Views, vines and volcanoes in Tenerife
Forget everything you think you know about Tenerife. The largest of Spain’s Canary Islands is a far cry from its once slightly gaudy image. Whether you’re seeking soaring mountain vistas, traditional gastronomic experiences or secluded sands to get away from it all, Tenerife has it in (buckets and) spades
Michelin restaurants to rustic food pop-ups
Tenerife is perhaps the most foodie island of the Canarian archipelago, thanks in no small part to its unique geology and climate. The island’s verdant northern slopes have been used for generations to grow vines and rear goats that to this day produce stand-out wines and cheeses. In fact, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night makes reference to a “cup of Canary”, which would have meant fortified wine from the Orotava Valley in the north of Tenerife. Five restaurants hold converted Michelin stars here, ranging from the Japanese Kazan in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, to El Rincón de Juan Carlos in the Royal Hideaway Corales Resort, La Caleta, with its Canarian provenance tasting menus. Journey through the north, and you’ll stumble upon many guachinches – small rustic pop-up restaurants (traditionally associated with vineyards) serving simple grilled meats and good value wine – that are specific to Tenerife. Looking to feast on fresh seafood? Head to the basement level of La Recova market in the capital on a weekend morning where you can buy fish to take home or have it prepared to eat there and then – just be ready to shout your order to the vendor over the hubbub of hungry fish aficionados.
Up hill and down volcano
Whether you’re a fair-weather walker or dedicated hiker, you’ll find a route to suit you in Tenerife. The most obvious climbs are to be had in Mount Teide National Park where you can trek up to the summit of the volcano (and Spain’s highest mountain) – the only place you’re likely to see snow in these parts. Route 040 is considered one of the best and most challenging trails in Europe. The full hike takes around 12 hours from El Socorro Beach, rising 4,000m to the Teide’s peak using many of the traditional cañadas (mountain paths). For more gentle ambulation, try a walking tour of historic La Laguna – the 15th-century city that acted as the template for the cities of Old Havana, Lima and Cartagena. Nature lovers should head for Anaga Country Park to experience the mystical nature of the prehistoric laurisilva forests.
Tenerife’s best beaches
Predictably, there is no shortage of beautiful beaches in Tenerife but to get that ‘private-paradise’ feeling in the year-round temperate climate, avoid the tourist traps and explore some of the more secluded spots. For volcanic sand and not a hotel in sight, Playa Bollullo (opening image) in La Orotava on the north coast is the place to escape, with only a few locals and the crashing waves for company. Head a little further east and you’ll find Bajamar – the ideal spot for sea bathing with its protected natural sea pools, as well as seafood restaurants for that post-swim bite to eat. If you’re looking for golden sands and protected waters, then Las Teresitas, just north of Santa Cruz, is for you. While it might be manmade, it ticks all the beach boxes with its crystalline waters, beach hut chiringuitos and a mainly local crowd. Surfers should venture south to the beaches of El Médano, where the near constant breeze helps bolster vertiginous crests.
Hotels and hideaways
Hotels on the island range from five-star goliaths to boutique chic stays. Try the luxe villas at Bahia del Duque resort in upmarket Costa Adeje, for private pools, secluded sun decks and panoramic terraces with views of the Atlantic. The resort has plenty for all the family with dedicated clubs for kids and teens, plus a Michelin-star restaurant for those special moments. Looking for contemporary Canarian city vibes? Check in to the emblematic Iberostar Heritage Grand Mencey in Santa Cruz. Resembling a grand manor house, the hotel is dotted with beautiful Canarian pine wood details throughout, and rooms and suites overlook the inner courtyard, garden or city. Wellness can be found at the on-site spa or a short stroll away in Parque García Sanabria, the city’s artistic manicured park. With Tenerife offering some of the best stargazing opportunities in Europe, it would be remiss not to spend a night or two in Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide – a mountain lodge retreat with views of the volcano cones and craters, and stellar service.
Tenerife is the gateway to the archipelago’s western islands, which are well worth a visit as part of your stay, be it a day trip or mini-break. La Gomera is home to standout hiking routes and viewing points such as Mirador de Abrante, and the world’s only living whistling language, Silbo Gomero. A short flight or boat ride away and you’ll land on ‘La Isla Bonita’, La Palma. Known for its enormous crater, Caldera de Taburiente, the island is in stark contrast to its siblings being nearly completely covered in lush green vegetation, giving it a somewhat Jurassic Park feel. Of course, you could also venture to the self-sufficient island of El Hierro – it uses 100 per cent renewable energy thanks to the strong trade winds, and the entire island is a World Biosphere Reserve and Geopark. Along with its marine reserve and 42 diving sites, it also has one of the world’s smallest hotels, Hotel Puntagrande, that’s built on a tiny tongue of volcanic rock jutting out into the sea. It might only have four rooms, but adult guests can relax on the sun terrace or dine at the cute hotel restaurant serving fresh seasonal cuisine.
Take off to
British Airways Holidays is here to help you find your perfect break. From carefully selected hotels to straightforward car hire, all costs are included in the final price, meaning there are no surprise extras. Plus, with a Customer Promise, ATOL protection and a 24-hour helpline, you’ll have total peace of mind when booking your holiday.
Experience the real side of Dubrovnik
Why visiting the magnificent Croatian city in winter has its own rewards
More from Europe
Portugal in pictures
Photographer Elena Heatherwick shares her favourites spots in the sun-baked Alentejo region
More from Europe
Destination guide: Athens
Ancient monuments, backgammon cafés and mezedopoleio restaurants await
More from Destination guides