With its volcanic peaks rising high above the turquoise sea, a scattering of cultural pockets of wonder and a fantastic tapas scene, Tenerife is more than a laid-back island. Ruptured by spectacular valleys, Tenerife soars with the highest elevations in Spain and offers plenty of things to do and see.
With its old harbour and waterfront cafes, Puerto de la Cruz inhabits the northern shores and with a simultaneously cosmopolitan and relaxed charm, it’s a favourite for those who are looking for a quiet place to rest their head on Tenerife holidays.
With its museums, restaurants and stunning contemporary architecture, the islands capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife packs some significant historical and cultural gravitas just a stone’s throw away
The lush, volcanic landscape of Spain’s highest point, El Teide, is home to an explosion of wildlife as diverse in colour and creed as the rare conditions that created it. Frequented by whales, dolphins and sea turtles, the abundant nature of Tenerife far exceeds the beady-eyed lizards that bask among the rocks and scrubland.
The local produce is plentiful and includes bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, grapes, flowers and of course fish. Tenerife holidays will not be complete without trying the prolific catalogue of food and regional delicacies that comes from the islands fruitful harvest. Besides traditional Spanish dishes such as paella and tapas, tuck into the fried Moray Eel for a more exotic flavour. For the faint of heart, the islands cheeses are world renowned.
Enclosed by pure, sapphire seas, it’s not surprising that one of the best things to do in Tenerife is investigate the bewildering selection of watersports. With its paragliding, waterskiing and kite-surfing, your holiday in Tenerife will be chock full of thrills and spills and you’ll be screaming all the way from the beach to the horizon.
Acclaimed as a significant national and international spectacle, the Carnival of Santa Cruz is an absolute feast of frivolity and mayhem. Celebrated across the island, the biggest bash takes place in the capital and is accompanied by ten days of masquerades, bands of wandering minstrels and raucous street parties.
An outing to the oldest city on the island is one of the wisest things to do in Tenerife. You’ll learn a thing or two among the history and glamour of La Gomera, a UNESCO World Heritage site. With a thriving university and some of the most stunning historical monument in the Canaries, it’s the perfect place to swot up and soak up the authentic flavours of Tenerife.
Only a short four-hour flight from the UK, this year-round destination has all you could want for from a sun, sea and sand holiday, plus much more. It is also home to Mount Teide, the highest point in Spain and third highest volcano in the world. Siam Park in Tenerife is one of Europe's largest water parks.
The temperature here rarely drops below 17 centigrade even in winter months. The average sea temperature of 20 centigrade, combined with the crystal-clear waters and stunning volcanic underwater landscape, make it an ideal destination for adventurers as well as sun worshippers.
You could even head here for Christmas or New Year and enjoy an alternative Christmas Day on the beach. Many hotels will offer a Christmas lunch and have their own New Year's Eve parties.
Las Vistas beach is a long golden stretch that connects two of the most popular resorts on the island, Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos. It is perfect for families as it has a large breakwater that shelters the beach. The shallow waters are calm and the soft sand makes it perfect for younger swimmers and paddling tots.
Another great family beach is El Puertito, which is great for snorkelling and has a black sand beach, near to Playa de las Americas.
Other resorts with family-friendly beaches:
What could be better than stepping out of your hotel right onto the beach? We have a choice of hotels that fit the bill and are the perfect place to stay on a beach holiday in Tenerife.
The Hotel Blue Sea Interpalace is just steps away from the beach in Puerto de la Cruz as well as being a short walk from the town centre. This hotel is perfect for couples and families.
The Hotel Dream Gran Tacande overlooks the beach of Playa del Duque and is the ultimate destination for a romantic, luxury beach break in Tenerife.
Be sure to take a look at our great range of Iberostar hotels, located by the coast to make sure you get the most out of your getaway in the sun.
If you want a beach holiday that is a little more active, then you will be able to find plenty of water sports on offer in Tenerife. Whether you want to explore the underwater world by snorkelling or scuba diving, or view the beaches from above by parascending, you will find the perfect water sport for you.
El Medano beach, near Arrecife, is the best beach on the island for wind surfing and often hosts the world championships.
There are a large number of excellent family-friendly and all inclusive hotels all over the island, and with free kids' places, children's activity clubs and children's pools, you will be spoilt for choice.
Near to the parks, and a short transfer time from Tenerife South airport, the family hotels in Costa Adeje are ideally located for the perfect family holiday.
Playa de las Americas is also an excellent resort for families, with miles of golden sandy beaches and many restaurants and bars. There are a number of excursions you can go on from here, including whale and dolphin-watching boat trips.
Where to stay:
Tenerife boasts a huge range of attractions, with something to offer everyone from young children to grandparents. There are a number of theme parks on the island, the biggest being Siam Park, a Thai-themed, water-slide extravaganza complete with thrilling rides and a floating restaurant and Thai market.
Loro Parque is an excellent choice for something a little less adrenaline fuelled. This animal park has dolphin and parrot shows, as well as gorillas, tigers and penguins. This is a day out that the whole family will love, with a number of different themed restaurants and cafés for refreshments during the day.
Teide National Park is one of the main attractions of this volcanic island and the home of the highest point in Spain, Mount Teide. A day trip here is a must during your stay, where you can take a cable car up this impressive volcano, with stunning views of the rest of the island. On a clear day you can even see Gran Canaria and the smaller Canary Islands.
Water sports are a popular activity here, especially diving, and the island has an amazing underwater world to explore. The volcanic activity over the past few centuries has created a maze of underwater caves and lava tubes to explore, which are home to hundreds of different types of sea life.
The beaches in Tenerife offer a stunning choice of golden sandy stretches with gentle slopes to the water, creating the perfect environment for paddling and swimming; these beaches are sheltered and have a good range of shops and restaurants lining the promenade. Our favourites include the beaches at Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos.
Being a volcanic island, there are also black sand beaches. Remember your flip flops here as the sand absorbs all of the heat of the sun and it can be very hot to walk on during the afternoon. The best black sand beaches can be found in Puerto de la Cruz.
The rocky coastline of the island offers the opportunity for rock pool exploration, popular with younger and older children alike. When the tide is out you can find all sorts of wildlife left behind in the pools on the shore. Snorkelling is also a thrilling way to see the underwater world and is best in the rocky areas, where you are most likely to see a wide variety of marine life. The best spots are in Los Gigantes.
In Tenerife you will find somewhere to eat for even the fussiest of eaters. In the main resorts in the south you are likely to find restaurants, cafés and bars of all nationalities, so whether you fancy trying out the traditional Spanish tapas, or even an Indian curry or a Chinese, you will not be disappointed.
Traditional Canarian food consists of a lot of fresh fish and a local speciality called Papas Arrugadas, which is extremely popular with the locals and is usually served with a spicy pepper and chilli sauce. It goes well with fish and meats and children will love it, without the chilli sauce.
There are a lot of restaurants situated on the promenade overlooking the beaches of Playa de las Americas and other large resorts. Head here for a relaxing meal in the evening and watch the sun go down. There is usually the option to sit outside, where children can play on the beach during the cool evenings.
As is traditional in Spain, the locals in Tenerife tend to eat later on in the day for both lunch and dinner, so don't expect the restaurants to get busy until around 9.00 pm. If you want to experience a more authentic dining experience, then head for local restaurants that may not be on the main promenades. Look out for the ones filled with people speaking Spanish. There are restaurants catering for pretty much every cuisine from around the world, so fussy eaters shouldn't have any problems.
It may have a reputation for having a lot of English bars and pubs, but the island has a thriving nightlife that is far from stereotypical. You will find live salsa music and dancing in bars in most of the main resorts, as well as traditional tapas and Spanish wine.
The main area for clubbing in Tenerife is in the south of the island in Playa de las Americas on the main strip. Centred around an area known as The Patch, and home to the famous Veronicas, this is the place to head if you want nightlife that is buzzing until the early hours. Nearby Los Cristianos is also a lively resort, as is the capital of Tenerife, Santa Cruz.
If you want to listen to some live music while in Tenerife then you won't have to go far, as the main resorts will all have a host of different types to choose from. From Salsa to Irish bands in bars, you will hear all styles when you walk through the main resorts in the south.
The mountains, valleys, rugged coastline and pine forests of Tenerife offer a wide variety of scenery to enjoy during walks around the island. There are a number of companies that offer guided walks for everyone looking for gentle strolls to challenging eight-hour hikes.
One of our favourites is the Masca Valley Trek in Tenerife is one of the most beautiful walks that you can take. Starting at the tiny village of Masca, high in the mountains and accessible by bus or car (if you are brave enough to drive along the narrow, winding roads), you then descend through the valley, which is actually a volcanic crater.
The main resorts in the south of the island all have excellent transport links to the north of the island, where you will find some of the best walks. The coastal routes in the south can also be reached by all of the main resorts. All-inclusive hotels are a great way of relaxing after a hard day's hiking, but if you do feel like cooking yourself a slap-up meal then we also have a wide range of self-catering apartments.
We have put together a list of the essentials that you will need for a walking holiday in Tenerife:
Comfortable shoes that you have already worn in
Plenty of spare pairs of socks
Microfibre towels, as they dry quickly
First aid kit
Maps of the area
Lightweight water bottle
A whistle - in case of emergency
Shoes (for when you are not walking)
Multi-tool or pen knife
Any high energy snacks that you enjoy from home as they are likely to be more expensive abroad
A camera and binoculars if you are hoping to spot wildlife on your walks
A phrase book
If you are going on a walking holiday to Tenerife, there are some must sees that will make all the hard work worth it when you reach the top of a particularly steep hill. Mount Teide is an obvious choice for walking in Tenerife and if you are really keen, then it is possible to hike all the way to the summit, but you will need a special permit from the local government before you go. Only a certain amount of people are allowed to the top each year, but even if you only get as far as the top of the cable car, the views are still breathtaking.
The Pico del Ingles in the north of the island provide stunning views of the surrounding Anaga Mountains. Be prepared for long, winding and very narrow roads.