Steep bluffs carpeted in lush laurel forests, aquamarine waters and a symphony of volcanoes – some more active than others. Spending four days in Tenerife will soon debunk the myth that size matters. Leave the south for the beach-goers and instead head into northern Tenerife for an adventure of a lifetime.
Off the African coast lies an archipelago of 7 Spanish islands, Las Canarias, or the Canaries. The largest of which, Tenerife, is where we spent four glorious days hiking in virgin forestland, nipping wine in boltholes run by leathery-faced locals, and frolicking on black sandy beaches. It was quite simply put marvelous, a far cry from the frightful all-inclusive hotel scene synonymous with the island.
This northern Tenerife itinerary gives you a feel for the “reel Tenerife”. Forget what you thought you knew about the island, it’s wrong, trust me on this one. With this guide, I have tried to ensure your short break to Tenerife is filled with culture, nature, and great food. Pack a pair of hiking shoes, a bathing suit, and a camera because your north Tenerife holiday is about to start!
Sustainable planning guide for 4 days in Tenerife
WHAT TO PACK: Tenerife is known for its microclimates. Aside from hiking boots and sunscreen, make sure to bring a rain jacket and a sweater (yes, even in summer).
Where is Tenerife located
Let’s start by clearing up the obvious question as to the location of the island. Tenerife is one of the seven islets that make up the archipelago known as the Canary Islands. Although seemingly far removed from Europe, hovering off the coast of Western Sahara will do that to you, it is very much a part of Spain.
How did Tenerife become part of Spain?
Fourteen-century Spain was all about territorial expansion, it was…messy, let’s stick to that. The conquest of the Canary Islands started in Lanazorte around 1390 and was proclaimed to be “easy to conquer and highly profitable” by the Spanish conquistadores Gonzalo Peraza Martel and Juan Alonso de Guzmán.
The rest of the archipelago was conquered between 1402 and 1496, Tenerife was in fact the very last island to fall thanks to Guanche aboriginals putting up a ferocious fight. The expensive conquests were founded by the Castilian Crown as well as the leading nobility, who in return for their gold, were rewarded with large swathes of land on the island upon which they promptly built sugarcane plantations.
Tenerife North vs. Tenerife South
That really depends on what type of experience you are after. While both parts of the island are beautiful in their own way, they cater to an entirely different crowd of tourists. I have a preference for the north as it provides you with more of a feeling for the reel Tenerife.
Why visit northern Tenerife
Reasons to go to the north: The northern part of the island is perfect if you are on the hunt for less touristy places in Tenerife – wild beaches, unspoiled nature and villages bursting with local culture. More on that later on in this guide. Accommodations tend to be more budget-friendly, locally run and overall have a lot more charm.
Good to know: While the vegetation in northern Tenerife is greener, this is due to more rainfall and a higher density of clouds. There is no getting around the fact northern Tenerife sees less sun. But, despite what you might have read, in true tropical fashion, the rain comes down in short bouts at a time it is not an all-day-long affair. Aside from rain and clouds, an ever-present wind will most likely accompany you during your trip. Bring a windbreaker!
Why visit southern Tenerife
Reasons to go to the south: The southern part of the island is sunnier and drier than the north. It is perfect for families with kids, holiday goers looking for a worry-free holiday, or marine-life enthusiasts (whale watching/diving anyone?). The most famous Tenerife attraction – Teide National Park is also located in southern Tenerife.
Good to know: Southern Tenerife has three main resort areas Playa de las Américas, Costa Adeje, and Los Cristianos. The majority of hotels are new, luxurious, and have extraordinary tourist amenities. The white sandy beaches of the south are easier to access (no clambering over rocks here).
Best time for a short break to Tenerife
There is plenty of things to do in Tenerife to make it a year-round destination, it is one of the warmest places in Spain to visit in winter. The best time to visit the island is largely dependent on what you hope to get out of your trip! In general, avoid the months of July & August as they are the most expensive and the island is positively flooded with holiday goers.
Best time to visit northern Tenerife
November to February: For the highest chance of cloudless days (17°F/62°F)
June: Driest month of the year, no tourists and nice warm temperatures (22°C/71°F)
Best time to visit southern Tenerife
Southern Tenerife is overall drier and warmer than northern Tenerife and can truly be visited year-round (except for July & August when it is chaos). T
November to February: Best time for whale-watching + advanced surfing (22°C/71°F)
June: Driest month of the year, great for outdoor activities (25°C/ 77°F)
September-October: Mild temperatures, no tourists and low-season prices (26°C/79°F)
Four days in northern Tenerife itinerary overview
Spending four days on Tenerife will mean a packed itinerary, at least if you want to get in as much culture as you can like we did. If you are looking for a slower travel experience, consider adding on at least one extra day.
DAY ONE: Explore San Cristobal de La Laguna (spend the night at La Laguna Gran Hotel)
DAY TWO: Hiking in Anaga Rural Park + Black beaches (spend the night at La Laguna Gran Hotel)
DAY THREE: Excursion to Cueva del Viento + Wine Tasting in Icod de los Vinos + Garachico (spend the night at Hotel el Patio)
DAY FOUR: Masca Valley + Teide National Park (spend the night at Hotel MYND Adeje)
TIP: If you are looking for a local tour guide who loves the island and actively pushes for sustainable tourism you can’t go wrong with Jaime from Feel Tenerife. I strongly believe in promoting local businesses, especially when they have the same ethical ethos as I do! For those in doubt, there is exactly zero commission coming my way for this referral.
Things to do in north Tenerife for four days
Time the delve into the many places to visit in northern Tenerife. You might have noticed that I snuck in one afternoon in Teide National Park. Granted the National Park is rather firmly planted in the middle of the island and not the north, but visiting Tenerife without seeing Mount Teide is akin to blasphemy in my book. Therefore regardless of its location, climb it you shall (at least I highly recommend it).
Northern Tenerife Itinerary: Day One
If you are flying in from anywhere besides Spain or the other Canary islands, chances are high you will fly into the Tenerife South International Airport (TFS). The airport is located roughly 61 kilometers (38 miles) from San Cristobal de La Laguna, where we started our trip to Tenerife.
How to get to La Laguna from Tenerife South Airport:
DRIVE: If you are planning on visiting all the indicated spots in this Tenerife itinerary your best bet is to rent a car directly at the airport. The cost of which should be around €50/day.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Take the airport shuttle (€8.5/$9) to Santa Cruz, and from there a 15-minute bus ride with get you to San Cristobal de La Laguna. Start at the station Intercambiador Santa Cruz and get off at Intercambiador Laguna. Busses 15, 102 and 103 take this route. Scroll down to the section “how to get around Tenerife” for more info on buses in Tenerife.
TAXI: By far the most expensive option costing upwards of €80 ($85) for a single journey.
SPEND THE DAY VISITING LA LAGUNA – ONE OF THE PRETTIEST TOWNS IN NORTH TENERIFE
Time permitting, spend one full day languorously strolling through the UNESCO-classified city of San Cristobal de la Laguna, or La Laguna as it is locally known. Both the architecture and vivacious drawl of the local Spanish dialect immediately transported me to South America. The resemblance is uncanny!
La Laguna has many “firsts” to its name: The first city built by the Spanish settlers in the 15th century; the first capital of Tenerife; the first late medieval city to be built in a grid pattern and without a city wall – why use stones when you can simply rely on a ridge of volcanoes to protect you from invaders – and, finally, the first city to be used as a blueprint by those very same Spanish settlers when colonizing South America (well that explains the resemblance).
Yet for all that, it remains one of the less touristy places in Tenerife which baffles me. The highly walkable, patchwork of colored houses leading to hidden courtyards with fragrant orange trees was one of the highlights of our trip.
Guided Walking Tour: The city is very easy to visit on your own. If however, you are looking to learn a bit more about the history of the place. Invest in a very affordable locally run walking tour.
FOUR THINGS TO DO IN LA LAGUNA
La Laguna is without a doubt one of my favorite towns in north Tenerife, slow travelers can easily spend a couple of days popping into the many museums, exploring the hidden courtyards and trying the pastries in the ubiquitous pastry shops (delish).
TIP: La Laguna is the coldest place in Tenerife, so make sure to bring a sweater to keep you warm.
1. Visit the church of Nuestra Señora de la Concepción
The oldest church in La Laguna is the 15th-century beautiful church of Nuestra Señora de la Concepción. A €2 ticket, bought at the foot of the belltower buys you entry into both the church and the belltower. The views from the bell tower over La Laguna are the best the city has to offer. Just make sure not to go on the hour, when the large bells chime.
2. Find the prettiest inner courtyards
Reportedly there are over 500 inner courtyards in La Laguna, one for each beautiful palace or monastery. These courtyards are usually a verdant escape from the hustle and bustle of the town. Do not miss the courtyards of the Museum of the History of Tenerife, Casa Salazar and the Exconvento De San Agustín.
3. Get lost in the maze-like streets lined with palaces
The majority of the buildings in La Laguna have remained untouched for 500 years, when Spanish nobility settled in La Laguna. Little streets lined with family homes, palaces if you will, built to show off the standing and wealth of their inhabitants. Entrances guarded by thick wooden doors, adorned with large family crests carved in volcanic stone, overlooked by ornate wooden balconies, known as Canary Balconies.
Put away Google Maps and just stroll, through tiny sun-drenched squares, along colorful cafes tucked away in quiet sidestreets, and past the palm trees. So many glorious palm trees rustling in the wind!
4. Get a sugar rush at the local pastry shop
If there is one thing La Laguna is not missing, it is pastry shops. The must-try local pastry of La Laguna is known as Lagunero. Puff pastry filled with cabello de ángel, a sweet jam made out of Siam pumpkin. I bought mine at Confitería Pastelería la Princesa for €2.
WHERE TO STAY IN LA LAGUNA
RECOMMENDATION: La Laguna Gran Hotel ($$)
A beautiful, centrally located boutique hotel with a clear focus on sustainability. The rooftop pool and gym offer scenic views over La Laguna and the on-site wine bar holds a great selection of wines from Tenerife.
La Asomada del Gato: If you are looking for accommodation bursting with local character and private parking, then this is the place to be! Conveniently located within walking distance from the city center.
WHERE TO EAT IN LA LAGUNA FOR VEGETARIANS
- Pastries: The oldest pastry shop in La Laguna is the family-run Dulceria la Catedral
- Coffee/Tea: Grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the inner courtyard of the Casa Museo Cayetano Gómez Felipe. The museum is set in a beautifully preserved traditional Canary House. Entrance to the museum is subject to admission (€5), the café however is free.
- Wine/Cheese: Atlántida Artesanía
- Dinner: Restaurante Guayadil
Tenerife Route Planner: Day Two
On day two we combined some of the hiking Tenerife north is known for with the glorious northern coastline. We set off bright and early from La Laguna, leaving the city behind and heading up into the dense woodland and deep valleys known as Anaga Rural Park. By lunchtime, we are overlooking the sea and tucking into a fragrant goat cheese salad before heading out to explore the rocky coves around Taganana.
Where to spend the night: We ended up spending an additional night in La Laguna Gran Hotel as both Anaga and the black beaches were within short driving distance from La Laguna.
MORNING: HIKING IN ANAGA REGIONAL PARK
Anaga Regional Park is one of the oldest parts of the island, stretching over the Anaga mountain massif covering a large part of the northeastern part of the island. The regional park has hundreds of hikes crisscrossing the dense woodland, cutting across ravines and offering the most spectacular view over the rugged coastline of northern Tenerife.
We did a small 5km hike to the village of Taborno (along the Camino Viejo al Pico del Inglés). This however is not a loop hike, once you get to Taborno you can catch the bus back to La Laguna or simply turn around and hike back to your point of departure. The views on this stretch make turning around and hiking back an actual pleasure.
TIP: Most of the hikes are pretty well indicated, which is great for a directionally challenged traveler like me. There is of course always the option to take a guided hike.
Plan your hike in Anaga Regional Park
- Check out the official trailmap and the official overview of trails (in Spanish).
- Download GPX for various hikes from Alltrails
- Verify if your chosen route is open via the local tourism office
- Useful reading: Best hikes in Anaga
Viewpoints in Anaga Regional Park
- Cruz del Carmen viewpoint (Trail of the Senses)
- Mirador de Pico del Inglés
- Mirador Llano de los Loros (Trail 3 on the Trail of the Senses)
- Mirador Jardina
Practical information for visiting Anaga Regional Park
This part of northern Tenerife is very humid. As such landslides are not uncommon. Always check if the route you are planning on hiking is open before you embark. The local tourism office listed above can help you out!
Parking is a rare commodity in the park, your bet is to set off bright and early on your hike.
AFTERNOON: KICK BACK ON THE BLACK SANDY BEACHES
Driving in the direction of Taganana from Anaga Rural Park the views are downright spectacular. Steep bluffs hovering over rocky coves and black sandy beaches blissfully empty aside from the occasional brave surfer jumping into the aquamarine waters.
As we visited in January, my bathing suit remained untouched at the bottom of my suitcase. I did however manage to get a light sunburn on my face while shooting 150 pictures of white waves crashing on stretches of black sand.
Where to have lunch: Restaurante La Ola (Taganana)
Practical details for visiting the black beaches in northern Tenerife
Unlike the family-friendly beaches of southern Tenerife, the north of the island is home to a more rugged landscape. Gargantuan black rocks jutting out from the rough seas, large waves spilling out on jet-black stretches of sand, reachable only by a set of roughly cut stairs. We visited the famous Playa Benijo and Playa Almáciga. Make sure to bring your own towel, food & drink and anything you might need to spend the day as there are no amenities on the beach.
As you drive to Playa Benijo from the little village of Taganana, there are various small viewpoints on the way which offer the perfect photo spot to capture the beauty of Playa Almáciga. Playa Benijo requires a walk down 4 sets of stairs to reach the beach, they start next to the restaurant El Mirador. A small car park is present next to the restaurant La Venta de Marrero.
North Tenerife Holidays: Day Three
Our third day on Tenerife was a bit of a mixed bag of activities. We started deep inside the belly of a Vulcano, or rather a lava tunnel, followed by a mojo workshop combined with a wine-tasting in Icod de los Vinos and ending the day in picture-perfect Garachico. The various spots are super close to each other, so while it might seem like a lot, it is perfectly doable provided you have your own wheels.
Where to spend the night: Garachico – We stayed on a banana plantation in this charming family-run Hotel el Patio. Great breakfast, solid location, and so many banana trees!
MORNING: HEAD DEEP INTO THE BELLY OF A VULCANO – CUEVA DEL VIENTO
As you fly into Tenerife, you will undoubtedly have noticed the multitude of vulcanoes that cover this little patch of land. There are in fact 321 vulcanoes, and yes many of them are still active. Active however has a different meaning in vulcanic years than in human years. The last volcano eruption on Tenerife dates back to 1909, an eternity for us but a small blip in time for the ancient vulcanoes.
The Jurrasic park vistas of northern Tenerife, the black beaches, fertile vulcanic soil and houses made out of the volcanic rock are all thanks to the multitude of quiet giants carpeting the island. Therefore a closer understanding of how volcanoes work is in essence getting a feel for what makes the island tick.
We opted to visit the Cueva del Viento, the largest lava tube in Europe. The tube was created some 27.000 years ago out of the lava streaming down from Pico Viejo, the second-largest volcano on the island after Mount Teide.
Practical details for visiting Cueva del Viento
To visit the lava tube, you are obliged to take an official guide. The tour starts at the Visitor Center in Icod de los Vinos and takes around two hours. You will need a pair of sturdy shoes for walking on the vulcanic underground. Ticket prices for adults are €20 and can be purchased on the official website.
AFTERNOON: DO A WINE TASTING
After having learned everything we could about vulcanoes, it was time for one of my favorite activities in northern Tenerife: Wine tasting! Tenerife has 8000 hectares of vineyards spread out across five wine regions: Valle de la Orotava, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, Abona, Tacoronte-Acentejo and Valle de Güímar.
Many of the original vines introduces by Spanish settlers over 500 years ago are still producing grapes. These are some of the oldest in Europe, having survived the devastating 19th-century root louse epidemic which decimated up to 90% of the grapes in mainland Europe. The vines have been growing is vulcanic soil, giving their grapes a very distinct flavor.
Read more about wine: I will not pretend to know more details about the wine, and rather refer you to a very comprehensive article on Tenerife wine to skim through before your tasting.
Wine tastings in Tenerife
- Icod de los Vinos: We had a wine tasting at the Museo de Malvasia. Locally run by a family who has their vineyard on the island. Beautiful setting, although very popular with groups of tourists. €9.70 buys you 5 wines, 1 local liqueur, and some tasty homemade mojo and bread to soak up the alcohol.
- El Sauzal: Bodegas Monje offers a slightly more expensive extensive formula which includes a tour of their winery followed by a mojo workshop. The workshop entails making 3 different types of mojo (delish!), each accompanied by a wine from the vineyard.
LATE AFTERNOON: EXPLORE GARACHICO
Short on time? Take the great value-for-money tour combining Mount Teide, Icod, Garachico and Masca
We end our afternoon in the tiny town of Garachico. As we drive down from Icod de los Vinos, wide open fields filled with banana plantations greet us. This part of the island was once filled with sugarcane, a very water-intensive crop. The sugarcane was swapped for the more profitable banana trade a century ago, 41% of which is exported to the peninsula and further abroad.
It might be hard to believe, but minuscule Garachico was once the thriving port binding Europe and South America together. Alas, disaster struck in 1706 when the nearby Montana Negro volcano erupted and destroyed much of the town. Remnants of the lava from this very eruption can still be seen in the shape of shards of vulcanic rocks jutting up from the aquamarine waters by the bay.
Things to do in Garachico
- Go swimming in the natural pools of El Caleton
- Take in the city from the Mirador Garachico (requires a car)
- Visit the Church of Our Lady of the Angels
- Stroll around the historic center
- Have a delicious farm-to-table meal at El Rebojo de Garachico
Where to stay in Garachico, northern Tenerife
RECOMMENDATION: Hotel el Patio ($$)
A family-run boutique hotel located in the middle of a historic banana plantation. Once a family home, now welcoming guests from all over the world. Wonderfully quiet and an excellent breakfast with sea views are a nice added bonus.
Hotel LIVVO La Quinta Roja: We walked by this 4-star hotel as it is located right in the central square of Garachico and it looked absolutely spectacular. Set in a restored 16th-century palace once owned by the Marquis of Quinta Roja. Great choice if you want to treat yourself to a dash of luxury!
Hotel San Roque: Admittedly another 4-star hotel set in a spectacularly renovated palace, albeit an 18th-century palace. This hotel has a large selection of on-site beauty treatments and a slightly more contemporary design compared to the above-mentioned Quinta Roja.
Tenerife North: Day Four
For our fourth day on the island, we packed in two starlets: Masca Valley and Teide National Park. Both easily warrant a full day, time permitting. You will need your own set of wheels to be able to combine both. If you are relying on public transport for your trip to Tenerife look into a full-day tour to Masca and Teide National Park
The main highlight of Masca is not so much the village, but the rocky gorge which can be traversed either by hiking or mountain biking! While Teide National Park is the crown jewel of the island with Mount Teide being an absolute must-see. The Vulcano can be hiked, and in recent years has become a very popular spot to go stargazing.
Where to spend the night: We stayed in Hotel MYND Adeje as it was close to both the Tenerife South Airport and the beach. It also happened to have an awesome sustainability ethos and a rooftop bar!
EARLY MORNING: MASCA VALLEY
A dazzling array of different greens, and luscious vegetation nestled inside the mountains of the Parque Rural de Teno. As you descend down into the valley and stop at one of the many lookout points, you get a real feel for the size. Endless roads snake their way up and down the gorge, leading to the eponymous village, Masca.
The village itself was once a Guanche settlement built along a ridge 600 meters high, cut off from the rest of the island, save by a small trail leading to the beach. These days the hamlet consists of traditional canary houses, souvenir stores and an ethnography museum. None of these are particularly impressive between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm when you share the space with a lot of tourists. Despite what you might of read, this part of northern Tenerife sees a lot of foot traffic.
What makes the Masca Valley worth a visit is not so much the village, but rather the scenic drive and the options for hiking. Tenerife north has a lot of places to hike, but this valley at sunrise probably takes the cake. Not a fan of hiking? Consider cruising around the valley with a mountain bike instead!
TOURS TO MASCA VALLEY
Adventure: 5-hour E-MTB tour of the Masca Valley and the surrounding forest
Short on time: 9-hour tour combining Mount Teide and Masca Valley
Value for money: Full-day group tour to Mount Teide, Icod, Garachico and Masca
What to do in the Masca Valley
- HIKE – EASY: Get out into nature and hike around this beautiful gorge. The main route to take starts in the village (600 meters high) and ends up in a little cove by the beach— a steep 4.5km (2.8 mi) hike with jaw-dropping views. At the time of writing the trail is undergoing maintenance and a limited amount of visitors is allowed in daily find out the latest info on the official website.
- HIKE – MODERATE: Camino de los Guanches, linking Masca to Santiago del Teide (8.5km/ 5.2 mi). Find the route and practical information.
- VIEWPOINTS: If you have a car, do not miss out on the various viewpoints over the valley – Mirador de Cherfe being the most well-known.
How to get to Masca Valley
DRIVE: If you have rented a car, you are in for one scenic drive. However, you will want to get here before 09.00 am or after 5.00 pm when all the tour busses/rental cars/ motorbikes are not clogging up the narrow road which is one of the busiest on the Tenerife north coast in high season. There is also little to no parking on the hamlet, so if you are planning on hiking. Get there early!
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Find the various bus routes that you can take to get to the village.
LATE MORNING – AFTERNOON: TEIDE NATIONAL PARK
The UNESCO-classified Teide National Park centers around Mount Teide, a 3.715-meter (12,188 ft) high volcano. At least, this is the part we can see with our eyes. Not many people know that the actual size of this volcano is a whopping 7.000 meters (24,600 ft), half of it being submerged in the ocean. As such, Mount Teide is the third-largest volcano in the world.
Mount Teide was for the native Guanches what Mount Olympys was for ancient Greeks. A sacred and mythological place, used for many rituals as is evident by the pottery remains that have been found over the years. These days rituals have made way for avid daytrippers and hikers, it is estimated the park has over 3 million visitors a year. It is the single most visited national park in all of Europe. Be prepared for crowds, at any time of the year.
TOURS TO TEIDE NATIONAL PARK
Stargazing: See the beautiful night sky over Teide National Park
Short on time: 9-hour tour combining Mount Teide and Masca Valley
Value for money: Full-day group tour to Mount Teide, Icod, Garachico and Masca
Practical details for visiting Teide National Park
CABLECAR: The Mount Teide cable car runs from the base station 2.356 m (7.729 ft) to 3.555 m (11.663 ft), not to the very top of the volcano! Purchase your tickets for the cablecar in advance, a regular two-way ticket costs €38 although a variety of different options are available at varying price points (sunset tickets, ascent only,…). If there is too much wind the cablecar will not run (it happens, a lot).
PARKING: The base station has room for 200 cars, when this is full there is no possibility to park your car. The car park is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm.
HIKING TO THE TOP: The vast majority of visitors who come to Teide National Park want to make it to the peak of the volcano. To reach the top you will need a special permit (even if you take the cable car). Find out about the various hikes and permits on the official website.
How to get to Teide National Park
You can reach Teide National Park by public transport, although the schedule is subject to change. The most scenic way is to drive around the immense park. Granted, it is not the most sustainable but it does give you the option to stop at the various viewpoints (Mirador Azulejos II, Roques de García, Mirador de Chipeque, Mirador La Tarta).
Additional things to do in Tenerife if you have time
There are a lot of additional things to do in Tenerife that have not been covered in this guide. The southern coast, although touristy is a great place for dolphin and whale watching. Puerto Colón and Los Gigantes are prime locations to catch a glimpse of these majestic mammals.
Be mindful of the type of tour your book! The objective should always be to witness the animals in their own natural habitat, not stress them out by sitting on an overcrowded boat that nudges a little too close to ensure their clients have the very best shots and the tour operator receives top-notch ratings.
Whale Watch Tenerife is a member of the Sustainability Charter for Whale Watching. They offer smaller tours that support a healthy marine environment. They have a small-group 2-hour tour leaving from the Porto Colon Marina. Check out tour & rates.
Where to stay in northern Tenerife
I would advise staying in La Laguna and Garachico during your trip to northern Tenerife, especially if you decided on renting a car to get around. If however, you have decided on using public transportation (good on you!) then basing yourself out of the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, might be more practical. Santa Cruz has a plethora of hotels to choose from, here are a few sustainable options.
Budget accommodations: Casa Doña Carmela GuestHouse, a locally run adults-only guesthouse.
What and where to eat when visiting Tenerife as a vegetarian
You might be surprised to learn that Tenerife is heavily reliant on agriculture and not fishing for its local cuisine. A tradition dating back to the early days of the Spanish settlers, who settled in the mountainous areas of the island rather than by the beach. For an island, there is a surprising amount of meat to be found on the menu, not unlike Sicilian cuisine.
WHERE TO EAT: If you are looking for a less touristy place in Tenerife to eat, try one of the very local establishments called guachinche. For the real foodies, try a 6-hour food tour of various Guachinches, also includes a local wine and cheese tasting (yum!).
Specialties of Tenerife that are vegetarian-friendly
- MOJO: A condiment that can be eaten with everything from bread to papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes). Comes in two varieties, red and green. It is a condiment
- GOFIO: A type of flour that can be eaten sprinkled on your cereal in the morning or in desserts. What makes gofio interesting is the fact is a legacy of the Guanche (native inhabitants).
- ROSQUETES: Fried donuts with stuffing. We tried it with sweet potatoes (rosquete de batata)
- BARRAQUITO: A coffee, of sorts. Contains espresso, condensed milk, frothed milk, lemon zest, Licor 43 and ground cinnamon. Holy smokes is it sweet!
- GOAT CHEESE: Goat cheese salad is ubiquitous on the island
- POTATOES: Wrinkled potatoes and sweet potatoes are served with just about every meal. As a Belgian who grew up eating potatoes with every meal, I as a happy bunny!
- CANARY WINES: The vines planted by the Spanish settlers 500 years ago are still producing wine today. They survived the devastating 19th-century root louse epidemic that killed off as much as 90% of the wines on the continent. Today it is estimated that the canaries have 23 types of grapes that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
WHEN TO EAT: As is the case in mainland Spain, mealtimes tend to be later compared to other parts of Europe. Lunch starts around 1.30 pm while dinner is served asof 08.30 pm
How to get around Tenerife
Rent a car in Tenerife
- DEPOSIT: Between €150-€500 is deducted from your credit card as a deposit once you receive your keys.
- A valid EU driver’s license or a valid UK driver’s license or IDP (International Driver’s Permit)
- Valid Credit or Debit Card – most companies require a credit card
- Be at least 21 years old – some companies even require drivers to be 23.
- Have more than 2 years of experience
- BUDGET: Count on anywhere between €30 and €50/day. Be sure to book your car in advance. Find the best car rental deals online.
Public transportation in Tenerife
Getting around Tenerife by bus is surprisingly easy. The TITSA ( Transportes Interurbanos de Tenerife, Sociedad Anónima) covers pretty much every part of the island. The tourist busses (guaguas) are bright green, you really can’t miss them. Download the bus schedule in advance.
Tickets can be purchased with the driver or you can opt to take a multi-day pass. Read everything you need to know about traveling around Tenerife by bus.
How to make your trip to Tenerife more sustainable
BUY LOCAL SOUVENIRS: Many so-called “artisanal” shops in reality sell items that were mass-produced or – worse – made in China. If you want to take back a piece of “real Tenerife” best to double-check where your souvenir was made.
BOOK ECO-TOURS/HOTEL: Check if your hotel has the Travelife stamp of approval before booking.
CAN I DRINK TAPWATER: In theory yes, but tap water is, in essence, desalinated water therefore it is not recommended to drink it. Avoid buying plastic bottles by filling up your water bottle in your hotel.
LEAVE NO TRACE: Planning on a bit of hiking in Tenerife? Make sure to bring everything back with you, that includes banana peels, apple cores, tissues and anything else that was not there before.
TRAVEL TO NORTHERN TENERIFE: Southern Tenerife is jam-packed with hotels and holiday-goers in what some might dub “over-tourism”. Therefore support the local environment and economy by using your short break to Tenerife to head up to the lesser-known northern part of the island instead.
How to get to Tenerife
FLY: Surprisingly Tenerife has not one but two airports. The Tenerife North Airport (Los Rodeos) and Tenerife South Airport (Tenerife South-Reina Airport). Flights coming in from mainland Spain and the other islands will land in Tenerife North Airport, while every other destination will land in Tenerife South Airport.
FERRY FROM MAINLAND SPAIN: If you find yourself with some time on your hands, why not a scenic ferry ride? Take the ferry from Huelva (30 to 38 hours for €110), or Cadiz (43 hours for €170). Find timetables and purchase tickets online. Ferries dock in the capital, Santa Cruz.
FERRIES BETWEEN THE CANARY ISLANDS: The Canary Islands have 14 ports, 123 different sailings and 4 different companies manning the ferries. It’s safe to say, ferry hopping between the islands is an option. Find the timetables and purchase tickets online. Ferries dock in the capital, Santa Cruz.
Northern Tenerife itinerary FAQ
Is 4 days in Tenerife enough?
Four days on Tenerife is barely enough to scratch the tip of the iceberg. But, if you plan it out well you can cover a fair amount of ground and get a taste of what the island has to offer. Personally, I would recommend spending at least one week, of which the vast majority is in the north. This will give you enough time to combine hiking + city-hopping and not leave you exhausted by the end of it.
Is Tenerife expensive?
Tenerife is more expensive than southern Spain, it is after all an island. Yet, compared to many other island in Europe it is still a very affordable destination. Budget in €60 for meals a day and €85 per night for a hotel room (for 2 people)
Is north Tenerife always cloudy?
Northern Tenerife is often cloudy, there is no getting around it. The best time of the year to visit is between November and February when you have the highest chances for clear skies.
Do they take a siesta in Tenerife?
You betcha! Between 01.00 pm and 05.00 pm the majority of stores are all closed
To conclude on things to do in north Tenerife
Northern Tenerife is choc-a-bloc with the island’s most scenic hiking trails, wild beaches and colorful villages perched atop steep bluffs overlooking rocky coves. A visit to this part of Tenerife will soon dispel the notion of all-inclusive hotels, crowded by rowdy party-goers.
Spend at least 4 days in northern Tenerife to get a taste of local culture, preferably washed down with some delicious vulcanic wine. Get lost in the age-old streets of La Laguna, hike the many paths in Anaga rural park, get a tan on the Benijo black sandy beach or clamber up the illustrious Mount Teide.
MORE TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR SOUTHERN EUROPE
Spain: Costa Verde Express luxury train through northern Spain
Spain: 12 Unmissable things to do in Asturias
Italy: Natural Landmarks in Italy
Italy (Sicily): A local’s guide to visiting Palermo
Italy: Where to stay in Sicily and where to avoid
Italy: The prettiest lakes in the Dolomites
Italy: A sustainable guide to visiting South Tyrol