Explore Tenerife

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Explore Tenerife

Category : Europe , Tenerife

The Canary Islands unveiled: explore Tenerife’s wild side, food, and culture

Tenerife is home to wild nature spots, delicious food and plenty of fiestas. Discover it all with our extensive off-the-beaten-track guide

The Canary Islands are hardly an alternative destination. Even though you haven’t been there, you may feel you know exactly what they’re all about: overcrowded beaches, resort hotels, and tourist traps. Yet, as with most places, there are unseen and lesser-explored parts – places only locals know of. Until now!

Part one of the series is Tenerife, the largest and most populated of the seven islands. With a whopping five million people visiting the island every year, you will need a bit of guidance on where to go to avoid the crowds.

A hiking paradise

Tenerife is rich in hiking trails boasting beautiful landscapes
Tenerife is rich in hiking trails boasting beautiful landscapes

As well as the lure of its year-round, sun-soaked beaches, Tenerife is rapidly becoming known for its hiking, and with very good reason.

Teide National Park lies at the heart of the island, its surreal moonscape of lava crisscrossed by walking trails at the foot of Spain’s highest mountain. In the north-east, you will find many hiking paths going through the dense laurisilva rain forests of the Anaga Mountains.

To get a feel for what the pace of life used to be on the island, walk in the footsteps of Tenerife’s first inhabitants, the Guanches. Around 500 years ago, they carved a matrix of trails while moving their livestock between summer and winter grazing grounds. These trails are called ‘caminos reales’ – or royal roads – and they provide excellent walking routes and a palpable link to Tenerife’s past.

The famous hill resembling a sliced pie in the El Palmar Valley
The famous hill resembling a sliced pie in the El Palmar Valley

Walk the ‘camino real’ from El Palmar to Teno Alto. Climbing above the El Palmar Valley where former quarry works have left the landscape looking like a giant pie with slices cut out of it, the path reaches the ridge with splendid views of Mount Teide before arriving into the hamlet of Teno Alto. Pop into the little shop in the village for some of their homemade goat’s cheese which ranges from mild (‘fresca’) to tongue-burning (‘curado’).

Away from resort towns

The Paisaje Lunar rock formations in Vilaflor
The Paisaje Lunar rock formations in Vilaflor

To discover Tenerife’s real culture, you have to move as far away from the well-trodden path as you can. Some of Tenerife’s best-hidden secrets lie in small towns and villages around the island.

Though the lovely mountain village Vilaflor is located en route to Teide National Park, few tourists’ feet tread its streets. Spend a couple of hours sipping coffee in the leafy Plaza San Pedro, climbing to the tiny chapel of Ermita de San Roque for panoramic views over the south coast, or striding out along its ‘camino real’ to visit the extraordinary rock erosions of Paisaje Lunar.

A 40-minute drive from Santa Cruz, Arico Nuevo, a former 18th-century walled community, boasts charming white houses with green window frames and doors. Scarlet bougainvillaea tumbles down brilliant white walls lining cobbled streets. Cats stretch in the sun atop crooked roofs. The pacing is slow and feels like a movie set waiting for the cast to arrive.

The charming bandstand in Los Silos
The charming bandstand in Los Silos

Los Silos, located in the Isla Baja region on the verdant northwest of the island, is a charming little town with streets too narrow for tour buses to negotiate, a white church that looks like it’s coated in icing sugar, and an art nouveau bandstand serving delicious home-made cakes. If you’re around in December, make sure to stop by for the annual storytelling festival.

Though most head for the scenic views from Masca, neighboring village Santiago del Teide is often overlooked. Some of the experiences they’re missing out on include pony and trap rides from the Casona del Patio, the lovely church of San Fernando Rey, and a taste of ‘arepa’ (filled Venezuelan corn bread) from the kiosk in the picnic zone.

The taste of Tenerife

'Papas arrugadas con mojo', one of Tenerife's must-taste dishes
‘Papas arrugadas con mojo’, one of Tenerife’s must-taste dishes

Away from its purpose-built resorts, Tenerife’s traditional eateries have some savory surprises in store.

Tenerife’s potatoes, known as ‘papas bonitas’, were first brought to the Canary Islands from Peru over 400 years ago and now have their own certificate of origin. Boiled in salt water until a salty crust forms on them and served with mildly spicy sauces, they’re known as ‘papas arrugadas con mojo’ (meaning wrinkled potatoes with sauce) and are as prized by top chefs as they are loved by locals.

When it comes to seafood, here’s what you need to know. Vieja, or parrotfish, is never going to win any prizes in the looks department, but for taste, it’s hard to beat. Another favorite is a meaty white fish called ‘cherne'(wreckfish) which regularly appears on menus. Seafood lovers should try the tender ‘pulpo’ (octopus), served in salads or even whole.

Tenerife’s Malmsey wine was once so prized that Shakespeare received a barrel as part of his annual salary. Today, the island’s wines are once again causing ripples of excitement in sommelier circles. You can buy and try some of the best at Bodegas Monje in El Sauzal and at the nearby Wine Museum.

Where to eat for every budget

Enjoy a Michelin-starred dinner at El Rincón de Juan Carlos
Enjoy a Michelin-starred dinner at El Rincón de Juan Carlos 

From cheap and quirky to top notch, Tenerife’s gastronomic scene is as varied as its landscapes.

The ‘guachinches’, no-frills and frequently no tablecloth restaurants, have flourished in the northern hills since the 17th century. Tucked away in remote locations, expect a limited menu and wine from the owner’s own vineyard, all at ridiculously low prices. Head to the hills above La Matanza, El Sauzal, or La Orotava and look for a cardboard sign pinned to a tree directing you to a ‘guachinche’.

Away from the resort hotels of the south, you’ll find a proliferation of so-called ‘tinerfeño’ restaurants. These are traditional eateries serving unsophisticated food and ‘vino del pais’ (local wine). For unbeatable value, the ‘menu del día’ (day’s menu) provides three courses plus a glass of wine for under €10.

Seafood lovers will adore ‘cofradías’, restaurants run by the fishermen’s union, where you can be certain the catch is fresh from the nets. There’s a good ‘cofradia’ at the harbor in Los Cristianos and a very posh one – by ‘cofradías’ standards – in Puerto de la Cruz where a panoramic terrace overlooks the harbor.

If you want a go for a night of top-notch dining, Tenerife is the only one of the Canary Islands to boast a Michelin star and one of them is at family-run El Rincón de Juan Carlos in Los Gigantes. You’ll have to book a long way ahead, but it will be worth it when you will enjoy the exquisite food without the pomp or the Michelin price tag.

Go local at Tenerife’s fiestas

Cheerful, colourful and lots of fun – Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Cheerful, colorful, and lots of fun – Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife 

Tenerife’s fiestas are loud, colorful, and great fun, and the best way to enjoy them is like a local.

Carnaval, held each February in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is the biggest celebration in the Canary Islands. Nightly street parties with live music, food stalls, drinks kiosks, and general mayhem are the real heart of Carnaval, so don’t just stand on the sidelines watching a parade roll past. Get into a fancy dress, head to the streets around Plaza España after midnight and join thousands of costume-clad revelers partying until dawn.

If you happen to see a procession of locals in traditional dress throwing food to the crowd from the back of decorated carts, you’ve probably stumbled into a ‘romería’. ‘Romerías’ are a type of harvest festivals rooted in pagan and Christian beliefs and usually involve a procession of carts filled with food and wine, locals wearing traditional costumes, and lots of animals running freely.

Happening in towns and villages across Tenerife throughout the summer, freshly barbequed meats and wine are freely dispensed to onlookers. Buy yourself a ‘vaso’ (a small glass in a leather holder that hangs around your neck) from one of the vendors and thrust it at the nearest wine vat while catching a flying boiled egg or a pork chop.

Flower carpet at Corpus Christi in La Orotava
Flower carpet at Corpus Christi in La Orotava

At the yearly Corpus Christi, intricate carpets of flower petals are laid, transforming the streets of La Orotava into transient works of art. Outside the Town Hall, you can have a look at a complex tapestry constructed entirely of sand from Teide National Park. In the evening, the Corpus Christi procession walks over it all. To see the master ‘alfombristas’ (carpet makers) at work, head to La Orotava a day or so before the festival, go to a balcony on the first floor of the Town Hall and gaze down on the masterpiece in progress.

Cheap Flights to Tenerife

Origin Departure date Return date Find Ticket

Barcelona

08.11.2018

18.11.2018

Tickets from 43

Gran Canaria

27.09.2018

28.09.2018

Tickets from 43

Madrid

11.01.2019

19.01.2019

Tickets from 44

Bilbao

14.01.2019

20.01.2019

Tickets from 65

Seville

31.10.2018

04.12.2018

Tickets from 74

Malaga

07.09.2018

10.09.2018

Tickets from 101

London

02.02.2019

09.02.2019

Tickets from 108

Santander

11.09.2018

16.09.2018

Tickets from 128

Krakow

03.10.2018

17.10.2018

Tickets from 130

Zaragoza

13.12.2018

27.12.2018

Tickets from 136

Milan

15.09.2018

27.09.2018

Tickets from 150

Brussels

10.10.2018

17.10.2018

Tickets from 150

Munich

09.11.2018

22.11.2018

Tickets from 151

Hamburg

11.11.2018

18.11.2018

Tickets from 154

La Coruna

20.09.2018

06.10.2018

Tickets from 164

Warsaw

08.11.2018

29.11.2018

Tickets from 167

Paris

19.09.2018

29.09.2018

Tickets from 167

Dublin

27.09.2018

04.10.2018

Tickets from 168

Rome

21.09.2018

19.10.2018

Tickets from 177

Edinburgh

02.03.2019

09.03.2019

Tickets from 178

Helsinki

23.11.2018

02.12.2018

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Eindhoven

02.10.2018

09.10.2018

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Oviedo

27.09.2018

20.12.2018

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Birmingham

18.09.2018

25.09.2018

Tickets from 187

Nottingham

10.09.2018

20.09.2018

Tickets from 193

Geneva

27.08.2018

11.09.2018

Tickets from 193

Lisbon

06.10.2018

13.10.2018

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Moscow

16.03.2019

02.04.2019

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Berlin

18.08.2018

01.09.2018

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Budapest

12.09.2018

26.09.2018

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Bremen

06.11.2018

13.11.2018

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Katowice

05.10.2018

19.10.2018

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Stuttgart

04.04.2019

07.04.2019

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Newcastle

25.09.2018

09.10.2018

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Alicante

22.08.2018

24.08.2018

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Prague

17.09.2018

30.09.2018

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Pisa

26.11.2018

01.12.2018

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Riga

14.11.2018

21.11.2018

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Vilnius

06.11.2018

09.11.2018

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Frankfurt

27.09.2018

06.10.2018

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Saint Petersburg

08.10.2018

22.10.2018

Tickets from 261

Gdansk

18.01.2019

26.01.2019

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Belfast

26.10.2018

10.11.2018

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Oslo

01.09.2018

15.09.2018

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Glasgow

09.08.2018

16.08.2018

Tickets from 282

Minsk

13.09.2018

29.09.2018

Tickets from 301

Catania

17.09.2018

23.09.2018

Tickets from 309

Tallinn

14.11.2018

21.11.2018

Tickets from 311

Naples

26.11.2018

02.01.2019

Tickets from 317

Palma de Mallorca

29.07.2018

31.07.2018

Tickets from 317

Kiev

05.10.2018

19.10.2018

Tickets from 324

Kaliningrad

09.08.2018

12.08.2018

Tickets from 334

Dusseldorf

01.08.2018

11.08.2018

Tickets from 347

Zurich

22.12.2018

30.01.2019

Tickets from 348

Lipetsk

27.09.2018

08.10.2018

Tickets from 352

Bucharest

10.08.2018

20.08.2018

Tickets from 357

Leeds

04.08.2018

05.08.2018

Tickets from 369

Krasnodar

16.11.2018

07.12.2018

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Nizhniy Novgorod

20.01.2019

31.01.2019

Tickets from 391

Manchester

28.07.2018

04.08.2018

Tickets from 395

Kazan

05.09.2018

13.09.2018

Tickets from 402

Ekaterinburg

02.10.2018

19.10.2018

Tickets from 408

Murmansk

05.10.2018

19.10.2018

Tickets from 436

Rostov

07.04.2019

27.04.2019

Tickets from 439

Perm

06.09.2018

20.09.2018

Tickets from 440

Novosibirsk

11.10.2018

17.10.2018

Tickets from 443

Volgograd

23.08.2018

06.09.2018

Tickets from 447

Tyumen

06.09.2018

20.09.2018

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Abakan

29.11.2018

13.12.2018

Tickets from 475

Lviv

22.09.2018

29.09.2018

Tickets from 478

Venice

06.08.2018

20.08.2018

Tickets from 479

Almaty

01.09.2018

16.09.2018

Tickets from 480

Samara

09.11.2018

23.11.2018

Tickets from 481

Kharkiv

21.09.2018

28.09.2018

Tickets from 481

Krasnojarsk

19.09.2018

01.10.2018

Tickets from 481

Odessa

26.11.2018

03.12.2018

Tickets from 484

Omsk

20.09.2018

04.10.2018

Tickets from 489

Chelyabinsk

02.10.2018

30.10.2018

Tickets from 494

Simferopol

19.10.2018

28.10.2018

Tickets from 503

Bari

04.08.2018

11.08.2018

Tickets from 506

Surgut

17.05.2019

31.05.2019

Tickets from 515

Penza

07.10.2018

21.10.2018

Tickets from 532

Miami

20.09.2018

11.10.2018

Tickets from 544

Liverpool

03.08.2018

04.08.2018

Tickets from 545

Astana

28.12.2018

15.01.2019

Tickets from 575

Ufa

01.09.2018

09.09.2018

Tickets from 594

Orlando

08.03.2019

17.03.2019

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Khanty-Mansiysk

20.08.2018

27.08.2018

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Zaporozhye

23.08.2018

03.09.2018

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Belgorod

01.08.2018

15.08.2018

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Wroclaw

11.08.2018

23.08.2018

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Havana

14.08.2018

04.09.2018

Tickets from 881

Washington

10.09.2018

21.09.2018

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Mexico City

31.01.2019

01.03.2019

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Caracas

10.08.2018

06.09.2018

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Rimini

28.07.2018

31.07.2018

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Dnepropetrovsk

26.12.2018

15.01.2019

Tickets from 1 416

Poznan

24.09.2018

01.10.2018

Tickets from 1 569

Khabarovsk

25.07.2018

01.08.2018

Tickets from 1 772

Yaroslavl

26.10.2018

09.11.2018

Tickets from 2 259

Hotels in Tenerife Island: 4 stars

Hotel Stars Discount Price per night, from Choose dates

Hotel San Roque

★★★★

-6%

193181

View Hotel

Adrián Hoteles Colón Guanahaní Adultos Only

★★★★

-22%

184144

View Hotel

Hotel Spa Villalba

★★★★

-6%

9993

View Hotel

Flamingo Suites

★★★★

-10%

171153

View Hotel

Riu Arecas Adults Only

★★★★

-24%

161123

View Hotel

Hotel La Quinta Roja THe Senses Collection

★★★★

-8%

110102

View Hotel

Dream Hotel Noelia Sur

★★★★

-21%

154122

View Hotel

Spring Hotel Bitácora

★★★★

-16%

131111

View Hotel

H10 Conquistador

★★★★

-15%

188159

View Hotel

Spring Arona Gran Hotel - Adults Only

★★★★

-17%

133111

View Hotel

Iberostar Las Dalias - All Inclusive

★★★★

-6%

168159

View Hotel

Iberostar Bouganville Playa

★★★★

-6%

122114

View Hotel

Hotel Rural San Miguel - Only Adults

★★★★

-9%

9284

View Hotel

Vanilla Garden Hotel (Adults Only)

★★★★

-10%

143128

View Hotel

Boutique Hotel H10 Big Sur - Adults Only

★★★★

-12%

126110

View Hotel

Luz Del Mar

★★★★

-6%

107101

View Hotel

Silken Atlántida Santa Cruz

★★★★

-6%

7168

View Hotel

Hotel Jardin Tropical

★★★★

-16%

197167

View Hotel

Paradise Park Fun Lifestyle Hotel

★★★★

-9%

161147

View Hotel

Spring Hotel Vulcano

★★★★

-8%

127117

View Hotel


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