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10 Best Things To See In Tenerife By Car

Discover things to see in Tenerife by car with our comprehensive guide!

So you want to go to Tenerife and explore as much as you can: the wild beaches, the hiking trails, all the scenic sights, but might be wondering: 

How do you get around on the island? 

The most popular ways are by bus, tram, or taxi—but you can also explore by way of hiring a car!

The best thing about this option is that you can really take your time and have a semblance of control over your schedule. 

Here’s my top list so you can add it to your list of must-see places as you travel Tenerife by car!

That said, while we’re at it, here are things to see in Tenerife by car based on my experience so that you have an idea of what the trip’s going to be like. 

Hey! Don’t forget to grab my free “Tenerife Beach Checklist” below!

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Psssst…!!?? You can’t get enough of Tenerife? Have a look at my other posts:

Overview of things to see in Tenerife by car:

  1. Orotava
  2. El Teide
  3. Playa Benijo
  4. Garachico

I love roaming Tenerife by car, and I find the best car rental deals with DiscoverCarHire. – Check rates here

Before heading out on the road, be sure to read my in-depth guide on driving in Tenerife, which includes numerous insider tips.

1. Teide National Park and Mount Teide

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No visit to the island is complete without dropping by to see Mount Teide—it’s one of the must visit places in Tenerife. 

From its three million-year-old lava flows and the lunar feel to the terrain and landscape, Teide National Park is worth the trip. 

There’s a reason it attracts up to 3.5 million visitors each year: with its multiple hiking trails, endemic flora and fauna, not to mention one of the best sky views in the world. 

You don’t want to skip this one, and it’s worth adding to your list of things to do in North Tenerife—totally free! 

The most popular route is TF-21 Teide Road from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Los Cristianos, or Puerto de la Cruz.

There will be signs to help you figure out the best way to reach Teide National Park, but you can only drive up to the base cable car station. 

Parking is free all throughout the park, but take note that slots fill out very quickly during peak season so consider this. 

Don’t forget that you’ll need a permit if you plan to climb up to the summit, but hiking on any of the trails around the park doesn’t need one. 

Here are some Mount Teide Trips to consider to help you decide what kinds of activities you can do up north once you’re in the vicinity.

Check Teide National Park Tours

2. Anaga Rural Park

View of rolling hills and mountains leading towards the wide open sea with green grassy area in the foreground all under a bright blue sky with wispy clouds

Looking for a more intimate local experience in a mountain village surrounded by dense forests? 

Ready to hike and discover hidden beaches and amazing views that open up to the Atlantic Ocean? 

Want to know what is Tenerife famous for? This is one of the points.

Another one of those things to see in Tenerife by car is Anaga Rural Park!

The great thing about the 35,500-acre park is that there’s no gate to enter to be able to visit. 

This is one of the best places in Tenerife you don’t want to miss just because it has a bit of everything the island offers. 

Of course, if you’re visiting by car, you want to take the scenic route so you can enjoy the drive! 

One of the most popular starting points is Mirador Cruz del Carmen since that’s where the visitor center is. 

It has a great lookout point of Vega Lagunera, specifically the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Laguna.

If you’re coming from Santa Cruz, take TF-5; signs should point you to the park. 

However, if you’re arriving from the south, take TF-1 to Santa Cruz and then follow TF-5 from there. 

While parking is free, it can be limited, especially in areas close to trailheads. 

Don’t forget to take a look at this list of things to do in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, if you want to add more activities to make your island visit worth every second! 

Check car rentals here

3. Masca Valley

View of stone path running along ridge of mountain between palm trees and small buildings towards a prominent rocky peak covered in sporadic grass with a dramatic backdrop of a tall rocky mountainside

Here’s a favorite hidden mountain village of mine in all of the island: Masca Valley, considered one of the most beautiful ones to boot. 

If you’re looking for non-touristic things to do in Tenerife, this quaint little village needs to be one of your must-see locations. 

The drive alone is as incredible as walking through its cobbled streets, and it’s a bonus that it’s not as crowded as other places—though it can still draw some visitors during peak season.

In this case, parking can be minimal within the village.   

Since it’s in the Teno mountains on the northwestern side of Tenerife, it’s a bit of a drive up to Masca Valley via TF-436 which runs from Buenavista del Norte to Santiago del Teide

This drive was certainly memorable for me because of the road: it’s challenging with narrow areas, lots of curves, and hairpins, but you know what? 

The view is so worth it leading up to my arrival at Masca Valley: we’re talking rolling hillsides, ravines… nature all around! 

As much as the destination, the journey to the village is as breathtaking, and you must make sure you add this to your list of things to see in Tenerife by car. 

Of course, once you’re in the village, don’t forget to visit the Ethnographic Museum—ask the locals because it’s hidden in one of the houses. 

Wear comfortable shoes because there will be a lot of walking around as soon as you arrive. I enjoyed visiting Plaza de Masca and the Masca Church! 

Still looking for where to stay in Tenerife? Have a look at my favorite places to stay in Tenerife.

Check Masca Valley Tours

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4. Santa Cruz de Tenerife

View of paved street with large palm trees lining the center and tall buildings to the sides under a blue sky with clouds

If the question is, what is there to see or explore in Tenerife? One of the top answers is this: 

The vibrant capital city of the Canary Islands itself, of course, is Santa Cruz de Tenerife!

It’s accessible from all major roads: TF-1 from the south and TF-5 from the north, and there are so many places to see in the city alone if you’re traveling by car. 

There are a lot of different parking areas, some covered, around the city—but take note that this can fill up quickly, especially when big festivals and events are happening on the island. 

Aside from the places already on this list, make sure you visit my favorite local spots if you’re looking for tourist attractions in Tenerife. 

If you’re into architecture, you’ll love the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martin which is reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House. 

Want a more firsthand experience of the culture and mingle with locals? 

Drop by the Market of Nuestra Señora De África, which is close to the auditorium, right by the Santa Cruz port. 

You can try Canarian food and wine and buy souvenirs—it doesn’t get as authentic as this, and it’s given my trip more depth. 

An instant addition to your list of things to see in Tenerife by car is passing by Puente Serrador or the Serrador Bridge with its graffiti art. 

It’s also a great place to grab something to eat or, if you’re there at night, something to drink! 

If you love taking photos like me, you’ll fall in love with Santa Cruz de Tenerife Old Town close to the Concepción Church. 

It’s like stepping back in time because of the colonial feel of the place—I loved walking around just sightseeing and looking at more of the architecture. 

Looking for something more specific, like accommodations that are close to the beaches? Here are hotels in Tenerife on the beach so you have easy access to water activities! 

Also, check out my post for more things to do in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and nearby places! 

Check Santa Cruz de Tenerife Tours

5. La Orotava

a view of a plaza with  benches, two palm trees orange or yellow buildings

Driving in Tenerife allows you to get to more places in shorter periods of time and another one to add to your itinerary is the charming town of La Orotava

You’ll have to take TF-5 from Santa Cruz or Puerto de la Cruz and when you get there, one of the things you’ll notice first? 

There are so many gardens! 

What makes visiting La Orotava such a treat is that it’s another one of those well-preserved places on the island that make you feel like you’ve entered a time machine and walked back in time. 

Walking on the 17th-century cobbled streets and enjoying the sights, the first thing you’ll want to visit is La Casa De Los Balcones. 

It’s a three-storey mansion that showcases carved balconies which is distinct in Canarian architecture. 

I also loved Jardines Victoria or the Victoria Gardens: not only is it free to enter and take a stroll, but there are also a lot of coffee shops around it if you’d like to sit down for a while and just enjoy the garden view. 

Honestly, this is one of the best places to visit Tenerife if you want a genuine feel of the island’s way of life. 

Personally, parking outside the town is favorable for me since it’s nice to walk around and explore on foot. 

Since it’s close by, here are things to do in Puerto de la Cruz while you’re there before you visit La Orotava. 

Add this list of the best hotels in Puerto de la Cruz if you’re looking for places to stay in during your trip. 

Check car rentals here

6. Garachico

an aerial view of a town with white houses surrounded by trees and water at the back

If you’re into quaint little towns with lots of history, here’s another one, this time with a mix of natural attractions and historical, well-preserved architecture: Garachico

What’s interesting about this fishing town is how it once was a main commercial port of Tenerife. 

It may not seem like that anymore, but only because of the eruption of Arenas Negras Volcano, which buried a very big portion of the town in 1706. 

This naturally made the port unusable, but the town was rebuilt on top of the resulting lava flows afterward. 

Since then, it has retained much of its charm—being there is another trip back in time thanks to the colonial houses and, of course, the wooden balconies. 

If you’re visiting Garachico, make sure to drive down Icod de los Vinos to see the infamous Drago Milenario, the oldest and biggest dragon tree on the island. 

TF-42 is one of the most common routes to Garachico, though if you’re coming from TF-436, keep driving through Masca Valley, and you should get to this coastal town.

There are also two free parking areas outside the village so this shouldn’t be an issue. 

On the way, look for a couple of beautiful viewpoints: Mirador La Cruz de Hilda and Mirador Altos de Baracán

It truly is places like these that have me answering a resounding yes every time someone asks, is Tenerife worth visiting? 

Check car rentals here

7. Los Gigantes Cliffs

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Los Gigantes Cliffs on Tenerife

Want to see something simple but impressive? Los Gigantes speaks for itself, and you have to see it in person to know what I’m talking about. 

This majestic rock formation is truly a sight to behold up close and should be on your top things to see in Tenerife by car: it’s massive and rises up to 800 meters from the ocean. 

Since it’s located in Santiago del Teide, the town of the same name as these cliffs, they are on the same route as Masca Valley and Garachico, so you can plan out a visit to these places one after the other. 

Parking can be a challenge during peak season, especially at the harbor during the daytime, so plan ahead and consider visiting later on the day when slots free up. 

But aside from admiring the cliffs, what are other things to do in Los Gigantes

Regarding places to go in Tenerife, I prefer taking note of viewpoints that provide me with a fantastic vantage point to admire different parts of the island from various angles. 

Of course, it’s still related to the cliffs, but this allows me to enjoy the rest of the town, too! 

A favorite is Punta de Teno, right at the end of the cliffs, which is very little known—which means no crowds, and that’s a good thing for me! 

It also has a view of the Punta del Teno lighthouse. 

Want to go to the beach? Surround yourself with cliffs and visit the black sand cove of Los Guíos! 

While we’re at it, here are the best beaches in Tenerife if you’re looking for more of them to visit and explore. 

For something a little different, I enjoyed trying the natural pools at Puerto Santiago

Check car rentals here

8. Pyramids of Güímar

Scenic view of the Pyramids of Guimar in Chacona on the island of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

There are more things to see in Tenerife by car, and this one is worth adding to your growing list: the Pyramids of Güímar

I always get a funny reaction from people who are unfamiliar with the island every time the pyramids are mentioned, and that’s understandable. 

With origins that are still up for debate, these six rectangular pyramid-shaped lava stone structures remain an unsolved mystery. 

Is it connected to some ancient culture with practices or traditions that require the pyramids as part of some ritual? 

Is there a more recent agricultural origin related to it? 

Perhaps it can also be related to astronomy and the solstice… no one knows, and that adds to the intrigue, so see them to come up with your theories! 

The pyramids are accessible via the Ethnographic Park Piramides de Güímar which is easy to reach from Santa Cruz or Los Cristianos via TF-1 (exit to TF-28). 

It has a museum, several exhibits with guided tours (including audio tours), and three routes to choose from. – Get tickets here

My personal favorite in the park was the Poison Garden! 

It tends to get busy later on in the day so if you don’t want to have problems with parking, make sure to arrive early. 

I recommend booking through their website and taking note of holidays. 

Get tickets here

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9. Candelaria

blue sky with during the night with white clouds and a view of Candelaria Church on night lighted by yellow lights

One of the things that make Tenerife really unique is its many religious traditions, and the coastal town of Candelaria is a great place to visit for this. 

A true highlight of my visit is the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria or the Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, a Catholic pilgrimage site. 

The basilica houses the statue of the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron saint of the Canary Islands, and features a mix of different styles to make it unique—a must-see! 

Of course, it’s not Tenerife if there’s no beach, and there are several options to choose from, all accessible by car. 

I personally liked La Arena since it’s not as busy as Candelaria Beach or Playa de Punta Larga, a beach that allows nudism. 

To get to Candelaria, like most places, it’s accessible through the main highway TF-1 via Santa Cruz or Los Cristianos. 

This is definitely an obligatory stop if you find yourself down south of the island!

Check car rentals here

10. Playa de Benijo

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Last but not least, one of the things to see in Tenerife by car is to visit Benijo Beach! 

Part of Anaga Rural Park, it’s an isolated place with no facilities, not even hotels or restaurants, which is what I love about it. 

It’s where you can unwind and relax, not to mention just enjoy nature in peace and the sights. 

If you can, I recommend watching the sunset to appreciate the rugged cliffs and the dramatic scenery. 

To get to this beach, take TF-5 from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal de La Laguna until you reach Taganana and then Benijo Beach, which has free parking a few meters away. 

One of my favorite viewpoints on the way is Mirador Risco Amogoje which provides a magnificent view of not just the ocean but also the surrounding mountains.

Check car rentals here

My final thoughts on Tenerife by car

a closeup of a persons hands driving a car during the day

Ready to drive around Tenerife in your rental car? There’s so much to see, and it’s more convenient with a vehicle of your own. 

It certainly allowed me to do as many stopovers as I wanted to be able to enjoy the many breathtaking sceneries around the island. 

Have you been on a road trip in Tenerife before? How did it go? Share it with us in the comments, and we might just discover something new!

FAQs about things to see in Tenerife by car

Do you need a car in Tenerife?

While there are other options to travel around the island by bus or taxi, having your own car provides you with more opportunities to stop at viewpoints or other interesting places on a whim.

Is driving in Tenerife hard?

It can be a little challenging, depending on where you’re headed and the roads you’re taking. 
An example is TF-436 which runs from Buenavista del Norte to Santiago del Teide.

Best driving in Tenerife tips?

It’s best to assess your skill level when driving since some roads can be challenging.
Also, note when peak seasons are, as it may limit parking in some places.