What to Do with One Day in Tenerife

Hey Owlets,

As the world is slowly starting to head back towards normality I’ve been starting to look towards travelling again and the idea of potentially being able to go on a cruise ship next year has entirely taken over my brain. I know a lot of you are starting to look at booking cruises in the next two years so I wanted to resurrect my “What to do with a day in….” series ready to serve some inspiration for potential itinerary choices. In case you missed the previous instalments, I’ve written about what to do in Lisbon, 1 day in Funchal and 24 hours in County Cork. As always, this guide is mainly aimed at cruise passengers as I know it can be hard to decide what to do when you only have a single day in port, but all of these suggestions can be used to build a longer itinerary - I particularly recommend travelling to different parts of the island if you’re flying in for a few days. Most cruise ships dock in the island’s capital of Santa Cruz so most recommendations will be accessible and easy to visit on a day trip if you’re based in Santa Cruz. With all of the housekeeping out of the way, let’s get into my recommendations.

Visit Mount Teide

Please don’t click away just yet! Now I know you probably just rolled your eyes because if you’ve ready any “What to Do in Tenerife” lists before this was probably at the top of every single list but hear me out, and keep reading for some suggestions that hopefully not every other blog has mentioned. I am one of those people that thoroughly subscribe to the “get off the beaten track” way of thinking, but are you going to go to Paris and not visit the Eiffel Tower? Probably not. So why should that logic not apply to any other destination’s places of significance? Mount Teide is the third highest volcano in the world, is still active and is the highest point in all of the Atlantic islands. This means it’s not only interesting to visit and learn more about the volcano, but it also provides an incredible view out to sea. My recommendation would be to ride the cable car and then walk around at the top of the mountain. Just bear in mind that even though Tenerife is warm for most of the year it’s cold when you’re that high up so bring a coat even though you might feel a bit silly at the time! Mount Teide is located 1 hour 20 minutes by car from the cruise terminal so if you’re visiting for the day then either look at booking an excursion through the ship to give you some insurance or book a private taxi tour but make sure you arrange the return journey to get you back to the terminal an hour before all aboard, just to allow for any issues.

Experience the Pyramids of Guimar

Okay, you sat through the “Eiffel Tower of Tenerife” suggestion so it’s time to reward you with something a little more unique. Did you know that there were pyramids in Tenerife? Because I’ve been there twice and only found out while researching for this article. They’re not quite pyramids in the Egyptian sense but they’re similar. They’re made of lava stone (of course) and are thought to be much more modern (19th Century). No one is 100% sure why they exist but it’s thought to be the byproduct of farming practices at the time as there was a big boom in excavating looking for a local insect that was prized for it’s colour when crushed. Either way, it’s just a bit of an unexpected thing to see in Tenerife and it definitely ticks the box of off the beaten path! The pyramids are only 30 minutes drive from the cruise terminal but you’ll need to get a private taxi to visit them as I’ve never seen a single mention of the pyramids on any cruise line guide to the island!

Go Underground at Cueva Del Viento

With Tenerife being a volcanic island a lot of the more interesting things to do are related to the local geology, and this entry in my list is no different. Cueva Del Viento (the “wind cave” in English) is the largest lava tube in Europe. In case you’re wondering (I had to Google it too), a lava tube is a cave formed of solidified lava. Effectively it’s a tunnel where magma used to flow which is what makes it so amazing. One of the things that attracts me to visit somewhere is it being something really unique, either in terms of culture, architecture or nature and this definitely ticks that box. Again, it’s very off the beaten path so you’ll need to hire a private taxi but it’s only an hour drive from the cruise terminal so definitely doable in a day. If I had known this existed sooner I definitely would have visited because being able to stand inside such an amazing natural wonder sounds incredible.

Soak Up some Sun on one of many Stunning Beaches

The Canary Islands are known for beautiful beaches and incredible weather, so why not just take some time to relax on one of the many beautiful beaches around the island? If you booked a land holiday then it’s fair to assume that the stunning scenery is probably at least part of your reason for choosing Tenerife. If you’re on a cruise then it’s fairly likely that you’re a good half way through by the time you reach Tenerife. Doing a Canaries cruise is great fun but exploring a new port every day can be exhausting so half way is the perfect time to spend a day relaxing on the beach. Playa De Las Teresitas is a great option if you’re looking for the idyllic beach that you’d expect to find on a screensaver but if you want something a little more authentic then head to Playa de Las Gaviotas - it’s a black sand beach (lava rock) that’s a little more exposed to the elements and is known as a great place to surf, so it might not be the kind of place to lie on a towel and sunbathe but it’s just weird and therefore a really unique experience looking at a black beach. Both beaches are only around a ten minute drive from the cruise terminal so it’d be easy to get a cheap taxi and you could visit both in the same day. 

If you’re looking for somewhere to do some sunbathing off-ship or you’re on a land holiday and you don’t fancy getting covered in sand then maritime parks are very common across the Canary Islands. These parks often have multiple pools and you can pay a small fee (usually around €5) to use the pool for the day or just sunbathe with a beautiful view, and you can usually get great food there too. Parque Maritimo de Santa Cruz is a perfect option if you’re in port for the day as it’s only a 30 minute walk from the cruise terminal and there’s a lot of public transport that goes past if you prefer to let someone else do the work!

Explore the Local Towns

My final option is usually my activity of choice when I’m travelling. I love just going for a walk and seeing where you end up. Tenerife is a really safe place so just take your phone for Google Maps in case you get lost, and failing that ask a local - just try to say hello in Spanish and ask if they speak English in Spanish to get them on your side - most Spaniards just love that you’ve made an effort and are happy to help! The capital, Santa Cruz, is a great place to start but it’s huge so make sure you get a ticket for the tourist bus if you want to make your life easier when getting around. There’s a lot to see and do in the city so you won’t find yourself bored! However, I always prefer to explore somewhere a little smaller if I want to relax as it’s less overwhelming. If you feel the same then jump in a taxi to Puerto De La Cruz - it’s a small town that’s a little touristy but less so than Santa Cruz’s main areas. There’s lots of independent shops and amazing restaurants and bars, all with an incredible view of the ocean, and it’s usually featured in Shore Excursions brochures as it’s a good place to be dropped for other tourist attractions. Just start walking and see where you end up!

Hopefully these suggestions give you a few good ideas of where to start, and help you decide to add Tenerife to your to-visit list if it’s not already on there. If you’d like a part two of this just let me know - there are so many things to do on the island but I’ve tried to stick to some of the things you might not have heard of before. If you’ve already visited then let me know what your favourite place in Tenerife is so I can also get some inspiration!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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