The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a dream vacation paradise. Exquisite resort towns and vast sandy beaches might come across as the major highlights at the first glance, but look further and you shall be amazed by the prospects that the island destination has to offer. For starters, Tenerife's major tourist beaches, as vibrant as they might be, have nothing over the stunning volcanic beaches and their aesthetic black sand. Similarly, skip over some of the resort options completely, and you might just walk away gushing over the small seafront apartments and obscure homestays in the charming village towns of the island.
As the biggest island of the region, Tenerife was also subject to rapid development and has seen the rise of many tourist towns over the years. Other locales have also become beloved treasure troves of Canarian culture and have been promoted as such, offering a much more localised and personal vacation prospect. It then makes for a difficult task to pick your ideal neighborhood to stay in. That's where we step in; here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of Tenerife and what they might have in store for you, traveller!
Affiliate Disclosure: As an Airbnb Associate and Booking.com affiliate, we earn a small commission when you book through links on this page.
The island's capital city is one of the more obvious choices for many first time travellers and if you do end up picking Santa Cruz de Tenerife, or simply Santa Cruz, it will not disappoint. The city has been at the centre of urban development on the island throughout most of the 21st century; the significant attention given to the saw the establishment of several of Tenerife's most recognisable landmarks including the Auditorio de Tenerife, a symbol of modern Spanish architecture a and the Torres de Santa Cruz twin towers. The modern cityscape is well complemented by an equally impressive gourmet district, which unlike many other parts of the island boasts of trendy bars and modern multi-cuisine restaurants. Head over to one of these establishments once you're done marvelling at the avant-garde architecture.
And don't get the wrong idea about Santa Cruz; the city, despite its ultra modern appeal, has no dearth of history and cultural capital. The old town centred around the Plaza de España will transport you back to the colonial era with its lush surroundings and the majestic buildings. The Castillo de San Cristobal and Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes are two of the best museums in the neighborhood, both housed in picturesque settings next to the central fountain piece and a lush park. A walking tour of the old town can really turn into a rewarding experience owing to the charming surroundings and the plethora of museums and galleries.
Santa Cruz is a short car ride from the North Airport, making it fairly easy to access. Several cruise ships also arrive at the harbour so make sure that you have explored all your options. Also, as opposed to expectations, Santa Cruz has a wide range of budget hotels and rental apartments making it a great choice for lodging.
Onto the most picturesque of all the Tenerife towns then! La Laguna, a town just outside of the capital Santa Cruz is centered around the historic district of the Old Town. Home to some of the island's oldest chapels and landmarks, La Laguna is an absolute delight for history buffs! Also, the beautiful exteriors of the Baroque style buildings, the neoclassical and gothic structures will impress just about anyone. Two of the must visit sites of the town have to be the Iglesia de la Concepción, a slender clock tower chapel and the Cathedral of La Laguna. Such is the importance of the old town quarters that they have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
La Laguna was the preferred choice for a vast majority of the island's rich traders and elites for most of antiquity; their mansions and grand housing complexes today are a testament of the town's rich past. Large parts of the town have been rid of vehicular traffic, furthering the status of a model town. You are bound to fall in love with the town's cobblestone streets that are lined with chic boutiques, small pubs, and obscure souvenirs shops that will draw you in with their stunning showcase windows. La Laguna also has a sizable Gen Z population because of the presence of university campus; a handful of bars and nightclubs have also cropped up in the town to cater to the crowds, only adding to the alternative appeal.
La Laguna is in one of the most prime locations on the island as both the airport and Santa Cruz are a short car ride away from the town. It is, however, away from the coast so you won't find any beach resorts. Renting an apartment or getting a homestay in the city is the best option in terms of accommodation here.
The island's beaches have been a major draw for travellers for long now. And Los Cristianos is a good place to get you acquainted with Tenerife's waterfront. A resort town situated on the southern coast of the island, Los Cristianos is a popular choice for families looking for a getaway beachside vacation. The town has two major beaches—the eponymous Playa de Los Cristianos and the smaller Playa de Los Tarajales. The former is a vast sandy strip with rental umbrellas and lounge chairs; popular activities include sunbathing, swimming and volleyball games. The beach also has a number of restaurants and shacks that serve a great array of snacks and local dishes.
Los Cristianos is home to busy market streets with local vendors selling local crafts and clothing merchandise. You can spend your mornings here, shopping for all your beach gear or handicrafts to bring back home with you. The town is not known for its many party venues or nightlife districts, but it more than makes up for that with its laid-back setting and quaint atmosphere. Los Cristianos' waterfront boasts of picturesque broad-walks and promenades running along the coast, which make for great venues to spend an evening at. There are few better places to witness a sunset from in all of Tenerife; a casual stroll down the walk is bound to rejuvenate you at the end of a busy day.
The town is fairly close to Tenerife's South Airport and can easily be accessed by road; tack and bus services run frequently on the route. Ferries also run to and fro between Los Cristianos and nearby islands (which, as an aside, is another popular one day activity for families). Hotels and resorts are easy to find in the neighborhood.
Just a fraction west of Los Cristianos lies another resort town, Playa de las Americas. It is quite similar to its more laid back neighboring town in the sense that the major draw in the town remains the sandy beaches. The only thing setting Playa de las Americas apart is the more robust atmosphere and lively vibe that its many bars nightclubs lend to it. It shouldn't then come as a surprise that the town is the top choice for people looking for a wild vacation involving lots of drinking and stag parties. The Veronicas Strip and Starco Commercial Centre are amongst the first areas to be mentioned during the conversation about the best nightlife districts in Tenerife and are both in the vicinity of Playa de las Americas; if you are looking for trendy bars and neon-lit music clubs, this is definitely the place for you.
The beaches of the town are all man-made, put in place with the sole motive of increasing tourist footfall in this part of the island. It is then that they cater to every whim of the average tourist, with several street cafes and open air bars serving margaritas and chilled beer right at the entry points, volleyball courts, watersports, and of course recliners available for rent. The beaches are also particularly serene with mammoth palm trees lining up the adjacent streets that lead you into the city. The short distance between the business district and the beaches means that you can easily hop back into town to make use of the happy hours at the local pubs or for the music night at the town's very own Hard Rock Cafe.
As a popular destination on the island, accessibility is not an issue. You can hire a taxi from the airport or make use of the bus service to find your way to Playa de las Americas from almost any part of the island. The town also has one of the highest concentrations of hotels and resorts so you will have plenty of options to choose from.
While Tenerife has come to be known for its extravagant waterfront and extensive golden sandy beach, the island's volcanic origins have found ways to assert themselves. And there is no better place to explore this less talked about side of the island than Los Gigantes, a countryside neighborhood on the western coast. Majestic cliffs cover up most of the town's natural landscape but the stunning black sand beaches (a gift of the island's volcanic deposits) is a striking feature that becomes hard to ignore. And on top of it all, unlike most black sand beaches, Playa de Los Gigantes has the kind of soft sand that you would find on your regular beaches. It just makes it easier to enjoy building sandcastles, playing a volleyball game without having to worry about the gravel.
The town's harbour is home to some of the best restaurants in all of Tenerife, all of which have become popular for serving great Canarian dishes. It is a great place to enjoy a nice meal and gaze at the sea from. Speaking of which, the famed viewing points of the town's cliffs all live up to the hype and are must visit spots. Another great trip from Los Gigantes is one to the smaller countryside town of Santiago del Teide. Obscure and filled with village charms, the small town is quite simply a dream getaway. Breezy and lush, crowded with vineyards and orchards, it offers a nice change in scenery and is a nice reminder of the underrated diversity of the island's natural landscape.
Getting a rental apartment is the best option in Los Gigantes. That said, there is the eponymous resort establishment that is the top choice for many travellers as well. The town is easily accessible by road, but is amongst the farthest ones out from the airports and the capital city.
Take the natural bounties and black sand beaches of Los Gigantes and add a few historic venues and a slew of modern entertainment options at your disposal and you have yourself the island's only major northern town of Puerto de la Cruz. Let's talk about the things that set the town apart from its counterpart first. To begin with, the eateries and restaurants in Puerto de La Cruz are more urbane and cater to the city crowds (unlike the eateries and restaurants in Los Gigantes, which offer a very personal local experience); pizzerias, trattorias, and casual cafes are easy to find in the central part of the town and in the vicinity of the beaches and are thronged by swarms of tourists throughout the day. It is also much easier to get a drink on your day out as many bars and pubs have sprung up in recent times.
But at the heart of it all, Puerto de la Cruz does remain a haven for the explorers. The beaches in the town, Playa de Martiánez in particular, with their stunning black sand melting into the turquoise blue water make for quite a spectacle. The Lago Martiánez is a giant lake sized pool constructed on the northernmost tip of the town; a one of a kind entertainment complex where you can enjoy a unique experience swimming in close proximity to the actual sea while being surrounded by casinos, restaurants and tapa bars. Puerto de la Cruz is also a great place for an outdoorsy vacation as you can rent a bike and go cycling around the town's pier or challenge yourself to a hike through one of the designated trails in the lush outskirts of the town.
As far up north as it is, Puerto de la Cruz is still a short can ride away from the North Airport. The proximity to the major transportation hub has also made it a popular choice amongst travellers so finding a hotel might be a little more difficult than in some other parts of the island. So make sure you have your bookings done well in advance.
That's all from our side, traveller. Take your pick and get packing for your trip to the big Canarian paradise!