Tenerife – Attractions Must-See in Tenerife
Tenerife is a volcanic island located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Canary Islands Archipelago. Many of us, when choosing this place for our vacation, wonder what else can be done on this island besides lounging by the hotel pool with a colorful cocktail in hand. We will try to introduce you to the topic of Tenerife – Attractions “Must-See”, so that the only problem will be what to pack in your suitcase. In the article below, you will find all the most important attractions of Tenerife that you should definitely see during your stay in this extraordinary place. The desert landscape of the south and the lush vegetation of the north. Beautiful sandy beaches and volcanic natural pools. Wild forest areas and a typically lunar landscape on Mount Teide. Tenerife, like every place on Earth, is full of interesting places and hidden corners, undoubtedly making it difficult to get bored here.
History and architecture enthusiasts will lose themselves in the beautiful picturesque towns in the north of the island. Hiking enthusiasts have three huge parks to choose from: El Teide National Park, Teno Rural Park (where Masca is located), and Anaga Rural Park. For botany lovers, Tenerife offers a beautiful Botanical Garden in Puerto de la Cruz, as well as interesting examples of endemic plants around the island. Partygoers will find their place in the southern part of the island in Costa Adeje and Las Americas. Meanwhile, lovers of active recreation may have trouble deciding what to choose and whether there will be enough time for everything. Here, everyone will find something for themselves.
Tenerife – Attractions: “Must-see” of Tenerife
El Teide Volcano
The majestic and mysterious El Teide volcano is the third largest volcano in the world and the highest peak in Spain. Pico del Teide measures 3,718 meters above sea level and 7,500 meters from the ocean floor. It is surrounded by the expansive Teide National Park, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007. Due to its exceptional richness in fauna and flora, various exclusive species of plants and animals can be found here. At an altitude of approximately 2,500 meters, beautiful specimens of Violeta del Teide and the fantastic Tajinaste Rojo plant can be found. The latter is considered one of the most spectacular flowers in the world. With a bit of luck, you may come across several different lizard species. In the air, you can spot a kestrel or blue chaffinch, and even a Corsican mouflon in the distance. The undeniable attractiveness of this place attracts crowds every year. Furthermore, several films such as “Clash of the Titans,” “Hercules, Samson and Ulysses,” and “One Million Years B.C.” were filmed here.
On the slopes of the Teide volcano, at an altitude of 2,356 meters above sea level, there is the Teleferico base station, which rises to the La Rambleta Station at 3,555 meters above sea level. This highest cable car in Spain covers the distance of 1,199 meters in less than 10 minutes. Tickets for the Teleferico should be purchased online on the official El Teide Park website. It is worth noting that at sunrise, the Teide volcano casts the largest shadow on the ocean in the world. Furthermore, the shape of Pico del Teide is not conical, unlike its shadow. This is due to the location of the El Teide volcano, where the inclination of the sun’s rays at this latitude is almost parallel to the horizon, resulting in very long shadows. And so, of course, one can witness this spectacular phenomenon by setting off early enough. For those seeking extreme experiences, we invite you to read our article on “How to climb El Teide”.
Masca – The Pirate Village
Masca is a small, charming village located in the Teno Rural Park, in the northwestern part of Tenerife. Situated right by the rocky ridge in the Teno mountain range, it is one of the most attractive and frequently visited places on the entire island. Interestingly, until 1991, there was no road leading here, and it was not accessible by car. Due to the exceptionally winding and relatively narrow road leading to the Masca gorge, it is recommended to leave your car in the town of Santiago del Teide and complete the remaining journey by public transport (bus line 355 – approximately 15 minutes). Currently, around 60 people live in the village of Masca. The local church was built in the 18th century and can accommodate only 8 people. For the hungry and thirsty, there are several Canarian family restaurants available. We invite you to read our article “Food in Tenerife – what is worth trying?”. Additionally, there is a souvenir shop and guesthouse.
Masca is an incredibly picturesque and mysterious place. This is related to the several-kilometer-long gorge that connects this village to the beach, located in the heart of the famous Los Gigantes cliffs. The most popular theory is that Masca was once a secret hideout for pirates, while another theory suggests that witchcraft was practiced here. Whatever the case, it is a fact that hiking down the Masca gorge is one of the most spectacular attractions in Tenerife. Due to its dangerous nature, the Masca gorge was closed for over three years. It was reopened in March 2021. Currently, to enter the gorge, you need to obtain a permit issued in advance by the appropriate authority. You can find the link to reserve a permit for the Masca gorge descent HERE. Entry into the Masca gorge is currently free, but you can only hike it on weekends and holidays, with a maximum of 125 people per day. It is also important to remember to wear appropriate hiking footwear when descending the gorge.
Tenerife – Attractions: The Most Beautiful Landscapes of Tenerife
Los Gigantes & Puerto de Santiago
The monumental cliffs of Los Gigantes are one of the most characteristic sights in Tenerife. They stretch along the island’s western coast. To admire them from a good perspective, it’s best to view them from a distance. A great place to see the Los Gigantes cliffs in all their magnificence is the Archipenque Mirador viewpoint, located just above the town. These colossal basaltic volcanic formations are characterized by vertical walls that plunge into the ocean from heights ranging from 300 to over 600 meters. The indigenous inhabitants of the island, the Guanches, referred to the cliffs as the “Wall of Hell.” Adjacent to the cliffs is the small yacht harbor of Puerto de Santiago, from where whale-watching excursions depart, among other activities. For animal lovers, this is a must-visit, as observing these incredible mammals in their natural habitat is incredibly captivating. Of course, no one can guarantee that we will spot all the species living here, as they are wild animals, but the excursion lasts several hours and will provide us with many unforgettable experiences.
The resort town of Los Gigantes was established in the 1960s thanks to British investment. Below this resort is the yacht harbor of Puerto de Santiago, and right next to it is a town called Playa de La Arena. This area is characterized by black, sandy beaches and beautiful natural swimming pools. The year-round climate in this region is among the best in the world, which makes Los Gigantes a highly attractive tourist destination. It is located approximately 30 km from Las Americas in Costa Adeje and 45 km from the southern Reina Sofia Airport. It is a peaceful and idyllic place, away from the bustling party centers, inviting us to long evening strolls filled with exceptionally breathtaking views.
Anaga Rural Park is one of the most attractive places in Tenerife. It is a mountainous region located in the northeastern part of the island. Dominated by authentic plant relics, such as laurel forests and misty forests typical of a completely different era, it is full of paths that lead through tunnels formed by branches. The scent of moss growing on trees creates an atmosphere of mystery and adventure. Since 2015, Anaga Rural Park has been listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It boasts the highest number of endemic species in all of Europe. Ornithologists will be thrilled to spot the Bolle’s Pigeon or the Laurel Pigeon, which are considered living relics and originate from the Canary Islands. In this area, you can also observe an extraordinary atmospheric phenomenon known as horizontal rain. It is created by the interaction of strong, moist winds with the terrain. The Anaga mountain range is the most important natural area in Tenerife after Teide National Park.
Throughout Anaga Rural Park, there are numerous viewpoints from which you can admire the breathtaking panorama of the northern or southern part of the island. The stunning, rugged mountain chains with sharp peaks are intersected by deep, green ravines that reach the ocean, forming a series of wild beaches. The park enjoys a cool climate (even in summer), and its humidity keeps the forest beautiful throughout the year. Hiking enthusiasts have a wide range of trails to choose from, varying in length and difficulty according to their preferences. Some of the most popular paths include:
Sendero de los Sentidos – Path of the Senses
This trail has an educational character and invites you to smell and touch the vegetation, listen to the wind and birdsong, and admire the spectacular landscape. Along the path, there are signs with sensory symbols depicting a nose, an eye, an ear, and a hand. They indicate the sense that should be stimulated in that particular spot. It is an easy and short trail but very attractive for the whole family. Sendero de los Sentidos is located along the route to Mirador Pico del Inglés. Entry does not require an official permit. Along the road to Mirador Pico del Inglés, you will also find one of the most popular photographic spots known as the “green walls.” For those who enjoy capturing extraordinary photos, this is a unique place for holiday photography.
El Bosque de los Enigmas – The Forest of Enigmas
This is a highly attractive trail for the whole family. It usually starts at Mirador del Zapato, but we recommend starting it at the Cruz del Carmen Tourist Center. You can leave your car in the parking lot here and also get a trail map. It is an easy route, measuring about 5 kilometers in length and taking less than 2 hours to complete. Due to the significant humidity, it is advisable to have something warm with you, even in summer.
Chinamada – Punta del Hidalgo Trail
This incredibly picturesque trail leads from Punta del Hidalgo (where you can leave your car) to the tiny, charming village of Chinamada. Here, you’ll find a small enclave of cave houses and two spectacular viewpoints – one facing the ocean and the other towards the mountains. It is a winding route with varying levels of difficulty, often hugging the edge of the ravine. The trail measures almost five kilometers one way and requires maneuvering around rocks.
Trails in the Anaga Mountains requiring permits:
The majority of trails in Anaga Park have free access. However, there are two exceptionally attractive routes that require a special permit issued by the Cabildo de Tenerife. Reservations can be made HERE. It’s always worth looking into this in advance due to the limited number of spots available. Entry is free of charge.
Pijaral Trail – Enchanted Forest
The Pijaral Trail is popularly known as the Enchanted Forest. It is a natural area in the Canary Islands with the greatest diversity of ferns and one of the best examples of laurel forest on the islands. One fern, in particular, gives its name to the entire trail – the Pijaral fern. It is a gigantic plant with leaves that can measure up to 3 meters in length.
Monte de Aguirre – Laurel Forests
The Monte de Aguirre Trail is a linear path that spans 1.5 km. It can be completed in less than an hour one way. Since it is not an officially marked trail, extra caution should be exercised here. However, the opportunity to encounter unique species of fauna and flora found nowhere else in the world makes the trek worthwhile. The most common starting point for the trail is near Cruz de Afur, which is located close to the Pico del Inglés viewpoint.
Teneryfa – Attractions: the most interesting cities in Tenerife
Garachico is a stunning seaside town located in the northwestern part of Tenerife. The town is known for its natural volcanic pools. You can read more about them in our article “Charcos – natural pools”. The history of the city dates back to the Spanish conquest, and the first port was established here as early as 1496. Over time, Garachico became the main trading port of the island, with ships loaded with wine and sugar departing for America and Europe. The golden era of Garachico came to an end with a volcanic eruption that lasted for three years, starting in 1706. The city and port were completely destroyed. After this tragedy, the commercial life moved to Puerto de la Cruz. In Garachico itself, to this day, you can admire the symbolic city gate located in Parque de La Puerta de Tierra, through which ships once entered the port. By the way, this is an incredibly attractive park, full of exotic plant species, which has transformed this tranquil corner of Garachico into one of the most picturesque in the city.
Icod de los Vinos – Dragon Tree – Dracaena
El Drago, also known as Drago Milenario, is the oldest and largest living specimen of the Dracaena draco species (commonly known as the Dragon Tree) in the town of Icod de los Vinos, in the north of Tenerife. It stands at a height of approximately 21 meters and has a circumference of 20 meters. El Drago is estimated to weigh around 140 tons. When it bloomed in 1995, it had about 1800 flowering branches, and its weight increased by 3.5 tons during the fruiting season. There has been much debate about the age of El Drago, with the latest estimates suggesting it is around 800-1000 years old. In 1985, the tree was cleared, and a fan was installed inside the trunk to facilitate air circulation and prevent fungal growth. El Drago is undoubtedly a symbol of Tenerife and was declared a national monument in 1917. The image of El Drago is featured in the coat of arms of the municipality of Icod de los Vinos. Surrounding the Dragon Tree is an attractive park called “Parque del Drago,” where various species of endemic plants can be seen in Tenerife.
Icod de los Vinos is a small, historic town with cobblestone streets and small squares. In addition to the undeniable attraction that must be seen – El Drago, Icod de Los Vinos is also home to the Guanche Museum, Casa del Plátano, and at the top of the town, there is the entrance to the Cueva del Viento. It is the largest lava cave in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. Its numerous underground passages extend for over 17 kilometers. Cueva del Viento was formed by lava flowing from the Pico Viejo volcano. A visit to this labyrinthine volcanic tube is an excellent way to learn about the eruption processes in Tenerife. Exploration is possible only with a local guide, and the entire tour takes about 2 hours, with a 45-minute stay inside the cave. During this time, approximately 250 meters of lava tubes are explored. The excursion involves walking through farmland, pine forests at medium altitude, and an old royal road.
La Orotava is the highest municipality in all of Spain, located in the north-central part of Tenerife. It stretches from sea level to 3,718 meters above sea level (including the peak of El Teide). The municipality of La Orotava includes a significant portion of the Teide National Park, where you can find up to 50 different plant species endemic to the Canary Islands. Among these unique specimens, you can see the Tajinaste Rojo (Red Tajinaste), Tajinaste Azul (Blue Tajinaste), Guanche rose bush, and Violeta del Teide (Teide Violet). Interestingly, the latter only blooms in the highest areas. The municipality of La Orotava has many protected natural areas. In addition to the Teide National Park, there are also the Pinoleris Natural Reserve and the La Resbala Protected Landscape (El Paisaje Protegido de La Resbala). Due to its incredibly fertile soil, this area historically was the richest, most powerful, and the last to fall during the Spanish conquest.
Villa de la Orotava is a small, charming town located at 360 meters above sea level. It is the main locality of the region and the only town in the Canary Islands with an almost intact historic center. For centuries, this region was a major producer of sugarcane, grapes, and bananas. When entering La Orotava, one goes back several centuries. The historical city center, old churches and monasteries, as well as beautiful aristocratic residences with their coats of arms and popular urban architecture with wooden balconies. All of this gives the place a unique atmosphere, and combined with the spectacular views, it is no wonder that La Orotava has appeared multiple times in travel literature. This town is a true gem for art, beauty, and history lovers. It is one of the most attractive cities in the Canary Islands and undoubtedly attracts thousands of tourists annually for this reason.
San Cristobal de La Laguna is the second most populous town in Tenerife. It is located in the northeastern part of the island, next to Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Both cities are interconnected and are considered twin cities. Historically, San Cristobal de La Laguna, until 1833, was the actual capital of the Canary Islands. It was here that the first university in the Canary Islands was established in 1701. Not without reason, La Laguna is considered the intellectual and historic center of the archipelago. Today, in La Laguna, in addition to the university, you can find the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, the University Hospital, the Diocese of Tenerife, and the Advisory Council of the Canary Islands. Since 1999, San Cristobal de La Laguna has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique example of a colonial city without walls.
Puerto de la Cruz
Puerto de la Cruz is an incredibly picturesque town located in the north of Tenerife. It stretches along the coastal part of the La Orotava Valley, with the majestic silhouette of Mount Teide rising to a height of 3,718 meters in the background. Its history dates back to the early 16th century when it served as a coastal port for the population of La Orotava. In 1603, the first church and corresponding square were built. This harbor became the most important port on the island after the eruption of the volcano in 1706 destroyed the nearby coastal town of Garachico. Until 1808, it was known as Puerto de La Orotava. However, after gaining full municipal autonomy, the name was changed to its current name, Puerto de la Cruz. Interestingly, many of us unknowingly search for information about the town as “PuertA de la Cruz” instead of “Puerto de la Cruz.” One letter makes a difference in the meaning of the word. In Spanish, “puerto” means port, and “puerta” means door. After all, we learn something new every day ;)
Puerto de la Cruz is a great base for engaging in active tourism. Paragliding enthusiasts have the opportunity to soar from a height of 2,200 meters, enjoying breathtaking views of the blooming landscapes of the slopes of Mount El Teide. The ocean also offers its aquatic attractions, from stand-up paddleboarding to diving. Beneath the water’s surface, there is an underwater volcanic tube known as La Rapadura, which attracts many experienced divers each year. Those who prefer a more relaxed holiday have various options, including the natural pools of San Telmo, beaches with volcanic sand, and the highly attractive water complex in the city center, Lago Martiánez. In contrast to resorts like Playa de Las Americas, this part of the island is often chosen by mature couples. Due to its exceptional climate, even in the 19th century, the British Medical Society recommended Puerto de la Cruz as an ideal place for relaxation. You can read more about the climate in our article “Weather in Tenerife”.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the second-largest city in the Canary Islands and is also the capital of Tenerife. It is located in the northeast of the island and is 210 kilometers away from the coast of Africa. The port, which stretches along a considerable part of the city, is one of the busiest ports in Spain. It serves as a transportation hub between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Furthermore, it is a major stopover for cruise ships traveling from Europe to the Caribbean. It is estimated that nearly half of the island’s population lives in the capital and its surrounding municipalities. Interestingly, in 2012, the British newspaper “The Guardian” placed Santa Cruz de Tenerife on the list of the five most attractive places to live in the world. It ranked alongside the northern coast of Maui in Hawaii and Portland in the United States. In 2016, the film production company Universal Pictures returned to Tenerife to shoot scenes for Jason Bourne, transforming Santa Cruz into Athens for three weeks.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is an extraordinary town: cosmopolitan, historical, and cultural. It offers opportunities for relaxation and shopping. You can learn more about it in our article “Webcams in Tenerife – Santa Cruz de Tenerife”. The main attractions of the city include the Auditorio de Tenerife, Torres de Santa Cruz, Plaza de España, and Iglesia de la Concepción. Santa Cruz de Tenerife hosts one of the largest carnivals in the world annually. It is an incredible celebration of rhythm, color, and a unique atmosphere. The Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife holds the Guinness World Record for organizing the largest open-air dance event with the participation of 200,000 people. Near Santa Cruz, there is the extensive Anaga Rural Park, recognized as a Biosphere Reserve for its exceptional preservation of natural values. The park offers many attractive hiking trails, one of which leads to a wild and incredibly beautiful place – Playa de Benijo. You can read more about this beach in our article “Best beaches in Tenerife”.
Tenerife – Attractions: Most Popular Tourist Resorts in Tenerife
Costa Adeje is an exclusive tourist resort located on the southern coast of Tenerife. This place attracts the most discerning tourists all year round. Those who enjoy attractive, elegant beaches, luxury hotels, high-class evening entertainment, and exquisite cuisine. Golf enthusiasts have the opportunity to admire the beautiful, postcard-perfect landscape while playing at the Golf Costa Adeje golf course. Meanwhile, water sports enthusiasts have a wide range of options. From relaxing whale-watching cruises to exhilarating rides on jet skis through the waves, or even gliding through the air above the rolling ocean during a parasailing adventure. Costa Adeje also offers its visitors two fantastic water parks full of interesting attractions. Siam Park is one of the largest and best water parks in Europe, offering a thrilling experience to its visitors. In contrast, Aqualand is designed for families with younger children and features an incredible dolphin show.
Costa Adeje is one of the three main tourist areas in Tenerife, along with Playa de las Americas-Los Cristianos and Puerto de la Cruz. It boasts over 26 kilometers of coastline, including four kilometers of beaches. Costa Adeje stretches from San Eugenio, through Fañabe Beach, El Duque Beach, La Caleta, El Puertito, all the way to Playa Paraíso and Callao Salvaje. The temperatures here average around 27 degrees Celsius in the summer and 23 degrees in the winter, with an average of 300 sunny days per year. It’s no wonder Costa Adeje is a popular destination for tourists from all over Europe. It is often said to be an example of eternal spring. Costa Adeje is home to eight large swimming beaches, and near the town of La Caleta, you will find numerous small, natural coves. For hiking enthusiasts, Costa Adeje offers the “Barranco del Infierno” Nature Reserve. The trail starts at the highest point of Adeje, near the excellent Canarian restaurant called “Otelo”.
Playa de Las Américas
Playa de Las Américas, also known simply as Las Américas, is located on the southern coast of Tenerife. Regarded by many as the party capital of Tenerife, it is one of the main tourist centers on the island. It stretches from the west of Mount Chayofita to the end of Barranco del Rey and is urbanistically connected to the Costa Adeje area. Las Américas offers the widest range of leisure activities in the entire south of Tenerife. There is never a dull moment here. The streets are filled with colorful shops and inviting cafes, while in the evenings, local cocktail bars invite you to relax with live music. The seaside promenade is extremely attractive for those who enjoy walks at any time of the day, leading between tropical palm trees and golden sandy beaches. Playa de Las Américas is a highly attractive vacation destination for the whole family, as the leisure offerings cater to all age groups.
In Playa de Las Américas, the sun invites you to relax on the beach all year round. There are several golden beaches here, mostly artificial and made of sand imported from Africa. It is worth noting one beach that is completely different. Playa del Búnker-El Guincho is a paleontological site formed by a Quaternary deposit. It has a distinctive raised beach morphology and contains mollusk species typical of tropical environments, shaped during a warmer period than the present. Since 2007, Playa del Búnker has been recognized as a Cultural Heritage site. More information about various beaches can be found in our article “Best beaches in Tenerife”. Additionally, Playa de Las Américas offers a wide range of water sports, including surfing, jet skiing, and scuba diving. Moreover, there are numerous boat excursions available, such as whale-watching trips, pirate ship tours, and underwater submarine trips.
Tenerife – Attractions: Active Leisure
Whale and Dolphin Watching Tours in Tenerife
Tenerife is an island located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which serves as a natural habitat for a wide variety of marine creatures. Undoubtedly, one of the most popular attractions in Tenerife is whale watching tours. It is a highly appealing and peaceful excursion suitable for the whole family. The sun, refreshing sea breeze, and gently rocking waves of the boat provide an extraordinary sense of relaxation and tranquility. During this expedition, we have the opportunity to observe the behavior of various fascinating marine mammals. Interestingly, the waters around the Canary Islands are home to 21 different species of whales, as well as other fish and marine creatures that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Most dolphin and whale watching tours depart from Puerto Colon in Las Américas or Puerto Santiago in Los Gigantes. Due to Tenerife’s geographical location, this activity is available practically throughout the year. By booking a whale watching tour through AttractiveTenerife.com, you are guaranteed to encounter at least one species of marine mammal
Extreme Sports in Tenerife
Engaging in extreme sports in Tenerife is one of the most popular ways to spend time on the island, alongside sunbathing and whale watching. Adventure enthusiasts visiting Tenerife will undoubtedly find something to suit their taste. The island is full of incredible attractions; you just need to explore it well. From soaring through the clouds at a height of 1000 meters paragliding, while admiring the beautiful blooming slopes of Mount Teide, to taking an exhilarating helicopter flight that offers a completely different perspective of the island. You can also embark on thrilling quad bike expeditions to the mountains and the National Park, where jumps, dust, and adrenaline await. For diving enthusiasts, there are extraordinary underwater caves, shipwrecks, and marine creatures to explore. Adventurers will never get bored here. The geographical conditions and climate also provide opportunities for mountain biking, horseback riding, surfing, and windsurfing. Engaging in these active forms of recreation guarantees us powerful and unforgettable experiences that will leave a lasting impression in our memories.