Tenerife, land of volcanoes: a place full of beauty in every corner you look at, be it its black sand beaches, its emerald forests, its rock formations sculpted by lava and the majestic Teide, and its small villages lost at the top of ravines.
For the diversity of its landscapes but a constant mild climate, this jewel of the Canary Islands is an idyllic place to travel to and get lost in. Here are the top 10 experiences to always remember your trip to Tenerife:
1. Join a dolphin and whale watching boat trip
Tenerife's waters are home to more than 27 different species of marine mammals, including sperm whales, fin whales, turtles, dolphins, jellyfish and seabirds. Although there are many more types of cetaceans that can be seen in Tenerife.
It is necessary to take into account the best time for the sighting of these species since there are times such as spring and winter when they are most active. Therefore, it is advisable that you get some tips to see dolphins or whales in Tenerife, especially if you go with children.
The island is a protected natural area, but luckily there are several options of all prices to discover the amazing natural habitat of these cetaceans in an organized excursion, where you will spend the day aboard a boat in the middle of the sea watching whales and dolphins playing and jumping around you.
You can also snorkel and peek into a natural aquarium of fish and sea turtles. This is a must do experience on the island. Find out how to take an excursion to the sea and see dolphins and whales in our complete guide: Whale and Dolphin Watching in Tenerife.
2. Take an excursion to La Gomera
La Gomera is the kind of island you picture in your head when you think of an island paradise at the ends of the earth. Although it is inhabited, its endless laurel forests, a type of vegetation unique to the Canary Islands, will offer you routes to get lost and forget about the rest of the planet for a few hours.
Its ravines will leave you breathless and, if you manage to overcome vertigo, with an indelible memory of wild nature. Walking along its paths you will put yourself, for a while, in the skin of an inhabitant of the island, living among banana and aloe vera plantations. You can tour the island by bus or Jeep, spending an incredible day from Tenerife.
Preparing a visit to La Gomera from Tenerife can take a lot of time and effort and therefore, here you have more information about all the options to discover this amazing island with a local guide: Best Day Trips to La Gomera from Tenerife.
3. Climb the Teide
The Teide National Park is a national treasurevisited by nearly four million visitors every year (the most visited in Europe). Its volcanic landscapes protected by UNESCO are an attraction for hikers and nature lovers, and a magical setting that you will never forget.
There are several routes to climb to the top of Teide, and all are through wonderful trails that can only be done on foot. You can prepare an excursion on your own, but the advantages of taking an organized excursion to Teide are several: you won't have to ask for the necessary permit to access the Teide National Park, you'll make sure you won't miss any of the incredible corners of this place and you'll be assured of transportation to and from your hotel.
To learn about the different options you have to explore Teide on an organized excursion, I've written a complete guide in which I give you all the tips you need to know before visiting this amazing place: Excursions to El Teide.
4. Kayak along the cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean
Starting from the beach of Los Cristianos, you can kayak to the cliffs of Los Gigantes, one of the most spectacular environments for snorkeling in Europe. Logically, this makes it a must on any trip to Tenerife, as you will be able to see the island's marine life in all its splendor, especially the different species of fish and turtles that live under the aquatic surface.
Since the waters of Tenerife are a protected environment, swimming with dolphins is strictly forbidden and that is why these kayak excursions are the only way to approach the animals in a respectful way. You will have the chance to see whales and dolphins up close, something that makes a kayaking experience unforgettable.
Read more about the options for kayaking in Tenerife and get a glimpse of the impressive marine world of the island: Kayaking and Snorkeling With Turtles in Tenerife.
5. Explore the spectacular island of El Hierro
Taking a trip to El Hierro from Tenerife is a perfect day trip if you're staying at least a week in the Canary Islands: you'll be touring lookout points with breathtaking views, ravines, cliffs, remote hermitages and pristine beaches.
Since to prepare on your own an excursion to El Hierro from Tenerife requires getting ferry tickets, organizing the route, and renting a car and driving it, visiting it in an organized experience is the easiest and most comfortable way.
Don't forget to pack your binoculars in your backpack for this excursion! Everything you need to know about El Hierro in this guide full of tips: Best Day Trips to El Hierro from Tenerife.
The island of Tenerife is a unique place for many reasons, but it is thanks to its perfect temperature and gentle wind currents that it is one of the best destinations for paragliding.
Throughout the island there are about 30 different points from which to take off, and especially in summer the conditions are so good that there are daily flights in which to enjoy an experience as beautiful as exciting. It's not just the adrenaline rush: it's the views and the feeling of freedom that make paragliding in Tenerife such a popular experience.
Whether it's a flight from Teide to the coast or a tour of Costa Adeje, you'll descend through the clouds to find the mountains and forests of the island and the sea stretching out into infinity.
If you want to know more about paragliding flights, here I tell you about the best value for money and safest experiences and give you a few tips before you launch yourself (literally) into the void: Paragliding flights in Tenerife.
7. Relax on a catamaran ride
If you go to Tenerife to disconnect and enjoy the sun and the sea, a catamaran ride is surely one of the experiences you want to include in your plans and one of the best activities to do on the island. You will sail out to sea to feel the breeze on your face and see dolphins and whales playing around the boat. Swimming in the waves, snorkeling or lying on a sofa on the deck with a drink will be your only worries.
This is the perfect option if you want to take a boat ride without crowds, with a closer and more personal treatment. As in other experiences, you will have the opportunity to see some of the cetaceans that inhabit the waters of the island.
There are several operators on the island to make a catamaran ride, but if you want to play it safe here I talk about the experiences we have tried and why we recommend them: Sailing in Tenerife.
8. Stargazing from Teide
Visiting Teide during the day is an essential experience, but at night the peak becomes one of the best observatories on the planet to see the stars, being able to see no more and no less than 83 different constellations from the Park.
You can go on your own and no permission is needed, since the controls end at 17h, but in my opinion it is best to do one of the organized night tours to Teide with the help of an astronomer.
What impressed me most about this experience was the total absence of light pollution, something that the island takes very seriously with specific rules such as preventing air traffic between sunset and sunrise.
To learn more about this unforgettable excursion, which I especially recommend you to do if you go to Tenerife as a couple, you can read about the different climbs to Teide where you will find more information about the night route: Excursions to El Teide.
9. Climb the Anaga Peak
Pico Anaga is one of the most special places on the island and is particularly visited by locals: its many trails, its humid laurel forest, its pristine black sand beaches, and its stunning viewpoints.
The Anaga Rural Park is accessed from La Laguna, as the people of Tenerife know the town of San Cristobal de La Laguna. From there, a route begins that takes you to the Jardina viewpoint, from where you can see the entire valley in which the municipality sits.
From there, you can climb to the viewpoint of Cruz del Carmen, with stunning views of Teide, and walk the path to the viewpoint of Pico del Inglés, cut almost perfectly between the rock and the laurel forest making it one of the most beautiful places to take a picture of the island.
If you want to discover the charms of the Anaga massif and much more, I recommend you to read my guide about the best excursions in Tenerife, in which I talk about this and other experiences: Best day trips in Tenerife.
10. Tour the urban oasis of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
To take a break from so much hiking through forests and mountains, I recommend a walk through Santa Cruz de Tenerife and discover its historic center, with points of interest such as Calle la Noria, Plaza de España, Castillo de San Cristóbal, Plaza de la Candelaria and Plaza de Weyler.
If you want to feel the atmosphere of the city in its most authentic state, stroll through the market of La Recova, where you will see samples of the product that is used as the basis of Canarian cuisine and where you can stop for a snack and taste some typical dishes of the highest quality.
And to add some contrast to your visit, stop by the avant-garde Auditorium of Tenerife, with certain similarities to the Sydney Opera House, and the Space for the Arts of Tenerife.
11. Soak up culture and tradition in the museums.
Another way to get to know the island of Tenerife in depth is to visit some of its numerous museums, many of which will let you see the important cultural and artistic baggage of the Canary Islands but also the natural wealth of the area.
Among the museums not to be missed are the Museum of Nature and Archaeology, perfect for discovering Tenerife's aboriginal past and its archaeological finds as well as the natural evolution of this unique land. Other essential exhibitions are those housed in the Museum of Fine Arts or the House-Museum of Wine.
12. Spend a day with the family in the theme parks
The leisure offer in Tenerife is endless but if you travel with children to the island I recommend one of the most fun plans whatever time of the year you go. I'm talking about visiting some of the best amusement parks.
Siam Park is a must visit as it is the largest water park in Europe and was considered one of the best in the world. Endless slides, roller coasters, waterfalls, water games and even an aquarium await you in this fun-filled park.
Another must is the Loro Parque, a zoo that, in addition to its many species of parrots, has many other animals that will surprise you as the Western Lowland gorillas, sloths or Bengal tigers.
Tips for visiting Tenerife
Any season is ideal for a trip to Tenerife. Considering its pleasant temperatures throughout the year, the island receives tourists no matter what season it is. Taking a boat ride, whale watching, going to one of the amusement parks or climbing the Teide even in winter is highly recommended, since the 20 degrees Celsius that usually hover around will facilitate these and many other activities.
Hence even the month of December in Tenerife or even spend a few days at Christmas on the island are highly recommended options to escape the cold or snow typical of the season in many other parts of the world.
If you are one of those who want to plan in advance as much as possible your trip, besides knowing that you can book in advance the transfers between the two airports and the center of Tenerife, you will also be interested in these itineraries created to organize as best as possible the plans offered by the most visited island of the Canary archipelago: