Tenerife attractions, here are the best places to see on the island:
TEIDE NATIONAL PARK
If there is one place you can’t miss when visiting Tenerife that is definitely the Teide National Park; UNESCO declared it World Heritage Site in 2007; the park is home to the volcano Teide; this is the third highest in the world (if measured from the ocean floor) following only the Hawaiian Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The landscape of the park is the result of thousands of years of volcanic activity; they have given rise to the 3718 metres high volcanic cone that gives the park its name.
The word Teide comes from “Echeyde” which means hell in the language of the Guanches; these aboriginal people inhabited Tenerife before the Spanish conquered the island in 1496; for them the Teide was a sacred place, the gate of hell; they believed that here dwelt an evil being, a sort of demon who they called Guayota.
The lunar scenery of the park has inspired many film directors who shot here several movies; for example some of the most famous are “Planet of the Apes” in 1968 and “Clash of the Titans” in 2010.
The Teide National Park is definitely the number one of Tenerife’s attractions!
In the middle of a fantastic natural scenery which you will never forget, we find Masca; it is a little village hidden in the mountains where time seems to have stopped. This place cannot be described, as words do no justice, it has to be seen!
Just sit in the shade of a palm tree and experience the silence and the beauty of this forgotten village; also take time to discover the flavours of Masca; try the golden almond cake, or the soft and fresh goat cheese together with the famous air dried ham.
Taking the road passing by “Rocas del Fraile”, it is possible to reach” Punta de Teno“; this is located in the extreme north west of the island; from the lighthouse we get a beautiful view of the western coast and the majestic cliffs “Los Gigantes”; these are definitely one of the best Tenerife attractions!
The Genoan banker Cristóbal de Ponte founded Garachico in 1496; this is for sure another place you can’t miss when visiting Tenerife; the eruption of Trevejo volcano in 1706 put an end to a period of prosperity in the town and changed it forever. Lava destroyed most of the old town centre but some buildings remained standing; among these one of the most noteworthy is the Baroque palace “Palacio del Marques de Adeje”; other importants are the church “Iglesia de Santa Ana” and the fortress “Castillo San Miguel” built to protect the town from attacks of pirates.
The big rock in front of the town “Roque de Garachico” and the natural pools are the symbols of the town; for swimming, you will find nowhere better than the beaches of “La Caleta” and “Aguadulce”, where the water is crystal clear.
In the outskirts, Los Silos deserves a visit to see the Baroque statue by Juan de Mesa; we find it inside the church “Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Luz”; in the area surrounding Garachico you will be delighted by the landscape; the most famous places are “Roque Blanco”, “Bosque de Aguas” and “Cuevas Negras”.
ICOD DE LOS VINOS
A town with superb architecture and cobbled streets, whose emblem is the “Drago Milenario”, the Millenarian Dragon Tree; the scientific name of this plant is “Dracaena Draco” and is endemic to Macaronesia, that is why it is the symbol of Tenerife. The one we find in Icod de Los Vinos is the oldest living plant of this species; the perimeter of the trunk measures 20 metres and it is 17 metres high, from base to crown; its age is estimated to be between 800 and 1000 years. For the Guanches, the aboriginal people inhabiting Tenerife before the Spanish conquered the island, this was a holy tree; they believed its sap could cure all sorts of illnesses; the legend says that when these trees died they transformed into dragons.
It is a pleasure to stroll through the streets of Icod de los Vinos, one of the most famous Tenerife attractions; the name of the town means “Icod of the Wines” and it pays homage to the ancient name “Ycoden”; that is how the Guanches called this region; the second part refers to the local wines; the Spanish colonists started to plant vines in the area towards the end of the 15th century.
This town is home to the first church to be built on the island in 1496, the “Iglesia de Santiago”, as well as various peaceful shrines; if you prefer to admire the neoclassical buildings, don’t miss the “Palacio de los Fleitas” and the “Casa de los Caceres”. In Calle Gonzalez Trujillo you can see the Franciscan church and monastery of the 18th century; even more interesting is the church “Iglesia de San Marcos”, from the 16th century; this has got a museum of sacred art, home to sculptures by artists such as Alonso Cano; inside you find also the oldest statue in Canary Islands of the 15th century; it represents Saint Mark, to whom the church is dedicated.
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA LAGUNA
The full name of this delightful city, with its unrivalled display of traditional Canarian architecture, is San Cristobal de la Laguna; it refers to a lake which once existed in this area, called Aguere, after the Guanche people; in 1837 they drained the lake and turned it into cultivated land. La Laguna was originally a military encampment for the troops of Fernandez de Lugo; afterwards, many of his campaign troops from the conquest settled there with their families. At the same time, various religious orders were building their monasteries in this area. In 1792 they established San Fernando de La Laguna University; this gave the town a very dynamic social and cultural life, which it still enjoys today.
On the 2nd of October 1999 UNESCO declared La Laguna a World Heritage Site; in conclusion, this historical place is absolutely one of the most popular Tenerife attractions.
The town of Taganana is one of the oldest Spanish settlement on the island and one of the best Tenerife attractions; it is located in the mountain range ”Macizo de Anaga” in the northeastern part of Tenerife; its name comes from the Guanche word “Anagan”, which means “surrounded by mountains”.
In Taganana you can admire ancient monuments from the XVI and XVII centuries; for example the church “Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves” built in 1505; inside we find an important artistic heritage in works of sculpture, painting and goldsmithing. Another example is the shrine “Ermita de Santa Catalina” built in 1621.
The place maintains a rich architectural heritage in the form of traditional houses and stone presses. Taganana has also a network of hiking trails that connect with Afur, El Bailadero and Almáciga; furthermore there is a self-guided route inside the town that reveals the ethnographic values of the place.
Among the most famous places of Tenerife we can not forget to mention the cliffs of “Los Gigantes”; we find this natural beauty in the norhwest of the island, an area that enjoys very good weather conditions.
The cliffs are 500-800 metres high, that is why they are called “The Giants” in Spanish; they give the name to the town next to them; this has only one hotel, but plenty of tourist apartments for rent, bars and restaurants; it also has a marina from which you can get a boat to visit the area of the cliffs. A few kilometres south of the town are the resorts of Puerto de Santiago and Playa de la Arena; another famous place nearby is Masca, you can reach it in about 20 minutes by car.
Next to the marina of Los Gigantes there is a nice sandy beach; it is an ideal location to contemplate the spectacular cliffs. Other attractions of the area are the natural pools (see picture above); here you can enjoy swimming safe in sea water with an amazing view.