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21 Things to do, see & NOT do in Tenerife

After travelling around Tenerife for a few weeks, I made this list of things to do, see and experience on the island. I also included some things to avoid and not do to ensure you have a great holiday in Tenerife. I provide (affiliate) links for more details, prices and bookings.

Visit Siam Water park

Siam Water park from top of a slide
Siam Water Park

Siam Water Park is simply incredible. I have been to many water parks in Spain and must say this is the best one I have been to so far. I am always sceptical when an attraction claims to be the “best waterpark in the world”, but in this case, it is true! Especially if you are staying in Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas or Costa Adeje, it is a must!

Go dolphin (& whale) watching

These boat trips can be lots of fun. Just make sure you pick one of the better boats as many different companies are offering these excursions. While you are for sure going to see dolphins, the whales might not show up. But with swims and snorkelling often included and great views from the coastline, you are still sure to have a great day out.

Rent a car

Car driving
My rental car in Tenerife

Renting a car in Tenerife can be very cheap if done right. Much more affordable than other places in Spain. Especially if you are travelling outside of the busiest periods, you can find excellent deals. You can often find cars for around 10 to 15 euros a day with fully comprehensive insurance. To find the companies I use and how to best rent a car in Tenerife, look at my car rental guide.

Don’t buy any electronics

Often people think that electronics are much cheaper in Tenerife because of taxes. In a way, this is true, but the difference is not very big. However, there are lots of stores that take advantage of this. You can find bad reviews of these all over the internet. These are about being sold fake brands, credit card scams, upselling, hard selling and much more. All these people act very friendly, but they don’t have your best interest in mind. If you don’t need to buy any electronics urgently, then don’t buy them in Tenerife.

Learn to surf

If you have never tried it but always wanted to learn how to surf, Tenerife could be an excellent place for you to start learning. Both Puerto de la Cruz and Playa de las Americas have an active surf scene with many teachers and surf schools. So if you like to learn how to wind or kite surf, El Medano is the best destination for you in Tenerife.

Take a pit stop at Garachico

Garachico
Garachico pools

Garachico is an authentic little town in between the South and the North. And while I enjoyed my coffee in the centre of town, the main attraction here are the “Piscinas Naturales El Caleton”. These are a naturally occurring set of “swimming pools” in the sea. They are free to enter and could offer a refreshing trip before continuing with your drive.

Don’t play the “Tenerife lottery”

When walking around in Tenerife, you will be approached most likely at least once during your holiday by people handing out free lottery tickets. When you scratch them, you will find you almost always win a prize. The catch, you have to go and pick up your prize somewhere else. Often a hotel nearby where you will first have to sit through a timeshare sales pitch. It can take up an entire day, so don’t waste your time with it.

Pick the right waterpark

Prices of Aqualand Costa Adeje
Aqualand

There are several different water parks all over Tenerife, but Siam Water Park is the best. The Aqualand in Costa Adeje is much cheaper, but the experience you will have is just not the same.

Choose the right airport

Tenerife has 2 airports. 1 in the South (TFS) and 1 in the North (TFN). Since the difference in the name is so small, people often fly to the wrong airport or book the bus, shuttle, taxi or rental car in Tenerife at the wrong airport. Since both these airports are about 60 kilometres apart, it is not an easy fix. Sometimes it might also make sense to book to the airport further away from your hotel as you can sometimes find much cheaper deals there.

Drive or hike through the Anaga nature reserve

Walking in the Anaga Nature Reserve
Anaga Nature Reserve

The Anaga nature reserve is located in the North of Tenerife. While I did not know what to expect, it was amazing to me. I think it is one of the most “jungle” like areas you have in Europe. Lush and green with lots of birds, salamanders and butterflies. It’s a magnificent area to drive through, but there are many long and short hiking and walking tours as well.

Drive up Teide

Driving up Mount Teide can be done by rental car, public bus or organized excursions. The drive up takes about 1 to 2 hours, depending on where you start and has some fantastic views along the way. The cable car can bring you the rest of the way up the mountain if you wish to go even higher and have even more amazing views. Watch out as the lines here can get very long, especially in high season. If you do want to go, at least make sure you can skip the long waiting lines by booking the fast-track ticket for the cable car.

Visit Teide at night or in the evening

Stary sky

There are specially organized excursions for visiting Teide by night, including food and much more, but you can drive up there by yourself if you have a car. If the weather is good, you will be treated to an incredible starry sky you can see almost nowhere else in Europe or in the evening a lovely place to see the sunset.

Check the bill

Many restaurants, especially in Costa Adeje, Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos, have cheap deals advertised outside. However, once you get the bill, you might find the drinks very expensive, tax added or extra billing for breadsticks or even sauces that are placed on your table without ordering them. I know you might find these practices in many holiday places, but in Costa Adeje, I found this to be the most prolific I have ever encountered in Spain.



If staying in the South… drive to the North one day

View over a green and lush valley
View while driving to the North

While the South is the most popular place to stay in Tenerife because of the easy airport connection and the better microclimate in this area, the North is much more interesting, in my opinion. It also looks completely different and much more lush and green. This is also where you find some of the more beautiful and more secluded beaches in Tenerife.

Visit Loro Parque or Jungle Park

In the North of the island in Puerto de la Cruz, you will find the Loro Parque zoo. This zoo is from the same company behind Siam Water Park (“The best waterpark in the world”), and the same quality you will find in this zoo. There are lots of live shows in the park that keep it interesting for the entire family. While Loro Parque, in my opinion, is the better zoo in Tenerife to visit, it is far away for many people staying in the South. So if you can’t make it there, Jungle Park is also a great option.

Don’t expect too much from Playa de las Teresitas

Playha de las Teresitas
Playa de las Teresitas

Playa de las Teresitas is a beautiful white sandy beach but not the prettiest on Tenerife. There are lots of pictures from it that do make it look like it is a fantastic beach. But, in my opinion, it is not. To find your ideal beach, have a look at my guide to the best beaches in Tenerife.

Don’t pick up flyers you find on the street

You will often find flyers on the street offering cheap excursions, especially in the bigger resorts. Don’t go on these. They sound like a good deal but often include a timeshare pitch or another long sales presentation you have to sit true. So unless you want to waste a day to save a few euros, leave these flyers where they are or, even better, pick them up and trash them!

Drive up into the mountains to escape the heat

Driving a car in the mountains of Tenerife
Tenerife mountain road

I don’t care how much you love the heat and the beach. Sometimes too much is just too much, and in August, it can be exactly that. If you want to cool off and don’t want to spend the entire day in your air-conditioned hotel, then head for the mountains. On top, it can be even freezing while over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) on the beaches below.

Spent a day in Santa Cruz

Market in Santa Cruz Tenerife
Market in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is the capital and, together with Puerto de la Cruz, the more authentic Tenerife. You will not find many tourists here except for shopping as it is much cheaper than other tourist places on the island. There are lots of shopping centres if you want to do so. Also, you will pay much less for meals and drinks than in the tourist resorts in the South. With a visit to the Anaga nature reserve or Playa de las Teresitas beach, this makes for a great day out in the North of Tenerife.

Pick the right time to go

You can visit Tenerife all year round for beach holiday vibes, but the weather changes a lot during the year. Winter months are a bit colder but, in general, busier. Summer is hotter, but except for July and August, also less busy. In winter, you might not want to go to the North as you will have more rain than in the South. So make sure you pick the right time to visit Tenerife.

Choose the right holiday destination and hotel in Tenerife

Tenerife is big, so it offers lots of variety. The South is more popular, but the North, in my opinion, is the nicest. Especially Puerto de la Cruz in the North if you want a beach holiday. So do make sure you pick the right holiday destination in Tenerife. If you spend most of the time in the hotel, then look at my best hotels in Tenerife guide here.