Vacation on Tenerife in January!
A volcano, black beaches and great canyons. And all this on one island? Our first holiday destination in 2018 should take us back to the Canary Islands. After Gran Canaria last April and Fuerteventura three years ago, Tenerife was our goal in January! Due to the winter in Germany we have been very excited about our vacation on Tenerife in January. We were curious about the island, which is said to be island of eternal spring. This time we went directly from Bremen to Tenerife with a low-cost airline. After almost 5 hours in a felt sardine box we were also happy when we could get off at Reina Sofía airport in the south of Tenerife. The welcome was very sunny and promised a great start to a wonderful vacation on Tenerife. If you are planning a vacation on Tenerife in January, you should consider whether you would like to stay in the south or north of the island. We have experienced both parts and will tell you about it.
Highlights on Tenerife
- Visit of the volcano Teide
- Hike through the Masca canyon
- Sunbathing on the black beach of Puerto de la Cruz
- Visit of a very large aquapark “Siam-Park” and the zoo “Loro-Parque”.
Holidays in the north or south of Tenerife?
Our hotel was in the north of the island in the city of Puerto de la Cruz. If you want to go on holiday in Tenerife in January, you should keep in mind that the north is the rainy part of the island. The main destinations of the island are located in the south in Los Cristianos or Las Americas. Unfortunately, the hotels in both areas have been raised rather ruthlessly, so that one sees quite a lot of very functional but ugly buildings.
During a visit to Las Americas we were able to get our own impression. Finally, I was happy that our hotel was in Puerto de la Cruz. The north is also much greener than the south. Tenerife is “divided” by the volcano Teide, which with its 3718 metres is also the highest mountain in Spain. You can either go very sporty with a hike on a volcano or simply and comfortably take the cable car. More about this later and back to the actual question.
Gaby would prefer the south with a future visit because of the better weather. I’d go back up north again. In any case, however, we would take a rental car directly at the airport for another holiday and we would do without the transfer. Why? We sat in the bus for about 2.5 – 3 hours until all guests were distributed and collected on the way back. I’m sure it depends on the hotel, but it’s already taken a lot of nerves. On Google Maps we saw in Puerto de la Cruz how we were driven around the hotel in big loops….
If you drive by car, you will be in the north in less than an hour from the south, regardless of whether you drive on the motorway in the east or on the mountain road in the west. Tenerife is not a very big island: in less than 2.5 hours you have driven once around the whole island. All roads are in very good condition.
If you like to swim in the sea, please note that when you go on holiday in Tenerife in January, the surf is usually too strong to swim in the north. In the south, on the other hand, the sea is also so calm in January that you can go swimming. Point for the south!
Tenerife – Transport and Traffic
We have experienced Tenerife with the rental car as a very compact island. The price for a rental car for one week (Polo, 2nd driver) was acceptable at € 125 and of course gave us the flexibility we might not have gotten with a bus. Refueling is with 0.91 € / litre for E10 pleasingly favorable. We’d like to have drained ourselves of a few liters for home.
If you don’t want to use the car, you can also take the buses from titsa (the public bus company) to get to the island easily and cheaply. We have met many pensioners who have been raving about the good connections. Most of them had a so-called bonus card, similar to a prepaid card, with which they could travel at even better rates. Even the Teide seems to have good connections.
In the villages themselves you can also take a cheap taxi. Especially in Puerto de la Cruz we used it several times and drove from the centre to our hotel (just under 1.5 km uphill) for just 3.50 €.
What to do on your vacation on Tenerife in January?
Even in winter you can do a lot of things on Tenerife. The weather is very mild and ideal for almost any kind of activity. Most things you can decide spontaneously for yourself. Many of the tours offered by the hotel’s tour operators were later considered more amused than money-cutting. In the ten days we have made a lot of great excursions, which we also recommend to you.
Teide – Spain’s highest mountain and an absolute must for a vaacation on Tenerife
As the world’s third largest island volcano (just under 7500 metres from the seabed) the Teide is already the defining landmark of the island. In good weather you can actually see the peak of Teide from almost every free place in Tenerife. Through many reports of other tourists we were full of energy to go to the Teide. For us it was one of the highlights on the island. The last eruption of the volcano occurred in November 1908.
If you want to go / drive on the Teide, you should consider in good time whether you want to go all the way to the summit. If you are planning to do this (which we recommend), then you must obtain a permit from the national park administration in good time (link to the webpage of the national park). Don’t panic; approval is fortunately free of charge. Just a limited number of tourists are allowed to reach the top of the mountain every day. We took this option too late and missed the last 160 meters to the summit due to the lack of permission. A good reason to come back to Tenerife!
Thin air and great views on the Teide
The view from the top station of the cable car is also impressive and literally breathtaking. The air at an altitude of 3555 meters is already relatively thin and an experience in itself. At the top you have one hour time to breathe the thin air and take great photos. You will probably need to acclimatize a little bit after leaving the cable car. We also needed a moment to get used to the air. It’s not the North German Plain you walk through! In any case, we had good luck with the weather and were able to see a great volcanic landscape and Tenerife in general with a clear view towards the south and lots of sunshine.
The mountain is calling.
Have a good look at a weather forecast before visiting Teide. There is always the risk that in case of bad weather, the cable car will be stopped and you will drive to the mountain for nothing. During our visit we had about 20 degrees Celsius at the hotel and on top of the mountain it was only 6 degrees Celsius. You should definitely wear suitable clothes. It may also be possible that roads are completely closed due to the weather.
What we also recommend to you is the online reservation or purchase of the cable car ticket in advance. Due to our spontaneous visit in the late morning we could only get tickets (per person up and down 27 € total) for the trip in the late afternoon. As one of the main attractions, many tourists visit Teide. The cable car runs from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm (departure). Click here to visit the website of the Teide cable car. The parking space situation at the valley station is limited. Early arrival secures a place.
Waiting times for the cable car can also be easily used with a hike in the volcanic area of Teide, as we have done. From the Parador station, there are a wide variety of different and varyingly demanding and long tours through the spectacular volcanic landscape of the Teide. You can get an overview of the different tours here: Hiking map of the Teide National Park
Plan a whole day for your visit to Teide. We were glad that we didn’t take a guided tour and recommend you to organize the visit yourself. During our next visit we will surely visit Teide in the evening hours to see the night sky of Tenerife.
By the way, after your visit you can put a check mark on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites you have visited. The Teide National Park has been one of them since 2007!
Hike through the Masca Canyon
Another great activity on Tenerife is the walk through the Masca canyon. This hike on Tenerife is certainly one of the most spectacular walks on the Canary Islands. We did the tour on our last days in Tenerife and had a great day.
On the way you walk a distance of just under five kilometres and over 600 metres in altitude through a very impressive canyon. On the way, the rock faces are up to 600 metres high and the canyon is less than 30 metres wide at the narrowest points. As a special challenge you have to climb a bit in some places (not much). You will be shown 54 landmarks to the sea. The typical option starts in the village of Masca and leads you along the path to the Atlantic Ocean, where you can take a boat trip to the village of Los Gigantes or take the direct way back. You can buy a boat ticket in the village or directly by the sea (January 2018 € 10, – / person). From Los Gigantes taxis will take you back to Masca for about 26-28 €.
Before the hike we recommend you to have a cup of coffee before the hike. In the restaurant behind the entrance you can also buy your boat tickets and can get tips about the hike. Be sure to be there early. Masca is an incredibly small village with very few parking spaces. We were there at 9:00 a. m. and we still had the free choice of parking space. If you arrive later or don’t want to drive to Santiago del Teide on some of the narrow serpentines, you better park your car in Santiago del Teide and drive to the village for relatively little money.
It depends on the equipment.
The hike itself is classified as difficult to very difficult on various websites. We then approached the matter with due respect. It is not a “Sunday walk”, but it is also not infinitely difficult. In any case, you must be sure-footed and (somehow) athletic. On some passages the path is narrow and on others you have to climb a little bit. You should definitely wear the right shoes. High heels and flip-flops are the worst possible choice. Have a look at the weather forecast here.
You can organize the tour through the canyon without any worries for yourself, even if there are providers at every corner for this tour. In principle, the canyon itself dictates the path. If you start in time enough, you will have the canyon or the path almost to yourself. On our way to the sea we hardly met more than 20 other hikers. In addition to the rush hour, the situation should look completely different according to the reports of other holidaymakers, which surely clouds the joy.
In any case, take enough water and if necessary some food for the way. We arrived with a relaxed walk (and many photo stops) after about 3 hours (and two liters of water and three bananas) happy and satisfied at the sea. The onion tactics in the choice of clothing certainly helped us. At the beginning we started off with a light drizzle and a rain jacket. At the end of the day it was as warm and sunny as you would imagine a nice day on holiday. If the weather is fine and you have your swimsuit with you, you can jump into the Atlantic Ocean from the jetty. In addition to the many great impressions, you may also take a nice sore muscle as a souvenir from the hike, which will remind you of your experiences the next day.
Waterparks – also ideal for a holiday on Tenerife in January
There are two larger theme parks on Tenerife for all water rats and water slide junkies. We visited the Siam Park, the world’s best rated water park according to TripAdvisor. If you are planning your holiday on Tenerife in January, it is certainly a good time for the Aquapark. If possible, visit the park on a Saturday (“bed change day”) and you will hardly have any waiting time at the many great slides. Read more in our separate report about the Siam Park. It was definitely a great visit!
Zoos in Tenerife
You can visit two zoos in Tenerife. During our holiday in Tenerife in January we visited the Loro-Parque, which is advertised all over the island. You have to decide for yourself how you like zoos and especially animal shows in zoos. We visited the Loro-Parque to get our own impression. The park is very spacious. There are shows with orcas, dolphins, sea lions and a bird show that are repeated several times a day. If you visit the park, we recommend you to be there early. If you go the regular way, it will soon fill up. We recommend that you turn left immediately after the entrance and go against the main stream. If you walk in a clockwise direction, you will experience the park relatively “alone” during an early visit. More about our visit to Loro-Parque in the following article.
Tenerife’s capital and hub of the island. We visited Santa Cruz twice. You can go shopping downtown. We recommend that you park your car at the “Nuestra Señora de Africa” market in the multi-storey car park and then go directly to the “Nuestra Señora de Africa” market hall. During your visit you should definitely visit the lower part of the market with the fish market. From the market it’s only a five minute walk to the pedestrian zone, where you can shop until your credit card (or wallet) glows. If you are interested in architecture, then the Auditorio de Tenerife is definitely a good destination for you.
Shopping in Tenerife
You’re Shopaholic? Tenerife has a large number of shopping centres. In the south you can shop directly in Las Americas and Siam Mall. If you are like us in the north, then the shopping mall La Villa is a great alternative to the bingo evening in the hotel. The shopping centre is open until 1.30 am (shops until 10 pm).
Puerto de la Cruz
The tourist centre in the north is the town of Puerto de la Cruz, built on the slopes of the Atlantic Ocean. Our hotel was near the Park Parque de La Sortija. In Puerto Cruz we recommend a walk through the old town. As a special highlight in the old town of Puerto de la Cruz there are 13 large streetart murals! Here you will find an overview of all 13 murals, which you can view on a detailed tour through the city centre. Link to the flyer of Puerto Streetart
Beaches in and around Puerto de la Cruz
If you are more of a beach fan, then you should definitely visit the city beach Playa Jardin. The beach has black sand, which you won’t find everywhere. In January on Tenerife it is still only quite crowded, so you should not have any problems finding a beach chair. By the way, the beach chair costs you only 3 €/day, which is a bargain compared to many other holiday destinations.
As an alternative to the city beach we recommend the natural beach Playa de Bollullo, which is just outside of Puerto de la Cruz and is one of the most beautiful natural beaches in the north of Tenerife. The beach is also popular with locals, so it is better to plan your visit during the week. Above the beach there are very few parking spaces.
As with Playa Jardin, you should take the flagging on the beaches seriously. The currents at the beaches should not be underestimated.
By the way, you can swim more quietly in the seawater in the waterscape Lago Martianez. This pool landscape was designed by the artist and architect César Manrique and shapes the promenade of Puerto de la Cruz. Admission is relatively cheap with 5,50 €.
What else we can recommend for your vacation on Tenerife in January.
For a visit to the north of the island, we recommend a visit to the Sunset290 Bar near Puerto de la Cruz. From the bar you can enjoy a delicious cocktail in your hand over the bay of Puerto de la Cruz and watch the sunset on the coastline.
Speaking of sunset – here we recommend the pass and viewpoint Mirador De Cherfe on the way to Masca canyon, which is one of the highest and most westerly points of the island. The sunset is great to watch from up there. We would be happy to give you the recommendation of a taxi driver who has pointed out to us that it is better to lock the rental car even with short photo stops.
It is also interesting to note that there is a relatively short period of twilight after sunset. After less than 20 minutes it is already very dark. You will surely notice this during your holiday on Tenerife.
January is otherwise an ideal time for a vacation on Tenerife. There aren’t that many tourists on the island yet. With little effort you can plan your holiday on Tenerife so individually that you can enjoy your holiday to the fullest. Although the island is relatively small, it offers many possibilities for a great vacation. Our original plan with a day trip to Gomera was quickly rejected by our first vacation on Tenerife. We will certainly return to Tenerife at some point. We liked it very much!
If you want to read more about the Canary Islands, we recommend our report about Gran Canaria, which you can also experience outside of mass tourism. If you prefer safe swimming conditions, we recommend a holiday in Sardinia south west or Sardinias north or Sicily.
Update March 2020: we visited also Lanzarote, which is the Canarian island with a complete and most absctract vulcanic landscape. Just follow this link.
Have you ever been to Tenerife in January or at another time of the year? What were your experiences?
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