Tenerife is one of the most popular places to visit in the Canary Islands. Tourists are drawn to the unique black sand beaches, numerous activities, and sunny year-round weather. While everyone’s idea of a vacation is different, there is something in Tenerife for every type of traveler. Whether you want to lounge on pristine beaches, surf, hike, or enjoy a lively night scene and historical sites, it’s all here! We here at Road Affair don’t want you to miss out on any of it, which is why we’ve carefully crafted a list of the best things to do in Tenerife to help you create your ultimate itinerary for your Canary Islands vacation.
So what are you waiting for? Start scrolling and planning!
Related: 15 Best Airbnbs in Tenerife, Canary Islands
Explore Nature in Parque Nacional del Teide
Tenerife has a uniquely stunning landscape, and one of the best ways to experience the island’s beauty is by immersing yourself in its nature. Parque Nacional del Teide offers particularly great opportunities for outdoor adventures.
The best way to explore the park is by going on a hike. One of the most popular hikes in the area is the Roques de García route, a 3.5-kilometer loop trail that leads to impressive natural monuments like the Roque Cinchado. Another popular hiking trail is the trek through Montaña de la Botija and Montaña de Sámara. This 5-kilometer loop trail starts at Mirador de Sámara and takes just under two hours to walk.
If you’re a first-time hiker or nervous about navigating trails on your own in a foreign country, consider booking a guided hiking tour. There are plenty of options, including this six-hour guided tour up Spain’s highest mountain peak, Mount Teide. You can also ascend the mountain on your own, but you’ll need a permit to hike to the summit, and you’ll have to book your cable car ticket in advance.
If hiking isn’t your idea of a relaxing vacation, maybe a four-wheeler tour will spark your interest. This quad tour of Parque Nacional del Teide is a perfect way to get a kick of adrenaline and explore at a faster pace. You’ll need a driver’s license to operate the quads, but those without a license can ride as a passenger.
If you’re interested in astronomy, definitely consider booking a tour of the largest solar observatory in the world. This guided excursion of Mount Teide Observatory will take you on a journey beyond our planet, letting you explore the night sky through telescopes.
Walk in the Enchanted Forest of Parque Rural de Anaga
Towering mountain peaks, ravines, and lush forests await explorers at Parque Rural de Anaga. This is a great park for outdoor activities in Tenerife that showcase the island’s incredible nature. In fact, one of the most beautiful places on the island is Bosque Encantado, also known as the Enchanted Forest, an ancient laurel forest rich with magical viewpoints and scenic walks.
This hike is so popular that the park issues a permit for it to only 45 people per day, charging a fine to those in the area without a permit. You can order one of these free permits up to 15 days in advance online. However, because of the forest’s popularity, permits are usually gone within minutes of them opening up online, so get in the queue early.
If you don’t get a permit, a nice alternative to the Enchanted Forest is Sendero de los Sentidos. Another great trail is the Roque de Taborno route, a 4-kilometer trek that takes about 1.5 hours to complete. This isn’t exactly a well-marked path, so you’ll need a GPS map.
Tour Cueva del Viento
Strap on your hard hat and explore Europe’s largest volcanic tube at one of the best tourist attractions in Tenerife, Cueva del Viento.
On this tour, you’ll journey into the earth to see part of the world’s fifth-largest volcanic tube while learning about lava fields, volcanoes, and geology. The tour will start with an introductory module at the Visitor Center, then you’ll set off through the lava fields toward the entrance of the cave with your guide.
Once you get to the cave, you’ll strap on your hard hat equipped with a flashlight, as there is no artificial lighting in the cave. You will learn all about the geological formations that took place here over 27,000 years ago and about the surrounding farm areas. The tour lasts roughly two hours and is not suitable for children under 5 years old.
Learn the Theories Surrounding the Pyramids of Güímar
One of the most mysterious must-see attractions in Tenerife is the Pyramids of Güímar. Located on the east side of the island, these ancient structures are the subject of many theories, as their origin is highly debated.
The Pyramids of Güímar are made of lava stones, and no one is quite sure who built them or when. Some researchers claim that they’re just a series of stone mounds left behind by farmers clearing the land, but others have their theories. One of the most notable theories is that the pyramids were built by the Guanches, possibly with the help of sailors from Egypt and Central America, as they resemble the pyramids in those areas. Another theory is they are linked to the Freemasons.
There is much more to do here than simply seeing the structures. You can also learn all about the history and relics of the pyramids at the museum or take a stroll through the leisure area.
Visit the Penguins at Loro Parque
If you’re wondering what to do in Tenerife with the whole family, check out Loro Parque on the west side of the island. This zoo is a great place to spend a day with little ones, and it offers some unique attractions.
If you book the Discovery Tour, you and your family will get a 90-minute guided experience to learn more about the animals and go behind the scenes in the park. Loro Parque also offers immersive experiences, like Planet Penguin, where you can stand in front of massive windows and view the icy sanctuary where these lovable creatures live. You can also explore the Grotto (home to bats), the Oceania area, and AquaViva (the aquarium), which puts on a show to give you a closer look at hundreds of colorful jellyfish, sharks, and fish. You can book your tickets to the park in advance here.
If you enjoy animals, we also recommend checking out Jungle Park and Monkey Park in Arona.
Take a Dip in a Natural Pool
If you’re sightseeing in Tenerife and need a cooldown, why not go for a refreshing dip in one of the island’s naturally formed swimming pools? These natural pools are a great way to enjoy a relaxing swim in calmer waters.
One of the more popular pools is the Piscinas Naturales de El Caletón in Garachico. Here, you’ll find a large inlet pool with rocky steps leading into the water. A great spot to go for a dip with kids is Piscina Natural de Bajamar, where toilets and showers are available. If you’re looking for a less popular spot that’s still fun for kids, head to Piscina Natural de Jóver, where you’ll find outstanding views and little waterfalls. There is a lifeguard on duty here, so you can relax while the little ones splash around.
Another good swimming hole is Charco de Isla Cangrejo by the Cliffs of Los Gigantes. This is a perfect spot to swim on a windy day, as the concrete wall acts as a sturdy barrier to take the brunt of the crashing waves.
Spend a Day Sunbathing on the Beach
Tenerife being an island, it has no shortage of awesome beaches where you can spend the day swimming and lounging on the sand.
If you want to spend the day at one of the best beaches on the island, haul your swimming gear to Playa de La Tejita, Tenerife’s largest sand beach, or Playa de Las Teresitas, where you’ll find 1.5 kilometers of pristine imported yellow sand. If you’re looking for a more remote beach where the waves are ideal for surfing, check out Playa de Benijo.
Another popular beach in Tenerife is Playa del Duque, where the water has a stunning turquoise hue. If you need a break from sunbathing here, you can pop into one of the nearby bars for a bite to eat – or even join in on beach yoga!
Visit the Town of La Orotava
A great place to visit in Tenerife for a more local feel is the quaint village of La Orotava, where you can stroll through the beautiful Old Town.
One of the more notable streets in the Old Town is La Casa de los Balcones, a series of balcony homes built in the 17th century that is now home to shops selling souvenirs and local art. Other attractions you can’t miss in the village include Hijuela del Botánico, a beautiful botanical garden behind the city hall, and the Museo de Artesanía Iberoamericana de Tenerife (Latin American Craft Museum of Tenerife), where you can learn about local artwork and crafts.
After cruising around to the town’s museums and attractions, you’ll probably get a little peckish. We recommend lunch at Guachinche La Casona. It has some seriously delicious local dishes, like ropa vieja and papas arrugadas, plus a great selection of local wines! That brings us to our next itinerary item . . .
Eat at a Guachinche Restaurant
Guachinches are Canarian establishments with a familial feel where groups can enjoy local wine and traditional food. You can find these establishments all over Tenerife, particularly in the northern part.
Guachinches started out in the 17th century, when local vineyard owners would host English traders for wine tastings in hopes of them selling the wine in England. What makes guachinches so unique is that they are normally hidden in random places such as under banana trees, in garages, or in the middle of the mountains. For this reason, you’ll need a car to reach most of them.
Eating at one of these establishments is a unique experience, as the dishes are all homemade and the small space makes a more intimate setting. However, the guachinches focus more on the wine than the food. This is because they pay taxes on the dishes but not the wine, so don’t be surprised if there isn’t a huge selection of meals. In fact, most guachinches are only open around grape harvest time, which lasts roughly from October to March.
Some of the top guachinches we recommend visiting in Tenerife are Bodegón El Primero, Guachinche El Parralito, Guachinche los Gómez, Guachinche Romance, and Guachinche La Huerta de Ana y Eva.
Marvel at the Cliffs of Los Gigantes
Acantilados de Los Gigantes, the massive rock cliffs on the island’s west coast, are one of the most popular Tenerife attractions. Guanches (the Indigenous people of the Canary Islands) considered these 600-feet-high cliffs a sacred place and nicknamed them “the Wall of Hell.”
There are a few ways to experience the cliffs, as they stretch from Punta de Teno to the port of Los Gigantes. One way is from Playa de Los Guíos, where you can look up at the massive rock formation while swimming or lounging in the sun. To appreciate them from a distance, head to the Mirador de Archipenque for a breathtaking view of the city with the cliffs as a backdrop.
You can also go on a boat cruise to see how the cliffs seemingly erupt out of the ocean. We recommend this five-star cruise from the port in Los Gigantes. During the excursion, you’ll have time to marvel at the cliffs, snorkel, and enjoy a drink and lunch.
Explore the Capital City of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Tenerife’s capital city has plenty of activities for tourists, and it’s well worth a day or two to explore and see it all.
Start your visit with a stroll through the Historic Quarter, where you’ll find churches and other buildings dating back to the 15th century. Take a walk down Calle de La Noria to see street performers and traditional restaurants and bars.
Once you’ve got your bearings, head over to the Mercado Nuestra Señora de Africa. Located in a salmon-colored building with Moorish-style arches and two stories of stalls, this massive market is a great place to browse for local goodies like wine and fresh produce. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Sunday, when its hours are 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
One of the buildings that you should see in Santa Cruz is the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín, an impressively designed auditorium similar to the Sydney Opera House in Australia. If you feel like going for a dip during your visit to the city, you should also check out the Parque Maritimo César Manrique. This water park is a great place to take the kids for a few hours of fun in the sun. It has a relaxing setting with palm trees, waterfalls, pools, and (of course) waterslides.
A trip to the capital isn’t complete without a visit to the Museum of Nature and Archaeology (MUNA), where you can browse local artifacts and learn more about the history of the Canary Islands and its people. Other notable attractions in Santa Cruz de Tenerife include the Plaza de España, the city’s largest square, and the Palmetum, a botanical garden displaying Europe’s most impressive collection of palm trees.
Drive or Hike Through the Masca Valley
A drive through the Masca Valley is easily one of the best free things to do in Tenerife. The road winds around the mountains and lush surrounding forests, offering an ideal cruise for taking in the island’s beauty. A few stops along the way have incredible panoramic views, so keep an eye out.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t your typical leisurely drive, as the roads are extremely narrow and busy with traffic, including large tour buses. If you’re uncomfortable with these driving conditions or not renting a car during your trip, consider booking this full-day tour of Masca and the Cliffs of Los Gigantes.
Another great way to experience the landscape of Masca Valley is with a hike. The most popular hike in the area is the Masca Gorge Trail, an 8.5-kilometer, out-and-back trek that takes roughly 4.5 hours. However, hikers are only allowed on weekends and holidays, and you will need to purchase a permit in advance to hike the trail.
Discover the Quaint Towns of Garachico and Icod de los Vinos
These two beautiful small towns are often overlooked by tourists, which is exactly why you should visit them! You’ll not only get to explore without crowds slowing you down, but also get a taste of a quieter local culture.
Garachico is a coastal town where you can swim, enjoy local delicacies and cocktails, and see some old architecture and historic churches. It’s also home to a pretty incredible natural swimming pool, as mentioned above.
Icod de los Vinos is equally beautiful and only a 15-minute drive from Garachico. Here, you can visit one of the most famous trees in the Canary Islands, the Drago de Icod de los Vinos. This 1,000-year-old dracaena (or dragon) tree is the oldest of its kind in the world. It looks like something straight out of Avatar and is well worth a stop, followed by a drink or local dish at one of the nearby restaurants.
Get Your Adrenaline Pumping at Siam Park
Is there anything better than a water park on a hot day? We think not! Siam Park is a unique Thai-themed water park offering fun for the young and the young at heart.
The park features plenty of adrenaline-pumping water rides, including the Tower of Power. You’ll fly down this 28-meter-high slide at speeds up to 80 kph, through an aquarium full of stingrays and sharks. The park also has a beach, pools, a lazy river, and plenty of tamer rides for those who don’t want to bring an extra pair of undies for the big waterslides (no judgment here)! It even has a cool floating market where you can shop for souvenirs or grab a snack. Make sure to purchase your ticket to the park in advance so you don’t have to wait in line.
Another fantastic water park to consider visiting is Aqualand Costa Adeje. It has just as many high-thrill rides as Siam Park, along with a dolphinarium.
Watch the Sunset at Punta de Teno
If you want to escape the tourist-packed attractions, we recommend making the journey over to the western tip of the island. Punta de Teno is a remote area that not many people visit, offering the perfect spot to enjoy some solitude or romance.
The area is home to a fantastic observation deck overlooking the ocean and the neighboring island of La Gomera. If you look out the other side, you’ll also get some pretty great views of the Cliffs of Los Gigantes. For the best experience, we recommend you arrive no later than 30-40 minutes before sunset.
Tour San Cristóbal de La Laguna
This bustling town is an excellent place to spend the day, with plenty of attractions and spots to visit.
Start your tour of the town with a walk through the historic center of La Laguna, where you’ll see beautiful old buildings and churches as well as shops and restaurants. Make your way to the Museum of History and Anthropology of Tenerife, showcased in a 16th-century residential building, to learn about the island’s culture. Another fantastic museum to check out is the Museum of Science and the Cosmos (MCC), home to interactive exhibits that are perfect for kids.
Experience the Tenerife Carnival
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in February, take advantage of the famous Tenerife Carnival!
Watch the streets of Santa Cruz de Tenerife come alive with vibrant outfits and parties in a carnival that would be worthy of Brazil. Lasting an entire month, the festival celebrates the time right before Lent. It includes drag queen contests, street parties, and parades that you can join or observe, along with the ceremonial burying of a sardine. In Spanish culture, a sardine represents the past, so the significance of burying one is to forget about events that have passed and that you cannot change, bringing hope and optimism for the future.
If you aren’t visiting in February but want a taste of what the festivities are like, check out the Casa del Carnaval gallery in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This is where you can view the annual costumes and learn more about the festival.
Hike the Barranco del Infierno
Even if you only speak un poco Spanish, you might notice that the name Barranco del Infierno translates into something a little daunting. Hell’s Ravine, or Hell’s Gorge, is one of the most popular hikes on the island for a good reason. This stunning trek offers incredible views, leading you through a lush ravine to the island’s highest waterfall. Unfortunately, you can’t swim in the waterfall’s pool, but it’s still a spectacular reward.
Access to Barranco del Infierno is limited, with only about 300 people per day allowed to hike, so you should reserve your permit in advance. The 6.3-kilometer out-and-back trail takes roughly three hours to complete. No dogs are allowed.
Enjoy Breathtaking Views From a Mirador
While vacationing in Tenerife, you have to visit one of the many miradors (or viewpoints) scattered across the island.
Tenerife’s landscape is quite rocky, with many impressive mountain ranges and valleys. To get the most out of your visit, stop at one of the observation decks. A couple of the most noteworthy are Mirador de Aguaide, which overlooks the ocean, and Mirador de Chipeque, which overlooks Mount Teide and the Orotava Valley.
Other viewpoints worth checking out include Mirador de la Atalaya, Mirador El Asomadero, Mirador de La Garañona, Mirador de Jardina, and Mirador de La Ruleta. Whichever one you visit, make sure your phone is charged up so you can take lots of pictures!
Fly High on a Paragliding Excursion
We’ve all had that dream, right? The one where you’re a careless bird flying through the sky, enjoying incredible views and the freedom of flight? Well, if you don’t find that terrifying, it’s time to make your dreams come true!
This tandem paragliding flight will take you on a gentle ride 700 meters high over the southern part of Tenerife. Your adventure starts from Costa Adeje, where hotel transfer to and from the paragliding site is included in your ticket. Upon arrival, you’ll meet your instructor and undergo some training and preparation for your brief experience of being a bird.
As you take off from the ground, you’ll enjoy incredible panoramic views, and you can even take a turn at piloting the glider! The flight lasts about 20 minutes and lands on Playa de La Enramada.
Go on a Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise
Seeing as you’ll be on an island, surrounded by the ocean and all its critters, why not go on a whale and dolphin watching tour?
This three-hour tour on a luxury sailing yacht is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with your family or partner. The boat has a maximum of 11 guests on board, so you’ll have plenty of space to lounge and get a good spot to see some wildlife. The cruise includes complimentary snacks and drinks, and you’ll even get to snorkel with turtles!
Kayak With Dolphins
If you’re looking for a unique water excursion, consider booking this three-hour kayak and snorkeling trip out of Los Cristianos.
The tour will take you on an adventure out at sea, where you’ll be able to see turtles and dolphins in an eco-friendly, non-intrusive way. Watch as dolphins jump through the air and curious turtles swim up to the kayak. After paddling for a bit, you can go for a snorkel in a secluded bay that turtles frequent (wetsuits and snorkeling equipment are provided).
Go on a Canyoning Adventure
If you’re looking for a fun thing to do in Tenerife on dry land, check out this five-hour canyoning adventure in Los Arcos.
On this fun excursion, you’ll get to rappel down the ravine walls of Los Arcos Canyon and explore hidden parts of the island that other tourists can’t access. You’ll learn the ins and outs of canyoning and a bit about the island’s geological history. This makes a great activity for families with older children (as the tour is not suitable for those under age 12 or over 80).
Experience a Submarine Dive
The Beatles may have said we all live in a yellow submarine, but how many of us have actually been in a submarine? If you haven’t, you can change that easily with this incredible 50-minute submarine dive excursion.
This unique tour gives you the chance to dive deep and see the ocean floor from a new perspective. The submarine dives about 30 meters down, where you’ll get to watch octopuses and flutemouth fish swim past the massive windows. The submarine will then descend to the ocean floor and actually rest on the bottom, allowing you to take pictures.
Take a Day Trip to La Gomera
Last on our list of the top things to do in Tenerife is a day trip via this La Gomera island tour. The excursion includes all transport by bus and ferry to and from the island, as well as lunch and entry to Garajonay National Park.
La Gomera is one of the least visited islands in the Canaries, so if you’re looking to get into nature and away from people, this is the place to go. The tour will take you to some of the island’s most notable places, such as Roque de Agando and El Cedro, and includes a demonstration of the local whistling language, Silbo Gomero. You’ll have a live tour guide the whole day, so ask questions!
That brings our list of the best things to do in Tenerife to an end. Now that you know the best places and attractions, all you have to do is figure out how many of them you can squeeze into your itinerary. Good luck!
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