Tenerife is a universe of just over 2,000 square kilometers. But the figure is very misleading. For travelers accustomed to the great distances of the giants, it seems that a place where the bulkiest kilometers count would hardly be around 200 kilometers is easy to know in times and efforts. But no. Tenerife is fertile in hidden corners that are not always easy to reach. The tourist may be afraid of the curves that go into Teno or Anaga, but for the traveler, these roads are a very inviting letter of invitation. Because despite being one of the most tourist islands in the world here you can also be a traveler if you are willing to make kilometers.
We offer you this little guide of Tenerife for the first time. In the links, you can have more detailed information about each of the places that we suggest and that are part of our Canary Islands travel guide that we are gradually expanding. We propose four areas that are nothing more than a way to divide the island to better plan the visit. Take and leave what you think is appropriate. Nor is it a way to see Tenerife in four days; We believe to get a deep impression of what the island offers it is necessary to dedicate at least one whole week. And if you have doubts you ask us through our Facebook page. We have traveled many times to Tenerife and, moreover, one of our editors lived a couple of years on the island. So we are going to give you many keys to see the island as a traveler and not as a tourist.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife and La Laguna today form a whole separated only by altitude. Santa Cruz reaches the coast and is due to its port and La Laguna, an old university, convent, and noble city, is perched high with its historic Unesco World Heritage and its fog. Both cities are independent of each other but do not understand each other without the other. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the island and, as such, active cultural, commercial and gastronomic center of the island. The historic city is built around Calle de La Noria and the Church of La Concepción; and the commercial has the streets Castillo, Bethencourt Alfonso, and Villalba Hervás. Parks, Museums, icons of contemporary architecture; Beaches; top-notch restaurants They add to the offer.
La Laguna is the historic capital of Tenerife and also a world-class heritage center. Renaissance city that was the germ of urbanism that Spain exported to American lands following Platonic ideals. La Laguna requires at least a day of quiet stroll to capture its essence and take advantage of its spectacular gastronomic offer – it has become an ideal place for tapas. From La Laguna, you can access the Anaga Rural Park, an incredible place that alternates lush laurel forests where sunlight barely reaches the ground, charming villages like Taganana and beaches nestled between cliffs like Benijo. On the map we mark two places to eat that we love: El Fronton, in Benijo, it is an ideal place to eat fresh fish looking at the sea from the heights. Café Melita is located in Bajamar and has the best Central European pastry on the island.
The Orotava Valley is one of the most beautiful places on the island. It dominates the central area of northern Tenerife and connects the coast with the El Teide National Park through the TF-21. The two cities of the Valley that must be seen yes or yes are Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava. The first is a small population of fishermen that has become one of the most important tourist centers of the island, but without losing its essence and maintaining a very nice and very well preserved colonial historical center. For its part, La Orotava is one of the most beautiful monumental complexes in the Canary Islands. Colonial city in which the great convents, churches, and palaces alternate with impressive gardens and exquisitely preserved colonial houses. It is a beautiful place worth spending a couple of hours.
The TF-5 road connects the Orotava Valley with the Isla Baja, the succession of charming villages, among which Icod of Los Vinos, Garachico, Los Silos and Buenavista del Norte stand out. Icod is one of the mandatory stops of any trip to the island. The photo you have to take from here is that of the famous Millennial Drago, an impressive specimen of Canarian Drago with hundreds of years in its branches. But you will see how walking through this town is unforgettable. Take the opportunity to buy local wine before continuing on to Garachico, another of those colonial jewels of Tenerife with a castle included. In Garachico you can eat good fresh fish. Los Silos and Buenavista del NorteThey also have a small historic center with good examples of Canarian colonial architecture and beyond Buenavista del Norte is Punta de Teno, northwestern tip of Tenerife that you must see because the place is brutal. The Cliffs of Los Gigantes are seen from a little known perspective and the nearby La Gomera. It is also an ideal place to take a dip.
The TF-436 road starts from Buenavista del Norte and ascends towards the Teno Highs, a world apart from valleys and mountains that seems to have been anchored in time. On one side the laurel forests of Monte del Agua (what a beautiful name) and on the other side the rough heights of Teno Alto, a true paradise for hikers. In this part of the island, there are magical places like Masca, a small town hidden by the walls of a closed valley which gives access to one of the mythical beaches of Tenerife – which can be accessed only on foot or by boat from Los Gigantes .
To climb the Teide National Park there are four options: By Vilaflor, from the tourist urbanizations of the South; by Chío, from Los Gigantes; by the TF-21 from the La Orotava Valley and by the La Esperanza from the metropolitan area (Santa Cruz-La Laguna). We recommend going up one side and down the other. And if they give us the choice to go up to La Esperanza or La Orotava and down Chío, one of the road sections that we like most in the Canary Islands. The reward is one of the best on the island. The landscape that awaits us up there is simply brutal; from another world. Choosing access well as a prize: For La Esperanza, there is a network of incredible viewpoints and magical places like the Teide cake, an accumulation of layers of different colors that looks like a cake; from La Orotava, you have La Rosa del Teide, A curious flower-shaped stone. The distances are short and allow to come and go in a short time.
Already in the National Park, you have to stop at the Interpretation Center of El Portillo (Hours: LD 9.00 – 16.15) to understand the space before starting the tour. You can access the most paradigmatic places by car and there is also a good network of trails through which you can access the most remote and spectacular corners. For the brave is the path that, from Montaña Blanca, climbs to the highest peak in Spain with the possibility of overnight in the Altavista Refuge (something more than recommended). If you do not want to beat yourself up or you cannot dedicate to a whole day to the ascent you always have the possibility of ascending with the Cable Car (also more than recommended). Other places to see Los Roques de García, the Mirador de Ucanca, the Zapato de la Reina and the black lava flows that descend from Las Narices del Teide.
We told you before that we like to go down the Cuesta de Chí or (TF-38). It is an incredible piece of road. There are times when it seems that you are going to fall directly to the sea from the heights and if the day is clear the views over La Gomera are impressive. From here you can access Santiago del Teide, a beautiful little village at the foot of the Teide, and go down to Los Gigantes to see the classic view of the famous cliffs on the beach. Nearby is the Playa de la Arena, one of the most liked in Tenerife.
The south of the island is much more than its beaches and tourist developments. You just have to move a little off the coast to discover a very authentic and even unusual piece of the island. A clear example is the town of Adeje, with its traditional architecture, its cultivation terraces and the Barranco del Infierno trail, one of the busiest on the island. It is a preview of what we are going to find along the route, in which other large colonial complexes such as Vilaflor, Granadilla de Abona or Güímar and impressive natural landscapes such as The Lunar Landscape (access on foot from a tract of land near Vilaflor ) or the imposing Malpais of Güímar, a place of volcanic originated by the sea which is a true past.
And there is also a place for lovely little towns that developed around the farmland of the medians, literally built by the men and women of the region creating a complicated system of terraces that turned the slopes into fertile fields. Two of these small towns are Arico el Nuevo and Icor, with fantastic examples of traditional architecture. We can finish the southern route in Candelaria, a small coastal city of wide religious significance for the inhabitants of the island. And if you are not much of churches you have good beaches. For lovers of the unusual, we recommend Las Pirámides de Güimar, a center founded by the mythical explorer Thor Heyerdahl who raises the hypothesis of a connection between Egypt, the Canary Islands, and Mesoamerica through stone stacks that have been interpreted as pyramids staggered by some anthropologists.