Being one of the most popular of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is steeped in Spanish culture. But delve deeper and you have the opportunity to see and taste an authentic Tenerife experience.
Whatever time you choose to visit Tenerife on holiday, there will always be something to explore when it comes to local life on the island. We have created a guide so you can share your memories of true Tenerife culture with friends and family. From the north to the south of the island and everywhere in between, Tenerife boasts unrivalled cultural experiences. Much of the culture on the island was passed over from mainland Spain, however hundreds of years of evolution has meant that the people of Tenerife have made the island their own. As well as encompassing world-renowned Spanish cuisine, the island is home to fantastic natural spots to take in stunning scenery, such as Mount Teide National Park. Delve a little deeper and you can socialise with the locals in true authentic Tenerife bars and restaurants when you are planning your holidays to Tenerife.
Festivals and Carnivals
The carnival, which was narrowly beaten by Rio de Janeiro for the title of ‘best carnival in the world’, is a world-renowned event and sees locals take to the streets of Tenerife with dazzling costumes and fantastic music. The celebration, held annually in February, is held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on the east coast of the island and lasts up to three weeks. It has been celebrated since the time of the earliest European settlement. If you are planning to visit Santa Cruz de Tenerife around the time of the Carnival, make sure to get your tickets to experience one of the world’s most eagerly anticipated cultural events.
Romeria De San Roque
The festival of San Roque is a more religious and thought-provoking event, where an image of San Roque is paraded through the northern town of Garachico. Locals and the people of Tenerife have been paying homage to the saint since 1605, when the patron was credited with saving the town’s population from the Black Death. Held every year on the 16thAugust, the population of the town dress in traditional Canarian costume and parade through the streets with carts of food and wine, along with music and dancing.
Food & Drink
Spanish cuisine is one of the most popular in the world, with mouth-watering flavours and tastes incorporated into dishes and wine glasses across the island. Fabio Karam from Tenerife Travel Secrets says: “Clearly to have an authentic experience in Tenerife you have to try their food. You will find all sorts of international cuisines, but as you are in this part of Europe and on the way to Africa and South America, we believe that you shouldn’t throw away the opportunity to try a different, succulent type of cooking.” Fabio also recommends sampling a very traditional Canary ingredient called ‘gofio’, which is made up of mixed toasted wheat and cornflour and holds a very high nutritional value. It can be combined in almost any way with other Spanish ingredients to make a delicious dish. If you are wanting to sit it and dine with the locals, it’s a good idea to push lunch back to 2pm and dinner to 8.30pm, as these are their preferred times to eat during the day. It is important to note that many of the restaurants that serve authentic cuisine are not always going to be found in the main tourist spots, but heading out to some of the quieter destinations on the island is well worth the trip!
Situated near Guia de Isora, Irache Gara, prides itself on authentic Tenerife dining. Tucked away and off the beaten tourist track, the cosy and very popular restaurant provides succulent grilled meats and other local specialities, with fantastic wine and friendly service. If you happen to visit on a Sunday evening, you will be welcomed by a local Canarian folk band who will provide the backing track for the most magical and traditional night on your holiday!
With a wealth of history influencing the menu at this secluded spot in La Orotava, the chef brought his own ideas of tapas from the small island of La Gomera – where he originated from and the replenishing stop for Columbus before he set sail for his discovery of the world. Tasca Tapias is a great place for those wanting to try out tapas for the first time, including small dishes of cheese and ham. But for those hungry for something a little more robust, fillet steaks and traditional milk puddings are there for your authentic Tenerife food experience.
Farmers’ markets are the hub of authentic shopping in Tenerife and are great for mixing with the locals in traditional towns. Whether you are looking for a souvenir to remember your time in Tenerife by, or a gift for a friend at home, the many commercial centres and malls cater for every need and want.
Centro Commercial El Mirador
Situated in the popular tourist town of Costa Adeje, the architecture of the building is very much to the style of Canarian design, allowing for a true authentic experience whilst shopping. Independent shops line the narrow streets of El Mirador with friendly service and a vast array of Spanish culture. Artisan markets take residence in the centre every first and third Sunday of the month and offer a great range of local crafts from all over the island. There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants where you can sit down and watch the world go by for a well-deserved break.
Buildings and ruins
Tenerife has a number of architectural delights and, of course, is home to elegant, pastel-coloured Canarian houses. Some of the quaint yet distinct buildings have won awards and even World Heritage protection from UNESCO.
Piramides de Guimar
The six pyramids that lie in the south of Santa Cruz and the origins and history behind them are still very much a mystery to archaeologists. There have been many theories behind their existence and the building techniques used to create them, with Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl believing that the pyramids were constructed on similar principles to those of Peru and Mexico. You are able to visit the Ethnographic Park, which includes a museum and life-size replica of Heyerdahl’s reed ship.
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, La Laguna was previously the capital of Tenerife and has some of the most unspoilt old city houses and Canarian designs that the island has to offer. Among the wide streets and coloured buildings are churches and popular public spaces that date back to the 16th and 18th centuries. La Laguna itself provides the most diverse cultural experiences anywhere on the island, from religious buildings to the finest tobacco shops and cafes on the island.