Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, a cosmopolitan destination with impressive natural beauty. With great weather all year long, Tenerife is a top holiday destination! Read our Tenerife travel guide and discover what to see in Tenerife, explore the top attractions, beaches and food on the island, and see the latest Tenerife ferry schedules.
Find all ferry routes and island-hopping options in the Canary Islands on Ferryhopper, to book cheap ferry tickets with confidence!
The colorful town of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife
Holidays in Tenerife
The island of Tenerife is of volcanic origin and it’s an unforgettable destination for lovers of nature and sea. It’s located in the west side of the Canary Islands group, between Gran Canaria and La Gomera.
Due to its location off the western coast of Africa, the climate of Tenerife is mild, with warm temperatures throughout the year. For that reason, it is often called “the island of eternal spring”.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the island capital, is the heart of the action. Located on the northeast side of the island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a beautiful coastal city and an important port. You should definitely walk around the historical center and enjoy its unique architecture.
Check out the 16th century cathedral of Santa Cruz, the iconic Auditorio de Tenerife which is 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 side of the island, we recommend that you arrange your vacation in 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, street music, impressive costumes and, of course, the Carnival Queen coronation!
Tip: Find out more about the Tenerife Carnival!
How to get to Tenerife
You can travel to Tenerife by plane or ferry. There are regular flights and ferry routes year-round, as Tenerife is a popular destination both during the summer, as well as off-season. The island welcomes almost 6 million visitors per year!
There are 2 international airports, one in the south of Tenerife and one on the northern part of the island. The largest one is Aeropuerto de Tenerife Sur (or Aeropuerto Reina Sofia), which is located in the south and serves direct flights to/from northern and central Europe, Russia, Israel, Morocco, and mainland Spain.
The northern airport (Tenerife North) is in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, close to the capital of Santa Cruz, and primarily serves domestic flights to/from the Canary Islands and mainland Spain.
As for Tenerife ferry routes, there are 3 weekly crossings from Huelva to Tenerife, as well as 1 weekly sailing from the port of Cádiz. The ferry companies currently serving ferry routes to Tenerife from mainland Spain are Trasmediterránea, Fred. Olsen Express and Naviera Armas.
Apart from ferry connections with mainland Spain, there are also ferries connecting Tenerife with more islands in the Canary archipelago. This means you can go crazy with island hopping! You can easily travel between Tenerife, El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, la Graciosa, La Palma, and Lanzarote several times a week!
Find all mainland Spain - Tenerife ferry schedules below.
Hiking trail above Vilaflor towards Paisaje Lunar in Tenerife
Things to do in Tenerife
Tenerife in the Canary Islands is all about beach experiences, nature exploration, night fun, and outdoor activities!
There are numerous beaches both in the north and the south of Tenerife, where you can enjoy the warm sun and amazing waters with family or friends. If you’re a surfing fan, then you’re in for a treat, as Tenerife is great for surfing and more water sports, particularly during the winter months.
As for losing yourself in the many natural marvels of Tenerife, there’s so much to see and do! From the impressive trails of Mount Teide to the volcanic Cueva del Viento cave, Tenerife offers nature enthusiasts with a plethora of unique sights!
Take your kids to Siam water park, go whale watching, hike on amazing trails among exotic plants and impressive rock formations, and enjoy great nights out at Playa de las Américas. Tenerife is all about making memories to last a lifetime!
Plan the perfect trip with our travel guide for Tenerife below.
Beaches in Tenerife
Tenerife has many beaches spread across its southern and northern coast. Many of the beaches have black or red volcanic sand, and you can choose amongst beaches offering visitor amenities, party beaches, secluded coasts, as well as beaches and coves in wild landscapes.
The south of Tenerife is generally more popular, featuring resorts, beach clubs and water sports facilities, while the north side is less developed and the scenery feels more untouched. Most of the tourist beaches in Tenerife have disabled access, as the island is one of the best destinations in Spain for people with disabilities.
Here are some of the best beaches in Tenerife:
Beaches in the south of Tenerife
- Playa El Duque: This is a popular beach with golden sand in Costa Adeje. There are sunbeds, umbrellas, beach bars, restaurants, as well as a supermarket nearby.
- Playa Las Vistas: It is one of the most popular beaches in south Tenerife. The long coast with the thin golden sand is located in Arona. You can find umbrellas and sunbeds, many restaurants, shops, and beach bars. It can get quite busy, so make sure to arrive early for a good spot.
- La Tejita: The sandy La Tejita beach is quiet and secluded, and it’s located close to the airport. It’s surrounded by red volcanic rocks, making it great for snorkeling as well as surfing. There’s also a clothing-optional part.
- El Medano: El Medano is a sandy beach with impressive scenery and a great view of the Montaña Roja rock. It is great for kitesurfing or windsurfing as it’s often windy and it has small waves. The Granadilla de Abona town side of the beach is family-friendly.
- Playa de Aguadulce: One of the few beaches with a mix of pebbles and black sand, Aguadulce is ideal for surfers and wave-lovers. The secluded beach is in a wild, untamed scenery.
- Playa de Puerto Santiago: It is a small beach with black sand, next to a picturesque fishing village in the south side of Tenerife. In June, you can usually enjoy the celebration of the San Juan bonfires there.
The popular El Duque beach
Beaches in the north of Tenerife
- El Bollullo: It’s a calm, secluded beach with black volcanic sand. It is surrounded by impressive cliffs and it's close to Puerto de la Cruz.
- El Socorro: Popular amongst surfers and swimmers, the beach has black sand and waves that break away from the shore. There’s also a beach bar and more facilities.
- San Marcos: San Marcos is a wind-protected beach with black volcanic sand. It’s family-friendly and it can get busy during the summer. There are shops and restaurants nearby.
- Las Teresitas: The beach of the capital of Santa Cruz is long with golden sand and palm trees. The waters are calm and clear, and there are many amenities for a relaxing day at the beach.
- Antequera: This is a remote and secluded beach, accessible by boat or a long and slightly challenging hike that leads to a beautiful scenery. The beach has thin grey sand and it’s nude-friendly.
Tip: Tenerife is an amazing place to swim, play with the waves and do water sports. El Arenal in Tenerife is one of the best surf spots in the Canaries. Remember to be particularly careful (especially in remote beaches), as waves and tides can be strong.
The long sandy beach of Las Teresitas
Sightseeing and activities in Tenerife
The island of Tenerife is one of the most 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, as well as water sports and scuba diving centers.
The island has 8 golf courses and one of the biggest water parks in Europe!
Our recommendations for activities in Tenerife are:
- Whale watching (in the southwest coast)
- Siam waterpark
If you want to take a break from surfing or sunbathing at one of Tenerife’s amazing beaches, Ferryhopper suggests that you explore the cultural and natural sites of the island.
Here are some of the most impressive natural attractions to visit in Tenerife:
- Teide National Park: The park of Mount Teide, the impressive volcano of Tenerife, is a magnificent natural area with lots of visitor services. It is the largest park in Tenerife and features lava formations and volcanic rocks. Exploring the mountain is one of the best things to do in Tenerife.
- Barranco del Infierno: The name translates as “ravine of hell”, which speaks volumes about its wild landscape. The amazing nature reserve consists of a breathtaking gorge, lush vegetation, endemic flora and fauna, and the highest waterfall in Tenerife.
- Orotava Valley: This beautiful valley is one of the most renowned areas in Tenerife. With its picturesque villages and marvelous views, it attracts hikers, drivers and horseback riders.
- Paisaje Lunar: This is an awe-inspiring volcanic area that is ideal for hikers who want to go the extra mile! To enjoy the lunar feeling of the area to the fullest, we recommend following the 4-hour path leading there from Vilaflor.
- Anaga Rural Park: The Anaga mountains are close to Santa Cruz de Tenerife and it’s the perfect place to explore the mountainous side of Tenerife. Laurel trees and impressive ravines make up this amazing UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
- Teno Rural Park: There are 13 different hiking trails in Teno, which take you through amazing sceneries, quaint villages and exotic cacti valleys. The view to the sea from the mountain peaks is phenomenal!
- Cueva del Viento: In this magnificent series of caves, you can explore lava tubes and marvel at impressive rock structures.
Hiking at the Teide National Park
Apart from a unique natural beauty, Tenerife island has many beautiful villages and an active cultural life. Here are some suggestions for heritage and cultural sights in Tenerife:
- Auditorio de Tenerife: Visit this majestic contemporary building in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, to attend a music performance and more cultural and business events.
- Tenerife Espacio de las Artes: The building houses the municipal library of Santa Cruz, as well as important painting, photos and sculptures.
- Hamlet of Masca: The traditional village of Masca in Tenerife is one of the best examples of authentic living on the island. The cute houses of the remote hamlet are built with volcanic rock, wood and mud.
- Hamlet of Icor: This small 16th century village takes visitors back in time! Excellent examples of rural architecture and a revived local community make it one of the nicest places to visit in the Canaries.
- Casa de los Balcones: The beautiful building is in the town of La Orotava, which is also home to many more architectural gems. The “house of balconies” is nowadays home to the local crafts center.
- Basilica of Candelaria: This beautiful church is in the town of Candelaria and it’s known as a place of worship for many locals and travelers who visit to admire the Black Madonna.
- San Cristóbal de la Laguna: This town close to Santa Cruz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a paradise for architecture enthusiasts. We recommend wandering around the alleys to admire the beautiful mansions.
The beautiful Casa de los Balcones in La Orotava
Nightlife in Tenerife
Beyond its amazing natural landscapes, exotic beaches and picturesque villages, Tenerife is also a party destination with a vivid nightlife. The best place for partying is the south of the island.
The clubs, bars and pubs in Playa de Las Américas, Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos attract many travelers who are after endless hours of fiesta! The port of Los Cristianos is also the starting point of many party cruises. In the capital city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, as well as in the town of Puerto de la Cruz in the northwest of the island, you can find many bars, bistros and clubs too.
Food in Tenerife
The Canary Islands cuisine has been influenced by both Europe and the Americas. As a result, the food culture is very rich and includes a variety of dishes and culinary approaches.
Also, the volcanic soil and warm climate contribute to the growth of plants and vegetables of rich taste and exceptional quality!
When in Tenerife, we recommend that you try some of the following recipes and local delicacies:
- Papas arrugadas con mojo rojo: boiled potatoes with chili and garlic sauce
- Almogrote: sauce made with cured cheese, peppers and garlic
- Conejo en salmorejo: rabbit stew (also made with chicken or tuna)
- Ropa vieja: chickpeas and meat soup
- Bananas (as well as banana jam or banana wine and vinegar!)
- Local wine
- Fresh fish
- Barraquito: milk, coffee, coffee liqueur and lemon drink
- Quesillo: local custard (flan)
- Frangollo: almonds and milk pudding
Tip: Visit the food market of 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 08:00 to 14:30.
Towns and villages in Tenerife
Which side of Tenerife is the best? Well, both sides of Tenerife are pretty amazing! The south of Tenerife is warmer than the north year-round and there are also more resorts, clubs and traveler amenities. If you’re keen to experience the local lifestyle, then the northern part of the island is perfect as it has quaint towns, dreamy landscapes and a more laid-back atmosphere.
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, a great option is to stay in the capital. For the top ocean views on the island, find a place in Los Gigantes.
Have a look at some of the major towns and villages in Tenerife below.
The south of Tenerife
The south side of Tenerife is generally considered to be the party coast of the island! Most travelers choose the south side due to its lively lifestyle and plethora of entertainment options. There are several popular towns and villages to visit or choose for your accommodation.
Here are some of the top locations in the south of Tenerife:
- Costa Adeje
- Los Cristianos
- La Caleta
- Playa de las Américas
- Santiago del Teide
- Playa Abama
- Puerto de Santiago
- Los Gigantes
- El Médano
- San Miguel de Abona
Awe-inspiring rock formations in Los Gigantes
The north of Tenerife
In the northern coast of Tenerife, you will find virgin volcanic beaches of wild beauty, remote spots to relax, as well as quaint towns and villages. It is great for families, as well as adventure seekers. There are also many towns and villages, where you can have fun at night away from the crowds of the southern coast.
We recommend you visit the following locations in the north of Tenerife:
- Santa Cruz de Tenerife
- San Cristóbal de la Laguna
- San Andrés
- La Orotava
Here are more tips about Tenerife to feel like a local!
- Tenerife is great for holidays all year long. You can visit the island for your Christmas vacation, during the Easter break, as well as for a winter or spring break getaway. The weather in Tenerife is warm even in December or January!
- The most affordable time of the year to visit Tenerife is during spring or fall. There are also fewer people on the island during these months.
- You need at least 1 week to experience the best of Tenerife, but we recommend you stay on the island for 10-14 days if you wish to truly relax and feel the local way of life.
- For authentic dining and local wine, don’t miss out on the guachinches of Tenerife, the wine farms serving delicious wines and affordable finger-licking treats
- If you’re not traveling to the island with a vehicle, we recommend that you rent a car to explore the mountainous areas of Tenerife and the secluded beaches. Plus, car rental is quite affordable on the island!
- So, where to stay in Tenerife? Well, if you’re into beach fun and partying, the south of Tenerife is the place for you. If you prefer relaxing holidays and you’re into hiking, the north is the ideal option.
Sunset over the streets of Playa de las Américas
Useful information for Tenerife
Tenerife combines unspoiled experiences and virgin nature with high-end traveler services.
In terms of accommodation, you can find anything you want on the island, from remote village rentals away from the crowds to bustling resorts and luxury villas! Tenerife offers many options for different budgets. The most popular resorts are Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas and Puerto de la Cruz.
As for hospitals, there are both public and private health centers to choose from should you require medical attention. Some of the largest medical centers on the island are: Hospital de Sur de Tenerife, Hospital del Norte de Tenerife, Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, and Hospital Universitario de Canarias.
Tip: Despite the warm weather in Tenerife, don’t forget to pack a jacket even during the summer. It can get quite chilly if you’re staying at one of the mountain villages or heading there for a night hike!
Important phone numbers for your stay in Tenerife
Here are some useful contacts for your trip to Tenerife:
- European emergency number: 112
- Tourist information services (Santa Cruz): +34922239811 / +34922239592
- Santa Cruz Port Authority: +34922605426
- Tenerife North - Ciudad de la Laguna Airport: +34922635800
- Tenerife South - Reina Sofía Airport: +34922759000
- Hospital del Sur de Tenerife: +34922174744
- Hospital del Norte de Tenerife: +34922923107
- Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria: +34922602000
- Maritime safety: +34900202202
- TITSA buses: +34922531300
- Taxi services (Santa Cruz): +34922311012
- Taxi services (Los Cristianos): +34922796611
- Police: 091
Transportation in Tenerife
In order to flexibly get around the island, we recommend that you rent a car 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 Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the airports to many coastal towns and villages across the island.
If you are going to regularly use the Tenerife bus services, consider purchasing a Tenmas (Ten+) card at discount fares.
There is also the option of using taxis, but it is more costly, as the distances can be quite long. In the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, you can also use the tram, which is fast and affordable.
Ports in Tenerife
Tenerife is 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:
- Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife: It’s located on the northeast side of the island and it mostly serves ferry routes to Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Huelva, Cádiz, and Lanzarote. The port of Santa Cruz is approximately 1 hour from the city center on foot and 15 minutes by car or taxi.
- Port of Los Cristianos: This port is on the southern coast of the island and it mostly serves ferry routes to La Gomera, El Hierro, La Palma, as well as more routes within the island group. The port is easily accessible on foot from the town, and it is smaller than the major port of the island capital.
There are gas stations, parking lots, grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels at both ports.
The port town of Los Cristianos, Tenerife
Island hopping from Tenerife
Due to its location in the middle of the Canary archipelago, you can easily organize an island-hopping trip from Tenerife to the neighboring islands and get to see the best of the Canaries!
Here are the most popular ferry routes from Tenerife:
- Ferry from Tenerife to Gran Canaria: There are up to 10 ferries from Tenerife to Gran Canaria per day. Ferries from Santa Cruz de Tenerife travel both to the port of Agaete and the port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. The trip duration ranges from 1.5 to 6 hours.
- Ferry from Tenerife to La Gomera: The ferry trip to La Gomera from Tenerife is available around 4 times per day. You can normally catch a ferry to La Gomera both from Santa Cruz and Los Cristianos. The average crossing duration is just 1 hour.
- Ferry from Tenerife to El Hierro: Normally, there are 7 weekly ferry routes from Tenerife to El Hierro. Traveling by ferry from Tenerife to El Hierro takes around 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 Tenerife - La Palma ferry trip lasts from 2.5 to 5 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 and Morro Jable. The Tenerife - Fuerteventura ferry trip can last from 5 to 16 hours depending on the port of arrival and any stopover time.
- Ferry from Tenerife to Lanzarote: The ferry route connects the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife with the port of Arrecife in Lanzarote. The duration of the ferry trip from Tenerife to Lanzarote varies from 10 to 20 hours, depending on the ferry operator, while the frequency of the route changes according to season.
Ferry from La Gomera approaching the port of Los Cristianos
Tenerife ferry: schedules and tickets
Catching a ferry to Tenerife from mainland Spain may not be the most popular transport option, but it certainly is the most exciting! It’s like a mini cruise off the northwestern coast of Africa, perfect to enjoy ocean views and enhanced ferry amenities.
Ferry travel from the south of Spain to Tenerife is also a great option if you want to transfer your vehicle or camper van to Tenerife or if you are planning a road trip in the Canary Islands!
The ferry companies serving ferry routes to Tenerife from mainland Spain are Naviera Armas, Fred. Olsen Express and Trasmediterránea.
Here are all Tenerife ferries from Huelva and Cádiz:
- Ferry from Huelva to Tenerife: There are normally 3 weekly ferry crossings from Huelva to Tenerife. Ferries from Huelva arrive at the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the trip lasts from 31 to 38 hours. Standard tickets are approximately €110.
- Ferry from Cádiz to Tenerife: The ferry trip from Cádiz to Tenerife is serviced once per week. It takes around 41 hours to reach the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and tickets cost approximately €170.
Where to book ferry tickets online to Tenerife?
Can’t wait to explore the marvels of Tenerife and discover the best beaches, sights and experiences on the island? Book cheap ferry tickets to Tenerife in just a few clicks on Ferryhopper! On our Map of ferries, you can find all available ferry connections from/to Tenerife and the Canary Islands, to plan your island-hopping holidays with confidence!