When traveling to Tenerife, many visitors skip the north for whatever reason: it’s too far away, there’s nothing to do there and it’s raining all the time, right?
Well, they couldn’t be more wrong and I guarantee that your trip to Tenerife can’t be complete without a visit to the green, unexploited north of the island. Indeed the regions such as Natural Park Anaga offer a wide range of activities.
Here my top 10 things to do in North Tenerife.
The south of Tenerife is known for its beaches, party mood and countless activities. For those who can’t spend the entire day on the beach or those who are seeking to escape the heat of the south, North Tenerife is the perfect escape from the crowds.
However you can easily spend more than just a day trip to the north of the island as it offers plenty of activities to do.
For the locals, the north of Tenerife starts above Los Gigantes in the west and up north of El Medano in the east. Mount Teide marks the impressive frontier between north and south. Mount Teide is also the main reason for the cool and humid climate of the north which created a unique flora & fauna.
Find all locations in a map at the end of the post!
Geographic situation: North of Tenerife island. For locals the north starts above Los Gigantes in the west and above El Medano beach in the east.
Language: Spanish. English is widely spoken.
How to get there:
- By airplane to Tenerife South Airport or Tenerife North Airport. Check airport transfer deals.
- Rent a car to drive from South Tenerife. Check rental car prices here
- Public Transport: Buses depart from Costa Adeje to Icod de los Vinos and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
- Visit North Tenerife with an organized tour
Activities: Agriculture, Fishing, University in La Laguna and business in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Where to stay in North Tenerife
|Hotel Rural Costa Salada***|
Complejo Rural Finca El
|OCEANO Hotel Medical Spa Health|
|IBEROSTAR Grand Mencey|
|MC San Agustin|
Find the perfect accommodation in Tenerife in this Ultimate Guide on Where to stay in Tenerife.
1. Hiking In North Tenerife
The best way to discover the lush green, pristine north of the island is definitely by hiking or trekking. Countless hiking trails have been rehabilitated in the last year and the north of Tenerife is becoming increasingly popular among hikers.
Indeed the unique micro climate created by the interaction of Mount Teide, its volcanic activity and the sea resulted in a very specific landscape and fauna.
There are trails for every level and most include picturesque, remote villages, coastline paths and interesting insights to volcanic activity. The deep ravines will definitely take your breath away.
As the area is quite secluded, traditional life can still be found in many hamlets of Anaga, the north eastern part of the island. Some of them just know 2 ways of access: by foot and by boat.
Here you can find a large selection of Hiking Paths… So put on these hiking boots and explore the great outdoors of Tenerife’s north!
Photos by Tenerife Tourism
2. Visit Beaches of North Tenerife
Some of my favorite beaches of Tenerife can be found in the north of the island. Whereas the beaches of the south can be easily massified and invaded by concrete buildings, the beaches of North Tenerife remained in most cases pristine and untouched. Having a swim at Tenerife`s north beach is definitely one of the top things to do.
It will be just so easy to fall in love with their rough, savage character.
Some can only be accessed by narrow, winding roads. The most scenic beaches in North Tenerife are the following:
- Benijo Beach - (Taganana) Probably one of my favorite beaches of Tenerife. The rocks inside the sea and the view on Anaga mountains create a unique atmosphere. Enjoying sunset at Benijo Beach will be an experience to remember forever. There are only a few restaurants serving typical food from Tenerife. Benijo Beach is probably the most photographed beach of Tenerife.
- Almaciga Beach - (Taganana) Almaciga Beach could be the strongest competitor of Benijo Beach when it comes to the title of the most beautiful beach in Tenerife. On top Almaciga Beach is just next to Benijo. It’s heaven for water sport lovers and it’s nestled at the foot of the Anaga mountains.
- Roque de las Bodegas Beach - (Tanganana) Further west, Roque Las Bodegas is the third beach of Taganana. It’s the largest and busiest of the 3, but the waves are softer which makes it particularly suited for families. I really enjoyed having lunch at of its several restaurants. The most legendary one is Casa Africa, where the serve the freshest fish and seafood at the best price.
- Playa El Socorro Beach- (Puerto de la Cruz). El Socorro Beach has been awarded for its water quality and is especially popular among surfers. It has a gorgeous view on the roughed coastline of north Tenerife.
- Playa Bollullo Beach - (La Orotava) Quite remote, but absolutely pristine beach. A narrow pathway through banana plantations followed by steep steps lead to Bollullo beach. The beach has a certain bohemian vibe as the scenery is absolutely sublime and secluded.
Even though it has not much in common with the rest of the pristine beaches of the north, it is particularly popular due to its festive mood, large size, snack bars and golden sand (most beaches on Tenerife have back, volcanic sand). Did you know that the sand from Las Teresitas beach was shipped in 1975 from the Spanish Western Sahara?
3. Natural Parks of North Tenerife
The north part of Tenerife has a totally different natural landscape, climate and atmosphere than the lively south. Mount Teide being the natural barrier between the north and the south, it created an arid and sunny climate in the south, and a humid, cooler climate in the north.
This resulted in different kind of vegetation and economic sectors. Whereas the south is all about beach & sun, the north produces a wide range of fruits and vegetables. With its lush green vegetation, the north of Tenerife becomes an increasingly popular hiking destination.
The most famous natural park in the north of Tenerife is Anaga Rural Park belonging to the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It spans across the towns of La Laguna,Taganana and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The sharp peaks, the deep ravines in the background of the blue ocean created a fascinating landscape that has been declared Biosphere Reserve.
The forests of Anaga Natural Park have been recognized as original tertiary parks due to its numerous native plant species. Indeed it survived more than 400 million years! It also boasts a large laurel forest (similar to La Gomera). Hiking through the laurel forests of Anaga will make you feel like a journey back in time… The twisted tree trunks give the forest a prehistoric flair.
You can also find several animals that can only be spotted in Anaga park such as owls, kestrels or laurel pigeons. No wonder that Anaga Natural Park is a coveted destination for birders since a long time.
The best way to explore Anaga Natural Park is by hiking, horse riding or mountain biking. Probably you’ll come across one of the small settlements whose inhabitants mostly live off small farming and cultivating local plantations with sweet potatoes, vines, passion fruit, yams etc.
You shouldn’t miss the following viewpoints:
- Mirador de Jardina
- Mirador de la Cruz del Carmen
- Mirador de Abicor
- Mirador de Pico del Inglés
- Mirador El Bailadero
Photos by Tenerife Tourism
4. Eat traditional food in Guachinches
Did you know that the gastronomy and eating culture in North Tenerife varies from the South?
Even though the Papa Arrugadas con Mojo are popular all over the island, North Tenerife has several traditional dishes that can hardly be found in the south. All of them reflect the climatic difference and the farming background of the north area.
A foodie tour is definitely one of the top things to do when visiting North Tenerife.
Some of the must-try dishes in the north are:
- Gofio - Originally invented by the aboriginal of Tenerife, los Guanches, gofio is one of Tenerife’s oldest recipes. It can be compared to flour made of different grains. You can add it to your broth, your soup, sauce, eat it with honey and almonds or with milk for breakfast. Gofio is omnipresent on Tenerife’s tables! On top it is very healthy and provides a lot of energy.
- Ropa Vieja - This dish requires a lot of preparation time but is extremely popular. It consists of chicken, chickpeas, potatoes, some wine and many different spices.
- Potaje - This soup is usually served as an appetizer and consists of chickpeas, several vegetables and potatoes. It is a very healthy meal option.
- Conejo al Salmorejo - Rabbit in Sauce is a very popular meal in north Tenerife. Rabbit meat is marinated during 5 hours in a special sauce with several spices and herbs. It’s usually servel with papas arrugadas, wrinkled potatoes
- Carne de Cabra - Goat Meat can be found in several restaurants and is a typical dish from north Tenerife. Meat is cooked during several hours until the meat is soft as butter.
- Puchero Canario - Slowly cooked vegetables and meat. It includes the best of what Tenerife’s gardens and stalls have to offer: sweet potato, Canarian zucchini, pork meat, chicken, chorizo, cabbage, green beans, chickpeas, potatoes, carrots, corn and gofio, of course.
A great place to enjoy authentic food from Tenerife at an unbeatable price are Guachinches.
Often located in somebody’s garage, the guachinches serve wine with home-made traditional food. The guachinches came to life when wine producers organized wine parties to sell their wine directly to the British buyers and consumers. Nowadays you can hardly get an more authentic experience than eating in a guachinche: unique local wine, rich stews, loads of meat and delicious desserts.
Guachinches are located in the wine regions of Tenerife such as Tacoronte, El Sauzal, Tegueste, La Matanza de Acentejo, Santa Úrsula, La Orotava and Los Realejos.
These are some popular guachinches in the north of Tenerife:
If want to try several guachinches and don’t want to get lost on the way, download the guachinche app “Guachapp”
5. Discover Tenerife's Wine Culture
Did you know that Tenerife has an exciting wine culture?
The island boasts 5 Dominaciones de origen (protected origin appellations) from Yconde-Daute-Isora, Tacoronte-Acentejo, Abona, Valle de Güimar and Valle de la Orotava.
Most of the wine cellars can be found in the north and some of them are considered to be the highest vineyards in Europe and can be visited with a Tenerife Wine Tour.
The multiple microclimates of Tenerife and its volcanic soil had a large impact on creating a unique taste of wines.
However the wine regions strongly differ from each other, depending on their localisation. Guimar and Abona have a dry climate whereas the other wine regions have a humid climate as Mount Teide stops the clouds coming from the Azores.
The most famous grape of the island is the aromatic Malvasia which was already exported in the 16th century by the British to America and Europe. Wine trade in Tenerife is thus a history that goes back to more than 300 years.
As Tenerife was not hit by the phylloxera vine aphid which destroyed most of the vine roots in Europe, some of the most ancient varieties of vines in the world can be found on the island.
If you're eager to learn more and taste the refreshing wines of Tenerife, I recommend to take the Tenerife Wine Tour.
6. Visit La Laguna
La Laguna, the most picturesque town in the north of Tenerife at the foot of the Anaga mountains, is particularly known for being the blueprint for Latin American colonialism.
No wonder that you’ll feel like in a miniature Santo Domingo or Havana when you walk through La Laguna’s cobbled streets with pastel-colored house fronts and its quiet courtyards.
Some of La Laguna’s mansions date back to Spain’s Golden Age in the 16th and 18th century. Due to its unique cultural and historic heritage, La Laguna has been declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
La Laguna used to be Tenerife’s capital before it was transferred to Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1821. As it’s home to Tenerife’s only university, the town is particularly lively with a young, creative spirit.
What to visit in La Laguna:
- The historic center with its old mansions displaying an eclectic range of architectural styles including Portuguese, Genoese, Flemish, French and Castilian
- The cathedral of La Laguna
- The university of La Laguna dating back to 1701
- Plaza del Adelantado with the town hall, a convent and several terraces
- Plaza del Cristo for its market
- Shopping in La Laguna at its quirky, cute little shops. Main shopping streets are Obispo Rey Redondo and Carrera Streets
7. Visit Santa Cruz de Tenerife
When visiting the north part of the island, a visit to Tenerife’s capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a must. The largest town of the island, and probably the only one with real city vibes, boasts a wide range of cultural activities, excellent restaurants and beautiful architecture.
The harbour of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is considered one of the busiest on the Canarian archipelago as it’s the gateway into mainland Spain and a stop off point for many cruise liners travelling to the Caribbean.
When visiting Santa Cruz de Tenerife, you can’t skip the following buildings and places:
- Auditorio de Tenerife - the spectacular auditorium built by star-architect Santiago Calatrava
- Barrio de la Concepción - the historic, picturesque quarter of Santa Cruz
- García Sanabria Park - for cool shades and relax near its fountains
- Plaza de España
- Plaza de la Candelaria for shopping
- Parliament buildings of the Canary islands
Santa Cruz is famous for its huge carnival celebrations in February. The capital turns into a party town and the plazas hosts huge stages with daily parades going through its streets. The costumes are really elaborated and some say that the Tenerife carnival is the largest after Rio.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife can be easily reached from the southern part of the island by bus or by an organized day-trip.
8. Visit La Orotava
To me personally, La Orotava is one of the prettiest town in Tenerife. It’s located just above Puerto de la Cruz, in the lush green Orotava valley. From the town you’ll enjoy spectacular views on the ocean and on Mount Teide.
La Orotava gets its charm from its narrow, cobbled streets and pastel-colored house fronts. Each house seems to be the result of delicate and well-though work. The windows are traditionally framed with wood, which give La Orotava a very characteristic architecture style.
Part of this very typical architecture style are the famous wooden balconies. In case you want to learn more about La Orotava and life in the fertile valley, I recommend a visit of the renowned Casa de los Balcones. On top, you have excellent restaurants in La Orotava serving traditional Canarian food.
Due to its very pleasant climate, La Orotava boasts several beautiful parks that invite to relax. Along with Liceo de Taoro, the Jardines de Victoria were my favorite to stroll around. They are built an Asian-inspired mausoleum and were exemplary for La Orotava’s beauty.
La Orotava is also famous for its large flower and volcanic sand carpets that are laid down on the streets for the festivity of Corpus Christi. The festivity attracts thousands of visitors every year. During that time of the year, the beauty of La Orotava is hard to put into words.
9. Visit Garachico & Icod de los Vinos
Even though the towns of Garachico and Icod de los Vinos might not be on many lists as top things to do in North Tenerife, they are well worth a visit. Indeed due to their limited size and secludedness, they preserved the authentic Canarian atmosphere in the architecture, gastronomy and traditions.
The Dragon Tree makes the most of the Icod de los Vinos fame. It is one of the most popular attractions in North Tenerife. It is about 22m high and the diameter of its trunk is estimated 10m. They say that is more than 1000 years, (probably even more) old hence its name in Spanish: Drago Milenario. It became not only the symbol of Icod, but of the entire island.
The sap of the Dragon Tree is red as blood and used for medical and healing purposes. Some of the restaurants near the Dragon Tree even do a limonade with the sap.
The town of Icod de los Vinos has several immensely beautiful plazas that invite to relax and enjoy the Canarian vibe. To me personally, the Plaza de la Constitución was one of the most beautiful square I saw on the island.
Garachico is located further north from Icod de los Vinos. In the 18th century it was Tenerife’s richest town, they say that Garachico’s street were made of marble.
It hosted the most important harbor to which arrived all the merchandises from the American colonies. But unfortunately the volcano Montana Negra exploded and destroyed large parts of the town.
But the volcanic explosion created Garachico’s most famous attraction: the natural rock swimming pools. They are located only 5 minutes rom the city center and very popular among locals. Only a few improvements have been added, such as paved walkways or stairs. The best: entrance is for free!
When in Garachico, you can't miss to eat out at one of its traditional restaurants like Las Cucharitas (they have banana croquettes on their menu!!)
Like Icod de los Vinos, Garachico preserved its traditional architecture and its cobbled, narrow streets are some of the prettiest that you’ll find on the island. Entering the Plaza de la Libertad will give you an idea of Garachico’s ancient grandeur.
Visit Garachico and Icod de Los Vinos with an organized day-trip from southern
Photos by Tenerife Tourism
10. Visit Cueva del Viento
If you want to add a truly unique and adventurous touch to your trip to Tenerife, I recommend to visit the Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Winds) near Puerto de la Cruz.
The Cave of the Winds is a natural, volcanic attraction that has been shaped during several thousands of years. It’s a gallery of lava-shaped tunnels expanding across the entire island of Tenerife. So far only a limited stretch can be visited.
It’s total length is estimated to be 75 km and it could be the biggest lava-tunnel system in the world.
The Cave of the Winds are a direct result of the intense volcanic activity on Tenerife.
When the 1200ºC hot lava gets in contact with the air, it gets cold in just 5 minutes and solidifies, creating the "roof" of the Tunnel. The lava keeps running below “the roof” until it reaches the sea, leaving an empty hollow behind: the tunnels of Cueva del Viento.
The lava expulsed from Pico Viejo volcano reached the coast where now lies the town of San Marcos. The holes we can see at the cliffs of San Marcos were created by the lava from Pico Viejo, as they are the end of some tunnels.
I hope some of these, admittedly very personal, highlights of my visit to North Tenerife could convince you to include the beautiful north in your travel plans.
Have you been in North Tenerife? Did you enjoy it? I would love to hear about the things you loved (or loved less) in the comment form.
Map: Highlights of North Tenerife
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You'll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. I travel with a FUJI XT2 (mirrorless, takes amazing photos) and our Action Camera GoPro HERO5 Session (takes beautiful photos in the most extreme situations, sim & lightweight) – all of the cameras are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- To edit photos and answer mails while traveling, I usually take my Touchscreen 2-in-1 Business Laptop with me.
- When spending a lot of time on the road I love to wear my trekking sandals.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected against all odds with World Nomads.
In order to get more information on tourism in North Tenerife, I recommend the site of Tourism Board of Tenerife