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Discover an island where the sun shines all year, an otherworldly landscape meets crystal blue seas, and a distinct island culture is waiting to welcome you…

Tenerife remains one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, and with good reason. The island has a veritable feast of experiences on offer, and not just in the ever-popular resort towns Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos. Tenerife’s colourful local character and dramatic scenery never fail to impress, and the distinct Canary Island culture is a treat.

Time your visit right to embrace Canarian life and experience the island’s unique celebrations. The island’s ‘Carnaval de Santa Cruz’, held around February, is second only to Rio’s annual carnival in Brazil when it comes to scale and pageantry.

Thanks to its history as a tourist hotspot, the island is a well-known destination for partygoers and families. But rest assured that the largest Canary Island has plenty to interest all comers. So read on to learn what the Island of Eternal Spring holds in store for you...

 

Culture and history

As a part of the Kingdom of Spain, Tenerife and the rest of the Canary Islands are heavily influenced by mainland Spanish culture. Tenerife’s main religion is Roman Catholicism, just like in Spain, with the faith also having a large influence on the island’s culture. Thanks to its relative geographical isolation, off the west coast of Africa, the island manages to maintain a richly distinct culture all of its own.

With roots in the indigenous Guanches tribal culture that dominated the islands before the Spanish arrived, Canary Islanders (or Isleños in Spanish) are very proud of their history and heritage. 

Isleños also enjoy traditional Canarian sports like ‘juego del palo’, a form of martial art that involves fighting with sticks. ‘Salto del pastor’, meanwhile, is a spectacular sport where a spiked stick is used like a pole vault to leap over ravines and other dangerous or sheer terrain. It’s fascinating and frightening in equal parts!

Canarian culture is particularly distinct for its cuisine, due in part to being an archipelago in the ocean. Naturally, fish plays a vital part in the diet. Other popular dishes include ‘papas arrugadas’ – wrinkled potatoes boiled in salted water. These simple tasty treats are served up with ‘mojo’ pepper sauces, red or green spicy accompaniments that bring this dish into its own. And the Spanish love of tapas has not escaped Tenerife, either.

Things to do

The massive volcano Mount Teide dominates the views, but the island is also rich in varied scenery, from the stark otherworldly beauty of Teide National Park to the thick pine forests of La Orotava Valley. Then there’s the awe-inspiring sunsets on Beijo beach and the breath-taking Los Gigantes cliffs that adorn so many tourist brochures about the island.

All this combines to create a getaway like no other. Spend the morning taking a camel ride through a volcanic crater, hike through the stunning Anaga Mountains in the afternoon, and then relax on Las Vistas beach in the evening. And you can do all that in one day!

Costa Adeje

A popular resort town for the discerning traveller, Costa Adeje sits on the southern coast of the island. This destination boasts countless excellent restaurants and a stunning seafront promenade, where there are plenty of activities to enjoy. Try a ride on a jet-ski, or take a trip out to sea and watch dolphins and whales at play.

Beyond the bright lights of the beach fronts, the south and east coast of Tenerife has plenty of quiet fishing villages that offer an authentic view of island life, far away from the crowds and wild nights. And if you love a round of golf, you’ll find a few excellent courses and country clubs where you can while away an afternoon.

Los Gigantes

If geology and natural history are your passion, then you should head to Los Gigantes. The iconic cliffs span a six-mile stretch of Tenerife’s west coast, rising over 1,600 feet from the Atlantic. Los Gigantes means ‘the Giants’ in Spanish, and it is easy to see why. 

The town itself has a delightful marina that is fringed by excellent quayside restaurants and bars. For a couple of peaceful hours, you can sample some of the local cuisine and watch private yachts arrive or set sail. A short distance down the coast from Los Gigantes is the resort of Playa de la Arena. There, you can see one of the island’s few natural black sand beaches – most others have golden sand imported.

La Orotava 

To taste some of the ‘real Tenerife’, make a trip to the beautiful village of La Orotava in the north, and enjoy its quaint cobbled streets and colonial architecture. There, you’ll find a beautiful parish church and a botanical garden with over 3,000 different species of tropical and subtropical plant species, from Africa to Australia and beyond.

The surrounding valley – also called La Orotava – includes the peak of Mount Teide. Between the stunning natural vistas and the picturesque houses, you’ll have plenty of superb photo opportunities. Here, you will find a beguiling slice of island life a world away from the sun and sangria of the southern resorts.

Flight time

London to Madrid and Barcelona – from 2 hours

London to Seville – from 2.5 hours

Currency

Euro - The currency of the islands, as with mainland Spain, is the euro.

Passports and visas

A passport is needed to visit Tenerife, so remember to keep it handy for your flight. Your document must be valid for the duration of your stay. British citizens don’t currently need a visa.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Any Spanish phrasebook will hold you in good stead. Here are a few useful phrases to get you started:

¡Hola! – hello

¿Habla inglés? – do you speak English?

¿Cuánto cuesta? – how much is this?

Me gustaría – I would like…

¡Salud! – cheers!

¡Perdón! – excuse me

Buenos días – good morning

Por favour – please

Gracias – thank you

Timezone

Tenerife is on Greenwich Mean Time, so it is in the same time zone as Great Britain. This means no jet lag or having to change your watches if you’re flying from the UK.

Electricity

Mains voltage is 220 volts AC. Hotels will have European-style two-pin sockets, so a travel adaptor will be needed if you take your UK electrical appliances with you on your holiday or cruise.

Language

Spanish; Castilian -

Canary Islanders speak a version of Spanish known as Canarian or ‘habla canaria’. The dialect is similar to Andalusian Spanish and is closer to Latin American Spanish dialects.

Thanks to the island’s legacy as a popular tourist destination, English and German are widely understood, especially in and around the resort towns.

Tipping

A decent rule of thumb is to tip around 10% of a restaurant bill, and taxi drivers and porters may expect a small tip of the same amount too.

Tipping in restaurants is not mandatory, but as elsewhere in Europe, a reward for good service will be gladly accepted.

Climate

Tenerife enjoys a subtropical climate, with temperatures that rarely fall below 20 degrees Celsius. Thanks to the north-easterly sea breeze, temperatures stay around the high twenties during the summer months, meaning the heat is rarely too extreme.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Tenerife has a population of over 750,000 people, with a total of 2.2 million living in the Canary Islands as a whole. Of course, millions more arrive at the local airport each year.

At 2,034 square kilometres, the island is about the same size as the county of Norfolk.

Smoking

Just like in Spain, Tenerife’s law prohibits smoking in public buildings like hotels and restaurants. Smoking is allowed in most outside areas, but as with anywhere, be considerate when smoking in public.



Climate

Tenerife Carnival

Tenerife Carnival

Held every February this carnival attracts visitors from around the globe