When thinking of Tenerife, you’ll find that beaches, pools and cocktails normally spring to mind. But there’s another side to the island full of volcanic landscapes, pine valleys, historic architecture and subtropical plants. And here’s how you can discover it for yourself…
This post has been written in collaboration with Jet2 and Visit Tenerife. Travel, accommodation, food and activities were provided for free, but all words are honest and my own.
Take a look at any brochure selling beach holidays and you’ll no doubt find Tenerife somewhere. The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife has long been a popular holiday destination for anyone looking to escape life by lounging by the pool and sipping on cocktails – me included.
But did you know there’s a totally different side to Tenerife?
In fact, if you leave the sun lounger and cocktails behind (I know, I know, they’re hard to resist) and make your way around the island, you’ll discover a landscape that transforms before your eyes; subtropical valleys into sandy beaches, volcanic formations into cosmopolitan old towns, extensive pine forests into hustling and bustling cities.
Yes – all of that in one place, and with Jet2 flights from Manchester getting you there in just four hours, you have no reason not to go and see it for yourself.
I had chance to discover this authentic side of Tenerife with Jet2holidays, and here’s how you can too…
Stroll along the Puerto de la Cruz promenade
Situated in the north of the island, Puerto de la Cruz is a city that welcomes thousands of tourists all year round, but retains its charming Canarian character.
Following a huge investment in the past few years, this once thriving fishing village is returning back to its former glory.
It’s home to the most walked promenade on the whole island, and you’ll not struggle for sights should you walk along it – endless azure seascapes, an abundance of shops, quaint cobbled streets, a beautiful fishing harbour, views of the magnificent Mount Teide, elegant plazas and the picturesque history quarter.
Witness the Chinamada cave houses
Surrounded by potato fields and home to a number of lizards who will scurry around your feet (watch your step!), Chinamada is a charming mountain village nestled north of the Anaga mountains.
Residents here still live in the caves carved into the mountainside, though have improved their homes a notch by building colourful brick facades and finally adding an electricity supply in the 1990s – how modern!
The cave dwellers in this friendly hamlet are happy for tourists to come and have a mooch around, and you’ll have the added bonus of being greeted with spectacular panoramic views (and a friendly puppy in our case, too!)
Giggle over glasses of wine
Thanks to the different microclimates that are found across Tenerife, it’s an island that produces vast amounts of excellent wine and has ample wine tasting opportunities.
If you want to discover the fascinating story behind the Canary Islands’ winemaking, the Casa del Vino wine museum is the perfect place, and you can even get a little tipsy in the process.
And if you need another reason to visit (c’mon, like the wine isn’t enough!), there are two lovely cats that have taken up residence at the museum and are happy to be cooed over. Of course, it was my pleasure! 🐱
Get messy in a mojo sauce class
Mojo sauce (to be pronounced “mo-ho”, and not to be confused with Austin Powers’ mojo) is a dish of garlicky goodness that is traditional in the Canary Islands. So traditional, in fact, that you will find it served with almost every meal.
Bodegas Monje, a beautiful winery that has been producing wines over five family generations, offer you the chance to learn how to make this culinary goodness for yourself firsthand (whilst sipping on plenty of wine, of course).
I don’t like to brag, but the world champion in mojo sauce making (yes, really!) came back for a second serving of mine. And I can confirm that it makes a fantastic addition to salty Canarian potatoes.
Wind your way through Teide National Park
There are over 300 volcanoes that span Tenerife, but it’s Mount Teide that dominates a huge area in the centre of the island, standing at over 3,700m – the highest point in Spain.
With around 3 million visitors every year, Teide National Park is Europe’s most visited national park, and when you witness its diverse volcanic landscape, there’s no surprise why.
As you wind your through Teide National Park and up the mountain – whether that be on the hiking routes or by car – you’ll get the opportunity to admire pine valleys, craggy craters, volcanic landslides and even flowers and wildlife.
Just be warned – it’s bloody windy up there. I learned the hard way when my sunglasses blew off my head and over the railings as I observed the view…
Hunt down the island’s street art
No matter whereabouts in the world I am, I’m a sucker for street art, and there’s plenty to hunt down in Tenerife, particularly in Puerto de la Cruz.
Whether you stumble across pieces by accident, or grab yourself a guide with the intention of seeing all of the art you can, Puerto de la Cruz is home to an open-air gallery of magnificent murals – Puerto Street Art.
Puerto Street Art is completely set in the historic heart of the city, so not only does it give you the chance to easily see it all on foot, but you get to enjoy the historic charm of the city as you do so.
Gaze at the clear starry skies
If you really want to end a day in Tenerife on a high – quite literally! – then make sure to spend the later hours in Teide National Park. Here, the skies and atmospheric conditions are some of the best in the world for stargazing.
Of course, this is something you can easily do for free, though if you really want get your astronomy head on and learn about the 83 constellations that can be seen from Tenerife, you can hire an astronomer for the night.
Standing on the craggy landscapes and using a laser pointer, José from StarExcursions pointed out notable constellations one by one (with surprising accuracy, might I add!) and told us the fascinating stories behind them, before using our bodies as props to explain the movements of sun and the moon, and letting us loose on the telescope.
On the particular night we took part in the activity, the glare of a full moon cut through the dark and long clouds spanned the sky, but it was no less ethereal or enjoyable.
Visit the ancient dragon tree in Icod de los Vinos
No tour of the authentic side of Tenerife would be complete without following the cobbled alleyways of Icod de los Vinos to find the island’s ancient dragon tree, Drago Milenario.
This large subtropical tree is a symbol of Tenerife, and should you fall in love with it, you won’t have to look far to find a postcard or mini figurine that you can take home as a momento.
The trunk’s circumference comes in at a whopping 20m, and it was once believed to be 1,000 years old, though no one knows for sure. Why? Because the ancient dragon tree is not actually a tree at all. It is in fact a plant, and so has no tell tale rings in its trunk to determine its age.
Hike through Anaga National Park
With beautiful views of Mount Teide as soon as you arrive, Anaga Rural Park is home to numerous hiking trails and varying microclimates.
When strolling under the cool, damp tree canopies, you’d swear you were making your way through an enchanting rainforest if you didn’t know better. But when stepping out from the cover to take in the panoramic views, the sun hits your skin and the dry heat makes a reappearance.
If you’re a keen hiker, this is a spot you don’t wanna miss out on, and with various routes for all abilities and an accessible route too, Anaga Rural Park holds an adventure for everyone.
Stay in a room overlooking the sea
After long days of exploring the island, you’re gonna need to somewhere to put your feet up and recharge, and staying at Hotel Sol Costa Atlantis with Jet2holidays does the trick just nicely.
This beautiful beachfront hotel is situated in the centre of Puerto de la Cruz, and is home to a number of rooms that boast breathtaking views of the sea and Tenerife’s colourful landscapes… and who wouldn’t want to wake up to that in the morning?!
They’ll even make sure you start you day right with an amazing breakfast buffet – traditional English breakfasts, a selection of continental treats, a wealthy selection of breads and pastries, and – if you really want to treat yourself – chocolate covered churros and bubbly. Yes, really!
I just wish I’d had time to explore the hotel’s spa facilities. Guess it just means I’ll have to go back, eh..?
Needless to say, I had a wonderful time exploring the largest of the Canary Islands with Jet2holidays. Have you ever discovered the authentic side of Tenerife? Which of these activities would you love to try? I’m dreaming of Jet2 flights back to Tenerife already…