Tenerife is one of the most popular destinations for family holidays among Brits, especially in winter and spring. Year-round sunshine, a balmy climate and great beaches are the most compelling reasons for visiting this largest of the Canary Islands, situated 320km off the coast of Africa. But the island has many other striking attractions, not least Spain's highest peak (3718m), Mount Teide, where kids enjoy the cable-car ride and volcanic terrain. Other highlights include the brilliant family attractions Loro Parque and Siam Park, the scenery and the atmospheric old towns of the north.
Be aware that parts of Tenerife are very developed – although that in turn does mean there’s lots of family-friendly accommodation and children’s activities.
|Flying Time||4.25 hours|
|Carbon Footprint||4.25 tonnes CO2|
Explore the north of the island, home to the popular tourist area of Puerto de la Cruz–Valle de La Orotava. Magnificent beaches line the coast here, and you’ll also find the Complejo Martiánez, an impressive complex of swimming pools and natural pools. The lively, cosmopolitan town of Puerto de la Cruz has a great range of hotels, restaurants and shops, while accommodation in neighboring La Orotava and Los Realejos is mainly in rural houses. Puerto de la Cruz is home to some botanical gardens as well as Loro Parque, a fantastic wildlife park with a large dolphinarium, an aquarium, sharks and all kinds of large and small exotic animals. The park’s most recent addition can’t be seen anywhere else in Europe – killer whales housed in 22.5million litres of sea water pumped directly from the Atlantic. Other attractions of this area are the traditional gastronomy, the outdoor activities and the historic buildings to explore.
You won’t go short of leisure facilities, outdoor activities, shopping or nightlife in the south with its lively — sometimes too lively – resorts. Nearly all have excellent conditions for diving, surfing, windsurfing, sailing and canoeing, along with other watersports. Another highlight is the whale- and dolphin-watching trips that depart from the main resorts to view the colonies that inhabit the waters off the south coast – Royal Delfin, approved by the Tenerife Town Council, offers free pick-up from resorts for its trips by glass-bottomed catamaran.
Europe’s biggest waterpark, Siam Park in Costa Adeje near Playa de las Américas boasts state-of-the-art slides, rivers and rapids, and play areas for children. A free bus service operates from Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje (we advise you to leave before the park closes to beat the crowds to the bus at the end of the day).
Costa Adeje is the place to be for those who love their family holidays to have large doses of watery fun – it’s also home to the Aqualand Aquapark, with more waterslides, rapids, lots of swimming pools and a dolphinarium housing 14 bottlenose dolphins. A free shuttle operates from Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos, and it is also on other bus routes. Combined tickets are available with Jungle Park Las Águilas outside Playa de las Américas, a zoological and botanical park with more than 500 animals that you can view along a route of tunnels, hanging bridges, waterfalls, lagoons and caves, plus exotic bird shows.
Tours from both the south and north head for the Teide National Park or Parque Nacional del Teide, where you’ll find Spain’s highest mountain. The park itself is mostly above 2000m and is an amazing moon-like spectacle. Kids love taking the cable-car to within 200m of the summit, where, cloud permitting, you'll enjoy outstanding views, including four of the other Canary Islands. From the north, the tour goes up through the Orotava Valley, with a stop in Orotava to look around its historic centre. The tour from the south takes the Chío road between the Chinyero and Pico Viejo volcanoes. There are also two public bus routes: the 348, from Puerto de la Cruz, and line 342, from Playa de las Américas. Go early in the day to avoid crowds.
Local cuisine includes lots of seafood, tapas and paella. Specialities to look out for on family holidays in Tenerife include Canary bananas, puchero, a saffron-infused stew with chorizo, beans, chickpeas and potatoes, and samu, a local fish baked on a bed of salt and served with small jacket potatoes and mojo, a spicy garlic sauce.
Canarian specialties and Spanish tapas are served in restaurants on the island, although large resorts also offer familiar fast food and international fare. If you’re self catering, you won’t have any difficulty getting your regular products in the island’s supermarkets.By Zannah Ingraham
The Canary Islands have great weather all year round – temperatures rarely rise above 30°C or drop below 20°C. High summer in Tenerife can be too hot for family holidays with younger children – be particularly careful to avoid the midday sun.
Tenerife is a 4–5hr flight from major UK airports, hence its popularity for family holidays. It has two airports, North and South, with flights from the UK landing at the South airport (Tenerife Sur Reina Sofia). There are regular charter flights from most UK airports, as well as scheduled and low-coast flights.
For family holidays in Tenerife, expect to pay £1,500–3,500 for 4 for a week, including flights and accommodation, depending on the standard of accommodation and time of departure.
Most of those taking family holidays in Tenerife opt for the south-west, which is heavily developed, with drawbacks and advantages – there are heaps of kids' activities, for instance. Consider Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos over noisier Playa de las Américas. Other southern resorts are Playa de los Cristianos, Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes, Puerto Santiago, Las Galletas and El Médano. Most properties offered by our partners James Villas are on the south-west of the island too. All have pools and are close to beaches and entertainment while still being peaceful, secluded retreats. Alternatively, try further up the unspoilt west coast.
A Tenerife hotel with spacious living areas and plenty to do for the whole family with kids clubs, water slides and a bowling alley.
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