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, from ferry routes, activities and sightseeing to the best beaches, villages and local dishes. Find all ferry schedules and island-hopping options in the Canary Islands on Ferryhopper.
Vacation 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 Islands 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 year. For that reason it is often called ‘the island of eternal spring’.
Holidays in Tenerife usually 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 center, 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 side 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, street music, impressive costumes and, of course, the Carnival Queen coronation! You can find out more about the Tenerife Carnival on our relevant blog post.
Detail from the central 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 volcanic sand, and you can choose amongst beaches offering visitor amenities, 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 tourist beaches in Tenerife have disabled access. Here is a list with some of the best beaches in Tenerife:
Beaches in the south of Tenerife:
- Playa El Duque: Beach with golden sand in Costa Adeje. There are sunbeds and parasols, beach bars, restaurants, and a supermarket nearby.
- Playa Las Vistas: One of the most popular beaches in South Tenerife. Long coast with thin golden sand, located in Arona. You can find parasols and sunbeds, many restaurants, shops, and beach bars. It can get very busy, so make sure to arrive early for a good spot.
- La Tejita: Quiet and secluded, 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 with a view of the Montana Roja rock. 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, ideal for surfers and wave-lovers. Secluded and untamed 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. It is surrounded by impressive cliffs and it's 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, enjoying weather protection. 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 Beach: Remote and secluded beach, accessible by boat or a long and slightly difficult hike thar leads to a 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. Remember to be particularly careful (especially in remote 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 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. 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, 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:
- 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
- The 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 an 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 includes a variety of flavors. Also, the volcanic soil and mild climate contribute to 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 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.
Nightlife in Tenerife
Beyond its amazing natural landscapes, exotic beaches, and picturesque villages, Tenerife is also a party destinations with vivid nightlife. The best place for partying is the south of the island. The clubs, bars and pubs in Playa de Las Americas, Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos attract many travelers who are after moments of fiesta! The port of Los Cristianos is also the starting point of many party cruises. In the capital 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.
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 phone numbers for Tenerife
Tenerife welcomes 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 to/from the Canary Islands and mainland Spain.
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 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, consider purchasing a Ten+ bus card for 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, you can also use the tram, which is fast and affordable.
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, a great option is to stay in the capital of Santa Cruz. For great ocean views on the island, find a place in Los Gigantes.
Here are some useful contacts 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 among 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:
- Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, located on the northeast side of the island. It mostly serves ferry routes to Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Huelva, and Lanzarote.
- Port of Los Cristianos, on the southern coast of the island. It mostly serves ferry routes to La Gomera, El Hierro and 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. The ferry trip from Huelva can be from 32 to 41 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 routes from Tenerife:
- Ferry from Tenerife to Gran Canaria: The port of Santa Cruz in Tenerife has regular ferry connections to both 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 route, the ferry trip can be from 1h 30min to 2 hours.
- Ferry from Tenerife to La Gomera: While in Tenerife, you should 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 1h 30min.
- Ferry from Tenerife to El Hierro: Traveling by ferry from Tenerife to El Hierro, the smallest and southernmost island of the archipelago, is an excellent option. The ferry connection is frequent and the ferry journey lasts approximately 2h 30min.
- 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 trip 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 and 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 route connects the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife with 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.
The port and town of Los Cristianos in the south coast of Tenerife.
Where to book ferry tickets to Tenerife?
Looking to book ferry tickets from and to Tenerife in just 4 clicks? 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!