Planning a trip to Tenerife this winter? Our Canary holidays expert, Joe Cawley, gives you the insider information on planning, booking and enjoying a hassle free holiday you’ll never forget.
Tenerife is the best known Canary Island. Being the biggest Island, it attracts over 10 million visitors a year. There is much more to Tenerife than a hot climate, beaches and beer – there’s tropical forest walks, volcanic moonscape rock formations, fantastic food and 350km of coastline for starters.
When to go
Blue skies brighten Tenerife pretty much all year round, though the north of the island tends to get most of any lingering cloud cover. Naturally it’s the winter warmth that draws most visitors seeking refuge from Blighty’s damp and drizzle, but any time of the year is a good time to infuse yourself with a hefty dose of the sunny spirit of Tenerife. June is a great time to visit with the sea temperature starting to increase, unlike the crowds. However, this is also the time that some bar owners either holiday themselves or make their annual renovations so you may find the shutters down in a few places.
Getting the best deal
If your holiday time is flexible and you want to get the very best deal in Tenerife aim for the fringe seasons, i.e. the month or two before or after the summer or Christmas school holidays.
Citizens of the UK and EU countries can travel to Tenerife unhampered by additional visa requirements. Although a sub-tropical island, there are no exotic maladies that need to be countered with jabs and inoculations. Just remember to bring an EHIC card for emergencies, and take out adequate travel insurance.
Packing and Baggage
Long gone are the days when anglophiles needed to waste suitcase space on all their favourite foods. If you can’t possibly survive a week or a fortnight without dunking Hobnobs in PG Tips then by all means play it safe and bring your own. However, there are many international supermarkets selling familiar brands in the resort areas, and plenty of local equivalents. Don’t forget to pack liquids that you’ll need in your hand luggage in clear plastic bags and in containers of 100ml or less. Alternatively, pack them in your case.
Where can you fly from?
Most of the major UK airports serve Tenerife, as do many regionals. By flying from a smaller airport you can often avoid some of the pre-flight hassles such as trying to find a parking space and having to walk a thousand miles to your gate. You’ll find cheap flights to Tenerife from Edinburgh, Birmingham, Exeter and many other regional airports.
Surviving the airport
See-through plastic bags are your new flexible friend at airports these days. You’re allowed to carry liquids, pastes and gels of 100mls or less, but they have to be packed in a clear and sealable bag and screened separately at security. You can buy bags in and around check-in and security, but save yourself a pound or two by making them part of your mental checklist before leaving home – ‘passports, tickets, money, jiffy bag’.
The number 111 and 343 buses both run from the south airport to the southern resorts every 30 minutes or so (find more information on the bus company website here), although a fleet of white Mercedes taxis are always on hand to provide a more comfortable transfer. Expect to pay around €20-25 cab fare. Car rental companies provide a viable alternative. Try local companies such as Cicar or AutoReisen.
Once you are there
Fun on the first night
For the first night you should find yourself a waterfront table at one of the island’s many seafood restaurants. Try El Mirador in Los Abrigos, or if you’re feeling flush, La Vieja in La Caleta with its grandstand views of when the sun slips behind the neighbouring island of La Gomera. Pop open a good Tenerife label like a Monje or Viña Norte Reserva, order the local parrot fish (vieja) and let your cares waft away in a warm sea breeze. If you don’t feel like you’re on holiday after that there’s no hope!
Practical considerations for planning an itinerary
Suitably in-the-holiday-mood following the above culinary induction, it’s more than likely that you’ll want at least a smattering of rest and relaxation in the sun – just don’t park your beach towel permanently, no matter how tempting. As the world has been discovering for the past decade, there’s a whole lot more to Tenerife than sun, sea and sand.
If you do want a sandy base, I recommend the following beaches – Playa del Duque in Costa Adeje, Playa el Camison in Las Americas, Playa las Vistas in Los Cristianos and Las Teresitas near Santa Cruz. All of these have golden sand and great facilities including at least one indispensable beach bar. Make sure you slap on the sun cream at regular intervals. Many a poor (and blistered) soul has hobbled off the beach after falling asleep on a sunbed, fooled into a false sense of security by an ocean breeze.
All of the beaches along the southern coastline are backed by a promenade stretching from La Caleta to the end of Los Cristianos. If you have the energy, take the time to stroll the route to get a broader view of seaside Tenerife. While strolling, you can’t help but notice the large pointy thing poking the big blue beyond the mountains. That my friend, is the world’s third largest volcano, a compulsory visit for any island visitor.
If you only take one day away from your sandy Nirvana, spend it in Teide National Park. The best way to visit is by driving yourself. There are excursions but the eeriness of the bizarre landscape can be lost upon the sudden invasion of a large crowd. The drive into the Park is easy, passing first through pine forests before cutting through plains of black ash and twisting rivers of petrified lava. Park at the visitor’s centre cafe and stroll round the Los Roques monoliths across the road before driving to the cable car station a mile further along. From here, a dangling trolley will zip you to near the peak of Teide in 8-10 minutes, where on a clear day you can see at least four other islands. If you want to go to the very top, you’ll need to apply for a permit to access the final 150-metre climb. To avoid the cable car queues and excursion buses in summer, try to get there for one of the first ascents. It usually powers up at 9am but check the website to check before you set off. Don’t miss the last car down at 5pm, otherwise it’s a long walk!
Although not a practical way to visit the National Park, due to the minimal service, the unfortunately named TITSA bus service provides an alternative way to tour the rest of the island. Buy a €12 or €30 bono ticket from one of the main bus depots. It gives you up to 37.5% discount on all journeys over 20 kilometres (12 miles).
Bus, car or charabanc… whatever your mode of transport, hit the beach by all means, but do tear yourself away from the sand and poolside even just for one day. You’ll come away with a much fuller flavour of this incredible sub-tropical island.
Tenerife Hassle Free – the map
View larger map
Tenerife South Airport, also known as Reina Sofia (TFS), is the busier of two airports on the island. Fridays in summer tend to be the busiest days, with check-in queues snaking through the departures hall like competing conga lines. Getting through security can take a while on the busiest of days so make sure you allow plenty of time. Meals are available on the passenger side, though it’s mainly fast finger food.
Share your Tenerife exploits via Facebook, or upload your holiday snaps on a Tenerife Flickr group such as http://www.flickr.com/groups/19917339@N00/ .
And don’t forget to share your experiences and tips with other travellers on the Directline Holiday’s Facebook page where we regularly give away prizes and vouchers for the best advice.
- Tenerife Tourist Board on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/webtenerifeen
- Bike hire and cycle excursions in Tenerife: http://www.raftingbike.com/indexUK.htm
- Fred Olsen ferries for a look at the other Canary Islands: http://www.fredolsen.es/en-us/
- Tenerife weather forecast: http://www.holiday-weather.com/tenerife
- Tenerife airport transfers: http://www.tenerifeairporttransfers.co.uk
Local tourist offices:
- Official Tenerife tourism site: http://www.webtenerifeuk.co.uk
- Canary Islands tourist info: http://www.turismodecanarias.com
Other useful sources of information:
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office Spain advice page: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/europe/spain
- Tripadvisor’s Tenerife forum: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowForum-g187479-i153-Tenerife_Canary_Islands.html
- The best travel guide to Tenerife: http://www.mydestination.com/tenerife
- Tenerife bus service and timetables: http://www.titsa.com/index.php?idioma=1