Tenerife is one of the best locations in Spain for a winter holiday. The sun is shining, temperatures are warm but comfortable and beach resorts are still bustling. I love booking a winter break as it’s something to look forward to as the winter weather draws in. It’s a nice little escape from the cold, wet, windy and often dreary UK wintertime. Taking a holiday in December or January helps me start the new year bright and happy. Where better to take a winter holiday then one of the Spanish Islands.
After our lovely winter holiday in Fuerteventura, we thought we’d explore another Canary Island. Brad lived in Tenerife in his early 20’s but had not seen much more than the party towns and popular beaches in the South. So, we decided to fly into North Tenerife and explore the lesser-known areas. It turned out to be a wonderful winter holiday on the quieter side of the island.
This blog post is part of a paid campaign with the Spain Tourist Office to promote the Balearic and Canary Islands, as part of their #SpanishIslands promotion. Although all views are my own and I have not been instructed what to write or include here.
Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands
As the biggest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a very popular holiday destination. Gorgeous beaches, year-round sun, and cheap packages deals have drawn in holidaymakers for many years.
A holiday in Tenerife might not seem particularly cool when compared to Ibiza. It doesn’t scream natural beauty like Fuerteventura or refined culture like Majorca. However, there is a whole lot more to Tenerife than drunken teenagers on their first time overseas or pensioners soaking up the sun all day long.
Let us show you some of the highlights of North Tenerife and why it is a wonderful winter holiday location.
*RELATED article: The 5 warmest winter sun destinations in Spain
The main towns in North Tenerife
Puerto de la Cruz
We chose Puerto de la Cruz as our base for this holiday and found a great hotel deal on booking.com. It’s a holiday resort but much more traditional than the resorts down South. As the first location for mass tourism on the island, some of the hotels look a little dated and a few high rises mar the skyline but there is plenty of character in Puerto de la Cruz. It’s very popular with Northern Europeans and holidaymakers are much more mature compared to those visiting Southern Tenerife. There are lots of shopping and dining options and many hotels and holiday rental apartments.
We particularly enjoyed:
- The colourful house nestled in the mountainside above us
- Being surrounded by dense tropical vegetation
- Vast stretches of banana plantations in the town outskirts
- The wide selection of restaurants
- The cute houses, side streets and street art in the old fishing quarter
- The easy access to cheap taxis (our hotel was up a steep hill)
- Being able to view mount Teide from the beach
- The amazing black sand beaches
- That everything was open and thriving even in winter
- Walking around in shorts and t-shirt in January
- Cheap car hire and easy to drive roads
The capital city of Tenerife is worth visiting but it is a very active industrial port town. The city centre is bustling with locals going to work and school. There are some lovely plazas, museums and churches to spot. Plus, a selection of nice shops, restaurants and hotels. The seafront here is full of cruise ships, industrial shipping and oil rigs. North of the city is where the best beaches are found in the area.
A large historic town that used to be the capital of the island. Sat in the foothills of the Anaga mountains its surrounded by dense greenery. The old part of town has some amazing 15-17 century buildings, a cathedral, a pretty plaza and a local market. It gives you a little taste of authentic old island life. There is a tram from Santa Cruz to La Laguna if you don’t want to hire a car.
The beaches in North Tenerife
Playa Martianez is the first beach we saw when we arrived and started exploring Puerto de la Cruz. It’s a rocky black sand beach with clear blue waves crashing. Very popular with surfers and perfect for watching them catch a wave. There is a beachside bar but no loungers or umbrellas provided. Just a collection of benches where people sit and enjoy the views until the sunsets.
The main beach in Puerto de la Cruz on the other side of town near Loro Parque Zoo. Playa Jardin has a huge area of rock towers, where people have collected beach rocks and piled them on top of each other into little towers. It was quite mesmerising and worth seeing. There are a few beach bars here and locals selling handmade trinkets and hippy-style towels and beach coverups. There’s a wooden boardwalk that runs along the rich black sand and plenty of loungers to hire. If you need to seek the shade there are grassy verges. The water here is quite warm and the wet, black sand is soft and inviting. The views up the mountainside to Teide are stunning.
Playa de las Teresitas
North Tenerife’s most famous beach is PLaya de las Teresitas, near Santa Cruz. It’s a stretch of golden sand (imported from the Sahara Desert) that creates a wonderful curve of lightly lapping turquoise water. Magnificent viewpoints can be found at either end of the beach or up in the hills above if you have a car. The water is warm here and perfect for swimming as it stays shallow quite a way out when the tide is in. Palm tree-lined and dotted with little beachside snacks this beach is great for relaxing or walking. Each beach bar has a few rows of loungers to rent and offers cold and hot drinks. However, only snack foods are on the menu as there are no buildings overlooking the beach just a mountainside. There is able parking here and the bus runs from Sants Cruz.
*RELATED article: The 10 most beautiful beaches in Spain
Things to see and do in North Tenerife
Explore Jardin Botanico
Jardin Botanico is a garden of tropical plants and flowers on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz. It’s only a €3 to enter and there is plenty to admire as you walk through the grounds. You can easily spend a couple of hours here spotting interesting plants and unusual trees in a calm and relatively peaceful surrounding.
Lounge in lago Martianez
This is a large open swimming complex set at the sea edge in the centre of Puerto de la Cruz. Lago Martianez is perfect for an afternoon of swimming and relaxation. Access costs €5.50 for an adult all day. Inside artificial lakes are surrounded by sun loungers and there are restaurants, bars, toilets, showers and shady grass areas.
Visit Mount Teide
Volcanic eruptions formed the island of Tenerife over 3 million years ago. Rising from the Atlantic Ocean the 3,718 metre high Mount Teide is in the centre of Tenerife. It’s the highest point in Spain and if measured from the ocean floor it’s one of the highest volcanoes in the World.
The surrounding national park can be visited very easily by car or coach tour and the varying landscape during the drive is spectacular. Teide is the most visited national park in Spain and access to hike or take the cable car to the top is regulated by online bookings and permits. The standard teleferico cable car ride is €27 for an adult return and you can book here. The volcano is classed as active but last erupted in 1909. The summit is open to expereineced hikers and you can look into the 80-metre crater if you dare.
RELATED article: Visiting Mount Teide in Tenerife
Take a boat excursion
There are many boat trips available in Puerto de la Cruz (subject to weather conditions during winter and often departing from South of the Island). They offer the chance to spot turtles, whales and dolphins from speed boat, catamarans or sail boats.
Drive to the harder to reach beaches
If you drive through the mountains up to the very north tip of the island. You’ll find smaller rugged beaches near Taganana. Playa de Benijo and Playa Roque de las Bodega are just two of the beautiful coves along this coast line. There are wonderful viewpoints, cliff diving spots and traditional restaurants dotted all along the cliff tops.
Walk through the forest
North Tenerife has a very tropical climate and lush green vegetation. Anaga national park is a great place to immerse yourself in the wild side of Tenerife and enjoy the natural beauty. The vegetation here is recorded as over 40 million years old and it houses many species of bird.
Relax in Parque Maritmo
Another collection of public swimming pools on the other side of Northern Tenerife, in Santa Cruz. Just a short walk from the city centre you can access the pools for €2.50 and spend the day splashing around or looking out to sea. A lounger and umbrella cost an extra €5, there are clean facilities and plenty of space.
Enjoy local food and drinks
Papas arrugadas con mojo is probably the most famous local dish to try in Tenerife. It’s a plate of small, salty, skin-on potatoes served with a green or red sauce. The sauce is the mojo and is usually made of peppers, olive oil and garlic. Exact recipes differ from place to place across the Canary Islands and competition is fierce to provide the tastiest mojo. Other popular local dishes include octopus called Pulpo in Spanish and meat stews like Puchero Canario and Ropa Vieja. The island is known for its production of wine, honey, cheese, tropical fruits and a beer brand called Dorada.
See the Auditorio de Tenerife
The iconic modern building and symbol of Tenerife, located in South Santa Cruz. This building is worth seeing with your own eyes and stopping for a few photos. Designed by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, in his distinct style, it’s similar to the amazing buildings in the Valencia City of Arts and Science.
I hope this article has given you a good overview of North Tenerife and inspired you to visit this part of the island someday. Or if you have been to North Tenerife before, tell us all the things you enjoyed most in the comments box below ↓↓
Other Seeking the Spanish Sun local guides you might enjoy reading…
The essential guide to Fuerteventura
What to expect at Carnival Gran Canaria
Frigiliana, the prettiest town in Andalucia
A great family holiday in Mojacar
Some of our most popular Spain travel tips and info…
The ultimate Spain travel experience bucket list
Tips for first time travel to Spain
Why Spain is the perfect holiday destination
The information in this website is very useful. I had visited Barcelona, Valencia and Seville in the months of October/ November2019. I liked Spain very much and plan to visit other parts of Spain in the near future.
Thank you 🙂 I hope you get to visit Spain again in the near future. There are certainly many beautiful parts to see and explore.