Welcome to the second part of my small travel guide to Tenerife. In the first part I shared some insightful information about Tenerife as well as some practical advice on how to get there and around and where to stay. Today taking you on a more extended tour of the island and giving you some ideas on what to see and do based on my own first-hand experience. I hope you find this series somewhat useful and if you have any questions or suggestions do not hesitate to post a comment or drop me a few lines on my mailbox. Here we go!
WHAT TO SEE
- El Teide: Even if you are only planning a sea and sun holiday with no sightseeing at all you should take at a day off the beach and a bus or car to visit the Teide volcano. At 3718 m above sea level it is the highest peak of Spain (and third highest volcano in the world). It lies in the middle of the Las Cañadas National Park, the most visited national park in Spain, and it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The aborigin people of Tenerife considered it a sacred place and even today it is very magnificent sight and probably the most iconic and photographed monument of the island. Do wear good walking shoes and both warm gear and sunscreen as it can be very cold or terribly warm - just don't do the very touristy thing of going around wearing shorts and flip-flops just because the sun was shining on your seaside hotel. Read more about El Teide here.
- Loro Parque: For many years now, the Loro Parque has been promoted as the MUST-SEE attraction of the Canary Islands and it is indeed a lovely place to enjoy a family day - though prices may not be that family-friendly. Loro Parque was born as an animal park dedicated specially to parrots and other exotic birds but over the years it has grown into a proper zoo. Dolphins, whales or penguins are some of the most popular animals right now but you can also see gorillas, tigers, jaguars or flamingoes in a beautiful and well-kept park. Part of their benefits go to their own foundation which is dedicated to the protection endangered animal species. Afterwards you can take a walk around Puerto de la Cruz and taste some delicious seafood. Read more about Loro Parque here.
- Santa Cruz and La Laguna: Santa Cruz is the capital and biggest city of Tenerife and in the last decade it has undergone a dramatic facelift and now is quite a cool city with interesting museums, a decent transport system and maybe the best nightlife of the island. Plus all the historic sites that were already there. La Laguna is the second biggest city of Tenerife and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the last years, La Laguna has also reinvented itself and now it is more than a gritty university city. It has big pedestrian-friendly avenues with nice boutiques and some chain retailers, and many cosy cafés to enjoy a cup or coffee or tea, many of them with a terrace outside for the sunny days. Read more about Santa Cruz and La Laguna here and here.
- Northern coast: Many tourists stay in some resort in the south of the island and don't even bother to make their way north for a day. And that's a pity because the north side of Tenerife has some interesting villages rich in history and traditions and offering good food and wine. La Orotava was one of the first cities to be founded in Tenerife by Spanish conquerors and its rich history can be guessed from the colourful colonial houses with ample wooded balconies and big stone churches that remain intact. Icod de los Vinos is also quite touristic spot, thanks to the famous Thousand-Year-Old Dragon tree, though it has no more than a couple of centuries. Garachico is nowadays nor more than a fishers village but during the 16th and 17th century it was the main port of Tenerife and trade with America and Europe made Garachico a very prosperous town. Rumour has it that even the streets were embellished with gold ornaments but the prosperity of the town and its golden dreams came to an end when the original town was destroyed by a volcanic eruption at the beginning of the 18th century.
WHAT TO DO
- Relax on the beach: This is what most tourist have on the top on the list and there are indeed many good beaches to enjoy in Tenerife. The south of the island has long,black beaches and the sun is guaranteed almost all year round. Las Teresitas is the nearest beach to Santa Cruz and it is very recommendable for families as it has a long breakwater, so it is usually very calmy (and also terribly crowded during the summer months!). I particularly like Playa Jardín in Puerto de la Cruz, which is not very big but has some nice paths and it can be easily reached by foot from the city or bus station. Playa Martianez, also in Puerto de la Cruz, is tiny but nice as well and I think it is possible to take some surf or body-board lessons there.
- Go hiking: Tenerife has some great hikes and is especially popular with German tourists who want to enjoy more than the sun and the sea. Besides the possibilities that El Teide and Las Cañadas del Teide offer, walking paths and routes aboud on the northern side of the island. The Anaga mountain range, in the northeast of Tenerife, has some of the most scenics landscapes of the island and the vegetation there is very unique as there are still some laurisilva forests. The area is to be granted the status of Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO later this year. Another popular hike is the Masca walk, which starts in the village of the same name and descend to the beach through a steep gorge.
- See dolphins and whales: It is possible to book an excursion on a glass-floored boat to sail and see the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. And it should not be difficult to spot some dolphins and whales on your way. I have never done this but Boyfriend absolutely recommends it. These excursions usually leave from the south of Tenerife (Los Cristianos or Playa de las Américas) as it is a really touristy thing. Another possibility is to hire a catamaran to circumnavigate the island.
And there you have it, Tenerife in a nutshell. Have you ever been to Tenerife? What did you like most? And less?
Have a lovely Wednesday!