What to do in Tenerife

I have been working on this post for a while, since I posted this outfit post from Tenerife, but have only just finished it!  The weather in Tenerife is beautiful and definitely favours relaxation, barbecues and poolside drinks, however, if you can drag yourself away from the beach or the pool, there are plenty of things to do!

There are a surprising number of things to do in Tenerife from trekking up a volcano, hiking, relaxing in tropical gardens to visiting theme parks, playing golf and a wide range of water sports. In general,  architecture and historic towns are mostly found in the north of the island while the theme parks and coastal resorts are predominantly in the south (which generally benefits from better weather). For more ideas of what to see and do, read on.

Visit a volcano

No trip to Tenerife would be complete without a visit to ‘Mount Teide’, an impressive volcano, which rises nearly 4000 metres above sea level.

You can hike up to the summit (if you are feeling particularly energetic) or take a cable car from the lower station, where there is a restaurant, parking etc.. For details about facilities, pricing and opening times, have a look at this site.

Some tips would be

  • dont wear a dress or a skirt, as it’s very windy at the summit
  • wear sensible, walking shoes (even if you take the cable car up, there are three paths at the peak and these are not practicable in high heels!
  • tie your hair back, unless you want a seriously bad hair day!

I successfully managed the first two, but completely forgot to tie my hair back, which resulted in a painful detangling session later!

Even if you don’t want to visit the summit, it’s well worth visiting the Tiede National Park, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. The landscape is awe-inspiring and you could almost imagine you were on Mars!

Visit Masca

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Masca is one of Tenerife’s prettiest villages, and until recently, it was relatively undiscovered as there has only been a road access since the 1970s. Prior to this Masca was only accessible on foot or by donkey and was completely self sufficient, growing crops of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, vines and fruit trees.

The village is sandwiched between the Masca and Madre des Agua gorges and towered over by the ancient Teno mountains. It is one of the five villages that are set in the Teno Rural Park.

As I mentioned, it is now accessible by road. However, this is not a drive for the faint hearted- as the road consists of hairpin bends and tight corners, coupled with the fact that you are highly likely to encounter tourist buses driving in the opposite direction! We drove there, but it was quite a scary experience and I think I left my stomach behind somewhere on the route! If you don’t fancy driving yourself, then you can find the bus timetable here.

Despite the nerve-wracking journey, the first view of Masca is well worth it, as you marvel at the rocky ravines, cobbled paths and houses which seem to be perched precariously on the edge of the rocks. Many of the houses are now abandoned, and there are only about 150 inhabitants, but there is a small museum, a tiny village church and 3 or 4 restaurants, serving typical Canarian food and the local specialities of cactus lemonade and cactus ice-cream (which I think must be an acquired taste!!)

There are no hotels in Masca, but there are a few rooms to rent for those who want a real ‘get away from it all’ experience.

Masca also has a beach BUT it’s a 3 hour trek through the Masca ‘barranca’ ( gorge) to get there!  You can either hike down and back up again (about 6 hours in total), but this is only recommended for those with a very good fitness level or you can hike down then catch a boat that takes you to Los Gigantes. (Of course, the latter is not an option if you have parked your car in Masca!)

Go hiking

For the energetic, there are plenty of hikes and walks on Tenerife. A lot of the hikes take place at the ‘Barrancas’ (ravines/ gorges)

One of the most famous is the Barranco del Infierno (“Hell’s Gorge”), which is located in the town of Adeje in the south of the island . This trail (which takes about 3 1/2 hours to complete) leads through the ravine to the highest waterfall on Tenerife, but only 300 visitors per day  are allowed to enter in order to preserve the environment and not alter the development of the flora and fauna.  So, it is highly recommended to reserve – you can find more details and reserve online here.

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Another great place for walking is the Anaga Mountains in the North of the island. The Anaga Country Park (which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve)  is just a short drive from the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and is a beautiful area for hiking. It includes the mountain peaks of Bichuelo, Anambro, Chinobre, Pico Limante, Cruz de Taborno and Cruz del Carmen and covers almost 14,500 hectares (35,800 acres). Some trails require permits, but we did a short trek which didn’t require a permit, which was perfect for us! The Sendero de los Sentidos (Path of the Senses) is a great idea for families with children and those with reduced mobility as it is physically not too demanding, has lots of interactive experiences for children and it doesn’t need prior reservation.

Visit the capital, Santa Cruz 

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is not only the capital but it is also a beautiful port situated in the north-east of  Tenerife, and boasts some wonderful beaches too.

Most of the hotels, shopping areas, restaurants, bars, galleries and museums fall within a triangular area bordered by the wide Rambla on the west, the port on the east and the Avenida Tres de Mayo in the south. The Calle Castillo is the hub of the city’s main shopping area.

However, the most notable building is the ‘Auditorio’ at Avenida Constitución (above), which is home to the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra.

 Visit Los Gigantes

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The small resort of Los Gigantes is located on the west coast of Tenerife, and is famous for the impressive cliff face of the seven million year old Teno Mountains, which gives the resort its name (‘The Giants’).

The Los Gigantes cliffs also serve another purpose (beyond a scenic backdrop for blog and Instagram posts!) as they protect the town from the trade winds, ensuring that Los Gigantes is the perfect place for a sunshine break.

The focal point of the village is a pretty marina lined with a handful of quayside bars and restaurants, although there is also a variety of small shops and restaurants in the village itself.

Given it’s position, there is also a wide range of water sports, diving trips and deep-sea fishing excursions on offer for the more adventurous.

Visit Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz is Tenerife’s main tourist resort in the north of the island and it has retained much of it’s Canarian charm, in particular the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town.

The resort lies at the edge of the Orotava valley, a lush valley with a spectacular landscape of palm trees, laurels, dragon trees, cypresses and oleanders. The town, La Orotava, which gives the valley its name is only a few kilometres away from Puerto de la Cruz.

Agatha Christie stayed at the ‘Gran Hotel Taoro’ in Puerto de la Cruz in 1927 to recover from an emotional breakdown, and it is said that she completed ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’, while staying here.  Also, the action described in one of her short stories (‘The Man from the Sea’) takes place in an island that Christie locates in the Mediterranean Sea but which reflects clearly the estate of ‘La Paz’ at Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife.

Have cocktails or dinner in Costa Adeje

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Costa Adeje is the newest resort area in Tenerife and is considered to be the jewel in its crown. It is a very upmarket destination, with a wide range of smart hotels, restaurants, bars and shops!

The sea-front is a great choice for a cocktail or dinner venue, as you will find everything from English pub food to sushi,  spaghetti, curry, fish or fajitas! More than a dozen different nationalities are represented, including Canarian cuisine (I definitely recommend trying the Canarian potatoes!)

You can also play a round of golf at the Costa Adeje golf club and admire the sea views (above)

Visit Los Cristianos/ Playa de las Americas

Just along the coast from Costa Adeje, you will find Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas, which sort of run into each other!

Los Cristianos is one of the most popular and busy resorts on the Canary Islands. It was once an old fishing town that over the years has experienced major expansion, making it a popular holiday destination.

There is a long pedestrian walkway, which borders the beach, and you can find a wide array of bars, hotels and restaurants all along the promenade.

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There is also a wide variety of shops including boutiques, designer labels and other great places to pick up a bargain just behind the beach area.

Just beyond Los Cristianos and running seamlessly into it is Playa de las Américas, with its high-rise hotels, glossy shopping centres and lively nightlife! Playa de las Américas is the party capital of Tenerife and may not be the best choice if you’re looking for a quiet, romantic getaway or a holiday with young children, but is perfect for  hen do or stag night! In particular there is a one kilometre stretch known as ‘Verónicas’ that is packed with nightclubs, bars, shops and restaurants.

Visit the amusement parks

To be honest, I’m not a great fan of amusement parks, so I didn’t actually visit any during my stay

Relax on the beach or try some watersports

Whilst there are many beaches on Tenerife, most are not covered with soft white or golden sand, but instead, due to the islands’ volcanic origin, many beaches consist of black sand.

However, in some of the popular tourist resorts on the South-West of the island, you will find golden sand, such as at Playa del Duque in Costa Adeje, where white sand was pumped up from the seabed.

If you are feeling more energetic, a wide array of watersports is on offer, including sailing, diving, snorkelling, water-skiing, jet ski, windsurfing, deep sea fishing and parascending!

Or, you could just relax by the pool!

I hope you enjoyed reading this and I would love to hear about your experiences. Have you ever been to Tenerife? If so, where else would you recommend? I am sure I will be going back soon and I would love to hear about some new attractions to visit. Please leave your comments below!

The above was written and first published by  The Velvet Runway
For more info on Tenerife read the Red Queen Musings everyone’s favourite Tenerife Blog
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