Skip to content

5 must-visit towns in Tenerife

Each one of the seven Canary Islands is different in its own unique way. I’ve told you about Lanzarote and its extreme volcanic landscapes, La Palma and its beautiful green forests, and one of these days I will tell you about Fuerteventura and its beaches. But in this post I’d like to introduce Tenerife, and what I believe is its biggest attraction: its towns. Tenerife has always been the biggest and richest island, as well as the last island to be conquered, nearly 100 years later than some of the other ones. I think all of these facts combined have left it with a strong heritage and history that is reflected in some of its towns, which you won’t find in any of the other Canary Islands. This is why I’ve decided to compile this list of what I believe are the top 5 must-visit towns in Tenerife:

1. La Laguna

San Cristóbal de la Laguna, or la Laguna, as it is commonly referred to, used to be the capital of not only Tenerife but all of the Canary Islands. It’s also not just me who believes la Laguna is worth a visit – the town is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it was the first non-fortified Spanish colonial town, as well as being a model for the colonial towns that were to follow in South America.  It is also the host of one of the two universities in the Canaries, going all the way back to the eighteenth century. Apart from the clear historical draw, la Laguna is very easy to navigate on foot and is full of unique local stores and cafes. Also, due to playing host to a university, it is a very lively and vibrant town. Some worthy stops within the town include the cathedral, the local market and the entrance to the university as well as its beautiful stained glass.

La Laguna, TenerifeLa Laguna, TenerifeLa Laguna, Tenerife

2. La Orotava

La Orotava is another beautiful and historically rich town, which is also under European Cultural Heritage Protection. Much like la Laguna, la Orotava is also very easy to navigate, although it is very hilly – you will definitely get some exercise done walking around! The major draw are all of the colorful classic colonial houses and their characteristic balconies, as well as gardens. The Victoria Gardens especially, are free to visit and will let you enjoy views as far as the ocean as well as of the whole town. Another must-visit if you’d like to get to know more about the local culture and history is the Casa del Turista (Tourist’s house). I know this sounds like a complete tourist trap, but it isn’t – it’s free entry and you will be able to learn a bit of everything from traditional clothes, to local customs, to local food to local crafts. Finally, if you happen to be visiting during the months of May and/or June, be sure to check out the Corpus carpets, which are ‘carpets’ laid on the floor made out of coloured volcanic salt as well as flower and are astonishing works of art decorating the town centre.

La Orotava, Tenerife
Views from the Victoria Gardens
La Orotava, Tenerife
‘Casa de los Balcones’, la Orotava

La Orotava, Tenerife

3. Garachico

It is very hard to pick a favorite out of all these must-visit towns, but for some reason Garachico just seems a little more special than the others. It used to be a very rich trading port until a volcano eruption wreaked havoc and scared merchants away to safer towns like Puerto de La Cruz and Santa Cruz. To this day Garachico remains as one of the few coastal towns in Tenerife relatively untouched by tourism. Not only that, but unlike most coastal towns, which have nothing beyond their coastal front, Garachico boasts of having a beautiful historical centre. Some of the other attractions it can offer include the volcanic natural pools as well as some really good restaurants offering quality local foods. I can personally recommend ‘Restaurante Aristides’, excellent food and service in the historical centre and away from the usually crowded waterfront restaurants.

Garachico, TenerifeGarachico, TenerifeGarachico, Tenerife

4. La Candelaria

La Candelaria, located on the north-eastern part of the island, is another must-visit coastal town in Tenerife. It was a key historical centre during aboriginal times, which is reflected by the statues of the nine aboriginal kings of Tenerife. These days la Candelaria is the most popular pilgrim site in the Canary Islands, and one of the most popular in Spain, with thousands of pilgrims flocking to visit the Virgin of Candelaria every year. The ‘black virgin’, as it is also commonly referred to, has its home within the beautiful Basilica of Candelaria and is actually the patron saint of the Canary Islands. If you have no historical or religious interest, la Candelaria also boasts of a beautiful and vibrant old centre, much like all of the other must-visit towns in this list, and it is also the only one with an actual beach. Another interesting draw could be the many surrounding caves, some of which date back thousands of years, and where many mummies similar to those in Egypt have been found.

La Candelaria, Tenerife
9 aboriginal kings of Tenerife
La Candelaria, Tenerife
Basílica de la Candelaria

5. Icod de los Vinos

I was actually not sure which town was going to get the last spot on this list, and I was torn between Icod de los Vinos or Puerto de la Cruz. I wasn’t impressed with Puerto de la Cruz during my last visit, as I feel it has been left to be completely overran by tourists and has lost some of its local charm. Besides it is undergoing some huge renovations at the moment, and the town centre (the best part) has been completely torn apart, meaning Puerto de la Cruz gets pushed out of the list and gives its place to Icod de los Vinos instead. Truth be told, Icod is not at the same level as the rest of the must-see towns in this list; it is a bit run-down and in need of some renovations, and there is not much to see. However, it is host to one of the major attractions and the symbol of the island: a thousand-year old dragon tree. Icod de los Vinos, is also very close to Mount Teide, the highest peak in Spain, which stands tall at 3,718 metres behind the town, as if watching over. Other than that, it’s just a local town like any other. Although it does have the best coffee house I have visited in Tenerife: Lekkery – with excellent services and good prices it’s worth a stop even if only on your way to Mount Teide.

Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife
The 1000-year old dragon tree

Icod de los Vinos, TenerifeIcod de los Vinos, Tenerife

As my final note I will add that you can easily visit all five towns within one day by car, although you’d be pushing it and not leaving yourself much time for exploring. Ideally, you should give yourself one day and a half to two days to visit them all, with la Laguna and la Orotava especially deserving of at least half a day each.

Pin it!

Have you visited any of these towns before? Are there any towns you think are worth adding to this list? If so, let me know!

33 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this information about the Canary Islands! It’s never really been high on our places to visit but having read this, I really like the sound of visiting these places and your photos are fantastic!

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Thanks Matt! Definitely would recommend – loads of hidden gems, and the best they have to offer is not what they are most known for!

  2. Love the colours of the buildings! I could see myself wandering those streets for hours! Definitely on my list ☺️

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      They are all definitely wanderer-friendly! 😉

  3. Javier Javier

    Great!

  4. It’s so refreshing to read about more than just beaches and partying on the Canary Islands! I would definitely spend at least one day exploring the quaint streets of Orotava and photographing all those adorable buildings. And that tree is gorgeous!

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Thanks Lydia!! It’s funny how the best thing the Canary Islands have to offer is not the sun and beaches that have made them so popular! 😉

  5. What an incredible location! Looks like an incredible place to relax and explore. A real gem!

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Thanks Victoria! I agree 🙂

  6. Colby Colby

    I’m currently living in Spain and have been dying to get to Tenerife! I visited Fuerteventura a few years back and absolutely loved it! I’ll have to keep these tips in mind when I make my way to Tenerife.

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Glad to hear you loved Fuerteventura – that’s where I’m from so I love it too (though I don’t live there any more)! Tenerife is very different but just as great. I am sure you will also love it!

  7. I have never actually been to Tenerife but would love to visit! I alway imagine the beaches and holiday resorts but these towns look perfect and ideal to explore 🙂

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Yes, these towns are not as popular as the beaches and the resorts, but definitely worth exploring!

  8. I did a similar trip in Portugal last year. We had rented a car and just wandered around on our own schedule. Your post and pictures of the Canary Islands is making me want to plan a similar trip. Love the colorful architecture!

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Those are some of my favorite trips! And that’s something that would be very easy to do in Tenerife and probably for a similar budget as that in Portugal 😉

  9. I have been enjoying your posts on the Canary Islands and each time they get moved closer to the top. All of these towns sound lovely, and as I like slower paced travel with lots of history and amazing views, I will definitely check them out when I make it that way. I’m glad you put Icod on the list as that tree is amazing!

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Thanks a lot Lara! And the tree looks even better in person 😉

  10. I’ve been to so many of the Spanish Island…but never Tenerife! I always thought it was too commercialised but looking at these idyllic Spanish towns it looks perfect! I’ll need to head down there next time I’m back in Europe.

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Luckily all of the commercialisation is concentrated on the south of the island, while the rest has been thankfully left untouched!

  11. It’s great that you are able to see all of these towns properly within a couple of days! They all look really nice to visit, especially your top tip Garachico as it’s much more quieter!

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Thanks Paul!

  12. Completely beautiful and cultural!!! These towns are definitely part of my go-to list! Also, your photographs are wonderful. 🙂

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Thanks Eena! 🙂

  13. Great wrap up of the Canary Islands. Love the beautiful old colourful colonial buildings. Love that they sit in the shadow of the mountains too. It really reminds me a lot of Majorca actually.

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      Thanks Skye!!

  14. What a beautiful place! I have always wanted to visit Tenerife but this has made me want to go even more. It looks so colourful and welcoming, especially La Laguna!

  15. I’ve never been to Tenerife and never heard a lot about it as well. This post definitely gave me a lot of new information! La Laguna looks super nice, I should really put this on my list.

  16. Wow, I did not even thought there are so many towns on the island :))) After all my travel, I am still bad in geography apparently 🙂

  17. The Canary Islands haven’t been on my radar until now, so thanks for your posts! Tenerife and its towns look so charming and the historical aspect really appeals to me. I love your photos – thanks for sharing them!

  18. I love little town dotted along the shore with a character. Walking around, hanging out in the little cafes and journaling/sketching, or just plain old people watching. And looks like these 5 are perfect for that. Looks like I could spend months in Tenerife

  19. Such a great little article about exotic destination Tenerife and so many tips and suggestions about it. I would love to visit Canary Islands one day.

  20. These towns seem perfect for long strolls/walks! The houses and streets look so lovely, also perfect for some photo ops.

    • Finding Upendi Finding Upendi

      You are totally right! They are very picturesque 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *