Suppose you want to enjoy the sun, sea and beach within a reasonable flight distance from the Europe, Tenerife will soon come into the picture as a holiday destination.
This popular destination among the europeans belongs to the Canary Islands; an archipelago that belongs to Spain but is geographically west of Morocco. This makes it spring-like to summers in Tenerife almost all year round.
The southern side of the island in particular is doing well as a sun destination. Now you can fly to Tenerife, travel to your accommodation and hang out there for the rest of your holiday. There are plenty of people who do that. A pity, because Tenerife has plenty to offer besides the pleasant climate.
To rent a car
You can fly to Tenerife to stay for one or two weeks. This time the main travel goal must be rest. Enjoy the good weather for a few days and do not do too much. Halfway through October you are just within the best travel time for Tenerife. Rent you a car.
That way you can go wherever you want. The total rental price of 142 euros for six days, including full all-in insurance without deductible, makes it easy to rent a car. If you book one excursion for a two men you often lose more.
For the five Tenerife tips that I am going to give, it is useful to rent a car. You are not dependent on public transport or excursions. Pay close attention to where you rent a car. There are companies that burden customers with high unwanted costs.
5 must-do’s for Tenerife
To drive a car in Tenerife, a valid European Union driving license is sufficient. You do not need an international driver’s license. A credit card is often required for the deposit. Petrol and diesel is a lot cheaper than in Europe. I now paid something like 95 cents per liter of gasoline.
Based on my own experiences with Tenerife, I have selected five must-do’s for Tenerife that, in my opinion, add value to your holiday to Tenerife. It does not really matter where you are in Tenerife, because these five tips are spread over the island. Some of these tips can be booked as an organized excursion, in case you cannot or do not want to rent a car.
Teide National Park
You can see that Tenerife has a volcanic origin in the landscape almost everywhere. The best place to experience this is in Teide National Park. This central part of the island is a fantastic display of different types of volcanic landscapes.
Sometimes very rough where you think you have ended up in a moon landscape, sometimes almost cuddly as a result of the wind that has formed fine volcanic sand into rolling hills. As far as I am concerned, a visit to this freely accessible nature reserve is an absolute must when you are on Tenerife.
If the wind permits, you can visit the highest mountain in Spain with the cable car: the Teide. The Pico del Teide is a whopping 3718 meters high and is covered with a layer of snow in winter, while on the coast it can be just 25 degrees. In the national park there are several viewpoints and parking places from which you can take beautiful walks.
There are several driving routes to drive into the heart of the national park. My favorite route from the southern resorts is via the TF-38 from the west of Tenerife towards the Teide and then via the TF-21 towards La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz. You will then see the greatest variety of landscapes.
The beautiful villages of Tenerife
Tenerife is mainly known for mass tourism. Especially those who see the succession of seaside resorts around Playa de las Americas who might think that authenticity would be hard to find in Tenerife. Fortunately that is not the case.
On the island you will find a number of beautiful authentic villages where you will encounter real Canarian life. In these kind of places you can see the traditional architecture, enjoy atmospheric squares and streets and get to know the local population.
The most beautiful location has the mountain village Masca, which is located in a green gorge. On the east coast of Tenerife lies the colorful village of Candelaria, of which the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria is the most famous landmark.
My personal favorite is La Orotava, which is a few miles north of Puerto de la Cruz. Within ten minutes you drive from this seaside resort to the real Tenerife. La Orotava is even during the locally common cloudy weather still a picture to see.
The beaches of Tenerife
The many beaches should not be missed in this overview. Tenerife has a huge range of different beaches. The most quiet beaches can be found in the south of the island. On the north coast, it is mainly rougher black beaches with a lot of waves.
This is mainly the terrain of the many surfers who come to Tenerife especially for this. If you want, you can rent surf equipment and enjoy the excellent waves that provide a lot of surfing fun here.
Most of the beaches to relax can be found in the part of La Caleta – Costa Adeje – Playa de las Américas – Los Cristianos. Here are lovely sandy beaches that vary from pale yellow or golden sand to pitch-black beaches made of volcanic sand. Thousands of sunbeds with umbrellas are here ready to be rented for a day.
The most beautiful beach in Tenerife is Playa de las Teresitas. This fine sandy beach is located in a bay north of the capital Santa Cruz. It is located near the village of San Andrés. You imagine yourself on this palm beach almost in the Caribbean instead of Tenerife.
As a tourist you will mainly have to deal with restaurants that focus on the tourists. That means mainly steak, burgers, sushi, fish, pizza and the commercial variants of tapas, which were actually intended as a free snack with a drink.
Those who drive out of the well-known seaside resorts and travel to the more authentic places on the island can enjoy the local cuisine. As in any country, each region or island has its own specialties. Likewise the Tenerife, together with the other Canary Islands. Typical local dishes are rabbit stews, salt-crusted fish and Canarian potatoes with red and green sauce (salsa verde and salsa roja).
More than twenty different species of marine mammals live around Tenerife, including several dolphin species. Think of pilot whales (called ‘pilot whales’ in English), bottlenose dolphins and spinner dolphins. You can take boat trips from various places to spot the dolphins in the wild.
The most popular departure port is Los Gigantes on the west coast of Tenerife. The chance that you will see dolphins is almost one hundred percent. It does not matter much when you travel to Tenerife. These special sea creatures can be seen all year round.
There are rules regarding dolphin watching. For example, boats may approach the animals at a maximum distance of sixty meters, boats may not remain in one place for longer than thirty minutes and there may not be too many boats in one place. In practice you will often see dolphins from much closer, because these animals like to swim next to a boat.
Not in this top 5
Making a top 5 of highlights means that sights and attractions also fall outside such a list. For example, I chose to leave the Pyramids of Güímar just outside the top 5 for Tenerife, because I don’t think they are special enough. There is too much uncertainty about the origin and function of these six pyramid-like structures.
I have also left the various theme parks out of the overview. Loro Parque, Siam Park, Aqualand and Jungle Park are loved by the tourists. However, I think they have little to do with the island of Tenerife itself and therefore I class them under the category “entertainment without necessity”. Nice if you are bored or if you have to keep your kids entertained for a day, but no more than that.
About the ‘5x see and do’ articles
These kinds of inspiration articles are written on my own experiences and preferences. As a travel journalist, I know better than anyone that what are seen as the absolute highlights of a destination can sometimes not arouse your interest at all. If museums are not your thing, why would you visit one museum after another during a city trip?
The same goes for churches and other faith buildings. If you don’t like it at all, you just skip it, right? During my many travels I have learned that the atmosphere and the people of a destination are often much more important than a list of highlights that you have to work through step by step.
“Traveling is an exercise with fatal consequences for prejudice, intolerance and narrow-mindedness”.