23 October 2017
Tenerife is a land where rural and natural attractions lie around every corner. From picturesque villages and quaint local restaurants to rugged mountains and dramatic volcanic formations, there’s so much for you to discover in Tenerife.
Enjoy a more relaxed pace of life by visiting Tenerife’s picturesque local communities. A must for your itinerary is the island’s former capital, La Laguna. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for attractions like its 17th Century church Iglesia de Santo Domingo, which hosts vivid murals painted by Mariano de Cossío and Antonio González Suárez. Other communities to visit include the historic town of Puerto de la Cruz, or the traditional hamlet of Masca, hidden among lush cypress forests.
Prepare to dine like royalty in Tenerife, as it’s renowned for its produce. Popular local products include honey, cheese and gofio – a type of flour used in everything from soups to desserts. A visit to the island’s Museum of Wine and Honey in the North is a must. In its tasting room you can sample Tenerife’s famous honeys as well as the island’s signature mojo sauce, made with peppers and olive oil. It’s a good idea to visit the different farmers’ markets across the island like those in La Laguna or Tacoronte – great for buying local products such as avocados, figs or almonds, or try the specialty cheeses from around Tenerife.
Breathtaking sites are all too easy to find on this Canary Island. Lose yourself in the dense pine tree forests at Corona Forestal, where you can spot bird species such as blue finches. Hike up the rugged Anaga Mountains which cover Tenerife’s northern tip or wander through the verdant Orotava Valley with its vivid banana plantations and volcanic surroundings. Sail alongside the dramatic Los Gigantes cliffs on Tenerife’s western coast and enjoy the glorious Atlantic sunsets.
There are various natural parks to discover in Tenerife, with the most famous being Teide National Park. Located in the heart of Tenerife, this UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the Mount Teide volcano – Spain’s highest peak, and a unique landscape composed of craters and petrified lava rivers. Ride in a cable car up to the summit for a birds-eye view of the park. Anaga Rural Park is another must-see, as this UNESCO- appointed biosphere reserve hosts swathes of ancient laurel tree and fern forests to explore. If you stop at Teno Rural Park in the west you can discover unique, secluded ravines and narrow valleys, as well as cacti and abundant birdlife.
Tenerife is home to incredibly diverse ecosystems and many species of endemic flora and fauna. Spot the Canarian foxglove – favoured by many for its bright red flowers and the unique dragon tree, a symbol of Tenerife. You can enjoy whale watching along the strait between Tenerife and La Gomera, on trips departing from Puerto Colon, Los Cristianos or Los Gigantes, while you can also meet species like chimps, tigers, gorillas, pelicans and even penguins at Loro Parque, near Puerto de la Cruz.
Prepare for a whirlwind adventure, as you can try thrilling outdoor pursuits. Turn your hand to water sports ranging from diving to snorkelling to kayaking when exploring Tenerife’s 70km of beaches. Take a submarine safari in the Atlantic to glimpse species such as stingrays. Hike through the Anaga Mountains, head to one of the paragliding centres in the South-West and fly high above Tenerife or relax with a round of golf on courses like the Golf Las Américas. Based in Playa de las Américas, this gently-sloping 72-par course is a favourite among golfers worldwide.
Visit Tenerife at the right time and you’re in for an unforgettable cultural experience. The island throws annual Carnival celebrations between February and March in most towns and villages. Renowned for their spectacular costumes and parades, Tenerife’s Carnival celebrations are the second largest in the world after Rio’s, with the most prominent Carnival events being held in Santa Cruz. Enjoy everything from fancy dress competitions and antique car parades to traditional stringed-instrument concerts called ‘rondallas’ and local musical theatre performances known as ‘murgas’. There is also a ritual you can observe called the ‘burial of the sardine’, where a fish made of rags is carried down the streets and then buried.
One small village you can visit to enjoy the best rural Tenerife has to offer is El Palmar near the Teno Rural Park. Situated in a lush valley, El Palmar is popular with tourists for its old rustic ranches, local Nuestra Señora de la Consolación church – renowned for its ornate Roman Catholic interiors, its steep nearby Talavera cliffs, and for its locally-milled gofio – some of the best in Tenerife. Visit El Palmar in September and you can take part in its annual ‘Dance of the Liveries’ festival, an ancient event where people dress in outlandish costumes and dance to ward off evil spirits.