SOME INFO ABOUT TENERIFE (and what to do/see here)

There are many webs where you can find useful information about Tenerife, we will recommend you the official ones:
www.webtenerifeuk.co.uk
www.todotenerife.es
www.tenerife.es
www.turismodecanarias.com

I guess you will find almost all what you need there. Also you can check some of our photos about Tenerife and Canary Islands, if you are looking for places to visit or hikes. If you are interested in any place or you need any other info, feel free to ask us everything you want, we're willing to help you! ;). Our photos of...
- Tenerife: picasaweb.google.com/bgd.tfe
- Hikes in Tenerife: picasaweb.google.com/bgd.excurs
- Other Canary Islands: picasaweb.google.com/bgd.canary


Here you can find some useful info we have gathered from the conversations with some of our guests. This info is based on our points of views and experience, so it's kinda personal and "non official", but we hope you may find it interesting. If it is useful for you (or not), or you have some commentaries or suggestions, don't hesitate to contact us, any feedback is more than welcome!:


Why to come

 

Most of the tourists (or visitors ;) who come to Tenerife are looking for good weather, sun, beaches, etc. They can find all of this here, but Tenerife is much more than that. One of the best things that Tenerife can offer you is its variety: while in other destinations you usually have to choose or spend many hours or days travelling to change between beaches or mountains, forests or deserts, nature or cultural life, huge cliffs or volcanoes, cities or traditional villages, relax time or crazy parties... in Tenerife you don’t need to choose, here you have all of that and much more in just a few kilometres. Tenerife is like a small continent where you can go to almost every point in less than two hours by car, no matter where you are: you can begin enjoying the sea on a black volcanic beach under beautiful cliffs in the morning, then visit a prehistoric rainforest in the afternoon and enjoy a spectacular sunset in the highest point of Spain in the evening.

Need more? Tenerife also offers lots of activities and sports that you can enjoy the whole year: hiking, diving, snorkelling, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, whale watching, paragliding, golf, etc. If you like shopping, Tenerife (and Canary Islands) are a good destination since we belong to a free trade zone and have reduced taxes and special prices for some goods like electronic devices, tobacco, alcohol, perfumes, clothing, jewellery, etc. So, as you can see, there is always something to do or visit here, no matter how much time you are going to stay, one week or one life... ;)

If you are visiting Canary Islands for the first time and you have to choose one island, Tenerife could be good option to start because it’s the biggest one, it has the most visited National Park in Europe and it's the one with the biggest variety (each one of our islands is quite different, from the green and mountainous western islands to the volcanic and deserted eastern ones, but since we're in the centre of the archipelago here you can find a little bit of the taste of the remaining islands, so visiting Tenerife you can get a good overview of all Canaries, but you should visit all of them! ;).



When to come

Tenerife is called "The Island of Eternal Spring", there is no rainy season and the average temperature is about 23ºC, with small variations: minimum and maximum temperatures are almost the same and usually there is only a few degrees difference between summer and winter (our houses neither have heating systems nor AC, isn't that nice? ;).
Canary Islands are considered to be a winter destination since it's not too easy to find sunny days and more than 20 ºC in December in most places of Europe or close to it, but also in summer many people come here to avoid the stifling hot of other tourist destinations... Almost all the places to visit and most of the activities are open the whole year and there are no crowded seasons. In short, come whenever you want, we are open 365 days per year for you!!! ;)


How much time

Tenerife is a small island compared to other places you may have been, but it's plenty of places to discover and things to do, there is something to see in almost every corner!!! It will depend on your style: in the long summer days and if you have a car, you can see more or less the basics of the island in 4-5 days, but it's likely you will be in a hurry all the time. I guess than 1 week is almost enough time to have a good overview of the island, but our recommendation is at least 10 or 15 days so you can mix some visits with some relaxing time on a beach, try some sports and hikes, etc., and maybe also have the chance to visit other nearby islands, like La Gomera with several daily ferries from Tenerife.


What about the weather?

 
Find more about Weather in Reina Sofia, CR

As said above, Tenerife is "The Island of Eternal Spring", but the first things you should know about Tenerife are the existence of microclimates (there are several kind of weathers at the same time in different parts of the island: raining, sunny, cloudy, foggy, high and low temperatures...) and the huge contrast between the North of the island and the South:

- North (from La Laguna to Buenavista): mild temperatures, mostly cloudy due to the "sea of clouds" (called "donkey's belly" by locals ;) and sometimes even drizzling (more frequently in Summer, while in Winter it's usually sunny and warm), but with green landscapes, prehistoric rainforests, traditional villages, historic city centres, cliffs and black volcanic beaches and the most beautiful natural spots.

- South (from Santa Cruz to Santiago del Teide): sunny and hot almost the whole year, with many beautiful beaches and tourist resorts, but with drier landscapes and less places to visit.

You should bear this huge contrast in mind when preparing your holidays, you will see that South and North of the island are totally different in many aspects, like two different islands... With no doubts, you should visit both sides, but you may want to spend more time in one of the sides according to your needs. There are other weather conditions that may affect you, but they are not too common and only lasts a few days: "calima" (hot winds coming from Sahara bringing sand from the desert) and some squalls from the Atlantic. You have some more details below...
 

The huge contrast between the northern and southern face of the island is caused by the influence of "Alisios" (Trade Winds). Thanks to these winds, Tenerife is mostly green and not a desert (check a map, we are soooo close to Sahara!! ;) Those winds come from N/NE and bring wet air and clouds to us. In fact, so many clouds are pushed against our mountains by these winds that finally a "sea of clouds" is formed, especially in the northern face of the island. It's very beautiful to see, like a real sea: it has waves, tides and sometimes rivers and "cloudfalls" (there is a short timelapse where you can see it. If you like it, we recommend you to see this other one and as many as you want in the Canary timelapse group).

This contrast is not "working" 100% of the time, but it's nice to see how the weather can totally change in a few meters in some "magic points" (they may vary, but usually one of them is in La Laguna, close to the airport, and other one around Erjos, in the West). Also you should know that this contrast is most frequent in summer when Alisios winds are stronger, but from September to April these winds are weaker and most days weather in the North is as sunny as in the South.

As said above, other effect of these winds and the shape of our mountains is that in Tenerife you can find almost any kind of weather at the same time, you just need to move a few kilometres to radically change the weather (it's called "microclimates" and here we have a lot of them, so if you don't like the current weather, just move to the next place!!! ;).

Another thing to point out is that Canary Islands are near the North Tropical Circle and usually some places located in these areas suffer many extreme weather conditions, like hurricanes, tropical storms, etc.: don't worry, we don't have such problems since we are in the middle of the cold Canary Stream, that is our "insurance" against those disasters (yeah, you may find the sea water a little bit cold, but on the other hand is quite refreshing in summer and you get used to that in a few seconds).

There are other weather conditions that affects to the whole island, but they are not too common:
- "Calima":it is like "Sirocco", hot winds that come from Africa, bringing a lot of sand from Sahara, sometimes like a yellow fog. It happens from time to time, more frequently in summer, and usually temperatures increases some degrees till Calima disappears after 4-6 days).
- On the other hand, in Canary Islands there is no rainy season and most of our water comes from Alisios winds, that make possible the "horizontal rain" in our forests: the leaves of some trees can capture the humidity of the clouds, condensing it in small drops that later fall down, like it was raining, but only inside the forests (that's our main way to get water). But sometimes a squall from the Atlantic may appear. Then temperatures will decrease some degrees and it will rain, but usually calmly and just for a few hours. They could appear all of the sudden, moreover in winter, but after 2 or 3 days they will continue their way in the ocean, far from Canary Islands.
 

ONE IMPORTANT THING: we are close to the tropical area, and the sun here could be very strong, surely much more than in your country: USE ALWAYS SUN PROTECTION.


Where to stay (and which kind of accommodation)

 
If you have a car, it doesn't mind too much where your place is, since Tenerife is rather small and any place is less than 2-hour far by car (to go around the whole island takes less than 3 hours driving). So it's not needed you change your accommodation very often, it should be enough to choose two places to reduce the driving time: one in the North (Puerto de la Cruz or La Orotava could be nice, since they are in the middle of the northern face and most of the places to visit are inside a 30-min distance by car) and other one in the South, somewhere close to the most famous beaches (and the airport), like El Médano, Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas, etc.

If you don't have car and are visiting the island by bus, then we recommend you to choose places in the North (Puerto de la Cruz has the best bus connections in the North, and also the beaches and many activities are in a walking distance, but La Orotava is also a good option and it's just 10min far from Puerto de la Cruz) and the South (Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje have good bus connections). You may also want to choose another places for a few days to avoid taking too many buses: you can stay in La Laguna (and visit the UNESCO historic centre) or Santa Cruz in the East, and in Los Gigantes (close to the coast and the cliffs) or nearby in the West.

Also note that there are two airports in the island, just if you can choose the closest one to the place you will stay: there is one airport in the South (TFS - Reína Sofía, the most usual) and other one in the North (TFN - Los Rodeos). You can get some tips about reaching the airports in "how to move" section.


About accommodation, there are many CS hosts all around Tenerife, so you shouldn't find any problems to get a place to stay here. Anyway, if you want to try other kind of accommodation, of course you can find hotels and some hostels and guesthouses here (you can find some of them in hostels.com, hostelworld.com, etc.), but most tourists book apartments since they are usually cheaper and there are a lot of them, moreover in the tourist areas close to the sea. There are many different webs to book apartments in Tenerife and you will find a wide range of prices, services, sizes, locations, etc. So if you are looking for an apartment, it's almost sure you will find one suitable to your needs and usually there are always some nice offers.

If you want to stay closer to the nature, there are some alternatives. If you want to choose one of them, just a piece of advice: most of these alternatives are located in beautiful places in the middle of the nature, out of the biggest cities and main roads, and sometimes that means that you may need to go there by car, since the closest bus stop could be very far away:

1) There is a net of "rural accommodation" called "casas rurales", which means old houses that local people have prepared and renewed to be rented, trying to keep the old traditional style as much as possible, but including most of the comforts of modern life, sometimes you can even find a swimming-pool there ;). Usually you have to rent the whole house, not just a room, so it could be a little bit expensive if you are alone, but it may be a good option for those travelling with some friends or family.

2) If you like hiking, there are two shelters or mountain hostels in the most beautiful areas to hike in Tenerife, near the prehistoric rainforests "laurisilva". One of them is Albergue de Bolico (http://www.alberguebolico.com, in Teno Rural Park, in the West) and the other one Albergue Montes de Anaga (http://www.alberguestenerife.net, in Anaga Rural Park, in the East). They are more or less cheap, perfectly situated to try some beautiful hikes and their staff will give you a lot of information about hikes and other activities related with the nature. Also there is a refug in Teide, very close to the top (Altavista, www.refugioaltavista.com) where you can oversleep if you want to go to the top to see the break of the dawn (more info in activities section).

3) The cheapest option is to camp. There are many public and private camping areas in Tenerife and we highly recommend to use them, even if you like camping in the wild, since about 40% of Tenerife is protected (natural reserves) and it's strictly forbidden to camp in many places (including almost all beaches)... Fines could be really big!!! Camping in public camping areas is usually free or very cheap, but you always need to get a permit a few days in advance. If your idea is to camp close to the beach, it might be better to try a private camping place since public ones are usually in the forests, far from beaches.

4) We have hosted some surfers who have stayed some weeks working in hostels, guesthouses, farms or similar. The idea is to work helping the staff a few hours a day and then get accommodation and food in that place for this work. We think it's a nice idea, but, unfortunately we don't have too much information about this option (it seems that people who have tried it find information about the place on the web or thanks to other travellers' recommendations and then contact the owners to reach a deal before coming to Tenerife).

5) If you want to try a really alternative type of accommodation, you can even stay in a bioclimatic dwelling.


Living in Tenerife: If you want to stay a long period in the island and need accommodation, you would find that it's not easy to find something to rent for just several weeks or months (it's not impossible, but just more difficult since the usual way to rent here is for one or several whole years). In these cases it might be easier to try to rent a room in a shared apartment, rather than rent a whole flat.
About the place to stay, the most tourist areas like those in the South of the island (Playa de las Américas, Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje, etc.) are nice to spend some days or few weeks, but to live there for longer periods could be a little bit stressful and pretty expensive. If you are going to work there, it could be a nice idea to find a place to stay in the original towns close to the tourist areas, like Adeje (city), Granadilla, San Isidro, etc. Those towns are where most southern locals live and they are usually quite well connected by bus with the coast (you probably won't find too much fun on those places, but they're much cheaper and the life quality should be also much better).
Another option if you want to enjoy the sunny weather, but live a calmer and cheaper place, is to stay in the West: it's not too far from the South, with the same good weather and sun and also the environment is much better and healthy, with beautiful views like those in the cliffs, small and picturesque villages, etc. (because of that, most of the local people choose the West to enjoy their holidays). Some recommended places in the West: Los Gigantes, Playa de la Arena, Puerto Santiago, ... If you want something even less tourist, try Playa de San Juan (and surroundings), it was originally a small village of fishermen and it still keeps a little bit that style.
If you want to have more services and cultural life, then you can try Santa Cruz, the capital of the island, where we guess you can find a big offer. Very close to Santa Cruz there are small towns where you can live a few meters from the beach: Radazul, Tabaiba, Candelaria, etc.
You could also try the northern face, where most locals live in Tenerife. For instance, La Laguna is an University city with a rich night and cultural life and there is a wide range of flats or rooms to rent there. The best time to find a place in La Laguna is in Summer when many students leave their flats. But you should know that La Laguna has one of the worst weathers in the islands, very cold and wet (we know it since we lived 13 years there! ;) so you may want to try other locations in the North, like those closer to Puerto de la Cruz, with a much better weather.



How to move

 
The best idea is to rent a car to do your own thing, with no timetables. Renting a car shouldn't be too expensive (check webs above to find companies), also bear in mind that our fuel is much cheaper than in the rest of Europe due to less taxes and all our roads/motorways are free of charge. You will find motorways from Santa Cruz to Adeje (TF-1, South) and to Los Realejos (TF-5, North). In the West part there are no motorways, but main and secondary roads: some of them could be a little bit narrow and winding in some parts, but they usually have beautiful viewpoints with incredible views (right now there are some works to "close the ring" and have a highway around the island, it will be ready in a few years).

If you can not hire a car, then you can use public transport with no problems: there is a public bus company: TITSA, check the next web for buses lines and timetables -> http://www.titsa.com (there are special section for tourist lines and how to reach most interesting places). Also there are trams (http://www.tranviatenerife.com) in the metropolitan area (Santa Cruz and La Laguna). You will need to buy a card to use trams before going in (they are sold in an automatic machine at tram stops) and you can pay directly to the driver when taking buses (here called "guaguas"), but if you think you will use the public transport a lot, then buy a "transport pass" or travel card (called "bono"): it's valid for both buses and trams, several people can use the same pass and you can get up to 50% discount, some free changes between different buses/trams within 1 or 2 hours, etc. The price is 12 euros (or 30 euros) and they work like those pre-paid cards for mobiles (every time you use it the charge will be deducted). You can buy the "bono" in bus stations, airports, tram stops, kiosks, books shops, some bars and many other shops where this logo is shown.

There are good connections among the main cities and public transport reaches most of the places worth visiting, but not all of them. Also you may find that there are not too many buses going to those amazing but remote places (like Teide, there is just one bus a day)... Another option is to take some of the organized trips in buses (or mini-buses) that visit the most famous places (they are offered by private companies, you can get more info about this in their offices in tourist resorts and some apartments and hotels) or even you can hire a taxi for some hours or a full day if you are several people and can afford it (no idea about prices, but it's more or less usual here). Renting a scouter or motorbike could be also nice if you are alone and with few baggage. Our personal recommendation: if you want to save some money but see as much as possible, it could be a good idea to move between cities/towns using public transport and then hire a car a few days to visit the remaining places.

Some tips If you need to reach the airport or harbour by bus :
* North Airport, Los Rodeos, TFN (smaller one, mostly for domestic destinations, it closes at night): With bus 107 and bus 108 (they alternate every hour, less services at weekends) you can go to/come from Santa Cruz, La Laguna, Tacoronte, La Orotava, Icod, etc. (and Garachico or Buenavista only with bus 107). Bus 102 (every 30 min. or about 2 hours at night) goes to Puerto de la Cruz and La Laguna, Santa Cruz, etc.
* South Airport, Reina Sofía, TFS: Bus 111 (every 30 min. or about 2 hours at night) goes to destinations like Santa Cruz and Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas, Costa Adeje, etc.
* East harbour (to go to the eastern islands by ferry: Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote): it's located in Santa Cruz, you can go there walking from the bus station in about 20min.
* South/West harbour (to go to the western islands by ferry: La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro): it's located in Los Cristianos, about 15min walking from the main bus stop in Los Cristianos (7140). You can go there from Santa Cruz, Costa Adeje, etc. with bus 110, 111, etc. Ferries companies usually offer a FREE shuttle bus from Santa Cruz to the South harbour, you need to book it when buying the ferry tickets.
* If you need to go to the opposite airport or harbour (i.e. you are somewhere in the North and want to go to the South airport or harbour), or from one airport to the other, you can take a combination of buses, changing in Santa Cruz (i.e. 111+102 or 111+107/108) or take bus 343 that communicates both airports with South harbour and also goes to Puerto de la Cruz and Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje, etc. (bus 343 does NOT go to Santa Cruz/East harbour and it's an express service so it has a few stops, just the most important ones).

About travelling by bike here, we know that many of you could come from more or less flat countries and are used to ride bikes. Although the eastern islands (Fuerteventura and Lanzarote) are more or less plain, western islands are everything but flat! Just bear in mind that La Palma has one of the highest rates in the world of difference in altitude per km2 and in Tenerife sometimes there are less than 15km from the sea to the highest point of Spain (3718m). So it depends on you and your training, but be ready for a very uneven terrain here. Also you should know that main roads here are motorways where bikes are not allowed to enter and secondary roads are not always a good option for bikes. About hitchhiking, it's not clear if it's legal or not, but some people try it. What's sure is that hitchhiking is forbidden in motorways, but you can try in the secondary roads. Anyway, most locals only speak Spanish, so they usually don't stop tourists, but some tourists do... sometimes... it's depends on how lucky you are!!! ;)


Note about using GPS here: It doesn't matter what your GPS says, the fastest way is ALWAYS using motorways, I don't know why some GPS systems sometimes try to use the slow secondary roads (although they may be interesting because they are more scenic and you can visit old towns on the way). If you want to go from the North to South or vice versa, use always the motorways (your GPS may show that there is a shortest way crossing the island in the centre via Teide, but those are mountain roads, much slower and full of bends). For example, it should take about 1h:20m to go from Las Américas to Puerto de la Cruz or La Orotava using the motorway (it's not needed to go to Santa Cruz, there is a small portion of motorway called TF-2 that joins southern motorway [TF-1 exit 6, in Santa María del Mar] with northern one [TF-5 exit 7A, in La Laguna], just follow the North Airport signal if you want to go the North, or vice versa with South).




TOP PLACES TO VISIT

This is OUR top list, but you know, everyone has different tastes, your list could be very different from this!... ;) Our last recommendation is that Tenerife is much, much more than only beaches... there are incredible natural landscapes, cosy colonial-style historic cities, it's the perfect places to try water and mountain sports and many, many other things... Don't miss anything of Tenerife, as our tourist motto says: "Enjoy it all!!! ;)


CENTRE OF THE ISLAND: Teide National Park

El Teide is the highest mountain in Spain with 3718m. and it's in the middle of the huge flat base of one ancient mountain that collapsed hundreds of thousands of years ago (the original altitude is not clear at all, in some places it's said that it was higher than 9000m., even more than Everest... But it was pretty high for sure, just check this photo taken by NASA to see how "small" Teide seems to be compared with the base of the ancient mountain). Teide National Park is very impressive and I guess that quite different from any National Park you have visited before (with about 3 million tourists per year it's the most visited National Park of Spain and Europe). It's an Unesco World Heritage Site and our local symbol, and also it's very famous since some movies have been filmed there and NASA have tested some of their Mars robots. It's a mandatory visit, you can not miss it!!! We recommend you to go there by car using the East access (La Laguna - La Esperanza), the one with the best views.

 

Some more details:

As said above, it's a mandatory visit and we recommend you go there by car (there are buses going there, line 342 from Costa Adeje and line 348 from Puerto de la Cruz, but they go just once a day and you can not use them to go from one point to another inside the National Park, so if you use buses you can only go down in one of the stops and visit a small part of the park). If you go by car, there are four main access (East: La Laguna, North: La Orotava, West: Chío, South: Vilaflor) and the most beautiful one is the East access from La Laguna (La Esperanza): if you can choose, use it and then stop in the many viewpoints you will find on the way (some of them are a little bit hidden, like "Chipeque" and "Chimague", with one of the best views). After visiting the National Park you can choose other access to come back, like the North one and see the rock rose, or the southern access, where there is a beautiful place called "Lunar landscape" near Vilaflor, but it's needed to hike a bit to go there.

Once you are inside the National Park you should visit "La Tarta" (the "cake", you will see why ;), Izaña and the observatories, the information centre (where you can see a video, visit a small botanic garden and feed lizards with your hands if it's hot and sunny), Minas de San José, El Parador and "Roques de García" (don't miss this one), The Queen's shoe, etc. If you go in May/Jun you can also see "Tajinastes", a beautiful red or violet flowers up to 2 meters height. There is a cable car to go from the base to almost the top, 3550m. (http://www.teleferico-teide.com/). If you want to go further and reach the very top (3718m.) you will need a free permission (it takes about 40min. following a steep footpath, if you go there you will need hiking boots, water, maybe some protection against hot/sun/cold/snow/ice depending on the day, what's more important, and be totally sure that you are strong enough to try it, since you'll be at about 4000m.

Inside the National Park there is a wide network of footpaths you may enjoy if you like hiking. Some paths are very beautiful, like "Siete Cañadas" or the one going to the top of Guajara, with astonishing views of the Teide and the National Park. But the most famous hike is the one going to the very top of Teide, you will be the person in the highest point of Spain! Check more details and tips about this hike below, in Activities section.
 


NORTH OF THE ISLAND: The North of the Island has a warmer and sometimes cloudy weather, but with beautiful forests, mountains, etc. The perfect place to enjoy the nature, visit some historic cities/villages and try some hikes.

- Icod de los Vinos: It has a nice pedestrian commercial street, but the main attraction is the Millenary Dragon Tree, mandatory visit (the leyend says the tree is more than 3000 years old, but scientists claims "just" about 900). Also visit the small but cosy historic centre close to Drago (San Marcos Square, La Pila Square, Casa de los Cáceres, Convento de San Agustín, etc.) and if you have time, also try the picturesque San Marcos beach and do a little bit of speleology in "Cueva del Viento", one of the largest volcanic caves in the world.
- Garachico: This is a beautiful historic village where the main harbour of the island was located till a volcano destroyed it about 300 years ago. A calm place to enjoy walking on the cobbled paving among historic buildings and have a bath in the natural volcanic pools created by the volcano, with the big rock in front of you. You can see beautiful bananas plantations on the right going from Icod to Garachico (take the exit to El Guincho, before the tunnel, and stop your car close to the bus stop to enjoy the views. From there you can walk to the sea inside the bananas fields, ask us for more details). If you are driving in the West road, there is a impressive viewpoint in El Tanque where you can see Garachico from the top and realize how lava destroyed half city.
- Anaga Rural Park: Its mountains is one of the places you can find "Laurisilva", a prehistoric kind of rainforest that once was in North Africa and the South of Europe, but right now it's located only in Tenerife and another islands in the area (National Geographic filmed some documentaries about dinosaurs there). The perfect place to hike, with a big network of footpaths and also a mountain shelter/hostel. If you visit it by car, stop in the many viewpoints you will find (Jardina, Pico del Inglés, etc.). Also go to the visitors centre in Cruz del Carmen and its small museum. In Taganana you could eat good fresh fish on Roque de Las Bodegas beach and then have a bath in the gorgeous beach of Benijo, after Almaciga beach.
- La Laguna: the first (and oldest ;) city in Tenerife, the historic centre belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage List since it "was the first non-fortified Spanish colonial town, and its layout provided the model for many colonial towns in the Americas, and its wide streets and open spaces have a number of fine churches and public and private buildings dating from the 16th to the 18th century" (you can arrange a free guided visit, that's the best option since you can enter in some buildings to discover the Spanish colonial style: square buildings with big doors and windows in a symmetric way where sizes and positions are the same, with beautiful wooden balconies around a central garden with fountain to keep the fresh, etc.). La Laguna is also the city where the University is located and you can find some cultural events and a nice night life in pubs.
- La Orotava: nice old city, with beautiful historic buildings (the old town is not as big as the one in La Laguna, but it's also a wonderful place to enjoy the Spanish colonial style). The most impressive place is Casa de los Balcones. Visit also the "Museo del turista", the cathedral, El Liceo and its gardens, the main square, etc. In June, in Corpus Christi, the biggest carpet on the world is made in the main square with sand from Teide, while on the streets dozens of carpets are made with flowers.
- Puerto Cruz: almost the only tourist resort in the north, a place to have a nice walk in its streets, enjoy a bath on "Lago Martianez" swimming pools or on the black volcanic beaches in Playa Jardín (or some "virgin" and hidden beaches like El Bollullo or Los Patos). Loro Parque claims to be one of the most visited zoos of Europe (you will find there killer whales, dolphins, sea lions, penguins, sharks, a huge aquarium and many, many other animals). Also there are many other tourist attractions and pubs, discos, etc. Try the Botanic Garden (it's said that when Spaniards discovered America, they wanted to bring some plants and trees to Europe, but many of them died due to dramatic changes on the weather, so they used Canary Islands to "acclimate" the plants before going to Europe, that's why we have several botanic, but this is one of the best).
- Close to El Puerto there is a wonderful place called "Rambla de Castro", near "Mirador de San Pedro", with wonderful views, a tiny fortress, hidden beaches, a lot of palm-trees, etc., really a worth visiting place (from the viewpoint go till the yellow big house and then the tiny fortress with the cannons to enjoy the views). Next to Rambla de Castro you will find "El Socorro" beach, very beautiful beach and one of the best points for surfing on the North.
- Masca: old village in the centre of Teno mountains, isolated till some decades ago. Masca is beautiful itself, but what it's impressive of Masca is the surrounding landscape, people had to work really hard some decades ago to build the terraces on the steep slopes where they can grow some cereals and vegetables, while the houses where built in the rocks where was not possible to cultivate anything. This village is also well known because it's the beginning of a famous footpath used by many tourists and local people: the path goes from the village to the beach following the impressive Masca ravine (about 4 hours one way). From Masca beach you can come back to the village, but the best option is to take the boat that goes to Los Gigantes following the cliffs, with a high probability of seeing dolphins and whales (you can arrange this boat in Masca or Los Gigantes)
- Punta de Teno: impressive remote place, the beginning of the cliffs at the NW end of the island, with the lighthouse and incredible places to have a bath, dive, etc. (be careful and read about the road before going there!)
- Teno Rural Park: As Anaga Rural Park, the perfect place to enjoy hiking inside the Laurisilva forests. If you want to spend some days hiking there, there is a mountain shelter/hostel. You can visit part of this Park by car, taking the road to Masca from Buenavista, very winding road, but with many viewpoints with impressive views of the mountains. IF you have time, also visit Teno Alto, a small village in the middle of the mountains, famous for its cheese, wine and goat meat.
- Many other places: like the natural pools of Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo; beautiful tiny resorts of El Pris and Mesa del Mar in Tacoronte, with awesome views of the northern coast; El Sauzal and the wine museum "Casa del Vino - La Baranda", and the viewpoints of "Garañona" and "Los Lavaderos"; Isla Baja (Low Island, a flat extension full of banana plantations on the NW coast under the "fossilized cliffs" where you can visit the small historic centres of Buenavista and Los Silos, try the beach, etc.), and many other places....


SOUTH OF THE ISLAND: Sun, hot weather, beautiful beaches, night life, ...
- Costa Adeje, Las Américas and Los Cristianos: there you can find dozens of beautiful yellow beaches. It's plenty of tourist attractions (water parks, zoos, etc.), apartments, hotels, pubs, discos, etc. It's the perfect place if you are looking for some relaxing time lying on a beach and enjoying a lot of night life and some "crazy" time. Also you can take a ferry from the harbour in Los Cristianos to visit the nearby islands, like La Gomera (about 45min) and/or take a tour to see dolphins and whales. But this area is very, very tourist, you may find thousands of tourists there and just a few local people, so if you are looking for a calmer style and beautiful beaches, there are other nicer places very close, like El Médano and La Tejita: next to the South airport you will see the "red mountain" and El Médano beach is in one side of the mountain and La Tejita in the other one. El Médano is the perfect place for wind/sea sports like windurfing, kitesurfing, etc., and La Tejita is beautiful volcanic black sand beach, with a nudist zone. Also there are some pools near and other places to enjoy the sea.
- Los Gigantes: Los Gigantes (The Giants) is the name of 14 km of impressive cliffs, that finishes in the small tourist resort with the same name, worth visiting with no doubts. It's a calmer style (not as "crazy" and in Los Cristianos or Las Américas) and the perfect destination if you have children, where you can find sun, wonderful landscapes, beautiful beaches, and also some pubs and discos. The most famous beach is located just under the cliffs, "Los Guíos" and there is a small port close to it where you can ask for a boat trip (or even kayak) to see the cliffs and also dolphins and whales. There are other beautiful beaches close to Los Gigantes, like Playa de La Arena, Playa San Juan, Abama, etc.
- Santa Cruz de Tenerife (the capital of the island) has a good cultural offer (theatre, museums, etc.) and it's quite visited by huge cruise ships that you can see in the harbour, in front of the city. There you can also buy some cheap stuff since we have reduced taxes (top sales are electronics, cigarettes, perfumes, etc.): there are huge malls, like Carrefour, Corte Inglés, etc., but we recommend you to try the main commercial (and pedestrian) street with many small shops. This street is called "Calle Castillo" and it goes from Plaza Weyler to Plaza España, finishing at the lake near the tourist info. Some other places to visit are Plaza del Príncipe, the Auditorium, García Sanabria Park, Cesar Manrique Maritime Park (a nice complex of swimming pools, but it may be closed due to some works), etc. If you go to Santa Cruz, you shouldn't miss Las Teresitas beach, a beautiful "Caribbean" beach with palm trees and fine yellow sand brought from Sahara (it's about 10min. by car or bus 910). If you go there by car, don't miss the viewpoint on the top of the hill with incredible views.
- Candelaria: A small cosy town were you can walk a bit and visit the most famous church of Tenerife and see "Virgen de Candelaria", our patron saint. Also you can see the "kings" of the ancient inhabitants of Tenerife and the cave where they supposedly found the image of the Virgin.
- Many other places: it could be nice to "escape" from the most tourist areas and discover some "hidden" areas: all along the southern coast you will find many places to enjoy a bath in different scenarios: sandy and/or rocky beaches, white small cliffs (like in Tajao), natural pools, rocks, etc. Also there are many small towns that were tiny fishermen villages in the past, but have changed into tourist resorts in the last years. Some of them still preserve a bit of its traditional style and they are the perfect place to enjoy a little bit of relax and eat good fish with a local taste.



ACTIVITIES

Tenerife has a wide variety of activities for those more active people. Some of them:
- Water: Here you can enjoy all the water sport you may like: surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, diving, snorkelling, etc. We also recommend you to try some boat trips or kayak to see dolphins and whales.
- Earth: If you like hiking or trekking, then Tenerife is your destination with more than 1000km of footpath and many different kind of landscapes so you won't get bore: we have "prehistoric" forests, deep ravines, sea and coastal paths, mountains including the highest point of Spain, desert lands and a long etcetera. Also you can try other sports, like mountain bike, climbing, etc.
- Air: There are many points in Tenerife where you can try paragliding.

Our good friend, neighbour and workmate Lorenzo (http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/lgtf) is a very active sportsman, he may give you more information if you contact him... If you want some more details about activities, read below:
 

Hiking
We love to hike and actually we do it as much as possible, usually once every week. As said before, one of the best things about hiking here is that you have everything you want in a few distance (mountains, sea, forests, deserts, etc... it's just incredible! ;) We usually organize events like hikes for our surfers or CS people who contact us, so send us a message if you want to join us next time! ;) Btw, we usually upload photos of most our hikes, so you can check some paths there. If you want to try any of them by your own, we usually have the GPS tracks so we can send them by email... But you have all the tracks you want in www.wikiloc.com and also more detailed info and charts in the articles listed here. Now we'll try to mention some of the most common and beautiful hikes of Tenerife:

Teide National Park: One of the best ways to visit the National Park is hiking, thanks to its network of trails. We recommend:
1) The most famous one is to hike to the very top (3718m) from Montaña Blanca in two phases: first, from the road go to the refuge Altavista (3260m.) in about 3h and overnight there (it's needed to book in the refuge in advance, it includes the permit to go to the top). Then, about 5:00am or so (ask to the guard), go to the very top to see the break of the dawn. Also you can see the big and impressive shadow of the Teide on the sea and, if you are lucky, all the remaining Canary Islands. Btw, you will need some food and water, boots, a torch, etc. Be ready for hot and strong sun and also for extreme cold on the top before the sun appears, even below 0º. Of course, be sure you don't have health problems in altitudes around 4000m., like the acute mountain sickness - AMS.
2) Go to the top of Guajara from el Parador, with incredible views of Teide and all the National Park.
3) There is beautiful hike called "Siete Cañadas" that goes across almost all the National Park. It's very easy since it's flat and many people try it at night in Summer, it's incredible to walk under the wonderful sky full of stars.
4) Reach the top of Teide from the sea level (from 0m to almost 4000m, that's why it's called 0-4). There are not too many places in the world where you can do something like this just hiking in a few hours. But, please, read these posts before trying it since it's a very hard hike.

Anaga Rural Park: In Anaga you could find mountains and rainforests in the East of the island. It could be nice to spend some days there, there is a shelter (Albergue Montes de Anaga), and also an information centre in Cruz del Carmen where you can obtain more information, maps, tips, etc. Anaga is one of the places you can find the prehistoric rainforest (called Laurisilva). Recommended hikes there:
1) Vueltas de Taganana-Tamadiste-Afur (you have Larusilva, beaches, mountains, etc.)
2a) Chamorga-Los Draguillos-Las Palmas-Roque Bermejo-Chamorga
2b) Chamorga-Tafada-Roque Bermejo-Chamorga (shorter version)
3) Cruz del Carmen-Punta del Hidalgo (several variants, there is a shorter version finishing in Taborno)
Btw, if you are in Anaga, try to visit Benijo beach, for us is one of the most beautiful in the island.

Teno Rural Park: Mountains, rainforests and, especially, awesome cliffs in the West. There is another shelter there (Albergue de Bolico) and an information centre in El Palmar. Recommended hikes:
1) Masca: From the village of Masca, follow the awesome ravine to the beach. Then you can come back walking again, but the best option is to take a boat trip following the impressive cliffs with a high chance to see dolphins and whales, or even try with a kayak: in both cases you will finish in the beautiful beach of Los Gigantes under the huge cliffs. This is a very common hike here, so if you want to use the boat you should book a place in advance to be sure there is space for you (there is more info about boats at the end of water sports).
2) Erjos - Punta de Teno: Punta de Teno is an awesome and remote place in the beginning of the cliffs. There are no buses going there, you will have to ask someone to pick you up or try hitchhiking to come back.
3) Erjos - Monte del Agua - Los Silos.

Those are the most famous hikes, but Tenerife has more than 1000km of footpaths, so there are many, many more... ;) I.e: North of the island: Rambla de Castro-Puerto de la Cruz, Tigaiga, etc., South of the island: Barranco del Infierno (now closed due to some landslides, but it's possible to walk surrounding it), Roque del Conde, etc.).

THIS MAY BE IMPORTANT if you want to hike here: almost all the water we drink and use in Tenerife is coming from the inside of the mountains (volcanic rocks are pretty good filters! ;). There is a big network of "galleries" (underground corridors made when mining to get the water) and some of the footpaths follow the open air canalization systems built to transport the water. If you follow one of these paths and it goes inside a tunnel, DO NOT FOLLOW it!!!! Most times it should be just the shortest way to cross the mountain, but it could also be the entrance of a gallery where there is no exit and where there may be poisonous gases, so there is a serious risk of death there (dangerous entrances should be closed, but unfortunately some of them are still open).


Water sports
Tenerife is also a good destination for those who love water sports like surfing, diving, snorkling, etc. There are many beaches to surf and also some surfing schools, we live close to one of those beaches, El Socorro, but there are many others not too far (La Fajana, Martiánez, Almáciga and Benijo in Anaga, etc.). If you like sea and wind (windsurfing, kite-surfing, etc.), then the best and most famous beach is, with no doubts, El Médano, located in the South of the island close to the South Airport (Red Mountain is next to El Médano and behind it there is another nice beach called La Tejita). For those who want to dive, there are several diving clubs all around Tenerife, just check this list. But we would recommend you to try something different that you can not do everywhere: in Canary Islands there is a stable community of whales and dolphins and there are several ways to see them. The easiest way is one of the boat trips that run everyday from Los Gigantes, Puerto Colón or Los Cristianos. Another more interesting and active way is a kayak trip around the cliffs, we have tried it and it's awesome (there are some nice companies that offer that and also many other activities, like Teno Activo, El Cardón or PateaTusMontes).

Paragliding
We live in La Orotava not too far of the jumping point called La Corona. Also there are other jumping points in the North like La Vega in Icod, or Izaña close to Teide. In the South of the island there are also several of them. Also once a year there is an International Paragliding Festival in Los Realejos, a few km far from we live. More info: tourist info about paragliding, tenerfly, parapentetenerife, parapentetf, clubparapenteizana, tenerifeparapente, ...

Mountain bikes
There are several good trails in Tenerife for mountain bikes. We'd recommend you the Esperanza area, with some nice paths inside the rainforest. Some places to hire bikes in the North: PateaTusMontes, Tenerife Training, bicistar90, gofisbici, vadebicis, bicicletasgil, etc. Also you could visit the official tourist web of Tenerife or the next unofficial ones: discovertenerife, yumping. About routes, there are several pages where you may find interesting ones: mountainbikingtenerife, tenerifebike, wikiloc

Other activities
There are some other activities that you can do only here and in a few more places. One of them is "astronomical tourism": We are in the middle of the sea and our skies are one of the cleanest of the world with very low levels of pollution (the best one in the Northern Hemisphere). That's why we have many observatories in el Teide National Park and also the biggest observatory in the world is situated in La Palma (they are building a new bigger one in Chile :(. There are some companies that offer astronomical excursions guided by experts. From time to time, the observatories open to the general public and everyone can visit them...
If you want to organize a BBQ in the middle of the nature, camp there or something similar, you can check here the public BBQ places, recreational areas, camping areas, etc. of Tenerife (since most of those places are in the middle of the forests, you may find that some of them are closed some days in summer if there is a high risk of fire... it's not too usual, but it could happen).
 



FESTIVALS, TRADITIONS, LOCAL FOOD...

Tenerife offers you a lot of activities for your leisure time. One of the most famous is Carnivals, about Feb/March (supposed to be the second most popular Carnivals of the world). From April to August almost every town has traditional festivals called "Romerías" and "Baile de Magos" where everyone is wearing the traditional Canary dress, those are very magnificent parties, try to see one of them. The huge carpets made with sand from Teide are a mandatory visit in La Orotava around June, and about middle of July it's possible to see some sea processions and/or sea fireworks in many seaside towns. There are also some very "crazy" festivals like "Tablas de San Andrés" in Icod de los Vinos the last days of November, related with the new wine, or to celebrate the longest day of the year on 23rd of June, where people make huge bonfires on many beaches and have a sea bath at midnight to clean the sins, and a long etc. You should try some of them to enjoy the "local taste", check the webs above (like this) to find more info, or watch some or our photos of Tenerife.

About local cuisine, we have very tasty food, the most typical is "papas arrugadas con mojo" (potatoes and traditional sauces) that goes with meat and fish. Our most famous traditional product is "gofio" (toasted and grounded cereals) and then we have local vegetable soups, some kind of meat (specially goat and rabbit), seafood and fish, some desserts and sweets (specially those made with almonds and/or honey) and, of course, bananas, our principal exportation. Also Tenerife and all the islands are famous thanks to its cheeses and wines (there are many different types, the most famous wine is Malvasía, cited by Shakespeare in one of his books). The best way to try the local cuisine and products is going to a "guachinche" (it's like a bar, but you will fill the difference ;), where you can enjoy not only excellent food and wine, but also a traditional atmosphere. If you are here, you should also try "arepas" (there are many kinds, the most famous is "arepa de mechada"). Arepas come from Venezuela, but you can consider it also part of our local food (we have strong cultural ties with Venezuela due to emigration in past times and immigration nowadays. Actually, Venezuela is called the "eighth Canary island")