STYLE

Tenerife City Guide

04/08/2014 17:23 | Updated 22 May 2015

Tenerife has been throwing off its package holiday and Brits abroad image to unveil a new boutique weekend getaway side.

Away from Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos, there's whale watching, star gazing, subtropical forests and art museums to distract you, as well as the beaches and Mount Teide, the volcano that dominates the island.

With a new Jet2 flights starting from Glasgow to the Canary Island, and good weather year-round, it's time to head off the beaten track and discover Tenerife's hidden chic.

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Starter for 10: Tenerife

Most of the tourists who flock to Tenerife head straight to the south-west corner of the island, to the resorts around Playa de las Americas. But if you want to avoid the crowds, look slightly further afield. The luxurious five star hotel Jardines de Nivaria, in a quieter corner of the Costa Adeje, overlooks the beautiful Fanabe beach and the island of La Gomera. Rooms cost from around £185 per night.

If you'd rather get completely away from it all, head to the quieter northern coast, to the Hotel San Roque, a converted 18th century mansion in the fishing village of Garachico with just 20 rooms, all decorated in minimalist style. Rooms cost from around £115. Book with www.i-escape.com

Starter for 10: Tenerife

Tenerife isn't the first place you associate with whale and dolphin watching, but it's actually one of the best. Colonies of pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins stay near the island all year, and live so close to the coast that it's a top whale watching spot, with up to 21 different species seen in the nearby waters. If you're lucky you can see giant blue and killer whales, and you're likely to spot something on around four days out of five.

Head to the south west coast for the best chances of seeing these incredible marine animals in their natural habitat.

Starter for 10: Tenerife

While light pollution in the UK means you'll rarely spot more than a few of the main constellations, the clear air in the Teide National park makes it a great destination for star gazing, with visitors able to make out the Milky Way as well as nebulas and shooting stars.

As the sun sets in the park, you'll start to see the first glimmers of stars, and after an hour, the sky sparkles like a Christmas tree, letting you see as far away as to Neptune. As well as taking your own picnic blanket and telescope, there are organised excursions with experts to help you tell the Great Bear from the Plough. Astroamigos runs tours for small groups.

Starter for 10: Tenerife

Tenerife is the third largest volcanic island in the world, over 10 million years old, and from almost any part of the island, you'll be aware of the looming presence of Mount Teide. The dormant volcano – which last erupted over a century ago – stays snow-capped for much of the year, so even if you've been basking in the sun at breakfast, do wrap up warm for the summit.

The park itself is a World Heritage Site, so half the fun is enjoying the changing scenery, from sunbaked villages at the start, past Alpine-style flowers, through red rocks which wouldn't look out of place on the surface of the moon to the crater at the top. There's jeep safari excursions in the park and a cable car runs to the peak itself, although there's now a limited number allowed, so you have to apply for a permit from the office in Santa Cruz – email teide.maot@gobiernodecanarias.org at least seven days in advance or turn up in person. And if you're feeling fit, you can also hike up the path, around six hours round trip. Without a permit, you can still head to the viewpoints part way up for an incredible vista across the island to the sea.

Starter for 10: Tenerife

Away from the coastline, Tenerife has miles of footpaths to discover, especially in the lush, green north. But most unexpected of all is a prehistoric forest, Bosque de las Mercedes, in the Anaga Rural Park. The subtropical woods are a relic of the ancient Mediterranean forests, and there's birdlife, rural villages and some spectacular cliffs to add to the interest as you wander through the leafy laurels.

Or take a walk along La Punta del Hidalgo footpath to the cave houses of Chinamada. The old aboriginal village still has people living in the cave homes, and the route takes you from the Chinamada Chapel through a steep ravine, to the Roque de Los Dos Hermanos above La Fajana Beach for views of the Anaga coastline.

For more suggestions, visit Tenerife Tourism's website

Starter for 10: Tenerife

Fresh fish and seafood is on every menu, but the island has some specialities all of its own, including watercress soup and the traditional Canarian papas antiguas with mojo sauce. The small potatoes are cooked in their skin, often highly salted, and served with spicy green coriander or red chilli sauce, they're surprisingly addictive.

Or head to the new gourmet restaurant El Cenador at the Iberostar Grand Hotel El Mirador in Costa Adeje, which serves local recipes with a sophisticated twist. And to really blow the budget, it has to be Tenerife's Michelin-starred restaurant M.B at the Abama Golf & Spa resort in Guia de Isora near the island's west coast.

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When it comes to Tenerife's wines, Shakespeare knew more about their vintages than most of us today – the famous Malmsey, or Malvasia, was one of his guilty pleasures and the island has been producing wine since the 15th century. As only a limited amount is made, it's not usually exported, which means you have to try it while you're there.

Make a start at the Casa del Vino based in a 17th century Canarian farm. Owned by the government and home to the Museum of the Vines and Wines of Tenerife, it's a good starting point to learn more about the island's five wine denominations – and try them, of course. Choose from 12 different wines, as well as locally produced cheese, nuts and honey. A tasting glass costs around £1.

Starter for 10: Tenerife

Steer clear of the cut-price electronics and tourist tat, and head to the Isla Baja region in the north west, including the villages of Garachico, Los Silos and El Tanque where you can wander the narrow cobbled streets and look for more authentic local souvenirs. The pastry shop El Aderno, in Buenavista del Norte, is worth a detour for traditional treats – take a drive to the 'hidden' mountain village of Masca nearby for the stunning views as well.

And in La Orotava, La Casa de los Balcones is one of the island's best handicraft complexes, specialising in metalwork, as well as information on how it's produced. La Orotava itself is one of the island's loveliest towns, near to Tenerife's banana plantations, so it's worth spending a few hours admiring the old centre before heading to the quiet black sand beaches nearby to relax.

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At the north east tip of the island, Santa Cruz gets missed off most visitors' itineraries – but it's worth making the trip to Tenerife's capital. As well as the bars in the Noria district and one of the biggest Carnival celebrations outside Rio de Janeiro, it's home to TEA, the Tenerife Espacia de las Artes.

Containing one of Europe's best photography collections, as well as local surrealist Oscar Dominguez, there's regularly changing modern art exhibitions where you could find anyone from Henry Moore or Warhol. Entry costs around £4.50.

Starter for 10: Tenerife

Citizens of EU countries don't need a visa for the Canary Islands, as they're part of Spain. You do need a full passport.

Easyjet flies from London Gatwick to Tenerife, with returns costing from £59.98. Jet2.com is launching new non-stop flights from Glasgow to Tenerife on April 1, operating twice a week with price starting from £56.99 one-way including taxes. Flights are available to book now. The airline also flies from Belfast, Leeds Bradford, Blackpool, Manchester and East Midlands airports.

Ryanair, Monarch and Iberia also offer routes from various UK airports to Tenerife.

For whale and dolphin-watching holidays, check out packages with specialists Prestige Holidays, Cadogan Holidays, and Classic Collection Holidays.

Car hire is available at the island's main airport, Tenerife Sur. Avis offers car hire from around £45 per day.

For more information on the island, visit www.webtenerifeuk.co.uk

Starter for 10: Tenerife

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