There are lots of things to do in Tenerife, ranging from cultural landmarks to beautiful beaches and spectacular natural attractions. Tenerife is both the largest and the most populated island of the Canary Islands.
It features a pleasant climate year-round and this Spanish island attracts about 5 million tourists annually. The majority of visitors come here to enjoy the beaches and nature as well as escaping the cold winter months of northern Europe.
In this article, I share some of the best things to do in Tenerife along with major attractions and other points of interest. You can also see my recommendations on where to stay as well as my favorite hotels in Tenerife.
Tucked high in the Teno Massif in the west of the island, Masca is a village that was once a settlement of the Guanche, the island’s aboriginal people. With a population of less than 100, it is located at 650 meters above sea level.
The journey up to the village is breathtaking, with a cascading platform reminiscent of Machu Picchu. The steep, rough walkways are the best way to explore the area around the village, so wear comfortable shoes.
Bajamar Natural Pools
Tenerife’s coast is famously steep, rocky, and wild, so natural pools are the answer to the yearning for a cool dip in hot weather. Bajamar is a protected area, bound by rocks and lined by golden-red sand.
There are two larger pools and a smaller one for children. In the area, one can also find several restaurants, an aquatic park, and other attractions. It’s truly a unique place, and coming here for a dip in the natural pools is definitely one of the best things to do in Tenerife.
Playa de las Teresitas
The Teresitas beach is one of the most sought-after beaches in Tenerife, thanks to its mile-long beach lined with swaying palms and lovely, calm waters. Outside of Santa Cruz, the island’s capital, the beach can get fairly busy.
The beach was originally a smaller strip of black sand, but the current beach was constructed in the 1960s, with imported golden sand. The sand had to be replaced by €2.5m worth of Saharan sand in 1998 due to natural erosion.
Whale and Dolphin Watching
The water off of Tenerife is a magnificent place to watch dolphins and whales, as it is part of their migratory path each year. The best time to see whales is from November to February, whereas dolphins are visible all year long.
Most tours last about an hour, and while it is impossible to guarantee a sighting, the waters surrounding Tenerife are very popular for whales to “lodge”, or rest, and for dolphins to inhabit.
If you’re an animal lover like me, I warmly recommend joining one of the tours that take you out to see wild whales and dolphins. These creatures are a true bliss to see in their natural habitat. I recommend Whale Watch Tenerife, which is a Blue Flag Certified Whale Watching Organisation.
The volcano Mount Teide is the highest point in Spain, as well as being the fourth-highest volcano in the world. It is still active, although the most recent eruption was in 1909.
Surrounded by Teide National Park, it is a popular spot to visit, with 3,000,000 annual tourists. To climb to the top, hikers must have a permit. There is a cable car that can take you about 40 minutes walking from the top, in an 8-minute journey through the air.
Pirámides de Güímar Ethnographic Park
This park is a fascinating collection that is based around six pyramid-style terraced structures in Güímar, Tenerife. These agricultural monuments date back to the 1800s and were built from lava stone, without any mortar or binding agent.
The orientation of the pyramids is based on the position of the sun during the summer and winter solstices. Twice nominated for European Museum of the Year, the park includes exhibits about the botanicals around the area, the pyramids themselves, and even a Poison Garden, which hosts 70 poisonous plants.
El Médano beach
El Médano, on the southern coast of the island, is a beach popular for its waves and wind. Loads of water sports take place here during the day, and the bohemian town comes alive at night.
The beach is very popular with locals, so you’ll find it filled with Spaniards, differentiating it from the rest of the island. The part of the beach closer to town is where most people swim, while the section further from town is windier and wilder and is mostly reserved for water sports, like kitesurfing.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival
After Rio de Janeiro, the carnival celebrations in Tenerife are the most famous in the world. These celebrations, connected to the Catholic period of Lent, typically take place in February or March, depending on the date of Easter.
Celebrations are wild and include concerts (one of which holds the Guinness record for largest outdoor gathering for a concert), parades, and nonstop celebration. Tradition holds that guests wear a costume, so if you can attend be sure to pack a spectacular one!
Garachico is a small fishing village that still maintains a traditional Canarian feel. It was once an important town on the trade routes, meaning it had significant wealth, the vestiges of which are still visible in its lovely historic buildings.
In 1706, a volcanic eruption changed all that, demolishing the harbor and turning the village back into a quiet, isolated spot. However, this lava eruption did form some very cool rock pools, which since have become a popular swimming spot.
Los Gigantes Cliffs
One of Tenerife’s most striking natural attractions, Los Gigantes is a bunch of steep, rocky cliffs that rise 600 meters out of the ocean. They stretch along the coast, creating an impressive view, a result of volcanic eruptions a long time ago.
Indigenous people called them “the Wall of the Devil” due to their foreboding look, and the best way to see them is from the sea. There are many companies offering boat rides to get a good view from the best vantage point—right in front.
The Museum of Nature and Man
The Museum of Nature and Man is located in the capital city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, right in the middle of the monumental district and surrounded by emblematic buildings like the TEA, the Church of the Conception, and more.
It is located in an old hospital, that was originally built back in 1745, with a beautiful neoclassical façade. The museum’s focus is on the natural and archaeological riches found on the island.
The dragon tree in icod de los vinos
The dragon tree in Tenerife isn’t just any tree—it’s an 800-year-old dragon tree, which serves as a symbol of the island, and a living National monument. It is nearly 20 meters high and 20 meters around.
The tree is located in the Millennial Dragon Tree Park and includes a visit to the gardens and paths of the beloved park. When you visit the tree, be sure to also check out the ancient burial sites of the Guanches, the original aborigine inhabitants of the island.
San Cristobal de la Laguna
Also known as La Laguna, this city is the second largest in Tenerife and is considered the capital of the island’s culture. The urban planning, done in the 1400s, later served as a model for colonial cities in the Americas.
Walk the streets of the city and admire the churches, squares, and markets. The city’s festival day is the 14th of September, and people come from all over the island to celebrate.
Anaga Rural Park
As if Tenerife wasn’t beautiful enough, the natural parks on the island offer this splendor amped up and in its natural state. Anaga is the perfect example — a protected park in north Tenerife which boasts the tallest peaks and deepest ravines.
This area was also the first piece of Tenerife that was formed when a volcano erupted over 7 million years ago. Visit the Anaga Rural Park and hike through the forests, take a dip in natural pools, and hang out in ancient cave dwellings.
Siam Park is not your average European water park. In fact, it has been named the best water park in Europe by Trip Advisor, and it was built by a Thai princess.
The park opened in 2008, and it has a Thai theme throughout. It features dozens of attractions, including the world’s longest lazy river, making it one of the best attractions in Tenerife for kids.
Where to stay in Tenerife
The main tourist areas can be found in the southern part of the island, which enjoys nice and sunny weather year-round. This is where resort towns such as Costa Adeje, Los Cristianos, and Playa Paraiso are located.
For a local feel and experience, I recommend staying in La Laguna or Santa Cruz de Tenerife. However, these two cities are also accessible via public transportation. For those who are looking for some quiet and relaxing vibes, I would recommend Las Galletas, Playa San Juan, and Callao Salvaje.
Playa la Arena and Los Cristianos are two of the best places to stay in Tenerife for families. And if you prefer to experience another part than the south, Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo are both great choices.
- La Laguna Gran Hotel
- Iberostar Selection Sábila
- Royal Hideaway Corales Suites
- Hotel Botanico y Oriental Spa Garden
Hiking in Tenerife
The Canary Islands are full of beautiful paths and ancient hiking trails, and Tenerife is not an exception. There are numerous hiking trails that lead through the island’s spectacular scenery and various climatic zones.
Trails in the northern part
- Rambla de Castro: De Los Roques al Mirador de San Pedro
- Chinyero & Volcan de Garachico
- Paseo Costa del Sauzal
- Los Silos – Cuevas Negras – Erjos
- Cruz del Carmen – Chinamada – Punta del Hidalgo (Anaga Mountains)
Trails in the southern part
- Masca Valley
- Barranco del Rio
- Malpais de Güimar
- Pico de Teide
List of monuments and attractions in Tenerife
In addition to the list of things to do in Tenerife above, these are some of the most famous landmarks on the island.
- Piramides de Guimar
- Catholic Church of the Holy Spirit
- Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Candelaria
- Iglesia de la Concepcion
- Light and music fountain
- Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Pena Francia
- Iglesia de la Concepción y su Tesoro
- Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion
- El Drago Milenario
- Castillo de San Felipe
- Castillo de San Miguel
Museums in Tenerife
For those who are interested to learn more about the island’s history and culture, there are several museums in Tenerife who make a great job of teaching about the past with some interesting collections.
- Museo de Naturaleza y Arqueologia
- Museo Historico Militar de Canarias
- Centro de visitantes Telesforo Bravo
- Museo de Malvasia
- Casa Del Vino de Tenerife
- Casa del Plátano Casa del Plátano
- Museo del Pescador
- Museo Guanche
- Fundacion Cristino de Vera
Fun things to do in Tenerife with kids
If you’re traveling to Tenerife with kids, you’ll be pleased to know that there is no shortage of fun activities in Tenerife with kids. For example, you can ride go-kart at Karting Club Tenerife or have a fun day at Siam Park.
For those who like adventures, I recommend the Submarine Safari or Whale and Dolphin watching. If your kids find the space interesting, you shouldn’t miss the Museum of Science and Cosmos or a stargazing excursion at Mount Teide.
Want more recommendations on things to do in Tenerife, Canary Islands? Leave a comment below!