Autumn is back with a fun, week-long Tenerife itinerary! You may remember she wrote a huge post on how to teach in Spain, and now she’s here with a nice, long guide on the island where she lived for a year. Enjoy!
Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, has long been a favorite of European holiday makers due to its tropical beaches, diverse landscapes, and (in)famous party scene. If you’re making the trip, it can be easy to get swept up into the crush of 5€ mojito tourist traps with all the elderly German tourists you flew down with. However, this island has so much more to offer.
Tips for Your Tenerife Itinerary
What to Pack for Tenerife
Lucky for you, Tenerife has the most ideal weather all year round, so this makes packing pretty easy. You’ll probably want a mix of clothes as you’ll be doing everything from hiking to sunbathing to sightseeing, so pack accordingly. Besides your normal clothe, accessories, and toiletries, I recommend at least the following:
A Daypack or Smaller Backpack
This is for your outdoorsy days and hiking trips. I’ve always used my trusty Janisport, but you can get something smaller too. The Gonex Daypack is nice as it folds up super tiny when you’re not using it and is quite durable.
You don’t need the most heavy duty hiking boots, but you will want something a bit above regular sneakers for any hiking you do here. I like the KEEN Terradora style.
Sunscreen, Really ALL the SPF
The UVs on Tenerife are like, hella high so make sure to slather on the sunscreen even if you “never burn” or “want to tan anyway.” Don’t skimp either. Get the body lotion, the face stick, the lip balm, and some sunscreen spray for touch ups. It’s also a good idea to make sure your SPF products are ocean safe, which is why I like Sun Bum.
Do you want to look like a used leather couch at a secondhand shop when you get older? Didn’t think so.
Reusable Water Bottle
I always like the Hydro Flask, but Target also has the Simple Modern brand, which is pretty similar style of reusable bottles. The tap water is drinkable, but just be aware it’s desalinated salt water, so it tastes a little funny. If you don’t think you’ll like it, you can look into some sort of water filter.
Some Sort of Hat
Back to those UV rays. Even if you’re not a hat person, it’s a good idea to have some sort of baseball cap or sun hat to protect yourself.
How to Organize Your Trip
Ask any local and you’ll quickly find that Tenerife is quintessentially divided into two parts: lush, traditional Spanish North and the sun-drenched and tourist-infused desert of the South.
If you’re only in Tenerife for a week, it’s best to divide your time between the two. The island is small enough that seven days is plenty of time to see both.
Getting into Tenerife
The larger of Tenerife’s two airports is Tenerife South Airport (Aeropuerto de Tenerife Sur), so I’ll assume you’re flying into there.
If you’re flying into the Tenerife North Airport (Aeropuerto de Tenerife Norte), start at Day 4 and then go back to Days 1 to 3.
How to Get Around Tenerife
The true key to doing justice to Tenerife is to get a car. Starting at only 15€ a day, getting a car is very affordable. Just know that it’s mostly (if not all) manual transmissions. It will get you a lot more places than the bus will.
The buses are not on time. The buses sometimes don’t show up. Once I was waiting for a bus to the airport and while I was walking up to it, it just rolled off.
It would not stop even though I was chasing it down faster than a middle age dad chases down that last plasma screen at a Black Friday sale. Seriously. Get a car. You’ll thank me later.
The Perfect One-Week Tenerife Itinerary
Day 1 – Costa Adeje or Playa de las Americas
Your first point of business, upon arriving at Tenerife South, is to pick up the car I just talked you into renting. The people working at the rental shops are normally at least trilingual in Spanish, German, and English so you shouldn’t have any problems.
(If you decided not to rent a car, go outside and enjoy waiting an hour or three for your bus to arrive.)
You can choose to stay in Costa Adeje or Playa de las Americas depending on what you’re looking for, which I’ll get into below. You’ll stay here for the first 3 days of your Tenerife itinerary while exploring south.
Your first stop is Costa Adeje, which, with its cheap cocktails, black sand beaches, and chic hotels, is the quintessential of tourist towns in Tenerife. Here, you can pull up a chair, grab a drink fruity enough you can no longer taste the booze, and listen to the crash of the waves as you nap on a chair under a nice umbrella.
At the end of Day 2 and 3 (spoiler alert!) you’re allowed to return to this exact same chair n cocktail situation. You’re welcome.
Where to Stay in Costa Adeje:
If you’re on a budget, I stayed at La Tortuga Hostel when I visited.
Playa de las Americas
If you really want to party though, hit up Playa de las Americas instead of Costa Adeje. The last time I was there, I was offered marijuana by four o’clock and then cocaine by seven.
Feeling very out of my league, I instead returned to my Airbnb and watched Harry Potter. No judgements, though.
Where to Stay in Playas de las Americas;
You can also try some Airbnbs in Playa de las Americas, though the one I chose wound up being super noisy outside, so proceed with caution. This apartment has sea views and this apartment is only 2 minutes from the beach.
If you’re on a budget, try the Olympia apartments.
Another nice beach area a little further down from Playa de las Américas is Los Cristianos. Most of the people here are older and you can go naked if you really want to.
Day 2 – Los Gigantes and Masca
It’s day two, and you’re feeling much more rested and relaxed, if not slightly hungover from whatever debauchery you got up to the night before. Now is the time to really start seeing the islands.
Today has two main stops: Los Gigantes and Masca.
If you don’t speak any Spanish, los gigantes literally means “the giants.” The name speaks for itself: Los Gigantes are enormous, 2,615 feet cliffs that tower over the sea.
They are very tall.
They are very impressive.
They’re exactly the kind of thing you always wish for when your friend plays that one Taylor Swift song one too many times. (Sam Note: That was me :p)
After reattaching your dropped jaw to the rest of your face, hop back into your car and head up the road to Masca.
If you didn’t rent a car like I said, you can always book this hiking tour from Adeje.
Masca is a tiny blip on the map where fewer than a hundred people and maybe a few goats live. However, its location is stunning enough to make up for the lack of WiFi. Just take a look:
The road to Masca is not for the faint of heart. It’s steep, full of switchbacks with few side rails, but the pull off points and town itself are worth it.
Again, if you don’t have a car, you can always book this 4WD tour from Playa de las Americas.
Day 3 – Check Out Mt. Teide
Tenerife, as has been proven (by the images you have seen so far), is even prettier than that one girl in your high school you’ve not spoken to since graduation.
A large portion of the island is also protected national parks, meaning that it’s perfect to go hiking in.
Personally, I’d recommend Mt. Teide, as at 3,718m, it’s the tallest mountain in Spain and the world’s 3rd tallest volcano. If you don’t want to go alone, you can always join in on a hiking group tour.
Don’t forget that if you want to visit the peak of Mt. Teide, you need a permit, which you can get here.
For other hiking opportunities in Tenerife, try these:
In such a diverse island as Tenerife, you can find walks ranging from seaside strolls to bucolic forests to scorching desert. I recommend you download WikiHikes or another similar app in order to find something that suits your needs.
If you don’t like hiking, just remember this will give you some serious bragging rights. And also help make that Tinder description you wrote about how you “love adventures!” or “the outdoors!” a little less of a lie.
Day 4 – Puerto de la Cruz & La Orotava
Your vacation is now half over, and you’ve already (hopefully) seen half of the island. Now it’s time to head north to Puerto de la Cruz, which is where you’ll stay for the rest of your itinerary.
Puerto de la Cruz
Puerto de la Cruz is, as I’m sure Sam (the cat-lovin’ lady who normally writes this blog if you’re like, lost or something) would put it, a delightful little seaside town.
She would not be incorrect in this statement.
If you didn’t guess from the Spanish signs that have suddenly popped up everywhere, Puerto de la Cruz is a lot less tourist-y and a lot more Spanish than the South. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, buy a fruity ice cream with a freshly-made sugar cone, and go hypnotize yourself with the powerful waves that crash against the thick sea walls.
If you’re not afraid of dying or being bitch slapped by the ocean, Puerto de la Cruz is also the perfect place to surf!
Where to Stay in Puerto de la Cruz:
If you’re on a budget, try Hotel Don Cándido.
In the afternoon, head up to La Orotava for an hour or two. It’s small, but widely said to be one of the prettiest towns on the Canaries. And, as it’s small and very local, it has much better food than you could normally find in one of the big tourist trap cities.
*beep beep just wait for the food guide it’s gonna be real swell*
Day 5 – Garachico and Icod de los Vinos
Do you like pools? Do you like the ocean? Do you like pool-ocean love children??
Then have I got the spot for you!
Garachico is a small town on the north coast of Tenerife famous for its natural swimming pools. If you go on a weekday (during the morning especially) they don’t tend to be very crowded, and you can swim to your heart’s content without worrying about chlorine content or being dragged to your death by a freak riptide.
It is, as Hannah Montana once sang, the best of both worlds.
Icod de los Vinos
Once you’ve dried off your pruny fingers and checked out the town (which is very cute), you can head over to Icod de los Vinos (which is also very cute). There’s a very famous tree that’s centuries old, some caves, and also just a nice town to check out.
In my opinion, Garachico is a slightly nicer town than Icod, so definitely plan for more time there.
Day 6 – La Laguna and Santa Cruz
La Laguna, along with La Orotava, is said to be one of the prettiest towns on the island. The Canary Islands share a lot of similar architecture as the Spanish colonies in America. If you’ve been to South Florida, you’ll get some of the same vibes – old buildings, palm trees, and tourists looking like strawberry vanilla swirl ice cream from poorly-applied sunscreen.
In La Laguna you can take a walk around the old town and sit at one of the many outdoor cafes to order yourself a caña (because nobody actually says cerveza, gringo) and tapas.
And then, because you only packed pants with elastic waistbands, get yourself an ice cream afterwards.
During the afternoon, take the tram over to Santa Cruz, the capital of the island that La Laguna practically spills into. Parking in Santa Cruz is always awful, so don’t even bother taking your car.
Like La Laguna, Santa Cruz is a beautiful old colonial-style town that’s perfect for walking around in. There’s the Our Lady of African Market (I have no idea which lady this refers to but knowing Western religious iconography she was probably white) if you like to feast your eyes and/or stomach, a handful of museums if you want to get out of the sun, and, of course, cathedrals.
While still teeechnically in the north of the island, Santa Cruz has a bit less of a Spanish feel than the very northern coast. You can still get excellent Spanish food and beer, but a lot of signs are in English and English levels might be a little higher.
Day 7: :( :( :(
(This is your face when you realize vacay is over and you have to go back to work.)
Depending on your flight time, go to the nearest market or Mercadona (a Spanish grocery store chain), get some nice things for a picnic, and begin to drive south to the airport.
There are lots of pull-off points where you can stop and have one final picnic before your flight departs and your nap is interrupted every six minutes by an overzealous budget airline flight attendant trying to sell you something resembling hot salted styrofoam.
All that’s left to do is take back your car, check your bag, and hope to God you didn’t get assigned the middle seat.
Returning Your Car
Make sure you fill your car up with gas before you get back to the airport. They will take a kidney from your grandma if you don’t.
Seriously, they have some high fees. Be smarter than I was, kids.
What to Pack for Your Tenerife Trip
And there you have it, Autumn’s perfect, Tenerife itinerary for 7 days. Let us know if you have any tips to add!