When one thinks of Tenerife, one thinks of the strip, package holidays, budget hotels and plastic loungers but don’t be fooled, Tenerife has so much more to offer. For self-confessed travel snobs everywhere, here is our pick of the top unspoilt places to visit in Tenerife….
San Cristóbal de La Laguna
The historical centre of the city in the northern part of the Canary island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site inn 1999 which, was the ancient capital of the island and set in the beautiful, stunning countryside of the Aguere Valley. Despite relinquishing its capital city status, it is still the cultural and religious capital due to it being home to San Fernando University and the Bishop’s Palace. However, this is not all, the city is crammed with exceptional architectural monuments, ranging from traditional 17th and 18th houses, impressive cathedrals including Catedral de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, check out Friends of the Country Economic Society Museum for a rundown in art and history in Laguna. But if after all that, walking and touring you find yourself in need of a break, the city is surrounded by small villages and rich agricultural land, like Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo, which, are worth exploring.
The Anaga Mountains
Not far from La Laguna is another unspoilt place to visit in Tenerife. The Anaga Mountains are a walker or hikers paradise – rich with dazzling coastline, craggy ravines and lush forests. You will be astounded by the remote villages that are so remote that they defy any possibility of human life. The mountains themselves were formed as part of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago and this makes it the oldest part of the island. Since 1987, it has been protected as a “natural park”, and the whole area does not disappoint, with the natural snaking landscape and places like the stunning rock formations of Roques de Anaga and the humid forests of Laurisilva which, are guaranteed to take your breath away. This stunning panorama is still relatively unexplored and offers visitors a unique opportunity to spend time discovering a Hidden Tenerife with people still living in caves, awe-inspiring views and loaded with history.
This town is based in northern Tenerife and stretches along the coast as far as the mountainous interior, the old town is distinguished by stunning architecture and a traditional Canarian atmosphere. It is picture-postcard perfect with quaint houses, cobbled streets and intriguing twists and turns. A visit to the historic centre is an absolute must for a visit. The Concepción Parish Church is a beautiful monument and Casa de los Balcones (house of the balconies) is a perfect example of the island’s unique architecture. The town also has a botanical garden, La Hijuela del Botánico, with plant species from all over the world. While walking around the recreational area of the city centre, Jardin Victoria is the Carrara Marble Mausoleum which is rumoured to house the body of a renowned freemason, however due to a family disagreement, it was not used as a tomb, in fact it is completely shrouded in mystery and no one knows exactly what is inside! Add your theory to the list! For a break from the city, visit one of the three stunning volcanic sand beaches – El Bollullo, Martín Alonso and El Rincón – all of which are rarely crowded.
Teide National Park
The national park is located on Mount Teide which, is the highest mountain and Spain and the Atlantic islands and is the third largest volcano in the world. On top of that, it is one of the oldest and largest national parks in Spain. It is the second UNESCO Heritage Site that Tenerife can boast and since 2007 it has been made one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. Driving up to the national park is an interesting experience; from the sunny south coast you drive up towards a town called Vilaflor with its alpine-like scenery, as you climb higher above the clouds, the terrain changes dramatically and suddenly becomes an amazing lunar landscape. To get to the mouth of the volcano you need a special permit but is definitely worth it, but there are also guided walks up the volcano which, offer visitors a unique experience and an opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of Gran Canaria; La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. For more information see Web Tenerife.
Icod de los Vinos
When staying in Tenerife, a visit to a volcano is a must but a trip to Icod de los Vinos is absolutely essential. The town is sprinkled with innumerable hermitages and other buildings that give Icod great symbolic and artistic value, which can be appreciated at the Museo de Arte Sacro in the church of San Marcos. There are other countless monuments that must be visited, like the dragon tree, where dragons come from- no, I’m joking but it is equally as impressive! The Ancient Dragon Tree is reputed to be a thousand years old and is in the middle of a bid to make it a UNESCO site. Next to the Dragon Tree is the Church of San Marcos located on the Plaza de Lorenzo Cáceres, the spot where, according to tradition, the Guanches already venerated the saint’s icon -una pequeña talla gótica-flamenca – before the conquest. Plaza de La Pila. There are plenty of stunning, municipal buildings like; The Icod Public Library and is one of the cultural centres of the islands. For a break from the cobbled streets head to the playa which, is protected by stunning shell-shaped cliffs and covered with the characteristic black sand.
The cliffs at Los Gigantes
These are one of the island’s major tourist attractions. There are three viewpoints in the village, the main one on main road to towards Tamaimo, another above the sports club and a third on a coastal path around the Hotel Barcelo. The village has many small shops and restaurants servicing the tourists that visit the area, especially on the one way road loop around church and plaza, and also near to the marina and beach. Each year, in February, there is a carnival which parades through the village. As can be expected of a town resort. Huge cliffs plunge into the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and are an awesome sight to behold making them a main attraction of this coastal town and a popular day trip spot. Appreciate the varied colours and textures of these breathtaking looming cliffs that have given this resort its name — the giants. The dramatic precipices can be seen from anywhere in this seaside town but a great way to explore their magnitude is to get up close. Take one of the many boat trips on offer from the sophisticated marina where you will also find a good selection of restaurants and bars offering lovely views over the turquoise waters as well as good food. In addition, other places to sip and savour typical Canarian dishes and cool refreshing drinks are located next to the dark coloured sand beach of Playa de los Gigantes, which is a short stroll from the marina.
Based in the northern coast of Tenerife, the town itself nestles below a looming cliff. Garachico and the surrounding area is arguably the least spoilt coastal area of Tenerife, and is in sharp contrast to some of the more well-known areas. It is still very Spanish in character, and a Spanish phrasebook is advisable for non-Spanish speaking visitors. The area is not renowned for its beaches but instead for the natural seawater swimming pools for the very brave, traditional architecture and buildings, and the family run restaurants that boast an eclectic menu of local cuisine. Garachico is a place for meandering, relaxing and unwinding in a quiet, unspoilt haven.
So the next a time a budget trip comes up for the Canary Islands, instead of turning your nose up at the thought of bright lights, fish bowls and drunken teenagers, remember that Tenerife has so much more to offer.