Introduction to Northern Tenerife – From Beaches & Hotels to Volcanoes & Culture
Last updated on May 29th, 2023
My first acquaintance with northern Tenerife happened just three months ago when Mark and I moved here from Malaga city. And since that time, I have been falling in love with this island more and more.
North of Tenerife is really a special place where nature thrives in all its glory and time stands still. This mesmerizing destination is not just any ordinary vacation spot, it’s actually a place that truly stands out in the entire Canary Islands archipelago.
From its rugged coastline with black sand and volcanic landscapes to verdant forests with charming seaside towns, there’s something truly enchanting about this place.
This is why I decided to start a new series on life and travel in Tenerife with an introduction to its northern part at first and give you a good understanding of what to expect when visiting Tenerife north.
Delve into some unique experiences, learn about the weather in northern Tenerife and things to do as well as about north Tenerife resorts, road trips, and some hidden gems that make this corner of the world so special. Get ready to explore and discover the wonders of this island with me together!
Are You Visiting North of Tenerife for the First Time?
If yes, then below are some of my top travel tips, tours, and hotels just for you!
Top Tours & Activities in Tenerife North
- Introduction Tour of Northern Tenerife – see volcanic landscapes and Canarian-style villages
- Teide NP & Teno Rural Park Excursion – explore the most incredible nature parks in the Canaries!
- Stargazing in Teide – a must-do activity in Tenerife!
- Anaga NP tour – see the capital of Tenerife and laural forest
- North Coast Landscapes Tours – see the best nature spots in the north!
Top Hotels in North of Tenerife
- Hacienda del Conde – luxury 5 star near Teno mountains
- Atlantic Mirage Suites & Spa – mid-range spa hotel in Purto de la Cruz
- San Diego Hotel – boutique hotel in La Laguna
- Hotel Emblematico San Marcus – mid-range 18th-century B&B in one of the oldest towns
Things You Will Need When Traveling to Northern Tenerife
- Car rental in Tenerife – from the company with the largest car fleet & best prices
- Health & Travel Insurance – for single short and long-term trips with extensive health coverage
- Tenerife Mini Pocket Guide – with travel tips and ideas on what to do
What is Considered Northern Tenerife?
At first sight, it can be a little unclear which part of Tenerife is considered north as there are no clear boundaries. Also, since the island is often defined more by its cultural and historical characteristics, it becomes difficult to determine its precise geographical location.
However, generally, you need to look at the following areas to understand exactly where the north of the island is. And those areas are located north of the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the territories of La Laguna, Puerto de la Cruz, Icod de Los Vinos, Los Reyes, Garachico, San Juan de la Rambla, and their surrounding districts.
Las Lagunetas coniferous forest in Teide National Park all the way to El Portillo Visitor Center is also considered north of Tenerife as well as the area north of the Anaga Mountains (below is east) with such places as Tachero, Benijo, El Draguillo, and Chinamada.
The southern border of Northern Tenerife is considered to be around the center of the island (around the Teide volcano), where the landscape begins to change from the lush greenery of the north to the arid landscapes of the south.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is also considered part of Northern Tenerife as it shares many cultural, historical, and economic connections with the municipalities of the region. It has a similar cultural heritage and historical background that those cities mentioned above.
What North of Tenerife is Famous For?
The northern part of Tenerife is famous for many things but the first ones that everyone knows about are the climate and landscape.
Thanks to the humid and cool climate as well as more rainfall and influence of the winds that bring moisture and clouds, the landscape in the north is very lush and green throughout the entire year. This is why when you hear that Tenerife is an island of eternal spring, that is usually said about Northern Tenerife, not South (which is usually dry and gets quite hot in summer).
Another thing that Tenerife North is famous for is its history which you can see in every city and town. And that is because this part of the island was the first area where the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands the Guanches stepped.
It is here where a long history of cultural and economic exchange of Tenerife started and where European explorers and traders started to arrive as early as the 15th century long before the road to the south was built. The city of La Laguna, located in the north, was the island’s capital until the 19th century, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its historical and cultural significance.
The southern part of Tenerife, on the contrary, doesn’t have as rich history to offer to a visitor. Its recent past is closely tied to the development of tourism on the island.
At the beginning of the 1960s, when the region started to experience a boom in tourism, many hotels, resorts, and other tourist facilities started to pop up around the southern shore of Tenerife. And this is pretty much the time when southern Tenerife’s history really began.
With all this historical and cultural significance and abundance of nature, the amount of things to do in northern Tenerife is endless. I am going to talk more about them below along with my other posts.
Northern Tenerife Weather
The weather in Northern Tenerife is simply breathtaking and is sure to captivate you with its charm. The entire region boasts a mild and pleasant climate all year round, with temperatures averaging around 20 degrees C (68F), making it an ideal destination for those seeking a respite from cold and harsh winters in Europe or the US.
During the summer months, the northern region gets blessed with warm sunshine and gentle sea breezes, creating a perfect environment for swimming, sunbathing, and chilling by pools. Evenings are pleasantly cool and provide the perfect setting for a romantic stroll on the beach or a leisurely dinner with friends or family.
In the winter months, the region takes on a whole new charm, with lush green landscapes and cool, crisp air. The cooler temperatures make it perfect for hiking and exploring the rugged terrain. However, the same weather with frequent strong winds is too cold for the beach or even for long walks by the water.
So northern Tenerife in winter is a good choice for exploring national parks, attending festivals, and involving in all sorts of activities (that I mention below) away from the beach. It is also a fantastic season for lengthy hotel stays as most of them have heated pools and dramatic views.
Overall, the northern Tenerife weather is a nice combination of warm sunshine, gentle sea breezes, cool evenings, and lush green landscapes which are perfect for both escaping the cold winter and for travel in summer for cooler weather.
North Tenerife Airport
Tenerife North Airport (Tenerife Norte-TNF) is one of the two airports on the island which people know by the old name “Los Rodeos Airport”. In terms of passenger traffic and number of flights, it is generally less popular than Tenerife airport in the south. Yet, the number of flights here is still high and the airport is always busy.
North Tenerife airport mainly serves domestic flights and flights to other Canary Islands, as well as a smaller number of international flights from nearby European countries. This is why if you want to fly here, plan your trip in a way where a connecting flight will be in Spain.
Tickets to this airprot are usually more pricey than to the south (unless you are arriving directly from one of the cities in Spain) but car rental companies often have very good deals, especially in the winter when everyone flies south.
Since this airport has a very convenient location between the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (the capital of the island) and San Cristobal de La Laguna (historical and architectural center), reaching any place from it in the north is easy and quick.
One thing to know before booking a flight here is that Tenerife North Airport was built in a location with mountainous terrain which means that landing and takeoff can be more challenging in certain weather conditions.
It doesn’t mean they will happen when you fly, but something to keep in mind and not to stress out. However, the airport’s safety systems meet all the standards to handle bad weather conditions safely when flying to/from this airport.
Northern Tenerife Hotels
If I could describe the North of Tenerife hospitality scene in a few words, I’d say that it is more local, less tourist-oriented, and less developed in terms of hospitality infrastructure. There are for the most part smaller hotels that cater to a narrow range of visitors and heritage hotels where visitors can transfer to past times.
You won’t find here many large resorts with big territories and lots of amenities and activities on offer as in the south. Yet, those that exist are really worth a separate trip.
I want to highlight some of the nicest (my favorite) hotels in Northern Tenerife which you’ll love:
Hotel Botánico & The Oriental Spa Garden
Hotel Botánico & The Oriental Spa Garden is a 5-star hotel in Puerto de la Cruz. It is surrounded by lush tropical gardens with luxurious amenities such as multiple dining options, a spa area, and several swimming pools.
Its location is perfect for a beach holiday, visit to Loro Park, banana plantations, wineries, road trips around Tenerife, and active holiday.
Hacienda del Conde Adults Only
Hacienda del Conde Adults Only is another 5-star hotel in North Tenerife but in Buenavista near Teno mountains. Mark and I visited this hotel (or better to say its restaurant and territory) on my birthday and loved it so much that we decided to return just two weeks later for an overnight stay.
This hotel is simply perfect for experiencing luxury on a budget (they always have lower rates due to location in comparison to other 5-star properties) and for unplugging from the world. There are also panoramic views on all sides, hiking trails nearby, and a good position for seeing a bit of both parts of the island north and south.
Hotel Rural Victoria
Hotel Rural Victoria is a good example of an old hotel in north Tenerife. It occupies a 16th-century mansion (that went through restoration) in La Orotava with beautiful gardens, a rooftop terrace, and a restaurant serving local cuisine.
The hotel has 4 stars and is a good price. It is a fine choice for those who love staying in historic towns and whose main goal is to explore Tenerife Island by car.
La Quinta Park Suites & Spa
La Quinta Park Suites & Spa in Santa Ursula is a 4-star hotel for mid-budget with spacious suites with private balconies overlooking the ocean and Mount Teide. It features a full-service spa, several swimming pools, and a restaurant serving international cuisine.
This location is particularly great for those who want to be active on a trip, drive around and see different parts of the island, including a trip to volcanos and stargazing in Teide National Park.
Hotel Silken Atlántida Santa Cruz
Hotel Silken Atlántida Santa Cruz is a 4-star hotel in the center of Santa Cruz de Tenerife with modern and stylish accommodations. It has a rooftop terrace with stunning views, and a restaurant serving traditional Canarian cuisine.
This hotel (as in general staying in Santa Cruz de Tenerife) is great if you want to combine a beach holiday with hiking and a bit of history. Nearby it, you’ll find some of the prettiest pools in Tenerife and a beautiful Las Teresitas sandy beach (with yellow sand from the Sahara).
Only a short drive away and you are in La Laguna with its museums and colorful colonial architecture.
Things to Do in Northern Tenerife
The list of things to do in Tenerife North is really long. From walks in mystic forests and along rugged coastlines with dramatic hiking trails to charming towns with panoramic cafes and cultural landmarks, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful region.
I have a separate post with a lengthy list of activities in North Tenerife and many details under each of them, so be sure to check it out. But here is a quick list of the must-do things, so you know what to expect:
- Seeing with your own eyes volcano Teide, the largest volcano in Europe (largest in height and volume)
- Stargazing with telescope experience – as Tenerife has some of the clearest and most unobstructed views of the night sky in the world
- Hiking in the Anaga or/and Teno mountains to see very different vegetation and some of the most dramatic views
- Going to Loro Park – one of the largest and most impressive animal parks in Europe (and the world)
- Exploring Wineries of North Tenerife – with some of the oldest vineyards in Spain
- Experiencing La Laguna, the first capital of Tenerife
- Not missing Garachico, a town with natural sea pools that was recreated after the massive volcano eruption
- Swimming on the volcanic black sand beaches & natural pools
- Whale & Dolphin watching – as Tenerife offers a high chance of spotting these majestic creatures
- Experience La Orotava’s Canarian architecture with famous wooden balconies
- Learn how to cook Canarian dishes
- See the oldest tree in the world & try banana wine in Icod de los Vinos
A Few More Fascinating Things to Do in Northern Tenerife
Exploring Northern Tenerife By Car
One of my favorite ways to explore Northern Tenerife is by car as there are so many directions you can go to by accessing some of the more remote areas of the island.
First thing you need to do is to rent a car. From my experience, there are two companies that work great for car hire on Tenerife.
First one is this company with the cheapest car hire in North Tenerife airport with excellent insurance packages. And second company is Localrent which helps you rent a car from locals who can deliver a car to any location without a deposit (or with a very minimum deposit).
I write more about the process of renting a car in Tenerife in this post as well as include details about driving, roads, and some other helpful tips. Give it a read to understand which company will work better for you.
Rent a car in Northern Tenerife with the best company on the market:
Next, once you have a car and are ready to drive around, include these routes in your north Tenerife itinerary:
1). Puerto de la Cruz – La Orotava – El Sauzal – Mesa del Mar – Bajamar – Punta del Hidalogo
2). La Laguna – Anaga National Park – Taganana – Benijo – El Draguillo – Las Teresitas Yellow Sand Beach – Santa Cruz de Tenerife
3.) La Laguna – Las Lagunetas Nature Reserve – Teide Observatory – Teide El Portillo Visitor Center – Rock Chinchado – Los Realejos
4.) Puerto de la Cruz – Icod de los Vinos – Garachico – Buenavista del Norte – Teno Rural Park
These are just some examples of my favorite (and incredibly scenic) drives in northern Tenerife. Although, I am working on articles that will include very detailed road trips and different routes around the entire island. So don’t miss them soon!
Northern Tenerife Beaches
Beaches in North Tenerife are famous for their fine volcanic black sand with expansive stretches of the beach, secluded coves, and waves together with currents that make it a haven for surfers.
Almost all beaches in the north are generally less crowded and offer a more natural setting with dramatic backdrops. Even if you are not a surfer and can’t really swim in the north (due to high waves), you will still love visiting these beaches for sunbathing, picnicking, or taking long walks along the shore.
Some of the beaches (like those in the northeast) have calm and shallow waters, making them ideal for families with young children.
If you are visiting the island for the first time and want easy access to beaches in northern Tenerife, then consider the following locations:
- Playa Jardin in Puerto de la Cruz – a family-friendly city beach with plenty of facilities, including showers, sun loungers, and restaurants.
- Playa del Socorro – a beautiful black sand beach, popular among surfers due to its powerful waves. However, it’s also a great spot for sunbathing and swimming. Its location is near the town of Los Realejos and the hidden gem nature reserve Paisaje Protegido.
- Playa de las Teresitas – although technically located in the northeast of Tenerife, this golden sand beach is easily accessible from the north. It’s a long stretch of soft sand imported from the Sahara with the stunning Anaga Mountains on its backdrop.
- Playa de Benijo – a rugged and secluded beach at the foot of Anaga Rural Park which is a favorite among locals. The beach is wide with dark volcanic sand and gorgeous views of the rocky coastline.
- Playa El Bollullo – a somewhat hidden beach near Puerto de la Cruz. It is accessible via a steep and winding path that opens up dramatic views of nearby cliffs and lush vegetation.
- Mesa del Mar – the first beach that I got to see when moving to Tenerife as we rented an apartment right by it. Mesa del Mar is among the hidden gems of northern Tenerife as you won’t see there any foreigners, just locals or Spanish people from the mainland. And unlike many of the island’s other beaches, Mesa del Mar is man-made. It has a wide stretch of black sand beach together with natural and man-made pools.
This is it for now. I hope you got an idea of places in north Tenerife and in general what this part of the island is like. If you have other questions, send me a message, and let’s talk. Do you plan to travel to northern Tenerife soon? Or are you already on the island? Share what you think about it!