When you’re planing a holiday, it’s really handy to be able to chat to someone who’s been to that destination before – even better if they can give you a few hints and tips to get the most out of your holiday.
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Tenerife, for me, is the stuff of childhood holidays: my first experience of holidays ‘abroad’, warm sunshine, sandy beaches, blue sea and fantastic food. Tenerife is a great place to bring the family as the flight is a manageable length and, whether you want a beach holiday, or want a more active holiday, there is such diversity here, there’s something for everyone. The climate is amazing all year round (it’s known as the ‘Island of Eternal Spring’) and even in the winter, you can experience temperatures in the 20s, with very little rain at any time of the year.
What to pack
Packing for a Tenerife holiday is easy as the temperature stays pretty warm during the day. During winter and into the spring, night time temperatures can dip down to 16 degrees, so pack a few extra layers for when you’re out and about during the evening. Tenerife has excellent shopping right across the island, so, especially if you’ve got small children, consider buying some of your essentials, like nappies, when you arrive rather than clogging up your suitcase. Suncream, hats and full-cover swimsuits for the youngsters are a must all year round and especially during the summer and autumn months when temperatures can climb into the high 20s (and have been known to hit the 30s).
Hand luggage helpers
- When travelling with children, pack them a little rucksack of their own with interesting things to do on the journey. It’s also worth packing a few ‘surprise’ items in your own hand luggage to whip out if they start to get bored.
- Make sure you’ve photocopied everyone’s passport, your tickets and any other information, such as travel insurance. Pop it into a different bag, just in case one gets lost.
- Don’t pack enormous hand luggage bags – your fellow passengers (and your family!) won’t thank you when you take ten minutes to squeeze it into the overhead locker, and generally, once it’s there, you won’t want to bother taking it down again. Think about what you’ll really use: iPad, headphones, maybe a book, and leave the rest at home.
Tenerife really is an island of two halves. There are resorts in the very south of the island, and some in the very north. If you want to explore, think about hiring a car (consider arranging it with your travel agent when booking). The main road between the north and south circles the island and is well signposted and easy to navigate. If you’re heading ‘off piste’ be aware that some of the roads may be less well cared for (and marked), especially if you’re heading up towards Teide when there are some mountain roads next to steep drops (worth attempting, though, as the scenery is amazing). Public transport is really good: the bus system is modern and inexpensive, plus you can buy tickets called ‘Bono Bus’ for discounted travel if you’re planning on using the bus system quite a bit.
In the south of the island, don’t miss beautiful Siam Park, a huge Thai-themed water park. For well-priced tickets, try www.attractionticketsdirect.com – also look out for the free double decker buses that run from most of the major southern resorts. Try also to head up to Teide National Park, where the strange lunar landscape has been the backdrop of many a feature film. If you want, you can head up to the summit (well, within 500ft of the summit – you need a permit to go all the way up) in a cable car, but go prepared: wear sturdy shoes and take warm clothing – it’s very cold up there! Also, don’t miss the Botanical Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz, and make time to visit Garachico for a swim in the incredible lava pools.
- Don’t visit Tenerife without trying the lovely salty papas arugadas (literally ‘wrinkled potatoes’) and the delicious accompanying mojo sauces
- Tenerife also produces some stunning wines (mostly exported to the USA, sadly), but you’ll often find small producers selling their wares locally.
- Kids will love another local delicacy called simply ‘flan’. It’s similar to creme caramel and is served in moreish custardy slabs, sometimes with the dark caramel sauce but often just plain.
Like a Local
In Tenerife, locals don’t tend to invite people into their houses, so often you’ll see families and friends congregating in local squares in the evening, chatting and laughing together. They’re incredibly friendly people and will often chat to you – especially If you have small children! It’s worth looking out for where the locals drink as they’re often much cheaper than the tourist bars.
Do remember, especially in the older, less touristy parts of Tenerife, that businesses will close in the afternoon for a siesta, reopening at about 4.30pm for the evening. If you’re buying postcards, ask in the shop for stamps to save you visiting the post office separately.
Tipping in restaurants is about the same as here In the UK – about 10% should be fine. If you’re drinking at a table in a café or bar, the waiter will tend to wait for you to finish before bringing you the whole bill, rather than paying for drinks as you buy them. Rounding up the bill or leaving some loose change is always appreciated.
Phrases you should know
I do recommend that you take an English/Spanish language book with you. Although most locals, especially in tourist areas, speak excellent English, they always appreciate it (and will often help you with pronunciation etc) if you have a go at a few simple phrases like: sí (yes) – it’s just no for no- buenos días (good morning), por favor (please) and gracias (thank you).
So there you have it, these are my top tips. Anything to add?