautiful surroundings. You can also go on a whale watching tour from Los Gigantes.
Los Gigantes is at 38683 Acantilados de Los Gigantes, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
3- Go Whale Watching
While visiting Los Gigantes, why not head out onto the water on one of Tenerife’s many whale watching tours.
The tours regularly leave from the port at Los Gigantes and take visitors out into the ocean.
The boat’s captain will stop at areas where sightings of dolphins and pilot whales are common.
With the engines off, you may have a chance to glimpse these beautiful creatures.
Dolphins will happily swim alongside the boat, but pilot whales are much shyer and prefer quieter waters.
Many whale watching trips provide a drink and a snack as part of your ticket, and some will even take you close to Los Gigantes cliffs for a swim before heading back to port.
Book your whale watching tour here:
- Tenerife Whale And Dolphin Tour – three-hour luxury yacht cruise with only 11 passengers on board.
- Tenerife Whale Watching – two-hour catamaran cruise from Puerto Colon with guaranteed whale and dolphin sightings.
4- Visit The Beautiful Village Of Masca
Masca has been named Tenerife’s most beautiful village, and it is easy to see why upon visiting.
High peaks and thick, lush rainforest surround this quaint small mountain village.
The road to Masca is filled with twists, turns and hairpin bends, however, the drive is worth it.
The village is in the Tent mountains west of the island and has been historically near impossible to visit.
There was no road to Masca until 1991.
Before then, the village was accessible only on foot and was known as the ‘forgotten village’.
When in Masca, visit its tiny church, with room enough for eight people only.
Several small restaurants in the village serve various local dishes.
Masca is at 38489, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This tour will take you to Masca and other lovely villages in Tenerife.
5- Escape From The Crowd To Punta de Teno
Punta de Teno is a spectacular spot of unspoilt land that marks the very end of the island at the furthest point in the northwest.
The landscape is between the mountains of Masca and the Atlantic Ocean.
The area covers six square kilometres (2.32 square miles) of protected landscape that is mainly unknown, so head there for a quiet and picturesque view.
Due to its rocky landscape, Punta de Teno is only reachable by road.
Punta de Teno lighthouse is on the headland, built in the 19th century with stone from the neighbouring island La Gomera.
Punta de Teno is at 38480 Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife.
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6- Bath In Garachico’s Pools
The beautiful village of Garachico in the northeast of the island is well worth an afternoon out.
Its ancient streets are paved with cobbles and its bright white buildings are close together, creating a labyrinth through the town.
In 1706 the town was nearly destroyed when the Trevejo volcano erupted, but, thankfully, some of the beautiful architecture remains to this day.
Garachico’s biggest allure is not its history but its nature.
Surrounded by thick Canarian pine tree forests, this small village is home to many natural swimming pools.
The pools are known as El Caleton and are a popular bathing area year-round.
Garachico is at 38460, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Go on this local villages tour to explore Garachico and other places.
7- See The El Drago Tree
El Drago, or the Dragon Tree, is a famous tree in the beautiful coastal town of Icod de los Vinos in the northwest of the island.
The dragon tree grows throughout the Canary Islands and in the Azores, Morocco, and Central America.
El Drago, however, is different to the other dragon trees across the globe.
This tree is estimated to be as old as 3000 years, with some claiming El Drago is the oldest tree on earth.
El Drago and the rest of its species got its name because of the red resin that is secreted when the branches or leaves are cut.
El Drago is at Carretegra Gerral a Tegueste, Tenerife. A full-day guided tour of North Tenerife will take you to see El Drago and other sights.
8- Explore The Ancient Capital Of San Cristobal de La Laguna
San Cristobal de La Laguna, or La Laguna as known locally, is the ancient capital of the Canary Islands and is in northern Tenerife.
La Laguna became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
The town lies close to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the new capital, and is easily accessible from the city via tram.
Stroll through the streets of La Laguna to take in the beautiful colours and architecture of this 16th-century town.
Many historical mansions are decorated in pastel colours with small courtyards decorated with plants and flowers and overlooked by wooden balconies.
When in La Laguna, stop into one of its many beautiful churches, explore its art museum, or head to the history and anthropology museum if history is more your thing.
San Cristobal de La Laguna is at 38205 Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This tour of San Cristobal de la Laguna and Anaga Country Park will take you on an exploration of the region.
9- Visit The Enchanted Anaga Forest
Tenerife has a breathtaking landscape, and Anaga Forest is one of the island’s most enchanted.
The forest is filled with laurels and covers 37,000 acres (15,000 ha) of the island’s northwest and is a Biosphere Reserve.
The forest is not limited to laurels.
Lichens, willows, fayas and cacti are dotted throughout the forest, adding to its magical vibe.
The forest also has a range of geological sights, including unusual rock formations and cliffs.
There is often a mist running through the forest at sunrise, making it even more magical.
Many hiking paths will take you deep into the forest, but head into Anaga with a guide for a more detailed exploration. Try this two-hour hiking tour in the forest.
Anaga Forest is at 38294 San Cristobal de La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
10- Explore Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, or Santa Cruz, is the capital of Tenerife and the shared capital of the Canary Islands.
The capital has a deep natural harbour, one of the busiest in Spain, while the town is filled with a contrast of beautiful historical buildings and striking modern architecture.
Head to the Auditorio de Tenerife, a music and performance venue, to see this architecture up close.
Santiago Calatrava designed the auditorium to look like the sails of a yacht.
Further examples of incredible architecture in the capital come from Parque Maritime Cesar Manrique.
Cesar Manrique, from nearby Lanzarote, designed this waterpark filled with saltwater pools.
Catch the tram to the ancient capital of the island La Laguna to complete your day of exploration.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is at 38003 Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
11- Go Star Gazing
Tenerife is one of the best spots on the planet for stargazing, thanks to vast stretches of dark sky.
There are many opportunities to stargaze on the island, with many packages available to tourists.
One of the best stargazing opportunities is on a small group tour at the summit of Mount Teide after the park has officially closed.
You will be able to take in the sunset and learn more about the volcano before using long-range telescopes to see the stars in greater detail.
You can find information on stargazing excursions at hotels and tourist information centres.
12- Marvel At The Cave Houses In Chinamada
Chinamada is a small inhabited cave village in the very north of the island, with houses built directly into the rocks.
The small village was once fully inhabited, however many folks have moved to the bigger villages and towns across the island.
Some of the cave houses are still lived in.
Many residents of Chinamada work in agriculture and cultivate the land that surrounds the village.
Many pleasant hikes end at Chinamada from neighbouring villages.
After arriving, head to one of the village’s restaurants to dine on local cuisine to reward your efforts.
Chinamada is at 38294, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
13- Kayak Along The Coastline
One of the best ways to take in much of Tenerife’s spectacular coastline is from the water on a kayak tour.
While on a kayak tour, you may encounter dolphins, pilot whales, volcanic caves, and the tranquil and clear waters of the ocean.
Many of the areas taken in on a kayak tour are only accessible from the ocean allowing visitors to explore hidden areas of Tenerife.
Numerous companies offer kayak tours around the island, and there are tours suitable for kayakers of all skill levels, led by accredited instructors.
14- Learn To Surf At El Medano
El Medano is a laidback surf resort in Tenerife, and the beach is the perfect place to soak up some rays or head out onto the water.
When tourism is high during the summer months, it is possible to take surfing, kayaking, or windsurfing lessons before watching windsurfing and kiteboarding competitions.
Away from the beach, El Medano has a large square overlooking the ocean filled with bars and restaurants.
Many fiestas create a vibrant atmosphere in the square during the summer.
El Medano is at 38612 Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
15- Go On A Vineyard and Winery Tour
Head out on a vineyard and winery tour for a grownup excursion in Tenerife.
Several vineyard tours are available on the island; however, the Tenerife Wine Experience is the most popular.
Tenerife Wine Experience takes visitors through a 100-year-old family-run vineyard with a professional wine taster and a family member.
Wine from Tenerife is made from grapes grown in volcanic soil and, thanks to its temperate micro-climates, creates fruity and fresh white wines and full-bodied, spicy red wines.
Tours are available in small groups and will take in the vineyards, showcase the winemaking, and wine tastings accompanied by local dishes and tapas.
Vineyard and Winery Tours are available across the island. The Tenerife Wine Experience collects those booked on tours from their accommodation.
16- Learn About The Solar System At Mount Teide Observatory
For those interested in the night sky and wanting more than is offered on a stargazing tour, head to Mount Teide Observatory.
The observatory sits at 2390 m (7840ft) above sea level and has been operated by the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias since 1964.
Because of the excellent conditions, it was one of the first major international observatories in the world.
Guided tours include viewing through nocturnal, microwave and solar telescopes, learning about the solar system and exploring the world’s largest solar observatory.
During a visit to the solar observatory, visitors are given the opportunity to see the sun through two different telescopes.
Tours are available in Spanish, English, French and German and run during the week.
Mount Teide Observatory is at 38570 Izana, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
17- Party On The Beach At Playa de las Américas
In the southwest of the island, Playa de las Americas is one of the most popular resorts and beaches in Tenerife for tourism.
The area is known for its party atmosphere that lasts all day and comes alive at night.
Of course, there are numerous hotels, pools, restaurants, bars and shops.
The beaches along Playa de las Americas use golden sand imported from the Sahara desert, as Tenerife is a volcanic island, making its natural beaches pebbled or black.
Playa de las Americas is at 38660 Arona, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
18- Play On The Beach At Playa de Troya
Part of the Playa De las Americas resort area is Playa de Troya, a beautiful and sheltered stretch of beach.
The Blue Flag beach is protected by breakwaters which allow visitors to swim safely without the risk of high waves.
Many water sports are available at Playa de Troya, including paddle boarding, parasailing and flyboarding.
Playa de Troya is at Av. Rafael Puig Lluvina, 10, 38650 Costa Adeje, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
19- Discover La Casa de Los Balcones
La Casa de Los Balcones translates to ‘the house of balconies’.
The home dates back to the 17th century and is considered the most important building relating to Tenerife’s lacemaking and craft history.
The mansion is a museum, however, it is its stunning balconies that have long drawn people through its doors.
The main balcony is long and features a wide variety of tropical plants spilling over the edges.
The balcony overlooks the courtyard, which features carved tall columns made from pine heartwood.
Inside the mansion, the museum focuses on the domestic life of a bourgeois landowner in Tenerife.
There is a vast collection of antiques and artworks inside the museum and exhibitions focusing on lacemaking and embroidery.
La Casa de Los Balcones is at Calle San Francisco 3, 38300 La Orotava, Tenerife.
20- Learn The Mysteries Of Guimar Ethnographic Park
Tenerife is filled with beautiful and mystical parklands, but none draws more mystery to it than Guitar Ethnographic Park.
Inside the park are six mysterious stepped pyramids, each formed from volcanic stone, with the tallest reaching 12m (39ft).
The pyramids are believed to date back to before Spain colonised the islands.
Stairways on the western sides of the pyramids led archeologists to believe ancient cultures used them in ceremonies to welcome the sun.
The pyramids have been written about as early as the Roman Empire by Pliny the Elder.
Cultivated gardens surround the pyramids, and within these gardens are more than 70 toxic plants from around the world, which are grown here to raise awareness.
There is also a museum on the grounds.
Guitar Ethnographic Park is at C. Chacona, s/n, 38500 Guimar, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.