Tenerife is a place that teems with culture, history, and unique natural wonders. The island brims with one-of-a-kind wonders, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and historical curiosities. It’s a transfixing and intoxicating place to visit, and we’ve picked out ten of the best for you to get started with — though we cheated a little bit in order to squeeze in a couple of extras along the way. For ultimate ease of getting around and seeing each site, check out Sixt in Tenerife where you’re sure to find a great deal on quality car rentals.
1. Teide National Park
Teide National Park is not just a World Heritage site, but also one of the most-visited national parks in the world. It’s easy to see why. The park encompasses deep forests, landscapes formed from ancient lava flows, natural volcanic surrealism, and much more. The park is also one of the most bio-diverse locations in the world and offers a dizzying array of activities, from star-gazing to jeep safaris. Do not miss.
2. Tenerife Carnival
The Tenerife Carnival (or, officially, the Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife) happens every February, and it is the second-largest carnival in the world after the Rio de Janeiro carnival. It transforms the island of Tenerife into a non-stop party for its two-week duration. In 2019, it set a world record after one party crowd was measured at over 400,000 participants. Make sure to find a quiet beach to recover on the day after — Carnival is intense, and the nights are long!
3. Drago Milenario
The Drago Milenario, or Millenial Dragon’s Tree, is the symbol of the island of Tenerife — so you’ll see images of it everywhere you go. It’s definitely worth going to see the real deal, though, over on the north-western coast of the island. The red resin of the thousand-year-old tree is referred to as ‘dragon’s blood’, and the tree has been a source of local veneration for centuries.
4. Whale watching — or Loro Parque zoo
The stretch of sea between Tenerife and La Gomera is a perfect place to go whale-watching. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll probably also get to see dolphins, seals, and other marine life too. And if you don’t have the sea legs for that kind of undertaking, then take a trip instead to the wonderful Loro Parque zoo, where you can get up close with all kinds of animals without needing to leave land.
5. Masca village — or San Cristobal de le Laguna
The village of Masca is renowned as the most beautiful on the island. Quite an achievement in a place with so much beauty, both natural and intentional. Adorned with cypress and palm trees, the village is a parallel world of stunning architecture and charming streets. Or, if it gets tricky to make it along to Masca, you could try the old centre of San Cristóbal de La Laguna — also a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a spectacular trip back in time.
6. El Pijaral — enchanted forest
The mysterious enchanted forest of El Pijaral is home to many endangered and unique native species of plants and animals and is an enigmatic and magical place. Make sure to get a permit in advance before you go, though: the forest is strictly protected, and hikers without a permit are liable to get hit with hefty fines. You can book permits online via the Tenerife local government website.
7. Los Gigantes cliffs
It’s exhilarating to get up close to see the majestic cliffs of Los Gigantes (yes, exactly: the gigantic ones). Best experienced with a boat trip along the base. The cliffs were also the site of a curious bit of imperial squabbling in September 1797, when the British navy attempted to invade the island, but were repelled by the Spanish army and local fighters.
8. Siam Park — or the Garachico pools
Siam Park is a 48-acre water theme park on the Costa Adeje, with a Thai theme. Ranging from easy-going family-friendly pools to intense white-knuckle rides and drops, there is something for everyone here. However, if you’re curious about another possible water-centred activity, try to get along to the Caletón de Garachico — the Garachico pools. These natural volcanic rock formations are not only a great swim, but visually stunning.
It’s not easy to give recommendations for particular beaches in Tenerife — there are so many to choose from. Once you’re on the island, there’s probably a delightful and charming beach within a ten-minute walk of wherever you happen to be standing. All we’ll say is make sure you get to a few of them, especially the smaller ones. The island may get busy, but there are still hidden treasures.
10. Punta de Teno view
Finish up your visit to Tenerife with a trip to see the view from the Punta de Teno. Make sure to go early if possible, as it can get crowded. The image of the Punta de Teno lighthouse with Los Gigantes cliffs behind is an astonishing one — you’ll be glad to have been able to see it.
We’re sure you’ll have a fantastic time in Tenerife. You’ll certainly need to get around while you’re on the island, so make sure to easily and quickly hire a car with Sixt whenever you might need one. There are three Sixt locations on Tenerife — at the Tenerife North Airport, the South Airport, and at Costa Adeje.