“Tenerife? Isn’t that the place where thousands of British pensioners flock together to bake in the sun?” I am not going to spend one week in Tenerife eating fish and chips and listening to Brits moaning about the heat!”
That was my first, not so enthusiastic reaction, when my travel partner came up with the idea. It was safe to say I needed some convincing that there were actually things to do and places to visit in Tenerife.
After reading up on the destination, it turns out there’s another Tenerife, an outdoor Tenerife away from the crowds, with tranquil spots tucked away in the mountains. A Tenerife of snaky roads and banana plantations! A Tenerife for outdoor enthusiasts, who are into hiking, beautiful scenery and local culture! This Tenerife itinerary is for them!
1/ Stay in the north
I decided to rent a place in the village of Garachico, on the green and lush side of Tenerife. The weather might not be as good as in the resorts, but the advantage is that you’re far away from the tourist fleshpots of the south.
Garachico used to be the main port on the island, but a volcanic eruption changed its destiny. Lava continues to play an important role; its main attraction are the natural rock lava pools, great for a swim or a rest. The rest of the charming town consists of quiet streets leading to picturesque squares filled with orange trees.
The place I stayed in was surrounded by an untamed garden in the middle of banana plantations and offered one of the most stunning views across the Atlantic Ocean. The perfect spot for ever-lasting aperitifs!
2/ Drive the Teno mountain range
Situated in the north western part of the island is the Macizo de Teno or Teno mountain range. Massive coastal cliffs offer fantastic views over the island of La Gomera as we drive from Buenavista del Norte to Guia de Isora, past rugged peaks and little hamlets. Masca is the best known stop-off point for a break, which means you might have to share the space with loads of other people. Other than that, you’ll have the views all to yourself!
The Teno mountains are excellent hiking territory as well, but we decided to keep our hiking boots for the other mountain range of the island: the Macizo de Anaga.
3. Hike the Anaga mountains
The panoramic Macizo de Anaga, on Tenerife most northern tip, is known for its green ravines, winding roads and abundant forests and the whole area is a protected natural landscape. There are countless hiking trails, ranging from low-level routes to steep inclines. This is truly unspoilt Tenerife and you could easily spend a few days here, getting away from it all!
4/ Relax at Playa Las Teresitas
After a few days of hiking, you might feel the need to unwind and spend an afternoon on one of the nicest local beaches of the island: Playa Las Teresitas. This stretch of golden sand is almost 1 mile long and close to the Anaga mountains and the islands’capital of Santa Cruz. No baking Brits here, no huge apartment blocks, no ice cream vans: this is a beach where locals and tourists in-the-know come to spend a relaxing afternoon, listening to the sound of the waves!
5/ Tame the almighty El Teide
THE place to visit in Tenerife is of course the National park of El Teide. This massive volcanic crater is no less than 48 km in circumference and the Mount Teide itself rises at a staggering height of 3,718 metres! The landscape changes dramatically as you drive higher and higher and above the clouds the air gets chillier.
You can trek all the way to the summit of Mount Teide in about 6 hours (or take the cable car), but I decided to discover the lower regions by walking across the Roque de Garcia, a unique rock formation that bears a certain resemblance to the American landscapes in Utah and Arizona.
It took about 2 hours to walk the entire loop. Along the way the landscape varies from dry and lunar to like something from a western movie. There were surprisingly enough few people around…
6/ Take to the water
If you’ve had enough of the mountain scenery, it might be time to discover the treasures of the sea, Tenerife is an island after all!
Tenerife is know as a great spot for whale watching, so I set off on a boat trip in the Atlantic Ocean. The best place to start from is Los Gigantes, a seaside town on the west coast of the island. On the way out we are greeted by one of the main attractions on this stretch of the coast: the massive cliffs or Acantilados de los Gigantes.
I would’ve considered myself lucky to see a few dolphins, but to my surprise we get really close to a group of pilot whales! Seeing these majestic animals right next to the boat was one of the most impressive sights ever!
When going on an excursion, make sure the company you are going with obeys to the rules and regulations for observing marine wildlife.
7/ Go colonial
As you would have guessed by now, nature is BIG in Tenerife, but you shouldn’t forget to pay a visit to one of its colonial towns. You can find some beautiful architecture in the town I stayed in,Garachico, but there are a few other picturesque places that deserve a visit for their colonial architecture.
La Orotava, in the north of Tenerife, was founded in the early 16th century and the old town is lined with architectural treasures, elegant town houses, churches and convents.Keep an eye out for the typical balconies adorning the façades of the traditional houses.
The highest point of the town offers far away views of the Atlantic.
I spent one week in Tenerife and the island has totally baffled me! I arrived with a sense of suspicion and left with a totally different opinion!
Do you know of any other things to do in Tenerife? Is there a country that totally surprised you?