Tenerife with Kids: places to visit and things to do
Tenerife and other Canary islands have been popular winter holiday destination for years. Located in Atlantic Sea, 100 km (62 miles) west of Marocco, Canaries are nice and warm during the whole year. The islands are an autonomous community of Spain and therefore have Spanish culture and cuisine with some diversity. For instance, the weather during the winter is much warmer than in the mainland.
Tenerife is the biggest of 7 Canary islands and usually it’s not as windy as the others. If you’re looking for a simple place to escape with family during these cold winter months Tenerife is a good idea. Here are some places to visit and things to do in Tenerife with kids.
1) South coast
Tenerife’s southern coast is the best if you travel with kids. The island is not big and if you’d like you can do the round trip during one day. It is approximately 200 km and there are some highways but the roads up in the mountains are slow and curvy. Therefore, if you travel with kids don’t plan to see everything within one day on the road. I suggest no one from the family would enjoy it if you do.
Despite of the modest size of the island the temperatures are changing a lot and you can see all 4 seasons in nature if you trip around the island. The south coast is warm and sunny during whole year. Daily temperatures are between 19-25 C through January and February mostly but it gets chillier in the evenings. If you drive up to the mountains it is much colder, though ,starting froml 0 C. Take the jackets for the whole family and drive up anyway – the views and the nature is worth it and it is not as cold every day.
For a pleasant family vacation make sure you book accommodation in south coast. You might find some good hotel and villa deals here.
2) Best resorts
Tenerife’s most popular resort is Playa de las Americas. The beach is nice and the hotels are right there with the sea view. There’s a variety of shopping, starting with famous Spanish brands Mango and Zara which prices are cheaper in Spain than in most other countries.
Playa de las Americas is a paradise for young travellers as it has lots of clubs and bars and restaurants. I guess it’s the second noisiest place on the island (next to the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife) and you should stay there if you like never ending party feeling and buzz coming from the streets until the sun is up in the morning.
But there are also many children playgrounds and kid friendly hotels in the resort. Thus, you’ll meet lots of families with small children as well. Make sure you’ll find out about the noise and tumult before you book the hotel if you travel with kids.
There’s a smaller and quieter place called Callao Salvaje 10 km away from Playa de las Americas. It’s a small village in Costa Adeje region, filled with rental villas, restaurants and a nice small beach with dark sand. If you prefer to stay in a private villa with a pool and have a peaceful vacation you will love the place.
In addition there are other nice places worth discovering like Los Cristianos or La Caleta. These are all in south coast and you can easily visit several resorts or different beaches during your stay in Tenerife.
There’s a nice 10 kilometres long promenade that spans along Tenerife’s southern resorts, from the fishing village of La Caleta to the foot of Mount Guaza. You can choose the parts you are interested in to see the insights of Tenerife’s most popular resorts and to just have the bless of nice evening walk with family. Find out more about the resorts along the promenade here.
3) Teide volcano
Teide is a volcano which is Tenerife’s most famous sight. The highest (3718 metres) mountain in Spain and also in Atlantic Ocean Teide is “responsible” for the nice weather in Tenerife’s southern coast. The mountain just keeps all the rain and bad weather away. It is in fact an active volcano but the last time it was erupting was in 1909.
Thus it is safe to drive up to see the beauty of the mountain with the views on lovely small villages and almond trees that cover the slopes of Teide. January is all about the almond blossom.
The volcano mountain with it’s surroundings constitute Teide National Park which is a biggest (189 km²) park on Canary islands. It is a must-see trip for everyone visiting Tenerife. Thus, there are 2,8 million visitors going to Teide National Park each year and it makes the park the second in the world and the first in Europe based on the number of visitors.
When you have drived up to 2356 metres the road ends. There you can buy a ticket for an 8-minute funicular ride that takes you near the top (3555 metres) where the views are magnificent if it’s not foggy. Due to high number of visitors it may take hours to wait in the line. It’s better idea to buy an online ticket in advance.
There are some restrictions. For instance, the cable car ride is not recommended for pregnant women, children under 2 or people with heart problems due to the risk that high altitude poses to their health.
Did you notice that the funicular only takes you to 3555 metres out of Teide’s highest point at 3718 metres? The top is not allowed for everybody. If you wish to see it all you should apply for a permission in advance that is issued in the capital city Santa Cruz only.
4) La Orotava
On your day trip up to Teide take the GPS and discover some small villages surrounding the national park as well. La Orotava town near Porto de la Cruz might become your favourite as it is adorably colourful. It’s narrow old town streets are just perfect for an afternoon walk.
You will not meet he crowds of tourists in La Orotava. Therefore, you may be sure that the restaurants and not that touristic as well. Our travel party had one of the best meals of our trip in La Orotava in a simple place called Tasca Villera de Tapa en Tapa.
The tiny mountain village Masca is my personal favourite place in Tenerife. The reason for that is not only the village itself but the road that takes you there. It is curvy and narrow and totally takes your adrenaline levels up.
It is sometimes considered dangerous to drive to Masca by your own. Despite of that I would definitely recommend the experience to everybody, with kids or not. Just make sure you drive slow and be extra careful.
It’s the feeling that you have reached the end of the world if you finally arrive. So go ahead and have a treat in lovely
La Pimentera restaurant that is colourful inside, has a good selection of Canarian food and breath taking views on Masca valley before you head back to south.
If your kids are not already in age where they enjoy long hikes and don’t count on carrying anymore you should find out about highly recommended Masca’s hiking trails. This is something in our to do list for Tenerife and will be done as soon as the kids get older.
6) Los Gigantes
Los Gigantes in Santiago del Teide area is famous by its precipitous coast. The rocks up to 500 metres are a nice view and you can include that sightseeing and photography stop to your trip to Masca. In addition to the rocks there’s also a yacht marina and a small beach called Playa Los Gigantes perfectly suitable for families with small children.
7) Swimming and beaching
When it comes to swimming the sea temperatures during the winter are chilly and perhaps you will not enjoy long hours swimming with kids. Therefore, it’s good to book a hotel or villa with heated pool to take the best you can from your family vacation.
Make sure the hotel or villa reassures the pool’s heated. Still, it might not mean the heating is turned on and you might still have an unpleasant surprise on your arrival. We have stayed in nice villas with warm pool water in Canary islands but also have had to swim in freezing pool water. The hotel had the heating system as we were assured when the booking was made, but it did not work at the time, though 😉
You will find some nice selection of kid friendly Tenerife villas and hotels with pools here.
8) Water parks
If you have holiday in Tenerife with kids you will probably not want to miss the water parks. There’s Aqualand and Siam Park both in Costa Adeje not far from each other and both offer some great family fun.
Aqualand should be cheaper and Siam Park newer but find out for sure from their websites as both offer some campaign prices seasonally. It’s cheaper plus queue free to buy tickets online. Additionally, there’s a combo ticket available combining water park with a zoo and the tickets may be used on different dates.
9) Loro park
Loro park is basically a zoo but it’s different from the ones we’ve visited elsewhere. The selection of its inhabitants and the attractions are a quite interesting choice. Still, be aware of the fact that both Loro park and water parks have animal or bird shows which are an interesting entertainment to many but not that animal friendly as we all know. There’s a dolphin show in Aqualand and a bird show, sea lions show etc in Loro park.
There’s also an adventure park which our kids liked. The trails of Loro have rope bridges and caves and other great elements which make a walk in a park like a small jungle adventure.
10) Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a capital on Canary islands but not always. It’s an interesting fact that the 2 neighbour islands Tenerife and Gran Canaria are switching the capital from year to year. One year the capital is Santa Cruz de Tenerife and will be moved to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria next year again.
Santa Cruz is the biggest city in Tenerife and it’s similar to many cities in the mainland of Spain. It has nice architecture and lots of colours. The city is living it’s busy everyday life with its 1 million citizens not taking sun baths as the resort towns in southern coast.
If you visit Tenerife with kids you probably move around with a rental car. If so take your time as it might be a challenge to find an available parking space and the penalty tickets are fast to be written in Santa Cruz.
- If you stay in Tenerife longer you might want to discover some neighbour islands as well.
The 7 main islands (from largest to smallest) are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. Do some homework before choosing as many of them (like Fuerteventura and Lanzarote) are beautiful but windy almost all year around which makes them a hot spot for surfers but not the most kid friendly destination.
- There are also some smaller islands like La Gomera that are suitable for shorter visits.
- If you rent a car and plan to visit different islands make sure it’s possible. For instance, there are big boats going from Tenerife to Gran Canaria but most car companies don’t allow to go on board with a rental. Find out if it’s more convenient to book another car in another island or to find a rental with special insurance for different islands.