Tenerife north or south

Tenerife North or South: How to Decide Which One is Better For You

Last updated on September 27th, 2023

I remember when we decided to move to Tenerife from Malaga, it took us a while to understand which side of the island was better for us where to live, Tenerife North or South.  

But after we arrived and stayed here for a few months, I realized that both are wonderful destinations where to base yourself no matter if you are coming on vacation or moving to Tenerife for a long time. None of the sides of the island is better or worse than another one. They are just different and promise to deliver different experiences.

But let’s talk about each side of Tenerife in more detail to find out which one, north or south Tenerife will better suit your needs!


Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

Things You Will Need for Travel to Both North & South Tenerife

  • Health & Travel Insurance – my preferred insurance provider for single short and long-term trips with extensive health coverage
  • Booking Accommodations – best website for booking hotel/apartment stays, including authentic guesthouses and B&Bs
  • Car rental in Tenerife – hire a car from the company with the largest car fleet & best prices to travel around Tenerife
  • Tenerife Mini Pocket Guide – with travel tips and ideas on what to do
  • Warm clothes! – if you plan to go to Teide, particularly in winter!

Main Differences to Know Between North and South Tenerife

Tenerife Weather North vs South

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One of the most fascinating things about the north and south of Tenerife is that such a small island has 6 commonly recognized climates and microclimates, influenced by various factors.

The north is a region with a more humid climate and greener vegetation, while the south is hotter and drier. Throughout the year, there are differences in air temperature and precipitation between these regions, including winter months.

During winter, cooler weather sets in the northern regions with daytime temperatures ranging from 17-21 degrees Celcius in the north and 20-25 degrees Celcius in the south. Nighttime temperatures are on average 11-15 degrees C in the north and 14-17 degrees C in the south.

The northern side of the island receives significantly more precipitation than the south during this time. Occasionally, rains can last for several days and cause flooding. But it is a rare event. On average, there are 10-12 rainy days in the north and 4-6 in the south during the winter months.

Another thing – Tenerife weather in the north in winter often means a lot of clouds with frequent fog, especially in the high mountainous areas. The fog can be thick and long-lasting, sometimes lasting for several days. These meteorological phenomena are absolutely the best thing for hiking in Anaga National Park but they significantly affect visibility and safety when driving. In the south, fog occurs mainly near the coast but much less often than in the northern regions.

In spring, the difference in weather between the north and south Tenerife is not as pronounced, although there are still some differences. From March to May, temperatures are higher in the south (25°C) than in the north (20°C), and there are many sunny days. During this time, there are few rains in the south, while on the north side of Tenerife, it rains more often, and there are many cloudy days. Strong winds blow in the north, creating large waves along the entire northern coast.

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In the summer months, differences in Tenerife weather in the north and south are also significant. During the day, the air temperature in the south can rise to 32-35 degrees C, while in the north, it is 5-7 degrees C lower (27-30C).

In the summer, winds in the south become much stronger than in the north, often accompanied by a strong, dry wind called “Calima,” which carries sand from the Sahara Desert. In the north, the winds are cooler and more humid in the summer. The ocean water temperature rises significantly in both the north (reaching usually 22 degrees C) and south (around 24 degrees C) at this time of the year.

In autumn, the air temperature is still quite warm, ranging from 20-25 degrees C in the north and 24-28 degrees C in the south. However, the weather becomes more changeable, with colder nights. This is due to tropical storms where the season lasts until the end of November.


READ MORE: Guide to Northern Tenerife – what you can expect & what to do


Tenerife South Hotels vs Tenerife North Hotels

When deciding which part of the island to choose for a stay in Tenerife, you should consider the following:

Hotels in the south and north of Tenerife differ from each other a lot. First of all, they differ in architecture and size, natural environment, and number of activities. Second, they are also very different in terms of the availability and accessibility of comfortable beaches nearby and number of tourists in the area.

In the south, especially in the areas of Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos, you’ll find a lot of large hotels and modern-style resorts with several buildings, swimming pools, and extensive grounds. They are mostly built on hills and offer views of the ocean, beaches, and urban areas.

Hotels in the north on the contrary, due to less tourist saturation, are much smaller. Many of them are made in the traditional Canarian style, decorated with volcanic stone, wood, and ceramics. Some are located near the coast with cliffs and sea harbors while others are more hidden and give a more local vibe.

Some hotels in the north have environmental certification and pay much attention to the use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

Almost all hotels on Tenerife’s south coast are located near well-maintained beaches with golden sand or near pebble (small pebbles) beaches.

Hotels on the north coast usually don’t have direct access to the beach. They can offer some of the best views of the coast and sea on the island (like this beautiful Hacienda hotel) and can be close to natural beaches with black sand formed from lava and volcanic ash. However, many of them (besides beaches directly in the city or Puerto de la Cruz) are not equipped with sun loungers, showers, and toilets.

South Tenerife hotels are more focused on organizing beach and sunny holidays, including golf and water sports. Plus they have a more lively tourist atmosphere and developed infrastructure. North Tenerife hotels create a more peaceful and secluded atmosphere for relaxation, aimed at unity with nature. 

Examples of Nice Hotels in Tenerife South

Tenerife south hotels
best hotel in Tenerife north

Vincci Seleccion La Plantacion: Vincci Seleccion La Plantacion is a 5-star hotel with half board right by the famous Duque Beach which offers a great ratio of price and quality.

Iberostar Grand El Mirador: Iberostar Grand El Mirador is a luxury 5-star hotel with all-inclusive option with beautiful spacious rooms, two large pools, a relaxing spa, and sea views on all sides. 

Dreams Jardin Tropical: Dreams Jardin Tropical is a 4-star clean well-maintained hotel with gourmet dining and relaxing amenities. It’s a great pick for mid-budget. 

Examples of Beautiful Hotels in Tenerife North

North Tenerife hotels
Tenerife best experiences

Hacienda del Conde: Hacienda del Conde – absolutely the best hotel next to Teno Mountains. With outstanding service, beautiful grounds, and recreational amenities, this hotel promotes complete relaxation and well-being

San Diego Boutique Hotel: San Diego Boutique Hotel is a great example of a small design hotel with a lot of attention to detail and the ability to help visitors immerse in the local experience. 

Hotel Botanico & Oriental Spa: Hotel Botanico & Oriental Spa is an elegant 5-star hotel with upscale rooms not far from a beautiful pool park in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Which Part of Tenerife is Better for Beaches?

Beaches in Tenerife north vs south have their own specific characteristics in each region.

The south of the island is known for its wide and extensive beaches where many of them have soft brownish or golden sand, calmer sea, gradual slope into the water, and comfortable and safe swimming conditions for children.

They are also equipped with sun loungers, deck chairs, umbrellas, children’s playgrounds, showers, and toilets. Some have volleyball courts, football fields, water sports equipment rental points, as well as medical and rescue stations. There is a well-developed network of hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants, and shops in close proximity to these beaches.

Tenerife south beaches
Los Gigantes beach

The north of the island for the most part offers beaches with black volcanic sand and rocks. They are surrounded by volcanic cliffs and are less crowded. Some of these beaches lack basic facilities such as changing cabins, showers, and toilets. There are also fewer tourist and entertainment options near them. Some are located in remote areas, in natural or protected zones, and reaching them may require walking along coastal paths or descents.

Although there is one beach in Tenerife north Playa de Las Teresitas (my favorite) with the yellow sand. It is the only beach of this type in the north which is unique and beautiful. You can visit it when staying in Santa Cruz, Guimar town, or when on a road trip around Tenerife.

When choosing a region for a beach vacation in Tenerife, it is also important to consider the differences in weather and sea conditions between the south vs north.

Since the north has a cooler and fresher climate with more variable and windy weather, going to the beaches in Tenerife north to swim is not for everyone. The south has a drier and more stable climate with less rainfall, and the sun shines almost always. 

When we were living in Tenerife, we used to have picnics on one of the beaches in Tenerife’s north but were always going to the south to bask under the sun and hit the beach.

If I could sum it up, I’d say that beach leisure in the south of Tenerife is oriented towards swimming, sunbathing, relaxation, and various water activities. But north of Tenerife is not very friendly towards beachgoers. It will suit well people who love wild beaches and love getting away from loads of tourists as there is a unique combination of wild natural beauty and solitude in the north, combined with the opportunity to observe local seabirds.

North or South for Tourist Activities & Top Tourist Attractions

places to visit in Tenerife north
Teide national park

For tourists visiting both north and south of Tenerife, there are plenty of activities and entertainment options to suit every taste. Both regions offer excellent conditions for water sports, excursions, impressive road trips, yacht and catamaran trips, hiking, fishing, and golf. However, there are some differences due to variations in landscape, weather conditions, and tourist infrastructure.

You need to remember that the amount of activities and things to do is equally big. So that shouldn’t be a number one concern when choosing where to stay in Tenerife north or south.

For example, both parts of the island have excellent conditions for surfers and people who love golf. However, experienced surfers consider north of Tenerife as the best option for surfing due to its strong somewhat stormy weather and more powerful waves. While beginners and those who prefer calmer waves are better off practicing in the south of Tenerife with its more accessible conditions.

North of Tenerife is famous for secluded and compact golf courses surrounded by lush green nature and mountain landscapes. While the southern ones have a more desert-like landscape and offer a greater number of courses and additional amenities. They are often located within luxurious resort complexes, resulting in higher prices for playing and additional services compared to the clubs in the north.

Both north and south offer beautiful hiking trails and beaches. But they are quite different in nature.

Hiking trails in Tenerife south go through rather dry mountains characterized by arid conditions. In the north, hiking trails usually take you through dense vegetation and lush countryside as well as forests. And, you’ll also find more coastal trails with dramatic views of the coastline in northern Tenerife as well.

In the south of Tenerife, in the Costa Adeje area, you’ll find two popular water parks: Siam Park (one of the best water parks in the world with a unique design) and Aqualand. These parks offer numerous attractions and entertainment for all ages. They feature various water slides of different levels of difficulty (extreme and family-friendly), wave pools or artificial beaches, lazy rivers, and some shows.

North or South Tenerfie
From my experience, North Tenerife has more activities than South and it is well worth planning your trip in that way when you can add at least some of them to your itinerary. 

Not far from there, near Arona town, there is Jungle Park and Monkey Park, showcasing diverse wildlife and exotic vegetation. Additionally, Jungle Park offers various performances, nature walks, and parrot shows, while Monkey Park provides close interaction with different species of monkeys (feeding, interacting, and even taking photos with them on your shoulder).

Yet, the north has its own huge animal park Lorro Park which is one of the best Zoos in the world (this photo with the orca above is from there.) Also in the north, there are many coastal trails, mystic Anaga national park, multiple hiking trails through lush forests, as well as many cool pools where to swim.

So there definitely will be a load of things to do no matter which part of Tenerife you choose for a stay!

North vs South Tenerife for Entertainment & Nightlife

Tenerife shows
Easter in Tenerife

The evening and nightlife in the north and south of Tenerife have some differences that reflect the characteristics of each region and pace of life.

In the southern part of Tenerife, there is a wide variety of entertainment options in the evening and at night in any season and pretty much during any week. That includes live music, dancing, shows, masquerades (which happen almost on a monthly basis), performances, and gambling.

Visitors can enjoy a diverse range of concerts and performances at Magma Arte&Congresos (a multifunctional center in Costa Adeje), Piramide de Arona theaters (in Playa de las Americas), Showtime Tenerife (in the resort area of San Eugenio Alto), as well as numerous karaoke bars and nightclubs. For those who want to try their luck with gambling, Casino Playa de las Americas and Casino Puerto de la Cruz offer their services.

You can also experience the special atmosphere of the evening time in the south of Tenerife during guided night excursions in cities and night boat trips with experienced fishermen. Some of the examples are:

In the north of Tenerife, the evening and nightlife are more tranquil. One of the most significant cultural centers in Tenerife north, Auditorio de Tenerife in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, offers a wide variety of music and dance shows, performances, operas, ballets, circus and comedy shows. La Laguna often has street performances and shows that you can watch on a street stage.

Puerta de la Cruz has some nice secluded promenades, where you can walk or relax comfortably in one of the cozy restaurants or bars and indulge in traditional Canarian dishes and local wines.

Northern Tenerife is also a good starting point for night tours, especially stargazing, which is among the must-do things on the island.

For this type of activity, the biggest option of tours is on getyourduide. It is better to choose a stargazing excursion that includes dinner and a professional guide who can tell you some interesting details about the cosmos like here:

 

North or South Tenerife in Winter

Winter in north Tenerife vs south Tenerife is very different due to the island’s unique geographical features and the prevailing wind patterns. Overall, Tenerife is one of the warmest places to visit in winter in Europe thanks to its location that has natural protection from the cold.

The winter weather in Tenerife’s south for the most part is warm and pleasant along the coast. Temperature ranges from 15°C to 25°C. However, due to the influence of mountains, weather conditions vary slightly. So if you drive from the southern towns of Tenerife to Vilaflor or to the hiking area around Sendero del Chinyero, you will feel how colder it gets.

northern Tenerife nature
La Caldera recreation area in northern Tenerife in winter. But to be honest, this type of weather is quite common in northern Tenerife in summer too because the temperature doesn’t differ that much on lower grounds 

In northern Tenerife, there are more frequent rains during winter, accompanied by a fresh breeze. Winter sky in the north becomes very cloudy and lower lands have air temperatures between 15°C to 20°C during the day, dropping to around 10 degrees Celcius (sometimes even to 5C) at night. There is also this strong cold wind which makes days feel even more chilly. So you need to pack smart for this part of Spain.

During this season, you will feel like having the heat on inside your hotel room or flat. So choose accommodation smartly, only that one which has a heating option, especially if staying in La Laguna, La Orotava, Tacoronta, Bajamar, and Santa Cruz areas.

Snowfall is common in the high mountain areas of the northern part, including settlements close to Teide National Park.

In the southern part of Tenerife, winters are much warmer than in the north. There, you can expect drier and sunnier weather. South Tenerife coastline is more protected from winds, making it calmer than the northern part.

On winter days, the air in the south warms up to 20-25°C during the day and doesn’t drop below 15°C at night, which is comfortable for swimming in the pool during the day and sleeping without heat at night. Although there are some rare exceptions when winter nights can become quite cold as in the north.

southern Tenerife in winter
southern Tenerife in winter

During the winter in Tenerife, all beaches on both north and south coasts of Tenerife are open for visitors. Water temperature is between 19-21 degrees C in the south and 18-20 degrees C in the north. Many hotels (especially in the south) have heated pools. Swimming in one of my favorite hotels H10 Atlantic Sunset Hotel as you can see in the photo above.

Both parts of the island offer various activities (including the ones on the water) during winter. Although south of Tenerife compared to north has more diverse options.

For surfers, it is better to choose northern Tenerife beaches (especially those around bays and coves like El Ancon Beach or La Arena Beach), as they have good waves due to strong winds and cold currents.

Making Final Decision – So Which Side of Tenerife is Best For You?

Most likely, if you are comparing Tenerife north and south, you try to choose which part of the island will be better for you where to stay either you are moving to Tenerife for the long term or coming to visit on a short vacation.

For this, at first answer these questions. Do you want to stay in an all-inclusive resort and then just join a few tours to get an idea of what Tenerife is like? Then undoubtedly choose south.

Are you visiting the island in winter and want to escape the cold and get some sun? Then also choose the south as north will be rather gloomy and chilly from December to February.

But in case you are visiting Tenerife for an active holiday and with the desire to experience the island from a unique side, choose north. Also, if you want to hike, spend time on volcanic sandy beaches, learn about the Canarian lifestyle, and experience what Hawaii of Europe is like, then also choose the north. 

Northern Tenerife is also better if you want to get the best in terms of activities as there are many more of them in the north than south.

Also, if you are on a budget, choose Northern Tenerife as well. This part is a cheaper destination, especially in winter.

However, if you have a long vacation and come to Tenerife for at least 10 days, I highly recommend you plan your time in that way when you can visit different parts of the island and stay overnight in both north and south Tenerife.

Rent a car in Tenerife’s north or south airport and drive slowly around the island making stops in cities and beautiful Tenerife towns where you want to pause for a few days.

In terms of living in Tenerife, Mark and I personally love northern part of the island. Here we are having eternal spring every day, paying less for accommodation and entertainment, and overall enjoying a slow pace of life. But it won’t be for everyone. People who love the hot weather and atmosphere of a resort town will love southern Tenerife more.

Don’t forget – the southern part of Tenerife is more focused on commercial tourism. It has a higher concentration of all-inclusive and 5 star hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment complexes near the beaches. There are also more tourist agencies and tours that start from the south.

North of the island, with its more tranquil atmosphere, is preferable for individual tourists who want to stay away from mass tourism and prefer to experience local life. Tenerife North emphasizes ecological and slow tourism, including visits to natural parks, ecological excursions to organic farms and gardens, and exploring traditional Canarian villages.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Anya. Lovely blog and an interesting post. Together with my husband and our son, we considering moving to Tenerife from the Netherlands (but we are Polish). I heard that the north is colder than south.

    Is it really cold in the north? I prefer to stay closer to the city, I also love nature, which is why North sounds better to me, but I also prefer sun rather than foggy weather all year around (in the Netherlands is usually cold and not that much of sun).

    If you could tell me more about the winter in the north. The real feeling. thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Mateusz, north of Tenerife is really cooler than the south which is helping a lot in the summer. But it doesn’t mean the weather is foggy year-round or it is anywhere similar to the Netherlands because it is not. North of the island is also very diverse with different climatic zones and everything depends on the location where you go.

      So if you want to make sure you’ll get more sun during the winter months, just look for an apartment closer to the coast (yet not directly by the sea as you’ll have a humid weather there) and not too high in the mountains. Because mountainous areas are exactly those parts of Northern Tenerife where it gets pretty cold in winter.
      Like for example (if you look on the map) Benijos above La Orotava is already much colder with cold nights almost until May and many rainy days in winter. Agua Garcia gets also cold as well as La Esperanza.
      La Laguna the first capital is also a few degrees cooler than let’s say Bajamar or Tacoronte which is great for summer stays but can be too cold in winter if you don’t have accommodation with heat.

      One of the apartments we rented was near El Sauzal. The average temperature during the day in winter there was 19C and there were a few cold weeks with night temperature around 11C at night. But we did see many sunny days even though often windy. Once in a while we liked going to the south to stay in a hotel over a weekend to get more sun and swim in the pool but we never felt sun deprived when living in El Sauzal.
      One of my friends on the contrary who lived in La Vica was constantly cold and would come down to El Sauzal to warm up.

      So everything really depends on the location. You can be living in a village where it is cold while 1 km away from you down the road is already a few degrees warmer and sunnier. That’s Tenerife north, very diverse!
      But one thing I can definitely assure you in – the weather anywhere in North Tenerife is still much better in winter than in the Netherlands.
      I hope this helps! 🙂

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