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Things to do in Tenerife in January and why it’s a great time to visit

Who else loves a bit of winter sunshine? We’ve booked trips to Tenerife in January for many years and it’s the perfect antidote to the gloom and chill of a UK winter. Here are my reasons for planning a trip in January with some of the best things to do in Tenerife and a few that are slightly off the beaten track.

Things to do in Tenerife
The road to Masca, Tenerife

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Where is Tenerife?

Tenerife is part of the Canary Islands in Spain. It’s the largest of seven islands which include Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, La Gomera and Fuertaventura. The archipelago sits in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of north west Africa.

Why Tenerife in January is a great idea

Believe me when I say I really missed our trip to Tenerife during lockdown. A few days of sunshine in January helps get us through the winter months, plus there are loads of cool things to do in Tenerife. It’s one of the best places for a sunshine winter break and a great holiday destination from the UK.

I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve visited the island, both on holiday and for work (back when we ran the events agency). But no matter how often I’ve been I always look forward to going back.

Tenerife is often seen as being all about beaches, bars and full English breakfasts but step away from the package holiday hotspots and you’ll discover a beautiful island with incredible natural landscapes and a wonderful climate.

There are so many great things to do in Tenerife both on and off the beaten track. Explore volcanoes and lava fields, UNESCO world heritage sites and pine forests. Go whale watching, visit National Parks, authentic villages and swim in natural sea pools. Tenerife is perfect for outdoor lovers, adventurers and the food and wine is good too.

To be fair all these things to do in Tenerife can be done all year round but Tenerife is one of the best European destinations in January for good weather.

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

What is the weather like Tenerife in January?

Costa Adeje, Tenerife
January in Costa Adeje, Tenerife

One of the top reasons for visiting the island is the year round warm weather. In January the weather in Tenerife is pretty good with an average temperature of 17°C and rarely falling below 14°C. It’s a pleasant climate and decent t-shirt and beach weather. I think January and February is the best time to go. Of the times I’ve visited, at least 20, I’ve only seen rain once and that was in November.

We’ve had glorious weather in January with clear blue skies and just the occasional cloudy day. Expect an average of six sunshine hours a day in January. Most of the photos in this post were taken in the month of January.

The Spanish Balearic islands are much further north so Menorca, Majorca and Ibiza are a lot cooler in January.

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

How to get to Tenerife

Tenerife is very accessible. It’s only a 4.5 hour flight away unlike many other winter sun destinations in the Caribbean or US. A huge choice of direct flights depart from all over the UK right through the year including loads of low-cost airlines. There are always great deals to be had. Easyjet have great deals on flights to Tenerife and it’s also worth checking on Aviasales for cheap flights.

There are two airports – Tenerife North and Tenerife South, but you’ll want to fly into Tenerife South (Reina Sofia airport) which is where most of the resorts like Costa Adeje, Playa de las Americas, Los Gigantes and Los Christanos are located. Tenerife North airport is for domestic and inter-island flights.

Tenerife Time

The time in Tenerife is exactly the same as in the UK because the Canary Islands use Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The clocks also go forward by one hour in March for daylight saving time. Mainland Spain is one hour ahead. 

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

What is the best area to stay in Tenerife?

I really like Costa Adeje at the western end near Playa del Duque beach. It’s perfect for couples, a bit quieter and a little more upmarket than some parts of Costa Adeje but not too far away if you want something a bit livelier. One of my favourite Tenerife hotels is there too and it serves the best breakfast I’ve ever had at any hotel I’ve ever stayed at. And I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels.

There’s a range of accommodation in Costa Adeje from gorgeous 5* hotels to all-inclusive resorts and apartment rentals. It’s only 15-20 minutes from the airport by cab or by but I recommend hiring a car. There are loads of cool things to do in Tenerife and driving yourself around the island is the best and cheapest way to see them.

If you’re staying in the north of Tenerife then Puerto de la Cruz is a great place to stay and is a good base for exploring a different side of Tenerife. There are many historic towns and villages in the north of the island and two rural parks which nature lovers and hikers will love. Read my post about discovering north Tenerife to find out more about htis side of the island.

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

Playa del Duque beach, Tenerife
Costa Adeje Beach, Tenerife

January is a good time for exploring the island because…

  • It’s not as hot as the summer months
  • It’s less crowded
  • There’s a clarity to the light without the heat distortion which is great for photographers
  • There aren’t as many kids around. Sorry not sorry – but this is a blog for the over 50s…

Tip: Bear in mind that in January Tenerife celebrates New Year’s Day and Three King’s Day on 06 January. Many restaurants and attractions will be closed on those dates so it may be wise to travel after the first week in January.

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

The best things to do in Tenerife 

Tenerife’s landscapes are both diverse and stunning and we’ll start with Masca which has been named as the most beautiful village in the Canary Islands.

1. Take in the views in the mountain hamlet of Masca

Masca, Tenerife
Masca, Tenerife

I don’t know which took my breath away more, Masca itself or the drive to get there. A visit to this tiny hilltop hamlet makes a great day trip and it’s the perfect spot for lunch with a gorgeous view.

The mountainous road to Masca, which ribbons through the gorgeous landscape, can be a little hairy at times but it’s worth every bend and switchback for the views waiting for you at the end.

The lookout point at Mirador la Cruz de Hilda has a café nearby with a large terrace overlooking the hamlet and the spectacular ravine. You’ll see farmers terraces built into the hillsides, rustic houses and palms punctuating the landscape. Stop for a coffee in the small village and just soak up those views.

Teide and Northern Tenerife Tour including Masca – check rates and availability

2. Go Whale Watching

whale watching in Tenerife, Canary Islands
I’m not sure if this is a whale or a dolphin but it swam right below our boat

Tenerife is home to around 27 different species of whale and dolphin. The pilot whales don’t migrate so it’s likely you’ll spot them at any time during the year. I’ve done this trip three times and saw whales, dolphins and other marine life each time. It’s one of the top things to do in Tenerife.

You’d have to be really unlucky not to spot pilot whales on a whale and dolphin watching tour. The savvy bottlenose dolphins hang out around the fish farms so you’re pretty much guaranteed to see them too. If you’re lucky you might also spot one of the giant squid that swim the waters.

Choose from an eco-friendly no-chase whale and dolphin cruise or an eco-yacht whale watching cruise with swim. Check rates and availability for whale and dolphin watching tours in Tenerife

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

3. Visit Teide National Park

Mount Teide, Tenerife
Mount Teide, Tenerife

>>> Discover the best tours and daytrips on Tenerife

You’ll probably get your first glimpse of the peak of Mount Teide as your flight arrives into the island. Teide is the Spain’s highest peak and her name translates to ‘white mountain’. If you visit Tenerife in January you’ll likely see the peak capped in snow. Teide is an active volcano and just one of over 300 volcanoes on Tenerife. Teide is the highest point on the island.

Drive through verdant pine forests and lava fields to reach Mount Teide. Park at the visitor centre near the base and wander through the rock formations and moonlike landscape of this UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Hike to the top of Teide or take the cable car and hike the final 200 metres of the Telesforo Bravo trail to the summit. You’ll need a special licence to do this. It’s advisable to book at least two months in advance because visitor numbers are restricted and it gets booked up early.

Apply on the Reserveas Parques Nacionels website. The permit is free of charge. If you can’t get a permit then you can book a guided tour which includes the permit.

Tip: You’ll need to take a fleece or jacket as the higher elevation means it gets chilly. The air is very dry so take a flask of water to keep hydrated.

Check rates and availability for day tour to Teide National Park

Moonscape in Teide National Park, Tenerife
Teide National Park, Tenerife

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

>>> Discover the best tours and daytrips on Tenerife

4. Explore the Botanical Gardens

If you want to slow the pace then take an hour or two out to explore the Jardín de Aclimatación de la Orotava (Botanical Garden).This garden was established in the late 1700s as a stopping off point for plants being brought back from South America to the royal court in Madrid. Now it is home to a fascinating collection of sub-tropical plants and trees that you would ordinarily see under glass in a botanical garden in the UK.

Highlights include a 200 year old fig tree, several impressive Dragon trees and a giant cycad that waited 100 years to bear fruit. The gardens are recommended by Sally who visited Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife’s capital, and wrote about Tenerife’s Botanical Gardens.

Take a tour to north Tenerife and the island’s capital Peurto de la Cruz – check rates and availability

5. Swim in Tenerife’s natural pools

Natural sea pools in Tenerife
Natural Sea Pools in Tenerife

These natural pools and pretty coves were formed as the result of lava flows and eroded lava and are located at many spots around Tenerife’s coast. Enclosed by rocks and filled with clear seawater from the Atlantic they’re the perfect place for a dip.

Swimming in the Atlantic can be challenging so these sea pools strike a good balance. Some have steps, boardwalks and sun terraces added but others are completely as nature created them. Most of the natural pools are on the north coast of the island but there are a few others on the west coast.

You can visit several natural pools in Tenerife:

  • La Caletón, Garachico
  • Alcalá (near hotel Gran Melia Palacio Isora)
  • Crab Island, Los Gigantes
  • Puerto Santiago
  • La Laja, San Juan de la Rambla
  • Charco del Viento

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

6. Visit an ancient Drago tree

El Drago (dragon) tree in Tenerife
Drago Milenario tree in Tenerife

Drago Milenario or Dragon Tree is the national symbol of Tenerife so it’s only right and proper that we include it on our list. The tree’s resin which is red, like ‘dragon’s blood’, is reputed to have medicinal properties.

Believed to be over 1000 years old the tree extends 22 metres upwards and has a diameter of ten metres. It is duly celebrated by the local community and stands resplendent in the Parque del Drago gardens just outside Icod de los Vinos which you can visit for a small fee. Or, for a free viewpoint, you could stand in the square next to the Church of San Marco.

See the dragon tree, Masca and el Teide on a Northern Tenerife Tourcheck rates and availability

7. Try the local cuisine

Papas arrugadas, Canarian wrinkly potatoes
Papas arrugadas with mojo rojo sauce

You can’t go to Tenerife and not eat the local food like papas arrugadas. These small, wrinkly potatoes have a delicious nutty flavour and a light crusting of salt. I adore them and they’re one of the first dishes I order when I arrive back on the island.

>>> Discover the best tours and daytrips on Tenerife

Many of the varieties have been grown in the Canaries since 1600s when they were brought back from the Americas by the conquistadores.

Papas Arrugada are usually served with mojo sauce which is made from peppers, olive oil and garlic. There are two types of mojo – verde (green) and rojo (red). The latter is slightly hotter but neither are particularly spicy and both are rather fabulous.

Try more of Tenerife’s food and wine on a grape and gastronomy tour

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

8. Paragliding in Tenerife

Paragliding in Tenerife
Paragliding in Tenerife

I’ll never know how I got talked into doing this but I’m glad I went through with it. I did a tandem paraglide from the hillside near Costa Adeje and it was a fabulous experience – such a buzz. The views as we peacefully floated through the skies were incredible and I got a round of applause as we landed on the beach. I felt completely safe and would love to do this again some time.

Check rates and availabililty for Costa Adeje tandem paragliding flight (if you dare…!)

 >>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

9. Boat trip to La Gomera

La Gomera, Canary Islands
La Gomera, Canary Islands

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability

See incredible views of Mount Teide and Tenerife from La Gomera. A tour from Tenerife by ferry to La Gomera takes in some of the islands unique sights and culture. Start at Torre del Conde in the island’s capital of San Sebastian before heading inland.

The mysterious Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sits in the centre of the island. The area is covered in dense woodland and is almost always shrouded in mist. The cloud forest trees are laden with moss and the ground covered with ferns giving the forest an eerie feel.

The island is a magnet for hikers with stunning scenery and many walking trails.

Take a La Gomera island tour from south Tenerife – check rates and availability

10. Los Gigantes Cliffs

Los Gigantos cliffs, Tenerife
Los Gigantes, Tenerife

Los Gigantes is a resort town on the west coast of Tenerife in Santiago del Teide. Acantilados de los Gigantes means ‘Cliffs of the Giants’ and these impressive cliffs rising vertically out of the Atlantic ocean are a spectacular sight.

Rising to a height of 500-800 metres the seven million year old Teno Mountains dominate the landscape and they’re breathtaking. Stop at the Mirador Archipenque on the road into town for some epic views or take a boat ride to see them up close in all their magnificence.

Wildlife lovers will want to go on a whale and dolphin watching cruise from Los Gigantes with a swim.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Los Gigantes? Check rates and availability.

Tenerife in January
La Gomera, Canary Islands

As you can see there’re loads of activities in Tenerife and we haven’t even touched on the beaches or the dozens of other things to do in Tenerife. I hope you’ve found this guide helpful if you’re planning to visit Tenerife in January. It really is a good month to go if you’re looking for a warm winter break.

>>> Discover the best tours and daytrips on Tenerife

Any questions? Drop me a comment below or get in touch via email.

>>> Looking for somewhere to stay in Tenerife? Check rates and availability


Thursday 29th of December 2022

Where is the fabulous breakfast you mentioned in your review

Suzanne Jones

Thursday 29th of December 2022

This one


Thursday 24th of February 2022

I have been to Tenerife in 2019, 1 year before the Covid 19 epidemic. I love this place very much, because of the unspoiled landscape, friendly people. Hope to have time to visit Tenerife again in the next few years.


Monday 10th of January 2022

This was a really helpful guide thanks! Hoping to visit in a few weeks and wanting to do more nature based activities (as well as some beach hopping) and this gave me some great ideas. Where did you do paragliding and what company did you use? Thanks

Suzanne Jones

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

Hi Iman, sorry I missed the last part of your comment. I used Overfly booked here Costa Adeje tandem paragliding flight In fact I think the pilot in their photo is the same one I went with. Very professional and I felt totally safe. Have fun

Suzanne Jones

Monday 10th of January 2022

I'm so glad you found it useful - have a great time!


Sunday 2nd of January 2022

Due to visit from 10/01/22 - 20/1/22 I would welcome some ideas !

Suzanne Jones

Monday 3rd of January 2022

Ideas for what exactly? Activities, restaurants, beaches, hotels.... what are your interests?

Comments are closed.