Deciding what to do in Tenerife, the largest and one of the best island in the Canary Islands (Spain), is the first thing you have to do if you’re going to visit this idyllic island where you can enjoy good weather all year round.
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 activity 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 overlooks and natural spots that deserve a quick stop. So, what better way to tour the island than in your vehicle?
Without further ado, these are the 25 best things to do in Tenerife (Canary Islands).
1. Mount Teide Volcano, the best thing to do in Tenerife
Standing at a height of 3,718 meters, the Teide volcano is the highest peak in Spain, so it isn’t surprising that this spot is the main attraction in Tenerife. Here 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 2,500 meters of altitude.
The easiest way to get up Mount Teide is by cable car, which will leave you 200 meters below the highest point. If you want to reach the absolute summit, you’ll need to walk from there. But the effort is worth it, since being up there and seeing 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, although you can get it directly when booking the cable car here. You can also check other tours to Mount Teide that include the permit.
We went down by cable car but decided to go up on foot via Montaña Blanca (Trail 7). It is an 8-km hike with an elevation gain of 1,200 m. It took us about 4 hours and we spent the night in the Altavista refuge, so we did not need to apply for the permit for climbing the top. If you also want to do this route on foot but prefer to go with a guide, I recommend this private guided hiking tour.
2. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the best place to visit in Tenerife
Santa Cruz de Tenerife has been the capital city of the island since 1833 and is the largest city in Tenerife. Walking through the small streets of its historic center will help you discover the special character of the city.
I recommend you take a walk through the stalls of the Market of Our Lady of Africa, see the Adan Martin auditorium, or visit the largest collection of palm trees in Europe. If you travel during Carnival (usually at the end of February), don’t miss this event; it was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest. Even if you have time, I suggest you take a look at this tour that will allow you to know some of the hidden corners of the city.
You can also see the castles and towers built to protect the city from pirates, as well as the neoclassical architecture, which give the city a fascinating character. A visit to this incredible city is, without a doubt, 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 Tenerife’s best cuisine. It’s one of the best cities to stay in 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 were formed by volcanic rock. There are several options for enjoying them: hiking trails, boat tours, 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 complement 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 measures barely 30 meters, so it is very popular among divers and fishermen. It is also a good place for dolphin and whale 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 is worth a visit. It stands out for its charming old town and the fishermen’s district with spectacular urban art.
The seafaring essence of the city has remained in its character and can be still be seen alongside the more modern elements that have made their way into the streets. Tradition and modernity coexist in harmony in Puerto de la Cruz.
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 La Paz overlook, and the Jardin beach. The Plaza del Charco is another place that you also cannot miss.
Even better, if you like surfing, get out on the waves and meet other surfers at Martiánez beach.
5. Benijo, one of the best beaches in Tenerife (Spain)
Benijo beach is of volcanic origin and stands out for the characteristic black color of its sand. From there, you get an excellent view of the Roques de Anaga, so it’s worth driving to this place. Also, if you like landscape photography, it’s definitely a great place to visit. No doubt why this is one of the best beaches in Tenerife.
If you’re looking for more natural tourism, you should know that this beach also has a nudist area. Furthermore, it’s surrounded by a forest track known as Pista el Draguillo, which is parallel to the coast and gives you beautiful views of the landscape.
To finish off your visit, I recommend you taste a good plate of traditional Canarian food in any restaurant in the area while enjoying the sunset. That is, without a doubt, my favorite stuff to do in Tenerife.
6. Anaga Rural Park, the best of Tenerife
The Anaga Rural Park has been declared a Biosphere Reserve and has three natural reserves within its limits, the Pijaral, Ijuana and the Roques de Anaga.
Several short and easy paths will allow you to enjoy its microclimate, which includes not only laurel forests but also beaches, cliffs, and other landscapes that will leave you breathless. Because of all these natural wonders, the park 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 passes through Afur and Tamadiste beach and ends at Taganana.
If you’re going to visit this area, I recommend you spend the night in this hostel in the park so that you can hike the trail first thing in the morning. You can also book this tour if you are not very used to hiking but do not want to miss this wonder of nature. No doubt, it’s one of the best excursions from Tenerife.
The vegetation you will find in Anaga can only be seen in a few places around the world. In addition to the Canary Islands, it can only be seen in Cape Verde, the Ilhas Selvagens, Madeira, and the Azores. Check our Anaga Rural Park guide to plan your visit to this wonderful place.
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 a beach that bears the same name. The ravine belongs to the Teno Rural Park, an incomparable location if you’re looking for the best Tenerife sightseeing.
If you want to hike this trail, leave your 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, on the way, enjoy the 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’re not used to hiking, this Masca excursion with a dolphin watching tour after the hike is definitely the best option.
Watching whales and dolphins in Tenerife is an activity that I recommend for the incredible experience of observing these animals in their natural habitat. It’s also so relaxing to sail on the high seas. If you’re looking for something to do in Tenerife with kids, they will love this.
We took this tour and the truth is that we loved it, although I think that next time we will take a longer one.
The experience consists of a relaxing boat excursion during which cetaceans can be seen peacefully approaching the boat. 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’re looking for something not to miss in Tenerife, this is undoubtedly that experience. We have written a guide with the best whale watching tours in Tenerife, although if you want to know the options, check these three:
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 hiked in about 3 hours. It has a maximum incline of about 200 meters, so it is suitable for everyone. Also, the overlooks along the way and the waterfall at the end make it one of the best hikes in Tenerife.
If you’re 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. If not, you can paraglide over it, as long as you are not afraid of heights.
The opening hours are from 8:30 to 16:00 in summer and from 8:30 to 17:00 in winter, so make sure you time your arrival well 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 on the island, which are designated places to observe the night skies.
In reality, any of the overlooks on the island will help you to see the night sky, since the skies of the Canary Islands are protected by the IAC’s Law on the Astronomical Quality of Observatories. Even so, if you want to see the sky like 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 around the Teide National Park. If you’re 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 lava tubes in the world. During your visit, you can go to a small section of it and see fossils of already extinct vertebrates. It is certainly one of the most curious places to visit in Tenerife.
Its name (“Wind Cave”) is derived 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 excavated, so keep in mind that the visitor area 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 wearing long pants and a sweatshirt, as well as closed-toe and comfortable footwear. To make sure you can 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 that are so unique that they even have names, such as La Cascada, La Catedral, and Roque Cinchado. The latter is so distinctive that it is considered a natural monument.
Photograph them with the Teide in the background to get one of the most emblematic images of Tenerife. This is certainly a must-see in Tenerife.
13. Best overlooks of Tenerife
The slopes and summits that dot Tenerife will offer you the great opportunity to climb to overlooks and observe the island from a bird’s eye view, with all its wonders at your feet.
Some of the overlooks that I recommend are Aguaide, Chipeque, Tafada, la Atalaya, Asomadero, Garañona, and Jardina, although there are more than twenty scattered throughout the island.
From some of these overlooks, if you’re lucky, you’ll see the spongy mass of clouds that forms over the island and that some people say is the best of Tenerife. To see this sea of clouds, it’s better to visit the island in summer and climb to a height of between 500 and 1,500 meters. One of the best places to see this marvel is any high point towards the Teide National Park, which I have indicated on the map at the end of this article.
14. Teno Rural Park, a beautiful natural place to visit in Tenerife
Punta del Teno is the westernmost point on the island of Tenerife. Although it is a bit out of the way, I recommend that you visit it so you can enjoy the view of its cliffs with the sea breaking against them. Even better, from there, you’ll be able to see the lighthouse and 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 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 that has 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 8,000 hectares.
You can also enjoy the laurel forests and traditional hamlets that dot the area. You may even discover some small, endangered species that live there, such as laurisilva pigeons.
If you don’t have too much time, you can book this tour that includes a hiking route through the park, a visit to Masca and a cruise to see dolphins.
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 let in seawater and serve as small natural pools where you can bathe in complete solitude. Taking a dip in them is, without a doubt, one of the best free things to do in Tenerife.
You will find these charcos in both the north and 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’re wondering what to do in Tenerife with kids and you feel like doing something quiet, Bajamar even has an exclusive area for them.
16. Drago Milenario of Tenerife, a thousand-year-old tree to visit in Icod de los Vinos
The Drago Milenario is the oldest dragon tree in the Canary Islands, making it one of the main tourist attractions in Tenerife. It is 18 meters high and its base is 20 meters in diameter. You can see it from San Marcos Square. However, if you want to look at it up close, you will need to pay the Drago Park entrance fee.
It was made a National Monument in 1917 and has become one of the symbols of Tenerife. There are more dragos on other parts of the island, although none of them are 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’t 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 appearance and history will give you another perspective of the island. It is the first city without walls whose original 15th-century layout has been preserved.
Its palaces with wooden balconies and 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 a great mystery. Whether it is a group of nineteenth-century remains or ancient temples, the truth is that the archaeological site of Güimar is spectacular and an incredible site that should be visited in Tenerife.
Around the pyramids, there are several gardens, such as the Poisonous Garden, which includes 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. The park is intended for children and adults to have a great time jumping waves in a secure, closed environment that is safe for kids and provides many attractions.
20. La Orotava, a town 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 has conserved 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. There, you can learn more about gofio, the popular Canarian cereal. It is, without a doubt, one of the beautiful villages to see in Tenerife.
Very close to La Orotava is the Humboldt overlook, from which you can enjoy spectacular views. In addition, you’ll find a cafeteria overlooking the sea, the Teide volcano, and Puerto de La Cruz there.
21. Gastronomy tours in Tenerife (Canary Islands)
Although it isn’t very common, there might be a rainy day during your trip when you want to take it easy and not go out. In that case, I recommend you take the opportunity to try the typical food of Tenerife and take a food tour. Among the most popular dishes in Tenerife cuisine are the “papas arrugadas” (wrinkled potatoes) with mojo, the Canary Island stew, the “gofio escaldado,” (one of my favorite dishes in the Canary Islands), 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 flavors 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’s not the only interesting thing you can find there.
If you visit Icod de los Vinos, I recommend you attend 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 local winegrowing on a guided tour.
For this activity alone, I consider Icod de los Vinos one of the must-visit places in Tenerife.
23. Diving and snorkeling, the best activities to do in Tenerife
The seabed that surrounds the island is a real treasure, so it isn’t 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 book a tour to go with an instructor to guide you and make it easier for you to see sea turtles, starfish, and other creatures that hide in the seabed.
This area of the Atlantic has great biodiversity, so each dive is unique. On each one, you can see different marine animals and enjoy beautiful coral. Additionally, in certain spots, there is a visibility of up to 30 meters, giving you an incredible experience.
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. These are my favorite options:
24. Surf and kitesurf, great activities to do in Tenerife
If you are into surfing or kitesurfing, you will love Tenerife. You can do these sports throughout the year because there are wind and waves all the time. You won’t have to waste time waiting for the perfect moment.
Moreover, you can choose the terrain, since you have at your disposal beaches of fine sand, volcanic rock, with reefs…. If you’re looking for strong waves, you will have to go north, while in the south, you’ll find a calmer 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’s your first time surfing or you’re learning and don’t have the necessary gear, check out these 2-hour classes.
25. Tenerife Carnival, the most popular event in the Canary Islands
If you’re 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 has been a Festival of International Tourist Interest since 1980 and is 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 you should go through 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 experience it, since it’s 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 the most beautiful island of the Canary Islands. However, if you have any questions, leave me a comment and I will help you.