What to Do in Tenerife if it is your First Time on the Island
Tenerife has long been a fixture on the many people’s list of ideal vacation destinations. Known for its excellent year-round climate, beautiful beaches, and affordable accommodation and amenities, tourists come here by the millions year after year. But if you think there is nothing more to Tenerife than lazing on the beach then you would be wrong. The island has an abundance of attractions and activities to suit all people of all ages. If you are planning your first trip to Tenerife and do not know what the island has to offer, take a look at this handy guide on what to do in Tenerife if it is your first time on the island. Here are just a few most popular highlights of the things to do on the island and, if you are really interested to prepare to your trip to Tenerife and learn about all important things to do in Tenerife, you are also welcome to check out the ultimate list of Top-100 Things to Do in Tenerife.
Mount Teide and Teide National Park
Not many people know that Tenerife is home to the third-highest volcano in the world. Mount Teide volcano stands imposingly in the center of the island which is, of course, the focus of most people’s visit here. But Teide National Park also has plenty of other things to do, meaning you could easily spend the whole day here.
For those looking for a challenge, you can hike up Mount Teide. It is a grueling six-hour climb so you need to be reasonably fit to take it on. However, the views from the top are absolutely spectacular so it is worth it. If you do not fancy climbing back down – or you are too tired to do so – you can always take the cable car on the descent. The Teide cable car is the obvious option for those who do not want to climb up. It operates between 9 am and 4 pm, but there is also the option to book an evening tour which includes dinner and a drink and gives you the chance to experience Mount Teide at sunset.
Some advice for ascending Mount Teide: as the mountain is extremely high, you should take something warm with you to wear, no matter how hot it is at sea level. The higher you climb to the Mt Teide, the colder temperature it gets. Altitude can also be an issue for some people; if you have respiratory or heart problems, or are heavily pregnant, you will be advised not to ascend Mount Teide.
However, Mount Teide is not the only place where you can hike and trek in Teide National Park. There are plenty of trails to choose from, from easy one-hour strolls to more intensive hikes. The landscapes change wildly depending on the altitude you are hiking at; the higher you go, the arider and volcanic the scenery becomes.
One of the most intriguing parts of Teide National Park, and certainly should be high when you are considering what to do in Tenerife, is Los Roques de Garcia. Running from north to south along the main caldera, these amazing rock formations will make you feel like you have stepped onto the surface of Mars. Roque Cinchado is the best exposed of these rock formations with so amazing shape that you can think it is impossible to be created by nature. The rock is so famous that it is considered emblematic of the island of Tenerife itself, just as much so as Mount Teide, and once appeared on peseta banknotes.
If adrenaline is your thing, it is possible to paraglide in Teide National Park. As a popular activity, there are a number of clubs offering an excellent standard of instruction and equipment. If it is your first time paragliding and you do not fancy doing it by yourself, you can choose to do a tandem jump with an instructor who will control all the movement while you just enjoy the ride.
When it comes to what to do in Tenerife, stargazing is one of the best. Tenerife is well known for being one of the best places in Europe – if not the best – to watch the night skies. This is because there is very little air pollution and the skies rarely get clouded over. Many tour operators offer stargazing trips in the park. You can choose between a group stargazing tour or a VIP tour, such as the Tenerife Sunset and Stars VIP Tour which is available through TripsPoint. If you are really into astronomy, you should also visit the Teide Observatory. One of the first major observatories in the world, here you can have a guided tour of the complex and see some of the amazing telescopes which are housed there. Tours to the observatory must be booked in advance.
Translating as ‘the sand dune’, El Medano is one of the most picturesque towns on the whole island. It is primarily known for its strong winds which make it the ideal place for windsurfing and kitesurfing. In fact, a number of windsurfing competitions have been held here over the years. There are three main windsurfing spots: the Bay, the Harbour Wall, and Cabezo Beach.
El Medano is situated close to the island’s largest natural beaches, the Playa Grande and the Playa la Tejita. Between these beaches, you will find one of Tenerife’s most fantastic natural sights, La Montana Roja, or ‘Red Mountain’. A volcanic cone, the site is protected as a natural reserve. Also close to the town is a small cave where Hermano Pedro, the first saint native to the Canary Islands, spent some time; it is now a shrine dedicated to him.
While some may consider Tenerife to be a dry island with not much vegetation, it may come as a surprise that there are botanical gardens when they are researching what to do in Tenerife. Dating back to the 18th century when explorers were making their way back to Europe from the Americas, these gardens are filled with all kinds of flora from around the globe. The gardens were made on the order of King Carlos III of Spain, who wanted to plant some exotic specimens in the gardens of his Royal Palace in Madrid. He did, however, know that planting these specimens in mainland Spain straight from America would not be a good idea; he would need to cultivate them first. So he chose the north of Tenerife, where the climate is much kinder, so the plants could adjust before having them transferred. However, the King’s plan failed; there was no way the plants would survive Madrid’s winter. So they stayed in Tenerife.
The main feature of the botanical gardens is a 200-year-old Moreton Bay fig tree, a magnificent beast of a specimen, but there are many other species of plant to enjoy. The gardens cover around 20,000 square meters of land with plans to expand, so you can easily spend half a day here strolling amongst the wonderful fauna.
If you are a bird lover who is wondering what to do in Tenerife, Loro Parque – or Parrot Park – is the place to come. Originally established as a paradise for parrots, the zoo now houses a wide assortment of animal species. Parrots are still one of the main highlights, with macaws, parakeets, cockatoos, and Amazons all living in the park. There is even a parrot show where you can see these wonderful birds in flight.
Loro Parque is also well known for its marine creatures, in particular, orca, penguins, dolphins and sea lions. Other attractions include: Naturavision, a documentary film which aims to raise awareness of the destruction of habitats and the effect this has on species around the world; Katandra Treetops, where you can walk among the tops of the trees and listen to bird song; and Orquidario, where you can see some of the world’s most exquisite orchids.
Tenerife Monkey Park
One of the smaller zoos on the island, Tenerife Monkey Park nevertheless offers visitors a fantastic experience getting up-close and personal to these fascinating creatures. The center functions as an international breeding center for endangered species of primates and aims to educate people about the animals that live there. It differs from other zoos in that visitors can actually walk through the cages and feed the monkeys with food bought at the zoo.
While most monkeys will happily eat from your hand, some, especially the smaller species, are bold enough to come to sit on your shoulder and reach into your bag of food themselves. As well as monkeys, a number of reptiles also live in the park. If you thinking what to do in Tenerife that gives you the chance to experience wild animals close up, Tenerife Monkey Park is a great choice.
Masca Road Trip
If your trip planning on what to do in Tenerife includes seeing some of the island’s most stunning scenery, a road trip to Masca should be a high priority. Masca is a small village in the west of the island founded by pirates who were hiding from soldiers on horses. The location meant that the soldiers could not find them and the village remained highly inaccessible for a number of years. In fact, 50 years ago it was still only possible to reach the village on foot.
Nowadays it has become a popular tourist destination after a road was built in the 1970s. Masca is a traditional village hidden within the ancient Teno Massif consisting of a collection of rural houses linked by rough stone walkways. Due to its popularity with tourists, a number of restaurants and shops have popped up over the years. On both sides of the village are steep ravine walls which add to the dramatic effect of Masca.
There are a number of routes you can take to Masca depending on where you coming from on the island. One of the more popular routes from the south of Tenerife takes you through Santiago del Teide, a popular stopover point and one which is also extremely beautiful; the town is home to a wide variety of fauna. A lot of visitors often combine a trip to Masca with a stop at Los Gigantes, a resort known for its spectacular cliffs.
Although it is possible to rent a car and drive to Masca yourself, you may want to consider booking a private tour. The roads leading to the village are well known for being extremely winding and nerve-wracking, meaning it may be better to leave the driving up to an experienced driver, especially if you are not so confident behind the wheel. TripsPoint offer tours by various tour operators.
Due to its warm waters, Tenerife is an excellent diving destination. What makes the island even more exciting for scuba divers is the number of shipwreck dives which are available.
The Condesito shipwreck is one of the most popular shipwreck dives as it does not go too deep, ranging between nine to 18 meters. The Condesito was a cargo ship carrying bags of cement when it began having engine problems during a storm. Located in a small gully not too far from the shore of Tenerife, over the years it has broken in many pieces due to the tidal surges. However, many species have made their home here, such as bream, cuttlefish, and trumpetfish. As the shipwreck site is quite small, some dive companies then head along the gullies to see if they can spot other forms of marine life, including octopus, starfish, and damselfish.
Other shipwreck dives which are possible off the coast of Tenerife include: El Penon, a tug boat which was scuttled as an artificial reef; a DC-3 plane which encountered engine problems causing the pilot to ditch it 300 meters from the shore at El Sauzal; and the SS Westburn, a steam cargo vessel that was scuttled to avoid being captured by the Allies during the First World War.
There are many dive companies to choose from in Tenerife. When deciding which company to go with, make sure that they are fully licensed and that they have a policy that someone is always manning the dive boat.
If you have always fancied searching the depths of the sea in a yellow submarine, your visit to Tenerife gives you the chance to do so. The dive was set up in 2007 in San Miguel marina, chosen for the vast array of marine life that lives there, in particular, stingrays. There are now a large number of stingrays in the area which the submarine staff help to look after, ensuring the natural environment is maintained so they can breed and develop.
On the dive, your tour guide will give you an introduction to the submarine and what you will see when you are underwater. You will be allocated your own personal seat with large viewing port, meaning you will have great access to view the outside water world. Every submarine window is equipped with a separate LCD screen in order to let you enjoy views under various angles.
If you want to take part in a submarine safari, TripsPoint offers tours provided by a local tour operator from both the south and north part of the island.
Pyramids of Guimar
One of the more curious activities you could choose when deciding what to do in Tenerife is a visit to the Pyramids of Guimar. Geometric in shape similar to pyramids in Central America, the Pyramids of Guimar have long been a source of controversy among archaeologists and historians. Only coming to the attention of the public in the early 1990s, many theories have been bandied around regarding the origins of the pyramids, although recent archaeological research has placed their beginnings in the 19th century. Six of the pyramids remain – of an original total of nine – and they are an interesting sight to see, regardless of when they came into being.
As part of the Pyramids of Guimar Ethnographic Park, as well as the pyramid complex you can also visit a museum, botanical gardens, an auditorium, and explore many outdoor routes.
Cueva del Viento
The largest lava tube cave in Europe, and fifth largest in the world after a series of lava tube caves in Hawaii, Cueva del Viento is considered to be the most complex of all volcanic tubes in the world as it has many passageways and levels to explore. Spanning over 17 kilometers, Cueva del Viento – or Wind Cave – was formed by lava flows from Pico Viejo, a volcanic cone located close to Mount Teide. It is possible to take a tour of the tunnels, which takes you on foot through farmland, pine forests and along a former royal pathway before spending 45 minutes inside the cave itself.
An interesting fact about Cueva del Viento is that the cave is incredibly rich in fossils. Two native species now extinct – the goliath Tenerife lizard and the Tenerife giant rat – have been discovered there.
Castillo de San Miguel
Located close to Los Cristianos on the south coast of Tenerife, Castillo de San Miguel may not be an authentic Medieval castle, but it certainly offers a full Medieval experience. While both the exterior and interior of the castle are a sight to behold, with the interior being decorated with historical swords, armor, scrolls, and chests, it is the banquet and shows that really captures the essence of the Middle Ages. Based around the legend of the Knights of the Round Table, guests can enjoy a spectacle of medieval tournaments and games such as jousting and sword fighting. While the games take place, you will tuck into a feast of chicken, potatoes and vegetable cream. At the end of the banquet, you will be taken to the grand ballroom where you can dance the night away to live music and also enjoy performances by acrobats, ballet dancers and capoeira performers.
Shows and banquets are scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 7 pm.
What to Do in Tenerife? It Is Hard to Decide
As you can see from this guide, Tenerife has a plethora of options, from natural and historical sites to fun attractions for all ages. Deciding what to do in Tenerife can be difficult if it is your first time to the island and there is so much to see and so little time. Hopefully, this travel guide has helped you to choose the best activities for you. If you need any more inspiration, TripsPoint offers all kinds of tours and trips to help you organize what to do in Tenerife and plan the perfect holiday.
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