5 Must-Sees in Tenerife, Spain for the Non-Touristy Tourist
Tenerife is the largest of Spain's Canary Islands and this year it was included in The Telegraph's Top 10 Summer Holiday Islands in Europe. Due to its geographical position, the island has sunshine and a mild, warm climate all year round. Of the 5 million or so visitors this beautiful island gets each year, most head to the South where they are almost guaranteed sun, sea and sangria. However, there is so much more to Tenerife than the touristic South.
The following 5 places show you another side of the island:
Tenerife is a volcanic island and Mount Teide is the name of the 12,200 feet volcano. Teide is part of a national park and the views are stunning and completely different from anything you will see in the tourist resorts such as Playa Las Americas and Los Cristianos. It is the highest peak on the Canary Islands and in the whole of Spain. If you visit Mount Teide as part of a guided tour, you'll get to see how green and luscious other parts of the island are in contrast to the very dry South. During the winter months, it is not uncommon for Teide to be topped with snow which only adds to its beauty, but be warned temperatures can drop below zero.
After regularly visiting Tenerife for more than eight years, I only visited La Laguna for the first time this year. And I'm gutted I left it this long because it beautiful. I visited Havana, Cuba last year and as soon as I arrived in La Laguna I was instantly reminded of Havana. Walking along the cobbled streets surrounded by perfectly preserved 16th - 19th-century colonial buildings, it is easy to forget that you are in fact still in Tenerife. La Laguna is situated in the northern part of the island; it is one of Tenerife's most historical cities and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you only know about the touristic South, it's hard to imagine that cities like La Laguna exist. There are cute little shops and of course, in typical Spanish fashion, there are bars and restaurants everywhere, filled to the brim with locals enjoying tapas and copas.
Again, situated in the northern part of the island, Candelaria is a small coastal fishing village. It is also a pilgrim town as it is home to the Basilica. This is where you will find the shrine of the Black Madonna, the Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria, who is the patron saint of the Canary Islands.
There is a beach in Candelaria, which has the volcanic black sand and there are many restaurants serving traditional Canarian cuisine and seafood caught fresh from the Atlantic that same day. Many organised excursions combine Mount Teide with Candelaria which is worth considering.
La Orotava, like La Laguna, is an old colonial town with cobbled streets and perfectly preserved buildings from the 16th-18th centuries. It is described by Lonely Planet as "one of the most truly ‘Canarian’ places in the Canary Islands", along with La Laguna. The Casa de Los Balcones (house of the balconies), the Concepción Parish Church and the botanical garden, La Hijuela del Botánico are considered must-see attractions and La Orotava also boasts three of the island's best natural black sand beaches - El Bollullo, Martín Alonso and El Rincón.
Santa Cruz is the capital city of Tenerife and is more cosmopolitan than the places mentioned above. Think museums, galleries such as the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes (TEA), high street shops, restaurants serving every type of cuisine and the stunning Auditorio de Tenerife. There is also the Mercado Nuestra Señora de Africa, which is a large daily market with over 300 stalls selling local produce and of course, there is a beach in Santa Cruz, Playa de Las Teresitas. And perhaps, most importantly, Santa Cruz is the home of Tenerife's annual carnival which takes place in February and is considered the second most popular carnival in the world, after Brazil's carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
In case you haven't noticed a theme, all five places are situated away from the heavily touristic South. This does, however, mean that the climate can vary from the almost always warm temperature in the South during the winter.
Despite there being less guarantee of blazing hot temperatures, if you can drag yourself away from the sun lounger even for a day, you'll not regret spending time in one or more of these places.
Leanne Lindsey is a freelance blogger, qualified careers adviser and certified life coach who loves inspiring and motivating women to live happy, healthy lives they love by sharing simple and practical insights on self-care and wellbeing. She is a native Londoner who is currently trying out life the beautiful island of Tenerife. You can connect with her in The Self-Love & Wellness Lounge, at her website www.leannelindsey.co.uk and on IG @leanne__lindsey.