Everything You Need To Know About Tenerife

Everything You Need To Know About Tenerife

Relax in a chic beach resort, explore the diverse terrain, surf at black-sand beaches, descend vertigo-inducing gorges, eat fresh fish – there are 785 square miles in which to create your adventure. Here’s everything you need to know before you go.

is a paradisiac island, tempting at any time of the
year but especially during the cold winter months when the mild
weather feels particularly luxurious. The temperature generally
sits above 20 degrees and the varied tropical landscape yields
rewarding secrets beneath the eternal sunshine. Relax in a chic
beach resort, explore the diverse terrain, surf at black-sand
beaches, descend vertigo-inducing gorges, eat fresh fish – there
are 785 square miles in which to create your adventure. Here’s
everything you need to know before you go.

North and south are two different worlds

Tenerife’s two main cities are the capital of Santa Cruz and the
former capital La Laguna. While they’re less than an hour drive
apart, the landscape is dramatically different; the south is
desert-like and dry, while the north is very tropical and green.
80% of visitors flock to the south, where endless golden sandy
beaches await and sun is guaranteed, but the north offers a wilder
experience, with black volcanic-sand beaches, many of which are
only accessible on foot. Take your pick.

Pack your hiking boots

Mount Teide, a volcano that last erupted in 1909, is the highest
peak in Spain and the third largest volcanic structure in the
world. At 3718m, you need to apply in advance for a free permit to hike to the summit, but the
lower side of the volcano is accessible or there’s a cable car to
take you to the Rambleta station, less than 660 feet from the
summit. On a clear day, you can see up to four other islands from
there; Gran Canaria, La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera. Declared a
National Park in 1954, the volcano and the surrounding area were
also made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. Hike the dozens of
trails through the arid, desert-like landscape where unforgiving
environmental conditions mean 12 endemic species unique to the
island, such as gorgeous alhelí flowers, flourish here. The fairy
forest of Anaga Mountains is another area worth carrying hiking
boots for, as well as for descending the Masca gorge for a unique
view of the cliffs of Los Gigantes.

Visit the guachinches for cheap eats

Traditionally located in the north of the island, guachinches
are makeshift restaurants born out of the necessity of wine
producers to sell their produce. Pitch up to give the house wine a
try and enjoy some homemade food, made by the woman and offered in
small portions as tapas to complement the booze. Plates may include
the likes of chickpeas (garbanzos), rabbit (conejo en salmorejo),
goat’s meat (carne cabra) or spiced pork (carne de fiesta) to name
but a few. Guachinches are usually small and simple, often in
converted garages, making them great places to discover the local
soul of Tenerife. Download Guachapp to track down the best ones –
or if you trust your instinct, look out for signs like “guachinche”
or “se vende vino” (wine is sold here).

Soak up the local culture in La Laguna

La Laguna is a colonial town founded in the late 15th century
and one of the island’s main cultural hubs. Included in the UNESCO
list of World Heritage sites since 1999, La Laguna is an elegant,
colourful and predominantly low-rise town where the university is
located. The main streets are pedestrianised which makes it easier
to explore historic buildings such as the San Miguel chapel, the
cathedral, the convent of Santa Catalina de la Siena and the Nava
Palace. Interestingly, the city planning of La Laguna laid the
foundations for many Latin America colonial cities which were
modelled on it.

Drink local wine

Tenerife is fast becoming a wine destination and rightly so –
the island prides itself on having five PDO-recognised wine
production areas thanks to fertile volcanic soil. The first area to
have achieved protected status was Tacoronte Acentejo and today it
boasts the largest numbers of vineyards in the whole archipelago.
We recommend a trip to La Casa del
in the pretty village of El Sauzal, where you can learn
about winemaking traditions in Tenerife while enjoying one of the
best views of Mount Teide. Another good option is Bodega Monje, a
family-run winery in business since 1750 which offers guided

Make the most of one of the best climates in the world

The Canary Islands are also known as the “Fortunate Islands”.
One of the reasons might be the 3,500 hours of sunshine per year or
the average temperature of 23 degrees. This, together with the
unique diversity means that anything is possible – you don’t need
to check the forecast to make plans and there are a wealth of
activities on offer. Hike Spain’s highest peak in the morning, then
cool off with a swim and lunch at a seafront restaurant before
working it off with an adrenaline-filled afternoon of

Get stuck into local food

The past few years have seen a resurgence in Tenerife’s cuisine
with more and more restaurants in turning their back on
tourist-catered food offerings in favour of traditional regional
cuisine. When browsing menus look out for local vieja or cherne
fish, spicy ‘mojo picón’ or ‘mojo verde’ sauce and ‘papas negras
arrugadas’ (wrinkled black potatoes). For desserts, opt for sweetly
spiced rice pudding-like frangollo or gofio mousse made with local

In terms of local produce, bananas are the quintessential fruit
of the island – indeed, we’ve never tried better, while fresh
avocados and papaya are equally gorgeous. Head to the farmers’
market in Tegueste to pick up some supplies for a picnic on the

Hire a car

In Tenerife you will see that there is at least one car parked
in front of each house. Everyone has a car and it is for a good
reason: public transport outside the main cities isn’t very
convenient, so unless you are planning to not move from your hotel,
renting a car is highly advisable.

Sunsets are an event

The burning sky with the defiant Mount Teide below and the
Atlantic Ocean stretching as far as the eye can see is postcard
perfection. Some of the best spots for chasing sunsets are around
the volcano, as well as at beaches such as Benijo in the Anaga
area. Las Terrazas del Sauzal is a great spot to get stuck
into some sundowner cocktails.

Know your barraquito from your leche y leche

When ordering coffee in Tenerife you’re likely to come across
some unknown brews. Be sure to sample the two local specialities:
barraquito and leche y leche. The barraquito is a gloriously
layered concoction of milk, coffee, condensed milk, ground
cinnamon, lemon peel and Licor 43 or Tía María (so damn delicious),
while the leche y leche is coffee with milk and condensed milk.
Unsurprisingly, both are on the sweet side, so think twice before
reaching for the sugar.

Gaze up at the sky

Tenerife has been home to the Canarian Institute of Astrophysics
for over 40 years and, together with places like Hawaii, it’s known
as one of the world’s best locations for stargazing. The
pitch-black Canarian sky has been protected by law since 1992 and
guided tours of the Teide Observatory are available for astral

Explore the underworld

Europe’s largest lava cave is located in the district of Icod de
los Vinos, a town famous for the “Drago Milenario”, an ancient
dragon tree rumoured to be between 1,000 and 3,000 years old. La
Cueva del Viento meaning “cave of the wind” is an underground
labyrinth of over 10 miles of passages with many yet to be
discovered. Guided visits are available and tickets can be bought

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