Tenerife Guide: Planning Your Trip

Landscape with Garachico
Balate Dorin / Getty Images

The largest island in Spain's Canary Islands archipelago, picture perfect Tenerife welcomes over 6 million visitors per year. With its stunning white sand beaches, unique ecological diversity, and abundance of dramatic cliffside vistas, its popularity is no surprise. A playful paradise packed with culture and outdoor adventure, Tenerife is a dream destination for travelers all over the world. If you're planning a trip to this tropical gem, here's what to know.

Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to Visit: If you're looking for tropical weather without the high peak season prices, the best time to visit Tenerife would be in May or June.
  • Language: Spanish. You may notice a slight difference in the dialect spoken here than on mainland Spain, but Spanish speakers will still be able to get by with ease.
  • Currency: Euro
  • Getting Around: There is no train system in Tenerife, but visitors seeking public transportation will be able to get around on the island-wide bus system, named "TITSA." The 111 bus provides ample service from the island's airport in Santa Cruz. Visitors can purchase a refillable Ten+ bus card at the airport that costs 2 euro and can be topped off in multiples of 5 euro.
  • Travel Tip: One of the most photogenic places in Tenerife, the small mountain village of Masca, hidden in a volcanic formation called Macizo de Teno, is worth exploring.

Things to Do

Tenerife is the perfect mix of rugged outdoor landscapes, history and culture, and thrilling nightlife. Here are just a few of the activities you should include on your list:

  • Visit Teide National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park is one of the crown jewels of the island. Home to the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano, the world's third-tallest volcanic structure and the highest peak on Spanish soil, this destination is also known for its incredible stargazing.
  • Ride the Mount Teide Cable Car: This five minute ride offers some of the most jaw-dropping views of Mount Teide, an active volcano and the highest point in Spain.
  • Hike the Barranco del Infierno: Translating to the "Hell Ravine," this 3 hour hike may sound intimidating, but with an incline of around 650 feet, it is perfectly suitable for hikers of all levels.

Make the most of your time in Tenerife with our full guide of things to do.

What to Eat and Drink

In Tenerife, you'll find traditional Spanish dishes such as paella (a rice dish loaded with seafood) and gazpacho (a chilled vegetable soup), but there are a few dishes unique to the island that are worth trying, too. The best known traditional dish on the island is gofio, a type of corn or flour that is made from roasted grains. You'll find it as the base of many Canarian dishes such as grilled meats, fish, and stews. It can also be served as a dessert, often whipped into a sweet mousse.

Locally grown agriculture on the Canary Islands includes papayas and bananas. Tenerife is also one of six Canary Islands that produces its own wine; with high altitude vineyards, wines have been produced here for over 500 years. Food and drink in Tenerife is typically inexpensive, with a sit-down meal rarely costing more than $10. A liter of local wine can cost as little as $12.

Where to Stay

As the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife has the advantage of offering a wide variety of places to stay for travelers of all budgets. From luxury resorts in the buzzy South to hostels and cozy bed and breakfasts, you'll be spoiled for choice. For those looking for glitz and glam, The Ritz-Carlton, Abama, a pink palace surrounded by lush gardens and tropical foliage, is not to be missed. For the more wallet-conscious, the family friendly Gran Oasis Resort is a popular choice, as well as the unpretentious and all-inclusive Barceló Tenerife.

Getting There

The easiest way to reach the island is usually via a two-hour flight from Madrid. However, for adventurous travelers with a bit more time on their hands, the Canary Islands are accessible from Spain via a ferry from either Huelva or Cádiz. The trip will take anywhere from 32 to 42 hours.

Culture and Customs

Claimed by the Spanish in the 15th century, Tenerife boasts a unique blend of both Spanish and distinctly Canarian culture. Similar to mainland Spain, dinner is eaten late, usually between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. The inhabitants of Tenerife take hospitality seriously and are a generally warm and friendly people. Take note that smoking is banned in all bars, cafes and restaurants, so you will need to step outside if you're seeking a smoke break during your meal.

Money Saving Tips

  • No need to stock up on bottled water like you may do on other European islands. The tap water in Tenerife is held to the same standards as the water in the UK and France, and is perfectly drinkable.
  • Restaurants further away from the seafront are often less expensive.
  • Entry to all museums is free on Sundays.
  • Tenerife is a tax-free island, which means there are no tourist taxes on items you buy here. The prices you'll find at souvenir shops are often more competitive than the bargains you'll find at the airport.
Article Sources
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  2. "How to Get to Tenerife: The Complete Guide." Ferryhopper. https://www.ferryhopper.com/en/blog/featured/how-get-to-tenerife