Top 5 things to do in Tenerife for families

Santa Cruz in Tenerife

We were really surprised by our trip to Tenerife earlier this year. Not only was the landscape stunning, the food incredible and the weather perfect, there was also heaps to do, which we weren’t expecting from this relatively small island. If you’re into hiking there are enough trails that could keep you occupied for weeks, including one that goes up a volcano! Or take to the water on a dolphin or whale watching trip, followed by a trip to the water park or zoo. There’s plenty of history and culture too, with colourful towns, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and traditional local restaurants to sample.

Whatever floats your boat, you’ll find it here in Tenerife.

Distant mountains with tall pink lupin like flowers in the foreground

Teide National Park

Where to Stay on Tenerife

There are plenty of places to stay on the island, ranging from Villas in Tenerife and family resorts, to private guest houses and even glamping sites. Most people spend at least a week on this sunny island, and it’s small enough to just base yourselves in one place and take day trips out to explore the sights. A lot of the accommodation is found in the south of the island, but it’s also worth considering staying further north for a different sort of scenery. One option for travellers wanting to retain their independence and have enough space for all the family is to rent an apartment or villa through Clickstay, perfect for taking the holiday at your own pace. Start your days with a leisurely breakfast, enjoy time in your private pool on those hot afternoons, and revel in the fact you don’t have to stand on ceremony for dinner since it’s all about having what you want, whenever you want it.

Top things to do in Tenerife

If you’re thinking of heading to the Canary Islands this year, make sure you check out some of these popular things to do in Tenerife:

1. Go up a Volcano

Looming majestically over the entire island (indeed, you can see it from all over Tenerife) is Mount Teide, the famous volcano dominating the surrounding national park. The terrain here is like something you’d expect to see on the Moon, or even Mars, and is quite simply the most incredible sight to behold on Tenerife. Did you know it’s the highest peak in all of Spain? If you’re feeling energetic you can hike up to the top, but do beware of the altitude, which makes walking more difficult than you’d think! An alternative option is ascending by cable car, which gives guests incredible views out over the caldera and takes far less time and effort than hiking. Once at the top there are three trails. Two don’t require permits, and take about 20 minutes to walk to their respective viewpoints. The final trail, which requires a permit booked in advance, allows hikers to trek up to the very rim of the volcano for the ultimate birds-eye view of the island.

La Fortaleza route 11 Hiking trail at Mount Teide in Tenerife

Hiking a trail at the top of Mount Teide

2. Head out Dolphin and Whale Watching

One of the best days out in Tenerife is undoubtedly taking a boat trip from somewhere like Los Cristianos, Puerto Colon, or Los Gigantes to see if you can spot the resident and migratory dolphins and whales swimming along the coast. They congregate along the south western side of the island to feed in the warm waters, and sightings are almost guaranteed. Longer whale and dolphin watching boat trips are also available and include swimming stops and a meal on board before returning back to land. The perfect way to spend a sunny day.

Whale fin emerging from the surface of the sea

Whale watching in Tenerife

3.  Have fun at the Zoo and Water Park

Conveniently located on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz, Loro Parque is a 13 hectare zoo with a wide range of animals and attractions to visit. Popular with families it also reputedly has the biggest parrot collection in the world! Once you’ve seen your favourite animals, head to Siam Park, a Thai-themed aqua park with plenty of water slides and rides to keep everyone entertained. Float lazily down the Mai Thai river, or plunge down vertical chutes, it’s your choice!

4. Take an Adventurous Drive to Masca

For some of the most spectacular scenery in Tenerife, hire a car and head out to the precariously perched mountain village of Masca, in the south east of the island not too far from Los Gigantes. The roads here are narrow and winding, but are in great condition, and the views are nothing short of jaw-dropping. It feels a little like stepping into Jurassic Park at times with all the tropical foliage. Once at  Masca there are plenty of parking spots, and two choices of pathway (one is short and steep, the other longer and more leisurely) down to the tiny village. It’s a great place for sitting out on the cafe terrace with a plate of chips and a cold drink, surrounded by lofty peaks and deep ravines. Don’t forget to check out the cute little church on the way down.

Stunning scenery in Masca in Tenerife

The stunning valley of palm trees around Masca

5. Explore Lava Tunnels

If you want something that your kids will be talking about for months to come, try exploring the Cueva del Viento, the largest lava tube system in all of Europe (and 5th largest in the world!). The tunnels wind their way for over 10 miles underneath the ground at Icod de los Vinos in the north of Tenerife. The tunnels were shaped by lava flows from Pico Viejo (which you can see from one of the trails along the top of Mount Teide). Two-hour guided tours are available in English, and take in farmland and pine forests as well as going deep into the lava tunnels themselves.

Have you been to Tenerife? Do you have any more attractions to add?

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