The best things to do in Tenerife
With year-round sunshine, dramatic landscapes and a wealth of activities to suit all tastes, Tenerife in the Canary Islands offers something for everyone
If you enjoy soaking up the sunshine and exploring dramatic landscapes, a Canary Islands cruise holiday is for you. With so many things to do in Tenerife, it’s the perfect place to start. The balmy sub-tropical climate is a key draw. However, there’s far more to this island than average daily temperatures of 24°C and 2,670 hours of sunshine per year. So whether you want to get away from it all in wild landscapes, splash around in the waves or enjoy the lively buzz of local towns, here’s our pick of the best ways to have fun for all the family.
Views and volcanoes
Nothing beats getting up high to marvel at Tenerife’s magnificent landscapes and Atlantic vistas. At 3,718m, Mount Teide in the Mount Teide National Park is the highest point in Spain and the world’s third largest volcanic island volcano (the other two are in Hawaii). You could summit this otherworldly landscape on a strenuous six-hour trek, but we recommend a more relaxing eight-minute cable-car ride. Either way, you’ll enjoy unforgettable views.
Mount Teide last erupted in 1909 and is technically still active. The geology of the volcanic rock formations is fascinating; however, to peek into the volcano’s molten core you’ll need a permit from the nearby park office in La Orotava.
Worlds away from Mount Teide’s lunar landscapes are the Botanical Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz. Planted in 1788 by Charles III of Spain’s royal decree, the gardens celebrate a wide variety of specimens brought back by Spanish Conquistadors, including a truly enormous South American fig tree.
This fertile valley is also home to the Risco Bello Gardens, with their colourful planting displays of local flora, and the Orchid Gardens of Sitio Litre. Walk in the footsteps of famous visitors, such as Agatha Christie, as you admire the stunning array of orchids – and don’t miss the new bonsai collection. If all of the above tickles your fancy, the Gardens of the Valley shore experience will take you to all three.
Although unusual in colour, Tenerife’s famous black beaches are sandy and safe. However, for a serious dose of family fun, the island has two famous waterparks. Loro Parque is one of the key visitor attractions of the Canary Islands, while The Water Kingdom at Siam Park has an Asian theme, with slides, chutes and pools galore.
Take in the town
Tenerife’s bustling cruise port Santa Cruz is great for a cultural potter. You’ll find colourful architecture, striking churches and bell towers, excellent museums (the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes and the Museo de la Naturaleza y El Hombre are well worth a visit), and cool galleries, including Tenerife Espacio de las Artes (TEA). La Laguna, the former capital of the Canary Islands, lies inland and is a lively university town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, with fine Renaissance architecture, outstanding monuments and historic churches.
Of course, no visit would be complete without savouring a few local delicacies. The cuisine of the Canary Islands combines Spanish traditions such as tapas with African and Latin American influences and spices. Snacks include the famous papas arrugadas (boiled ‘wrinkly’ potatoes served with two sauces) and local goat’s cheese. For dessert, look out for bienmesabe, a mixture of honey, almond cream, eggs and rum. For a taste of Tenerife's local dishes and a tipple or two, join in the History & Flavours Of Tenerife shore experience to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Laguna.