Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the Canary Islands, with an area of 2,034 km2 (785.33 sq. mi.), and attracts about 5 million tourists each year. In addition, with 906,854 inhabitants it is the most populated island of the archipelago and Spain.
Its two main cities are Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the island, and San Cristóbal de La Laguna (a World Heritage Site). San Cristóbal de La Laguna is home to the oldest university in the Canary Islands, the University of La Laguna.
Tenerife hosts one of the world’s largest carnivals, celebrated annually at the end of February/beginning of March and is attempting to become a World Heritage Site. The carnival is celebrated in many locations in the north and south of the island, but is largest in scope in the city of Santa Cruz. Contests are celebrated, and the carnival includes bands of street musicians (murgas), groups of minstrels (rondallas de Tenerife), masquerades (comparsas), and various associations (agrupaciones). Once the Queen of the festival is elected, the first part of the carnival ends, and thereafter begins the actual street carnival, in which large numbers of people gather in the centre of Santa Cruz, with the carnival lasting ten days.
Tenerife, served by two airports, Tenerife North Airport and Tenerife South Airport, receives daily flights from mainland Spain and the rest of Europe, and is the tourism and economic centre of the archipelago.
Besides air transport, Tenerife has two principal maritime ports: the Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Puerto de Santa Cruz), which serves the various capitals of the Canary Islands, especially those in the west; and the Port of Los Cristianos (Puerto de Los Cristianos), which serves the various island capitals of the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The first port also has passenger ferry and cruise services, which connect with the Spanish mainland ports of Cádiz and Málaga.
Tenerife has the highest elevation of Spain, a World Heritage Site that is the third largest volcano in the world from its base, The Teide, at 3,718 metres (12,198 ft).
Tenerife has also been the destination for movie makers with many well known films shot on location on the island such as One Million Years B.C. (1966), where the Raquel Welch poster in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption was taken at Teide, Clash of the Titans (2010), Wrath of the Titans (2012) and the sixth installment of The Fast and the Furious saga. And Brian May wrote the Queen song “Tie Your Mother Down” at the Observatorio del Teide at Izaña (altitude of 7,770 ft), in the autumn of 1971, while working on his grad thesis.
Puerto de la Cruz
Puerto de la Cruz is a town and municipality in the northern part of Tenerife and is one of the top resorts in the Canary Islands. It is also the longest established and most complete of all resorts on Tenerife. The old part of the town maintains its character and is one of the few places where the locals still work, eat and drink. Much of the area around the old fishing port is full of narrow cobbled streets packed with colonial architecture.
British tourism arrived here over a century ago and today ‘el Puerto’ has a wide span of magnificent hotels to suit all tastes and budgets. In addition to its old world charms it offers some of the best visitor attractions on the islands.
La Orotava Botanical Gardens
Situated in Puerto de la Cruz, the Orotava Botanical Garden is home to large collections of tropical and subtropical plants set in a romantic garden of 4,000 square metres. There is a network of paths that give visitors the chance to enjoy more than one hundred species planted there, including Indian chestnuts, the fire tree, the zapote, Australian conifers and a lovely specimen of dragon tree.
Tenerife is known internationally as the “Island of Eternal Spring” (Isla de la Eterna Primavera). The island, being on a latitude of the Sahara Desert, enjoys a warm climate year-round with an average of 18–20 °C in the winter and 24–26 °C in the summer and over 300 sunny days a year.
Things to Do & Places to Visit
A hire car is the best option for discovering the island and the remote wilderness regions. There are two main motorways, the ‘Autopista del Sur’ and the ‘Autopista del Norte’ (the North and South Motorways), which run from the metropolitan zone to the south and north, respectively. These two motorways are connected by means of the ‘Autovía de Interconexión Norte-Sur’ in the outskirts of the metropolitan area.
Getting away from the main towns, there are some wonderful drives all around the island. There are long winding mountain roads with breathtaking scenery but they might be challenging for less skilled drivers. Popular destination is Masca village located about 1 hour drive north of Los Gigantes (parking spaces are very limited). For those who do not rent/own a car in most resorts there are companies organizing coach trips there.
TITSA buses cover most of the island and the buses are fairly frequent. A BONO travel card is a good idea if you intend to spend some time travelling on the buses as they can save 50-70% on journey costs. Only one card is needed by any number in a group and can be bought at bus stations as well as some tobacconists. A tram line operates between Santa Cruz and La Laguna; the BONO card being also valid for this service.
Teide National Park
A visit to the island of Tenerife wouldn’t be complete without visiting this world famous Teide National Park, the most visited national park in Spain, with a total of 2.8 million annual visitors and one of the most visited National Parks in the world. The park has an area of 18,990 hectares with its centre piece, Mount Teide, rising to 3,718 metres.
Visiting the Park:
From the main public car park, tourists can pay to take the 10 minute cable lift to the height of 3,550 m. To climb to the summit (the uppermost 168 m.) special permission is essential by request to the National Park Office in Santa Cruz. From the top there is an amazing view all over the island.
The ascent by foot starts at the base of the “Montaña Blanca”, at an altitude of 2,200 m. (has very limited parking). Don’t underestimate the short walk as the gradient and low oxygen levels make it challenging even for experienced walkers. After a relatively gentle start up a 4×4 track for around 4 km, you begin the steep and spectacular climb, ascending 530 m in just over 1.5 km, when you will reach the recently rebuilt Altavista Refuge (3.270 m.). This offers climbers a bed for a maximum of a night and kitchen facilities. After a further kilometre and 250 m. ascent, the path joins another leading to La Fortaleza viewpoint, which follows the contour around El Teidi to the cable lift. If required for descent, always check if the cable lift is operational before you set off, as it does not run in poor weather conditions and closes without warning. You should allow 6-8 hours for an ascent and descent on foot.
The Tenerife Auditorium is an incredible building designed by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. It is highly recommended for tourists to visit this incredible structure and enjoy the concerts and events held here.
The amazing ‘Loro Parque’ (Parrot Park) will surely fascinate you no matter what your age. A visit to the park can take you nearly a whole day, so make some time for it. The park which was originally devoted to Parrot Shows has now grown into Tenerife’s second biggest attraction after mount Teide.
The Loro Parque is home to the world’s most important Parrot collection with over 300 species, an amazing Seal and Dolphin Show, Parrot Show, Aquarium with Shark tunnel, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Tigers, Jaguars, Flamingos, Alligators, Tortoises, Orchid House, Gambian Market, a ‘Natura Vision’ Cinema and the world’s largest Penguinarium with a reproduction of the Antarctic climate within which 12 tons of snow fall each day.
The island boasts many museums of a varied and diverse nature, the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Architectural Museum of Tenerife, the Canarian Institute of Bioanthropology, plus those for fine arts, photography, history, handcrafts and archeology.
The volcanic nature of the island of Tenerife meant that the land has few natural beaches. Those that exist are characterised by black sand created from the island’s volcanic rocks. The demand for tourist sun-bathing space, however, has led to the creation of resorts and man-made beaches, with golden sand having been imported in some cases.
Some of the best beaches of Tenerife are Los Gigantes and San Juan in the west and Fañabe, in the South with its golden sand, showers and excellent facilities. Also popular are Torviscas with its marina, Playa Las Americas for its grey sandy stretches and Los Cristianos beach. Candelaria in the east has a small black shingle beach. Up north Puerto de la Cruz has a beach with fine black sand, and at Santa Cruz golden sand has been imported for its Terasitas beach.
Boat Trips from Tenerife
A large number of companies offer boat trips for tourists, varying from a ‘booze cruise’ on offering lunch, drinks and water sports to a trip around the island on a sailing boat or catamaran. One of the main attractions is the chance to see whales and dolphins in the wild. Visitors on most trips spot whales; dolphins are not so much of a certainty but can be seen generally – often very close to the boat. Trips go from either Puerto Colon in Playa de las Americas, or from the port at Los Cristianos and most operators offer a free bus service from the larger hotels in the main resorts.
Big Game Fishing around Tenerife
The Canary Islands are one of the best spots in the world for big game fishing and a number of companies offer fishing trips in Tenerife. While blue marlin is the most highly prized trophy, there are plenty of other species including wahoo, dorado, yellow-fin tuna, mako and hammerhead sharks. Regular catches of blue marlin range from 331 to 496 pounds (150 to 225kg) with last year’s record standing at 794 pounds (360kg). Trips cost around €45 including all equipment, but exclude lunch.
Tenerife is a favoured destination for scuba divers, with numerous dive operations of all qualities and nationalities. The waters round the island are diveable throughout the year, with the temperature varying between 18 degrees in January to around 25-26 degrees in August. Go around the harbour wall in Puerto de la Cruz for fantastic volcanic rock formations, or feed the stingrays at Las Galletas for something a bit different.
All types of water sports are available in the south including surfing, wind surfing, speed boat paragliding and jet-ski.
Tenerife attracts a large number of cyclists all year around. Whether mountain biking or road cycling, Tenerife has plenty of beautiful roads and dirt tracks. If you want to avoid the hassle of bringing your own bike, you can rent bikes on the island, for example in Las Americas or El Médano. For those who might wish to visit El Teide on two wheels, one tour company offers a car trip to the top with a cycle down – no pedaling required.
Karting Club Tenerife
Go karts and motor bikes are raced in the main track and two sizes of cart on the kit track. Located close to playa de Las Américas free bus service from and back to your hotel.
Property in Tenerife
In common with all of the islands, there is a great choice of property for sale on Tenerife, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Candelaria and Santiago del Teide. If wishing to rent, find a selection of long term rentals in Tenerife.
Tourist Offices – Santa Cruz de TenerifePlaza De España, S/N, 38003, Santa Cruz De Tenerife. Tel: (+34) 922 23 95 92 / (+34) 922 23 98 11. Fax: (+34) 922 23 98 12. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Official Web. Arona Office – Los Cristianos: Avda. Juan Carlos I, S/N. Estación De Guaguas De Los Cristianos, 38650. Arona. Tel: (+34) 922 75 71 30. Email: email@example.com. Arona Office – Playa de las Américas: Plaza del “City Center”, Avda. Rafael Puig, 19, Arona. 38660. Tel: (+34) 922 79 76 68. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Video – The Best of Tenerife – Showing its diverse landscape
Loro Parque Tenerife