Tenerife - The Sunny Island with the "White Mountain"
Tenerife has been known as the "Island with the White Mountain" for centuries. This name refers to the gigantic volcano Pico del Teide in its centre, the most prominent example for the island's wild, varied landscape, which is the perfect setting for relaxation.
Geography - The greatest Canary island
Tenerife is the greatest Canary island and is located in the west of the Atlantic island group. The island, which belongs to Spain, is 80 kilometres long and 50 kilometres wide. Several mountain ranges cross Tenerife, especially in the centre. Part of them is Spain's highest mountain Pico del Teide (3,718 m), which acts as a kind of weather divide. The passing trade winds often get caught on the high mountains, rise up and cause a lot of rain on the north-eastern side of the island. In the south-east, on the other hand, you mostly find the warm, dry air of the descending masses of air. Tenerife is generally dominated by mild weather and constant wind throughout the year with average temperatures between 17 and 25 °C.
Nature - Varied landscapes and plants
Major parts of the island are dominated by mighty, rugged mountains. Especially in the north they are covered in pines, laurel trees, thick shrubs and meadows. Between the vegetation you see reddish brown or yellow soil shimmering through. The Pico del Teide is wearing a snowy white cap in winter. In Tenerife's dry, desert-like south you find euphorbiaceae, cactuses and age-old dragon trees with intertwined trunks. The gigantic shrubs of the poinsettia as well as numerous carpets of flowers from May to July constitute colourful spots in the otherwise barren regions. Brightly coloured butterflies and birds such as the wild canary bird populate the island.
Natural sights - Out and about at the mighty Pico del Teide
The mighty Pico del Teide in the centre watches over the island. It consists of a gigantic volcano, which last erupted in 1909. Travellers can go hiking in the conservation area around the Teide or take a cable car to reach its top. If you want to climb its peak, however, you need a permission. Near the Teide you see the bizarre rocks Roques de García. Visitors who want to explore the island's landscape should visit the laurel forests in the Anaga mountain range, the lava cave Cueva del Viento, the Orotava Valley and the area around the mountain villgae Masca, which has scenic terraced fields and gorges. The strait between Tenerife and the island La Gomera in the west, especially near Playa Paraíso, is a worthwhile destination due to the many whales which populate its waters. Icod de los Vinos is known for having the greatest dragon tree on earth. Another famous attraction is the zoo Loro Parque Puerto de la Cruz, which accommodates a great variety of parrots. Puerto de la Cruz also has an extraordinarily large and magnificent botanic garden. After all these adventurous activities in nature, holidaymakers can relax at the beautiful beaches in Santa Cruz, Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas, Las Teresitas or at the impressive cliff coast Los Gigantes.
Culture - Where Lord Nelson lost his arm
The native inhabitants of the Guanches named their island "Chenerfe" ("white mountain") after the Pico del Teide, which developed into the present-day name "Tenerife". Since the end of the 15th century the island has belonged to Spain. Later on, the English tried to conquer it under the famous admiral Lord Nelson. But they failed and Lord Nelson lost his right arm because of a cannon shot. The island's inhabitants are proud of their history and traditions. They celebrate them in traditional, lively dances, during which they wear elaborate costumes, and in art handicraft such as basketry and embroidery. Typical of the island is lucha canaria, a wrestling match with two teams, consisting of twelve wrestlers each, who fight against each other.
Cultural sights - Mummies of the Guanches, sanctuaries and pyramids
Tenerife's capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife is an important international harbour and the island's centre. The metropolis is characterised by a mix of well-preserved colonial and futuristic buildings such as the congress and concert hall Auditorio. Visitors can explore Santa Cruz' cultural treasures starting from the square Plaza de España. Examples are the Baroque church Iglesia de San Francisco, the Museum of Natural History with mummies of the Guanches, the fortress Castillo de San Juan and the Military Museum, in which you find the cannon which is said to have torn off Lord Nelson's arm. Lovers of culture also find worthwhile destinations in La Laguna with its wonderful old part of town and the beautiful cathedral or in Candelaria with the Basilica of Candelaria and its Black Madonna. The latter is one of the greatest sanctuaries on the Canaries. The Pyramids of Güímar in the east of Tenerife were probably also holy once. Little is known about these six, terraced buildings, for example which purpose they used to serve. At a height of 2,400 metres on the Teide, you find the astronomical observatory Observatorio del Teide. Observations of the sun and investigations into the structure of the cosmos, for example, are carried out with this significant European telescope. Between April and December, holidaymakers can visit the observatory during the day.
Experience - Eating and celebrating with the island's inhabitants
Fish is a basic ingredient of the island's cuisine. It is prepared in a number of different ways – cooked, grilled, fried or made into soup. The most common side are potatoes which have wrinkly jackets from being boiled in heavily salted water. Spicy mojo sauce is also popular on the island. It consists of vinegar, garlic, peppers, caraway and oil. Besides the local dishes, you should also taste the wines produced on Tenerife. Travellers can learn more about this tradition in the Wine Museum of El Sauzal. The population's true nature is apparent from their festivities – from farmer's celebrations to religious events to the carnival. You find the most important centre of exuberant nightlife in Playa de las Américas. In an embroidery school (e.g. in La Orotava) visitors can see how the filigree embroidery is produced and learn a few techniques themselves. Overnight stays in a cave house on the mountain Arico Viejo also provide an insight into the life on the island. Holidaymakers who are interested in fashion can have a look at the local lable Tenerife Moda, an innovative fashion chain with different kinds of clothes. Popular souvenirs are the exotic strelitzia plants, wine and typical handicraft.
Activities - First hiking in nature, then relaxing at the seaside
Tenerife's wild, romantic landscape is crossed by numerous trails and resting spots. For this reason, it is excellently suited for hiking. As an alternative to tours on foot, travellers can also explore the area by bike, mountain bike or quad. In addition, beautiful beaches invite holidaymakers to relax at the seaside, where they can go swimming, snorkelling, surfing and sailing. So-called charcos - seawater lakes which are surrounded by harsh rocks - offer great bathing opportunities. There are many appealing courses for golfers.
Tenerife has two international airports: Teneriffa-Norte Los Rodeos (TFN) in the north and Teneriffa-Sur Reina Sofia (TFS) in the south. From Europe, you can also arrive by ship. The best means of transport for exploring the island is a rental car. Certain towns and places can also be reached by bus. Spanish is the official language on the island.
Travellers who want to go on trips into the wild, harsh nature of the Canaries are in the right place on Tenerife. Furthermore, the island is ideally suited for visitors who are looking for sun, sea and relaxation with its beautiful beaches and its great variety of tourist offers.