Tenerife holidays

Experience Tenerife

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

Stand with your back to the ocean and, wherever you are on Tenerife, you will probably be able to see Mount Teide in the distance. The mountain is at the dead centre of the island and is an ever-present natural monument on the horizon. It is possible to climb to the very top of the mountain, but only with permission. At over 12,000 feet it is by no means an easy ascent, as the air gets thinner toward the summit, and some people may begin to experience the first symptoms of altitude sickness on their way up.

Playa de las Americas on the southern coast of Tenerife is the main tourist resort. If you are not staying here, it is still a great place to spend a day. It was originally a neighbour to nearby Los Cristianos, although now it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. The resort has sandy beaches which were manmade using sand imported from Africa. Tenerife's natural sand is much darker in colour due to its volcanic origins, and after a day on the pale beach of Las Americas, you may still be able to spot the darker grains in amongst the imported African sand.

In the north of the island there is Puerto de la Cruz, and this is more suited to older generations who don't want to be surrounded by noisy teenagers who see the day as something they just have to get through before the next night out begins. The city is ideal for relaxing and sightseeing, so head to the port for a slice of Canaries culture free from brand-name fast-food restaurants and coffee shops. Even the tourists in this area are mostly Spanish, and you can enjoy a drink while watching the harbour at work, with fishing boats sailing in and out.

Close to the city is Loro Parque, a zoo which began with parrots as its main exhibit. There is now a much larger range of animals to take a look at, including sea lions, penguins and dolphins, and the zoo holds shows and demonstrations featuring many of its creatures. Once through the main gate, avoid the queues, as these are just to have an official photo taken holding a parrot, which you might not want to spend the money on buying!

Top Landmarks

Commonly known as Tenerife's second city, La Laguna was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, protecting its historic town centre for future generations. It offers a wealth of architectural delights, including its Cathedral, and the Old City at the heart of the town. The common name used for the city is a shortened form of its full name, San Cristobal de La Laguna, and in its abbreviated form, it translates as 'The Lake'. The body of water in question is no longer there, but the name lives on. Appropriately enough, La Laguna is a little wetter than most of the Canaries, as its northern location means it catches the north-easterly winds, leading to increased rainfall and a little less sunshine than the rest of the archipelago.

During a visit to Puerto de la Cruz, discover the Botanical Gardens or Jardin Botanico, a well-kept - if slightly compact - garden of greenery and exotic plant life. Despite being relatively small in scale, it can still take several hours to tour the gardens at a leisurely pace, and for some travellers this is the first attraction to visit during any journey to Puerto de la Cruz. It helps to have some knowledge of the plants and trees, as there is not usually a guide to tell you what species they are. Thanks to the presence of bright butterflies and bees at certain times of the year, you might find yourself entertained well enough either way.

Entertainment

For those who are old enough to hit the clubs - and young enough to still want to - Veronicas in Playa de las Americas is an ever-popular venue. It's a strip of bars and clubs, and after dark, it quickly becomes a thronging party playground for people of the right age. At about 200m in length, it's not a huge area, but its bijou scale helps to contain all of the revellers in close proximity to one another. If you'd prefer to avoid the more boisterous behaviour of the partygoers, it's easy for families with young children, or those who just want some peace and quiet, to avoid the place.

A rather more family friendly activity, still in Playa de las Americas, is the highly regarded Mini Golf course. It's more than just one course, in fact, with two 18-hole circuits and a 9-hole course as well. The greens and fairways are kept to the highest standards you could expect of Mini Golf, and thanks to the great number of holes, you're less likely to find yourself caught in a queue. If you want to try your hand at all three courses, one smart idea is to wait until the last day of your holiday. Get up early, check out of your hotel, and spend the day playing golf until it is time to travel to the airport for your flight home - look out for play-all-day tickets rather than paying for one round at a time.

Dining Out

For many, package holidays to Tenerife mean one thing: delicious local cuisine. Tenerife is a Spanish island and, in spite of its location off the coastline of Africa, that means Spanish cuisine is dominant. You can expect traditional seafood dishes, simply prepared fish, paella and tortillas. As a very tourist-focused destination, you should also see home comforts ranging from burgers and pizzas to steaks and spit-roast chicken. Most restaurants on the island are casual dining, so no need to get dressed up before you head out for your meal. In the main resorts, you may find you can eat in the open air along the sea front, and this can be a very relaxing experience as you help yourself to your share of paella, or strip the succulent meat away from the bone of a freshly cooked chicken.

All of the Canary Islands together have unique delicacies not found in mainland Spain. While the dishes overall may be largely the same, some of the ingredients are not. For example, the peppers that grow on the Canaries are different than those elsewhere in Spain, and this can make spicier dishes have a distinctive taste that you will not have experienced before. For a memorable taste of the Canaries, try some honey rum, produced locally and unique to the archipelago.

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Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

The Canaries are part of Spain, and that includes Tenerife, where the main language is Spanish. However, perhaps even more than Spain's other package holiday hotspots, the Canaries are ideally set up for British tourism, and you should find English is widely spoken wherever you go. This is especially true in the hotels and throughout the main resorts, and holds true even in the off-season, although in the winter you're more likely to hear the languages of northern Europe used more often too.

Currency

Tenerife and the Canaries are one of a handful of island groups that use the euro, despite not being located close to the European continent. Apart from some French territories in the Caribbean, they are one of the furthest destinations you can travel to and still use euros. The currency is easy to obtain - you can exchange cash before you travel or while you're there, travellers' cheques are widely accepted, and there are plenty of ATMs to take money out using your debit or credit card.

Visas

Spain is probably one of the easiest countries you can travel to as a UK citizen, and that applies to the Canaries too. As long as you have a valid passport, you can enter and stay for up to three months. It will need to be valid when you leave, too, so be wary if you're nearing your expiration date. While there's no requirement for it to be valid for any specific period beyond your return to the UK, it's sensible to allow at least a week just in case extreme circumstances delay your flight home.

Climate

Tenerife has more of an equatorial climate than Spain's Mediterranean islands and coastline, and that usually means very consistent and pleasant weather conditions with hot summer days - expect temperatures well past 30°C, and remaining pleasantly warm through the autumn. Winter breaks are by no means a bad idea, and although the weather will be slightly cooler with slightly more rain, you're still likely to experience significantly better conditions than at home in the UK.

Main Airports

There are two airports on Tenerife, and these are helpfully known as Tenerife North and Tenerife South. Both are served by buses, and by changing between routes along the way, it is not difficult to reach anywhere on the island by bus. The only problem is if you arrive after midnight, as the buses may have stopped running, and do not start again until around 5am the following morning. An alternative is to climb into a taxi at the airport, and let the driver take you directly to your destination.

Flight Options

The southern airport is the busier of the two, and while it is possible to land at Tenerife North, this may be more likely if your departure point was in mainland Spain, rather than elsewhere in continental Europe or the UK.

Travel Advice

If you decide to take a taxi, double check which airport you are landing at, and where your resort is on the island. In some circumstances, you might land at the airport in the south of the island, and unwittingly book a taxi to take you to your accommodation in the far north of Tenerife. As well as being a long drive, this can prove rather expensive at standard fares. If your airport transfer is going to be unusually long in this way, it can be sensible to try to book it in advance and get it cheaper - or even to cut your losses by hiring a car and driving yourself there.

Other Transport Options

Tenerife can also be reached by boat, with two main ports: Los Cristianos and Santa Cruz.

Getting Around

The local bus service and car hire options are a great way to explore, but amid the more practical modes of transport, there is the option of heading out on a bicycle. Using pedal power to get around means you can stop whenever you want to take a look at the view, and potentially go off road and use trails that would not be suitable for a car. Alternatively, discover the foothills on bicycle as you approach Mount Teide.

Bus

The bus service is a good way to get around Tenerife if you don't want to drive, and there are substantial savings to be made by investing in a travel card to cut your fares by as much as 50% or more. In some cases, you can use a single pass for all of the members of your group, further saving you on your communal transport costs. Buses run regularly between the main destinations on the island, although naturally the further the journey, the longer it may take, and if you want to explore long distances throughout your stay, you should think about hiring a car.

Train

Tenerife has a light rail service, or tram, that is operated by Metropolitano de Tenerife. It consists of two lines that run to over 20 different stops, providing a quick and easy way to explore the central island.

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FACTS

  1. At more than 12,000 feet, the volcanic Mount Teide is not only the highest peak on Tenerife, or in the Canary Islands, but it is the tallest mountain in Spain overall.
  2. Its height makes it a permanent feature on the horizon, and it also appears in some of the imagery used on the island, including the crest of La Laguna, which features a conical island atop the waves, with fire coming from its peak.
  3. A cable car lift can carry visitors to the top to save them climbing the ascent, but this rapid increase in altitude can worsen the symptoms of sickness in those affected, who must quickly return to the base of the mountain.

FACTS

  1. At more than 12,000 feet, the volcanic Mount Teide is not only the highest peak on Tenerife, or in the Canary Islands, but it is the tallest mountain in Spain overall.
  2. Its height makes it a permanent feature on the horizon, and it also appears in some of the imagery used on the island, including the crest of La Laguna, which features a conical island atop the waves, with fire coming from its peak.
  3. A cable car lift can carry visitors to the top to save them climbing the ascent, but this rapid increase in altitude can worsen the symptoms of sickness in those affected, who must quickly return to the base of the mountain.

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