How to spend the perfect holiday in Tenerife

Advice

Like Majorca and Ibiza before it, Tenerife is finally succeeding in shedding its tacky chrysalis, and morphing into a sophisticated destination happy to hold its own in the company of high spenders, gastronomes and choosy golfers. That’s not to say the ‘old Tenerife’ has met its maker, it just self-perpetuates in the background while Michelin muscles into the restaurant scene, chic beach clubs claim bucket-and-spade territory, and boutique boltholes provide windows to the previously bypassed and greener side of the island.

If you’ve not been for a while, certainly take in the usual suspects of beaches, pools and party venues, but also make sure you allow time to journey from the resort areas to picnic in pine-infused forests, soak up the art, culture and iconic architecture of Santa Cruz, and find peace and solace along the paved coastal pathways on the quieter west coast.

For more Tenerife inspiration, see our guides for hotelsrestaurantsbars and nightlife and attractions.


In this guide


How to spend your holiday

Day one

Morning

Start the day with a glass of brain-jolting barraquito coffee at the bohemian Veinte 04 Surf Cafe overlooking the main square in El Médano. Then take off your flip-flops and put soles to the sand. Plod past the morning yoga-meisters and third-age beach joggers all the way to Cafe Flashpoint). Reward yourself with a healthy breakfast of yogurt, muesli and fresh fruit and spend the morning watching the windsurfers rig their boards for battle with the waves. If you get the itch to be active yourself, rent a surfboard from next door, or scramble up Red Mountain for mind-blowing views of the southeast shoreline.

Afternoon

Head around the coast to the fishing village of La Caleta for a long, lazy lunch of seafood paella at the elegant – though pricey – La Vieja.  Saunter down the road and grab a glass of something chilled while listening to an excellent live band at the laid-back Coqueluche beach bar. There’s nothing but blue ocean as the backdrop, but keep one eye on the sky; paragliders land literally right next to the tables and chairs.

Late

When hunger strikes again, saunter along the ‘Golden Mile’ of Playa de las Americas, a nearly one-mile strip of bars, restaurants, and fashion and jewellery shops. After watching the fountains dance to classical music, take a seat at chic rooftop Bianco Restaurant for a spot of contemporary Italian. Everything here is good-looking, especially the truffle linguine with pecorino cheese. Then spend the evening with a Cuba Libre for company at the in-vogue Magic Lounge Club across the road.



Bianco, Tenerife


Contemporary Italian Bianco is an in-vogue dining venue in Playa de las Americas

Day two

Morning

Avoiding the midday sun makes mornings the busiest time for golfing in Tenerife, so make sure you’ve booked a tee-time for an early nine holes on the Los Lagos course at Golf Costa Adeje, followed by an al fresco Italian lunch at the fabulous Restaurante Saúco on the Alcala promenade. Grab a terrace table, order the creamy, homemade salmon tagliatelle, and watch the waves pounding the black volcanic rocks below. 



Golf Costa Adeje, Tenerife


If you intend to play golf in Tenerife, book some tee time at Golf Costa Adeje

Afternoon

Liven up with a stroll north along the prom and a dip in the rock pools just past La Jaquita beach. Then jump in your rental car, set the GPS for Teide National Park visitors’ centre, and head to the hills. Break up the journey with a quick tapas-on-the-terrace at the Restaurante las Estrellas. Its décor might be uninspiring but the same can’t be said of its dizzying views.

Drive through the pine forests into Teide National Park, stopping to tilt your phone lens up at the colossal Mount Teide, the world’s third-largest volcano. If you have time, and the weather permits, you can take the cable car to within 200 metres of the 3,718-metre peak. If not, a snapshot from the visitors’ centre car park will do, then drive across the lunar landscape and wind your way down through sugar-cube pueblos spanning the TF-21 road.

Motor on to the historic quarter of La Orotava to see ye Tenerife of olde. At the Casa de Los Balcones you’ll find traditional Canarian crafts, and the typical carved wooden balconies adorning 17th-century mansions.



Teide National Park, Tenerife


Teide National Park is blessed with striking lunar landscape


Credit: DaLiu/DaLiu

Late

Before it gets dark, take the TF-5 motorway past the north coast clifftop towns of La Victoria and La Matanza, dropping through historical La Laguna and into the island’s capital, Santa Cruz. Indulge in some late night shopping along the Calle del Castillo, take in an exhibition at the contemporary, low-slung Tenerife Espacio de las Artes; TEA for short, or catch a musical performance at the iconic Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín.

Work up an appetite ambling the cobbled streets around Calle Nuria, then bag some late-night eats at the creaky-floored Restaurant La Hierbita. Call ahead and try to book an upstairs table by the window for the best people-watching. This is the place to deep dive into traditional Canarian dishes such as honeyed eggplant, roast octopus, and black pig sirloin.


Insider tips

Beach watch

The main beaches of the popular southern resorts can get pretty crowded in summer. If you fancy a bit more elbow room, and you aren’t turned off by black sand, try pitching your towel on one of the out-of-town beaches, such as Playa La Jaquita in Alcala, or the harbour beach in Playa San Juan.

Attractions

Siam Park is great fun for both young and old(ish), though gets very busy in the summer months. The most popular rides are Vulcano and The Dragon – ride these either first or last to avoid queuing for 45 minutes or more in the middle of the day. Alternatively, buy a fast pass when you’re there for €28 (£24).

Hotels

Stay at the Royal Hideaway Corales Suites in La Caleta and ask reception to put on the full, volcanic evolution show, projected on a rock face within the lobby. Say it’s for your kids, but don’t miss this 15-minute spectacle yourself!

Island hack

It’s easy to explore the whole island by bus. If you are going to forsake the coach excursions and self-drive options, buy a Tenmas travel card from one of the main bus stations. You can top it up with any amount, from €5 (£5) to €100 (£88), and it offers substantial savings on both bus and tram jaunts.

Did you know?

At 12,198 ft high, Mount Teide is the world’s third-largest volcano, Spain’s highest peak, and last erupted back in 1909. Do not miss a trip to at least its base, partly for the extraordinary moonscape. Those with the time and bottle can walk up the slopes. Those with a little more sense will take the cable car.


When to go

As Tenerife has a spring/summer climate all year round, there is no bad time to visit. You are most likely to see some rain, particularly in the north, in November and February/March. High season is January to Easter. Flights from Britain are more plentiful and cheaper in the winter months whereas hotel prices are at their highest. With warm, sunny days and balmy nights, September is one of the nicest months to visit and prices have not yet hit their seasonal high.


Where to stay

Luxury Living

Royal Hideaway Corales Suites, a slick all-suite hotel, has a cavernous James Bond-type lobby and innovative volcanic-chic styling. The contemporary quarters have fully equipped kitchens, plus living rooms, and monster ocean-view terraces, many with private pools and sundecks. The food is equally favourable: themed buffets include top-shelf options such as cracked lobster and cooked-to-order steaks, as well as a pizza and pasta station and fresh fish aplenty. 

Suites from €286 (£245). Avenida Virgen de Guadalupe 21, Playa La Enramada; 00 34 922 757 900.

From

£
245

pn

Rates provided by
Booking.com



Royal Hideaway Corales Suites, Tenerife


Royal Hideaway Corales Suites is a slick all-suite hotel for couples and families

Boutique Bolthole

Sun, solitude and sub-tropical surroundings are on offer at Jardin de la Paz on Tenerife’s rugged north coast. It sits high on the slopes of Tenerife’s most verdant area, near the vineyards of Tacoronte and beaches at Puerto de la Cruz. Individually styled studios and apartments afford privacy by neatly positioned shrubbery and resplendent sea views. A sauna facing the sea can be booked for private use at no charge, plus there are two outdoor pools with surrounding sundecks, and massages and beauty treatments are available on request.

Rooms from €192 (£164). Calle de Acentejo, 48-52; 00 34 922 578 319.

From

£
192

pn

Rates provided by
Booking.com



Jardin de la Paz, Tenerife


Jardin de la Paz sits high on the slopes of Tenerife’s most verdant area, near both vineyards and beaches


Credit: Luis M.Anibarro/Luis M.Anibarro

Budget Beauty

Hotel Rural Finca Salamanca has a tranquil, secluded and rural setting on an avocado plantation – formerly used for cotton, coffee, tobacco and bananas production – with extensive botanical gardens in Tenerife’s unspoilt Guimar Valley. It has been built in hacienda style using locally sourced volcanic stone and teak wood, and features patios, terraces, an elegant swimming pool, and quiet nooks aplenty dotted around the bounteous grounds and gardens. With nightlife not running to anything more than stargazing and a game of bridge, this is the perfect de-stress getaway.

Rooms from €85 (£72). Crta El Puertito N 2; 00 34 922 514 530.

From

£
72

pn

Rates provided by
Booking.com



Hotel Rural Finca Salamanca, Tenerife


Hotel Rural Finca Salamanca has been built in hacienda style using locally sourced volcanic stone and teak wood


What to bring home

Salsa mojo, that red or green dipping sauce served with pretty much everything in Tenerife, is also available for purchase in jars from any supermarket. When packing, make sure you double-bag it to avoid inadvertently tie-dying your holiday clothes.

A sun-faded surf T-shirt from El Cabezo Surf Shop in El Médano. Even if you didn’t venture on a board while here, it looks cool back home. Nobody needs to ever know the truth.


Essential information

  • Tourist board information: webtenerife.com
  • Emergency fire and ambulance: 112
  • Emergency police: 112
  • British Consulate: 8 Plaza Weyler, Santa Cruz; 00 34 922 289 903; gov.uk

The basics

  • Flight time: Four hours
  • Currency: Euro
  • International dialling code: +34

Local laws and etiquette

  • Tipping is optional. In restaurants, 10 per cent is usually enough. For taxis, it’s acceptable just to round up.
  • The unfortunately named Titsa bus service is reasonably priced and serves most parts of the island in a more or less reliable fashion.
  • Taxis are generally safe and low-cost, though confirm the fare with the driver before you commit. See previous note about tipping.
  • Driving is relatively straightforward in Tenerife, though watch out for drivers putting their left indicators on; it doesn’t always mean they’re going to turn left, it’s sometimes a way to warn cars behind that the traffic ahead has slowed or come to a standstill.
  • Greetings between locals are generally a kiss-on-each-cheek affair.
  • Be aware if you rent a car – fines can be issued for wearing inappropriate footwear (flip-flops), or driving without a shirt on. Seatbelts are compulsory, front and back.
  • Take heed of any coloured flags on beaches; currents can be dangerous in certain areas, even on the resort beaches.

Author bio

Joe Cawley has been living on the island since 1991 when, for want of anything else to do, he bought a bar and restaurant before becoming a full-time author and travel writer.

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