The Canary Islands boast a diverse array of landscapes, each boasting a distinct and matchless beauty. From laurel forests to volcanic black sand beaches and vast cliffs that meld with the sea, these sites are genuine marvels of nature.
Whether you aim to maximize your Tenerife visit or wish to sidestep the hustle of organizing touristy activities for visiting friends or family, we offer a roster of 10 complimentary activities to indulge in on the island throughout August.
Furthermore, you’ll find two more reasonably priced options at the conclusion. However, these suggestions merely represent a small fraction of the available pursuits, considering there are other remarkable attractions you shouldn’t overlook, such as Loro Parque, Siam Park, watersports in the southern part of the island, or unwinding on terraces that boast breathtaking views of the sea and Mount Teide—although these instances will require you to dip into your pocket.
1. DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF THE TEIDE NATIONAL PARK
One of the primary attraction of the island is Mount Teide, towering at a height of 3,718 meters above sea level, making it Spain’s loftiest peak.
Teide’s grandeur prompted its designation as a National Park in 1952, encompassing over 130 species of flora, including the distinctive Teide violet. In 2007, UNESCO bestowed the honor of World Heritage Site upon this geological marvel. Its exceptional statistics also encompass being the most frequented National Park in Spain and Europe, attracting around three million visitors annually.
The optimal approach to exploring it involves pausing at the various viewpoints scattered along the road leading to the mountain’s foothills, traversing through the untouched natural scenery. From these vantage points, one can absorb the panoramic beauty of Tenerife from an elevated perspective and relish the famed sea of clouds. Along the way, you’ll also encounter a distinct rock formation that may ring a bell for those who once held 1,000 peseta banknotes—the Roque Cinchado, featured as part of the Roques de García, one of the Teide National Park’s most emblematic locales.
For those opting for this option among the complimentary activities in Tenerife and possessing a spirit of adventure, the possibility of reaching the summit of this majestic volcano exists. One can elect to ascend using either the cable car or by hiking with the appropriate precautions.
2. VISIT THE THOUSAND-YEAR-OLD DRAGON TREE OF ICOD DE LOS VINOS
One more of Tenerife’s highly iconic locations is the Millennial Dragon Tree of Icod de los Vinos.
This colossal dragon tree stands apart for its status as the world’s oldest known specimen of its kind, believed to be between 800 and 1,000 years old. It was granted National Monument status in 1917.
To marvel at the Drago, a symbol of the Icod municipality, you can opt to relax with a beverage at the Casa del Drago while relishing the unparalleled views of this exceptional specimen.
3. EXPERIENCE THE SPLENDORS OF ANAGA’S WOODLANDS
Tenerife’s distinctive charm lies within its landscapes, with the Anaga Rural Park, recognized as a Biosphere Reserve, serving as a prime example of its natural beauty.
Encompassing a significant portion of Tenerife’s terrain, the Anaga Rural Park showcases a panorama of towering peaks, intricate valleys, and ravines extending towards the coast. Its rich biodiversity features an array of endemic plant and animal species.
Anaga was one of the nine menceyatos, divisions of the Guanche people, that comprised Tenerife before the 15th-century Castilian conquest. Nestled within its hills, some reaching elevations of 1,000 meters, lies one of Macaronesia’s most remarkable biological treasures: the laurel forest.
This laurel forest is a rare remnant found in Macaronesia and even in certain regions of Asia, Australia, and North America. It represents an ecosystem that has persisted through time as a relic, a glimpse into a forest that once spanned wider across Europe and North Africa during the Tertiary period.
Venturing into this natural haven offers the opportunity for hiking; however, be aware that certain routes necessitate prior authorization from the Cabildo of Tenerife.
Among the multitude of trails, the Bosque de los Enigmas (laurisilva) route and pathways leading to ebony-hued beaches like Playa de Benijo and Playa del Tamadite stand out as exceptional choices for those seeking the finest free activities in Tenerife.
4. ENJOY A DIP AT BENIJO BEACH
The captivating beauty of Benijo Beach in Taganana captivates all who set foot on its shores. This untamed black sand beach, adorned by the presence of Roque Benijo, holds a special allure that leaves a lasting impression on every visitor.
This coastal gem has become a favorite on Instagram, dominating the feeds of both locals and tourists alike. Its undeniable charm makes it a must-visit destination in Tenerife, especially during low tide when the expansive stretch of sand is perfect for leisurely strolls.
However, caution is advised when swimming at this beach. It’s recommended to stay in shallower waters and be mindful of the currents, particularly during rough sea conditions.
5. EXPLORE THE STREETS OF SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LA LAGUNA
Ranked as the second most populous city in Tenerife, San Cristóbal de La Laguna earned its UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999. Historically, it served as the de facto capital of the Canary Islands until 1888.
This city boasts a wealth of churches, convents, and historical structures, including the Santa Iglesia Catedral de La Laguna, the old Convent of San Agustín, and the Real Santuario del Santísimo Cristo de La Laguna.
Wandering through its pedestrian streets allows you to immerse yourself in these distinctive architectural gems, while also enjoying leisurely outdoor shopping. The abundance of restaurants with inviting terraces has transformed the city into a popular hub for “terraceo” – the tradition of socializing over tapas and beers – among both residents and visitors.
San Cristóbal de La Laguna also harbors enigmatic secrets, including the tomb and living quarters of the Spanish corsair Amaro Pargo, known as the Black Beard or the Spanish Blake. This historical figure even made an appearance in episode V of the renowned video game series Assassin’s Creed.
6. DISCOVER THE CAPITAL OF THE ISLAND, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE
Venturing into Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is another enticing free activity.
Stroll along Calle del Castillo, a pedestrian shopping street that commences at Plaza Weyler and culminates at Plaza de España. Notable landmarks include the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín, an architectural masterpiece by Santiago Calatrava, and the Parque Marítimo César Manrique, a creation of the renowned environmentalist architect it is named after.
Santa Cruz also boasts the fairgrounds, Guimerá Theatre, and the Heliodoro Rodríguez López football stadium. This stadium is a football cathedral, not due to architectural grandeur or sporting significance, but because in the early 90s, a star-studded Real Madrid team faced consecutive defeats against the local team, resulting in them losing two league titles on the final matchdays.
If you venture a bit farther from the city center, you’ll reach Las Teresitas Beach, one of Santa Cruz’s premier attractions. From its vantage point, you’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramic views. This beach, adorned with yellow sands and dotted with beach bars offering sun loungers and Balinese beds, is a slice of paradise that few European cities can match.
7. MARVEL AT THE MAJESTIC CLIFFS OF LOS GIGANTES
Located in the western part of Tenerife, the Los Gigantes cliffs stand as majestic walls of volcanic rock, positioned between Buenavista del Norte and Santiago del Teide within the Teno Rural Park.
These cliffs represent one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in Tenerife, visible from the coastline, various scenic viewpoints, or through enchanting boat trips that provide a panoramic view of their grandeur.
Moreover, this region offers a plethora of activities, including whale watching in Europe’s sole cetacean sanctuary, engaging in paddle surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. These reasons make it an essential destination among the free things to do in Tenerife. However, you’ll also find an array of paid activities that are widely sought after by both tourists and locals.
As an intriguing tidbit, nestled amidst the streets of this charming enclave along Tenerife’s south coast is the restaurant ‘El Rincón de Juan Carlos,’ renowned for holding two Michelin stars and being the sole establishment in Tenerife to receive three suns in the Repsol Guide.
8. EXPLORE THE TOWNS OF LA OROTAVA, BUENAVISTA AND GARACHICO
Among the charming municipalities that grace the landscape of Tenerife, three stand out in picturesque splendor: La Orotava, Buenavista, and Garachico, each possessing its own distinct allure.
Positioned in the northeastern reaches of the island, Garachico emerges as a small yet exquisitely beautiful town. It boasts treasures such as natural swimming pools and a historic nucleus that harbors a wealth of architectural marvels dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
In contrast, the historical heart of La Orotava has been officially designated a National Historic-Artistic Site. Noteworthy is the fact that a substantial segment of the Teide National Park lies within its municipal confines. A must-see here is the Casa de los Balcones, an edifice from the 17th century renowned for its inner courtyard and intricately carved wooden balconies.
The emblematic flower carpets of La Orotava serve as the town’s paramount artistic emblem. Referred to as La Villa, historical records indicate that it was the first municipality in the Canary Islands to craft flower carpets for the Corpus Christi procession in 1844.
Lastly, Buenavista del Norte distinguishes itself through its scenic magnificence, with prime locations like the Teno Rural Park and Masca showcasing some of the island’s most captivating attractions, all freely accessible. One of the most photographed sites in the Canary Islands, the Punta de Teno lighthouse, is a must-visit locale for those seeking unique and idyllic spots in Tenerife, where the sunsets cast a spell of pure enchantment.
9. CAPTURE THE WONDERS OF LA RAMBLA DE CASTRO
Situated within Los Realejos, the Rambla de Castro stands as a prime example of the abundant natural treasures that define this preserved environment, rendering it an essential inclusion among Tenerife’s cost-free attractions.
Embarking upon the Rambla de Castro trail commences at Hotel Maritim, adjacent to Los Roques beach, and culminates at the San Pedro viewpoint. Furthermore, within this vicinity lie structures like the historic Gordejuela Water Elevator. Beneath the towering cliffs lies a beach, accompanied by a captivating waterfall, adding to the area’s allure.
10. VISIT THE BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF CANDELARIA
The Virgin of Candelaria holds the esteemed position of being the patron saint of the Canary Islands. This significance lends an air of prominence to the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, the inaugural Marian sanctuary in the archipelago, making it a prime destination for tourists.
The weight of its importance is most evident during the Pilgrimage to Candelaria, an event occurring between the 14th and 15th of August. This pilgrimage involves a march from various points across the island, converging at the Basilica. Thousands of pilgrims undertake the journey, traversing the kilometers that span their respective municipalities and the Basilica. These expeditions can sometimes extend through the course of a night and an entire day.
Within this vicinity reside the nine Guanche menceys and the Dominican convent. Tucked behind the latter, the Cueva de Achbinico or Cueva de San Blas holds historical significance, once serving as a refuge for the Guanches’ revered Virgin. Though relatively unknown to many, the cave exudes mysticism and history, offering a place of intrigue to be shared with unsuspecting or less informed visitors.
11. TWO INEXPENSIVE THINGS TO DO IN TENERIFE THAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS EITHER
Explore the Wind Cave, Cueva del Viento
Situated within the municipality of Icod de los Vinos, not far from the renowned Drago Milenario, lies the fascinating Cueva del Viento. This volcanic tube derives its name from the intricate air currents that circulate within its depths.
Its origins trace back a staggering 27,000 years, emerging after the initial eruptive phase of the Pico Viejo volcano. Remarkably, this volcanic tube ranks as the fifth longest globally, spanning approximately 18 kilometers in explored length, without accounting for the sections yet to be discovered.
The site’s allure stems from various marvels, including the lava formations originating within its confines, the presence of over 90 distinct species, and the fossils of long-extinct creatures. Consequently, when considering the top activities in Tenerife, a visit to the Cueva del Viento undoubtedly ranks among them.
Embark on a Whale and Dolphin Watching Excursion
In Tenerife, a variety of excursions await for observing dolphins and whales, particularly in the southwestern region of the island, whether departing from Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje, or Los Gigantes.
While this activity isn’t classified among Tenerife’s complimentary attractions, it certainly stands as one of the most remarkable experiences in the Canary Islands. Witnessing these creatures in their natural habitat, just mere meters away, leaves an indelible mark on memory.
Notably, Tenerife’s Teno-Rasca marine expanse ranks alongside the world’s foremost whale sanctuaries, joining the ranks of Hervey Bay in Australia and The Bluff in South Africa.
The year 2019 saw over 1.4 million tourists engaging in this activity within Tenerife, attesting to its immense popularity and appeal.