I’ve got a real love-hate relationship with Tenerife. I love to arrive, and I hate to leave! Over the years and numerous visits to the island, I’ve come to feel as though it’s less like a holiday destination and more like returning home for a well-earned break.
All of my visits to the island so far have been to the south west coast, dotted around the resort of Playa de las Americas. On my last visit however, I made a deal with my travel buddy that next time we come to Tenerife – because I’ll definitely be returning – I’d use a week to explore the island further, and a week to chill out by the pool and relax.
As a fairly compact island, it is more than possible to venture out and explore with ease. Due to the presence of the impressive Mount Teide, it’s quicker and easier to hop on the ring road and drive around the island rather than cut across the centre. This means that you could really base yourself anywhere on the island and still be within relatively easy access of all the sights.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
I always feel like the capital city of a country should be explored, and just wandering around is often a great way to just get a feel for a city. With plenty of shopping and museums to check out, it’s definitely worth a visit to Santa Cruz de Tenerife for a day to explore. The cool lagoon of Parque Marítimo is a great alternative to the beaches for an afternoon of relaxing in the city, with 3 pools, a waterfall, play area for kids and food also on offer.
If you’re after something a bit more lively, time your visit to coincide with Carnaval! For the biggest and best celebrations, head to the capital in February for a week of music, processions and sardine funerals. Yes, a sardine funeral. A giant papier mache sardine is carried through the streets, followed by drag queens, before being set on fire as part of a fireworks display. Not something you see every day…
UNESCO World Heritage sites are always high on my to-see list, and when a whole town has been awarded the status, you know it’s worth a visit. Think colourful buildings, narrow streets, tons of history and interesting churches. Often called the prettiest town on the island, La Laguna is home to the only university in Tenerife, so you know it’s full of life.
Puerto de la Cruz is one of the more popular places to visit in Tenerife. This place is all about black sand beaches, huge oceanside pools and the world-famous Loro Parque. Add to that botanical gardens, waterfalls and mountain views, it’s definitely worth a couple of days of exploring. Try to coincide your visit with La Fiesta del Agua held in July, to get a real feel for Spanish celebrations.
When I think of pyramids, I think of Egypt. So imagine my surprise when I found that Tenerife has its own pyramids – the Pyramids of Güímar! There are six pyramids on the site – though don’t expect any of the Egyptian magnitude – as well as an information centre and exhibitions.
While in the area of Güímar, there are also plenty of places to stop for a spot of paint balling if you want to shake your day up a bit. Keeping on trend for the thrill seekers, you can find escape rooms to challenge your mind in Candelaria, or adventure courses in the treetops at Forestal Park Tenerife, just a 45-minute drive from Puerto de la Cruz.
Home to a number of tourist attractions well suited for island explorers and holidaymakers alike, this is one of the most popular places to visit in Tenerife. As well being home to Siam Park, there are budget versions of this waterpark and Loro Parque in the form of Aqualand and Jungle Park. You’ll also find Monkey Park by Los Cristianos, and ferry links to La Gomera.
If the sun, sea and sand aren’t quite hitting the spot, why not try a spa day? Aqua Club Termal and Spa Vitanova Tenerife are among a few places to really relax.
Punta de Teno
For the photography fans or anyone who loves stunning scenery, a visit to Punta de Teno is a must. An hour by car from Puerto de la Cruz, on the western-most point of the island, a drive down a country road through Teno Country Park brings you to a lighthouse. Still active, the views from the lighthouse are first class. Think amazing coastline views. In the distance, you can spot La Gomera and to the side are the impressive cliffs of Los Gigantes.
The first thing that pops to many minds when you mention Tenerife is Teide. Taking pride of place in the centre of the island, this still active volcano is described by UNESCO as the third tallest ‘volcanic structure’ in the world. It’s surrounded by the Teide National Park, also an UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a popular spot to visit, and cable cars can take you above the clouds high up on the volcano. On a clear day, you’ll be able to spot the neighbouring islands of La Gomera and Gran Canaria among others.
While there is plenty to see and do all over the island, these are just some of the best places to visit in Tenerife. Due to the location and weather of Tenerife, it is a year-round destination. However, spring and autumn would be best for a city break style visit. For my exploring-chilled-combo trip, I’ll be looking to visit in May/June for a balance between warm enough to sunbathe but cool enough to explore. Can’t wait!
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