From the extraordinary landscapes of Madeira, we headed for another unique destination – Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands of Spain. Situated off the coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands offer a yearly supply of sunshine, varied and outlandish landscapes, and a delicious fusion of Moroccan and Spanish flavors.
The island is divided into two climate zones – dry south and rainy north. The majestic mountain range of the Teide volcano in the middle serves as a divider between the cacti-filled red desert and lush forests. The two sides of the island also have different atmospheres – the resort peppered south and the residential north. If you prefer to experience Tenerife, Spain like a local, we recommend staying in the north, where you will also find more daily entertainment.
It would take you around two hours to circumnavigate the entire island, which you can do by renting your own car or taking the bus. So even in a short stay, you’ll manage to take in the volcanic scenery, pine forests, black sand beaches, and spellbinding cliffs. And to help you skip to the best of what the island has to offer, we’ve compiled the most unique things to do in Tenerife that will help you have a memorable stay.
Explore the Outlandish Teide National Park of Tenerife, Spain
The snowcapped Teide is the star on the island. Sitting at 12,198 feet, it is the third tallest volcano in the world. A trip to the Teide National Park is a mandatory activity for every visitor and especially for anyone who wished to be an astronaut as a child. Even if you don’t climb to the top by foot or cable car, which offers spectacular views, hiking the park grounds below still guarantees the feeling of being on another planet. The Teide National Park is organized by hikes of varying difficulty, so take your pick and go explore.
The altitude, lack of light pollution, and winds conspire to create perfect conditions for stargazing. Those who spend the night are amazed by spellbinding sky observations. So, if you’ve dreamed of practicing astrophotography or have been searching for the perfect romantic setting for a special occasion, jump at the opportunity to stay here until nighttime.
Enjoy Breathtaking Views at Los Gigantes
The town of Los Gigantes on Tenerife, Spain has grown in popularity in the past years, evolving from a day trip destination to one worth staying in. But the main attraction has remained the same, and it’s what gives the town its name. Los Gigantes, or the giants, are unmissable cliff formations that tower over the west coast. Standing 2,624 feet tall, the giants allow an incredible view of the area and provide an impressive backdrop to the other attractions, such as the beach, the marina and promenade, and the tidal pool.
Not far from Teide and near the town of Los Gigantes, you can also access one of the most spectacular hikes in Tenerife – the Masca Hike. It takes you through a scenic valley where a tiny village lies hidden among soaring cliffs and peaks. Said to be a former pirate hideaway, the village is full of stories. Make a pit stop for lunch, chat with locals and continue your hike to the Masca beach for more breathtaking scenery.
Relax in Stunning Natural Pools
Post-Madeira, we weren’t sure we’d find tidal pools impressive again, but the volcanic natural pools around Tenerife are just as irresistible. While away your time basking in the sun, watching the resident crabs shuffle along the edges of the pool and get splashed by Atlantic waves. Make sure to only go in when the waves are gentle; otherwise, swimming in tidal pools can be dangerous.
You’ll find the most inviting tidal pools located in Charco del Viento (above) and Charco de La Laja (below) in San Juan de La Rambla and the pools in Garachico. Garachico was destroyed after a volcanic eruption in 1706, wiping the former important port and much of the city. The town had been rebuilt, picturesque as ever, but never made a full comeback, and the lava-formed pools are now enjoyed by locals and those that make the effort to wander through this town.
Navigate Through Cueva del Viento
From Garachico, make your way to Cueva del Viento for another unique experience. Translating to Cave of the Winds, it’s a 10-mile-long cavity formed by lava flows. You can embark on a cave exploration tour that makes you feel like a proper Indiana Jones as you navigate your way with a headlamp for the absence of a light system. Unfortunately, we were unable to do this experience, but we hear its interesting. Leave a review below in the comments if you’ve been there.
Visit San Cristobal de La Laguna
The charming colonial town of San Cristobal de la Laguna, known as simply La Laguna, is located in the northern part of Tenerife, Canary Islands. As a former capital, the historical center’s outstanding architecture and layout have earned it a UNESCO World Heritage title. Step back in time, wandering around the old town streets and admiring the buildings.
But La Laguna also has a mystical nature spot nearby. On the edge of town, you will find an enchanting hike called Sendero de Los Sentidos, a trail of the senses. These hiking paths will take you on a sensory journey through a forest. You’ll pass through viewpoints, and walk along boardwalks and stairs that separate thick vegetation. But the entire experience should be done at a slow pace and in silence, so you don’t miss the signs that prompt you to engage each of the senses. You’ll get to touch, smell, see and hear every detail of the surrounding nature and deeply enjoy every sensation. The common mists spreading through the forest in this part of the island make the trail of senses a mystical and even slightly eerie experience.
Hike at the Parque Rural de Anaga
Yet another amazing place to visit in Tenerife, Spain, the Anaga Park offers a completely different landscape to that of Teide National Park. The peaks and coastline of this park are covered in luscious green forestry. Explore the many hiking trails that offer impressive views of the frothing ocean below and the green slopes next to each other. Two favorite colors of every outdoors aficionado.
Feast on Traditional Canarian Food
The rich, volcanic soil on the island, an infinite supply of sunshine, and microclimates, give the islands its fruitful crops. The main ones are bananas, potatoes, and wine. Some must-tries to take note of are papas arrugadas served with mojos – green or red sauce, almogrote goats’ cheese with dried peppers, and of course, an abundance of fresh seafood and fish are a staple. The islands are famed for their delicious wines and a variety you probably haven’t tried before – banana wine. The iconic banana wine is made from small sweet Cavendish bananas.
The Amazing Guachinches
The best of Canarian cuisine is sampled in Guachinches, simple venues akin to rustic taverns, serving homemade traditional dishes. But the restaurant scene in Tenerife is vast and varied – you can find venues that satisfy every taste and budget. You will find everything from guachinches to Michelin star restaurants. We recommend getting your guachinche experience at the family-run Las Galanas,located in La Orotava. They also specialize in seafood dishes and lovingly make their own wine! And while in La Laguna, treat your taste buds to scrumptiously presented local dishes at La Hormiga whose passion translates to attentive service and delicious food. And if you are one for unique dining experiences, you can’t miss La Cueva Caprichosa, which serves typical Canarian dishes in a cave in the Anaga mountains! Check out our pictures for this charming place!
A visit to the uniquely diverse Canary island of Tenerife, Spain is going to be an unforgettable experience. One that you will reminisce about for many years to come! With so many wonderful activities around Tenerife, it’s the perfect destination for every kind of traveler. It will leave every member of your adventure posse pleased and satisfied. So, what are you waiting for, add it to your bucket list already!
Before this adventure, we visited another great island just a little to the north. The Portuguese island of Madeira also was a magnificent place to visit. You can see that travel blog here!