Tenerife offers holidaymakers a good selection of resorts and a wide range of activities to be enjoyed.
With over 10 million visitors each year, holidays to Tenerife are the ones that epitomise the Canaries for most travellers. The island earns its stripes in the sheer diversity of experiences it offers: a 350 mile circle of coastline backed up with tropical forest and protected national parkland where eerie moonscapes surround Spain's highest peak, the volcanic Mount Teide.
The glistening white sands of the southern coastline and consequent abundance of hotels cater with ease for the needs for sun seekers, serious shoppers and night revellers alike. Along with fabulous food and the fiery Fiesta spirit, particularly in the capital, Santa Cruz, Tenerife holidays are a treat for all the senses. Year-round sunshine means a holiday any time of year makes perfect sense. So call Olympic Holidays now to book yourself the break you deserve.
It's easy to overlook but impossible to overstate the range of experiences offered by this fabulous holiday destination. Countless holidaymakers every year travel here and return without realizing what they've missed. The key is to be adventurous and explore. Don't restrict yourself to the unquestionably beautiful beaches and undeniably lively resort towns of the southern coast; travel inland to discover the commanding beauty of the landscape of the interior. Even here, the variation is vast, from forested ravines to volcanic moonscapes, and the majestic peak of Mount Tiede in the centre of the Parque Nacional del Tiede. It is the most visited national park in Spain with a total of nearly 3 million visitors annually; walkers, cyclists and fitness enthusiasts of every passion flock to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, but with an area of 18,990 hectares, the sense of solitude and tranquility remain entirely unruffled.
Anywhere on the island is easily within range for day trips away from the beach. The north of the island is lush with the abundance of flora and fauna, giving rise to a distinctly tropical climate and stunning scenery. Discovering the delights of capital Santa Cruz at the north-eastern tip, is a must for anyone whose holiday is incomplete without finding out more about the cultural identity of this dream destination. Filled with places to visit and things to see, the city buzzes with life and zings with a lively latin air, particularly during the main festival season in February and March, when it gives Rio a real run for its money. Animal lovers and families will find Loro Parque a great way to spend a day, with the worlds largest collection of parrots and a variety of other animals to see in realistic replicas of their natural habitat. Ancient towns and villages such as La Orotava and Masca give a glimpse of Tenerife's past, and offer outstanding views on the way. For many though, its the sunshine, sands and sheer youthfulness of Tenerife's renowned resorts such as Playa de las Americas and the slightly quieter Los Cristianos in the south of the island which are the pull, and these certainly live up to their reputation for fun. At Olympic Holidays we've a fabulous range of places to stay Playa de las Americas, and places to stay in Los Christianos, and three other enchanting resorts as well: for families who perhaps need things a bit quieter occasionally, but still like to be near the centre of the action, Costa Adeje is a great choice with its up-market accommodation and smart restaurants. Callao Salvaje, within the same district is similarly perfect for families particularly with very young children, being a small and quiet resort with some bars and restaurants of its own and a sand and shingle beach. Attractive Puerto de la Cruz is our resort in the north of the island. At the foot of the stunning La Orotava Valley, it's a great choice for absolutely anyone, with stunning scenery, great food, proximity to the capital, and the volcanic black-sand beaches the Canaries are known for. Take your pick and prepare for a voyage of discovery.
Tenerife holidays are available from a wide range of UK airports including London Gatwick and Manchester. As the epicentre of the island's tourism, the majority of flights go to the south, though there is also an airport in the north. As well as package holidays to Tenerife, Olympic Holidays has great range of cheap flights to Tenerife.
The endless possibilities of a holiday to Tenerife make it a holiday destination for anyone and everyone. Whether you're a sporty type, a party person, beach babe or nature lover, you'll be in your element on the Canaries largest island of Tenerife.
The best beaches in Tenerife
Playa de las Americas: Located at the tip of island's south-eastern extreme, Playa de las Americas has a great, glistening sandy beach of sand imported from the Sahara, with convenient access to a huge range of bars, restaurants and all the tourist facilities required of serious sun worshippers looking for a good time.
Playa de las Caletillas: Close to Candelaria, this is comprised of three lovely small bays, catering well to the needs of tourists.
Playa de Los Gigantes: A relatively small beach in relation to the size of the town, it is nonetheless backed by an incredible landscape of cliffs.
Playa de El Medano: A favourite beach for wind and kite surfers this lovely long natural stretch starts in the village and stretches to Montana Roja.
El Bollullo: This unspoilt beach in La Orotava Valley is a secluded gem accessed along narrow roads and pathways through banana plantations followed by steep steps down to the expanse of soft, dark volcanic sand. The large bay is surrounded by dramatic cliffs and a pristine sea. A cafe in a wooden hut provides refreshments with a view over the ocean and is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. Unprotected by reefs, the sea can be quite lively at times.
Playa San Marcos: You'll find this beach hidden away in the town of Icod de los Vinos. It is popular, yet not too crowded and has a welcoming feel. It is a volcanic sandy beach edged with cliffs, where plenty of sunbeds and parasols are available. Before the beach is an attractive promenade where restaurants offer the local cuisine, and there are a few shops for a stroll and browse.
Playa de las Teresitas: Nearly a mile of golden sand imported from the Sahara makes this beach stand out. Add to that the calm waters, and a range of activities going on on the sands, and it is easy to see why this beach is regarded as one of the best in the north of the island. It is situated in the village of San Andres, not far from the capital, Santa Cruz, and is overlooked by the Anaga Mountains. The facilities include sun beds, parasols, shows and a selection of bars and restaurants next to the beach.
Martianez: This beach in Puerto de la Cruz is popular with surfers and bodyboarding fans for its warm, large waves and volcanic sand. Swimmers should beware of surfers, but are otherwise well served by Lago Martianez, right next to the beach - a fabulous salt-water lido with a spectacular swimming pool complex, cascading waterfalls and beautiful landscaped gardens where sculptures by Lanzarote-born architect Cesar Manrique, who designed the complex, can be admired. By night, the scene is enchanting with the pools lit from beneath and lights illuminating the pathways to the casino. There are restaurants, bars and a kiosk serving ice-cream and confectionary.
Playa Jardin: Located on the road out from Puerto de la Cruz towards Loro Park, this picturesque stretch of black volcanic sand approaching a kilometer long is a tourist beach which, ike Martianez, was designed by Cesar Manrique. It is lined with palm trees and colourful botanical gardens where a waterfall cascades over volcanic rock and small pools are inhabited by small fish and other sea creatures. It runs from Punta Brava opposite Loro Parque, to Castillo San Felipe at the west end of the town and has high rolling waves which bathers frolic in when the red flag isn't flying. Pedalos, snorkelling, changing facilities and restaurants all help to make Playa Jardin a popular place for a day in the sun.
Playa el Muelle: This gravelly beach is protected from large waves by a breakwater and small fishing boats are often found here; the boat ramp down to the beach makes a useful access point for wheelchair users. Located in Garachico, it is sheltered by rocks next to the town's harbour and is a short walk from some outstanding natural rock pools.
San Telmo: This is a popular urban beach near the Martianez Lake, with black sand and a moderately lively sea.
Playa de Colon: A lovely long stretch of golden sand, part of the resort of Playa de las Americas.
Fanabe: A popular beach with fine grey sand and excellent facilities.
Both ends of the spectrum await you when it comes to spending in Tenerife, whether you want to notch up a few more conquests on your credit card, or rummage out bargains with authentic charm among the products and produce displayed at one of the local open-air markets. There are plenty of them all around Tenerife, including some very large ones, and a night market in Los Abrigos, in the south of the island. They are a great place to go for souvenir inspiration or just browsing, with everything on sale from a variety of leather goods to hand-woven tablecloths and mats, or delicious tapas. Be aware, though, that designer goods on sale here at drop-down prices are almost certainly not the copies. Head to the main malls of the larger towns for the genuine article complete with guarantee of authenticity.
In Fanabe, you can spend an entire day at the GRAN SUR shopping centre where you will find a wide variety of retail outlets, and a food hall to relax in over lunch. Take the weight of your feet at the end of the day in front of one of the seven screens of the cinema there - English language films are shown daily. Alternatively, the Safari Centre in nearby Playa de las Americas will satisfy a lust for labels with its designer boutiques and high-end stores. Road test your new gear in one of the swanky bars or restaurants in the Centre later on.
Things To Do
Sport: The enviable climate of the Canary Islands makes them the perfect holiday destination for sports lovers of all kinds, and Tenerife is no exception; virtually every sport is catered for on the island, with water sports facilities in abundance.
Deep-sea fishing: With some big fish potential in the catch, Tenerife is a great place from which to set sail to the briny blue and give deep fishing a go.
Diving: Immerse yourself in the colourful underwater world that swims beneath the waves of Tenerife's fascinating coastline. You may catch sight of barracudas and groupers as well as enjoying some close encounters with rays, turtles and sometimes even small sharks. Diving schools are located all over the island, especially in the south, at various beaches along the Costa Adeje coastline.
Sailing: Look out for the sports marinas (puerto deportivo), local sailing clubs and federations. You can rent yachts and catamarans for day excursions or longer trips.
Water-skiing: Experience the fantastic feeling of bobbing along on top of the waves with the wind whistling through your hair. Alternatively, bounce over the breakers on a jet ski, or parasail above the sparkling sea.
Windsurfing: This is one of the most popular sports as there's always a breeze in the air - sufficient to keep boarders skudding along the sea's surface. Windsurfing equipment can be hired at many places along the coast.
Cycling: Head for the hills and challenge yourself around the hairy mountain passes on a hired mountain bike, available in most resorts.
Hiking: If you're not up to the effort of cycling, don't miss out on the stunning countryside. With 21 marked trails through the Parque Nacional de las Canadas del Teide, you can take your time appreciating the wonders of Tenerife's amazing landscapes. Alternatively, there are spectacular walks through the Anaga Mountain region in the north-east and around the Valle de la Orotava, also in the north of the island. (Click on Things to See for more details).
Golf: Golfers from all over the world flock to Tenerife every year to enjoy indulging their passion on verdant green fairways and challenging courses with amazing ocean views to boot. There are numerous courses on the island.
Karting: There are several places to go-kart in Tenerife. Tracks vary in speed, size and facilities but most cater for all ages.
Tennis: Tennis is a popular sport in Tenerife with both public courts and tennis facilities within hotels.
Lago Martianez: Enjoy a day out as relaxed or active as you please, at this renowned lido which includes a spectacular swimming pool complex, with cascading waterfalls and beautiful landscaped gardens where sculptures by Lanzarote-born architect Cesar Manrique, who designed the complex, can be admired. By night, the scene is enchanting with the pools lit from beneath and lights illuminating the pathways to the casino. There are restaurants, bars and a kiosk serving ice-cream and confectionary.
Aqualand: A little further afield, on the Costa Adeje stretch is this water adventure park for a family day out. It offers a selection of swimming pools, slides, tunnels and play areas. Entry includes an ever-popular dolphin show, seven of the amazing mammals having been born at the park. Restaurants, cafes, shops, sunbeds and parasols are all readily available.
Things To See
Festivals and Carnivals: Tenerife is an island that revels in its colourful celebrations which go on year round. Carnivals take place in all areas, but especially Santa Cruz during February and March, when huge costumed parades and partying fill the streets. Easter celebrations are held in many places including Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava. The latter also plays host to the Corpus Christi festival in June, when the town square is decorated with tons of colourful sand to illustrate biblical events. August 14th and 15th are when the Patron Saint of the Canary Islands, the Virgin of Candelaria, is honoured with pilgrims from all over the Canaries travelling to the city of Candelaria in Tenerife to take part in processions. In late November, the Fiesta de San Andres takes place in Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava when, traditionally, wine cellars are opened up and the new wine is tasted. Youngsters in Icod de los Vinos enjoy a tradition of sliding down the town's steep streets on greased wood boards. The climate in the Canaries makes it a favourite winter destination, too, and at Christmas and New Year, you may catch sight of the Baile del Nino (Dance of the Child) where groups of people in traditional dress dance before the image of the infant Christ, or one of the firework displays welcoming in the new year.
As well as religious celebrations, one of the most prestigious European classical music festivals takes place in June with a varied programme and impressive line up of musicians performing at various locations around the island. In Laguan in September, is the Sabandeno Festival of folk music with both Canarian and international bands in the line-up.
Loro Parque: One of the most famous animal parks in the Canary Islands, Loro Parque houses the largest collection of parrots in the world. It was founded as a refuge for the colourful birds in 1972 and has since become of the island's most popular tourist attractions. Covering 135,000 square metres, it includes an aquarium and a wide variety of other animals including dolphins, sea lions, gorillas, chimps, penguins and killer whales in realistic replicas of their natural habitats. Whale shows are a big attraction in the park. One of its newer attractions is Katandra Treetops, a network of suspended bridges from which you can observe a range of exotic birds at close quarters.
Los Gigantes: Cliffs are large by definition, it's true, but none more so than these awe-inspiring examples on the west coast, towering over the town named after them; they range up to 600 metres high. Take in their majesty on one of the many boat trips out from the chic marina of Puerto de la Cruz.
Mount Tiede: Unless you feel confident navigating intimidatingly winding mountain roads, its best to seek out an organised trip to Mount Tiede, 3717 meters high. It is the highest Volcano in the world, and the highest Spanish mountain. It sits in the massive crater of a prior ancient volcano, which so resembles the surface of the moon with its petrified lava formations, it was used by NASA to simulate actual moon landings. Look out for the Roques de Garcia. The obsidian (cooled magma), gives the rocks - and the consequent beach sands - their black colour and off-cuts are often polished up to fashion into striking jewellery. The mountain shelters the north of the island from Saharan winds creating quite a microclimate, but on the mountain itself, it can get quite cold, so take a warm sweater.
Bananera El Guanche: A visit to this private banana plantation includes a short video about Tenerife and a guided tour of the plantation. At the end, there is an opportunity to sample the banana liqueur made there, and to order flamingo flowers and bunches of bananas to be delivered to your hotel.
Museo Arqueologico del Puerto de la Cruz: This is one of the most important archaeological museums in the Canary Islands offering a collection comprising more than 2,600 specimens of items from the Guanche culture, and a document collection named after researcher, Luis Diego Cuscoy. It has an enormous collection of Guanche aboriginal pottery, including the remains of several Guanche mummies. Also to be seen are two unique pieces from the island, one of which is two limpet shells, a finding of Telesforo Bravo, and a clay idol called El Guatimac.
Masca: For the fit and strong, this picturesque village, located at the foot of the mountains in the northwest of the island, is well-worth the three-hour walk through deep ravines along breath-stopping winding roads. You'll be rewarded with stunning views, so remember to take your camera, as well as factoring in the uphill walk back.
Anaga Mountains: For breathtaking scenery and unusual landscapes, a hike through this protected part of northeast Tenerife is hard to beat. Still relatively unexplored, you will discover unusual rock formations and hidden villages in which some people still inhabit caves. The path to Barranco de Las Huertas is spectacular and leads to an amazing panorama of the craggy northern coastline.
Santa Cruz: The island's capital, this city is well worth a visit. It is home to one of the most historically important harbours in the Atlantic Ocean, a frequent stop-off point for 19th-century fleets heading for the Americas. Today it is a vibrant cosmopolitan city choc-a-bloc with interesting things to see, arresting architecture and, of course, great places to shop and eat. Explore it on an open-topped bus with the option to get off and on to fit your schedule.
Canarian Wrestling (Lucha Canaria): A popular tourist attraction, this is a spectator sport practised throughout the islands, usually in teams of twelve.
La Orotava: Located within the stunning Orotava valley is this ancient town distinguished by its picturesque buildings and quaint cobbled streets. Its historic centre is a popular tourist destination, where the Concepcion Church and Casa de los Balcones (houses of the balconies) perfectly represent the island's unique architecture.
The town also has a beautiful botanic garden, La Hijuela del Botanico. Created to acclimatise new species coming over from America, the garden was commissioned between 1788 and 1832 and came into being through investment from the Marquis of Villanueva del Prado. In the middle of the 19th century, gardener Germï¿¿n Widpret further developed it into a splendid display and in 1941 it came into the hands of the Institute for Agronomic Research. It is now home to more than 3,000 plant species, mainly native Canary Island flora but also including spectacular exotic species.
Playa de las Americas: Renowned for its round-the-clock party atmosphere Playa de las Americas is one of the most popular places to visit in Europe. Located on the south coast of Tenerife, it is the place young people head to for its hedonistic appeal. This emanates in particular from the one-kilometre stretch known as Veronicas, packed with nightclubs, cabaret bars, live music venues, shops and restaurants. Neon lights, music pumping out of doorways and people dancing in the street are all to be expected here every night of the week!
Buses: An island-wide bus service operates, with the saucy-postcard acronym, TITSA (Transportes Interurbanos de Tenerife, Sociedad Anonima). The no. 111 bus runs every 30 minutes between the terminal at Santa Cruz and Playa de las Americas along the main motorway, calling in at the airport en route. However, some services are very infrequent and it is advisable to get hold of and use the timetable, which provides all the information you will need about routes and schedules. The buses or 'guaguas' are a distinctive green and white colour and are clean, efficient and generally run to schedule. Ask for ida y vuelta (phonetically: eeda ee vwelta) for a return ticket which is more economical. From bus stations, and certain shops displaying a round green logo, you can purchase a Bono travel card, which will save you even more, and which can be shared. It is also valid for use on the trams in the capital, Santa Cruz, and discounted entry to some museums. Queuing is not the norm, and it can become quite a free-for-all when the last bus of the day arrives.
Taxis: Generally white Mercedes, the island's taxis are roomy and a very convenient way to get around for groups of people. If you pick up the Guia de Horarios leaflet from the information booth on arrival at the airport, you will find in it an approximate guide to taxi fares. Larger groups than family-size can be accommodated in un grande (pronounced grand-ay), a people carrier or minibus. It's advisable to ask for the fare (Cuanto por [destination]) at the start of your journey to avoid any tourist premium.
Car Hire: One of the best ways to explore the amazing landscapes of Tenerife is to hire a car, which is reflected in the fact that there are over 100 hire-car companies on the island. However, mountain roads can be very winding and hairy, and not for anyone of a nervous disposition. There is a free, efficient highway system which runs around the island called autopista del sur and autopista del norte depending on which side of the island it caters for. Driving is on the right, petrol is relatively cheap, and most roads are quiet. In towns, though, road use and parking can sometimes be rather haphazard.
Trains: Tenerife currently does not have a train service, though there are plans afoot for a transrapid train between the north and south airports which it is hoped will also be a tourist attraction.
Ferries: Tenerife's capital, Santa Cruz, is a hub of ferry and hydrofoil travel to the other islands of the Canaries and to Cadiz in southern Spain.