OK, time to spill the beans. There are parts of Tenerife you want to go to and there are parts that are best left unseen.
The cities up north are great fun, and inhabited by locals who know how to throw a party. Far and away the prettiest area on the island is the northwest corner. While much of Tenerife is ringed by an ugly motorway, the mountains of this far-flung enclave have proved its undoing. Here, the pace of life is slow, peace prevails, and the landscape remains gloriously untouched. A rocky coastline gives way to rising peaks, fronted by a thin strip of lush farmland and banana plantations. Spain’s highest mountain, Pico del Teide, lies to the south, the Atlantic to the north.
These towns offer a bit of city sophistication, though the feel is distinctly laid-back. The capital, Santa Cruz, has brightly painted houses, pretty plazas, sun-drenched streets and super shopping. The university city of La Laguna has great architecture, churches and convents, a pretty old town, and lots of bars.
Spain’s highest mountain rises in the middle of the island. Mountain roads encircle it. There are 3 peaks - Pico Viejo (a volcano that erupted in 1798), Pico del Teide and Montana Blanco. Guided walks and cable cars are available, or you can strike out on your own. For ecological reasons the summit is a restricted area. If you want to drag yourself up the final stretch, you’ll have to get a permit from the Servicio de Uso Público in Santa Cruz (it’s free but remember to take your passport).
This tiny mountain-side village in the remote north-western hinterland is reached via hair-pin bends, which weave you over the mountain and down to the village. Once there, huge views down the valley drop off into the sea. Lots of people visit, coaches pass through, and it’s impossible to park, but despite all these drawbacks, it remains unmissable.
Set at the north-western tip of Tenerife, this is a majestic sight: mountains rise from the water, rollers crash onto black sands, lizards scurry across the brush. If you want a little wilderness on a busy island, you’ll find it here. Carry on around the tip towards the south and you'll reach the famous cliffs of Los Gigantes (pictured), which soar 800m above the ocean.