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.
With a diversity of 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 over 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 important to bear in mind the best time to see these species as there are times such as spring and winter when they are most active. For this reason, it is advisable to find out some tips for seeing dolphins or whales in Tenerife, especially if you are going with children.
The island is a protected natural area, but luckily there are various options at all price ranges for discovering the amazing natural habitat of these cetaceans on an organised excursion, where you will spend the day on board a boat in the middle of the sea watching whales and dolphins playing and jumping around you.
You can also go snorkelling and take a look at a natural aquarium with fish and sea turtles. This is a must-do experience on the island. Find out how to take a trip out to sea and spot dolphins and whales in our complete guide: Whale and Dolphin Watching in Tenerife.
2. Take a trip 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, offer routes where you can lose yourself and forget about the rest of the planet for a few hours.
Its ravines will leave you breathless and, if you manage to overcome your vertigo, with an indelible memory of wild nature. Walking along its paths you will put yourself, for a while, in the shoes of an inhabitant of the island, living among banana and aloe vera plantations. You can travel around 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, so here you have more information about all the options to discover this impressive island with a local guide: Best Day Trips to La Gomera from Tenerife.
3. Climb Mount Teide
The Teide National Park is a national treasurevisited by nearly four million visitors every year (the most visited in Europe). Its UNESCO-protected volcanic landscapes are a magnet for hikers and nature lovers, and a magical setting that you will never forget.
There are several routes to climb to the summit of Teide, and all of them are along marvellous paths that can only be done on foot. You can prepare a hike on your own, but the advantages of taking an organised hike 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 don't miss any of the incredible corners of this place and you'll be sure to be transported to and from your hotel.
To find out the different options you have to explore Teide on an organised hike, 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 Los Cristianos beach, you can kayak your way to the Los Gigantes cliffs, one of the most spectacular snorkelling spots in Europe. Logically, this makes it a must on any trip to Tenerife, as you'll be able to see the island's marine life in all its splendour, especially the different species of fish and turtles that live under the water's surface.
As Tenerife's waters are a protected environment, swimming with dolphins is strictly forbidden, which is why these kayak excursions are the only way to get close to the animals in a respectful way. You will have the chance to see whales and dolphins at close quarters, which makes for an unforgettable kayaking experience.
Read more about the options for kayaking in Tenerife and get a glimpse of the island's impressive marine world: Kayaking and Snorkeling With Turtles in Tenerife.
5. Explore the spectacular island of El Hierro
A trip to El Hierro from Tenerife is a perfect day trip if you're staying in the Canaries for at least a week: you'll pass lookout points with breathtaking views, ravines, cliffs, remote hermitages and pristine beaches.
Since preparing a trip to El Hierro on your own from Tenerife requires getting ferry tickets, organising the route, and hiring a car and driving it, visiting on an organised experience is the easiest and most comfortable way.
Don't forget to pack your binoculars for this trip! 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.
There are around 30 different spots across the island from which to take off, and especially in summer the conditions are so good that there are daily flights where you can enjoy an experience as beautiful as it is thrilling. It's not just the adrenaline rush: it's the views and the sense of freedom that make paragliding in Tenerife such a popular experience.
Whether it's a flight from Mount Teide to the coast or a tour of Costa Adeje, you'll descend through the clouds to find the island's mountains and forests and the sea stretching out into infinity.
If you want to know more about paragliding, here I tell you about the best value for money and safest experiences and give you a few tips before you take the plunge (literally) into the void: Paragliding flights in Tenerife.
7. Relax on a catamaran ride
If you're going to Tenerife to disconnect and enjoy the sun and the sea, a catamaran trip is surely one of the experiences you'll want to include in your plans and one of the best things to do on the island. You'll sail out to sea to feel the breeze on your face and see dolphins and whales playing around the boat. Swimming in the waves, snorkelling 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 trip without the 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 take a catamaran trip, but if you want to play it safe, here are the experiences we have tried and why we recommend them: Sailing in Tenerife.
8. Stargazing from Teide
Visiting Teide by day is an experience not to be missed, but at night the peak becomes one of the best observatories on the planet for stargazing, and you can see no less than 83 different constellations from the Park.
You can go on your own and you don't need a permit, as the controls end at 5pm, but in my opinion the best thing to do is to take one of the organised night excursions to Teide with 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 find out more about this unforgettable excursion, which I especially recommend you do if you are going to Tenerife as a couple, you can read about the different ascents 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 one that is particularly visited by locals: its many trails, its humid laurel forest, its unspoilt black sand beaches, and its impressive viewpoints.
The Parque Rural de Anaga is accessed from La Laguna, as the people of Tenerife know the town of San Cristóbal de La Laguna. From there, a route begins that takes you to the Jardina viewpoint, from where you can see the whole valley in which the municipality sits.
From there, you can go up to the Cruz del Carmen viewpoint, with impressive views of Teide, and walk the path to the Pico del Inglés viewpoint, cut almost perfectly between the rock and the laurel forest, making it one of the most beautiful places to take a photo of the island.
If you want to discover the charms of the Anaga massif and much more, I recommend you read my guide to the best excursions in Tenerife, in which I talk about this and other experiences: Best day trips in Tenerife.
10. Walk around the urban oasis of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
To take a break from all that hiking through forests and mountains, I recommend a stroll through Santa Cruz de Tenerife and discover its historic centre, 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 at its most authentic, stroll around the La Recova market, where you will see samples of the produce used as the basis of Canarian gastronomy and where you can stop for a bite to eat and sample some typical dishes of the highest quality.
And to add some contrast to your visit, stop by the avant-garde Tenerife Auditorium, with certain similarities to the Sydney Opera House, and the Tenerife Arts Space.
11. Soak up culture and tradition in the museums.
Another way of getting to know the island of Tenerife in depth is to visit some of its numerous museums, many of which will show you the important cultural and artistic heritage of the Canary Islands, as well as 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 include the Fine Arts Museum and the House-Museum of Wine.
12. Spend a family day out in the theme parks
There is a wide range of leisure activities on offer in Tenerife, but if you are travelling to the island with children, I recommend one of the most fun plans, no matter what time of year you go. I am talking about visiting some of the best amusement parks.
Siam Park is a must 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 which, in addition to its numerous species of parrots, has many other animals that will surprise you, such as the Western Lowland gorillas, sloths and Bengal tigers.
Tips for visiting Tenerife
Any time of the year 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 trip, whale-watching, going to one of the amusement parks or climbing Mount Teide, even in winter, is highly recommended, as the usual 20 degrees Celsius will make these and many other activities easier.
That's why even December in Tenerife or even spending a few days on the island at Christmas 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 your trip as far in advance as possible, as well as knowing that you can book transfers between the two airports and the centre of Tenerife in advance, you will also be interested in these itineraries created to help you organise the best possible plans on offer on the most visited island in the Canary archipelago: