Of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is definitely one of the most diverse ones. I have travelled to Tenerife several times in the last few years and love it every time. It is absolutely impossible to be on Tenerife and feel bored. (I have to admit I never ever feel bored anyway – but you get my point here, right?) Tenerife has so much to offer and there’s so much to see! It’s hard to know where to start. Let me tell you about the best places to visit on Tenerife.
Los Gigantes and The Dolphins
Los Gigantes is a secluded area in the west of the island and is an absolute must-see on Tenerife. The place is known for its gigantic cliff formations that rise up from the ocean to a height of 800 meters (2625 feet). And they are fittingly called Los Gigantes (the Giants). These cliffs offer an incredible view and a great contrast to the black-brown sandy beaches and coves in the aqua blue waters.
Los Gigantes is one of the places that offers daily boat trips from which you can see over 28 different species of whale and dolphin. I really love these amazing animals! The whole trip takes about three hours back and forth but time flies when you’re having fun. The dolphins are practically waiting for you to come say Hello to them! There’s no swimming with the dolphins and stuff like that. You can only observe them in their natural habitat, see them up close and be impressed.
Machu Picchu of the Canary Islands
The mountain walk from the village of Masca is one of the most popular hikes on Tenerife. It begins at the village in the north-west of the island and goes all the way to the rocky beach below. From there, you can take a boat to Los Gigantes. The trail is about seven kilometers long (4,3 miles) and you can explore on your own, or travel with a local company. It’s downhill the entire hike from Masca onwards and very much worth the effort because of all the mountain views and valleys you’ll see. Masca itself is located on a high-rising plateau immediately surrounded by valleys and then moutains. The location reminds many people of Machu Picchu in Peru, although it is much smaller. Either way, this is definetely one of the best places to visit on Tenerife!
El Teide and the National Park: Two of the Best Places to Visit
Defintely one of the best places to visit on Tenerife is the unforgettable Teide volcano and the national park around it. El Teide is absolutely awesome. With 3,718 meters high, it is not just the highest mountain in Spain but also the highest point above sea level in the entire Atlantic Ocean. When measured from base-to-peak, it is at 7,500 m (24,600 ft) the highest volcano in the entire world outside Hawaii. UNESCO and NASA describe it as the world’s third-biggest volcanic structure.
It is impossible to miss it. You can see it from your plane before anything else of the island appears and even from the other Canary Islands. It dominates Tenerife. The top is often snow-covered and sometimes above the clouds, which offers a spectacular view when you go up there. And the area around it is so special and unique that all of it is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I lack words to describe how beautifully weird this place is, but let me try anyway. First of all: you have never seen anything like this. How can I be so sure? Because there is no other place like this on our planet. In fact, the mountains and craters in this park are so out of this world, much more like Mars and our Moon, that NASA and other space agencies test their rovers and robots here before they send them into space (I’m not kidding). The higher up you go, the less vegetation there is and the more unworldly the place becomes. But before that, you get to drive through the park and admire endless island and ocean views, pine forests as far as you can see and breathtaking green valleys.
What to Do on Top
Once you get near the top, you can visit the tourist center, learn all about volcanoes and how this one is actually still active and erupted only 110 years ago, destroying a village and beach, and, yes, will erupt again at some point. No worries though: chances are extremely slim that this will happen during your trip to el Teide since the signs of an upcoming eruption will be manifold way before it happens. Having said that, why not make sure to keep your phone and camera close and ready to take the most amazing volcanic eruption shots in history while you’re there? You never know.
Be sure to take the cable car up the volcano. It takes just 8 minutes. From there you can see literally all of Tenerife, the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding Canary Islands. The cable car does not go all the way to the peak, by the way. Not because there’s a lava lake or volcanic activity up there but because the hillside doesn’t allow it. There are three walking routes to the top, though, that all start at the upper cable car station. Make sure to take it slow. After all, this place really is far up in the sky.
Tips for Going up the Volcano
Tip 1: The El Teide top really is high up in the sky, so the park can be very windy and very chilly too, especially at the top. Many tourists come from the warm beaches and villages and go up here with just shorts and a t-shirt and they literally freeze. So you you may want to bring jeans and a sweater (if you happen to have one) or jacket to keep you warm up here.
Tip 2: Make sure to Google some information before you go up. You may need to book the cable car online and in advance. They only allow a certain number of people to go up every day. Also, you need advanced special permission to take the walking routes up to the peak. Find out more on the official website here. And click here to read my blog about about the National Park itself.
The Best Beaches to Visit on Tenerife
It’ll come as little surprise that Tenerife has some genuinely spectacular beaches. And many of them are on the list of best places to visit on Tenerife. Click here to find out all about the most beautiful beaches on Tenerife.
If you want to get to know Tenerife even better before you go and find all the best places to stay and eat, I can recommend to get this pocket guide to Tenerife.