Tenerife is an island I visit regularly for some sunshine and well-earned rest. If you wonder if Tenerife is worth visiting, here are a few reasons why I love it.
The weather is warm for most of the year. I’m not talking about sizzling unbearable heat; it’s pleasantly warm. The majority of beaches are soft golden sand; there are scenic hiking trails, national parks, characterful villages, and delicious food to enjoy.
In this article, I’ll share why you should consider planning a vacation in Tenerife. I’ll detail what to expect from local culture, plus what to do and where to stay on this sun-soaked Canary Island.
Hi, I’m Timon!
I’ve experienced the heartbeat of Spain firsthand. Over the last five years, I’ve immersed myself in the dynamic cities of Spain, truly living the Spanish way. My insights into this beautiful country are rooted in genuine experience.
My Journey to Tenerife: First Impressions
On my first trip to the Canary Islands, I booked a stay on the recommendation of Spanish friends in Puerto de la Cruz. On arrival, I was surprised at how mountainous the landscapes were and how blue the ocean was. It was during this journey I instantly connected with the island.
I loved the pastel-colored houses in the cities, the palm-lined roads dotted with paveside restaurants and cafes, and the scenic landscapes of the north and interior.
I’ve returned since, visiting Adeje and Los Cristianos in the southwest. There’s a lot for families and groups with waterparks and vibrant nightlife, but my fondest memories are always of that first trip. Walking the promenade, inhaling the salty sea air, and sipping wine at sunset while listening to live music.
15 Reasons to Make Tenerife Your Next Destination
Compared to the Spanish mainland, something about Tenerife just feels different. Each region of the island is unique. In the north, you have the main cities, verdant forests, hiking trails, and a dramatic coastline.
Charming towns and fishing villages thrive in the east, and in the south and west, the beaches, family-friendly activities, and luxury hotels attract visitors year after year.
In the island’s center, Parque Nacional del Teide is home to Spain’s highest peak, a volcano. Bring your camera, as the views from the summit on a clear day are outstanding. If you’re still asking, “Is Tenerife worth visiting?” Let’s take a closer look!
1. It’s Sunny All the Time
Tenerife residents spend most of their time in the great outdoors. The weather rarely dips below 15ºC (59°F) in winter; in summer, it reaches enjoyable highs of 24ºC (75.2°F), which isn’t overbearing thanks to the trade winds.
There are microclimates on the island, but overall, the weather is sunny and warm. The vitamin D boost encourages visitors to partake in activities ranging from boat excursions, hiking, cycling, swimming, surfing, and visiting cultural attractions.
2. Lots of Different Beaches to Check Out
Tenerife has dozens of soft white sand beaches, many of which can be found in the southwest and to the east of the island. One of the most popular is Playa de las Vistas in Los Cristianos – a delightful beach with amenities and shallow waters suitable for children.
In Costa Adeje, Playa del Duque, Playa Fañabé, and Playa Torviscas are favorites, set aside promenades with cafes and fine restaurants. Playa de las Teresitas in the northeast near Santa Cruz is positively tropical, hemmed between mountains in a half-moon bay with soft sands and palm trees.
Check out the unusual black sand beach at Playa Jardin in Puerto de la Cruz for something a little different. It’s surrounded by pretty parkland with exotic flowers.
3. Having a Blast at Siam Park, a Super Fun Water Park
This waterpark is Europe’s largest, covering a vast 46 acres in Adeje. The park’s waterslides sit amid Thai-themed temples and buildings. It’s a great trip for anyone seeking a fun-packed, thrill-induced day or simply wishing to soak up the sunshine on Siam Beach next to the world’s largest artificial wave pool.
For a nail-biting experience, plummet down the (almost vertical) 28-meter-high Tower of Power or take the kids to The Lost City, connected with slides, waterfalls, and bridges.
My favorite attraction was hurtling down the Mekong Rapids with friends in a rubber dinghy. It was a thrilling experience, although if you’re looking for something tamer, the Mai Thai lazy river is much more relaxing!
4. The Natural Majesty of Mount Teide
One of the highlights of Tenerife for any visitor is taking a trip to Mount Teide. The dormant volcano can be seen for miles around – don’t worry, it hasn’t erupted for over a century!
The otherworldly landscapes attract travelers in their millions each year. In fact, Mount Teide National Park is the most visited in Europe. You can take a self-guided tour; however, I would recommend going with a guide to gain the most from this epic adventure.
One of the best trips I’ve been on is the Mount Teide and Masca Valley Tour. It takes in UNESCO World Heritage-listed Park highlights and includes a trip to one of the highest villages in Spain, Vilaflor.
Another tour to mention is the Night Sky Star Safari, which includes a delicious dinner followed by a stargazing experience and a glass of cava.
5. Joining the Big Party at Carnival Time
The month of February is carnival time on the island. Head for the capital Santa Cruz for a fun-packed fiesta filled with flamboyant performances, dancing, sparkling costumes, and live music.
The origin of this lively festival dates to the 15th century, and today, it attracts over 250,000 people each year. In fact, it’s often compared to the vibrant Mardi Gras in Rio or New Orleans.
The festivities and uplifting vibes ricochet throughout Tenerife, with smaller events being held in towns and resorts. With non-stop parties, concerts, masquerade balls, and lots of food and drink, this is one winter festival you won’t want to miss!
6. Looking at Stars in the Clear Night Sky
Tenerife has low light pollution, making it the perfect place for stargazing. There’s no better feeling than peering through a telescope high up in the mountains, trying to spot the various constellations.
Observe the stars and planets from Earth and instantly sense the vastness of the universe. This experience can be enjoyed on a Mount Teide Stargazing with Dinner tour, or for a more detailed look into the night skies, book a Sunset & Stargazing with Telescopes trip to learn more about astronomy from a professional guide.
7. Trying Out Tasty Local Food
If you’re sitting in one of the best sea-view restaurants in Costa Adeje, you may be searching for inspiration regarding the best foods to try.
I love sampling new cuisine when I travel, and in the Canary Islands, there are a few dishes I recommend ordering. The first is a simple dish called ‘papas arrugadas.’ It’s basically wrinkled potatoes roasted and served with a side of mojo sauce (served with almost everything).
Tenerife is also known for its creamy goat’s cheese. It’s available in most restaurants and is delicious and deep-fried. Also sample the Canary Island’s version of ‘ropa vieja’. This traditional Cuban dish replaces rice with chickpeas, and it’s paired with sausages, beef, or chicken sprinkled with herbs and spices.
8. Surfing on Spectacular Waves
Unknown to many visitors, the island of Tenerife is a surfer’s paradise. There are several popular surf areas on the island, and it’s possible to participate in the sport year-round, although the swell is better during winter.
If you want to learn how to surf, I recommend the Group Surf Class in Playa de Las Americas. It’s great for beginners and caters to more experienced surfers who may be out of practice. The expert instructors show you how to paddle and ride the waves, plus you’ll become familiar with all the safety features too.
If you’re a seasoned surfer and want to go it alone, some of the best spots on the island are La Izquierda in Playa de las Américas, Punta Blanca near Los Gigantes and La Fitenia in Los Cristianos. For a wilder surf experience, venture north to Los Realejos. The Blue Flag El Socorro beach is excellent for surfing all year.
9. Learning About the Local Culture and History
Tenerife was formed around three million years ago – a merging of three islands that came together following an eruption of Mount Teide.
The Guanches were the early indigenous people that lived on the island. It is thought that they arrived from Africa, and there’s evidence to show that they planted wheat, peas, and vines. They continued to thrive until the 1400s.
When the Spanish arrived on the island, Tenerife became a trading post at the crossroads of the Atlantic Ocean for those sailing to the New World. To learn more about the island’s storied history, I recommend visiting the excellent History Museum of Tenerife in the capital Santa Cruz.
10. Visiting Cute Old Villages
One of the aspects I love most about traveling is heading off the beaten path and exploring new destinations by car. On my last visit to Tenerife, I used Discover-cars.com to book a rental vehicle. I found their website easy to use, plus they compared prices of all providers on the island to ensure I obtained the best deal.
During this trip, I used the rental car to visit Vilaflor, the village that sits above the clouds. It’s a great starting point for hiking in the region. I also discovered the beautiful coastal village of Taganana. It sits like sugar cubes on a rugged mountainside surrounded by pristine beaches, and the village restaurants serve mouthwatering fresh seafood dishes.
I also recommend visiting Garachico in the north of the island. It’s home to an Old Franciscan Monastery, and the waterfront has incredible natural pools formed by the 1706 volcanic eruption.
11. Meeting Friendly Local People
The people of Tenerife are friendly and hospitable, particularly when you depart the tourist resorts. Many small villages on the island are community-driven – places where everyone knows everyone, and help is always at hand.
People gather in local bars, and they are not averse to a friendly face, often inviting you to join them for a chat over a drink. They are keen to learn more about your background and your life, making for an exciting cultural exchange.
12. Seeing the Huge Los Gigantes Cliffs
Los Gigantes cliffs are a popular tourist attraction in Tenerife – a natural wonder, with some cliffs towering 800+ meters high. The giants rise from the ocean and can be seen from nearby villages and beaches. However, I recommend taking a boat trip to capture an up-close perspective.
On a small group trip, you will have the opportunity to observe marine life up-close, visit secluded coves and beaches, swim, and photograph the cliffs from the ocean.
13. Whale and Dolphin Watching Excursions
While in Tenerife, I recommend taking a whale and dolphin watching trip. Many marine excursions on the island are highly rated and fun experiences for all ages.
Marvel at the majestic mammals in their natural habitat, watch them frolic in the ocean, learn about the different species, and even listen to their calls with sonar!
On these exciting boat trips, departing from various locations on the island, you can also scuba to seek out turtles, enjoy a delicious lunch on-board and swim in crystalline waters.
14. Having Fun at Night – Bars and Clubs
Tenerife is a paradise for night owls. Around Playa de las Americas, Costa Adeje, and Los Cristianos, you’ll find a plethora of happy hour pubs, sports bars, stylish beach lounges, and nightclubs where famous DJs spin their tunes.
Further north in Puerto de la Cruz, there are cocktail bars, cabaret clubs, and even the odd Irish pub. But for a more authentic Spanish night out, head for Santa Cruz, where you can find tapas bars, bodegas, and beachfront chiringuitos with live music.
15. Hiking in the Green Anaga Park
This picturesque UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in northern Tenerife is like a world of its own. It has everything you need to connect with nature amid mystical mountains and ravines, from remote beaches and flora and fauna to hiking trails, mountain landscapes, and even a laurel forest.
A permit is required to visit Anaga Forest, and therefore for ease of access, I recommend booking a guided trip. On the Anaga Biosphere Reserve VIP Tour, enjoy a visit to Playa de las Teresitas for photographs and marvel at birdlife in the world’s oldest laurel forest. Alternatively, hike the trails with a guide while learning about the area and discovering rare plant species en route.
Practical Information for Tenerife Visitors
When visiting Tenerife (at any time of the year), pack a jumper, jacket and hiking shoes or sneakers, particularly if you plan to visit Mount Teide. On evening tours at high altitudes, the weather can be significantly cooler.
The weather can be deceiving on this island. The sun is strong even when it’s cloudy – always wear sunscreen with a decent SPF when out and about.
My final tip is not to put expensive belongings like jewelry, purses and watches on display when visiting busy places such as markets, cities, festivals, and nightclubs. The crime rate is low, but it’s advisable to leave high-ticket items in the hotel safety deposit box to be on the safe side.
How Long Should You Stay in Tenerife?
If you’re inspired to book your vacation, one of the questions I often get asked is, “How long should I stay in Tenerife”? The answer depends on what you want to see and do and whether you wish to travel around in a rental car or stay in one resort for the duration.
Ideally, I recommend five days to a week as a minimum so that you have the opportunity to enjoy the highlights, food, activities, and culture on a first-time visit.
Things to Keep in Mind When You Visit Tenerife
Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Tenerife.
- I always recommend carrying a few euros in cash as some of the remote villages and markets still prefer paper money as opposed to credit cards.
- If you’re thinking about transportation, while services like Uber exist in parts of Spain, they’re not as common on islands like Tenerife. Given this, it might be better to rent a car.
- In Tenerife, they drive on the right-hand side of the road – just in case there is any confusion!
- You need a permit to visit Mount Teide’s summit. It’s better to book an organized tour.
- Check the weather, as the micro-climates may catch you off-guard. It’s best to research each area and pack clothing accordingly.
Tenerife Tour and Activity Recommendations
When booking a tour in Tenerife, always check the 5-star ratings and book through a reputable supplier. The feedback and reviews on their website and more detailed descriptions of what to expect on the tours are good signs of whether the activity is worth the money.
Top Experiences in Tenerife
Whichever part of the island you’re staying in, there are incredible tours and experiences for all ages to enjoy. From cruising along the coast to spot whales and zipping around the countryside on a quad bike to tandem paragliding and kayaking with dolphins, there’s a fun tour for everyone.
Where To Stay In Tenerife
Most large hotels and all-inclusive resorts can be found around Costa Adeje, Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas, and Puerto de la Cruz. Many of these are near the beach, featuring sparkling swimming pools and good amenities for families.
In Santa Cruz’s capital, discover small and friendly establishments – guest houses in the city center brimming with character and charm. Out in the mountain villages, fincas and bed and breakfasts are ideal for a culturally immersive stay.
Final Thoughts: Is Tenerife a Must-Visit?
I love Tenerife – all aspects of the island. The beaches and nightlife in the south and the lush landscapes, forests, and mountains of the center and north. If you’re still undecided as to which area is for you, try a two-center vacation and divide your time into different areas.
Is Tenerife worth visiting? It’s a resounding yes from me! The island weather is pleasant and warm all year, the people are friendly, the food is delicious, and the abundant activities cater to all ages. What’s not to love!
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