10 Things to do in Tenerife at Christmas
Enjoy the entertaining leisure offer that Tenerife presents to receive the Christmas spirit through volcanic trails in front of the sea.
At Christmas time Tenerife dresses up for you to celebrate the vacation season with a full schedule of activities. You can join the santas race, take a camel ride as the Three Wise Men, visit a wonderful sand nativity scene and even go ice skating.
Find out what to include in your list of things to see in Tenerife if you have decided to spend Christmas on the island. One thing is for sure: you won't get bored.
1. Jump into the water in the new year and swim across Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Join the New Year's Eve festivities with a boat trip in Tenerife with the first dip of the year included and take part in the island's New Year's swim crossing.
Every January 1st along the Muelle Sur in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, more than 200 swimmers choose between a 1000 or 2000 meter course. The annual event is organized by Gesport Canarias and is part of Tenerife's Christmas season.
It is a tradition to listen to music and enjoy the fireworks displays between the beaches and coves. And for many Canary Islanders -and non-Canary Islanders- diving into the sea at this time of the year represents a cleansing of the body, a kind of purification to start the year with renewed energy.
You can start the year kayaking and snorkeling with turtles, participate in the competition or just swim in the sea: the important thing is to receive the year in a memorable way.
2. Take the route of the Nativity scenes by bike
Lovers of Christmas traditions live a special experience when visiting nativity scenes that are true jewels worthy of admiration and, using a bike you can visit almost all of them. Start your route through the emblematic nativity scenes of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, passing through La Orotava and ending in the municipality of La Laguna.
In your first stop you will find a very beautiful work with the signature of the artisan Jesús Gil. It is the giant nativity scene of Santa Cruz that rests on the doors of the Town Hall. The birth of Jesus is represented over 12m2 at two heights, with the figures located on one side of a Christmas tree that exceeds 4 meters high.
Continue the route through the historic center of La Laguna, where seven crib portals are visited by thousands of people annually.
And don't forget to continue on to La Orotava, the municipality that holds the record for the number of nativity scenes in Tenerife with 30 of these jewels. This is an adventure to enjoy in company.
3. Take advantage of the discounts, do your Christmas shopping!
Having the status of outermost region within the EU, the tax rate in Tenerife is 7%, which allows to offer deals on clothing, ceramics, local crafts, branded products and other curiosities available in markets such as those surrounding the town hall, or the famous market of La Recova, where you will find everything to delight the palate.
If you prefer department stores, you can stroll through the classic Plaza del Duque Shopping Center with its outdoor area, or if you prefer a bet on the trendiest of the city, go to the Siam Mall.
While you are shopping you could take the opportunity to see the lighting of the Christmas trees. Usually on December 24 you can see a big tree around the Plaza la Candelaria, as well as in the rest of the main squares of the municipality.
4. Write down your diving baptism as a New Year's wish
Start the year discovering the marine flora and fauna of Tenerife with dives included, don't you know how to do it?
Cross this New Year's wish off your list because on the carnival island you will find PADI certified instructors ready to help you achieve it during most of the Christmas season.
The climate in Tenerife is very friendly, in December temperatures remain mild and the hustle and bustle of visitors stays on the shores so it is perfect to learn in peace.
Often this experience includes theory instruction, simple diving exercises and open water dives, ending with your certificate with the baptism of diving. In most cases, this experience takes place in the marina of Radazul.
5. Participate in the Santa Claus Race
At Christmas the City Council of Santa Cruz de Tenerife promotes the race of the Santas, an event in which the whole family will enjoy. Behold this peculiar athletic test can not miss if you are looking for what to do with children in Tenerife.
Participants can choose between routes of 2-5 kilometers passing through the Plaza España, Avenida Marítim and the building of the Cabildo.
Registration usually has a solidarity price, from 10 € and also includes a zumba master class. The funds raised are dedicated to support sports projects so you will be contributing to a good social cause. Visit their website and participate!
6. Ride a camel like the Three Wise Men
Horseback riding is possible in most of the peninsula, but camel rides are reserved for the Canary Islands and what better time to get on the back of these dromedaries than Christmas?
Travel the volcanic land of Tenerife by camel starting from the animal contact farms in the north or south of the island located at the Camello Center:
This is the meeting point in the north of the island, in the high area of Teide. Camello Center is located on the Carretera General, TF-82, km 10,2, El Tanque, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Prices start at 10 €. In addition, you have the option of including a menu with typical Canarian food for a very cheap supplement. If you decide to visit this center, book your visit from Friday to Wednesday between 10:00-17:00 hours.
This is the place to meet camels in the south of Tenerife. Camel Park is located at Carretera General, 67, Los Cristianos, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
This is the oldest camel farm in Tenerife and they offer free shuttle service from Callao Salvaje and Golf del Sur. From 11 € you can get on the camel hump.
And if farms are your thing, no camels?
You can visit a banana plantation surrounded by ostriches through the volcanic valley to Caldera del Rey. This is a tuk-tuk tour in Tenerife and the natural beauty of the tour is well worth the investment from 19 €.
7. Join the Tenerife Concert Season
Every year a hundred musical activities, choirs, plays and concerts tour the island to embrace the holidays during the Christmas concert season in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. I recommend you take a look at the program they offer.
The Christmas spirit beats strong on the island and you can listen to Christmas carols in different places such as the concerts of the Fregolinos, who warm up the engines with Santa Claus from the Plaza El Príncipe. They are joined by the martial display of the Military Band to continue the celebration at the same venue, as well as the El Cabo Artistic Union.
Other places to attend concerts in December are the Guimerá Theater and theArt Center La Re, Recova. And if you dare to walk the night of December 25, I recommend you to go to the port of Santa Cruz where the great Christmas Concert by the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra takes place.
8. Have fun with the activities of the PIT of Santa Cruz
This is another of the perfect activities to do in Tenerife with children at Christmas, as every year between December and January the PIT opens its doors to offer a set of playful activities that recall the young spirit of the family.
The Children and Youth Park of Tenerife -better known as the PIT- offers a world of fun and entertainment among digital games, Santa Claus visit, live performances, educational workshops, slides, inflatable mattresses, mechanical attractions and endless activities for a good time with the family.
The PIT is located at Avenida de la Constitución, 12, in the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Fairgrounds. It has a large free parking area and if you go by public bus, it is a 4-minute walk from the José Emilio García Gómez station.
Be sure to check their schedules on the official website.
9. Delight your palate with the Christmas gastronomy of Tenerife
In December the Canarian meals are transformed into banquets. If you visit Tenerife and you are looking for a good place to eat an authentic fish sancocho, Christmas trout, remember the traditional childhood of the islanders with grandmother's cake, ropa vieja or any of the other Christmas specialties with homemade flavor and cheap prices, you should make a gastronomic route through Guachinches.
Guachinches are typical food establishments of the island where dishes are served with generous portions of homemade food and homegrown wine. Born as diners, they evolved into family bars. At Christmas time their stoves are a fixed appointment for locals and visitors.
You will find them all over the island, although it is worth mentioning that most of them are located in the municipality of La Orotava. Among the guachinches they have earned a place of honor:
El Guachinche Los Gómez
Its food is a delight and its Christmas trout are the gems of the place. It is located at Camino Los Gómez, 21 Guachinche Los Gómez, La Orotava. Open from Tuesday to Sunday between 12:00-24:00 hours.
Guachinche El Ramal
This is the destination to enjoy grilled meat, wines from their harvest and their grandmother's cake is finger-licking good. It is located at Carretera enlace el Ramal, 18H La Orotava. Its opening hours are from Wednesday to Saturday between 13:00-17:15 /19:00-23:00 hours and Sundays between 13:00-17:00 hours.
Guachinche El Primero
They are the kings of octopus and chickpeas, but at Christmas you must try their gofio pella, a house delicacy. It is located at Calle Malpais 10, Santa Úrsula. It is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays between 13:00-17:00 and Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 13:00-17:00 / 19:00-23:00.
Guachinche Casa Yayi
The specialty of the festive season is Christmas trout with a personal touch. You will find it at Calle La Resbala 83, in La Matanza de Acentejo. And it opens its doors from Wednesday to Sunday, between 13:00-17:00 hours.
10. Ice skating
Among the classic Christmas activities, ice skating stands out. Certainly with the climate of Tenerife it is hard to imagine sliding on the ice, but, in this Canary Island, activities under the sun are combined with the typical seasonal cold in the ice rinks. The most popular ones are:
Ice Rink in El Sauzal
It opens its doors during December and is located in the Plaza de San Pedro in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This is one of the free rinks offered by the island.
The Rink Magma
Located in the Magma Arte y Congresos, the biggest skating rink in Tenerife opens its doors every year between the end of November and January. This is a fixed meeting place at Christmas time where you can take pictures with Santa Claus or just skate at your leisure.
Ticket prices are available from 8 €. But don't forget to wrap up warm: it's cold, even if you are in the Canary Islands.
If you are in the south of Tenerife you can reach either of the two rinks by bus or by bike. In case you miss the snow, but don't fancy the ice rinks, you may prefer to go to Avenida Marítima, just in front of Plaza España, where every year a snow mountain is installed as a giant slide.
11. Join El Sauzal's leisure offer
Every year the El Sauzal theater presents its wide range of Christmas shows, including funny comedies, decorations, carols, storytelling and new perspectives on local traditions to surprise the audience.
Because not everything is beach, sun and sand, in the annex of the Town Hall of Tenerife the Christmas Fair of attractions is installed in December. Come and get to know its program for all audiences.
12. The Nutcracker in La Laguna
Tchaikovsky's 1891 classic fairy tale is presented annually in Los Cristianos at the Auditorio Infanta Leonor, with the participation of prestigious international ballet schools that gather on the island to celebrate Christmas in La Laguna, a World Heritage Site in the Canary Islands.
13. Enjoy a Christmas day Viking style
Start this half day excursion in Tenerife in Playa de las Vistas, where a Viking ship travels through the southern part of the island between special seasonal activities.
The brave Vikings perform various choreographies to teach adults and children how to handle swords, while inviting visitors to dress up as real Vikings to sit on the throne of Erik the Red.
It will be 3 hours of pure fun, children especially enjoy a lot. On board the caravel there is snorkeling equipment for everyone and the tour includes dolphin and whale watching.
At sunset, leave the ship behind and go to Castillo de San Miguel, a 15-minute drive from Playa de las Vistas, in Aldea Blanca. At the castle you will be greeted by the count and countess before enjoying a joust between knights. To end the day on a high note, a medieval banquet with Christmas accents is offered.
How is the weather in Tenerife at Christmas time
While waiting for Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men, it often feels like spring on the largest island of the Canary Islands. It is quite frequent that part of the festivities take place on the beaches or, at least, outdoors.
Between December and January the temperatures vary between 18º- 21º C, so the only occupation is to enjoy its leisure offer.