My family on my dad’s side is from this little island off the coast of Africa near Morocco called Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. Most of the people that I mention it to here in the U.S. have never heard of it. Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary Islands. They’re all volcanic islands. Tenerife is also home to “El Teide” which is the third largest volcano is the world and the highest point in Spain (3718 meters or 12,198 ft).
The island is subtropical making it a popular destination among Europeans wanting to soak up the sun and sunbath on its famous black volcanic beaches. It’s considered the Caribbean of Europe. The island has a diverse selection of landmarks and natural areas. These are 14 of the Top Things to do and see when visiting Tenerife.
Every traveler needs to visit Teide National Park and Mount Teide. The park has a number of trails and a unique landscape. One of the main attraction is the cable car ride that goes from the main parking lot to the top of Mount Teide. The views from the top are spectacular. Visitors can see the entire landscape of Tenerife from the top of Mount Teide. Unfortunately, the final few hundred feet leading to the actual summit is not open to visitors.
2. Teide Observatory
Tenerife’s Mount Teide National Park is not only home to a dormant volcano, you will also find Europe’s finest solar telescope at Teide Observatory. The observatory is located at 2390m above sea level, it’s the home to telescopes and other instruments belonging to over 60 scientific institutions from 17 different countries. A great deal of fundamental research in astrophysics is performed here.
3. Los Gigantes Cliffs
The Los Gigantes Cliffs are a natural landmark and the most stunning backdrops of any town in Tenerife. The ancient and dramatic mountain range which rises from the sea beside the resort and after is named – ‘The Giants’. They attract many visitors every year. The cliffs have sheer faces that run vertically almost 1,600 feet up from the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can take a boat ride into the ocean to see the cliffs up close. It is also possible to see them from a number of oceanfront restaurants and bars in the nearby town.
4. El Medano
El Medano is a seaside resort nestled on the south coast of Tenerife. It has been host to international windsurfing contests over the years. With its fine golden sand, a buzzing Saturday morning market, a promenade, numerous friendly bars and restaurants, and lots of live music, it possesses a quiet beauty.
5. Parque Rural de Anaga
The Parque Rural de Anaga occupies most of the northeastern part of Tenerife. The park is very large and includes dense jungle areas as well as sparsely populated mountainsides. Visitors can hike through the trails to see some of the over 100 endangered native animals in the area.
6. Playa de Las Teresitas
The Playa de Las Teresitas is a manmade beach that sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Sand from the Sahara was used to form the beach. The Playa de Las Teresitas is the only beach in the Canary Islands that does not have black sand. Visitors can swim in the ocean, sunbath or take in the calm scenery. The beach has amenities like bathrooms, outdoor showers, changing cabins and food stands.
The town of Candelaria is located 17 kilometers from Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Along. the seawall are giant statues of the Guanche leaders that overlooks the main square and the Basilica of Candelaria. The Basilica of Candelaria is a large church builded to house the Virgin of Candelaria statue, which is said to have been found by shepherds on the beach.
8. Punta de Teno
Punta de Teno is the west most point on Tenerife. There is a light house on it and is a remote area where some locals go to sunbath. The road is extremely dangerous and it’s closed during windy or raining days. The lighthouse, on a cliff on the Natural Park of Teno, was built in 1897.
9. Icod de los Vinos
The town is located in an area of vineyards and famous wines. The small Plaza de La Pila is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the Canary Islands and is surrounded by some marvellous old homes. The “Drago Milenario” in the town is rumoured to be 1,000 years old and is recognized as a symbol of the island. The longest lava tube cave outside of Hawaii, is also located in Icod de los Vinos called Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Wind). It has over 17 km of passages mapped and there’s more to explore!
The town of Garachico today a beautiful fishing village with natural pools formed by the lava of the 1706 eruption that are used today by locals and tourists for bathing. The town displays typical canarian buildings with beautiful wooden balconies and cobbled streets. Among the most interesting places to visit in Garachico are the Castle of San Miguel, from where you will enjoy fabulous views over the ocean.
11. La Orotava
The town of La Orotava was home to many of the island’s wealthiest families who settled here after the Spanish conquest. One of my favorite places to visit is Casa de los Balcones where you can marvel at the ornate balconies and wander around the inner courtyards. In early June, streets are covered in flower carpets and the town hall provides the setting for a breathtaking tapestry of flowers and volcanic sand extracted from El Teide National Park to mark the Corpus Christi religious festivity in La Villa de La Orotava.
12. Puerto de La Cruz
Puerto de La Cruz was an old fishing port and a harbor. The city offers a wide range of accommodations, and is full of narrow cobbled streets lined with traditional colonial-style cafes and bars. The coastal area contains several of the city’s main attractions: Loro Parque is an animal adventure park with shows. Lago Martiánez a complex of swimming pools. The sandy beach of Playa Jardín, and the beautiful Jardin Botánico.
13. Santa Cruz de Tenerife
The capital of the island is Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The city is a bustling port with shops, interesting art galleries, museums, fountains and greenery throughout. If you’re into shopping, check out Avenida Castillo which is lined with stores, and restaurants.
14. San Cristóbal de La Laguna (La Lugana)
La Lugana was Tenerife’s capital up until 1821. It was founded in the late 15th century on an inland plateau 550 m above sea level next to an insalubrious lagoon. The historic town centre, is a gem, with narrow streets lined with colorful buildings, grand old villas and idiosyncratic small shops. La Laguna was added to the Unesco list of World Heritage sites. The town has a youthful energy and possibly the island’s most determined marcha (nightlife).
Tenerife has it all, a sunny climate, tapas, local seafood and a rugged terrain that make it a popular destination. The island has so much to offer that I can write endlessly about all there is to do. It’s one of my favorite places to visit!