Many would be forgiven for perceiving Tenerife as a Spanish package holiday favorite, but on a recent trip to this diverse destination I realised it offered so much more. Tenerife is in fact very hip, stylish and boutique. In recent years a new island has emerged, and it’s plain to see that the landscape, sights and attractions certainly entice you to take a second look.
For example I bet many people don’t know that one of Tenerife’s most rugged landscapes, Teide National Park, was used as the centre for Tour de France hero and four times Olympic gold medal winner, Bradley Wiggins, as part of his training programme and Tour de France preparations. Other distinguished sporting legends have also chosen Tenerife as a training destination, including cyclist Lance Armstrong, rower Paul Goodison and top beach volleyball players in Spain, Herrera and Gavira.
In actual fact Tenerife is much closer to Africa than Spain at less than 200 miles away, and is amongst only a few destinations within a 4 hour flight of the UK that can guarantee year-round sunshine (300 days of it), perfect if you’re a sun worshipper like me!
Plenty of Tenerife excursions are available on the island.
There’s also plenty of 4 and 5 star accommodation to choose from, which provide the perfect base to discover the fabulous food, great wines, mesmerising history and captivating culture of an idyllic island escape. We stayed in Costa Adeje which is only a 20 minute drive from the island’s South airport – a definite recommendation as it’s very convenient and there is plenty to do for everyone. Away from the tourist hot spots there are also lots of remote beaches spread across the island, so a tip is to ask a local to point you in the right direction. Venturing away from the beach you are greeted with stunning landscapes, tiny villages and historic towns reflecting traditional Canarian life that has changed little over the years.
I would certainly recommend hiring a car to make the most of the island. About a 45 minute drive from Tenerife South airport is Santa Cruz, the largest city and capital of Tenerife. Stroll down the “ramblas” for shopping with cosmopolitan character, then head west to La Laguna town which houses a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site at its historical centre. Here you’ll find the most wonderful examples of Canarian mansion houses lined along cobble streets, with art galleries to potter around in, as well as designer boutiques for intrepid deal hunters. To enjoy some picturesque countryside venture north-west to the region known as “Isla Baja”, also an ideal destination for outdoor activities. Its towns still preserve all their traditional flavour, and the richness of the local scenery and architecture is remarkable. If you’re looking for something a little livelier, Puerto de la Cruz located in the North of Tenerife, has a great range of hotels and is a lively, cosmopolitan town, ideal for strolling around and shopping.
If you’re feeling adventurous try the cable car ride scaling Mount Teide, surrounded by a moonscape of rock formations and intense volcanic colours. Brave souls (not me!) can ascend on foot for a 4-6 hour walk, but there are less taxing trails that reveal a rich legacy of history and natural beauty, from meandering along ancient watercourses, treading woodland paths or strolling amidst spectacular vistas.
When it’s time to eat be sure to try traditional Canarian cuisine, particularly the deliciously fresh grilled fish. The vast coastline surrounding the island is home to rich marine life, which makes a regular appearance on traditional restaurant menus. And if you’re looking for Michelin star you’ll find one in Tenerife at the “MB” restaurant in the world-renowned luxury Abama Golf & Spa resort. In fact, fine dining has really taken off in recent years, with several renowned Spanish chefs showcasing their culinary talents to locals and travellers alike.
For golf enthusiasts the island offers eight superb courses, all very different and each with their own character. Located in Isla Baja, just by the Vincci Buenavista Golf & Spa hotel is Buenavista Golf course, a true golfer’s delight, but watch out for the waterfall and lake which require a steady hand! If, like me, you’d rather be amongst hot stones than 18 holes, many of the luxury hotel spas on the island offer volcanic themed treatments for the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation. Plus if you have little ones did you know Tenerife is the island with the largest number of theme parks? From water parks to zoos to roller coasters there is guaranteed fun in abundance with plenty of options to choose from to keep the kids entertained.
It’s certainly safe to say if you explore a little further you will discover so much more to this enchanting island than first meets the eye!
Christmas in Tenerife is also a very nice time to visit.