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

Madrid

23.10.2018

06.11.2018

Tickets from 45

Barcelona

14.11.2018

19.12.2018

Tickets from 60

Gran Canaria

28.04.2018

01.05.2018

Tickets from 66

Malaga

24.09.2018

28.09.2018

Tickets from 78

Berlin

14.06.2018

21.06.2018

Tickets from 81

Brussels

11.05.2018

16.05.2018

Tickets from 85

Alicante

10.05.2018

17.05.2018

Tickets from 110

Manchester

26.02.2019

05.03.2019

Tickets from 110

Warsaw

26.05.2018

02.06.2018

Tickets from 111

London

15.07.2018

01.08.2018

Tickets from 118

Seville

27.07.2018

12.08.2018

Tickets from 123

Rome

14.11.2018

19.12.2018

Tickets from 128

Bilbao

24.04.2018

29.04.2018

Tickets from 135

Leeds

05.05.2018

12.05.2018

Tickets from 138

Cologne

11.06.2018

18.06.2018

Tickets from 143

Valencia

05.09.2018

09.09.2018

Tickets from 143

Birmingham

03.05.2018

10.05.2018

Tickets from 144

Vigo

17.05.2018

24.05.2018

Tickets from 148

Dublin

17.05.2018

23.05.2018

Tickets from 149

Pisa

10.01.2019

17.01.2019

Tickets from 151

Nantes

18.11.2018

02.12.2018

Tickets from 155

Milan

04.06.2018

13.06.2018

Tickets from 156

Lisbon

30.12.2018

08.01.2019

Tickets from 157

Paris

29.10.2018

09.11.2018

Tickets from 167

Bristol

15.01.2019

29.01.2019

Tickets from 170

La Coruna

17.06.2018

27.06.2018

Tickets from 173

Dusseldorf

23.05.2018

06.06.2018

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Glasgow

10.06.2018

17.06.2018

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Venice

25.05.2018

01.06.2018

Tickets from 181

Toulouse

27.05.2018

05.06.2018

Tickets from 186

Moscow

15.01.2019

29.01.2019

Tickets from 187

Casablanca

28.04.2018

05.05.2018

Tickets from 191

Edinburgh

11.05.2018

21.05.2018

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Knock

31.05.2018

07.06.2018

Tickets from 196

Helsinki

01.03.2019

14.03.2019

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Tel Aviv-Yafo

23.05.2018

01.06.2018

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Amsterdam

11.10.2018

18.10.2018

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Nuremberg

23.11.2018

30.12.2018

Tickets from 229

Saint Petersburg

30.01.2019

05.02.2019

Tickets from 231

Krakow

18.01.2019

25.01.2019

Tickets from 236

Hamburg

18.10.2018

28.10.2018

Tickets from 242

Wroclaw

09.07.2018

16.07.2018

Tickets from 244

Sofia

21.05.2018

24.05.2018

Tickets from 251

Munich

14.07.2018

27.07.2018

Tickets from 269

Catania

15.09.2018

22.09.2018

Tickets from 276

Frankfurt

04.05.2018

11.05.2018

Tickets from 278

Reykjavik

29.05.2018

09.06.2018

Tickets from 281

Budapest

18.09.2018

25.09.2018

Tickets from 287

Hanover

28.04.2018

05.05.2018

Tickets from 289

Palermo

15.09.2018

22.09.2018

Tickets from 290

Vienna

28.10.2018

04.11.2018

Tickets from 290

Algiers

10.07.2018

19.07.2018

Tickets from 294

Kiev

31.05.2018

13.06.2018

Tickets from 297

Katowice

03.09.2018

17.09.2018

Tickets from 306

Gdansk

19.05.2018

26.05.2018

Tickets from 309

Vilnius

16.01.2019

30.01.2019

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Tallinn

30.12.2018

13.01.2019

Tickets from 322

Riga

25.10.2018

01.11.2018

Tickets from 328

Bruges

07.05.2018

12.05.2018

Tickets from 337

Bucharest

10.07.2018

17.07.2018

Tickets from 354

Minsk

01.09.2018

09.09.2018

Tickets from 359

Miami

19.02.2019

04.03.2019

Tickets from 368

Belgrade

10.06.2018

20.06.2018

Tickets from 374

Shannon

10.10.2018

17.10.2018

Tickets from 391

Krasnodar

12.05.2018

22.05.2018

Tickets from 427

Kazan

04.05.2018

18.05.2018

Tickets from 443

Bologna

01.08.2018

01.09.2018

Tickets from 445

Florence

01.08.2018

01.09.2018

Tickets from 454

Nottingham

30.07.2018

06.08.2018

Tickets from 456

Prague

01.08.2018

19.08.2018

Tickets from 460

Kaliningrad

15.05.2018

31.05.2018

Tickets from 468

Cardiff

26.05.2018

10.06.2018

Tickets from 469

New York

19.05.2018

24.05.2018

Tickets from 489

Karaganda

23.06.2018

08.07.2018

Tickets from 490

Nizhniy Novgorod

12.09.2018

24.09.2018

Tickets from 500

Ekaterinburg

07.01.2019

25.01.2019

Tickets from 501

Novosibirsk

06.05.2018

17.05.2018

Tickets from 511

Almaty

16.06.2018

28.06.2018

Tickets from 519

Omsk

13.10.2018

21.10.2018

Tickets from 532

Rostov

02.06.2018

16.06.2018

Tickets from 539

Ufa

08.09.2018

16.09.2018

Tickets from 561

Perm

03.09.2018

16.09.2018

Tickets from 562

Volgograd

17.06.2018

02.07.2018

Tickets from 566

Kostanay

05.06.2018

15.06.2018

Tickets from 569

Chelyabinsk

01.06.2018

15.06.2018

Tickets from 573

Samara

24.08.2018

07.09.2018

Tickets from 577

Johannesburg

03.05.2018

19.05.2018

Tickets from 578

Tbilisi

10.08.2018

24.08.2018

Tickets from 583

Liege

27.04.2018

07.05.2018

Tickets from 589

Luxembourg

27.04.2018

07.05.2018

Tickets from 595

Tyumen

28.05.2018

05.06.2018

Tickets from 601

Belgorod

28.06.2018

08.07.2018

Tickets from 608

Voronezh

15.06.2018

27.06.2018

Tickets from 624

Tashkent

15.07.2018

04.09.2018

Tickets from 627

Nizhnevartovsk

11.05.2018

25.05.2018

Tickets from 629

Odessa

30.06.2018

07.07.2018

Tickets from 645

Surgut

28.06.2018

12.07.2018

Tickets from 658

Tomsk

28.09.2018

12.10.2018

Tickets from 689

Irkutsk

28.09.2018

12.10.2018

Tickets from 693

Krasnojarsk

15.09.2018

29.09.2018

Tickets from 694

Hotels in Tenerife Island: 4 stars

Hotel Stars Discount Price per night, from Choose dates

Hotel Spa Villalba

★★★★

-10%

10595

View Hotel

Hotel San Roque

★★★★

-24%

242184

View Hotel

Adrián Hoteles Colón Guanahaní Adultos Only

★★★★

-17%

197164

View Hotel

H10 Conquistador

★★★★

-15%

214183

View Hotel

Spring Hotel Bitácora

★★★★

-9%

133122

View Hotel

Green Garden Resort & Suites

★★★★

-37%

14993

View Hotel

Vanilla Garden Hotel (Adults Only)

★★★★

-22%

203158

View Hotel

Luz Del Mar

★★★★

-17%

141117

View Hotel

Marylanza Suites & Spa

★★★★

-22%

129100

View Hotel

Iberostar Las Dalias - All Inclusive

★★★★

-21%

233184

View Hotel

Silken Atlántida Santa Cruz

★★★★

-9%

7770

View Hotel

Spring Hotel Vulcano

★★★★

-13%

116101

View Hotel

Gran Oasis Resort

★★★★

-26%

180133

View Hotel

Iberostar Bouganville Playa

★★★★

-19%

186150

View Hotel

Be Live Family Costa los Gigantes

★★★★

-23%

161124

View Hotel

Hotel Rural San Miguel - Only Adults

★★★★

-7%

115106

View Hotel

Hotel Cleopatra Palace

★★★★

-18%

171140

View Hotel

Isabel Hotel

★★★★

-27%

142104

View Hotel

Hotel Jardin Tropical

★★★★

-24%

204155

View Hotel

Dream Hotel Noelia Sur

★★★★

-24%

741561

View Hotel


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