Tenerife, the most populated – and popular – of the Canary Islands has an almost perfect year round climate. With winter temperatures of 20-22 degrees and summer temperatures in the mid or high twenties, this climate has earned Tenerife the title “Island of Eternal Spring” and has helped make it a favourite tourist destination with over 5 million visitors each year.
Because of its great natural beauty and dependably fantastic climate, Tenerife has long been a popular holiday spot and has attracted its fair share of package holidays. These cheap and cheerful holidays have, however, in some circles, given Tenerife an undeserved reputation of being just a sunny, resort full of lager louts and hen parties. The truth about Tenerife is that it also boasts a number of attractions – natural and cultural – that can offer much to the discerning traveller.
World Heritage Site
There are many outstanding places of beauty and history on this sunny island but perhaps the most spectacular of them all is its famous national park – Parque National de las Canadas del Teides. This park, which has been designated as a National Park since 1954, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The Teide National Park features a volcanic crater which is 48kms in circumference. Out of this crater El Teide, the highest peak in all of Spain, rises 3,718 metres – 2,000 metres above sea level. This spectacular mountain, generally covered in snow in the winter, can be seen rising majestically above the sunny lowland beaches.
The most visited place on the island, it is possible to even go to the summit of Mount Teide. However, most visitors content themselves with simply travelling part of the way, enjoying the contrast as they climb from the sunny, southern coast, up past villages which are reminiscent of Alpine village and then, even higher to the stark, lunar landscape of Mount Teide. The flora and fauna in the National Park are specific to the altitude and landscape and much studied by scientists from around the world.
Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Another Tenerife speciality is an event rather than a place. This is the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Held in February each year, this carnival is considered second only to the Mardi Gras Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has applied to be considered a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The festival begins with a parade on the Friday before Ash Wednesday each year. Thousands of people in fancy dress party that night – and every night until Ash Wednesday. On Ash Wednesday, the people of Santa Cruz celebrate the ‘entierro de la sardina’ (the burial of the sardine) and this event officially ends the Carnival – though not the festivities which continue throughout Lent.
Getting To Tenerife
Budget flights to Tenerife are readily available from almost anywhere in Europe. Because it is such a universally popular holiday destination, both national carriers and all the budget airlines fly to this island. There are two international airports on the island of Tenerife, making it easily accesible from just about anywhere in the world. Of these, Tenerife South-Reina Sofia Airport – in the south of the island – is the most popular. Tenerife North Airport, is the other major airport. This airport, is close to the town of San Cristobal de la Laguna and just 11 kilometres from the capital Santa Cruz.
Overall, Tenerife with its wonderful climate, beautiful beaches and rich natural and cultural environment has much to offer every kind of a holiday maker. There is no doubt that it is popular and indeed there are many things on Tenerife that are even fun! Maybe Tenerife has hit on the correct balance between fun and culture? You’ll just have to visit so you can judge for yourself…