With long sandy beaches, magnificent mountains, and year-round sunshine, the largest of the Canary Islands offers something to all travellers. Whether it's sunbathing and shopping or hiking and exploring, Tenerife is a favourite with families on holiday.
The south of the island is the place to go if you love sunbathing, shopping, and partying. If tropical gardens, historical towns, and colonial architecture sound more up your street then the north of the island is the place for you. For calmer and lazier beach vibes, resorts like Playa de la Arena in the west of the island are perfect.
The 785 square mile island is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, plus some impressive mountains, volcanoes, and lush tropical forests.
As with all of the Canary Islands, Tenerife’s weather is gorgeous all year round, making it perfect for hot summer holidays and sunny winter escapes. Visit between June and August for 30°C temperatures, and when the cold comes knocking back at home, jet off to Tenerife where the weather stays around 20°C even in the depths of winter! Visit in February for the colourful and musical Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife - one of the world’s largest carnivals.
Playa de las Americas
The best resort for party-goers, sun-worshippers and shopaholics. Playa de las Americas is scattered with high-rise hotels, air-conditioned shopping centres, and delicious tapas restaurants. The town even has its own waterpark. For an all-night party, we wouldn’t stray out of Playa de las Americas.
Calmer than Playa de las Americas, but only a short walk away. Los Cristianos is the main port town on Tenerife’s south coast. The picturesque seafront is lined with a long promenade bursting with authentic restaurants and lively bars where you can treat yourself to a sangria or two. The historic town centre is nestled behind the prom, and it’s car-free so perfect for an afternoon stroll.
This is for those who like a bit of luxury. Beautiful five-star hotels, sophisticated nightclubs, and designer shops make Costa Adeje worth visiting, even if it’s only to admire. With long, manicured beaches, Costa Adeje is both close enough to and far enough from the busy Playa de las Americas.
Santa Cruz, Tenerife’s cosmopolitan capital city, is often bypassed by people wanting to head straight for the beaches, but if you can bear a day or two away from the sun lounger it is well worth a visit. Santa Cruz still feels authentic. The restaurants and shops are independent, interesting and often family run, while the area around the port is bustling and vibrant. The Museum of Man and Nature details the history of the Canary Islands through interactive exhibits. It’s a great way to learn more about this group of islands and their rich history. But if shopping is more your thing, then head for Calle Castillo, the city’s retail heart. Here, big brands sit alongside smaller boutiques and tourist shops, so there’s plenty to keep you busy.
Puerto de Santiago
Situated on the western coast of Tenerife, Puerto de Santiago is an old fishing village with dark volcanic sand and craggy cliffs. There are a number of large hotels here, but it manages to retain a feeling of quaintness. There is a lot within easy walking distance, including Playa De La Arena beach where there are a number of water sports activities available. This area is well known for its marine life so it has become a popular place for diving and snorkelling. There are also boat trips available, which is a great way to explore this gnarly coastline and find some hidden coves and beaches.
Just up the coast from one of Tenerife’s busiest tourist resorts Playa des las Americas, is La Calenta. It may only be a 15-minute drive away but it feels like another world. Much smaller, and much quieter, the pretty beach generally feels quite tranquil, with just the sound of lapping water. There are a few restaurants and bars to choose from, some of which are situated right on the edge of the rocks overlooking the sea. The water here is clear and great for swimming, and you can enter the water off the rocks, down iron ladders. The beach is pebbly and good for gentle paddling and splashing around, making this a great place to visit with children.
Volcanoes and mountains make up a large part of Tenerife, so if you’re into your hiking then you are in for a treat. Parque Nacional del Teide is a UNESCO World Heritage site and covers just under 190 square kilometres. Pico del Teide at the centre of the park is the highest mountain not only in Tenerife but across the whole of Spain, standing at a majestic 3718m. It’s a five-hour hike to the top, which isn’t for the faint-hearted. Although we were happy to find out that a cable car trip means you can still appreciate the views.
The beaches in southern Tenerife are never-ending, with one beach running seamlessly into the next. Playa de Los Cristianos is the main beach in the south. It’s family-friendly and kitted out with sunbeds, volleyball nets, and an ice cream kiosk. Playa de las Vistas is great for swimming, and Playa de la Encaramada is a popular spot for hang-gliding if you’re an adrenaline junkie! Playa del Duque is one of the most upmarket beaches, with striped changing huts and stylish cafes and restaurants. Into surfing? The beaches in the north of the island are ideal!
There are loads of amusement parks to choose from on the island, suitable for children and grown-ups alike! Siam Park, a Thai-themed water park, is the biggest. Loro Parque has the world’s largest collection of parrots. Jungle Park is the most popular, with nearly 500 animals to spot, including two rare white tigers. Aqualand, as you might guess from the name, is a huge waterpark full of slides and pools, plus there are dolphins!
Whale and dolphin-watching
The resort of Puerto de Santiago is a great base for nature lovers. Boats head out regularly from here on whale and dolphin-watching excursions. Trips take about three hours and you will be taken out to find pilot whales and pods of dolphins that live and play just off the coast. Lured by Tenerife’s warm deep waters, there are a number of different species that can be seen around here, including, on rare occasions, a blue whale. Take your binoculars and do some swotting up before you go to really make the most of it. Some trips involve lunch and many of the boats will allow stops for you to swim or dive.
Day Trip to La Gomera
While there’s plenty of landscape to discover in Tenerife, you can also plan a day trip by boat to La Gomera. In place of tourist-led resorts, you’ll experience a more traditional way of doing things. As well as its old towns, you won’t be short of places to visit either. La Gomera is famed for its varied surroundings of black-sand beaches, volcanic mountain tops and rich rainforest. It’s no surprise then, that the island is favoured by adventure-seeking holidaymakers who love to lace up their hiking boots or hop on their bikes.
Tenerife plays host to a variety of excellent festivals that take place throughout the entire year, so trying to pick a time to visit that coincides with something cultural is not a difficult thing to do. Carnaval – a celebration that goes on for a whole week, with street performances, parades, exciting costumes, and interactive activities, happens each February. With the weather pleasant and the crowds few, February is a great time of year to visit Tenerife.
Easter is another lovely time to visit Tenerife. Easter is a huge celebration in Spain, so get ready to enjoy Easter processions and feasts put on by the various villages and towns on the islands. For those who love food, this is an ideal time to be in Tenerife since there is always plenty to sample.
If you love art, June is a charming time to go to Tenerife. This is when Corpus Christi takes place, and artwork created especially for the holiday is displayed on the streets. Take a stroll along the promenades and admire the art – the weather is just right to do that. It gets hottest in Tenerife during July and August, but every other month is pleasant and mild, ideal for simply strolling along, enjoying the scenery.
December to February is one of the busiest times for tourists in Tenerife, thanks to the glorious winter sun, and is matched only by the summer crowds in July and August. In fact, August is busy due to Spanish tourists too, as many people from the mainland choose to holiday there. So to avoid the crowds visit any time between March and June, or September to November. There will be plenty to see and do.
Canary Island cuisine
As it’s an island, expect top notch seafood, often fresh from the waters that day. A typical meal is grilled fish with baked potatoes and vegetables or salad, however, Tenerife’s Spanish influence can be seen in the increased popularity of tapas bars.
Tenerife produces a wide range of tasty honey, and a lot of fresh fruit is grown here including figs, mangoes, papayas and bananas. Some of the other Canary Islands produce their own goat’s cheese, so for a really authentic ‘Canarian’ experience, why not try some delicious goat’s cheese drizzled with honey and served with a fresh fig?
Fancy a romantic meal in a waterfront restaurant? No problem! A laid back restaurant you can take your children? Absolutely! Tenerife has hundreds of eateries to choose from, no matter where you are on the island. Order a bottle of wine, fresh seafood and some crusty bread and you’re ready to sit back and soak up the atmosphere. For beautiful sunset views, head to the promenade in Los Cristianos, or if you really want to push the boat out, be sure to make a reservation at one of Costa Adeje’s stylish restaurants.
Whether you’re seeking a relaxing, adventurous, or party-filled holiday, Tenerife is a stunning island with something for everyone. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive deal or a self-catered stay, our range of holidays, flights and hotels mean your ideal Tenerife holiday is just a click away.
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