Tenerife is the largest of the Canary islands, a cosmopolitan island with impressive natural beauty. With great weather all year-long, Tenerife is a top summer holiday destination. On this page we collected useful information about what to do in Tenerife, activities and sightseeing, the beaches and villages, food and nightlife as well as ferry schedules and island-hopping in the Canary islands.
Holidays in Tenerife
Tenerife, an island of volcanic origin, is an unforgettable destination for lovers of nature and sea. It’s located in the west side of the Canary island complex, in between Gran Canaria and La Gomera. Due to its location in the western coast of Africa, the climate of Tenerife is mild, with warm temperatures throughout the whole year and for that reason it is often called ‘the island of eternal spring’.
Holidays in Tenerife should start from its impressive capital, Santa Cruz. Located in the northeast side of the island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a beautiful coastal city and important port. You should definitely walk around the historical centre, just above the sea level and enjoy its unique architecture. Check out the 16th century cathedral of Santa Cruz (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción), the iconic Auditorio de Tenerife (designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava), the botanical garden of Palmetum, the Farola del Mar lighthouse as well as Tenerife’s museum of contemporary art Espacio de las Artes (TEA).
If you want to experience the vibrant and spectacular face of the island you should definitely visit Tenerife during the Carnival! The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is the second biggest carnival after the one in Rio de Janeiro and it’s a huge event that lasts for at least two weeks with themed parties, parades, music in the streets, impressive costumes and of course the Election of the Carnival Queen! You can find out more about the Tenerife Carnival on our relevant blog.
Detail from the central, large, square of Plaza de España in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Beaches in Tenerife
Tenerife has many beaches to choose from, spread across its southern and northern coasts. Many of the beaches have black or red sand because of the volcano, and you can choose amongst organized beaches, party beaches, secluded options, as well as beaches and coves in a wild landscape. The south of Tenerife is generally more touristic with resorts,beach clubs and water sports facilities, while the north side is less developed and the scenery feels more untouched. Most of the organized beaches in Tenerife have disabled access. Here is a list with some of the best beaches in Tenerife depending on location:
Beaches in the south of Tenerife
- Playa El Duque: beach with golden sand in Costa Adeje. Organized with sunbeds and parasols, beach bars, restaurants and a supermarket nearby.
- Playa Las Vistas: One of the most popular beaches in South Tenerife. Long beach, with thin golden sand, located in Arona. Organised, with parasols and sunbeds, many restaurants, shops and beach bars. It can be very busy so make sure to arrive early for a good spot.
- La Tejita: Quiet and secluded beach, close to the airport. Sandy beach surrounded by red volcanic rocks, nudist-friendly and great for surfing or snorkelling.
- El Medano: Sandy beach in an impressive scenery, and view of the Montana Roja rock. Great for kitesurfing or windsurfing as it’s often windy and it has small waves, as well as family-friendly on the side that is closer to the town of Granadilla de Abona.
- Playa de Aguadulce: One of the few beaches with a mix of pebbles and black sand, ideal for surfers and wave-lovers. Secluded and non organized in a beautiful wild scenery.
- Playa de Puerto Santiago: Small beach with black sand, next to a picturesque fishing village. In June you can enjoy the celebration of the San Juan bonfires there.
The beautiful scenery on the beach of La Tejita.
Beaches in the north of Tenerife
- El Bollullo: Calm, secluded beach with black volcanic sand and surrounded by impressive cliffs, close to Puerto de la Cruz.
- Playa El Socorro: Popular amongst surfers and swimmers, with black sand and waves that break away from the shore. It has a beach bar and other essential facilities.
- San Marcos: Beach with black volcanic sand and protected from the weather. It’s family-friendly and it can get busy during the summer as well as the shops and restaurants nearby.
- Las Teresitas: The beach of the capital of Santa Cruz is long with golden sand and palm trees. Calm and clear waters, with many amenities for a relaxing day at the beach.
- Antequera Beach: Remote and secluded beach, accessible by boat or a long and slightly difficult hike. Beautiful scenery, the beach has thin grey sand and it’s nudist-friendly.
Tip: Tenerife is an amazing place to swim, play with the waves, and do water sports. However, we would suggest that you are particularly careful (especially in unorganized, unattended beaches) as the waves and tides can be strong.
The long sandy beach of Las Teresitas close to the capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Activities in Tenerife
The island of Tenerife is one of the most touristically developed in the Canary Islands, so it offers a variety of activities for different tastes and budgets. At the same time, the island’s nature allows visitors to enjoy many outdoor activities all year long! Across the coast, there are surf schools, water-sports, and scuba diving centers. Our recommendations for activities in Tenerife are:
- Golf (the island has 8 golf courses)
- Whale watching in the southwest coast
- Water Park (Siam Park), one of the biggest in Europe, great for families.
Hiking trail above Vilaflor towards Paisaje Lunar in Tenerife.
Sightseeing in Tenerife
If you want to take a break from surfing or sunbathing in one of Tenerife’s amazing beaches, we suggest that you explore the cultural and natural sights of the island. Here are some of the most impressive natural sights to visit in Tenerife:
- The Teide National Park
- The natural reserve of ‘El Barranco del Infierno’
- The Orotava Valley with its picturesque villages
- The lunar landscape (paisaje lunar), created following volcanic explosions
- The Anaga rural park
- The Teno rural park
- Cueva del Viento a series of caves with lava tubes and impressive rock structures.
Exotic plants and impressive scenery in the Teide National Park.
Apart from a unique natural beauty, Tenerife has many beautiful villages and active cultural life. Some suggestions for heritage and cultural sights in Tenerife:
- The hamlet of Masca
- The hamlet of Icor
- The town of La Orotava
- The fishing village of Candelaria
- The city of San Cristobal de la Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sunrise over the historical town of San Cristobal de la Laguna, in the north of Tenerife.
Food in Tenerife
The Canary islands cuisine has been influenced by both Europe and the Americas and as a result the food culture is very rich and with a variety of tastes. Also, the volcanic soil as well as the mild climate help the growth of plants and vegetables. When in Tenerife we recommend that you try some of the following recipes and local delicacies:
- Potatoes papas arrugadas
- Mojo or Almogrote sauce
- Rabbit, chicken or tuna stew en salmorejo
- Ropa vieja soup
- Local Wine
- Bananas (as well as banana jam or banana wine and vinegar!)
- Fresh Fish
- The local liquor Barraquito
- Almond based desserts
Tip: Visit the food market in the Mercado Municipal Nuestra Señora de Africa, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Apart from the impressive building, you will find some amazing seafood and tapas to try on the spot or local ingredients to buy. It usually opens daily from 8.00 to 14.30.
Nightlife in Tenerife
Beyond its amazing natural landscapes, exotic beaches, and picturesque villages, Tenerife is also a destination to enjoy nightlife and parties. The top place for that is the South of the island and more specifically the clubs, bars and pubs in Playa de Las Americas, Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos. From the port of Los Cristianos depart many party cruises as well. In the capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, you can also find many bars, bistros, and clubs as well as in the town of Puerto de la Cruz in the northwest of the island.
Sunset over the streets of Playa de Las Americas, where you can find some of the best bars and clubs in Tenerife.
Useful information and numbers for Tenerife
Tenerife is a popular holiday destination and it has a large tourist influx, almost 6 million visitors per year. The island has 2 international airports, one in the South and one in the North of the island. The largest one is Aeropuerto de Tenerife Sur (or Aeropuerto Reina Sofia) located in the southeast, which serves direct flights to/from northern and central Europe, Russia, Israel, Morocco, and mainland Spain. The airport in the north of the island is located in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, close to the capital of Santa Cruz, and serves primarily domestic flights across the Canary Islands and mainland Spain.
In order to get around the island, we recommend that you rent a car in order to have the flexibility and explore as many areas as you can. The cheapest way to travel around Tenerife is by bus. The public bus company is called Titsa and it has green and white buses that serve routes from the capital of Santa Cruz and the airports to many coastal towns and villages across the island. If you are going to regularly use the Tenerife bus services we suggest that you buy a Ten+ bus card for discounted fares. There is also the option of using taxis however it is the most expensive option as the distances can be quite long. In the city of Santa Cruz, you can also use the tram, which is fast and cheap.
In terms of accommodation, Tenerife offers many options for different budgets. The most popular resort areas are Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Americas, and Puerto de la Cruz. If you are visiting Tenerife to surf then the best location to stay is in El Medano, while if you are on a hiking trip then it’s best to choose San Cristóbal de la Laguna or Santiago del Teide. If you want to experience the local atmosphere we recommend staying in the capital of Santa Cruz and if you are looking for some of the greatest ocean views on the island, find a place in Los Gigantes.
Here are some useful contact numbers for your stay in Tenerife:
- Tourist information services (Santa Cruz): +34 922239811 / 922 239592
- Airport Tenerife North: +34 922635800
- Reina Sofía Airport, Tenerife South: +34 922759000
- Hospital Sur, Playa de las Américas: +34 922750022
- Hospital Costa Adeje: +34 922791000
- Port Authority Santa Cruz: +34 922605426
- Lifeguard / Coastguard: +34 900202202
- Titsa Bus Company: +34 922531300
- Taxi Santa Cruz: +34 922311012 / 922 200404
- Taxi Los Cristianos: +34 922796611
- Emergency number: 112
- Police: 091
The coastal town of Los Gigantes, set in unique scenery between huge rock formations.
Ferry schedules and ferry tickets from Tenerife
Tenerife is very well connected with the nearby Canary islands so it's an ideal departure point for island-hopping! The island of Tenerife has 2 main ports:
- The port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, located on the northeast side of the island. Mostly serves ferry routes to Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Huelva, Lanzarote.
- The port of Los Cristianos is on the southern coast of the island. Mostly serves ferry routes to La Gomera, El Hierro, La Palma.
Although it's not the most popular way to get to Tenerife, due to the long duration of the trip, there is also the option of traveling with a direct ferry from the south of Spain to Tenerife. You can take a ferry from the port of Cádiz or the port of Huelva and the ferry trip can be from 36 to 60 hours long. It is a great option if you want to transfer your vehicle or camper van in Tenerife or if you are planning a road trip in the Canary islands!
Island-hopping from Tenerife
Due to its location in the middle of the Canary Island complex, you can easily organize an island-hopping trip from Tenerife to the neighboring islands and experience as much of the local atmosphere as possible. Here are the most popular ferry connections from Tenerife:
- Ferry from Tenerife to Gran Canaria: The port of Santa Cruz in Tenerife has regular ferry connections to both the ports of Gran Canaria, the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the east, and the port of Agaete in the west. Depending on the port of arrival the ferry trip can be from 1,5 to 2 hours.
- Ferry from Tenerife to La Gomera: While in Tenerife you should definitely consider visiting the neighboring island of La Gomera, a place of impressive wild beauty. There are ferries from both Los Cristianos and Santa Cruz de Tenerife to the ports of La Gomera and the ferry trip duration is from 50min to 1,5 hours.
- Ferry from Tenerife to El Hierro: Traveling by ferry from Tenerife to El Hierro, the smallest and farthest south island of the archipelago is an excellent option. The ferry connection is frequent and the ferry journey lasts approximately 2,5 hours.
- Ferry from Tenerife to La Palma: From the port of Los Cristianos in Tenerife you can catch a ferry to the port of Santa Cruz in La Palma. The ferry connection lasts from 3 to 4 hours depending on the ferry operator.
- Ferry from Tenerife to Fuerteventura: The ferry connection between Tenerife and Fuerteventura is regular and serves both ports of Fuerteventura: Puerto del Rosario or Morro Jable. The Tenerife-Fuerteventura ferry trip can last from 6 to 11 hours depending on the port of arrival.
- Ferry from Tenerife to Lanzarote: The ferry connection between the two islands is served from the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife to the port of Arrecife in Lanzarote. The duration of the ferry trip varies from 10 to 20 hours, depending on the ferry operator, while the frequency of the route changes according to season.
On the Ferryhopper map of ferries, you can find all the available ferry connections from/to Tenerife and the Canary Islands in order to plan your island-hopping in the best possible way!
The port and town of Los Cristianos, in the south coast of Tenerife.
Where to book ferry tickets to Tenerife?
Looking for the cheapest ferry tickets from and to Tenerife? On Ferryhopper you can compare all ferry ticket prices, schedules, ferry companies and vessels at once, and book ferry tickets online fast and easy.