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Why This Sunny Lesser Known European Island Is The Perfect Winter Getaway

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With temperatures plummeting across Europe and much of the Northern Hemisphere, we wouldn't blame Americans for putting their plans of taking that long-anticipated Transatlantic trip on hold.

For many, a trip to the Old Continent in December is a hard no, as they do not want to be shivering and have days alternate between rainy and cloudy, but a little-known fact among Americans is that not all of Europe is freezing cold in winter.

Aerial View Of Garachico Village, A Small Town In Tenerife, Spain, Canary Islands

In fact, there is one sunny island that stays warm year-round, and even now, when the heating is turned on across a majority of European countries, it still records pleasant highs of 68 degrees during the day – and no, it is not a Mediterranean destination.

If you're looking for an off-season European getaway, but snowy landscapes and Gothic towns do not exactly appeal to you right now, maybe it's the lesser-known Tenerife where you should go:

Are Americans Late To The Party?

Seaside Village Facing The Atlantic Sea In Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Now, if you're from Europe, especially if you're British or German, before you start rolling your eyes, let us give you a bit of context:

Tenerife may have been your go-to sunny island for decades now, and among Europeans, it's a tried-and-true holiday spot, but it is a largely unknown destination for U.S. nationals, which up to July of this year, accounted for a mere 18,535 of millions of foreign visitors, and up until 2022, had no direct flight connections there.

Tenerife is only just now attaining popularity on the Western end of the pond, and for that reason, we could argue Americans flying all the way here are definitely going off-path, especially during winter, the peak tourist season in their own all-time favorite, the Caribbean.

@linal253 Tropical forests, vulcanos, deserts and so much more 🇪🇸 #tenerife #canaryislands #travel #bestplacestovisit #islandlife #fyp #fypslovenija ♬ Experience (Piano e Violin) – Pietro Scichilone

If you're an American, you may be wondering what it is about Tenerife that has kept your European friends coming back year after year after year.

Tenerife Is Warm Year-Round

Well, for starters, it is one of the warmest islands in the European bloc, and it is not even technically in Europe. We will explain.

Tenerife is part of the Canary Archipelago, a collection of islands in the Atlantic that are part of Spain, but at the same time, it is located on the African tectonic plate just off the coast of Western Africa. You read that right.

Sandy El Medano Beach In Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Although Tenerife is technically in Africa, it is indisputably a Spanish island and geopolitically European, being part of Europe's borderless Schengen Area and populated by just under a million residents, most of whom are ethnic Spaniards.

Tenerife is best known for its subtropical climate: as it is not part of the European mainland, its climate is much more temperate, even in winter, when the coastal zones are as hot as 68 degrees or higher, and the nature is particularly impressive.

A Plethora Of Natural And Manmade Wonders

Aerial View Of Las Teresitas Beach, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

The largest island in the Canaries offers a plethora of natural sights, from volcanic landscapes to pine forests to deep, verdant valleys to long miles of soft, golden sand beaches, and on the rare occasion it rains, it's never for long.

According to TUI, one of the most popular holiday booking websites in Europe, there is a 65% chance of a perfectly sunny day in Tenerife in January and an average of only 1mm of rainfall.

The weather gets progressively better in February, March, and April, and the months leading up to summer, but this only goes to show Tenerife is well-deserving of its title of Land of Eternal Spring.

Woman laying on beach in Playa de la Teresitas. Tenerife, Canaries

If you're looking for an all-inclusive vacation, there is no shortage of incredible resorts in Tenerife to pick from.

One of the trendiest resort towns on the relatively big island is Costa Adeje, in southwestern Tenerife, famous for its luxurious hotel strip, shopping scene, and rugged nature.

It is home to Mount Teide, a dormant volcano and Spain's tallest peak, even though it is not part of the contiguous Spanish territory.

The Teide National Park is also a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers, as it is traversed by delineated footpaths, leading to hidden waterfalls and unspoiled forested reserves.

@earthyvas Dreamy view in El Teide National Park 🌋 #volcano #sunset #tenerife #canaryislands #sunsetvibes #travelbucketlist #adventure #dreamy #fyp #traveller ♬ Long Whale Song – SymphoCat

Los Gigantes are not to be missed, either:

These basalt cliff faces are nothing short of spectacular when seen from the viewing platforms along the northwestern coast, and if you're feeling adventurous, you can even go on a kayaking tour for the day to see them up close and explore some caves.

Down in Costa Adeje, the Thai-themed Siam Park is a major attraction, filled with aquatic thrills and self-deemed ‘the most spectacular water attraction in Europe'.

High steep tower of power water slide at Siam Tenerife water park

With around 40 rides, including Vortex, one of the largest suspended rollercoasters, the free-fall Giant Drop, and the largest wave pool ever built, certified by Guinness World Records, it is guaranteed fun for the family and adrenaline junkies alike.

An Underrated Cultural And Nightlife Hotspot

On the cultural side, explore gorgeous, 16th century-settled municipalities like the colorful San Cristobal de la Laguna, visit a family-owned winery – there are five wine regions in Tenerife in total – or explore the cobbled streets and floral gardens of La Orotava, a small town at the foot of Teide.

City street view with church tower in La Laguna town on Tenerife island

Tenerife is also a party island and one of the most LGBT-friendly destinations in Europe.

Its capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is a major cosmopolitan port city home to over 200,000 people, boasting countless bars, clubs, and adult entertainment venues, with a lively social scene that unravels amid a well-preserved 18th-century Baroque townscape.

Whether you're the sociable type, you're craving for an escape into nature, or a laid-back week by the seaside, rest assured Tenerife has something for you.

Where Are The Best Beaches In Tenerife?

Beach Tenerife Spain

There are 212 miles of coastline around Tenerife and many more beautiful beaches, developed or completely unruffled, to discover, but you should know this is the Atlantic, and the seas can be a little too cool for swimming between December and March, with an average water temperature is 66 degrees.

If being able to be in the water is non-negotiable to you, perhaps you should go ahead and book Cancun again this winter.

On the other hand, if clear, sunny skies and shorts weather is tropical enough for you, you're happy with the coastal views and observing the bright-blue from your balcony, and it's nature-based activities you seek, Tenerife will not disappoint.

Beach of Fanabe at Adeje Coast Tenerife Canary Islands Spain

Some of the nicest beach spots in Tenerife are:

  • Playa de las Americas, a coastal resort district full of natural and manmade beaches, and crammed with restaurants and shops
  • Playa Jardin, the busiest beach in Puerto de la Cruz, and either a surfing or sunbathing location, depending on weather
  • Playa de la Tejita, in El Medano, with golden sands that stretch from the town boardwalk to the base of the conical Roja Mountain
  • Playa de las Teresitas, the go-to swimming spot for residents of Santa Cruz, due to the tranquil, shallow nature of its waters and their crystalline shade
  • Playa Fanabe, at Costa Adeje, a classical sandy beach lined by bars and traditional eateries serving Iberian food
  • Playa de las Vistas, in Los Cristianos, with calm waters that are perfect for swimming
Tenerife Spain

For comparison purposes, think Los Cabos and its rough seas: it's not exactly a swim-friendly destination, but the nature is gorgeous, nonetheless, and the weather is pleasantly warm.

The Best Hotels In Tenerife For A Winter Getaway

This winter, you can stay at the ultra-glamorous Iberostar Selection Anthelia in Costa Adeje for $481 per night, in line with other five-star offers you would find in Cabo San Lucas or Cancun, in Mexico, during the same period.

@chiarabolovan #ForYou #Fy #parati #Iberostar #Anthelia #Tenerife #Visit #Viral #beautifulplacestotravel #islascanarias ♬ Agua (Music from "Sponge on the Run" Movie) – Tainy & J Balvin

A family-friendly listing with a gigantic outdoor pool, surrounded by lush green gardens and featuring an award-winning spa, it is located in one of the liveliest development zones of Tenerife, within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and the famous Fanabe Beach.

If it's exclusivity you're after, and you prefer a child-free environment, the competing Iberostar Selection Sabila, also in Costa Adeje, is the perfect alternative, as it is a smaller all-inclusive option where under-18s are not allowed, with prices starting from only $278 per night.

Woman standing in a hotel at the window

Perhaps the most luxurious hotel in Tenerife, the Ritz-Carlton is yet another landmark 459-key property worthy of your consideration, boasting impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean and Mount Teide, and Michelin-starred restaurants M.B and Abama Kabuki.

Tenerife Fits Every Budget

On a stricter budget and simply looking for a place to sleep as you explore this gem of an island?

The four-star Be Alive Adults Only Tenerife, in the upscale town of Puerto de la Cruz on the northern coast, is the perfect home base.

Famous Playa Jardin Beach With Black Sand In Puerto De La Cruz, Tenerife, Spain

With rooms as cheap as $88 per night, only a few yards away from the volcanic beaches of Playa Jardin, and a short 5-minute walk to the well-frequented Downtown area, where there are bus links to other destinations on the island.

While Adeje is more isolated, as it sits on the southwestern coast, Puerto de la Cruz is roughly halfway between the Eastern and Westernmost points, and staying there, it takes approximately one hour to get to Teide National Park, 1h15 minutes to Siam Park, and only 40 minutes to the capital.

How To Reach Tenerife From The U.S.

Woman hiker watching beautiful costal scenery. - Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Western coast view, mountain Anaga

Tenerife South Airport hosts nonstop flights from Newark seasonally, usually beginning in spring, but that is not the case in winter.

Fortunately for American guests, there are still a number of flight routes they can use to get to the sunny island, including flying in via Madrid or Barcelona, or any other European country offering year-round access to Tenerife.

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