I have to admit that I had the wrong idea about Tenerife before I went there. Artificial tourist strips and crowded beaches were the “Tenerife things to do and see” for me. In reality, Tenerife is one of the most beautiful and diverse islands of the Canary Islands, which has much more to offer than pensioner relaxation and booze tourism around Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos.
Table of contents
Which part of Tenerife is the most beautiful?
Actually, you can only manage to visit the most important things in one week. It makes sense to limit yourself to one region. As a basis for deciding what you want to see on your Tenerife holiday, I have listed the best things to do on the Canary Island in the north, south, east and west. I also have a tip for accommodation. Let’s go!
Where is it nicer, Tenerife North or Tenerife South?
Which part of Tenerife is the more beautiful depends on your personal preferences. Both the north and the south of the island have their own unique beauty and appeal.
The north of Tenerife is known for its lush green landscapes and plantations, dramatic cliffs and countless hiking trails. The south of Tenerife is more interesting for party people, sun-seekers, relaxation seekers and surfers. The south is sunnier and warmer than the north of Tenerife.
Things to do in the north of Tenerife
Old town of La Orotava
La Orotava is a charming historical town with cobbled streets, traditional buildings and picturesque churches. There are many activities to do around it, such as hiking in the forests or visiting museums and galleries. The most famous building is the Casa de los Balcones. The 400-year-old building looks quaint with its many wooden balconies, and inside you can learn about island crafts from sewing to pottery. In fact, the whole street is made up of these pretty typical buildings. Even if you don’t see any of them from the inside, it’s worth strolling through the streets of la Orotava.
As a visitor, don’t miss the local festivals or try the delicious Canarian cuisine in the restaurants. With all that La Orotava has to offer, it is definitely a Tenerife tourist attraction!
The Anaga Mountains are a must-see for any visitor to Tenerife. In the far east of the island is the biosphere park Anaga Rural Park,a protected natural area with rich flora and fauna. This mountain range is the perfect place for hikers and climbers! The breathtaking scenery, the green forests, the sea views… It’s worth visiting this Tenerife attraction!
It is only 25 km from Santa Cruz de Tenerife. If you are staying in the north, you should definitely spend a day in the Anaga Mountains.
Puerto de la Cruz
Puerto de la Cruz is the best known and largest town on Tenerife’s north coast. Around the Plaza del Charco, with a fountain in the shade of old laurel trees, run alleys with numerous cafés and restaurants where you can find not only Canarian specialities such as shrivelled potatoes, but specialities from all over the world. The pretty colonial architecture with the colourful houses is the trademark of Puerto de la Cruz, just like the huge seawater swimming pool Lago Martianez and the botanical garden. Climb the stairs to the higher part of the city, from where you have a magnificent view over the city and all the way to Mount Teide. Above all, the Abaco country estate is a must-see. There are regular concerts, a museum and a restaurant with a magnificent view.
Lago Martiánez swimming pool in Puerto de la Cruz
Although Lago Martiánez is one of the things to do in Puerto de la Cruz, it is so special that it deserves its own section. Anyone familiar with the artistic scene on the Canary Islands will be familiar with César Manrique. He was also responsible for the construction of the famous seawater swimming pool in the 1970s. Lago Martianez is located on the eastern outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz. If you find it too windy and wavy at Playa San Telmo and Playa Martiánez, you should swim in the artifial lake of Lago Martianez. It is located right in between. In winter it’s too cool for swimming, but in summer the seawater pools, which look like a tropical lagoon landscape, are great for cooling off. Of course, there is also catering and sun loungers.
Prices and opening hours Lago Martianez: adults €5.50, children up to 10 years €2.50. Open all year round from 10 am to 6 pm.
Drago Milenario Dragon Tree
The Drago Milenario dragon tree is really beautiful. I would have loved to hug it, but you’re not allowed to 😉 You’ve probably seen this bizarre looking tree in the Things to do in Tenerife photos. It stands in the village of Icod de los Vinos on the north coast of Tenerife. The Drago is 16 metres high and has a circumference of almost 6 metres at its base. Whether it is “a thousand years old”, as is often claimed, is actually of secondary importance. In any case, it is one of the oldest dragon trees in Tenerife and a particularly beautiful specimen. You can admire it from a distance for free in its natural environment. If you want to walk around it, you have to pay an entrance fee.
Dragon trees only grow in a few parts of the world, such as the Canary Islands and Socotra. If you want to try your hand at growing a dragon tree, you can buy plants everywhere. Fun fact: the dragon tree is not really a tree at all, but an asparagus plant!
Info: You can easily find the Drago Milenario in the Parque del Drago by following the signs in Icod de los Vinos. Opening hours: October to March from 10am to 6pm and April to September from 9am to 8pm. You can always see it from a distance along the adjacent road.
Butterfly Park in Tenerife
While you’re at the Dragon Tree, you might as well visit the Butterfly Park in Icod de los Vinos. Butterflies from all over the world cavort in a huge glass building with a tropical climate. A colourful and fascinating experience that will turn you into a playful child! Admire countless species of butterflies and their life cycle, from egg to chrysalis to pupa to colourful fluttering creature.
Cueva del Viento Lava Cave
Cueva del Viento is an incredible natural wonder in the municipality of Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife. At 17 kilometres long, it is the longest lava cave in Europe and is estimated to be 27,000 years old. The cave is an ideal place to explore and discover the history of the island.
As a visitor, you can take a guided tour of the cave and learn about its formation and geological features. There are also plenty of opportunities to take photographs and admire the stunning rock formations inside. There are several chambers to visit in the cave, some of which contain ancient fossils. Dress warmly. It is quite cold in the cave.
Opening hours: Cueva del Viento is open from 9am to 5pm in winter (October-March) and from 9am to 4.30pm in summer (April-September).
One of Tenerife’s most popular attractions is undoubtedly Loro Parque. This huge zoo in the north of the island, near Puerto de la Cruz, offers an unparalleled variety of exotic and sometimes endangered animals from all over the world in an area of over 13.5 hectares. The Loro Parque animal park is the perfect place for families to discover and learn about new species together.
Loro Parque is also controversial for its animal shows, including dolphin shows. Decide for yourself if this is in line with your ethical beliefs. To be fair, the park is involved in the conservation of endangered species and gives talks about conservation. If the animal shows with sea lions and parrots are not for you, the large aquarium with over 200 species of fish or the botanical garden with over 500 species of plants from all over the world are.
University town La Laguna
University towns always have a special charm and La Laguna (or officiallly San Cristobal de la Laguna) on Tenerife is no exception. As the former capital of the island, the city is full of history and culture and offers a unique atmosphere. Here you can stroll through the narrow streets, admire the beautiful colonial buildings and be fascinated by the history and culture of the city. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the city’s must-see attractions include the Cathedral, the Concepción Church and the Plaza del Adelantado. Tip: Free guided tours of the old town are available.
The city is also known for its lively nightlife, with lots of bars and cocktails – just as a student city should be! So get ready to explore La Laguna and see for yourself why it’s one of the best things to do in Tenerife!
La Baranda Wine Museum
Located between La Laguna and Puerto de la Cruz de Tenerife, the El Sauzal Wine Museum, “La Baranda”, is a must for wine lovers. The museum is housed in an old mansion that has been lovingly restored and now offers free guided tours of the grounds. During these tours you can learn about the history of winemaking in Tenerife and taste some of the local wines (that’s what you came for!).
Of course, you can also buy the wine or take part in a wine-making workshop or cooking class. The La Baranda Wine Museum regularly hosts events with live music and art exhibitions.
Playa de Las Teresitas
Pack your swimming trunks! The best thing to do in Tenerife is to go to the beach. And not just any beach: Playa de Las Teresitas is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Canary Islands. Located in the north-east of the island, this two kilometre long beach is lined with palm trees and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. With its golden sands and crystal clear waters, Playa de Las Teresitas attracts visitors from all over the world and is a contrast to the black sand beaches in the rest of the island.
Playa de Las Teresitas beach is well equipped with sun loungers, parasols, showers and toilets and is perfect for a day out with the whole family. There are also plenty of restaurants and bars nearby where you can enjoy a bite to eat or a refreshing drink after a day in the sun.
Natural pools in Tenerife
Sometimes the Atlantic can be quite choppy and dangerous. Tenerife has a remedy: Natural swimming pools created by lava flows and filled with seawater. One of the most popular places for natural pools is Garachico, where several charcos and cavorts (as they are called) await bathers. The second, which is considered one of the attractions of Tenerife, is the one in San Juan de la Rambla, the “Charco de la Laja”.
Info: There is usually an entrance fee to these pools, but they also have facilities such as changing rooms and toilets.
Things to do in the west of Tenerife
Cliffs of Punta de Teno
One of the best things to do in Tenerife is to visit Punta de Teno! This spectacular cliff in the northwest of the island is a must for anyone who loves nature and breathtaking volcanic landscapes. Punta de Teno is a promontory at the most north-western point of the island of Tenerife, and its jagged cliffs are made of lava rock, typical of the Canary Islands.
A walk along the cliffs is an unforgettable experience and offers breathtaking views. On a clear day you can even see the neighbouring islands of La Gomera and La Palma! There is also a small beach at Punta de Teno where you can relax or even swim. The beach is a popular meeting place for surfers, who find the best waves here.
Note the changing opening times for cars. Cars are only allowed up to the point at certain times. Another option is the public bus or walk the 9km to Punta de Teno.
Masca and Masca Ravine
There’s not a brochure or tour operator in Tenerife that doesn’t promote Masca. The 14th century mountain village of Masca may be a bit touristy, but it is still one of the most beautiful places in Tenerife. Located in the Teno Mountains in the northwest of the island, it can only be reached by a narrow road. The pretty village has only about 100 inhabitants. Here you can see a typical Canarian village.
Masca is best known for its gorge, the Masca Gorge. It is truly spectacular and not to be missed! Organised excursions combine these two things on a day trip, but it’s also easy to organise yourself. Sightseeing and food in Masca, nature and exercise in the gorge – a must in Tenerife!
Cliffs of Los Gigantes
The coast of Los Gigantes, in the west of Tenerife, is one of the most impressive in the island. The cliffs are part of the Teno Natural Park and reach heights of up to 600 metres above sea level. The best way to appreciate their scale is from the water. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. Boat trips along the coast of Los Gigantes are one of the most popular activities in Tenerife.
Tip for accommodation in Tenerife: Our hotel in Los Gigantes is for adults only and is conveniently located for hiking and sightseeing in Tenerife.
Adult-only hotel with spa in Tenerife
Tenerife – inland attractions
Teide and Teide National Park
The Teide National Park in the centre of the island is home to Spain’s highest mountain, the Pico del Teide. This majestic volcano can be seen from many points on the island. At 3,718 metres, it dwarfs everything around it and is almost always covered in snow in winter. The stunning landscape has been used as a backdrop for several science fiction films, including Planet of the Apes and Star Wars.
The Teleferico del Teide cable car takes you almost all the way up to the mountain station at 3,555 metres. From there it is another 40 minutes to the summit. Attention: You can only reach the summit of Pico del Teide with a permit. You have to apply for it on the National Park website (months in advance!) or join an organised tour. It’s also smart to buy the cable car tickets in advance.
Without a permit, you can walk any of the other 38 routes in the lunar landscape of the Parque Nacional del Teide. There is something for every level of fitness and spectacular views. On a sunny, clear day, you can see the neighbouring islands of Gran Canaria, La Palma and La Gomera. The National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007 and is well deserving of the title for the diversity of its landscapes. If you haven’t tried these things to do in Tenerife, you haven’t really been!
Warning: It is very cold on the Teide! Bring warm clothes and good footwear.
Observe the sun at the Teide Observatory
High up on Teide, you are closer to the sky than anywhere else, there is hardly any light pollution and the atmospheric conditions are ideal for stargazing. These are the reasons why an observatory was built on Teide in 1964. The Teide Observatory specialises in observing the sun with night, solar and microwave telescopes. Guided tours take you around the facility, and when you look through the telescope you can see the solar flares that cause the solar wind.
Things to do in the east of Tenerife
The capital city Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the Canary Islands and, with a population of 200,000, the largest of the islands. The city has a number of attractions, including the Auditorio de Tenerife, an impressive building designed by Santiago Calatrava. Santa Cruz de Tenerife also hosts one of the world’s biggest carnivals every year, with colourful costumes, hot dance shows and spectacular fireworks.
Nuestra Señora de África Market
Another highlight in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África, one of the largest markets in Tenerife. Here you can enjoy fresh food, regional specialities like cheese and handicrafts. Be sure to try the local tapas and wines! The market hall alone is a sight to behold. It is a Moorish-style building decorated with intricate confectionery patterns.
Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre
The Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre is the most famous museum in Santa Cruz and well worth a visit if you want to learn more about the history and nature of the island of Tenerife. The building itself is a National Monument. One part is dedicated to the history of the people of the Canary Islands and their culture, including the famous mummies of the region. The other part of the exhibition provides information about the islands, their flora and fauna, geology and climate.
Tenerife Auditorium in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
The Auditorio de Tenerife hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, theatre performances, seminars and much more. The Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Canarias is one of the many international festivals held here. While you’re in Santa Cruz, don’t miss a visit to the Auditorio, if only for its modern architecture!
Opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 13:30 (closed on the 24th and 31st).
Candelaria and its famous basilica
The Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria (Our Lady of Candelaria) is a famous pilgrimage church in the town of Candelaria, about 20 km south of the capital, Santa Cruz. This beautiful basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and has become a popular destination for pilgrims from all over the world. The Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of the Canary Islands and devotion to her has spread from here to Latin America. Every year more than two and a half million people visit this sacred place to light a candle in gratitude or for an intention. This makes it one of the most visited places in Tenerife.
The basilica itself is an impressive sight with its magnificent façade and ornate stonework. Even those who are not religious should take a look at the building. Inside the Basilica, visitors can admire masterful stained glass windows and ornate altars adorning the walls. The basilica also houses several religious artefacts, including a statue of the Madonna de la Candelaria from 1690.
Pyramids of Güimar
The Pyramids of Güimar are one of the most controversial sights in Tenerife. Theories that they were built by the Guanches or the ancient Egyptians on their way to Central America have always been hotly debated and refuted. Recent evidence dates the Güimar Pyramids to the 19th century.
It doesn’t really matter who built them or what they are supposed to represent – they seem to have fallen out of time and give visitors the feeling that they are somewhere other than Tenerife. More like Mexico. The 6 pyramids are worth a visit for this feeling alone.
Things to do in the south of Tenerife
Who stole the coconut? At the Monkey Park near Los Cristianos, there’s a good chance it was the monkeys. Visitors to the park can get up close and personal with the primates as they are allowed to pet and feed them. The park is home to many different species of monkeys, including capuchins, macaques and marmosets. As well as the primates, there are also several species of birds and snakes to see at the Monkey Park. For families with children, the park offers guided tours as well as an interactive play area and zipline course. Along with Siam Park, Monkey Park is one of the top family attractions in the south of Tenerife.
Are you a bird lover? Then Jungle Park definitely is your place, as it specialises in birds of prey. Also known as Parque Las Águilas, it has beautiful eagles, falcons and owls. At the birds of prey show, you can see the big birds fly majestically through the air. The jungle park also has a parrot show and a sea lion show – which brings us back to the question of whether or not to support such things. Decide for yourself. The park itself is a tropical garden with a climbing path that winds through the whole park, which is fun for both children and adults.
You can also buy tickets for Jungle Park online in advance. The Jungle Park is very close to the Monkey Park.
Siam Park is probably the most famous park in the world. It has been voted the best water park in the world by Tripadvisor for the last 6 years. Located in Costa Adeje, it is one of the most popular attractions in Tenerife, especially with families. The slides are spectacular, for example the Tower of Power is a 28 metre high slide with speeds of up to 80 km/h made for adrenaline junkies! Even with smaller children, Siam Park is a great place to visit on a hot day in the south of Tenerife. The large wave pool and lazy rivers are a fun activity for all visitors.
Buy your tickets online in advance. The fun is not cheap and you are not allowed to bring your own food. Still, one of the best things to do in Tenerife!
Conclusion: Things to do in Tenerife
Tenerife is definitely underrated, although not as much as its neighbour Gran Canaria. From stunning natural landscapes like the Teide National Park to exciting attractions like Siam Park, there’s something for everyone. Whether you want to hike, swim, experience culture or simply relax, Tenerife has something for everyone. One week is not enough. I definitely want to come back because I haven’t even done half of the things I suggested.
Fancy a holiday in Tenerife? Book your trip now!
Questions and answers about things to do in Tenerife
Is Tenerife a cheap place?
That depends on how expensive your accommodation is and what activities you want to do. For a few hundred euros in low season you can get a good hotel and flight. If you use the island’s buses instead of hiring a car and do activities like hiking or lying on the beach, a holiday in Tenerife is obviously cheaper than visiting expensive things like Siam Park or going on an organised tour like whale watching.
What month is best for Tenerife?
The best time to visit Tenerife is in the spring and autumn months. The weather is milder and more pleasant than in the summer months when temperatures can reach 30°C. The winter months are also a good time to visit, as temperatures rarely drop below 15°C. My favourite time to visit Tenerife is in winter if you want to have an active holiday and see things.
How many days is enough in Tenerife?
One week is barely enough to visit the most interesting places in Tenerife. I’d say 10 to 14 days are perfect.