Tenerife in 3 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Do you want to explore a beach and mountain paradise in one place? Tenerife is a dream island that offers you a wide variety of natural landscapes that you can explore in just three days.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

15 min read

Tenerife in 3 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Sunset in Tenerife | ©Guillermo Alonso

All the things you can do in Tenerife take many days. However, you can always find a way to explore the whole (or almost the whole) island in just three days. Are you ready for this adventure?

Please note that some tourist attractions may not be on this itinerary, but the most popular ones will be. To get to see them all you need to plan your time well. This may involve taking buses, organised tours and other alternatives. If you follow a well organised itinerary I am sure you will be able to explore all of Tenerife before your holiday is over.

Day 1: Tour around the north of Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife| ©Carlos Camacho
Santa Cruz de Tenerife| ©Carlos Camacho

You've arrived on the Island of Eternal Spring! Tenerife is known for its climate, which tends to be humid, especially towards the north of the island. In this area you will find its capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, some interesting parks to see and of course, attractive beaches. As this is your first day it would be good to try and sample a little of what the island has to offer.

Before you start your itinerary, try to leave everything tidy in your hotel room. Eat a good breakfast at the hotel or in a nearby restaurant so that you can start the day off on the right foot.

Transfer from the airport to the hotel

You've finally arrived in Tenerife! If you are arriving by plane, bear in mind that this island has two airports, one in the north and one in the south. In this itinerary I offer you a plan starting to explore the north of the island. No matter where you choose to start your journey, you should always plan your transfer from the airport to your hotel.

Santa Cruz is one of the best places to stay as it is close to many interesting locations. To get there you can take the Transportes Interurbanos de Tenerife (TITSA) buses, green buses that run all over the island. The timetable for this means of transport starts at 6am and finishes at 11pm every day. Fares vary depending on the length of the journey. However, they are always between €5 and €10.

I recommend taking a taxi from the hotel to Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This way you will arrive more relaxed, because remember that you are coming from a long flight with luggage. If you still want to try public transport, you can walk to the Aeropuerto Norte stop and then wait for bus 104 which will take you to the Intercambiador Santa Cruz stop.

Stroll around the old town of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

To start your tour of the island's capital you can visit the Plaza del Príncipe de Asturias. This place is located in the historic centre of the city and is very popular with locals and tourists alike. It is also very close to the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts. Here you can explore several of the fourteen rooms that house works made during the 16th and 20th centuries.

Less than five minutes from the museum, you will find the Church of San Francisco de Asis. This was a former Franciscan convent dating back to 1690. You will be amazed by its façade and the works of art inside. A few metres walk through the streets of the city until you reach the Plaza de España. You will see a beautiful artificial lake and the ruins of the Castle of San Cristóbal.

This is another public museum you can visit. It will be very interesting as it is underground and you will be able to see old photographs and maps. I should clarify that you will not see a castle as such, but its underground ruins dating back to the 16th century. You will feel like you have travelled back in time! When you leave the museum you can continue walking around the square and see the Monument to the Fallen.

One of the things you can do with children in Tenerife is to visit the Parque Infantil Gesta del 25 de julio de 1797 (Gesta Children's Park of 25 July 1797). This is a historically themed park where children can have a fun and enjoyable time while learning a little about Tenerife's history - even you can learn!

Time for lunch

At this point of the tour it's probably time for lunch. In the streets of Santa Cruz de Tenerife you will find a variety of restaurants. From the Parque Infantil Gesta del 25 de julio de 1797 you can walk and quickly reach a McDonald's. However, to complement your visit to the island I recommend a visit to a typical restaurant.

You can eat at La Hierbita Restaurant and enjoy a very cosy atmosphere, as well as a taste of Canarian food. Among the dishes on the menu you will find fish soup, garbanzas, grilled octopus, black wreckfish fillet, among others.

Another similar restaurant is La Cuadra Del Palmero, which is just a few metres from the previous restaurant. These restaurants are located on Calle Clavel, where you will find other options and even bars very close by.

Visit Las Teresitas beach and its surroundings

Las Teresitas Beach| ©Xavier Cirac Solé
Las Teresitas Beach| ©Xavier Cirac Solé

After the park, around 5pm is a good time to visit one of the beaches in the north. Playa de las Teresitas is the most recommended because it has become a symbol for the city. To get there you can take bus 271 from the Jardina bus stop, which is 25 minutes from the Parque Rural de Anaga.

When you get to the Santa Cruz interchange, take bus 910 to Las Teresitas station. From there you just have to walk to the beach. This beautiful natural paradise is filled with numerous palm trees and golden sand. You can spend the afternoon and rent sun loungers, chairs and other items for your comfort.

Near the beach you can pass by the Castillo de San Andres. This historic site is also known as Torre de San Andrés and was an ancient military fortress in a circular shape, considered a Spanish Historical Heritage Site. You can enjoy the sunset from the beach or from the vicinity of the castle, for the best historical and natural scenery.

At sunset you might already be a bit hungry. Don't worry! You can go to one of the restaurants near the beach. One of them is Bambu Beach Club and El Caracol Beach Club, Las Teresitas. However, you will see other interesting places where you can eat and drink.

Party in La Laguna

San Cristóbal de La Laguna, better known simply as La Laguna was for a time the capital of Tenerife. Although no longer the centre of political and economic power, this town is still full of life, especially at night. This is partly due to the fact that the first university was founded on this side of the island, which gives it a youthful air.

If you want to get into the party spirit and still have energy to continue the night, I recommend you visit the bars and discos in the surrounding area. These include Club La Estación, El Palco, Barock, E11ven, Kizomba Café Chillout and HG Discobar.

All these places are ideal if you want to go out dancing and have a few drinks. However, remember that public transport runs until 11pm and you will still have two more days to explore Tenerife, so keep your energy up!

Alternative plan for the afternoon of the first day: Visit the Anaga Rural Park

Alternatively, once you've finished lunch, if you fancy the mountain climate and don't feel like going to the beach, I recommend heading to the Parque Rural de Anaga. You can take a bus from Santa Cruz on bus routes 945 and 947. When you get there you will be dazzled by the beauty of its towering mountains. I recommend you take the Sendero de los sentidos (Path of the senses) route where you will find walkways, trees and flowers.

Near the end of the route you will find the Llano de los Loros viewpoint. From there you can enjoy the Anaga Mountains and you can also see the fishing area of San Andrés. You will also see the Pared de laurisilva, a small fork located a few metres from the Mirador del Pico del Inglés.

The whole route takes about an hour and is suitable for children and adults. As you walk along the path you can take some photos. I recommend that you look at your watch and check that you still have time to continue exploring the north of the island, Tenerife has a lot to offer!

Interesting details

  • Location: Carretera TF12- Monte de Las Mercedes, Km 6, 38294 La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

  • Price: you can enter the park without buying a ticket, but if you decide to take a guided tour, please note that this costs an average of 30 €.

  • Opening hours: from 9.30 am to 4 pm.

Day 2: Walk around Teide and nearby villages

Visit the Teide National Park| ©Marek Piwnicki
Visit the Teide National Park| ©Marek Piwnicki

Even if it's only three days, you can visit certain sites to feel like you've seen the highlights of the island. For the second day I recommend you prepare yourself to explore many outdoor sites to get a breath of fresh air. Get up early in the morning and eat a good breakfast at your hotel before you leave.

To have a great day in Teide National Park and the other sites you will visit, I recommend you wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as well as a warm jumper as you will be out late at night touring the island. Many of the plans I recommend for this day require reservations as they are organised excursions. I advise you to do so in advance so that you can enjoy the day at your leisure.

Excursion to El Teide National Park

An excursion to El Teide National Park is the best way to take advantage of all that this natural space has to offer. The most common excursion to this park is probably only half a day. Your guide will pick you up from your hotel at approximately 8 am and take you by bus to the park.

On the way you will see a beautiful road full of trees and pines. Finally you will reach the Teide. You will discover beautiful landscapes formed by lava and volcanic earth. As you go further you will come across natural megaliths like "El Dedo de Dios", La Cascada or La Catedral. Finally you will be able to climb the volcano by cable car, the best option when you are visiting Tenerife in a few days.

Please note that for this type of excursion it is necessary to have a permit to reach the summit. For this reason, we recommend an excursion that also includes the cable car ride. The average cost of these tours is €30. Some of these excursions include lunch, which is ideal for uninterrupted exploration.

Details of interest

  • Location: TF-24, 38300 Arafo, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

  • Price: around 30 €.

  • Timetable: The timetable for these excursions is from 9am to 5pm.

Guided visit to the Teide Observatory

Teide Observatory| ©Manuel ROMARIS
Teide Observatory| ©Manuel ROMARIS

If you like astronomy I think this is a must for you. The Teide Observatory is one of the most prestigious in the whole European continent. After taking the cable car up, you can go down and ask your next guide for a meeting point inside Teide itself to go to the observatory, so you won't get lost.

When you get with your group and enter the observatory you can enjoy the visitor centre and learn lots of interesting facts about the universe. There is even an astrophysics workshop for everyone. This visit lasts approximately two hours and costs on average €20.

Here you can also see powerful telescopes and experiments that are carried out at the observatory. However, you must book your ticket in advance for this visit. Please note that this site is open to the public from 9am to 4pm.

Interesting details

  • Location: 38570 Izaña, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

  • Price: around €20.

  • Opening hours: The observatory is open from 9am to 4pm.

Traveller Tip
Transport is an important factor in all your travels. At some points it may be better to take a taxi or take advantage of the transport offered by organised tours. That's why I recommend that you organise your entire trip so that you can get around the island at your own pace.

A walk around Masca, Icod de los Vinos and Garachico

To complete your visit to Tenerife you will need to visit some villages. Masca, Icod de los Vinos and Garachico are usually included in the best excursions in Tenerife. Some excursions to Teide also include this route, but you will miss the visit to the Observatory. That's why I recommend taking a taxi to Masca, one of the most beautiful villages in Tenerife.

Here you will see a beautiful valley surrounded by cliffs and vegetation. You'll feel like you're looking at a mirage! I recommend you to visit the Mirador de Masca to get a better view of the whole village. If you do the tour on your own you can go to the bus stop Masca (T) and take the bus 355 to Buenavista del Norte (T).

Then take the bus 363 to Puerto de la Cruz until you reach the bus stop Piscina. Here you will be in the village of Garachico, where I recommend you pass by the Plaza de la Libertad, the church of Santa Ana and El Caletón. This last destination are natural pools where you can swim in calm and clear waters.

Before it gets dark, I recommend you to go to Icod de los Vinos by taking bus 363 from Puerto de la Cruz to Icod Station (T). Here you will have some obligatory stops such as the Drago Milenario, a park declared a National Monument. To enter you have to buy a €5 entrance fee.

Another recommended plan in this village is a wine and cheese tasting tour. You will learn many interesting facts about their production as well as tasting the best of the wineries and vineyards.

Return to Santa Cruz de Tenerife and visit Santa Úrsula

If you're staying in the north of Tenerife, when you come back on the second day it's an ideal time to visit the village of Santa Úrsula. You will probably pass through there around 8pm after the previous activities. In this village it is almost obligatory that you pass by the Giganta Santa Úrsula, a statue of almost four metres.

While you are here you can have dinner in one of the restaurants you find along the way. La Tasca de Fran is a good option. This is a relaxed place where you can have a relaxed meal and rest from the day's long journey while eating grills and homemade sweets.

When you have finished your dinner you can take a bus to Santa Cruz de Tenerife and get ready for your last day in Tenerife.

Day 3: Drive through the south of Tenerife

Dolphins cruising the waters of Tenerife| ©Bertrand Borie
Dolphins cruising the waters of Tenerife| ©Bertrand Borie

Finally your third day in Tenerife has arrived! During this day I recommend you to explore the south of the island. In this area you will find many beautiful beaches where you can take a cruise and visit the beaches. You can even visit some of the best amusement parks in the area.

To finish off the day you can party if you prefer. The southern area is full of bars, clubs and restaurants. Make the most of the night before it's time for your flight. Remember that there is another airport to the south, so if you need to make the most of your time you can catch a flight in this area.

Dolphin watching in Costa Adeje

To start your last day in Tenerife it is ideal to take a dolphin and whale watching tour in Tenerife. One of the best locations on the whole island for this activity is Costa Adeje. It is best to take a bus to the south of the island. If you are in the capital you can take bus 111 to Estación Costa Adeje (T) at the Santa Cruz interchange. The journey takes about an hour and a half.

When you arrive at your destination you can board a cruise ship that will take you along the south coast of the island. You will be able to see the cliffs of Los Gigantes and the bay of Masca. While you are on the cruise you can have some complimentary drinks. This tour lasts approximately four hours so you will be able to see the dolphins and whales.

Around midday it will be time for lunch. This is usually included in the price of the cruise (approximately €55). Depending on the cruise you book in advance, you can make stops to enjoy the beach. Some tours even include snorkelling or scuba diving, but they tend to last a little longer.

Book a catamaran to see dolphins and whales

Tour the town of Arona and some of its parks

After your dolphin watching tour you can take a mid-morning stroll through the town of Arona. Here you can visit the Plaza del Cristo de la Salud, the Church of San Antonio Abad and the Calvario Chapel. The main attraction of this area is that you will also find some of thebest amusement parks in Tenerife.

After touring the town, around 3pm you can go to the Jungle Park which is one of those parks that you will definitely want to visit. Inside you will be able to see many jungle animals such as eagles, orangutans, leopards and even penguins. Tickets to this park can be had from around €8.

Not far from this park is Monkey Park. It is home to many species of monkeys that you can interact with. You can even feed them and take pictures with them. It is an ideal park for children who love animals.

Book a ticket to Jungle Park

Enjoy the sunset on one of the beaches

Sunset in Tenerife| ©Enrico Strocchi
Sunset in Tenerife| ©Enrico Strocchi

At the end of the afternoon you can take the opportunity to visit some of the best beaches in the south of Tenerife. Remember that you can get to any of them by bus. Playa de los Cristianos is the best known, but very close to it you will find other very nice beaches where you can spend the afternoon.

On the other hand, Playa El Camisón is very close to the previous one. It is surrounded by green areas and beautiful palm trees. Its waters are shallow, so it is usually a family beach. Playa Troya, on the other hand, is very popular for having many bars and restaurants around it.

Other nearby beaches are Playa La Pinta, Playa Fañabé and Playa Torviscas. Each of them has its own particular charm. I invite you to spend the afternoon at one of them. If you are hungry, don't hesitate to eat at one of the restaurants. Make sure it's seafood or fish, along with a sangria or cold beer.

If you still have time to continue enjoying the island, I recommend visiting discos or bars near Costa Adeje. Some of them are Discoteca Habana Tenerife and Faro Tenerife Club.

What to pack when you go to Tenerife?

Travel luggage| ©Swansway Motor Group
Travel luggage| ©Swansway Motor Group

Tenerife is an island with a wide variety of tourist activities. As you noticed, one day you will be in the mountains and the next day on a beach. That's why it's important that you prepare yourself for all the environments and temperatures that await you on this magical island. So that you don't carry too much weight, always think about the essentials.

The first thing to bring is your swimming costume. The beach is a must on any of your itineraries. I advise you to bring at least two swimming costumes, a towel and your sunscreen. These will be the essential items for a day at the beach.

For the days you go to the mountains or have to walk through villages, it would be better to bring some trainers and comfortable clothes. Make sure they are not slippery so that you can climb the Teide and walk around in peace and quiet. For this site it is also a good idea to bring a jumper to keep you warm. This will also be useful if you go out at night on the island, although it depends on the season.

How can you get around using Tenerife's buses?

Fisherman's Museum| ©Benito Velasquez
Fisherman's Museum| ©Benito Velasquez

As I explained at the beginning, Tenerife is served by the company Transportes Interurbanos de Tenerife (TITSA). These buses or guaguas connect the island from the north to the south. To use the buses and never get lost, you can always look for your route on Google Maps. There you will find information about the nearest stops and the name of the buses you can take.

On TITSA's website you can also check all these routes and get to your destination quickly. I recommend you buy a card so that you can move around the island with ease. You can buy them at different points of sale and recharge that are distributed throughout the island.