Deciding what to do in Tenerife, the largest island in the Canary Islands (Spain) is the first thing you have to do if you are going to visit this paradise island where you can enjoy the good weather all year round.
In summer, the temperature rarely exceeds 25ºC, so it will never be too hot. In winter, at night it’s always above 16ºC and during the day the maximum is around 22ºC. If I tell you that Tenerife is paradise, I am not exaggerating.
Also, there are many things to do in Tenerife, both in urban and rural areas, ranging from beach to mountain activities. Whatever kind of traveler you are, you’ll always find a perfect plan for you.
However, before I tell you the best places to visit in Tenerife, I recommend you rent a car. During our trip, we discovered many viewpoints and natural places that deserve a quick stop. So, what better way to tour the island than in your vehicle?
Now, these are the 25 best things to do in Tenerife (Canary Islands).
1. Mount Teide Volcano, the best thing to do in Tenerife
The Teide volcano is the highest peak in Spain with 3718 meters, so it is not surprising that is the main attraction in Tenerife. Also, the volcano, along with the park, has an area of almost 19,000 hectares where you can find unique species, such as the Echium Wildpretii (Tajinaste), which grows in spring, or the Teide violet, a flower that can only be admired above 2500 meters of altitude.
Since Teide is a volcano, the remains of its eruptions have made the landscape of volcanic rock around it very characteristic. You’ll think you are on another planet.
The easiest way to reach the summit is by cable car, which will leave you 200 meters below from the highest point. If you want to reach the absolute summit, you will need to walk from there. But the effort is worth it, since being up there and seeing even the rest of the Canary Islands at your feet is, without a doubt, the best thing to do in Tenerife. To reach the top you must apply for the permit, unless you spend the night in the Altavista refuge, just as we did.
In our case, instead of using the cable car, we hike up the White Mountain trail, (also known as Trail 7), and spend the night in the shelter in order to climb the Teide peak at dawn. Tired of the adventure of the previous day, we decided to descent with the cable car and enjoy the volcanic views it offers.
If like us, you decide to walk up to the top of Teide Volcano, take into account that it takes approximately 4 hours to hike the 8 kilometers of the White Mountain trail, with an elevation gain of 1,194 m to reach a total of 3,536 m.
2. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the best place to visit in Tenerife
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital city of the island since 1833 and the largest city in Tenerife. Walking through the small streets of its historic center will make you know the special character of the city.
I recommend you take a walk through the stalls of the Market of Our Lady of Africa or see the Adan Martin auditorium. If you travel during the Carnival (usually at the end of February), you shouldn’t miss this event since it was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest.
You can also see the castles and towers built to resist the looting of pirates, as well as the neoclassical architecture, which gives the city a great personality. Without a doubt, it is one of the best things to do in Tenerife North.
Take advantage of your stay in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to go shopping and taste the best cuisine of Tenerife.
3. Los Gigantes Cliffs, one of the best places to go in Tenerife
Los Gigantes Cliffs are breathtaking. The Guanches’ sacred cliffs reach up to 600 meters high and are formed by volcanic rock. You have several options to enjoy them, hiking trails, boat or kayak tours. We visited them by boat after finishing the Masca trail that I’ll talk about later.
Los Gigantes belong to the Teno Rural Park and act as a culmination of the incredible landscapes of the area. The cliffs break into small paths that lead to sandy beaches through which you can access Los Gigantes.
The underwater part of Los Gigantes barely measures about 30 meters, so it is very popular among divers and fishermen. It is also a good place for dolphin watching, another of the best activities to do in Tenerife.
4. Puerto de la Cruz, one of the best attractions in Tenerife
Puerto de la Cruz is another beautiful village to go in Tenerife and worth a visit. It stands out for its charming old town and the fishermen’s district syncretized with spectacular urban art.
The seafaring essence of the city has remained in its character and is perceived alongside the modernity that has made its way into its streets. Tradition and new times coexist in harmony and in Puerto de la Cruz it is where you can best see it.
Some interesting places in Puerto de la Cruz are the castle of San Felipe, the pier of Puerto de la Cruz, the Botanical Garden, the viewpoint of La Paz and the Jardin beach. Also, the Plaza del Charco is another place that you cannot miss.
Besides, if you like surfing, you can practice this sport and meet other surfers at Martiánez beach.
5. Benijo, one of the best beaches in Tenerife (Spain)
Benijo beach has a volcanic origin and stands out for its characteristic black color. From there you will have a privileged view of the Roques de Anaga, so it is worth driving to this place. Also, if you like landscape photography, it is one of those places that you should visit.
In case you come looking for more natural tourism, you should know that this beach also has a nudist area. Besides, it is surrounded by a forest track known as Pista el Draguillo, which is parallel to the coast and allows you to enjoy the landscape..
To complete your visit, I recommend you to taste a good plate of homemade Canarian food in any restaurant in the area while enjoying the sunset. This is, without a doubt, my favorite stuff to do in Tenerife.
6. Anaga Rural Park, the best of Tenerife
The Anaga Rural Park is declared a Biosphere Reserve and has three natural reserves between its limits, the Pijaral, Ijuana and the Roques de Anaga.
Several short and simple paths will allow you to enjoy its microclimate, which includes not only the laurel forests but also beaches, cliffs and other landscapes that will leave you breathless. For all of this, it is known as the “Enchanted Forest”, and there is no doubt that it is one of the best attractions in Tenerife. We hiked a trail that pass through Afur and Tamadiste beach and ends at Taganana.
If you are going to visit this area, I recommend you to spend the night in this hostel that is in the park to hike the trail, first thing in the morning. In case you don’t have a car, a bus stop is quite close.
If you visit Anaga feel lucky because its vegetation is almost unique in the world. In addition to the Canary Islands, it can only be seen in Cape Verde, the Ilhas Selvagens, Madeira, and the Azores.
7. Masca Ravine, the best hike in Tenerife (Canary Islands)
The Masca ravine is one of the most popular hiking trails in Tenerife. The trail departs from the hamlet of Masca and, after descending through imposing vertical rock walls, reaches the beach that bears the same name. The ravine belongs to the Teno Rural Park, an incomparable environment if you are looking for the best Tenerife sightseeings.
If you want to hike this trail, leave the car in Los Gigantes and take a taxi to Masca. Once you descend and arrive at the beach, you can take a boat to reach Los Gigantes and, by the way, enjoy these breathtaking cliffs from the water. The descent through the Masca ravine takes between 3 and 4 hours, and the journey by boat to Los Gigantes takes about 10 minutes.
If you are not going down the ravine, you can go in your car to Masca to enjoy the beautiful landscapes. I recommend you to drive with caution because it is a road with many sharp bends and quite busy. If you don’t have experience driving, you better take a taxi.
8. Whale and dolphin watching in Tenerife
Watching whales and dolphins in Tenerife is an activity that I recommend for the incredible experience of observing these animals in their natural habitat, but also for how relaxing it is to sail on the high seas. If you are looking for something to do in Tenerife with kids, they will love this.
Specially, this tour handle the activity in a way that respects the environment and without negative impacts on cetaceans or other animals. The excursions departure from Puerto Colón.
The experience consists of a relaxing boat excursion during which cetaceans can be seen approaching the boat peacefully. Keep in mind that there are up to 21 different species of whales on the coast of Tenerife, so each trip is a different adventure.
If you are looking for something not to miss in Tenerife, this is undoubtedly the experience.
9. Barranco del Infierno (Hell Ravine), another place of interest in Tenerife
The main trail of the Barranco del Infierno Special Natural Reserve can be traveled in about 3 hours. It has a maximum slope of about 200 meters, so it is suitable for everyone. Also, the viewpoints along the way and the waterfall at the end are worth it.
If you are thinking of visiting it during your trip to Tenerife, keep in mind that access to this ravine is limited to 300 people a day, so you must make a reservation to get a spot.
The opening hours are from 8.30 to 16.00 in summer and from 8.30 to 17.00 in winter, so you have to calculate very well the arrival time so you have enough time to visit it.
10. Stargazing in Tenerife, a great stuff to do in Tenerife
The starry sky is one of the best things to see in Tenerife at night since there are three Starlight reserves in the island, which are privileged places to observe the night skies.
Although, in reality, any of the viewpoints on the island will help you to see the night sky, since the skies of the Canary Islands are protected by the Law on the Astronomical Quality of the Observatories of the IAC. Even so, if you don’t want to fail and see the sky as you’ve never seen it before, I recommend you go to the mountains of Guajara, the National Tourism Parador or Izaña.
Although you can go for a walk at night with your eyes on the sky, you may want to hire a guide who gives you some basic notions of astronomy. In case you are a photographer, here is our guide to learn how to photograph the milky way.
11. Cueva del Viento, a must-visit place in Tenerife
The Cueva del Viento is located in the town of Icod de Los Vinos and is one of the largest volcanic tubes in the world. During your visit you can only travel a small section and see fossils of vertebrates already extinct, being one of the most curious places to visit in Tenerife.
Its name (wind cave) derives from the incredible currents of air that are inside and that are the product of the great maze of volcanic stone that makes up this cave. It has not yet been fully discovered and keep in mind that the area enabled for visitors is very small compared to the total size of this volcanic tube.
The temperature drops a few degrees inside the cave, so if you don’t want to be cold I recommend you wear long pants and a sweatshirt, also closed and comfortable footwear. To ensure your visit, book in advance.
12. Roques de Garcia, a peculiar thing to visit in Tenerife
The Roques de García, vertical rock formations composed of volcanic materials, are inside the Teide National Park. Among these formations, there are some so unique that they even have names, such as La Cascada, La Catedral or Roque Cinchado. The latter is so characteristic that it is considered a natural monument.
I recommend you photograph them with the Teide in the background to get one of the most typical images of Tenerife. This is certainly a must-see in Tenerife.
13. Best lookouts of Tenerife
The slopes and summits that dot Tenerife will offer you the great opportunity to climb one of its viewpoints and observe the island from a bird’s eye view, with all its wonders at your feet.
Some of the viewpoints that I recommend are those of Aguaide, Chipeque, Tafada, la Atalaya, Asomadero, Garañona, and Jardina, although there are more than twenty of them scattered throughout the island.
From some of these viewpoints, if you are lucky, you can see the spongy mass of clouds that forms at the top and that some people says it is the best of Tenerife. To see this sea of clouds it is better to visit the island in summer and climb to a height of between 500 and 1500 meters. One of the privileged places to contemplate this show is any point of ascent towards the Teide National Park, which I have indicated on the map at the end of this article.
14. Teno Rural Park, a beautiful nature place to visit in Tenerife
Punta del Teno is the westernmost point of the island of Tenerife. Although it is a bit out of the way, I recommend that you visit it to enjoy the landscape offered by its cliffs with the sea breaking against them. Besides, right at the limit, you can see the lighthouse and, from there, Los Gigantes.
The sunsets are very striking in this part of Tenerife, so try to be in the lighthouse at sunset to enjoy unforgettable views. Keep in mind that to get there you must go along a fairly exposed road and where there are often landslides, so there are occasionally closed sections.
Take the opportunity to visit other places within the Teno Rural Park, one of the most beautiful places in Tenerife and with great cultural, ecological and landscape value. When you arrive you will be surprised by the wide variety of landscapes that are in its more than 8000 hectares.
Also, you can enjoy the laurel forests and traditional hamlets that dot the area. You will also discover some small threatened species that live there, such as laurisilva pigeons.
15. El Caleton in Garachicho and other volcanic pools in Tenerife
Garachico is a small town with cobbled streets and charming white houses. In addition to taking a pleasant walk through this town, I recommend taking a bath in the Caletón, the most popular “charco” (puddle) in Tenerife.
The charcos are rock formations on the coast that allow the entry of sea water and serve as small natural pools where you can bathe in complete quietness. It is, without a doubt, one of the best free things to do in Tenerife.
You will find these charcos both in the north and in the south of Tenerife. The difference is that those in the south are usually a bit busier than those in the north.
In addition to the Caletón de Garachico, the most outstanding puddles on the island are those of Jover and Bajamar. If you wondering what to do in Tenerife with kids and you feel like something quiet, in Bajamar there is even an exclusive space for them.
16. Drago Milenario of Tenerife, a millennial tree to visit in Icod de los Vinos
The Drago Milenario is the oldest dragon tree in the Canary Islands. It is 18 meters high and has a 20 meters diameter at the base, thus it is one of the main tourist attractions in Tenerife. You can see it from the San Marcos square. However, if you want to admire it closely you will need to pay the entrance fee of the Drago park.
It was considered a National Monument in 1917 and has become one of the icons of Tenerife. There are more dragos in other places of the island, although not as old as that of Icod de los Vinos.
17. San Cristobal de La Laguna, the most beautiful city to go in Tenerife
Among all the places to see in Tenerife, you can not miss San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the only World Heritage city in the Canary Islands. Also, it is a perfect city to go shopping and try the best typical dishes of the islands.
Its colonial aspect and history will give you another vision of this land. It is the first city without walls from which its original 15th-century layout is preserved.
Its palaces with wooden balconies and the churches built in volcanic stone, together with the almost constant fog in the city because of the humidity, give it a special and mysterious air that you will love.
18. The Pyramids of Güimar, the mystery of Tenerife
There are six stepped pyramids in Tenerife whose origin is not known for sure and that is a great mystery. But whether it is an accumulation of remains of the nineteenth century or some ancient temples, the truth is that the archaeological site of Güimar is spectacular and an incredible site that can be visited in Tenerife.
Around the pyramids there are several gardens, such as the Poisonous Garden, which brings together more than 70 poisonous plant species; and the Sustainable Garden, which has native flora.
19. Siam Park, a water park to go in Tenerife with Kids
Siam Park is a Thai-themed water park, so its appearance is colorful and exotic. Its swimming pools and slides are the ideal places for you to have fun and refresh yourself if you are looking for what to do in Tenerife on a family vacation.
The largest wave pool in the world is also in Siam Park, and it’s made for young and adults to have a great time jumping waves with the security offered by the park, in a closed environment and without danger for kids, in addition to many other attractions.
20. La Orotava, a city you must visit in Tenerife
Visiting this traditional town, which has a great colonial history, is among the things to do in Tenerife North.
Don’t miss the famous Casa de Los Balcones, an 18th-century mansion with a beautiful interior carved wooden patio; and the town hall, a 19th-century neoclassical building.
The town conserves nine water mills of the 17th and 18th centuries. Two of them are still in operation and, one of them, “La Máquina” mill, can be visited to learn more about gofio, the popular Canarian cereal. Without a doubt, it is one of the beautiful villages to see in Tenerife.
Very close to La Orotava is the Humboldt viewpoint, from which you can enjoy spectacular views. In addition, you will find a cafeteria overlooking the sea, the Teide volcano and Puerto de La Cruz there.
21. Gastronomy tours in Tenerife (Canary Islands)
Although it is not very common, maybe during your trip there is a rainy day and you want to take it easy and not go out. I recommend you take the opportunity to try the typical food of Tenerife. Among the most popular dishes within the Tenerife cuisine are the “papas arrugadas” (wrinkled potatoes) with mojo, the Canary Island stew, the “gofio escaldado”, the “quesillo” and the “huevos al estampido”.
To enjoy these dishes to the fullest it is best to visit a guachinche, which is a private house where food is served. It is the best way to taste the most traditional local flavor of Tenerife. Can you think of anything better to do in Tenerife when it rains?
22. Icod de los Vinos and wine tasting in Tenerife
I have already talked about Icod de los Vinos above to refer to the Millenary Drago, but you have to know that it is not the only interesting thing that you are going to find there.
If you visit Icod de los Vinos, I recommend you to join a wine tasting at the Cueva del Rey winery, where you will not only taste some of the best wines in the area, but you’ll learn all about the viticulture of the area on a guided tour.
Just for this activity, I consider Icod de los Vines as one of the must-visit places in Tenerife.
23. Scuba Diving, the best activity to do in Tenerife
The seabed that surrounds the island is a real treasure, so it is not surprising that snorkeling and diving are among the best activities to do in Tenerife.
Also, it doesn’t matter if you have experience or not, because you can always hire a tour to go with an instructor to guide you and to make it easier for you to see sea turtles, starfish and other criatures that hide at the seabed.
This area of the Atlantic has great biodiversity, so each dive is unique and in each one, you can see different marine animals and enjoy their beautiful corals. Also, in some points, there is a visibility of up to 30 meters, so that the immersion is wonderful and the experience is incredible.
When you book your excursion, consider the different levels of immersion available and choose the one that best suits your experience. You also need to choose between diving and snorkeling. Here you have the best options.
24. Surf and kitesurf, great activities to do in Tenerife
If you are into surfing and kitesurfing, you will love Tenerife. You can practice these sports throughout the year, because there is wind and waves at any time, something that will prevent you from having to be waiting for the perfect occasion.
Besides, you can choose the terrain, since you have at your disposal beaches of fine sand, volcanic rock, with reefs…. If you are looking for strong waves you will have to go north, while in the south you will find a softer tide.
The best beaches for surfing in Tenerife are Igueste de San Andrés, El Callao, El Charco, El Socorro and La Caleta in the north of the island, and Las Conchas, Punta Blanca, Las Palmeras, El Conquistador and Las Galletas in the south.
If it is your first time surfing or you are learning and don’t have the gear needed, check these 2-hour classes.
25. Tenerife Carnival, the most popular event in the Canary Islands
If you are an enthusiast of this traditional festival, you cannot miss the Carnival of Tenerife, the second best-known carnival in the world after the one celebrated in Rio de Janeiro. It is a Festival of International Tourist Interest since 1980 and a World Heritage Site.
The election of the Carnival Queen, the troupes, the costumes, the songs, and other activities make this event an experience that has to be lived at least once in a lifetime. Let out all your creativity and have fun like never before in the streets of Tenerife during the carnival.
We didn’t visit the island during Carnival, but we are sure that we’ll return to live it since it is something unique to do in Tenerife.
Here is a map with all the places to visit in Tenerife that I mentioned. Also, in this article, you can download a tourist map of Tenerife to help you on your trip.
I hope that with these 25 things to see and do in Tenerife you will find it a little easier to plan your trip to this incredible island of the Canary Islands. But if you have any questions, leave me a comment and I will help you.