Tenerife is one of my favourite places in the world. The island offers a huge variety of landscapes and activities, ranging from tropical beaches lined with palm trees to lunar volcanic deserts.
When I was asked to participate in the #SpainOnMyMind campaign I was thrilled at the opportunity of writing about Tenerife. I spent two months living on the island, and would love to return one day.
There is more to Tenerife than the tourist resorts you might be thinking of. Tenerife is actually a very exciting destination, where you can go surfing, paragliding, whale watching, hiking and many other outdoors adventures.
In this article I put together a compilation of all the most awesome things to do in Tenerife, which made me fall in love with this Spanish island. If you love spending time outdoors, Tenerife is the perfect destination for you.
So without further ado, read on to discover all the beauties that Tenerife has to offer!
- 1 15 awesome things to do in Tenerife
- 1.1 Explore Teide National Park
- 1.2 Go hiking in the Parque Rural de Anaga
- 1.3 Relax at Playa de las Teresitas
- 1.4 Enjoy the waves at Playa de Benijo
- 1.5 Learn to surf in Las Americas
- 1.6 Admire the view from Mirador Cruz del Carmen
- 1.7 Discover the village of Masca
- 1.8 Explore the Teno mountains
- 1.9 Admire the cliffs of Los Gigantes
- 1.10 Visit San Cristobal de la Laguna
- 1.11 Go paragliding!
- 1.12 Go to a beach bar for sunset drinks
- 1.13 Taste the local cuisine
- 1.14 Hike the Rambla de Castro trail
- 1.15 Visit the natural pools of Garachico
- 2 Where to stay in Tenerife
15 awesome things to do in Tenerife
Explore Teide National Park
Mount Teide is an active volcano in Tenerife. Its peak is at 3,715 metres, making it the highest post in Spain and one of the tallest volcanoes in Europe. No visit to Tenerife would be complete without a visit to Mount Teide.
Teide National Park covers a surface area of 190km squared, and encompasses a vast variety of landscapes. If you love hiking, you need to dedicate at least a couple days exploring the beauty of this volcano.
One of the most popular hikes is without a doubt Roque de García. This is a 3.5km circular trail, with a 170m elevation change.
The trail is well marked and easy to walk on, making it a fairly easy hike for all levels. It will take maximum 2 hours to do.
Sitting at 2,000 metres, this hike has excellent views of the summit of Mount Teide, as well as the surrounding rocky landscape. There are unique rock formations dotted all alongside the trail, which ensure the views never get boring.
Another must-see hike is the one at Mirador de Sámara. Despite being at a similar height as Roque de García, the landscape and views here are completely different.
This hike is famous because of the distinctive view of the pine trees growing out of the black lava field, with the summit of Mount Teide on one side and the view over the sea on the other.
The trail is around 10km long, with an elevation change of 400m and takes around 2.5 hours. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, and one of the things that fascinated me most about Tenerife.
On almost every Spain bucket list you will also find visiting the summit of Mount Teide. Standing at 3,700 metres, high above the clouds with views of the sea and surrounding islands is an experience like no other.
Go hiking in the Parque Rural de Anaga
The Parue Rural de Anaga is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Tenerife. The natural landscape here is completely different from the south of the island and from the areas surrounding Mount Teide.
Here you will find a jagged green coastline, with dramatic peaks and cliffs directly over the sea.
I spent much of my time exploring Anaga playing the soundtrack of Jurassic Park in the background, and once you get here, it will be easy to see why.
There are lots of hiking trails in Anaga, which will allow you to thoroughly explore this part of Tenerife. My personal favourite is the one leading to the Semaforo of Igueste.
Starting at the small town of Igueste, this 4.5km trail has spectacular views everywhere you look. The hike is very steep (470m gain) and will take around 2.5 hours.
During the hike you will be able to admire the steep green mountains on one side, and the sea on the other. The white houses of Igueste are perched along the mountainside, creating a beautiful contrast with the lush green vegetation.
There are lots of gorgeous hikes also on the northern coast of Tenerife, such as the ones at Roque de Taborno and Benijo. You can find all the hike specifications on the official Tenerife tourism website.
Whatever hike you choose, make sure to pack your hiking essentials and be ready for a fun day exploring stunning natural landscapes!
Relax at Playa de las Teresitas
There are many beautiful beaches all over the island, but Playa de las Teresitas was without a doubt one of my favourites.
Located in the north of the island, beyond Santa Cruz de Tenerife and nestled along the coastline of Anaga, it’s one of the most scenic beaches I’ve ever seen.
Playa de las Teresitas is 1.3km long and 80m wide, meaning there is plenty of space to go around! The beach is characterised by white sand, turquoise water and the dramatic cliffs of Anaga that surround it.
There is a viewpoint over the beach that I highly recommend visiting when you go there, as it will allow you to really admire the beauty and size of Playa de las Teresitas.
You can pair a visit to Playa de las Teresitas with one of the hikes in the Parque Rural de Anaga. After spending a few hours hiking and observing the beautiful views, you can relax on this white sand beach and cool down in the clear turquoise sea.
Enjoy the waves at Playa de Benijo
On the northern coast of Tenerife, also nestled amongst the cliffs of the Parque Rural de Anaga, you will find Playa de Benijo. Playa de Benijo is a black sand beach, surrounded by steep cliffs.
This beach is famous for its scenic surrounding and huge waves. You can usually find children (and adults alike) jumping in the waves, and others relaxing and tanning on the black sand.
It has a wilder and more rugged feeling than Playa de las Teresitas, and it’s the perfect place for a relaxing stop after a hike on the northern side of Anaga.
Learn to surf in Las Americas
Here you can find consistent waves for all levels. Playa Las Americas is the main surf spot, but as a beginner, I often found it too crowded and too close to the rocky reef for my liking.
I took regular classes with Surf Life Tenerife, and I loved that they always take you surfing to a different spot just along the coast. Here the waves are smaller, the reef isn’t as close and it’s nowhere near as busy.
Admire the view from Mirador Cruz del Carmen
As you may have guessed there are many gorgeous views all over Tenerife, but Mirador Cruz del Carmen deserves a special mention. Located on the outskirts of Anaga, you can combine this viewpoint with some easy hiking trails.
From the main parking area and tourist information desk you can do two easy trails that go through the surrounding laurel forests, and admire the view over the valley below.
On clear days you can see also the Teide summit. When I was visiting it had recently snowed on the Teide peak, which created the beautiful contrast you see in the photo below!
Discover the village of Masca
Masca is one of the most unique places in Tenerife, and one you simply must visit while you’re on the island. This small mountain village is nestled amongst the Macizo de Teno mountains, and offers views like no other.
It was originally a Guanche settlement, before Spain took conquered the Canary Islands, and is now home to around 90 inhabitants.
The road to reach it is very narrow and with numerous bends, but the view while driving are well worth the slight motion sickness you might get!
There are a number of viewpoints that you can stop at while driving, to better admire the surrounding mountains and small town of Masca.
Once you reach the town itself you can spend some time walking around, soaking in the calm beauty of Masca.
Explore the Teno mountains
Located on the north-western side of the island, the Teno mountain range often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Here you will find many incredible hikes, views and cute towns.
We did a hike with Anaga Experience in the Teno mountains and despite the cloudy weather, it was a great experience.
Starting in Teno Alto we hiked for 10km all the way down to the Punta Teno lighthouse, crossing all sorts of different landscapes throughout the hike. The Punta de Teno hike has an elevation change of 900m, but it’s mostly all downhill.
Once we reached the bottom we even went for a swim in the sea, it was much needed after the long trek! Other popular hikes in Teno are those surrounding Masca.
Admire the cliffs of Los Gigantes
Los Gigantes is a town on the west coast of Tenerife, famous for the huge cliffs that surround it. The Acantilados de Los Gigantes are giant rock formations that reach up to 500-800 metres in height, towering above the sea and town.
Los Gigantes means “The Giants”, an apt name! There is a beautiful viewpoint just before reaching the town, where you can enjoy the view over the cliffs and sea.
There is also a small beach in town, where you can relax while enjoying the surrounding scenery of Los Gigantes.
A popular way to admire Los Gigantes is from the sea; there are many boat tours that will take you sailing along the coast of Los Gigantes. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some whales and dolphins!
Visit San Cristobal de la Laguna
San Cristobal de la Laguna, commonly known as just La Laguna, is a city in the northern part of Tenerife. It used to be the capital city of the island, and even if it no longer holds that title, it’s still a must-see in Tenerife.
The historical centre of the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. You can easily spend a few hours walking around the historical centre, admiring the colonial architecture and feeling like you stepped back in time.
For the real adrenaline junkies out there, this is a must-do bucket list activity! The mountains of Tenerife make for excellent set off spots, and the views are second to none.
You set off from the tall Jurassic Park style mountains, soaring high above the trees and rock formations, flying towards the sea. Paragliding is always a thrilling experience, but with such a gorgeous landscape it becomes even more special.
Go to a beach bar for sunset drinks
While the stunning natural landscapes and fun activities are what made me fall in love with Tenerife, the sense of normalcy that comes with enjoying drinks on the beach at sunset is one of the things I’m craving the most, and can’t wait to go back to.
The west coast of Tenerife is lined with fun beach bars, for all sorts of budgets and tastes. Some have a more club and dancing vibe, while others have a more laid back and chilled surfer vibe.
Taste the local cuisine
Spanish cuisine is amongst my favourite in the world, and in Tenerife there are plenty of restaurants where you can taste it. I especially love tapas and pinchos, since with their little dishes they allow you to taste lots of different plates in one meal.
Some of my favourite restaurants in Tenerife were El Jardin de la Abuela and La Cuevita del Mar. You can try all the traditional Canarian dishes like papas arrugadas, pimientos del padron and almogrote cheese.
Eating delicious Canarian food after a long day of exploring Tenerife, hiking or surfing is the perfect ending for a day in Tenerife. I can’t wait to go back to Tenerife and taste the flavoursome Canarian cheeses again.
Hike the Rambla de Castro trail
This coastal walk was amongst my favourite trails in Tenerife. With its steep cliffs and palm trees, Rambla de Castro will give you some serious Bali vibes.
You can also hike down to Playa de Castro, a black rock beach surrounded by tall cliffs. Here you will also find a waterfall that you can stand under and cool down, it’s easily one of the most scenic waterfalls I’ve ever seen!
There isn’t much elevation and the path is well kept and easy to walk along. It’s a fairly easy hike with stunning coastal views, which I think should feature on any Tenerife bucket list.
Visit the natural pools of Garachico
Given the rocky coastline and powerful sea of Tenerife, it shouldn’t surprise you that there are countless natural pools all over the island. My personal favourites were the natural pools of Garachico.
Located in the town of Garachico, the Piscinas Naturales de El Caleton are natural salt-water rock pools that you can swim in. There are also man made additions where you can sun bathe and chill between swims.
Personally I really enjoyed these pools as we were visiting on a day when the sea was very big, and we spent the afternoon diving in the huge waves and playing in the current.
Where to stay in Tenerife
When deciding where to stay in Tenerife, you need to take into account your personal preferences. Tenerife is an incredibly varied island, which can accommodate many different type of travellers.
If you’re a young traveller looking to party and meet new people you would have more fun staying in Las Americas, if you’re a family looking for a peaceful beach holiday you will prefer Costa Adeje, or if you’re a hiking fan you would probably prefer staying in Puerto de la Cruz or La Laguna.
However it’s always handy to remember that Tenerife is a small island, and regardless of where you’re staying you can easily drive around the whole island in around one hour.
So while you might prefer staying close to the lively nightlife of Las Americas, you could be hiking up Mount Teide after just a 1.5 hour drive. I listed below some accommodation options for every budget in different parts of the island.
Budget: Banana Surf House – This cute surf house is perfect for those looking for a cosy stay in a great location, without breaking the bank. It also has a huge rooftop with great sea views.
Mid-range: El Dorado Residence – I spent my first two months in Tenerife in an apartment in this residence, and loved every day of it. My apartment was spacious, in a great location (close to both the beach and supermarket) and had awesome sea and sunset views. I can highly recommend it.
Luxury: Hotel Rural La Correa Del Almendro – This hotel is set in a traditional Canarian barn from the 1720s, and it still retains the rugged look, while having modern comforts like a pool. Located in Arona, it’s perfect for those who want to be close to Las Americas, without being in the heart of the party town.
Final thoughts on the top things to do in Tenerife
There you have it, the ultimate compilation of best things to do in Tenerife! I hope you find this guide useful in planning your trip to Tenerife, and that it has inspired you to head straight to the island once we’ll be able to travel freely again!
Thanks to the huge variety of landscapes and things to do, you never run the risk of being bored. Even after spending two months living there, I always found a new hiking trail or surf spot I hadn’t yet explored.
So while Spain is without a doubt on my mind, it’s mostly Tenerife I’m thinking about, and I can’t wait to go back there!
This post was brought to you as a result of the #SpainOnMyMind campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Spain Tourist Office. Greta’s Travels maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.