Have you ever dreamed of travelling to Tenerife where the climate offers an eternal spring? I have the privilege of living on this island and believe me – visiting this destination will take your breath away! In this Tenerife travel guide you will discover the best things to do, where to eat, where to stay in Tenerife and more. But first, allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Yurena from the Instagram @yurena_suluis. I am a 90s girl obsessed with travelling and photography. I grew up in the Canary Islands on the volcanic island of Tenerife. I love saying that nature is my home as I was lucky to be brought up in a cosy countryside house.
For me, there was no better alarm clock than the song of birds in the morning. There was no better landscape than the forest view from my window, no better smell than the pine forest perfume after a rainy day and no better way to get warm than falling asleep by the fireplace. All in all, I had a pretty sweet childhood immersed in nature in Tenerife.
I have to admit that I have always been a “Daddy’s Girl”. He was a well known environmental officer from the northern region of Tenerife and a pioneer in many ways. My father had a passion for nature and was always working beyond his profession – getting involved not only in protecting the environment but also in society by creating awareness and giving training.
He was my first teacher and hero. I will always have a great admiration for him. My dad is the reason why I ended up being a nature and animal lover. I would have given anything to have had more time by his side and to learn more from him but he passed away some time ago. His legacy lives on through the people he inspired and the principles he passed on.
Exploring every corner of this island brings my dad’s essence back and to me that is priceless. As my motto says in my Instagram bio: “Siempre allí donde canta el pinzón y mora el viento” (Always there where the finch sings and the wind dwells). Not only does this bird species remind me of my dad but it’s also one of the natural symbols of the island of Tenerife.
There is no hidden gem on the island where I can’t feel my dad’s presence. Every time I discover a new place I stare at it for a couple of minutes. Then I close my eyes and try to sharpen the rest of my senses by feeling what Mother Nature is trying to tell me. At this point, I can always imagine my dad smiling at me saying: “Well done for such a beautiful discovery, kiddo”.
That is all I have left of him but I consider this a precious thing. Instagram has given me the chance to tell “our story” with the world. I share tales and thoughts through my photos. It’s something that I am really thankful for.
Why Tenerife Should be on your Bucket List
Tenerife is the largest and most populous of the Canary Islands. It’s the most visited island in the archipelago and one of the most important tourist destinations in Spain. Known as the “island of eternal spring” due to its temperate climate all year round – with an average low of 18°C in winter and high of 26°C in summer – it’s the perfect place for sunshine fans.
But there is so much more to see in Tenerife. It’s also an ideal destination for swimming in natural rock pools, diving in the sea, going turtle watching, paragliding, hiking through spectacular trails and spotting wildlife as the island has one of the largest numbers of endemic species in Europe.
I would describe this island in just one word: variety. Each landscape and every adventure is different and that’s exactly what I love the most about living and exploring here. In fact, did you know that we don’t just have a mild climate throughout the year? We actually have five climates!
The breeze, warmth and five climate zones exist thanks to the trade winds. This tropical wind is found only near the earth’s equator and creates a unique climate which cannot be compared to any other place in the world.
This natural phenomenon makes a variety of weather possible – differing between the north and south. It keeps the north cooler and wetter while the south gets hot and dry due to the influence of the Sahara Desert.
During winter, the weather produces rain in the north but in the south the sun can be shining. Meanwhile, at the same time in the mountains, it could be snowing! Isn’t that crazy?! It’s made even more insane when you consider the fact that it takes an hour to drive from one spot to another.
Imagine spending the morning at the beach swimming and sunbathing. Then, after an hour driving, being able to drink a hot chocolate in the mountains to warm up once the snow has frozen your hands! Even better – what if the day ends by watching a movie on your sofa as you listen to the sound of the rain. All of this is possible in Tenerife in one day.
My Favourite Place in Tenerife – Mount Teide
2020 was undoubtedly a year of unexpected changes. It was a year to reconsider our priorities, to postpone projects and rebuild dreams. All in all, it was a year to keep an open mind with new challenges and opportunities.
When COVID-19 started I was living and working in the multicultural and crowded city of London. When I first moved to the UK it was all about improving my languages skills and being able to travel around Europe. But my daily routine brought me into a hasty non- stop lifestyle which was consuming my energy even though I was not realising it.
The pandemic changed my plans and it was hard to decide whether to go home or stay. Actually it was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. Coming home to Tenerife was hard at first but now I really appreciate it. I couldn’t be more grateful to be back in the Canary Islands rediscovering myself and working on my inner peace.
So this is how my adventure began. I started @yurena_suluis in August, 2020 and haven’t stopped exploring my island since. This is a passion I’m lucky to share with my photographer and best friend Carlos Perez. He captures the essence of Tenerife in such a wonderful way. You can find him on Instagram at @solracphotography12. You will love his content!
There is a story, anecdote and memory behind each of one my Instagram photos that I would love to share with you. However, there is one place in particular that never stops blowing my mind and that is Mount Teide and its national park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I have visited this destination countless times. Believe me – it’s great diversity of volcanic landscapes creates an overwhelming atmosphere that never stops amazing you. From unique rock formations, to pine forests and green valleys, to “seas of clouds” and breathtaking sunsets – all magical!
Mount Teide is my favourite spot for a last minute plan because it doesn’t matter the season, time or weather – there will always be something new to experience that will make you feel like it’s your first time visiting. And the opportunities for photography are endless. There are no words to describe the beauty of this place. You will be awestruck every single time.
10 Best Things To Do in Tenerife
The more I explore my homeland, the more I fall in love with it! It’s such an inspiring place that leaves me speechless. If you would like to find out more about the adventures I get up to in Tenerife then check out my top 10 things to do – all revolving around beautiful natural attractions.
1. See Almond Trees Blossom in Santiago del Teide
One of the winter highlights in Tenerife is seeing the countryside embellished in shades of pink by the flowering of almond trees. Each January and February, the almond trees in the hills and valleys around Santiago del Teide show their beauty. Discover this phenomenon in the midst of a unique setting – lava paths caused by the eruption of Chinyero.
2. Walk in the Palmetum of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
This garden called Palmetum of Santa Cruz de Tenerife specialises in palm trees. Indeed, visitors can find one of the largest collections of palm trees in Europe! Another reason why this place is so special is because it was created out of a truly unique idea: transforming a rubbish dump area into a recreational space for all the people of Tenerife to enjoy.
Numerous organisations from around the world partnered with Tenerife to make this dream come true and what a result it was! There are a variety of viewing points on offer with breathtaking views of the sea, city and Macizo de Anaga. Make sure you visit the Palmetum of Santa Cruz de Tenerife for the day to enjoy the vegetation, gardens, streams and waterfalls.
3. Relax at the Paradisiacal Beaches and Rock Pools
Have you ever wondered how many beaches there are in Tenerife? Well, in fact, there are almost too many to count! As proud islanders, we Canarians know that “life is better in flip-flops” which means that our hearts are made to constantly experience sun, salt and sand. That is why for many of us even a single day away from the sea is enough to make us feel homesick!
We are not surprised by the fact that the main reason tourists come to Tenerife is to relax at the beach and swim in the crystal-clear waters. You can find a beach experience just right for you whether you are a family, surfer, naturist, lover of secluded beaches and sunsets, snorkeler, etc.
The black volcanic sand natural beaches predominate on the northern coast and many of them are magnificent for taking beautiful shots. I would recommend visiting Playa de Benijo, Playa de Castro and Playa los Roques.
For those who prefer white sand beaches, the south coast will be your ideal place. One of the most popular white sand beaches is just 10 minutes drive from the island’s capital. I’m talking about Playa de Las Teresitas – an artificial beach made with imported sand from Africa. It’s full of exotic palm trees and splendid views of the Macizo de Anaga mountains.
But that’s not all! There are lots of rock and sea pools around the coast of Tenerife that act as natural or semi-natural swimming pools. Some are well known and others are way off the beaten tourist trail – which makes them even more valuable for locals. Many more of these island treasures are hidden gems only discovered by the most adventurous locals and visitors.
4. Go Swimming with Turtles in Tenerife
The snorkelling and diving opportunities in Tenerife are endless! This is due to the island landscape, warm waters and high visibility which allows you to get up close and personal with some amazing sea creatures.
One of the highlights of snorkelling in Tenerife is not just seeing colourful fish and coral but also getting the chance to spot turtles. If you have ever dreamed of swimming with these reptiles then this would be your chance.
Throughout our island there are different places where you will have the opportunity to see these stunning creatures in their natural habitat. My favourite place is El Puertito de Armenime in Costa Adeje. This remote bay gives marine lovers the privilege of discovering its serene waters.
5. Take an Adventure Exploring Mount Teide
The indigenous people of Tenerife (the Guanches) called Mount Teide “Echeyde” which means hell. For them, this was a place with evil forces. However nowadays, Mount Teide is the most iconic symbol of Tenerife.
This volcano reaches 3,718 meters above sea level and is Spain’s highest point as well as the earth’s third tallest volcanic structure. The splendour of this place will take your breath away! The national park here is in fact the most visited in all of Europe with millions of visitors every year.
Getting the cable car up the mountain is one of Tenerife’s top attractions. The ride is a bit expensive but the views of the volcanic crater, splendid national park and the neighbouring islands of Tenerife across the sea on a clear day will make it absolutely worth your while!
If you refuse to leave Tenerife without reaching the summit of Mount Teide, then you can spend a night at Refugio Altavista. This will be by far one of your best adventures on the island. You can wake up early in the morning, climb to the top of the mountain for sunrise and then shout: “I’m the king of the world” at an altitude of 3,718 meters above sea level.
You will fall in love with this giant’s massive shadow as it projects down onto the ocean. But remember for this trail you will need a permit issued by the administration of Teide National Park. It’s a free permit but you will need to apply months in advance. So make sure you apply soon!
6. Stargaze at the Exceptionally Clear Night Skies
Tenerife is a blessed island not only because of its climate of eternal spring but for many other reasons as well. Its proximity to the equator, lack of light pollution, high altitudes, clean air and exceptionally clear night skies make it a dream destination to go stargazing no matter the time of year.
The peaks of the island away from urban areas are the best spots to stargaze. Teide National Park was even declared a “Starlight Tourist Destination”. Throughout the year, the sky offers visitors various celestial shows that you cannot miss when visiting Tenerife. Mount Teide becomes the best amphitheatre to sit back with a hot drink and enjoy the night sky.
7. Experience Los Gigantes Cliffs from the Water
The unmistakable rocky cliffs of Los Gigantes rise in a spectacular fashion above the sea reaching 600 meters in size in some places. The indigenous Guanches considered these natural formations to be sacred. They called them “Walls of Hell” as they represented the end of the world to them.
One can experience the beauty of the cliffs from out at sea or on dry land. My favourite place to see the cliffs is from the water. At the port you will receive tons of offers to take a boat trip. You can combine this sightseeing tour with different water sports and marine life viewings such as finding bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales. It’s so unique!
8. Explore the Stunning Masca Valley of Tenerife
One of the most picturesque parts of Tenerife with serene views and a great place for hiking is the Masca Valley. Masca is a small village with a local, bohemian vibe located in a remote area of the northwestern part of Tenerife surrounded by mountains and with wild nature.
The Masca Trail is one of the most spectacular sky-to-sea hikes in the Canaries. It leads you through the middle of the village and then through the gorge all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The trail ends at a beach with a dock for small ships which gives walkers the choice of taking a boat to Los Gigantes Cliffs as an alternative to the hike back. Don’t miss this adventure!
9. Hike in the Macizo de Anaga Mountain Range
Dust off your old hiking boots and get ready to discover Tenerifes ancient mountain range – a wild and natural version of this island! The Anaga Rural Park is a wonderful mountainous area located in the furthest northeastern point of Tenerife and consists of some beautifully rugged coastlines, deep ravines, traditional villages and humid forests.
It was formed by a volcanic eruption nine million years ago. This protected rural park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve and is home to some of the highest numbers of endemic species in Europe. I simply love exploring the mysterious and unspoiled Macizo de Anaga.
Its mountains and valleys are covered in lush subtropical laurel forests that will surprise and amaze you at every turn. There is no better place to go hiking in Tenerife, connect with Mother Nature and regain one’s energy.
10. Chase the Many Waterfalls of Tenerife
At this point you will have realised that there are many spectacular hiking trails in Tenerife. As a hiker, I must admit that nothing compares to resting next to a waterfall during or after a challenging hiking route. It simply calms the mind, body and soul. Not to mention the feeling of freedom that takes over when you cool yourself off by bathing in the fresh waters.
The waterfalls in Tenerife are beyond words – even more beautiful after rain. They can be mostly found by hiking through ravines and streams. The falls at Barranco del Infierno, for example, have restricted access and you can only visit it with advanced reservation and by paying an entrance fee.
But in general most of the waterfalls here are open to visitors being able to discover them through tours or on their own. However, it’s important to know that sometimes hiking trails can be challenging and not suitable for everyone. And so for those who don’t know the area well it’s recommended to use the services of an adventure company.
Cultural Attractions of Tenerife
If you are the kind of person who likes to get under the skin of a place then Tenerife will steal your heart. As well as offering beautiful scenery and weather, its friendly natured people will make you feel at home.
We know that in our land even during rainy days the sun always shines and that has taught us to look on the bright side – to face life with a smile. We are proud of being Canarians and love bragging about living in paradise.
I must admit that we are sensitive to the cold – the reality is that anything below 20ºC we say is cold. But we are sweet by nature! Our loving way of speaking, authenticity and charisma will win you over. People from Tenerife will always make you feel welcome. Don’t be surprised while visiting the island if strangers pass by in the street greeting or wishing you a nice day.
We simply can’t avoid our friendly manners. And if at any point you are in need of help or recommendations, come and talk to us. Our hospitality defines us! Nothing causes us too much trouble. In Tenerife, it’s always a good time to chat and meet new people. We are carefree islanders who enjoy the simplicity of taking life “one day at a time”.
Let me tell you an open secret. Tenerife locals are experts on having a good time! In a normal COVID-free time, our island is bursting with cultural attractions – many of which involve vibrant colours and a party vibe.
“Romerias” are one of the best experiences you can have in Tenerife and in Spain in general! During these harvest festivals many people dress up in traditional costumes and come together to honour the village’s local saint. Musicians, dancers, food carts, local wine and lots of animals. A real show!
These incredible events are something that travellers looking to immerse themselves in the local culture of Tenerife have to see. And if that wasn’t enough – Tenerife also hosts the most famous carnival in the world after the one in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. This is the biggest annual festival on the island and it’s held each February in the city of Santa Cruz.
The carnival is a major event for locals and lasts for days. It’s full of surprises: parades, floats, parties, shows, capella song competitions, contests and more. Come and join us! We always have something to celebrate.
Gastronomic Treasures of Tenerife
Tenerife has a huge variety of cuisine from many countries. It’s home to no fewer than six Michelin stars across five restaurants. Among these I can recommend: M.B. This two-Michelin-star establishment is housed in the Ritz-Carlton Abama Hotel – a company which I worked at over five years.
My last position there was as Dining Reservation Supervisor. This allowed me to discover how this restaurant has become a benchmark in haute cuisine. All I can say is that the dishes are skilfully prepared.
But what makes this island a foodie paradise is the authentic local food. You have to try our Papas Arrugadas con Mojo which means “wrinkled potatoes with sauce”. It’s one of my favourite dishes and is basically boiled potatoes (with or without skin) served with Mojo Rojo/Verde.
To help you understand: Mojo Rojo and Mojo Verde translates to “red sauce” and “green sauce”. The secret of this recipe is in the delicious sauce! Mojo Rojo is a tasty blend of a typical Canarian spicy pepper, garlic, vinegar, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and olive oil. While Mojo Verde” is a flavoursome mix of garlic, vinegar, cumin, coriander, olive oil and salt.
If you are looking to avoid overpriced restaurants and want local food then eat where locals eat! The best food can be found at “guachinches”. These are rustic establishments in the Canary Islands – predominantly in Tenerife where locally produced wine is served with traditional food.
The origins of “guachinches” lie in the wine-tasting parties arranged by local wine growers to sell their products directly to customers avoiding having to pay intermediary fees. They are located in the wine regions, in garages or courtyards of a rural home, especially in the northern regions.
Ask a local about their favourite “guachinche”, try the food there and you will discover Tenerife’s greatest gastronomic treasure! Are you curious about my preference? Definitely try Guachinche El Churrasco!
Best Places to Stay in Tenerife
Whether you plan on staying at a resort by the sea or want accommodation amidst the breathtaking landscapes of a little village away from the tourist crowds, Tenerife is the place to be. There are places to stay for all tastes and budgets, from luxury hotels to cosy Airbnbs.
I recommend staying in The Ritz-Carlton Abama Hotel – my previous workplace. This exclusive five-star resort located on the south west coast of Tenerife has an Arab citadel vibe and access to its own secluded beach. Not to mention its more than seven different restaurants which makes it a culinary paradise. Here you will be spoiled like royalty!
If you are the kind of traveller who prefers being surrounded by greenery and silence, like I do, then the rural houses/hotels will be your ideal destination. You will find plenty of options to choose from along the island. They all have their own charm but there is one in particular that goes beyond the ordinary. It simply gets you closer to the magic of a starry sky.
Have you heard of Glamping? It means “Glamorous Camping” – a new astronomic experience which has arrived at the Hotel Rural La Correa Del Almendro. Here you can stay in a bubble-room. This is a capsule with a completely transparent roof that provides you with a panoramic view of the sky while immersed in nature. An experience that awakens the senses!
Need to Know Before you Go
- Pack your own sun lotion or buy a quality one as soon as you arrive in Tenerife. Take it with you everywhere and look after your skin daily. Even more during those unsuspecting cloudy days. Yes, you have read that correctly! During non-sunny days travellers tend to get careless and that’s when they can easily become at risk of sunburn and sunstroke.
- Don’t get fooled by our eternal spring weather and climate. Remember that Tenerife is a system of micro-climates meaning that the weather can vary wildly between the north and the south. So having a warm change of clothes in the backpack never hurts.
- Taxis can be expensive. Renting a car is the best and cheapest way to get around Tenerife. It offers a greater degree of flexibility and means you can explore places not accessed by public transport. On the whole, the roads are easy to drive and most are in good condition. Buses, called by the Canarian people “guaguas”, are another way of getting around. But from my experience when I was younger and did not have a driver’s license, I would say they rarely arrive at the advertised time.
- Don’t expect a fancy decor. The “guachinches” are modest establishments and you shouldn’t expect a professional service, though they do offer a warm atmosphere. Speaking Spanish is helpful to understand what they have available as sometimes they don’t have a printed menu. Another thing to know is that they don’t offer many meat-free options. Vegetarian to vegetarian, let me tell you that it may not be the best alternative for us in terms of variety but still there are some tapas you can try. Don’t miss the Papas Arrugadas and the Queso Asado (fried cheese), both served with the delicious typical Canarian sauces previously described. Last but not least, bringing cash with you is highly recommended as some of these places don’t accept credit cards.
The charm of Tenerife can’t be described, it needs to be experienced. So pack your bags and come here to discover the magic. I hope to see you all one day soon! Thanks for reading and enjoy your visit to the Canary Islands.