Where is Tenerife?
Tenerife is a part of the Canary Islands of Spain. It is in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean and adjacent to Morocco and the great Western Sahara Desert in Africa. Attributed to its gifted geographic location, it has desert in its southern part and lush green hills in the northern part. It also has an active volcano in the center called Mount Teide.
How to reach Tenerife?
While taking a flight to Tenerife, one should keep in mind that there are two airports on this Island, yes you read that right! So, it is evident that it is not a tiny island. The two airports are situated in north and south of the island and are aptly known as Tenerife North Airport (TFN) and Tenerife South Airport (TFS). We took our flight to TFS.
Where to stay in Tenerife? (very very important)
As mentioned already, Tenerife is a big island. In fact, it is so big that it feels weird for me to call it an island. Thus, making advance research about where to stay becomes paramount. In my opinion, Tenerife stay should be decided depending on two key questions: 1) How long is your trip? 2) What are your interests?
Tenerife has a long ring road that connects (or plans to connect) the entire island together. However, at the time of this writing, a few areas such as Icod de Los Vinos were not yet connected with the ring road. Therefore, tourists must pay attention to staying in areas with good proximity to this ring road. It becomes all the way more important if you do not plan to rent a car as tour/excursion providers also avoid pick-up/drop-off services to these locations.
In my opinion, taking a flight to Tenerife South Airport is a better choice as this part of the island has more to offer and all the good stay recommendation ranges within 45 mins by car. Here is the list of stays options in south Tenerife and their one-liner reviews:
Los Cristianos: Close to the airport, party place, famous for nightlife.
Costa Adeje: Close to the airport, again a party place also, you can find some decent resort, plenty of restaurants, touristic feeling, overall international look.
Los Gigantes: Peaceful vibes, amazing view of the Los Gigantes cliff, quite near to Masca valley.
If your flight is to Tenerife North Airport (TNS), then Puerto de la Cruz or the capital city Santa Cruz would be a more suitable choice of stay.
When to visit Tenerife?
Tenerife is the warmest region in the entire Europe. Even, in the chilliest months like January or February, when the sun is out of sight for the rest of Europe, Tenerife has an average temperature of around 17 degrees Celsius. This is also when we visited Tenerife Island, mid-Jan 2019. In fact, we would like to recommend a visit in these months to avoid crowd however, in these months' visit to the top of Mt. Teide, stargazing is dependent on the weather conditions. Visiting Tenerife in warm months (May-August) should be avoided as it gets very warm (remember I mentioned, it shares a latitude with Western Sahara Desert). So, plan your Tenerife trip anywhere between, late September to late March.
Things to do in Tenerife
Major interests of the island
1. Mount Teide and Teide National Park
This should be on top of your list. Mount Teide is a must-go place in Tenerife. It is an active volcano that last erupted in 1909. The surrounding area of Mount Teide is known as Teide National Park and has a diverse range of sights to offer, untamed bushes, wild and sandy desert, supernatural shaped rocks, unearthly looking ground. This is the reason that some of the famous Sci-fi movies or the movies which show Moon or Mars-like structure were filmed here. For example Clash of the Titans (2010), Wrath of the Titans (2012), Fast and Furious (2013) and the list goes on.
You can catch the Mount Teide cable car to reach the summit of the mountain (3555m) which has a spectacular view of the island offering beauty that you may have never seen before. The cable car price for one person was 33 euro (round trip). Take the cable car during sunset which is when the sight is most beautiful. You can take the same cable car for a stargazing tour, but you need to get down at the lower point (2356m) for the observatory and planetary telescope. Please make sure the appointments are made well in advance for these things. For more details, please visit VolcanoTeide.
How to reach Mount Teide
There are many routes to reach the lower station of Mount Teide (2356m), which depends on the starting point of your journey. Its shortest route is from the west side. You can also cover the Masca valley on the same day if you are prudent with your time. For the detailed route, please visit the website Volcano Teide.
If you don't have a car, there are many good tour services available which provide free pick-up and drop off services, you just need to book in advance.
2. Masca Valley: A hidden village
Masca Valley is simply a diamond in the rough. This hidden but connected village is located at an altitude of 650 meters and it has only 90-120 inhabitants. What surprised us was finding a restaurant at this altitude, in such isolation, and with so fewer people. It is said that this village used to be home of pirates and after loot, they would assemble here to rest for some time before continuing with their next adventure. The veracity of this fact, however, is not proven though. What matters to us is that this village has astonishing beauty which, for a moment might make you feel that maybe you are not on earth. Hence, it’s a must-visit place in your lifetime.
3. El Drago
El Drago or Drago Milenario or Dragon Tree is an acclaimed touristic spot on Tenerife. It is said that this tree is 1000 years old. This fact about its age or it is being the oldest tree on the island is still up for debate. If you are in Masca or in the western part of the island, then a quick visit to this tree is worthy of your time. It is situated in Icod de Los Vinos, near the San Marco church park. The entry to this park is free.
4. Garachico: The former port of the Island
This town used to be the most important town on the island, a town of riches and wealth. The town had the main commercial port which was well connected to the world and other parts of Europe but in 1706 the volcano Montána Negro erupted and expelled lava rivers all over the town. The eruption lasted for 9 days and it hit the town severely. Not only the natural disaster but Garchico was taken down by plague and thus locals flee from the town. Now this small yet exciting town is getting back its popularity and flourishing again.
Puerto de la Cruz
Puerto de la Cruz is the biggest city and a tourist hub in the north of Tenerife. It has an ample amount of activities and natural sightseeing opportunities that it deserves at least a day out of your trip.
You can start your Puerto de la Cruz trip by visiting Loro Parque then explore the nearby beach points, like 'Punta Brava' and continue to walk in the north direction towards Logo Martiánez. The walk-on this promenade works as the best guide to take you to the most interesting nearby points. The walking distance from Punta Brava to Logo Martinez is about 2.7 km. If you have still time and energy left, you can walk till Playa de el Bollullo.
5. Loro Parque
This place offers dolphin shows and interesting wildlife amusement parks. I gave it skip on my trip as I am not a person who is so much into zoos or wildlife shows. I rather like to see wildlife in their natural habitat. But as people and locals suggest that it is one of its own kind of the park so just try it. A ticket for one person is around 38 euros, however, they have plenty of packages providing numerous options clubbed together.
6. Playa Jardin, a black sand beach
A huge and breezy beach with black sand and black rocks. Here, the tides show the true strength and violent nature of the mighty sea. It has cozy surroundings and is walking distance from the town. With palm trees on the side, frequent availability of sunbeds, showers, changing rooms, public restroom makes it a perfect place to enjoy on a sunny day especially if you are with kids.
7. Piles of Stones: Cairns Tenerife
Just at a stone’s throw (pun intended) distance from the black sand beach, there is an area where people like to test their artistic abilities to stack rocks one above the other. According to locals, this is a reflection of their dreams/achievements, which gives them the determination to achieve it that when you returned back to see it. There are many beautiful stacked stones (commonly known as Piles of stone or Tenerife Cairns) near Playa Jardin beach and is something not to miss. Also, it is great fun to make a better structure than the previously standing piled rocks and make yourself feel proud.
8. Playa de San Telmo
Swimming in this natural pool confined within the lava rocks is one of the most attractive things in this area. The city Puerto de la Cruz holds a sad history of its port being destroyed by volcano Teide eruption. These lava rocks are the remains of the eruption. Walk on it promenade or a swim in its shallow water are recommended things in this picturesque setting.
9. Costa Adeje
Costa Adeje is a prime touristic hub in the south of the Tenerife. It is exciting, dynamic and lively which has an international vibe. It is a center for numerous outdoor activities, like Dolphin tours, and water sports like scuba/snorkeling experience, etc. The place is full of restaurants, bars, and a lot of souvenir shops. In one line, it is exactly what a tourist place is supposed to be. If you are expecting peace in this part of the island, forget it, it gets crowded. This part of the island is also famous for its amazing nightlife.
The two most famous places to visit in this region are Siam Park and Aqualand. Siam Park and Aqualand both are water parks, and both have specific fun activities for kids. In Aqualand, it is even possible to watch the Dolphin show which is included in the ticket price. We recommend visiting at least one of them depending on your interest.
10. Los Gigantes
Los Gigantes (translates to “the giant”) is on the south-west coast of the island and is a major tourist destination due to its main feature of giant rock formation called “Acantilados de LosGigantes”. These sea-rising formations have a height of 500-800 meters. There are many restaurants around the area servicing tourists.
Apart from this list, if you have time visit El Medana, a kite surfing beach.
To summarize, Tenerife is one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. The local called it 'a miniature of the world' symbolizing that all kind of diversity and nature is present just in a smaller size. It takes only an hour’s drive to reach the lush green hills from a dead desert, from an active volcano to a beach, it has everything to amaze and mesmerize the first-time travelers.
The island is huge with many attractions so plan for at least a week-long vacation.
A rented car or bike are recommended options to explore this island as public transport is lacking and restrictive. If for you, public transport is the only option the plan your stay in south Tenerife.
Tour/excursion providers are always in demand so, do your booking well in advance.
This tip might be applicable to only a handful of people. If you are flying from Frankfurt (like me), choose a seat on the right side of the aircraft as you will get an amazing view of Mount Teide from the airplane window.
Tenerife is warm, there are reptiles so be careful if you are walking in a bushy part.