canary islands

Discover Tenerife: 12 impressive must-visit destinations for first-time visitors

Enjoying the black sand beaches of volcanic origin or tasting typical dishes of Canarian gastronomy are just some examples of what you can do if you visit Tenerife.

The Canary Islands harbor genuine natural treasures and sites of immense cultural significance. Within the archipelago, you’ll find four of Spain’s 16 national parks, one of the 15 Spanish cities recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, the highest peak in Spain, and seven biosphere reserves, among other notable distinctions across the islands.

Exploring the archipelago promises a diverse range of landscapes and activities to indulge in. In Tenerife alone, it’s challenging to narrow down the must-visit places for a first-time visitor, but we’ve carefully selected a few that we believe you simply cannot afford to miss.


The Anaga Rural Park, situated in Tenerife, was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 2015.

Nestled within the Anaga massif, a mountainous formation found in the northeastern corner of the island, this area boasts remarkable scenic beauty, abundant natural wonders, and a rich cultural heritage. Spanning across the municipalities of La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Tegueste, it is home to a diverse array of endemic flora and fauna.

Stretching from the coast to the peaks, the park exhibits exceptional biodiversity. Its deep valleys and ravines are prominent features, and the unique climate contributes to the presence of one of the world’s most significant examples of laurel forests, as well as awe-inspiring sea of clouds.

To fully immerse yourself in this enchanting location, it is highly recommended to explore its numerous trails, leading you to discover its captivating black sand beaches like Benijo or Almáciga.


The Canary Islands boast four out of Spain’s sixteen national parks. Among them, the Teide National Park in Tenerife holds a distinguished status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not only the largest but also the oldest national park in the Canary Islands archipelago, featuring the majestic Teide, which stands tall as Spain’s highest peak, soaring 3,715 meters above sea level.

Within the Teide National Park, a treasure trove of endemic flora and fauna awaits, including the Teide violet, red tajinaste, perenquen, and blue chaffinch. The landscape itself is shaped by volcanic cones and lava flows, creating a truly unique setting.

Exploring the park can involve embarking on one of the designated trails, taking a cable car to reach the summit of Teide, or even arranging an overnight stay at the Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide.

Important note: It is crucial to respect the environment and preserve the natural wealth of the area by refraining from taking any elements such as stones or vegetation.


A visit to Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, is an absolute must. It is here that the renowned Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife takes place, a grand festival declared as an event of International Tourist Interest. The carnival is brimming with captivating events such as the dazzling Queen’s Election Gala, lively murgas (musical groups), vibrant parades, and exhilarating concerts, among many other exciting activities.

Among the city’s main attractions, you’ll find the Adán Martín Auditorium of Tenerife, a stunning architectural masterpiece designed by Santiago Calatrava. The César Manrique Maritime Park, named after the renowned architect, is also worth exploring. Additionally, there are the Fairgrounds, Guimerá Theatre, and the Heliodoro Rodríguez López football stadium.

In the heart of the city lies Calle del Castillo, a pedestrianized shopping street that stretches from Plaza Weyler to Plaza de España, offering a delightful shopping experience.

One of Santa Cruz’s most famous and beloved beaches is Las Teresitas, and you can enjoy breathtaking views of this beach from its viewpoint.


San Cristóbal de La Laguna earned the prestigious designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

Founded in 1497, the city derives its name from its location near a shallow lake or marshy area known as “La Laguna,” which was eventually drained in 1837.

The city’s charm is evident in its cobblestone streets that wind their way amidst churches, convents, and historic buildings. Notable landmarks include the Santa Iglesia Catedral de La Laguna, the Iglesia de la Concepción, and the old Convento de San Agustín.

Moreover, its pedestrian streets, like Calle Herradores, offer a delightful ambiance for leisurely strolls, shopping, and enjoying refreshments on the terraces of various restaurants.


Enhanced by the imposing Roque Benijo, Benijo Beach in Taganana is a captivating wild beach adorned with black sand.

This beach, located in the northern part of Tenerife, may already hold familiarity for you, as it stands as one of the most frequently captured spots by both locals and tourists.

To truly immerse yourself in the authentic essence of the Canary Islands, a visit to this beach is essential. It showcases a remarkable example of the volcanic origins that shape the archipelago’s coastline. It is recommended to visit during low tide when there is more sand available for leisurely walks.

However, caution must be exercised while bathing, and it is advisable not to venture too deep into the water, particularly when the sea is rough, as the currents can pose a danger.


Among the beaches situated in the southern part of Tenerife, we must highlight El Médano—a renowned and highly popular destination for water sports enthusiasts. It is widely recognized as one of the best-known beaches on the island, particularly sought after for activities like surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing due to the favorable weather conditions prevailing in the area.

For those aspiring to learn kitesurfing or windsurfing, El Médano offers exceptional courses conducted by top instructors. Moreover, you’ll have the opportunity to train on a beach that has been chosen as a venue for esteemed world championships, such as the Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) championships.

Along the charming promenade, you can relish the picturesque coastline while exploring a diverse array of gastronomic delights, creating a truly enjoyable experience.


Since 1955, Puerto de la Cruz has held the esteemed title of a Place of National Tourist Interest. Situated in the northern part of Tenerife, this coastal municipality stands out as one of the premier attractions on the island.

Its allure is enhanced by the presence of black sand beaches of volcanic origin, such as Playa Jardín. Additionally, visitors can delight in exploring the renowned Loro Parque zoo and the captivating Lago Martiánez, a complex of saltwater pools designed by the esteemed architect César Manrique.

The San Telmo promenade serves as a beautiful pedestrian and shopping thoroughfare along the city’s waterfront. It seamlessly connects with Martiánez beach, allowing visitors to soak in the atmosphere and ambiance of Plaza del Charco, the vibrant heart of Puerto de la Cruz, before reaching their destination.


The municipality of La Orotava, adjacent to Puerto de la Cruz, stands as one of the most picturesque destinations in Tenerife. Its historic quarter holds the distinction of being declared a National Historic-Artistic Site, while a significant portion of the Teide National Park lies within its municipal boundaries.

A visit to the Casa de los Balcones is a must. Dating back to the 17th century, this charming establishment is renowned for its interior courtyard and intricately carved wooden balconies. Another delightful attraction is the Victoria Gardens, an enchanting 19th-century creation featuring tiered structures adorned with lush vegetation and beautiful fountains.

The floral carpets of La Orotava serve as the town’s most significant artistic hallmark. Likewise, the Romería de La Orotava, a renowned festival on the island, offers a vibrant celebration complete with traditional costumes, music, Canarian cuisine, and festive dancing.

While exploring the northern part of the island, we also recommend a visit to one of Tenerife’s “guachinches,” traditional Canarian food establishments. Santa Úrsula and La Orotava boast some of the finest examples of these authentic culinary gems.


Punta de Teno is an idyllic location tucked away in the westernmost part of Tenerife. It is home to a lighthouse that serves as the focal point of countless photographs capturing the beauty of this place.

Constructed in 1897 using stone from La Gomera, the Punta de Teno lighthouse is highly revered among the locals. From this vantage point, one can marvel at the impressive cliffs of Los Gigantes and catch a glimpse of the neighboring island of La Gomera, creating an unforgettable sight.

It’s important to note that Punta de Teno has been designated as a protected area in recent years, with regulated traffic measures in place to prevent overcrowding. There are times when road access to the area is prohibited.


Nestled within the Teno Rural Park, the hamlet of Masca sits approximately 700 meters above sea level. While the road leading to Masca may be narrow and winding, the breathtaking views it offers are well worth the journey.

This area boasts few buildings, allowing the unspoiled beauty of Canary Island nature to shine through. The deep ravines of the valley and the backdrop of La Palma Island further enhance its charm. Masca showcases the unmistakable elements of traditional Canarian architecture, enveloped by the lush vegetation of the surrounding area.


The northern municipality of Icod de los Vinos holds some of Tenerife’s most precious treasures. First, we encounter the Drago Milenario de Icod de los Vinos, an enormous dragon tree that stands as the oldest of its kind in the world, estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old. It was declared a National Monument in 1917.

Another notable attraction is the Cueva del Viento (Wind Cave), a volcanic tube named for the air currents generated within it. Originating approximately 27,000 years ago after the initial eruptive phase of the Pico Viejo volcano, this volcanic tube ranks as the fifth longest in the world, with approximately 18 kilometers of surveyed passages, excluding those yet to be explored.


The Cliffs of Los Gigantes stand as one of Tenerife’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. These majestic walls of volcanic rock grace the western part of the island, spanning between Buenavista del Norte and Santiago del Teide within the Teno Rural Park.

You can admire the sheer magnificence of the cliffs from the coast or embark on a delightful boat trip to fully appreciate their grandeur. Activities in the area include whale watching, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. For all these reasons, a visit to the Cliffs of Los Gigantes is an essential stop on your Tenerife journey.

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