Last updated on September 27th, 2023
Picture this – the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and you are cruising along the winding roads that bring you through different climatic zones to impressive landscapes that seem to change around every bend. That’s the magic of the Tenerife road trip where every turn is a revelation and each kilometer is an invitation to explore the island’s hidden gems.
It is difficult to visit this Canary Island without renting a car and going for a drive. Well, technically not difficult as you can just come and stay in one of the beautiful Tenerife hotels and go on tours to see the island’s main highlights.
But! If you really want to see how diverse the landscape is and how much beauty the coastline hides, you gotta plan a road trip in Tenerife at least in one direction!
I drove around the island too many times, exploring it thoroughly and extensively popping into its charming towns along the coast and making stops wherever I wished. All my road trips brought me to the point where I wanted to sit down and share the best locations for Tenerife scenic drives and highlight only the best stops.
So if you are planning your Tenerife road trip itinerary, this post will give you many ideas. This is why buckle up and let’s hit the road to discover Tenerife’s road trip secrets! And then if you will road trip in Tenerife in winter, do not forget to pack a long-sleeve pullover and even a cardigan-sweater for Teide, in the mountains it will be cold!
Planning Your Tenerife Road Trip Soon?
You will need a car for sure! Depending on the season when you travel, rental cars in Tenerife can be expensive.
So in order to save money, I recommend you look for cars from Okay Mobility or Top Car company. They have reasonable prices for both cars and insurance packages throughout the entire year. I rent from them regularly until this day while living in Tenerife and it’s always easy and affordable.
Also, see some of my tips for driving in Tenerife to know what to expect from Tenerife roads, parking, and rental car insurance.
Tenerife Road Trip Ideas – 4 Scenic Routes Not to Miss
Northern Tenerife Road Trip From La Laguna to Chamorga Through Anaga Rural Park
Suggested Route: La Laguna – Anaga Visitor Center – Playa de Benijo – Chamorga – Playa de las Teresitas – Santa Cruz de Tenerife
- Distance: ~ 90km (56 miles)
- Driving Time: ~ 3 hours (without stops)
- Best Time to Go: year-round but cloudy weather advised
- Navigation Link: Google Maps
This road trip in Tenerife seems to be short when in reality every place on this drive has a ton of things to do. Most of the activities are tied to nature and in one day you can go hiking, swimming on one of the most beautiful beaches in northern Tenerife, exploring one of the ancient villages, or just enjoy beautiful views everywhere.
Since the drive goes through Anaga Rural Park which is in northern Tenerife, you either have to stay overnight not far from La Laguna or Santa Cruz (where you start), or be ready to come early to the starting point (early, if you want to see everything).
It is better to start this road trip from La Laguna where you can have a hearty breakfast at first (and the route is more scenic there when you drive into the forest, not backward, with a few vista points), and exit the park on the TF-12 road towards Playa de las Teresitas which also opens up views when you drive down.
When taking this road trip, you’ll have a chance to visit one of the most unusual parks in the entire Canary Islands archipelago Anaga Rural Park with its own ecosystem and climate.
Within the park, besides hiking trails, go to at least one village (like Chinamada with cave homes like in Cappadocia, Tachero, or/and Chamorga) and drive to a unique and beautiful Benije Beach (with rocks that descend straight into the sea and have already become a symbol of this beach) next to a remote and unspoiled natural beauty village Almaciga with sharp mountains on different sides.
The road that leads to the beach through the village and park is a separate attraction. It amazes with its landscapes of laurel forest, unsurpassed views of the Atlantic Ocean, and mountain ranges with rocks and cliffs. Everything around is worth stopping by on each turn and taking lots of beautiful photos!
And then in the second part of the day, if time allows (if not, return on another road trip), when you get to Chamorga, you can go on a hike to the most northern point of Tenerife with more views and remote gems of Tenerife.
I have a guide to the Chamorga to Roque Bermejo hike through an atypical and uncrowded part of Anaga National Park which you need to read if you want a unique hike on a road trip through Anaga.
Scenic Drive From Santiago Del Teide to Garachico Through Teno Mountains
Suggested Route: Santiago del Teide – Masca – El Palmar – Buenavista del Norte – Puertito de los Silos – Garachico – Icod de los Vinos – San Juan del Reparo – Ruigomez – Erjos – Santiago del Tedie
- Distance: ~ 60km (38 miles without side trips)
- Driving Time: ~ 2 hours (without stops)
- Best Time to Go: year-round
- Navigation Link: Google Maps
This road trip goes through northwest of Tenerife and is a loop (besides a few detours) which means you won’t need extra time just to drive back to the starting point.
It is among the best scenic drives on the island that can be done in a day and you can start it from both, south and north of Tenerife. But ideally, it is best to go on this road trip if you stay in the area of Purto de La Cruz or Los Gigantes (Puerto de Santiago), Playa Paraiso, Adeje, or Los Cristianos.
While the driving time here is only two hours, don’t let it fool you. You can spend a whole day In Garachico and Icod de los Vinos alone. These two are beautiful and famous towns that are well worth visiting.
But before you get to them, there are also small villages on this route like Masca and Las Lagunetas as well as Buenavista del Norte with its Punta de Teno Nature Preserve which are also worth a detour. On the way to Buenavista, make a quick stop by Montaña la Saorra which looks like a cut pie and is a unique attraction to see in Tenerife.
In Punta de Teno in particular, there is a unique chance to go to a beautiful lighthouse Mirador Punta del Frailete situated in a scenic area surrounded by volcanic cliffs on one side and Los Gigantos mountains on another.
Puertito de los Silos has a few beautiful trails great for coastal walks and a volcanic rock pool which is mainly frequented by locals.
Visiting all the stops along the route can be quite time-consuming. And you may need to decide for yourself in advance how much time to spend in each place. This drive is however about magnificent views and curvy mountain roads.
In fact, if you prefer to stay in different parts of the island on your trip, there is a good 4-star hotel in Garachico – Hotel LIVVO La Quinta Roja. This hotel is in a real restored 16th-century house.
One location on the list – Puertito de los Silos is a bit out of the way and visiting during the day by car is not possible (you need to leave it at the parking lot and take a bus or hike to it but hike is quite long). So you have to decide whether you have time for it or skip it.
Tenerife By Car From Arona to Puerto de la Cruz Through Teide National Park
Suggested Route: Arona – Vilaflor – Cañada Blanca Visitor Center – Teide Cable Car – El Portillo Visitor Center – La Orotava – Puerto de la Cruz
- Distance: ~ 83km (50 miles)
- Driving Time: ~ 2 hours (without stops)
- Best Time to Go: year around but in winter road closures are possible due to ice and snow
- Navigation Link: Google Maps
This is definitely a must-do type of drive for anyone who comes to Tenerife for at least a week. Teide Nationa Park is the main highlight of the island featuring the famous Teide Vulcano and surreal scenic views of magma formation fields and rocks and looks out of this world.
But before you get to Teide, there are many things to see in this part of Tenerife with car and the first place where to make a stop is Arona village followed by Vilaflor.
Arona in particular has one interesting place which is the aloe farm Finca Canarias where you can stop by to see the cultivation and processing of aloe vera, purchase their beautiful products, and even taste a freshly made aloe vera drink. It is one of the unique things to do in Tenerife that the majority don’t know about. So don’t miss it when using this Tenerife road trip itinerary.
Vilaflor is a rural town with vineyards where the scenery already changed compared to Arona. The streets and squares there retain numerous architectural features from the 17th and 18th centuries.
There are two visitor centers at the Southern and Northern park entrances (which I highly recommend you check out), where you can learn a lot about Tenerife’s geological history, Teide and other volcanoes, and scientific work on the island.
You don’t need to necessarily make a stop at each Visitor Center, but pick at least one because it is really worth the time.
Cañada Blanca Visitor Center is a newer museum, it is very nice, modern and has exhibitions about the life around Teide throughout centuries. Not to mention there is a lovely cafe where to have coffee or sandwich with the view of Teide and famous Roques de Garcia, bathrooms, and little shops for souvenirs and small stuff.
El Portillo Visitor Center is an older museum with interacting exhibits that tell the story of Teide’s influence on the surrounding flora and fauna.
Teide Cable Car offers a fantastic viewpoint but expect to spend a few hours up on the mountain. You decide whether to include the cable car in this drive or return to it at a different time.
As you head toward La Laguna, you will pass Teide Observatory. The general public is not allowed to enter its grounds on its own but I recommend you book a guided tour to learn about Astronomy and the Observatory life and purpose. When I took it with Anya and her mom, our guide Adrian was so amazing that he answered a dozen of our questions about the cosmos which made our tour last longer than it originally had to be. Sharing some photos below.
But if you want to go even further, then better take a stargazing tour to really embrace yourself to the astronomy experience.
For the rest of the drive start heading towards La Orotava. This road will take you through a spectacular forest with lots of Canarian Pine Trees giving it a more northern type of look, very different from what you see by the coast. If you get lucky, you might get some mist to enhance your road trip with a mysterious atmosphere.
With more time left in a day, I would strongly recommend spending some time in La Orotava as it is one of the prettiest and liveliest towns in Tenerife. And then for the sunset, drive down to Puerto de la Cruz to Playa del Castillo (beach) or Playa Maria Jimenez.
If you are staying in the south, it would only take about an hour to drive on the TF-1 motorway back there.
But, if you have an opportunity, spend a night in Puerto de la Cruz city. There are a lot of things to do in and around its historical center, including Loro Park, a few pretty coastal trails, and fine black sand beaches. Also, this city is home to some great restaurants, and pretty streets to walk around. No wonder Agatha Christie loved having a holiday there where she wrote some of her novels!
For a night stay, check out Atlantic Mirage Suites & Spa, an excellent hotel where budget meets quality and the location is just stunning.
Quick Scenic Road Trip Through Northern Tenerife
Suggested Route: Puerto de la Cruz – Playa Los Patos – La Quinta – El Sauzal – Bajamar – Punta del Hidalgo – La Laguna (through Tegueste)
- Distance: ~60 km (37 miles)
- Driving Time: ~2 hours (without stops)
- Best Time to go: year-round
- Navigation Link: Google Maps
Here is one of my favorite roads in Tenerife with a bunch of scenic locations (I am living in the area and know every single street and corner and can tell with confidence this drive is really awesome!)
It is more of a short but still full-day road trip for those who stay up north. The drive will take you through a small portion of the northern part of the island and will work especially well for those who are already staying in Puerto de la Cruz or within a reasonable distance from the city.
For instance, start your day with an amazing breakfast (if it is not included in your stay) in one of the (amazing) cafes in the center The Brunch Factory Take a quick stroll through an old town, have a cup of coffee, and then head out to Playa Los Patos.
There are two things you can do at Playa Los Patos. One is to actually enjoy the beach for some time (if you brought your swimsuits), as this is one of the nicest beaches in the area.
However, if you are not up to beach time, you don’t even have to descend to the beach, as there is a nice trail you can walk along right on top of the cliffs, offering great views and serenity. The trail is not very long, so you won’t lose much time out of your trip.
The next stop – La Quinta, will take you to another nicer trail farther up the hills. The path is part of a pristine neighborhood and is not long at all. But totally worth stopping by. There is also a unique park in the neighborhood with an interesting sculpture (La Giganta) which is a representation of a woman sitting and taking a break.
Another stop, just a short drive away – El Sauzal, not popular among tourists town but with its own charm and cool things to do.
I suggest you drive to the Parish of St. Peter the Apostle Church as it is the very center where you can have a lunch break, especially if traveling on a budget (prices in El Sauzal are on the lower side). Our favorite places to eat there are Gustossa Lounge Bar or Bar Pizzeria L’Appetitosa. Both offer a pleasant atmosphere, very good food for lunch, and appealing prices.
For the rest of the day, I recommend you drive towards Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo, two lesser-visited but so cute towns where international tourists almost never go, only locals and people from mainland Spain.
They are famous for huge waves, migrating routes for whales and dolphins, hidden natural pools, and just stunning landscapes (very different from what you saw earlier!)
End your day in La Laguna, a former capital of Tenerife, full of life and historic gems. It would be ideal to stay here overnight as the town really has a lot to offer. Plus, if you want, you can continue from there towards Anaga Rural Park and follow my road trip itinerary for that area.
Other Places That You Can Add to Your Tenerife Road Trip
- Guimar Town & Municipality – great stop on the way from southern Tenerife to Santa Cruz
More Inspiration for Travel in Tenerife & Beyond
Exploring Tenerife by car is amazing! But also don’t miss other experiences and interesting places that Anya and I talk about on our Tenerife travel blog page.
And here are other posts on the Canary Islands and more road trips in Spain:
- Visiting Gran Canaria for the First Time – how many days are enough?
- Beautiful Luxury Hotels in Gran Canaria – for different tastes and budgets
- Best Road Trips From Madrid – to explore central Spain
- Barcelona to Valencia by Car – best stops to make on this drive
- Valencia to Malaga by Car – a big road trip through southern Spain