Updated October 29, 2021
(Published June 3, 2015)
By Andrea Montgomery
You’re almost guaranteed a blast of sunshine and warmth in Tenerife over the winter months. Luckily, its palm-lined beaches are within reach of even the smallest wallet. Keep it cheap on a holiday to this popular Canary Island with our guide.
Cheap and cheerful is Tenerife’s bag, and you’ll find plenty of three-star hotels for a steal if you’re willing to stay outside of the main tourist resorts. That’s not to say there aren’t good deals to be found within them, though. In the upmarket resort of Costa Adeje, for example, prices rise as high as the temperature – but opt for a Canarian-owned hotel and you get the same fancy location at affordable prices. The Hotel Isabel is designed like a traditional Canarian village, with the distinctive architectural style of local houses. Here you’ll find great food, friendly service and a plethora of amenities that are perfect for families.
The southwest coast has some of Tenerife’s best weather and the stylish Hotel Barcelo Santiago has its best location. Fresh and funky rooms, an infinity pool with jaw-dropping views over the ‘giant’ cliffs of Los Gigantes and romantic sunsets over the neighbouring island of La Gomera ensure you’re not compromising on style or comfort despite the lower price tag.
Lose the crowds and the high prices of the bigger resorts in the contemporary luxury, space and beauty of five-star Barcelo Tenerife. Set on a nature reserve with eight swimming pools and a small lake for kayaking, rooms are fabulously spacious and stylish, and you’re just a stroll from golf courses in one direction and the harbour of Los Abrigos in the other, where you’ll find excellent seafood restaurants.
When in Spain do as the Spanish do and eat your main meal at lunchtime. That way you can opt for the menu del día, a three-course menu often costing less than €15 and usually offering a choice of starter and main. Some restaurants offer the set menu into evenings too so it’s worth checking.
Menus are generally cheaper away from the seafront. In Los Cristianos, seek out El Cine, which is tucked behind the promenade. Expect no frills and not many smiles, just fresh, simple and delicious seafood served with Tenerife’s tasty, salty potatoes, papas arrugadas. Expect to pay around €15 per person for food.
Sticking with traditional dishes, head into Adeje town where they specialise in crispy chicken infused with garlic and at Otelo (closed Tuesday) alongside the Barranco del Infierno. You simply order by the number of people. At €6.30 per portion, it’s addictively good.
What to do on a budget
Beach lovers are spoilt for choice by the 12km stretch of coastline that covers Costa Adeje, Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos – some of Tenerife’s best beaches are here, after all. But your choice of where to soak up the sun could make a huge difference to your budget.
The most stylish beach is undoubtedly Del Duque, but sun-lounger prices are exorbitant. Move down the coast to Playa Torviscas and you’ll pay a little less. For the best value of all, choose lovely El Camisón.
Away from the lure of the sand, head to the capital city of Santa Cruz where you’ll find pretty plazas, the open-air art gallery and botanical gardens of Parque García Sanabria, and the African market, all free to enjoy. Then, jump on a bus to Las Teresitas and you can wiggle your toes in over a kilometre of fine, golden sand at one of the island’s most beautiful beaches.
You really can’t visit Tenerife and not see Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak and the planet’s fourth tallest volcano, with a 17km-wide crater. A daily bus service will take you up there in the morning and bring you back in the afternoon. The cable car to the summit is expensive but it costs nothing to explore the park and its surreal landscape.
A visit to Garachico is another ‘must’. The island’s most picturesque town, it was buried in lava at the beginning of the 18th century. Today, the frozen lava has been hewn into rock pools teeming with tropical fish and it’s a magnet for local teenagers to show off their diving skills, and belly flops. Swimming in the pools is a unique experience, and it’s free.
Tenerife has a very good bus service, and they are a reliable and cheap mode of transport. Buy a pre-paid Ten+ card (available at bus stations and at selected kiosks). Multiple people can use one card and best value comes from longer journeys.
Car hire on Tenerife is cheap and cars are generally less than two years old. Watch for hidden costs – some operators who try to force you to buy expensive insurance. Buying car hire excess insurance online before you leave the UK can save you up to 65%.
Taxis are metered and reliable and are a cost-effective way to travel, particularly if there are four of you.
The cheapest way to get from the airport to your resort is the bus and frequent services operate between airport and resorts. Taxis are also reasonable with a taxi from the south airport to Los Cristianos costing around €34 and to Playa de Las Américas around €38. Ask if anyone else in the queue is going your way and share.
* All prices were accurate at time of writing.