It’s no surprise holidays to Tenerife are so popular with Brits. The island offers up huge beaches, year-round sunshine and city-sized resorts.
A holiday hotspot
Tenerife’s unerring reputation has been built on the back of decades of good reviews. One of the earliest came from Queen Victoria, who used to take her vacations here in the 19th century. If you want a more up-to-date character reference, you only need to look to the 450,000 holidaymakers who flock here every year.
The beach scene
The secret of Tenerife’s success starts with its beaches. On the island’s south coast, resorts like Playa Las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje have something going on around the clock. There are white sands and watersports to see you through the day and a world’s worth of restaurants, bars and nightclubs to move you through the night. The tourism limelight shines a little softer on the resorts on the west coast. Days in Playa de la Arena, for example, revolve around the sleepy volcanic beach, and nights play out in beachside restaurants.
Mount Teide National Park
There’s more to Tenerife than its coastline. Its interior is dotted with banana plantations, traditional villages and national parks. Take a trip to the centre of the island, and you’ll discover Mount Teide, the third largest volcano in the world. It’s surrounded by an unearthly landscape of solid lava.
Things to See and Do in Tenerife
The big beach
Playa de las Vistas in Los Cristianos is one of the most popular beaches in Tenerife, and it’s definitely deserving of the attention it receives. It’s one of the longest stretches of sand on the south coast and it comes with all the essential facilities, from sunbeds and showers to a beach volleyball court.
The secret beach
After more than 100 years of tourism, none of Tenerife’s beaches are truly footprint-free. But if you’re looking for a lesser-known band of sand, your best bet is to look to the north coast. Playa Bollullo, on the edge of Puerto de la Cruz, is a good example. The volcanic sand here is overlooked by craggy hillsides and a solitary café.
If Tenerife had a penny for each of its beaches, its name would feature on a rich list somewhere. The island is circled by 400 kilometres of coastline, which manifests itself in different ways. There are straights of white sand that roll out for a couple of kilometres, and swathes of dark volcanic sand that operate according to the good-things-come-in-small-packages philosophy.
Shoppers with money to burn can set it alight at the Sarafi Centre in Playa de Las Americas and the Plaza del Duche in Costa Adeje. These upmarket malls are full of designer fashion stores and high-brow jewellery shops. Names like Armani, Cartier and Hugo Boss feature on their register. The Plaza del Duche also offers a bespoke personal shopper service.
The high concentration of perfumeries in Tenerife makes it easy to sniff out a bargain. Big name scents usually come with 20 per cent off. You’ll find perfume stores in all the big shopping centres, including the Oasis in Playa de Las Americas. Santa Cruz is a hive for shops, too. Calle Villalba, Calle El Castillo and Plaza de Espana are hotbeds of brand name stores and boutiques.
Tenerife is a duty-free island, so you don’t have to look far for a bargain. You should expect to get between 20 and 50 per cent discount on alcohol and cigarettes. The best place to buy your duty free is in a supermarket. The biggest one in Playa de Las Americas is the Mercadona in the San Eugenio shopping centre, while Hipertrebol, near Calle Valois, is one of the cheapest in Los Cristianos. If you’re looking for a more authentic souvenir, head to the craft market in Alcala, 2 kilometres from Playa de la Arena. It takes place on a Monday in Calle de la Plaza.
While the 18 to 30s crowd head to Playa de Las Americas, couples and families are catered for in Playa de la Arena. The beach here is lined with restaurants and cafes, serving a collection of international and Canarian cuisine. It’s a similar story in Avenue Adeje in Playa Paradiso. In Los Cristianos, meanwhile, the evening entertainment revolves around cocktail bars and live music pubs. Take your pick from the offerings in the Allo Centre, the Central Commercial Jose Bas, and on Avenida Juan Carlos.
Tenerife’s clubbing muscle is strongest in Playa de Las Americas. The Veronicas Strip on the seafront is crowded with bars and clubs, which stay open until 5am. About 300 metres inland you’ll also find a shopping centre called Starco’s. The bars here are busiest around 10pm and they act as a warm-up area for Veronicas. Compared to Playa de las Americas, nightlife in Costa Adeje is a slightly watered down, but there are still plenty of bars and clubs. You’ll find the pick of the bunch near Playa Torviscas Beach and C C Torviscas Costa.
Canarian families pile their plates high with this hearty stew on a weekly basis. This hunger-buster is made with chicken, chorizo, potatoes, chickpeas, paprika and an assortment of fresh vegetables. Restaurants serve an upgraded version by throwing in a few strands of saffron.
Tenerife exports more than 3,400 tonnes of cheese every year, but there’s one variety that stands out from the rest. In 2008, Arico goats’ cheese was crowned the World Champion Cheese at the World Cheese Awards in Ireland. It’s got a smoky tang and it’s coated in paprika.
This is black pudding, but not as you know it. In Tenerife, this recipe is given a sweet twist with ingredients like almonds, cinnamon, raisins, pine nuts and nutmeg added to the mix. It’s served with other tapas dishes at dinnertime, rather than with a fried egg and beans at breakfast.
Conejo al salmorejo
The smell of conejo al salmorejo is a lazy Sunday’s trademark scent. Made with rabbit, wine, garlic and spices, this tender stew needs to be slow-cooked for at least 4 hours. Many Canarian families leave a pot to simmer on the stove at the weekends and the aroma ribbons through the house.
Thanks to the island’s volcanic soil, mild climate and moist trade winds, Tenerife is the proud parent of 5 DO wine producing regions. Abona, Tacoronte-Acentejo, Valle de Guimar, Valle de la Orotava and Ycoden produce a long list of white and red wines.
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Apparently the Beckhams are big fans of Costa Adeje, on Tenerife’s south coast. It’s hardly surprising, what with the luxury villas, 5-star hotels, designer shopping and waterfront restaurants. And the place has even got its own waterfall. It’s all about laid-back sophistication here – though the party bars and clubs of Playa de las Americas are just a stone’s throw away should you want them.
Playa de las Americas
Set on Tenerife’s southwest coast, Playa de las Americas is a purpose-built resort that comes with great clubbing credentials. The year-round sun and multiple sandy beaches also pull in the Brit crowds. And then there are the duty-free shops, some great tapas restaurants, a waterpark on the doorstep and the upmarket resort of Los Cristianos just next door.
Playa de la Arena
You can leave the hustle and bustle behind at Playa de la Arena. This small, quiet place on Tenerife’s west coast takes things gently, from the uncrowded beach to the low-key bars and restaurants. You’re also well placed for some great walks along rugged coastline and through volcanic landscapes – and close to some of the island’s best sights.
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