There are a lot of places to visit in North Tenerife, from the main tourist centers to the beautiful natural landscapes. This part of the island is full of incredible scenery, impressive architecture, and delicious food, so you’ll have a great time here.
If you ask me, I’d say that many of the places in northern Tenerife outshine the attractions in the south. That isn’t to say that there aren’t amazing things to do in south Tenerife, but that area is more popular among beach lovers and partygoers. Meanwhile, the north of Tenerife offers a break from the noise and crowds, with expansive natural areas, hiking trails, history, and culture.
Fortunately, this island isn’t very big, so you can take advantage of your trip to see everything here, especially if you spend a week in Tenerife. We have a complete guide with the best Tenerife attractions, but for now, I’m going to tell you the top things to do in Tenerife North.
1. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, one of the best cities in north Tenerife
First, you can’t visit the northern side of Tenerife without visiting the capital city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This has been the island’s capital since 1833, and it’s a wonderful place to learn more about this Canary Island.
For a general introduction to the city, you can take this free tour, which goes to several points of interest like the Insular Palace, the San Cristóbal Castle, the Church of La Concepción, and Our Lady of Africa Market. Along the way, your guide will provide insights into this city’s rise to prominence.
Of course, there are other cool places to visit here, especially if you love museums. The Museum of Nature and Archeology, the Museum of History and Anthropology of Tenerife, and the Museum Municipality of Fine Arts are all located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
You also can’t miss the Palmetum, one of the most interesting attractions in north Tenerife. This botanical garden has the largest collection of palm trees in Europe, with up to 500 different palm species. It’s a popular place to visit, so it’s a good idea to get your ticket in advance.
Without a doubt, this northern Tenerife town is a must-see, and ideally, you should spend at least one night here. I recommend staying in one of the best hotels in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and using it as your base camp as you explore other sites in the region. Several of the best tours in Tenerife depart from this city, so you don’t even need a car.
2. Anaga Rural Park, one of the best places to visit in Tenerife north
Anaga Rural Park is another one of the best places to visit in north Tenerife. This park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and home to a large number of endemic species, making it a valuable natural environment. It’s also one of our favorite places on the island, thanks to its stunning laurel forests.
Throughout the park, you’ll find several walking trails through forests, along the beach, and past cliffs. The scenery here looks like it was taken out of a fairytale, so you really have to see it to believe it. If you only take one path, make sure it’s the Trail of the Senses, one of the best hikes in Tenerife that go through the magical laurel forest.
In addition to the Trail of the Senses, we also did the round-trip hike to Afur and Tamadiste Beach, which beings and ends in Taganana. It was a beautiful route that allowed us to admire the different scenic areas of the park, and it wasn’t too difficult.
During our visit to Anaga Rural Park, we made the most of our time by staying at the Albergue Montes de Anaga. It’s a simple accommodation, but it was great for us because we could wake up early and explore the park before it filled up with tourists. Of course, if you prefer hiking with a guide, this tour is one of the best things to do in Tenerife North.
3. San Cristóbal de La Laguna, another lovely city in Tenerife north
San Cristóbal de La Laguna is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on the island, so it’s one of the top places to visit in northern Tenerife. This town stands out for its colonial architecture and its urban layout, which dates back to the 15th century.
If it’s your first time here, I recommend taking this free tour to see the main sights in La Laguna, like the Plaza del Adelantado, the Palacio de Nava, Casa de la Alhóndiga, and Casa del Corregidor. It’s also worth visiting Teatro Leal, the San Cristóbal de La Laguna Cathedral, and Casa Salazar.
Also, if you’re interested in nighttime attractions in Tenerife north, La Laguna has shops, restaurants, and bars where you can socialize and enjoy some local food.
4. See the Drago Milenario in Icod de los Vinos, north Tenerife
Another town in northern Tenerife that you should check out is Icod de los Vinos. Here, you can see the famous Drago Milenario, the oldest living dragon tree.
The 800-year-old tree was declared a National Monument in 1917 and continues to attract visitors from all over the world. It stands 60 feet tall and measures 65 feet in diameter at its base, so it’s quite impressive. While you can see it from San Marcos Square, it’s worth buying a ticket to enter the park and see it up close.
After visiting the dragon tree, take advantage of your time to explore some other places in Icod de los Vinos, like the Plaza de Andrés de Lorenzo Cáceres, the Plaza de Pila, and the Guanche Museum. Icod de los Vinos is also home to the Cueva del Viento, an amazing northern Tenerife attraction that I’ll talk about later.
Of course, if you’re short on time or you want to make sure you see all the main points of interest, consider doing this free tour through Icod de los Vinos.
5. Puerto de la Cruz, another interesting place to visit in north Tenerife
After Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Puerto de la Cruz is the most important city in the north of Tenerife, so you can’t miss it. This place stands out for its charming maritime history, which continues to live on today.
While you’re here, you should check out Lake Martiánez, the San Felipe Castle, the Botanical Garden, Plaza del Charco, and the La Paz lookout, where you’ll get incredible views. This city is also home to the beautiful Playa Jardín, although if you like watersports, I recommend going to Martiánez Beach, one of northern Tenerife’s best beaches. You can even take surfing lessons here if it’s your first time.
Finally, if you like this town better than Santa Cruz de Tenerife, consider staying here and using it as a base camp while you explore other places in Tenerife North. There are excellent hotels in Puerto de la Cruz, so you’ll find an accommodation to suit your needs and budget.
6. Teno Rural Park, the best place in north Tenerife to go hiking
Teno Rural Park is another majestic natural area in Tenerife north, so I must mention it. It’s the largest natural park on the island, covering 19,770 acres and spanning the municipalities of Buenavista del Norte, Los Silos, El Tanque, and Santiago del Teide.
Also, if you’re looking for outdoorsy things to do in north Tenerife, Teno Rural Park has plenty of trails you can take through its laurel forests, cliffs, and valleys. There is also the Punta del Teno, the park’s most famous attraction and one of the best viewpoints in Tenerife. Here, you can see the iconic red-and-white lighthouse and gaze out at the Los Gigantes Cliffs.
Moreover, there are several great tours in this area that will allow you to get better views of the park, the cliffs, and the island as a whole. For views from the sea, do this boat tour or this kayaking excursion, and if you want to stay on land, I recommend this hiking tour through the park.
Without a doubt, Teno Rural Park is one of the most beautiful places in north Tenerife, especially for nature lovers. It’s a bit isolated and harder to get to, but it’s worth it for the wild, untouched landscapes.
7. Go swimming in El Caletón, a fun thing to do in northern Tenerife
There are many natural pools in Tenerife, and the most tranquil ones are in north Tenerife. One of the best swimming holes, or charcos, is El Caletón in Garachico, a beautiful town in Tenerife north.
I recommend getting to El Caletón early so you can avoid the crowds and fully enjoy this impressive natural pool. It was formed after the Trevejo Volcano erupted in 1706 and its lava solidified after coming into contact with the cooler ocean water. The hardened lava acts as a breakwater, so you can swim here without worrying about strong currents or waves.
Swimming here is a fun thing to do in north Tenerife as a family, and you can make use of your visit by checking out the nearby attractions in Garachico. Walking through this town’s quiet streets is a joy in itself, and you’ll see the picturesque arch leading to the port.
Of course, if you don’t have much time, you can take this free tour to get an overview of Garachico and see interesting sites like the San Miguel fortress, the statue of Simón Bolívar, and the buildings and watch towers that were once used to detect pirates in the sea.
8. La Orotava, a charming village you must see in Tenerife north
While you’re on the north side of Tenerife, I suggest going to La Orotava, a historical town with lovely architecture and unique buildings.
One of the most iconic structures here is the Casa de los Balcones, which was built in the 18th century in the traditional Canarian style. The home still has its wooden framework, so you can see the old interior patios and outdoor balconies that were common back in the day. You need a ticket to access the building, and once inside, you can learn more about typical Canarian activities and crafts like basket-making and embroidery.
There are other interesting things to see in La Orotava, including its namesake valley, the Gardens of the Marquesado de la Quinta Roja, and the Church of Our Lady of the Conception, one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in the Canary Islands. There is even a free tour you can take to get a general overview of La Orotava’s history and culture.
9. Cueva del Viento, one of the most unique places in northern Tenerife
Earlier, I mentioned the Cueva del Viento in Icod de los Vinos. This is one of the coolest places in Tenerife north, as it’s one of the world’s largest lava tubes. You can only access a small section of it, but it’s full of intriguing rock formations and fossil remains, so it’s well worth it.
Going into the Cueva del Viento is quite an adventure since you’ll have to descend the lava tube. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and to bring layers since the air currents make the temperatures a bit cooler. After all, Cueva del Viento translates to “cave of the wind”!
As you can imagine, this is a popular attraction in north Tenerife, so if you want to go, you should book your ticket in advance. Another option is to book this guided tour, which includes your entry ticket and a visit to Garachico and La Orotava.
10. Visit Benijo Beach and the other beautiful beaches of Tenerife north
The entire coastline of the island is gorgeous, so don’t forget to check out the best beaches in northern Tenerife. One of our favorites is Benijo Beach, a black sand beach in the Anaga area. What we love about this place is that it has a rustic and wild landscape, and paired with the volcanic sand, it’s quite magical.
That said, the waves and currents here can be very strong, so it’s not the ideal place to go swimming. Even so, it’s a picturesque place in Tenerife north, so if you want to go here, head to the El Mirador Restaurant and follow the neighboring path to the beach.
Another beautiful beach in Tenerife that you can find in the north is El Bolullo Beach in La Orotava. It has a semi-tropical climate as well as banana plantations and beach bars, so it’s a fun place to go. Moreover, Socorro Beach is a northern Tenerife beach where you can practice watersports, while Las Teresitas Beach has golden sand, clear waters, and a great location by Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
10+1. Climb Mount Teide, something you must do in north Tenerife
Although Teide National Park is in the center of the island, climbing to its summit is one of the most amazing things to do in north Tenerife. Mount Teide is recognized by UNESCO for its Outstanding Universal Value and is part of the Natura 2000 Network, meaning it has high environmental value. It’s also the highest peak in Spain and the third-largest volcano on Earth, so it’s one of the most spectacular attractions in Tenerife North. That is why I recommend it in both our week itinerary to Tenerife and our 5-day trip to Tenerife route.
If you want to climb Mount Teide, there are two ways to do it. Most people take the cable car from the base, which is 7,730 feet above sea level, and ride it to La Rambleta, at 11,665 feet. From there, you can access the top of Mount Teide by walking the last section of the Telesforo Bravo (Trail 10). Be aware that you must request a permit in advance to access Trail 10. Otherwise, you can take Trail 11 from La Rambleta, which connects to the Mirador de la Fortaleza, or Trail 12, which goes to the Pico Viejo Viewpoint.
The first time we visited Mount Teide, we decided to do the ascent on foot by hiking up Sendero 7, or Montaña Blanca. The route is about 5 miles and took us around 4 hours to get to La Rambleta. We spent the night at the Altavista Mountain Refuge and woke early the next day to watch the sunrise from the summit. This way, we didn’t have to request a permit since you don’t need a permit if you’re accessing the peak before 9:00 a.m.
If you don’t want to hike on your own, you can take one of the best tours on Teide. For example, this excursion includes the permit and cable car ticket, but there is also this tour that goes to La Rambleta via cable car. It’s also worth checking out this free tour (in Spanish), which takes you around the volcano’s beautiful surroundings, including the Cañadas del Teide, the Roques de García, and Roque Cinchado.
Where to stay in northern Tenerife – Best hotels in Tenerife north
We’ve stayed in some of the best North Tenerife hotels, and our favorite is the H10 Tenerife Playa in Puerto de la Cruz. In addition to its excellent location, the accommodation has bright and spacious rooms with private balconies, as well as a restaurant, gym, and pool. Overall, it’s great value for the money, so I highly recommend it.
If you’re looking for more options, we have other guides on where to stay in Tenerife, including the best villas, apartments, and hotels.
Where to eat in northern Tenerife – Best restaurants in Tenerife north
Fortunately, there are lots of delicious places to eat in north Tenerife where you can find a variety of dishes and traditional Canarian cuisine.
In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, I recommend eating at La Bodeguita Canaria, a cozy family restaurant with good prices and typical Canarian food. Over in Puerto de la Cruz, we like Casa Mediterránea, which specializes in Argentine dishes.
In Garachico, one of the best restaurants is El Rebojo, where you can order all kinds of meat and fish tapas, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. The prices are great, too, so you can eat well without spending a lot of money.
For more places in north Tenerife where you can enjoy an amazing meal, check out our guide to the best restaurants in Tenerife.
Map of northern Tenerife, Canary Islands
To wrap up, I’m sharing a map of northern Tenerife with all the attractions, hotels, and restaurants I mentioned.
You can download this map and use it to plan your ideal route through Tenerife north, although we also have other tourist maps of Tenerife if you’d like to see a specific area in more detail.
Finally, I recommend renting a car in Tenerife so you can make the most of your time and travel to all the places you want to see. We always go through Rentalcars, a website that compares different rental companies to find the best deals and prices.
That said, if you don’t want to drive, you can take the local buses. The public transportation network is well-connected to the main towns in northern Tenerife, but it’s meant for locals, so getting around the island will take a lot longer. A better option would be to take some of the best tours in Tenerife, most of which depart from Santa Cruz de Tenerife or Puerto de la Cruz.
That’s it from me! I hope you enjoyed learning about all the wonderful things to do in northern Tenerife. If you have any questions or experiences in North Tenerife that you’d like to share, leave me a comment below. Have a great time exploring this Canary Island!