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

18.11.2018

22.11.2018

Tickets from 26

Santa Cruz De La Palma

30.10.2018

30.10.2018

Tickets from 48

Dusseldorf

20.11.2018

22.11.2018

Tickets from 51

Madrid

11.02.2019

19.02.2019

Tickets from 53

Seville

01.02.2019

04.02.2019

Tickets from 60

Milan

04.12.2018

11.12.2018

Tickets from 66

Cologne

11.11.2018

21.11.2018

Tickets from 66

Frankfurt

30.11.2018

07.12.2018

Tickets from 66

Bristol

08.12.2018

11.12.2018

Tickets from 66

Manchester

12.01.2019

26.01.2019

Tickets from 69

Shannon

10.11.2018

17.11.2018

Tickets from 76

Dublin

09.11.2018

16.11.2018

Tickets from 86

Alicante

22.01.2019

29.01.2019

Tickets from 86

Puerto del Rosario

19.11.2018

21.11.2018

Tickets from 86

London

15.12.2018

22.12.2018

Tickets from 89

Berlin

17.01.2019

29.01.2019

Tickets from 89

Amsterdam

11.12.2018

18.12.2018

Tickets from 92

Valencia

20.12.2018

27.12.2018

Tickets from 94

Palma de Mallorca

26.02.2019

06.03.2019

Tickets from 97

Birmingham

20.11.2018

26.11.2018

Tickets from 104

Edinburgh

24.11.2018

01.12.2018

Tickets from 116

Brussels

19.01.2019

26.01.2019

Tickets from 116

Vitoria

10.11.2018

17.11.2018

Tickets from 117

Warsaw

06.02.2019

13.02.2019

Tickets from 120

Copenhagen

09.11.2018

16.11.2018

Tickets from 123

Malaga

02.01.2019

05.01.2019

Tickets from 130

Porto

23.11.2018

02.12.2018

Tickets from 130

Lisbon

02.11.2018

06.11.2018

Tickets from 132

Vienna

08.01.2019

16.01.2019

Tickets from 133

Budapest

27.01.2019

03.02.2019

Tickets from 136

Newcastle

15.12.2018

22.12.2018

Tickets from 138

Nottingham

20.11.2018

26.11.2018

Tickets from 141

Santiago De Compostela

22.06.2019

06.07.2019

Tickets from 146

Hanover

19.01.2019

26.01.2019

Tickets from 147

Rome

17.02.2019

25.02.2019

Tickets from 150

Bilbao

01.11.2018

06.11.2018

Tickets from 151

Zurich

20.01.2019

24.01.2019

Tickets from 156

Mulhouse

10.11.2018

17.11.2018

Tickets from 160

Glasgow

04.01.2019

14.01.2019

Tickets from 160

Munich

30.10.2018

13.11.2018

Tickets from 160

Helsinki

14.11.2018

28.11.2018

Tickets from 167

Hamburg

05.11.2018

10.11.2018

Tickets from 180

Gothenburg

09.02.2019

16.02.2019

Tickets from 191

Moscow

21.01.2019

30.01.2019

Tickets from 193

Cork

21.12.2018

28.12.2018

Tickets from 195

Wroclaw

16.06.2019

23.06.2019

Tickets from 202

Bucharest

17.11.2018

21.11.2018

Tickets from 206

Stuttgart

11.05.2019

18.05.2019

Tickets from 208

Leeds

28.09.2019

05.10.2019

Tickets from 210

Venice

01.02.2019

28.02.2019

Tickets from 211

Bremen

15.12.2018

22.12.2018

Tickets from 212

Stockholm

01.01.2019

17.01.2019

Tickets from 215

Vilnius

03.03.2019

16.03.2019

Tickets from 221

Zaragoza

20.12.2018

27.12.2018

Tickets from 221

Kaliningrad

16.01.2019

27.01.2019

Tickets from 222

Prague

06.11.2018

16.11.2018

Tickets from 223

Palermo

17.11.2018

23.03.2019

Tickets from 228

Cluj-Napoca

17.11.2018

21.11.2018

Tickets from 229

Riga

22.01.2019

07.02.2019

Tickets from 235

Toulouse

11.11.2018

25.11.2018

Tickets from 237

Saint Petersburg

16.01.2019

29.01.2019

Tickets from 239

Katowice

11.11.2018

25.11.2018

Tickets from 246

Kiev

16.01.2019

29.01.2019

Tickets from 246

Nuremberg

28.10.2018

02.11.2018

Tickets from 248

Chisinau

06.11.2018

13.11.2018

Tickets from 253

Belfast

06.05.2019

13.05.2019

Tickets from 255

Sofia

22.01.2019

30.01.2019

Tickets from 256

Paris

20.12.2018

27.12.2018

Tickets from 257

Naples

01.11.2018

06.11.2018

Tickets from 260

Dresden

12.11.2018

12.12.2018

Tickets from 266

Krakow

02.03.2019

16.03.2019

Tickets from 269

Eindhoven

11.11.2018

18.11.2018

Tickets from 273

Kharkiv

24.11.2018

01.12.2018

Tickets from 273

Tallinn

21.01.2019

11.02.2019

Tickets from 275

Tel Aviv-Yafo

03.07.2019

10.07.2019

Tickets from 280

Gdansk

18.03.2019

24.03.2019

Tickets from 282

Bologna

29.10.2018

19.11.2018

Tickets from 301

Krasnodar

07.11.2018

15.11.2018

Tickets from 303

Aberdeen

11.03.2019

01.04.2019

Tickets from 305

Tbilisi

14.11.2018

18.11.2018

Tickets from 312

Bari

29.11.2018

02.12.2018

Tickets from 314

Ekaterinburg

17.12.2018

31.12.2018

Tickets from 317

Istanbul

06.11.2018

06.12.2018

Tickets from 325

Minsk

09.11.2018

23.11.2018

Tickets from 336

Nizhniy Novgorod

23.01.2019

31.01.2019

Tickets from 344

Reykjavik

06.11.2018

13.11.2018

Tickets from 355

Memmingen

22.12.2018

29.12.2018

Tickets from 360

Kazan

19.11.2018

29.11.2018

Tickets from 371

Lviv

02.06.2019

08.06.2019

Tickets from 373

Zagreb

01.02.2019

28.02.2019

Tickets from 377

Novosibirsk

15.11.2018

22.11.2018

Tickets from 382

Volgograd

03.02.2019

12.02.2019

Tickets from 385

Samara

18.05.2019

01.06.2019

Tickets from 389

Astana

12.12.2018

17.12.2018

Tickets from 392

Belgrade

27.12.2018

12.01.2019

Tickets from 411

Zaporozhye

23.03.2019

30.03.2019

Tickets from 418

Tyumen

12.12.2018

20.12.2018

Tickets from 419

Perm

14.02.2019

28.02.2019

Tickets from 421

Mineralnye Vody

17.11.2018

24.11.2018

Tickets from 421

Chelyabinsk

20.01.2019

31.01.2019

Tickets from 424

Hotels in Tenerife Island: 4 stars

Hotel Stars Discount Price per night, from Choose dates

Hotel San Roque

★★★★

-12%

236206

View Hotel

Flamingo Suites

★★★★

-23%

215165

View Hotel

Hotel Riu Arecas ( Sólo adultos )

★★★★

-17%

237197

View Hotel

Spring Arona Gran Hotel - Adults Only

★★★★

-10%

178159

View Hotel

H10 Conquistador

★★★★

-13%

189164

View Hotel

Dream Hotel Noelia Sur

★★★★

-6%

162152

View Hotel

Sunlight Bahia Principe Tenerife

★★★★

-30%

184128

View Hotel

Luz Del Mar

★★★★

-6%

133124

View Hotel

Silken Atlántida Santa Cruz

★★★★

-21%

8668

View Hotel

Spring Hotel Bitácora

★★★★

-15%

166142

View Hotel

Iberostar Bouganville Playa

★★★★

-22%

148115

View Hotel

Gran Oasis Resort

★★★★

-8%

167154

View Hotel

Paradise Park Fun Lifestyle Hotel

★★★★

-14%

154132

View Hotel

Green Garden Resort & Suites

★★★★

-18%

201164

View Hotel

Be Live Family Costa los Gigantes

★★★★

-15%

204173

View Hotel

Isabel Hotel

★★★★

-15%

152129

View Hotel

Iberostar Las Dalias - All Inclusive

★★★★

-12%

196173

View Hotel

HOVIMA Costa Adeje - Adults Only

★★★★

-11%

181160

View Hotel

HOVIMA La Pinta Beachfront Family Hotel

★★★★

-11%

237212

View Hotel

Sunlight Bahia Principe San Felipe

★★★★

-8%

138127

View Hotel


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