Last updated on February 23rd, 2024
One of the most frequent questions I am receiving lately is about the best things to do in northern Tenerife and what to do in the north for the first time. Those who know I am living here do not miss a chance to ask me that.
Well, exactly this type of question made me want to sit down and finally write a list of suggested activities with the most beautiful places to visit in Tenerife.
In reality, the list of things to do in Tenerife North can be very long as this island has so much to offer. But I wanted to concentrate on key attractions and adventures that are considered integral and let you experience Tenerife in full, no matter if you are visiting for a short or long time.
And then if you feel like that’s not enough, refer to my travel guide page where I have many more posts with recommendations on what to do in Tenerife north and beyond, including hidden gems, non-touristy things to do, and various events!
Traveling to Northern Tenerife for the First Time?
If yes, then below are some of my top travel tips, tours, and hotels just for first-time visitors. Below, there are more cool things to do for everyone else!
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
Essential Things to Do in Tenerife North For Nature & Outdoors Lovers
Go on a Panoramic Walk Along the Coast
When people ask me (those who know I live on the island) what are my top recommendations for things to do in north Tenerife, without hesitation, I always answer that the number one thing is to go enjoy the views.
Because Tenerife North is all about the views. Be it views of cliffs with inaccessible beaches, panoramic vistas from charming coastal villages, lush landscapes dotted with banana plantations, or just the sight of historic architecture against the backdrop of the Atlantic – northern part of Tenerife offers a visual feast at every turn!
This is why the first thing to do is to head out for the view. And one of the best places where to get that view is from the walking trail along the coast.
There are so many gorgeous coastal paths in northern Tenerife! Almost all of them hug the shoreline, providing unobstructed panoramic vistas of the azure Atlantic Ocean while meeting the dramatic cliffs and rugged coastlines. Their proximity to the water allows for a direct and immersive experience with the coastal beauty.
Some of my favorite (and easy to do) trails are located near Puerto de la Cruz, Bajamar, and Buenavista del Norte. Just some examples for you to understand are a trail from the Precise Resort to Roque Chico and beyond or multiple trails through the nature reserve Paisaje Protegido de la Rambla de Castro.
For many more scenic trails, you need to read my post about walking in Tenerife. It includes the exact coordinates of the trails and shows what each of them offers.
Make a Stop in One of the Restaurants or Cafes With a View
Continuing the topic about the views, another must-do thing in Tenerife North is to have a stop in a lovely cafe or restaurant for a traditional coffee drink ‘baraquito’ with a local dessert or Canarian food accompanied by more beautiful views.
Since Tenerife North is one big area with scenic coastal landscapes and cliffs, there are many restaurants and cafes with breathtaking views stretched out along the coast. Many of them offer outdoor seating and strategically positioned windows to showcase panoramic vistas of the cliffs, ocean, and surrounding landscapes.
Take advantage of that and do not miss such a place!
Some of my favorite panoramic cafes are Cafe Alba in Puerto de la Cruz, La Baranda restaurant in El Sauzal, and Cofradia Las Aguas restaurant in San Juan de la Rambla.
For more suggestions together with other vista points, you need to read my post about the best views in Tenerife.
See Mount Teide Close – the Only Active Volcano on Tenerife
Mount Teide is an active volcano that is also the highest peak in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic. Seeing it close and possibly hiking to (or around) is one of the most adventurous things to do in Tenerife North.
Standing at an elevation of 3,718 meters (12,198 feet), it is an iconic symbol and a prominent feature of Teide National Park, which surrounds the mountain.
Teide volcano is known for its striking landscapes and unique rock formations which is why it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural significance.
The most convenient way to visit it is either on a tour or on your own by car (to get to the heart of the park) and then by cable car and a short hike to the summit. Just make sure to reserve the cable car tickets in advance as they sell out fast.
Another option (if you don’t feel like going to the top) is just to spend time in Teide National Park stopping at its many vista points overlooking lava fields with lava rivers, crators, and unique formations (as you can see in my photos).
Tours to Join to See Teide if You Are Short on Time
Another top north Tenerife thing to do is to go stargazing and see the Milky Way! In general, it is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime activity that is available only in a couple of spots around the world and comes at a high price in many of them.
But in northern Tenerife, with its lower light pollution in certain areas and access to elevated locations, stargazing is easy and often cheap (you just need to be ready to rent a car and drive to certain areas that offer excellent conditions for observing the night sky).
In comparison to Northern Tenerife, the South is not the right place for stargazing as it has more populated areas with high light pollution which decreases visibility for stargazing.
So you do need to leave this experience for the north! Because in the north, on some days you can see a sky full of stars even from the backyard! (like in my photos here of what we saw near our home)
Just make sure to prepare in advance (especially if you want to capture photos of the Milky Way) and track the weather, particularly if you are traveling to Tenerife from December to April.
If you decide to join a stargazing tour, choose the one that includes telescope viewings like this one in Teide National Park with a stargazing dinner. Because having a telescope will let you have a closer view of celestial objects such as planets and star clusters. Unbelievable experience!
But before you even go stargazing, another thing to do is to take a guided tour of Teide’s Observatory, one of the leading facilities for solar observations in the Northern Hemisphere! It was one of the best experiences my family had which allowed us to learn about the stars and our galaxy.
Descend to One of the Black Sand Beaches
As well as seeing a beautiful view, going down to the black sand beach is an essential thing to do in north Tenerife as this part of the island has some of the most beautiful volcanic beaches among all Canary Islands. I am telling you this from my own experience after visiting Gran Canaria, La Gomera, and other islands.
The unique volcanic origin of Tenerife contributes to the creation of the distinctive black sand beaches and offers a nice chance to witness the geological wonders that define Tenerife’s landscape.
Some black sand beaches, such as Playa Jardin in Puerto de la Cruz or Playa El Bollullo near La Orotava, provide a stark and beautiful contrast to the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, which creates a striking and memorable scene.
The only thing you need to remember is that not all beaches are good for swimming. In fact, some are inaccessible at all. But swimming is not the only reason to go there.
Go to the beach to sunbathe, walk on the sand, relax amidst beautiful surroundings, meditate, and of course take dozens of photos.
My favorite (and in my opinion the best) beaches with black sand (additionally to those I mentioned above) are Playa Martianez adjacent to the famous Lago Martianez pool complex, Playa del Socorro known for its powerful waves, and Playa de la Arena in Mesa del Mar which is perfect for a long beach day.
But for a bigger list of beautiful beaches in Tenerife north, you need to refer to another article I wrote.
Take a Dip in One of the Unique Natural Swimming Pools
Swimming pools that are part of the sea are natural attractions in Tenerife that make this island special. Visiting one of them should be a ‘must-do’ even if you are not a big fan of swimming. Just come to dip your feet in the water or walk around.
All pools offer a picturesque setting for relaxation and aesthetic enjoyment. Even in Tenerife in winter when water is rather cold and sea is often stormy, it is still a pleasure to spend some time near the pools looking at big waves crashing on walls and just sunbathing next to them.
Some pools that are located in sheltered coves or areas protected from strong ocean currents are calmer. But there are also other pools that always have stormier conditions if they are in more exposed locations (as you can see in my Insta story below):
View this post on Instagram
These natural pools are often accompanied by facilities such as walkways, stairs, and safety features, making them enjoyable places to swim and relax while surrounded by the dramatic landscapes of Tenerife’s coastline.
You’ll find a large number of such pools on different sides of the island. One option is to go on a road trip along northern Tenerife coast and make stops at those pools along the way.
Some touristy and famous natural pools are in Puertito de los Silos (like Charco de Chochos), Garachico (like Piscinas de el Caleton), in Puerto de la Cruz (Los Charconits pools behind the chapel), and pools directly in Puerto Santa Cruz on Playa de an Telmo.
But if you like visiting non-touristy places, then get inspired after reading my post about the best natural pools in Tenerife.
Visit One of the Best Zoos & Parrot Parks in the World
Another unique thing to do in Tenerife’s north which should be on everyone’s list is a world-class wildlife sanctuary at Loro Parque, one of the most renowned zoos and parrot parks globally.
It is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature and who would love to experience crafted habitats that house a diverse array of animals, from majestic big cats to playful dolphins and rare tropical birds. You’ll see even penguins there from different corners of the world, including Humboldt penguins that are native to the coasts of South America!
Loro Parque goes beyond being a traditional zoo and is totally among the best places to visit in Tenerife for anyone, not just families with kids!
I have a separate post about the Loro Park visit with a few tips for how to get the most out of a day trip there as well as a bunch of photos showing how unique this place is. My favorite parts were the Orca Ocean show, the acrobatics of dolphins, and a huge collection of parrots.
Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling
Northern Tenerife is a paradise for scuba diving enthusiasts or for beginners who prefer snorkeling. This part of the island has some of the most spectacular dive sites in the Canary Islands with diverse underwater landscapes and marine life.
Some of the most popular places where to go diving are:
- Puerto de la Cruz (with various dive sites with interesting features such as volcanic rock formations, wrecks, and a rich marine ecosystem. Some popular spots include El Poris and Los Chuchos)
- Punta de Teno (on the western tip of Tenerife with dramatic landscapes above and below the water. You can encounter schools of fish and explore underwater cliffs here)
- Garachico (with several dive sites near its volcanic coastline that have underwater arches and caves)
- Los Silos (with lava tubes, canyons, and marine life under the water)
But in my own experience, the best place to go in Tenerife for diving is undeniably Radazul with its deep clear waters and varied marine life. Visiting it is among the most memorable things to do in north Tenerife, even with children!
Because this site is suitable for divers of different levels, including beginners and younger divers who have never used diving equipment before.
I have been to Radazul many times mainly hanging out on its beach and in the pool. But finally, recently I went on this diving experience which helped me overcome the fear of diving and enjoy one of the most incredible experiences in Tenerife (and experiences in entire of Spain). I plan to write a post sharing the details of how it went but before I do, one thing to say – it was amazing!
If diving is not your thing, there are still other water-related activities you can (and should!) do in this part of northern Tenerife:
Other Snorkeling & Diving Activities in Northern Tenerife
Then once you are there, it is only a short drive away from a cute little town Guimar with many more fantastic things to do.
Spend At Least a Few Hours in Rural Anaga Park
Walking or hiking in Rural Anaga Park is often considered one of the best things to do in Tenerife North because Anaga is home to ancient laurel forests, some of which are considered remnants of the Tertiary period.
Laurel forests are unique forests that are found only in a few places around the world and that most people never get to see. You can also find them in other islands of the Canary Island archipelago, Azores and Madeira (Portugal), Nicaragua, and Croatia (but only in one park), pretty much that’s it.
So if you are visiting Tenerife any time soon, going to Anaga is kind of a must-see place on the island.
The most popular way to visit it is by car through the forest and Anaga mountains. But if you just stay in a car and make occasional stops along the road, you are missing out on seeing the unique biodiversity with rare plants and animal species that are hidden inside the forest.
You do need to get out of the car and go on a hike or at least walk to get deeper in the forest to see evergreen misty trees with various ferns and mosses and to find areas with heathlands dominated by shrubs and heather species. Many paths lead to coastal villages and panoramic viewpoints that offer opportunities to relax by the sea.
The most interesting way to explore Anaga is with a guide on a hiking tour, especially if you are on a short trip to Tenerife and don’t have time to do all the research to find out the trails that don’t require a permit and are easy to hike.
Explore the Masca Valley
Masca Valley, just like the Anaga Rural Park, is a natural attraction in Tenerife that is also a must-visit.
Being located in the northwest of the island, it offers a totally different landscape and vegetation. But it is no less impressive and at times mystical.
The main thing Masca Valley is known for is Masca village, situated between towering cliffs that looks like a mini copy of Machu Picchu in Peru (at least that’s what some people say. Check it out in my video and tell me if that’s really so if you have seen Machu Picchu).
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But besides the village, many hiking trails in the area open up fantastic views. There are also a couple of beaches (accessible by hike) and twisty roads to discover by car.
As with Anaga, Masca Valley is also a nice place to explore on your own or with a guide. You will love the hiking adventure through Masca Ravine which brings you to one of the most beautiful unspoiled spots in Tenerife.
What to Do in North Tenerife for Foodies
Visit Winery & Do Wine Tasting
I am not sure if you know that but Tenerife has a long and rich history of winemaking on the island, with some of the oldest vineyards in Spain. This is why trying wine here is another thing to do in the north that should be on the list.
Northern Tenerife in particular is home to most vineyards on the island where several of them open doors to visitors, offering group tours or self-guided visits. When visiting a winery in Tenerife, you can learn about the local grape varieties, the winemaking process, and of course, sample some delicious wines.
In my experience, the winery experience in Tenerife overall is not on the level of wine tourism like in France or Italy, and it’s not as elevating and refining experience as visiting a winery in Georgia. But it is still good enough and gives a nice introduction to what Tenerife wines are like.
I’ve been to a couple of wineries in Tenerife on my own and with a tour and to tell you the truth independent visits were pretty poor as there were no direct entertaining tastings, rather just wine sipping like in a bar.
If you want to experience what the finest wines of Tenerife are better join a tour (not because I am trying to sell them but because tours are really engaging and informative where the guide tells the stories and gives information about the wines).
However, if tour is not your cup of tea, for an independent visit head to Casa del Vino in El Sauzal. It has an interesting wine museum and a big selection of wines to try.
Best Wine Tastings & Wine Tours in Tenerife North
Explore a Banana Plantation & Sample Rare Types of Bananas
There are only a few places in the world that offer visits to a banana plantation. Tenerife, being one of the few places in Europe where bananas are grown commercially, is one of those destinations. This is why it is a must north Tenerife thing to do when you are here.
Growing bananas on Tenerife is an essential part of the island’s agricultural landscape. The warm climate and fertile volcanic soil make it an ideal place for growing this type of fruit.
When you visit a banana plantation in Tenerife, you can learn about the history and cultivation of bananas on the island, as well as see the various stages of banana production, from planting to harvesting. You can also sample freshly picked bananas and other local fruits and products, and gain a deeper appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into growing and harvesting bananas.
I visited a couple of plantations on the stretch of the coast between Icod de las Vinos and Bajamar (this is that part of the island where bananas grow). And for an independent tour, I can recommend Casa del Platano that has a nice museum with information boards and a few different types of bananas for sale.
But for a more fulfilling experience, go to La Orotava banana plantation to answer questions on why bananas in Tenerife differ from other countries’ bananas.
Discover Canarian Food Through Traditional Eateries
Of course, the traditional foodie’s experiences were going to make the list as food in Tenerife is a significant aspect of the island’s culture and tourism. The local cuisine, deeply rooted in Canarian traditions, includes a diverse range of flavors and dishes that reflect Tenerife’s history and geographical features.
You can indulge in foodies’ experiences in Tenerife South too but in the North they are more authentic and local. South is more tourist-oriented.
So these experiences include:
- Guachinches (eateries with homemade food and local wines in a rustic setting)
- Local restaurants that specialize in local cuisine (you can find many of them on my map here)
- Food markets (the best for food is La Recova Market in Santa Cruz de Tenerife & Mercado Municipal de La Laguna)
- Food festivals & events (these are quite frequent in Tenerife North throughout the year)
- Culinary workshops (where you learn some old traditional recipes like the one to cook a very delish Mojo sauce!)
Foodies Experiences to Have in Tenerife North
Things to Do in Tenerife North for Culture & History
Visit the First Capital of Tenerife – San Cristobal de La Laguna
Among all Northern Tenerife attractions, a visit to La Laguna is almost iconic because this is a first capital of the island that intertwines history, culture, and modern charm.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a kaleidoscope of colorful colonial-style buildings, grand churches, and bustling public squares. In some ways it is similar to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria but with much more colonial architecture.
La Laguna deserves not just a quick stop on a road trip through northern Tenerife but a thorough walk through since it is a museum of history and a living, breathing hub of culture and academia.
I recommend you explore it through this free walking tour of La Laguna (which is much better than the paid one) or follow my La Laguna itinerary with the list of the best places to visit.
Spend a Few Hours in La Orotava – the Center of Colonial Architecture on Tenerife
La Orotava is one of the prettiest towns in north Tenerife which is often considered a center of historical and architectural significance on the island. Being in Puerto de la Cruz area and not visiting La Orotava is just not right.
Once there, you need to walk to elegant houses and mansions that showcase the architectural styles of the colonial period such as Casa de los Balcones, Casa Lercaro, The Church of Our Lady of Conception, and historic garden Hijuela del Botanico.
The Town Hall of La Orotava is also a fine example of Canarian architecture. Its facade is adorned with traditional wooden balconies.
Come here for a few hours and immerse yourself in a journey through time, exploring streets of one of the European towns with the oldest colonial architecture!
Experience Carnival de Santa Cruz
This Tenerife North attraction is a bit limited in time as it happens only in February and March. But it is an absolute not-to-miss event if you happen to be on Tenerife vacation at this time of the year.
Carnival de Santa Cruz is one of the most important festivals in Tenerife and one of the largest carnivals in the world. When it takes place, the entire city of Santa Cruz becomes a giant street party, with colorful parades, music, and dancing.
It typically takes place in February, leading up to the Christian observance of Lent. However, festivities extend over several weeks well into March, with the main events concentrated around specific dates.
Everywhere you go, you see locals and tourists dressed up in elaborate and colorful costumes, dancing, performing, and marching through the streets of Santa Cruz. The main parade is a dazzling spectacle featuring music, dance, and a joyful atmosphere.
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