Discover the real Tenerife on a budget

What do you think of when you hear someone talking about the Spanish island of Tenerife? Boys holidays? Hen dos? Packed beaches full of sunburnt brits? Our holiday’s to Tenerife have been filled with beautiful sunsets, picnics in pine forests, drives through the mountains and jumping into natural pools. Don’t get me wrong, Tenerife does have plenty of burnt brits, hen do’s and rowdy young men, but they CAN be avoided. Most British holiday goers travelling to Tenerife tend to stay south of the Island in – Las Americas. Las Americas has an abundance of alcohol, cabaret bars and Chinese takeaways . It does also have some really nice restaurants and beautiful all inclusive resorts if you head further west into Costa Adeje. Tenerife as a whole isn’t cheap. Not as expensive as say, Ibiza but not cheap like some of the other Spanish holiday destinations. For example a pint of imported beer will cost you around €5. But to cut costs you can drink the local beer Dorada (€1.50 per pint) and eat out in the same places the locals eat.

Our “must have” if going to Tenerife, is to, RENT A CAR! Renting a car in Tenerife isn’t expensive and gives you the freedom to explore the beautiful parts of the island that most holiday makers don’t get to see. Nowhere in Tenerife is that far away by car and the roads are easy to use – once you get your head around driving on the other side of the road! We always use cicar to book our hire car. They are easy to use, cheap and don’t have any hidden costs, like most of the other well known car rentals! Generally it costs us around €196 to rent a Fiat 500 for 2 weeks in the summer. Petrol is much cheaper in Tenerife and there are petrol stations every mile or so all across the island.

Once equipped with a rental car, here are our Top Things to do in the REAL Tenerife – on a budget!

• Visit the Parque Maritimo in Santa Cruz •Parque Maritimo

Parque Maritimo, are public swimming pools located in Santa Cruz, which is the capital city of the island.

Santa Cruz is the largest city in the Canaries (but there’s STILL no Starbucks there!?) and you can expect all of the hustle and bustle that comes from being in a European city, only on a smaller scale. The tourist presence in Santa Cruz is minimal and therefore it is a great way to experience how the residents of Tenerife go about their daily lives.

The Parque Maritimo is a 10 minute walk from the city centre. In the city centre you will find the Centro Commercial Meridiano, which is a large shopping centre with lots of shops and restaurants including Carrefour, Mango, Primark, McDonald’s and a great restaurant called “Pizzeria Meridiano Bulevar” which serves ONE METRE LONG hot dogs and huge pizza! The main bus garage on the island is also located within a 10 minute walk which provides easy links to Los Cristianos and Las Americas.

The park itself offers 3 beautiful pools – including a children’s pool, all of the pools are salt water, and they are SO refreshing on a hot sunny day in the city!

We like to get there late morning (€4 entry each).Rent two sun loungers (€2 each) right by the pool and spend the day chilling in the sun! There’s a bar by the main pool – again stick to Dorada Beer and we usually bring a picnic of home made sandwiches and crisps, so that we don’t spend a fortune in the pool bar on chips and burgers.

• Visit to Las Terecitas Beach •


Las Terecitas beach is a golden sanded, tourist free, hidden gem. A 15 minute drive from the city centre of Santa Cruz, Las Teresitas is where all the locals head on the weekends and after work. During the day you see parents keeping an eye on young children, the elderly chatting and school children playing in the dark turquoise sea. This beach is enjoyed by everyone. It never feels over crowded and is the perfect place to take an idyllic long walk by the sea.

With free parking and a selection of cheap beach bars and cafes, Las Teresitas is a perfect, budget friendly day out.

If you carry on driving up the side of the beach you will reach the look out point where we took this picture (above)  just beware of the hundreds of wild lizards that have made it their home! With the free parking this beach offers, driving is your best bet, but if you don’t have a car you can get a bus from Santa Cruz (€2.60 return).

• Visit to El Lago Martianez in Puerto de la Cruz •

Not dissimilar from the public pools of Parque Martitimo in Santa Cruz, El Lago Martianez is where the locals of Puerto Del La Cruz like to hang out.

With four different pools and entry with a sun lounger and umbrella being only €12, these pools can get really busy so get there early!

Puerto Del La Cruz is located on the north of the island and is best known for Loro Parque – a marine/ wildlife park. Originally a fishing village, Puerto Del La Cruz is very picturesque and you can happily spend a day at the pools and then wondering round the cobbled streets, stopping for ice cream and coffee (or a beer!)

• Drive up to El Teide National Park – During the Day •

Driving up to Mount Tiede, Tenerife’s volcano, Is one of the best things you can do in Tenerife. The scenery and views are INSANE and you will remember them forever! The drive takes about an hour and a half and you will drive through pine forests, farm land and clouds before you reach the top, where you will feel like you are driving on Mars!

There are a range of excursions from Las Americas that take you up the mountain to the volcano at night, but not as many offer a day trip, which is so worth doing! There are various stop off points you can pull up to as you go up the mountains to take photos, and there are a number of hiking trails too.
The views are just incredible and it is a photographers dream. Make sure you take plenty of sun cream and water as it gets SO hot up there above the clouds. As you drive up you get to go through tiny Spanish villages and past schools, local shops and bars.
Top tip: make sure you have a full tank of petrol when you start your drive and bring some snacks and lots of water!

• Picnic in the pine forest •

Having a picnic in the pine forrest is cheap, fun and beautiful. On the days where we didn’t want to spend loads on lunch or didn’t have anywhere in particular in mind to go, we had pine forest picnics!
Around a 30 minute drive from Los Cristianos, the pine forrests on the way up to Mount Teide offer a tranquil setting for an al fresco lunch. You can head to the super market beforehand to get bread, ham, cheese and drinks (or whatever you fancy) and you won’t end up spending more than €10. Or what we usually do is, stop by “100 Montaditos” – which is a ridiculously cheap, backpackers heaven, that serves small baguettines filled with various tapas. They range from €1 to €2 each and there is hundreds of fillings to choose from.
Top tip:100 Montaditos also sell big jugs of beer for €1.50!

Off the main road up the Volcano, there are small turnings off into the Forrest and you will see signs for picnic areas. Pick somewhere nice and quiet, grab a bench and enjoy the smell of the pine leaves and the beautiful scenery!

• Watch the Surfers on Playa Honda – Las Americas •

Around Las Americas there are some nice places you can walk to and explore. One that we stumbled across was Playa Honda. A short walk from the main drag of Las Americas, Playa Honda is where all of the surfers gather.
Despite being terrifyingly rocky, the surf is pretty good and if you are not that much of a thrill seeker (like us!), you can watch from the cafes/bars/benches that line the shore. From this spot on a clear day, you can also see the Island of La Gomera in the distance.

• Visit the Beautiful, Natural Pools of Garachico •

Previous to our last Tenerife holiday, we spent a bit of time searching Pintrest for things to do whilst we were away. We came across a picture of these natural pools, but couldn’t work out their name. After much searching a map of Tenerife we found them!

Located in Garachico – a tiny fishing village in the north east of the island, the natural pools are not the easiest to find, and there isn’t direct public transport link so driving is your best bet! The pools were a beautiful way to spend the day, just beware of the freezing water! There is also diving points where you can jump in and plenty of places to sunbathe around the edge. The pools are free to enjoy and there are a couple of really cheap local bars in the area around them. Again we took a picnic lunch with us and then stopped at a bar to get beers after we were done at the pools! 

If you rent a car then a trip to Garachico is a MUST! We had the best day and wish we found them sooner!