A Mediterranean cruise to Tenerife, Canary Islands is a ticket to sun-kissed relaxation and blissful pampering. Tenerife is the capital of the Canary Islands and offers a variety of things to do. When visiting Tenerife, cruise passengers can hit up the gorgeous sandy beaches or dine on delicious seafood. Visitors can even find snow and lava on this tropical paradise thanks to high elevation points and still active volcanoes. Tenerife is often alive with festivals, too, so check those out if you’re in port on a day there’s a traditional festival going on.
A visit to Puerto de la Cruz during your Tenerife cruise port of call will feel like you’ve been whisked away to a different era. Puerto de la Cruz is located on the northern coast of Tenerife within the Orotava Valley, a beautiful part of the island that is accented by wild green foliage, lava boulders, and black sand beaches. Puerto de la Cruz is a colorful city that is rich in historic architecture thanks to its many 18th century houses featuring wooden balconies that are leftover from the island’s colonial era. If you’re looking for some fun in the sun while in Puerto de la Cruz head to one of the seawater swimming pools at Lago Martiánez. If hanging out with animals is your idea of fun, go to Loro Parque, a zoo that has many different species, including lions, parrots, penguins, and even an aquarium.
Of all the islands of the Atlantic, Tenerife is home to the highest point thanks to Mount Teide, which rises over 12,000 feet above sea level. Mount Teide is also the third-tallest volcanic structure in the world and is still active. The best way to see Mount Teide is to visit Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans across 47,000 acres. It is the most visited natural site in all of Spain thanks to its stunning views of the volcano, a scenic cable car ride, beautiful hiking trails, and the Teide Observatory, an astronomy center you can tour.
Next to Santa Cruz is San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the former capital of Tenerife that has an alluring Old Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. La Laguna’s Old Town has an abundance of buildings and churches dating back the 16th to 18th centuries, and its Lower Town is an early example of a city planned according to a grid.
The Pyramids of Güímar are six pyramid-shaped structures located in the town of Güímar on the eastern side of Tenerife. The pyramids are rectangular and get their shape from terraced levels made out of lava stone. The pyramids are impressive since they were built without mortar, and archaeologists believe they are similar to pyramids found in Egypt, Mexico, and Peru.
Looking for an adventurous drive? Navigate the twists and turns of the road leading to the village of Masca, a remarkably picturesque village located within a gorge and surrounded by nature. It was only connected via road to the rest of the island in 1991 and thus still feels like a world away with its stone houses and remote hiking trail along a ravine.
If you’re looking for some adventurous water fun, head to Siam Park, a spectacular water park in Tenerife that has massive water slides, pools, and lazy rivers. It is a visually spectacular setting, too, since the design features Thai-inspired architecture.
Santa Cruz is the capital city of Tenerife and provides some of the city action and nightlife that gives Tenerife a bit of a party reputation along with its famous beaches. It’s not just restaurants and clubs in Santa Cruz, though. Santa Cruz is home to a number of museums and gardens, as well as a historic quarter called Puerto de la Cruz. It is also a fairly walkable city with a charming boardwalk and lots of shopping opportunities.
Beaches are located all around Tenerife and are a great way to spend time on the island during a cruise to Tenerife, Canary Islands. The location of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic provides the archipelago with lots of sunshine and Tenerife is no exception; the island enjoys some of the warmest average daily temperatures of all the Canary Islands and averages only six rainy days per month. So when visiting a beach, make sure to pack some sunscreen! Also be cognizant of the colored flags on the beaches: a red bag means no swimming, a yellow bag means swim at your own risk, and a green bag means it’s a good spot for swimming though you should still always exercise caution.
Tenerife is known for its fresh seafood and locally grown fruit – especially its strawberries, which are served topped with cream, mixed into cakes, or blended into cocktails.
Another local delicacy to try is the Conejo al Salmorejo, which is rabbit prepared with a hearty mix of spices, often garlic, paprika, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. It is pan fried in olive oil and then simmered in a white wine sauce until tender. You likely won’t find it served without another Canarian culinary must-eat: roasted potatoes. The ones you’ll find in Tenerife are boiled in salt with the skins on and served wrinkly with mojo sauce. Even if you can’t stomach the rabbit, the potatoes with mojo sauce are a comfort food delicacy in Tenerife that is a popular thing to try. If you have a choice between the red or green mojo, a quick hint for choosing is that the red sauce is typically more spicy.
To find some traditional Canarian cuisine, you can find a number of restaurants in the central area of Santa Cruz, as well as Playa de las Américas (which has the added bonus of being close to all the iconic shops of Avenida de las Américas). If you take an excursion to the north end of the island to see Puerto de la Cruz, you’ll find many restaurants there as well that serve traditional Canarian delicacies.
The Canary Islands have a lengthy history of serving as a trade hub between Europe and the Americas. Santa Cruz became a major trading center after it was conquered by Spain in 1496, making it prone to marauding by pirates and was even the location of a famous battle: the Battle of Santa Cruz in 1797 when the British unsuccessfully tried to conquer the port.
As trade increased between the two continents and it became easier to travel between the Canary Islands and the Americas, some islanders left to move to countries in South America and Latin America, while others in the Americas immigrated to Tenerife. This has given the predominately Spanish culture in Tenerife some Latin American influences that can still be experienced today.
When visiting Tenerife, cruise passengers today will find a vibrant island with welcoming locals and an interesting dichotomy of bustling cities, historic old towns, and awe-inspiring nature.
Cruises to Tenerife, Canary Islands pull into port in Santa Cruz, which is located on the northeast side of the island. You’ll be within walking distance of town from the cruise terminal, though if you are located at the far end of the terminal your cruise ship may offer a free shuttle to the terminal entrance. Check with the guest relations desk once on board if you aren’t sure.
Once you’re in Santa Cruz, there is lots to do right in town, from shopping and dining to historical building tours. To experience more of the island, we recommend a shore excursion to take you to one of the incredible places and experiences we listed above.
Taxis are usually available right outside the cruise terminal. Don’t get confused by looking for a bright yellow vehicle; in Tenerife, the taxis are typically white Mercedes. In addition, Tenerife has a local bus system called TITSA that connects central Santa Cruz with many of the other cities and popular sights on the island.
When going on a cruise to Tenerife, Canary Islands, cruise passengers should leave some extra room in their suitcase for the journey home because there are lots of fabulous places to shop on Tenerife.
The port city of Santa Cruz is home to many souvenir style shops as well as boutiques. For a major Canary Islands shopping experience, however, the place to head is Avenida de la Américas. This long boulevard is nicknamed the Golden Mile thanks to the numerous shops lined up along both sides of it. Walk along the street in the sunshine and do some window shopping or pop into shops that appeal to you and do some retail therapy. Avenida de la Américas has luxury brand names like Armani and Versace, sports shops like Nike, Adidas, and Timberland, and many more high street fashion brands.
Since the Canary Islands are part of Spain, the official currency is the euro. You can find exchange bureaus on the island, but typically the easiest way to get euro currency is at an ATM, of which there are many located all around Santa Cruz. In addition to cash, VISA and Mastercard are widely accepted, though it’s wise to confirm if credit card is accepted before hiring a service or dining in a restaurant if you don’t have cash to pay with, especially in smaller or family-run establishments.
Tipping in Tenerife at restaurants and bars is expected, with the norm being 10% of the total bill, though it’s not uncommon for people just to round up to the dollar amount ending in zero (i.e. if your bill is $47.20, you round up to $50). For taxi service, it’s also customary to round up that way, and easier since most taxi drivers won’t automatically give you back change. However, if you want change back, just tell the taxi driver how much you want back upon handing him the cash.