The largest of the Canary Islands is a classic destination for winter-weary Danes. Here you will have a carefree holiday in the major tourist cities where the whole family will feel at home. But there is more to come than all-inclusive and giant resorts.
Tenerife is one of the islands that has the best opportunities for exciting nature experiences, but here are also good restaurants and opportunities for active holidays. In short, the island has everything it takes for a wonderful holiday under the southern sun.
Cities, areas and beaches of Tenerife
Puerto de la Cruz
Although Puerto de la Cruz is one of the island’s largest tourist cities, there is plenty of local life. The old town is charming with centuries-old houses and churches. It is a romantic place, beautifully situated with Spain’s highest mountain Pico de Teide as an impressive backdrop. Despite the many tourists, there is something authentic about Puerto de la Cruz, and the city attracts its very own audience who could never dream of living in the south coast’s holiday towns.
In Puerto de la Cruz there are lush gardens and a friendly atmosphere. The streets of Plaza del Charco and the promenade are a perfect place to stroll on an evening stroll, and you might hear the parrots sitting in the trees. The old church, Nuestra Senora de la Pena, the house Casa de la Aduana and the cozy harbor area are all worth visiting.
Besides three small beaches with black lava sand, the large pools at Lago de Martianez are an obvious bathing opportunity. The area was created by artist Cesar Manrique, and children and adults alike will definitely have some great hours in the large saltwater pools.
You can sunbathe or visit the botanical gardens with the many rare trees. Children will undoubtedly also love Loro Park, which is home to the largest collection of parrots in the world. tigers and gorillas.
Only a few tourists book a hotel in Tenerife’s main city of Santa Cruz. Situated on the northern tip of the island, the weather is often more volatile here than on the south coast, but experiences are plenty in the city. The large active port, together with the size of the city, gives an international atmosphere and it is in Santa Cruz you will find the best restaurants and the best shopping.
Let the sun warm your body on Tenerife’s best beach of Playa de las Teresitas, explore the city’s old neighborhoods and eat delicious food. Well, yes, we must not forget the great colorful carnival that takes place here every February or March.
Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje
Along the southern coast, almost grown together, are the three-holiday resorts of Playa de las Américas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje. While the former is a bit of a party town with huge resorts and sandy beaches with imported sand, the other two cities are quieter. Among the beaches of Playa de las Américas are the rocky beach of Playa de Guincho, which is popular with surfers. Playa del Bobo las Cuevitas is the place to relax, the beach is not big but is centrally located at Adeje.
In addition to three beaches that have received the EU’s blue flag, Costa Adeje has several good activities. Eg. a 27-hole golf course, two water parks and the opportunity to ride horses in the beautiful countryside. The popular city of Los Cristianos is another great opportunity for families. With two golden beaches that have imported sand from the Sahara, you can play volleyball, try jet skiing or go diving, where you have the opportunity to see turtles and rocks.
Tenerife’s beaches are not among the best in the Canary Islands. Often they are with stones and black lava sand, but in several places on the island artificial beaches with light sand have been made. All the resorts have their beaches but scattered around Tenerife there are also good opportunities for a dip. The island’s best beach is Las Teresitas, located on Santa Cruz. Here you get white sand and lovely turquoise blue water.
On the southeast coast of Tenerife are a number of beaches at the small resort town of El Médano. The largest is called Montana Roja (or Playa de la Tejitas), which is popular with nude bathers. However, there are as many beach guests with swimwear on, so here you do as you please.
The beach is long with dark lava sand. Many places quickly get deep and sometimes there are big waves. There are only limited catering options here, so remember to bring home from home. Sunbeds can be rented, it costs approx. DKK 30-35 for one day. Montana Roja is located approx. 20 km north of the major resort of Playa de las Americas.
By car from here, you head north and turn off towards El Médano just after the airport exit. Ca. 1 km before reaching El Médano town, turn right on a narrow road and then continue just until you can see a parking lot 2-3 km further ahead. At the Montana Pelada north of El Médano lies Playa la Rajita. The beach is in a small bay and you can walk from many of the city’s holiday apartments.
Tenerife Hotel Deals
Most people probably know Tenerife as a popular charter destination, but fortunately the island is large enough for you to find anything but large resorts with everything in amenities. Forget the big concrete hotels and book a stay in one of the old mansions that have been transformed into charming accommodations. Eg. the old manor house La Quinta Roja, located at Gerachico on the west coast of the island. The place is from the 16th century and a very different place than most of the island’s hotels.
Not far away, the hotel Rural El Patio offers a holiday in a beautiful environment. Around the cozy courtyard are the old houses, which are now tasteful accommodations. If you want some luxury and all the amenities available, you can’t get out of Hotel Botanico in Puerto de la Cruz. Here is great service, a large swimming pool and of course Tenerife’s best spa.
If the whole family is leaving, see more in the post The best family hotels in Tenerife.
Experiences and activities
Northern Tenerife and La Orotava
To the north of Tenerife lies one of the island’s most exciting areas. The Anaga Mountains receive only a few tourists, and here you can drive along narrow roads to small villages. The scenery is fantastic and so is a good and popular trekking area. If you like to hike, the nearby Anaga Mountains are the perfect place to explore. In Tenerife there is the most beautiful nature with rare plants, many of which are endemic and thus only live here on the island.
The old town of La Orotava has from then on been tenants and plantation owners housed in Tenerife. In the late 17th century, the city was one of the island’s most important, and the magnificent houses of a bygone era can still be seen in La Orotava. Begin at Plaza Constitución Square and head out into the streets where beautiful churches, magnificent gardens and charming houses with balconies hanging out over the street await. Once you’ve seen the city, experience the lush valley where you can visit horticulture, wineries and see plants that only live here.
Southern and Western Tenerife
Behind the holiday resort of Costa Adeje you can’t help but notice the Pico de Teide, which with its 3,700 meters is Spain’s highest mountain. In between the town and the mountain you can visit Barranco del Inferno, a deep gorge that acts as a green oasis in the otherwise barren landscape further north. The gorge, or gorge, is also called the Gorge of Hell and it is a popular place to hike. However, the authorities allow only 300 visitors a day, so it is a good idea to reserve your space in advance.
Further to the northwest is the resort of Playa de la Arena, which, in addition to an excellent beach, also has a great view of the Atlantic Ocean. The town is situated high above the sea in a beautiful but rugged landscape with cliffs and often large waves. Playa de la Arena is a quiet city and it makes it another great choice for families with children.
If you continue to the northwest, you can visit the town of Masca on winding mountain roads, which is not only incredibly beautiful, but is another place that is really popular with hikers. While this part of Tenerife is not one of the best known, it is different with the Icod de los Vinos that you come to if you continue along the mountain roads to the north. The city is known for its dragon blood tree, which is said to be several thousand years old.
Las Canada National Park & Pico de Teide
Anyone visiting Tenerife must visit Las Canada National Park and Spain’s highest mountain Pico de Teide. Whether coming from the south or the north, it is a fantastic sight to see the landscape change and become more and more golden. Up here at over 3,500 meters altitude, the ancient volcanic crater looks like a lunar landscape, and here and there the screaming green pine trees stand as a great contrast to the red rocks and rocks.
The roads in the National Park are good, and depending on the route you take, there are good opportunities to get past small sleepy villages. Pico de Teide is the world’s third tallest volcano and you can pull up to the top or take the cable car.
Food and drinks
Scattered around Tenerife are several really good restaurants in beautiful surroundings. Between La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz, you can visit the Restaurante LArena53, which is located in a beautifully restored mansion. From the on-site lounge terrace, there is a beautiful view of the banana plantations and the great Atlantic Ocean. LArena53 offers good set menus that change according to the seasons.
If you live on the south coast, in the small fishing town of Los Abrigos, located between El Médano and Costa del Silencio, you can eat really delicious food at the Los Roques restaurant. Here is a nice outdoor terrace and it is a place where you get really good value for money. The same is true of the El Rincón de Juan Carlos restaurant in the resort of Los Gigantes. Here, chef Juan Carlos Pedrón, who in 2012 joined the rally to become Spain’s best chef.
Also in Puerto de la Cruz, you eat well. If you want to try some original Canarian food, then it’s worth visiting the Arcon Tapas restaurant in Plaza Concejil. You can find classic Canarian food at the Tasca el Olivo restaurant.
In Playa de las Américas it can be a little harder to find good places to eat. A good place to eat before it goes out in the nightlife is the Meson Castellano restaurant, which serves Canarian food, but you have to eat what is offered, there is no menu card! What the city does not have good restaurants, on the other hand, it has nightlife in the form of English pubs and other neon-lit bars and discos. In Los Cristanos you eat well at the Cabanas restaurant.
Many people probably associate Tenerife with pub crawls, tacky cocktails and English pubs with live football. But something is happening on the island. In Costa Adeje just north of Playa de las Américas, the hip Papagayo Beach Club has popped up. Here, there is chillout during the day in the large lounge beds where you can sip good drinks. You can enjoy the beautiful sunset and eat good food before the evening ends in a big party. Saturday is the big day when DJs entertain the crowded dance floor. A stone’s throw from Papagayo, the Monkey Beach Club is a fine alternative, especially for a sundowner and the big Sunday party. For great cocktails in Los Cristianos, visit Café 5.
Travel there and transport
Most Danish travel agencies have trips to Tenerife during the winter months, but also in the summer you can book a charter trip in several places. If you want a larger selection of hotels, it is just as easy to book flights and hotels yourself. That way you also get the opportunity to decide for yourself the departure day and how long you want to be away. You can find cheap airline tickets here.
Tenerife has two airports. The vast majority of planes land at Reina Sofia airport, a short drive from the south coast’s holiday towns. You can book airport transfers to your hotel at Hoppa.
A good idea is to rent a car that can be ready at the airport for you. With a car, you also get the opportunity to see the beautiful island at your own pace. The roads are good and there is good signage. A guidebook or map of the area is always handy. They show you the way to the best places, and usually, have some practical information.