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Tenerife North and Tenerife South are very different

Updated on May 26, 2016

Los Cristianos in the south of Tenerife

Promenade in Los Cristianos
Promenade in Los Cristianos | Source

Tenerife is like two islands in one!

Tenerife in the Canary Islands is really like two islands in one because the north and south of the island are so very different. Most tourists stay in the south and never get to see all the amazing countryside and attractions the north of Tenerife has to offer. Holiday companies and travel agents mostly send their customers to the south of the island because that is where it is more likely to be sunny and warm, and also this is where flights from the UK go. Tenerife's north, however, is well worth visiting to see its mountains, forests, and find out about traditional Canary Islands culture in its cities, towns and villages.

El Medano

Beach and Red Mountain at El Medano
Beach and Red Mountain at El Medano | Source

Tenerife South Los Cristianos

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The resorts of Tenerife South

The south of the island of Tenerife is generally a lot drier, sunnier and warmer. It is more like the subtropical climate of nearby North Africa. This is probably why the main resorts for tourists are in the south. The Reina Sofia Airport, which is often simply called "Tenerife South," is conveniently near these resorts too.

The main holiday destinations on the south coast of Tenerife are Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Americas, Los Gigantes, Las Galletas, Playa de San Juan and El Medano. The last of these is a haven for windsurfers too, as well as having some of the best beaches in the island and a volcanic cone mountain known as the Red Mountain.

Los Cristianos was once a humble fishing village but you wouldn't know that today. It is full of shops, apartment blocks, bars and restaurants and offers a choice of sandy beaches. This is where you can catch ferries to the neighbouring Canary Island known as La Gomera.

Playa de las Americas is more for the younger element of tourists and is full of bars and clubs. It has a very nice beach and it is easy to walk from Los Cristianos to Las Americas by strolling along the seafront path.

Los Gigantes is a popular resort on the southwest coast, and it gets its name from its gigantic cliffs. "Gigantes" means giants in Spanish.

Las Galletas translates as "the Biscuits" and is in the area of the south of Tenerife known as the Costa del Silencio. Like Los Cristianos it was once a fishing village. Nowadays it sports a marina.

Many British holidaymakers rent self catering apartments in all these resort areas. This is the part of Tenerife where most people take their holiday breaks abroad.

Los Gigantes

Giant Cliffs of Los Gigantes
Giant Cliffs of Los Gigantes | Source

Buy a Bono and catch the bus

One great tip for getting around Tenerife is to buy a Bonobus travel ticket, or "Bono," as they are usually called and get up to 50% savings on bus fares all around the island. Most of the locals use Bonos and you can buy them at some bigger bus stations and at selected shops, kiosks and garages around the island. Each time you travel on a green TITSA bus the driver deducts what you have spent from your Bono when you put it in the special machine. It is possible to go right around Tenerife with one of these, and it is well worth making that journey to really experience Tenerife.

Tenerife by Bus - Los Cristianos

Take a trip up North

One way of seeing the north of Tenerife is to use your Bono bus pass but you might also consider booking a holiday somewhere in this half of the island. Tenerife's north does have its own resorts with Puerto de la Cruz on the west coast being probably the best known. Amongst its attractions are botanical gardens and a Blue Flag awarded beach known as Playa Jardin, which has a garden at its top. The resort also has a very popular Parrot Park. Puerto de la Cruz is easily reachable by bus and has services to many other parts of the north of the island.

Puerto de la Cruz

The Lido at Puerto de la Cruz
The Lido at Puerto de la Cruz | Source

Spain Travel: Tenerife - Icod de los Vinos - Dragon Tree

Icod de los Vinos

Icod de los Vinos bills itself as the "City of the Dragon Tree," and it is most famous for its "Drago Milenario," a magnificent specimen of a dragon tree that has been said to be 1,000-years-old. The tree is housed in its own park and is a popular tourist attraction. Icod de los Vinos is further down from Puerto de la Cruz along the west coast of the north of Tenerife. It is very near Playa San Marcos, which is listed amongst the best black sand beaches of the island. It is a very sheltered bay and looks out along the coast to its neighbour Garachico.

Icod de los Vinos

Looking out over Icod de los Vinos
Looking out over Icod de los Vinos | Source

The Anaga Mountains

The Anaga Mountains of Tenerife's north are really worth visiting because they are covered in evergreen laurel forest and these forests are some of the only patches of this type of woodland still surviving in the world today. There are high peaks, winding roads, and amazing views, as well as forest pathways ideal for hiking. The Anaga Range begins just above the Tenerife University city of La Laguna, which is worth visiting too. La Laguna has plenty of old style Spanish Colonial architecture in its churches and historic buildings. Its cobbled pathways and traditional squares are like taking a walk back in time. The Los Rodeos Airport, or Tenerife North, is very close to La Laguna.

The north of Tenerife can be a lot cooler than the south and gets a lot more rain, especially in the autumn and winter months, so it makes good sense to take appropriate clothing, just in case. The weather in the north of Tenerife is one of the main reasons it is so different to the south.

Anaga Tenerife


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    • Tenerife Islander profile image

      Steve Andrews 22 months ago from Tenerife

      The bus is an excellent way of getting around the island and was my main way of travelling. Thanks for posting!

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 22 months ago from Essex, UK

      Glad to see you are still publishing pages about Tenerife Steve - I shall have to start reading a few more of them. I've visited four of the Canary Islands now, including Tenerife, but only once each, and your articles are such a valuable source of information - the most comprehensive on the Internet. And they are particularly valuable for those of us who have interests which extend beyond lazing on a beach or beside a pool :)

      On Tenerife and on the other islands I can thoroughly recommend getting out and exploring the whole island. I did it by car, but perhaps the bus is an effective and much cheaper alternative?