Hidden away in the vast Atlantic Ocean off the northwestern coast of Africa lies picture-perfect Tenerife. The largest and most popular of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a volcanic paradise with a landscape so diverse that you’ll feel like you’re traveling to all corners of the globe without ever leaving the island!
From rugged black sand beaches, bizarre moon-like scenery, and dense forests to whitewashed fishing villages, bustling cosmopolitan cities, and family-friendly vacation resorts, Tenerife really does have it all.
Whether you want to spend your days at award-winning water parks, partying until dawn in high-octane nightclubs, hiking in the peaceful mountains, or soaking up the glorious Canarian sunshine, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do in Tenerife. A year-round destination with consistently warm weather, there’s always plenty to keep you busy, whatever season you visit.
With so many fun things to see and do, you may be having a hard time knowing where to start. To help you plan your vacation, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Tenerife. Add these attractions and activities to your Tenerife bucket list and get ready to have an amazing time exploring one of the most beautiful and diverse islands in Europe!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to do in Tenerife, Spain
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15 cool and unique things to do in Tenerife
1. Push Yourself to the Limit at the Best Water Park in the World
Spending the day at Siam Park is one of the coolest things to do in Tenerife. Whether you’re traveling solo, as a family with young kids, or as a group of friends, Tenerife’s number one water park is an amazing place to spend the day!
Voted the best water park in the world for several years running, Siam Park is home to a handful of record-breaking attractions. From the tallest water slide in the world to the largest man-made waves and the highest elevated lazy river, Siam Park really is a place unlike any other.
For thrill-seekers there are countless high-speed rides, including a water coaster that sends you flying at speeds of up to 60 feet per second. Little ones have their own dedicated zones with mini versions of the park’s most popular rides. When the action gets to be too much for you, there are two beaches where you can doze off and many different food and drink outlets where you can re-energize.
2. Party at One of the Biggest Carnivals in the World
Tenerife’s annual carnival is something that needs to be seen to be believed! Most regions of the island host their own carnival each year, but the most impressive is the Santa Cruz carnival held in the island’s capital every February.
Over several weeks, the capital city comes to life with street parties, parades, fireworks shows, music concerts, beauty contests, fairgrounds, formal dances, and loads more. Many of the events are broadcast on TV and streamed live online, but nothing compares to being there in person.
Highlights of the Santa Cruz carnival include the main parade, which goes on for hours during the day. All sorts of themed floats pass by the main road of the city, with people in remarkable costumes. Watch out for the carnival queens and runners-up wearing extravagant dresses that often weigh more than they do!
Entierro de la sardinia (burial of the sardine) is also fun to see. Held toward the end of the event, this parade parodies a funeral procession, with people dressed in black comically mourning the death of a sardine. It’s meant to symbolize the festival coming to an end and closes with the burning of a representation of a sardine.
3. Take a Scenic Hike through a Lush Forest in Anaga
For some of the best sights in Tenerife, grab your hiking boots and head for Anaga in the northeast of the island. Wildly different from the purpose-built resorts in the south, Anaga is a natural wonder that looks like something plucked straight from a fairytale.
With jungle-like forests, ancient twisted dragon trees, impossibly tall mountains, and some of the most beautiful coastal vistas you’ve ever seen in your life, Anaga will take your breath away. Keep in mind that due to its location and geological features, Anaga can get pretty cold, so bring layers to help you stay warm.
There’s an endless choice of hikes in this corner of the island. Benijo to Faro de Anaga and back is one of the most spectacular. This long walk can take up to seven hours to complete, but it’s worth it for the chance to stumble upon tiny hamlets which haven’t changed in decades, magical laurisilva (laurel) forests, and remarkable views of volcanic cliffs that plunge into the sea.
For something shorter and easier, consider Ruta de Los Sentidos (Route of the Senses). This walk can easily be done in 30 minutes and includes info along the way to help you experience the forest using all your senses.
4. Dine at an Authentic Guachinche
For an authentically local dining experience, stop by one of the island’s many guachinches. Originally used as a way for local winemakers to sell their wine and homemade food to the public without intermediaries, today guachinches are small, rustic restaurants where you’ll find the best food in Tenerife.
Guachinche El Ramal in La Orotava is a top place to dine on local fare. The prices are remarkably reasonable, especially for the local wine, which tastes wonderful! Guachinche Parralito in La Matanza de Acentejo is another fantastic pick for a true guachinche experience. Set inside the basement of a house, this small restaurant is a little rough around the edges, but the food is superb.
Eating at a guachinche is an amazing opportunity to try local food from the Canaries and Tenerife. Here are some must-try dishes: queso asado con mojo (pan-fried cheese with mojo sauces), carne fiesta (cubes of spiced pork served with fries), and conejo al salmorejo (roasted marinated rabbit with salmorejo sauce). Make sure you try the local wine, too!
5. Go Caving at Cueva del Viento
Looking for unique things to do in Tenerife? You’ll struggle to beat a visit to Cueva del Viento, the largest volcanic tube in Europe and one of the longest in the world! The cave was formed around 27,000 years ago and is around 10 miles long, although only a small section of it can be safely explored today.
Only a select number of people are allowed to walk through the labyrinthine cave system, and safety gear must be worn. Because of this, you’ve got to book your slot online in advance. By signing up for a tour, you’ll be led by an experienced guide who will fill you in on all the fascinating information about the cave, as well as answer any questions you may have.
Cueva del Viento is best known for its one-of-a-kind geomorphology. It’s made up of three levels which contain a network of winding galleries. The area is also home to around 190 different species, including an eyeless cockroach, which developed its unique characteristic after living in the dark for so long!
6. Cool Off in a Natural Pool
If the Canarian sunshine gets to be a little too much for you, one of the best Tenerife activities is to stop by a natural pool and take a dip. The island boasts many different natural pools formed by seawater rushing into large volcanic crevices along the coast. Most are also surrounded by purpose-built sunbathing areas, so you can work on your tan before heading off for more sightseeing.
The most famous natural pools are known as El Caleton in Garachico. They date all the way back to 1706 and are incredibly popular with families in the summer months. Thanks to Tenerife’s warm year-round climate, the water is usually the right temperature to go for a swim at any time of year.
Bajamar’s natural pool is another top pick. Larger than El Caleton, this pool is staffed by lifeguards and is perfectly positioned so you can watch the waves crash over the barrier directly into the pool.
For something quieter, check out the natural pool at Arico. More like a hot tub than a swimming pool, this is a little-known gem that’s often deserted!
7. Wander the Historic Streets of La Laguna
One of the must-do things in Tenerife is to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Laguna. Tucked away in the north of the island, this stunning city is bursting with great things to see and do around every corner.
From cobblestone streets lined with pastel-colored houses, cute wine bars serving up local creations, and countless artisan boutiques selling handmade gifts to fascinating interactive museums, street musicians showing off their skills, and palaces that seem too grand to be real, La Laguna is an amazing place to spend the day!
The history museum of Casa Lercaro and the Science and Cosmos Museum are two wonderful family-friendly places to visit. If your hotel or apartment has a kitchen, the Mercado Municipal de San Cristóbal de La Laguna is also a place worth stopping by. Here you’ll find a huge range of fresh ingredients from the local area you can use to whip up your own Canarian dishes.
8. Spot Whales and Dolphins in their Natural Habitat
For one of the best-ever Tenerife sightseeing opportunities, sign up for a whale- and dolphin-watching boat ride. The south of Tenerife is an incredible place to see all kinds of marine life, and you’ll find boat trips leaving several times each day from the ports at Los Gigantes and Puerto Colon.
The waters around Tenerife are teeming with pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, turtles, and stingrays which you can usually see reliably all year round. Some remarkable species, including spotted dolphins, common dolphins, striped dolphins, Bryde’s whales, sperm whales, and fin whales, also pass through Canarian waters during migration periods, meaning you might also spot them if you time your trip right!
Whale Watch Tenerife is a great company to choose for your trip. They guarantee sightings on every outing, you get free photos to remind you of your tour, and they have the proper accreditation, meaning their tours are 100% ethical in terms of the environment and marine life.
9. Take a Stargazing Tour and Marvel at the Star-Speckled Sky
Due to its unique position, favorable climate, long sky-gazing hours, and lack of light pollution, Tenerife is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. Despite being able to see more than 80 constellations from the island, stargazing remains one of the lesser-known Tenerife attractions.
If you’ve got your own transport, you can pack a blanket, drive up into the mountains, and stargaze independently. Anywhere that’s away from brightly lit villages and thick tree covering is a great place to see the stars. This is a fantastic thing to do if you’re traveling as a couple!
If you’d prefer someone to do all the organizing for you, join a stargazing tour. The best tours take you up to Mount Teide, where you’ll start your excursion by watching one of the most spectacular sunsets you’ve ever seen. As night descends, an astronomical guide will unveil the sky’s mysteries, and you’ll have the chance to see constellations and planets close up through a telescope.
10. Tee Off at a Championship Golf Course
If you’re a fan of golf, one of the top things to do in Tenerife is to play a round at one of the island’s many championship courses. Tenerife’s breathtaking landscape makes it one of the most beautiful places in the world to play golf.
With the rocky volcanic mountains on one side, the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the other, and the wonderfully maintained green beneath your feet, playing golf here is like playing golf in paradise.
Abama Golf is one of the most popular courses. Located on the western coast of the island, this course features immense greens, undulating bunkers, and sparkling lakes. It was designed by golf legend Dave Thomas and was created to be suitable for players of all abilities.
Other interesting courses include Buenavista Golf for its clifftop location, Golf Las Americas for its one-of-a-kind water challenge, and Golf Costa Adeje for its remarkable views of the island of La Gomera.
11. Embrace Street Theater Culture at Festival Mueca
If you’re planning on visiting in May, one of the best things to do in Tenerife is to check out Festival Mueca. Held throughout the northern resort of Puerto de La Cruz each year, this festival packs all the best things about street theater into just four days.
From magicians performing in tiny streets and dance troupes strutting their stuff along main roads to silent comedians amusing audiences in major squares and clowns entertaining children along the promenade, Festival Mueca has something for everyone.
Performances during the day are primarily tailored toward families, with everything from quick 10-minute stints to spectacular 90-minute shows. Most of the performances are done without words, making them suitable for people from all around the world. Pop-up food and drink stands appear all over the place, and many bars, cafes, and restaurants get involved by offering cheap Festival Mueca menus.
As time ticks on, the festival transforms into a vibrant party, with special DJ sets in nightclubs, bands performing in bars, and people partying throughout the streets until the early hours.
12. Hike to the Highest Point in Spain
A trip to Tenerife isn’t complete without visiting Mount Teide. The iconic volcano stands proudly in the center of the island and can be seen from practically everywhere. It’s set in the center of the Teide National Park, where you’ll find a barren alien-like landscape home to unusual rock formations, incredible photo opportunities, and plenty of fantastic walks.
One of the coolest things to do is hike to the top of Mount Teide. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike from the coast of the island to the top. It will take you about three days, but it’s a remarkable adventure you’ll never repeat in your lifetime!
Alternately, you can drive into the Teide National Park and only hike up the volcano itself with the help of a tour guide. The walk will take around nine hours, but you’ll be left with memories you’ll never stop talking about.
If you’re not a fan of uphill hikes, you can travel to the summit of Mount Teide by cable car. The short ride will whisk you straight to the summit, from where you’ll be able to admire the rest of Tenerife and, weather permitting, soak up views across the ocean to the other Canary Islands.
13. Discover Tenerife’s Award-Winning Local Wines
Tenerife produces some incredible wines – several of which have repeatedly won awards. Even if you don’t think you’re a wine lover, signing up for a wine tasting tour is one of the most fun things to do in Tenerife. Most vineyards serve up samples of their wine alongside delicious cured meats, locally produced cheeses, and excellent honey, so there’ll always be something for you to enjoy!
Bodegas Reverón was our favorite vineyard. The standard wine tasting includes a tour of the vineyard, followed by four wines to taste, and a bunch of snacks. Our guide was so knowledgeable and spoke excellent English – we learned tons! At Bodegas Reverón, you can also sign up for the brunch experience, which includes a tour, wine tastings, and a huge brunch spread prepared by an amazing local chef.
If you’re unsure about wine, but you like sweet things, try a “blanco afrutado.” A sweet and fruity type of white wine, this variety is the one people who think they don’t like wine totally fall in love with!
14. Fill Up on Canarian Potatoes and Mojo Sauce
Known locally as “papas arrugadas con mojo,” this side dish is so popular that you’ll find it in practically every restaurant on the island – even ones that don’t serve Canarian food! The dish literally translates as “wrinkled potatoes” (because that’s exactly what they look like), but many places refer to them as Canarian potatoes.
Small potatoes that have been boiled in their skins in salty water until they’ve shriveled up and turned almost gray might not sound like the most appetizing thing to eat. But pair them with a sweet green bell pepper sauce and a fiery red bell pepper sauce, and you’ll be begging the chef for the recipe. If you’re lucky, your potatoes might also be served with an addictive house-made avocado aioli.
Canarian potatoes and mojo sauce can be enjoyed either as a side dish or a starter. If you can’t get enough of the mojo sauces, look out for them in local grocery stores. The green one is typically mild, while the red one comes in a mild (suave) version or a spicy (picante/picón) version.
15. Have a Sun-Soaked Beach Day
When all the things to see in Tenerife have tired you out, it’s time to take it easy and relax on the shore. Home to countless beaches – many of which have been awarded with the Blue Flag for their cleanliness, accessibility, and facilities – Tenerife has the perfect coastal spot for you, whatever you’re into.
As the island is volcanic, many of the beaches are black, brown, or gray. La Tejita in the south is one of the best and stretches on for around half a mile, so you’ve always got plenty of room. If you’re a fan of wind-based watersports, you’ll love the beach directly to the east of La Tejita in El Medano. Teeming with surfers, windsurfers, and kitesurfers, this beach is a great place to get your adrenaline pumping.
There are some exceptions to the volcanic, dark sand rule. Tenerife is home to a small number of beaches made by importing sand from the Sahara. Las Teresitas in the north of the island and El Duque in the south are two of the most stunning golden sand beaches on the island.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Tenerife. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tenerife?
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