This year Tenerife is officially my biggest “travel surprise”. Not only has this island overcome my expectations in terms of landscapes and activities, but it also turned out to be a great kid-friendly destination. These Tenerife family holidays turned out to be one of our coolest baby-travel experiences so far. Here´s why …
Tenerife Family Vacation
Back in August 2017, we welcomed a new family member and our travel preferences have slightly changed… I don´t need to tell you that traveling with a little baby is quite different. And yet it is way more of a reachable goal than many people think. So far, we´ve done a few road trips in Spain (Huesca, Almeria, and Don Quijote route) and also visited Algarve. But Tenerife was our first flight with a baby.
It was a 3hr-long flight from Valencia. Visiting Ibiza or any other Balearic Island would seem like a better match. All of them are closer to the Canary Islands, but the Balearic Islands proportionally have smaller territory for the number of tourists they receive during the summer months. While we really wanted to have a peaceful family getaway.
Although Menorca and Formentera don´t get this massive tourism Ibiza or Mallorca do, both are mostly about beaches. In our case, the plan was to combine swimminng&sun rays with some new landscapes&occasional sightseeing. Besides, Tenerife has a moderate temperature all year round (it reminded me of Hawaii). The weather never gets too hot in summer, which felt like a perfect match.
Flying with a baby
Our flight to Tenerife went better as I expected. The only negative aspect was that we did not check in our daughter in advance, cause I thought she´ll not be needing a seat anyway. So, the Vueling staff was not really nice about that. That´s what you get when you go with budget airlines in Europe: a staff lottery. You might come across some really nice people, or you might not. So in case you travel with a baby under 2 -make sure you check him/her in while booking.
Once on board, we managed to give our daughter formula milk during the takeoff and she fell asleep for 1h-1h.30 min. So we only had the resting 1.30 min to entertain her.
Traveling for kids
Despite all the additional preparations and luggage that baby travel involves, I believe it´s important to show this world to the little ones. It´s absolutely amazing when kids get to experience other cultures during their first years of life. You never know the effect in the long term, but I´d like to believe that seeing more of the world will help them to grow up into tolerant and open-minded human beings. Besides, once taken out of their me-routines, they often learn to adjust and respect the plans of other family members.
Therefore, in my opinion, not only is traveling with a baby possible – it is a must. Yet, I should admit that this year, general security/good medical care has become an important criterion for us. In the end, you´re dealing with a baby. So, you always want to know you have good medical care available at any time.
Let´s say some of the exotic far-away lands from the top of my travel bucket list got replaced by others from all across Europe (only for a short while though). Therefore Tenerife family holidays cropped up in our travel plans – and we haven´t regretted it for a second. Tenerife is, for sure, one of the best Spanish islands to visit.
Vacation Choice: The Canary Islands
Tenerife seemed like a perfect vacation choice for us – it is still Europe, while technically The Canary Islands are much closer to Africa. No need to explain that after our wonderful time on Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, we were more than excited to cross Tenerife out of our family travel bucket list.
An island with great weather, interesting sites, and lots of baby-friendly places: well, my expectations were fully met.
Also read: Best beaches in Spain Off The Beaten Path
It is true that certain hikes were impossible to do with a baby and yet Tenerife had so much to offer… Despite traveling with a 1-year-old, we were still able to see quite a lot of its natural wonders (even our daughter seemed to enjoy new to her volcanic landscapes).
Most often travel destinations are divided into an “adventurous vacation” and a “family vacation”. And the best thing about the Canary Islands (in particular, Tenerife) is that you can have both at the same time. There are so many things to see and do that you´ll be spoilt for choice. I feel like the only way to explore it all is to get a second home in Tenerife.
North vs. South Tenerife
While searching for accommodation in Tenerife, you should keep in mind that almost all of its natural wonders are in the Northern part of the island, while the majority of the hotels, restaurants, bars and shopping malls are in the South. Many people I know, visited Tenerife and stayed in the Southern part all the time with a day trip to the famous Loro Parque in the North. In fact, my husband did the same trip with his parents years ago (it was all organized by a travel agency): he still liked it. Nevertheless, until visiting Tenerife this year, he had no idea of the island´s impressive nature!
Also read: 7 Incredible Experiences in Krabi, Thailand
Warning about parking (if you´re not traveling in the offseason, of course). In the Southern part of the island, everything was fine, while in the Northern – it was a slightly different experience. After 11 a.m most of the tourist places were such a nightmare to find a parking spot. Ok, I do understand that we were traveling in the peak season and that the North Tenerife is generally less touristic than the South, in other words, less adopted for a large number of visitors. But still: for an island that basically lives from tourism – they could have done a better job…
My advice to you: check the nearest parking locations before visiting and try to stop by the most tourist places earlier in the morning.
Let´s check the top places we managed to visit during our Tenerife family holidays.
Tenerife Family Holidays: Must-see Places
One of the top Spanish landmarks and the most popular tourist attraction on the island during every Tenerife family holidays is Spain´s highest mountain Teide (over 3,700 m). The most common thing here is to take a cable car to (the nearly) summit, but check the weather conditions before visiting, it might be closed because of wind.
We were lucky with the weather. However, children under two and pregnant women are not allowed due to the altitude changes, so we didn´t get a chance to take a cable car this time. By the way, the road to Teide Cable Car Station was really good: you don´t realize you´re actually heading towards the highest peak in Spain.
2. Los Gigantes
Located in the west of the island, a small resort of Los Gigantes is one of the most epic Canary Islands landmarks. This place is famous for its giant 800m-high cliff formations, the most beautiful in the whole of Spain. Make sure not to miss it during your Tenerife Family holidays – the views are to die for. This place is just perfect to rent a boat or practice kayaking.
3. Parque Anaga
There are no Tenerife family holidays without a few walks with nature. Anaga Rural Park (or Parque Anaga in Spanish) is one of those unique fairytale Places in Spain that are straight out of a Storybook. Also, it is absolutely one of the most magical forests in Spain.
Anaga Forest is full of top Spanish hiking trails of distinct difficulty and length. Keep in mind that some of them (for ex. Sendero El Bosque Encantado) might have limited access and you´d need to ask for permission online in advance.
Also read: An Oasis of Greenery – Lagunas De Ruidera
However, the most visited trail Sendero de los Sentidos (nearby a parking lot and visitor´s center) does not require any previous permissions and it is suitable for kids (even partially adapted for disabled and baby strollers). Just check the weather and bring a jacket (the temperature surprisingly dips in this area) and comfortable shoes (better hiking boots).
4. Punta de Teno
An impressive volcanic area stretching out into the ocean with the views of Los Gigantes. On weekends or due to weather conditions the access to this area might be restricted: as an alternative, you could take a bus from Buenavista. Keep in mind that a road to Punta Teno (or at least a part of it) goes next to high walls up and down – not for drivers with a fear of heights. However, it was wide enough for two cars (unlike the one to Masca) and with a good surface.
5. Icod de los Vinos / Drago Park
One of the most important natural, cultural and historic symbols of the Canary Islands – is the 800-year-old Dragon Tree. It´s just a nice place to wander around. Drago park is not adopted for the baby strollers, but we left ours by the entrance: the local staff was friendly enough to offer to keep an eye on it during our visit.
Tenerife is full of charming little villages that, along with its natural landscapes, are absolutely worth visiting. Orotava is one of them: especially when the locals celebrate Corpus Christi by decorating their streets and the main town square with carpets made from sand, flowers, and seeds. Orotava is one of The Most Colorful Villages in Spain that simply belongs on your Spanish bucket list!
7. Loro Parque
Loro Parque is one of the most visited places in Tenerife, so I feel like I must include it. Nevertheless, I liked it less than many other sites on the island. I honestly feel conflicted about the concept of the zoo and even though I had many wonderful experiences with animals at places like Jardin del Papagayo in Benicarlo/Spain, most of those were closer to sanctuaries. It is true Loro Parque has impressive feedback all over the internet: they also work hard on their image, while stating everywhere how many humanitarian projects across the globe they currently support. But it is essentially a simple zoo.
8. El Caleton De Garachico
El Caleton de Garachico is an incredibly beautiful and wide variety of different kinds of seawater pools. This place normally gets quite crowded and parking is almost impossible after 10.30 a.m.
9. Playa de las Teresitas
With its golden sands, imported from the nearby Sahara and blue waters, protected by an artificial reef, Las Teresitas beach should be a must-stop during your Tenerife family holidays. This place is such a picturesque harbor below the Anaga mountains.
It´s one of my favorite beaches in Spain and one of the best ones in Tenerife: lovely mountain views, safe waters, great snorkeling, easy parking, many small food kiosks, and great seafood restaurants in the nearby village of San Andres. The only drawback – it is often quite windy, so the sand sprays at your whole body (same story with many other beaches on the island).
One of the most famous hikes in Tenerife – is the Masca hike. It begins in the village of Masca and goes all the way downwards to the rocky beach. We did not do this hike during our Terefire family holidays, because the reviews of it didn´t look quite child-friendly. Although even simply visiting Masca and taking in the views is absolutely worth it.
Keep in mind the road to Masca is quite a drive … mountainous and narrow. Plus it´s very touristic: quite stressful for even one vehicle to pass through – imagine two minibus drivers crossing each other. Masca is one of the most impressive places in Tenerife, but you really should visit earlier in the morning and better check the weather conditions the same day.
In fact, I initially planned to share in this post our daily itinerary on Tenerife, instead of simply listing all the places we visited. However, due to the weather conditions (rain and fog), we had to reschedule our trip to Masca for 2 days in a row (the exact route ended up not making any sense). Get ready to be flexible with your initial plans! For an alternative itinerary and more travel tips check this Tenerife itinerary & guide.
A small charming fishing village 18km south of Santa Cruz, famous for its Basilica and the statues of the Guanche chiefs (native people on the island before the Spanish conquest in the 15th century) along the sea wall.
12. The Guimar Pyramids
A mysterious complex of six pyramids is still a source of debate in the press. There´s a controversial Spanish legend behind it.
The famous Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl believed those were left by Egyptians on their way to America, while the Spanish investigators Cesar Esteban and Antonio Aparicio claimed that the Guimar pyramids were nothing more than an agricultural construction… One way or another, The Guimar Pyramids is a curious place to visit. I also really liked their exposition dedicated to the pyramids of the world.
13. Playa del Socorro
Tenerife is full of impressive black sand beaches. Although most of them have complicated access, strong currents often seem like a better match for surfers. Playa del Socorro, Playa de la Nea and Playa de Almaciga (near Playa Benijo) are three beaches we managed to visit by car. If traveling without kids, we´d probably include more to our route, even simply for hikes and views.
Also read: Top things to do in Lanzarote
I should also admit that none of the beaches (except Las Teresitas perhaps) felt like a perfect place for a lazy day off… In other words, Tenerife wouldn´t be my first choice for a beach vacation. Nevertheless, it has a perfect combination of a comfortable climate, impressive nature, and inviting local culture – what could possibly beat that?!