A week in Tenerife: 10 things to do

What to do in Tenerife

With year-round sunshine, ragged mountains and thriving cities, Tenerife has no shortage of things to do. Attracting visitors since the nineteenth-century, when well-heeled Victorians were told to over-winter here, Tenerife has always been a popular destination.

  1. Explore buzzing La Laguna
  2. Breath in the open-air art
  3. Live the high-life in La Oratava
  4. Go hiking in Anaga
  5. Explore the exotic Jardin Botanico
  6. Visit Candelaria, Tenerife’s Lourdes
  7. Experience the amazing Parque del Drago
  8. Don’t miss beautiful Masca
  9. Climb to the top of Mount Teide
  10. Go whale and dolphin watching off the east coast

Today, the island’s sandy beaches, outstanding hiking routes and busy cities continue to attract discerning travellers. Wondering exactly what to do in Tenerife? This inspiring list will help you decide! Be it climbing the world’s third tallest volcano, visiting some picturesque little towns or going on an incredible whale-spotting trip, we’ve got you covered. Book your trip to this inspiring island now with these amazing Tenerife holidays

1. Explore buzzing La Laguna

Former capital, La Laguna is the religious and academic centre of Tenerife, where centuries-old mansions sit cheek-by-jowl with traditional tascas (bars selling tapas) and good shopping. During term times, the university district is the busiest area of town, its streets, bars, cafes and bookshops buzzing with activity.

While you’re there: Visit the Teatro Leal for a varied programme of dance, theatre and musical performances.

2. Breath in the open-air art

Known as the lungs of the city, Parque García Sanabria features an open-air art gallery and extensive landscaped gardens. The most famous sculpture in the park is La Fecundidad, a voluptuous female nude, and the landscaping includes a delightful Italian garden, a bamboo tunnel and a flower clock.

While you’re there: Once getting back to the main street, plan for a detour to the Plaza Los Patos to see the Gaudí-style tiled benches.

3. Live the high-life in La Orotava

Highly prized since the Spanish arrived in 1497 when it was gifted to wealthy merchants, La Orotava remains one of Tenerife’s most sophisticated towns. Today, it is best known for its Doce Casas – twelve striking Canarian-style mansions that were former residences of the area’s leading families. In June, the cobble streets are decorated with intricate flower carpets for Corpus Christi celebrations. 

While you’re there: The church of San Agustín, which belonged to a former monastery, has a beautiful wood ceiling and a handsome retable.

4. Go hiking in Anaga

Tenerife’s best hiking can be found in the precipitous Anaga mountain range. The rugged landscape, knife-edge ridges, deep ravines and rare laurel forests make this truly spectacular hiking terrain. 

While you’re there: Visit the small communities tucked into the folds of the mountains – they survive on subsistence farming as their ancestors have done for more than five centuries.

5. Explore the exotic Jardin Botanico

Originally set up in 1788 to house plants arriving from Asia and the Americas, the Jardin Botanico contains some 3000 species of plants and trees, including 150 different palms and an enormous 200-year-old fig tree.

While you’re there: The first of the specimens shipped to Madrid quickly fell foul of the winter frost and the project was abandoned – but luckily the gardens remained!

6. Visit Candelaria, Tenerife’s Lourdes

The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria is considered the holiest site in the Canary Islands, housing a famous statue of the Virgin Mary known as the Black Madonna. The Virgin forms the centrepiece of this splendid late nineteenth-century colonial-style basilica. In August, the re-enactment of the finding of the Virgin attracts pilgrims from across the Canary Islands. 

While you’re there: Try to catch the large, bustling craft market which is held every other Friday.

7. Experience the amazing Parque del Drago

The Parque del Drago contains the famous Drago Milenario, a magnificent tree over 16m tall, 20m wide and 800 years old! The indigenous Gaunche peoples held court beneath its canopy and believed the tree foretold the future, with a full blossom promising a fine harvest.

While you’re there: The surrounding Icod de los Vinos has more to offer than just its trees – good shopping, the sixteenth-century Iglesia de San Marcos and the pretty Plaza Pila are just some of the great things to discover.

8. Don’t miss beautiful Masca

This hidden, rural hamlet is tucked into the folds of the Teno mountains, with spectacular views, white-knuckle road access and a demanding three-hour hike down its ravine to the sea.

While you’re there: Seriously, the steep roads are not for the faint-hearted, but the views back over Teno are out of this world.

9. Climb to the top of Mount Teide

Standing at 3718m, beneath one of the world’s clearest skies, Mount Teide is the largest mountain in Spain, the third tallest volcano on the planet and one of the best things to do in Tenerife. The lava fallout from successive eruptions combined with atmospheric conditions within the park create a surreal, kaleidoscopic canvas surrounded by a sea of clouds.

While you’re there: The experiential highlight of any trip to Tenerife, if not the entire Canary Islands, is the cable car ride to within 200m of the summit of Mount Teide. Just remember to take your jumper as it can get a bit chilly at the top!

10. Go whale and dolphin watching off the west coast

The waters between Los Gigantes and La Gomera are deep and warm, attracting a host of microscopic life which in turn supports 28 species of resident and migratory dolphins and whales. Make sure the boat is flying the yellow flag which indicates it’s complying with international guidelines to protect the cetaceans.  

While you’re there: Why not take a boat trip to La Gomera – it’s a rugged and unspoiled chunk of paradise. 

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