Tenerife gives you the feeling of traveling to a distant land without breaking the bank – off the coast of Morocco but part of Spain, it can net you surprising mileage for your euro.
This Canary Island offers volcanic beaches, whales and dolphins splashing offshore, lunar landscapes that seem freshly made for Hollywood, and miles of hiking trails pushing through laurel forest-draped mountains that are ancient and stunning – and you won’t have to spend a chance to get a real taste of it.
Stay in a rural house (rural vacation home) or camp under the stars, race down the mountains on a goguagua (public bus), spend languid days in old towns and alley-woven botanical gardens and dine for €10 at a hidden restaurant guachinche (ephemeral rural restaurant), and you will live the low-cost Canarian dream.
Here are our top tips for visiting Tenerife on a budget.
Search for low-cost flights
Provided you avoid high season and book well in advance, you can take advantage of great deals on flights to Tenerife from Europe. Most budget airlines fly several times a week to Tenerife South airport, including Jet2, TUI and Wizzair, while EasyJet and Ryanair fly to airports in the south and north of the island. The less picky you are about specific times and days, the more likely you are to get a good deal.
Avoid high season for the best deals
If you want to save euros, try not to visit Tenerife in the high summer season (July and August). Prices soar again at Christmas, New Year and during February’s spectacular Carnival festivities, with a wave of holidaymakers flocking to the island in search of winter sun and fun.
The off-season months of March, April, May, October, and November are great months to explore the island on a budget, and flight and room prices drop. You will also be able to see Tenerife at its peaceful and less crowded best.
Take a shuttle instead of a taxi to your station
Taxi fares can make a huge dent in your budget. To reach your resort from the airport, it is much cheaper to pre-book one of the many low-cost airport shuttles that circle the island. Affordable choices include Holiday Extras, Hoppa and Suntransfers. A 45 minute transfer from Tenerife South Airport to Costa Adeje could cost you as little as €4.50.
Invest in a transport ticket
Titsa’s public buses – or guaguas, as Canarios call them – serve most places on the island and are an incredibly affordable means of transport. Buy a Ten+ rechargeable card for €2 at an airport ticket machine, kiosk or bus station, then top it up with credit, which is easier and cheaper than buying individual tickets.
If you plan to explore a lot by bus, invest in a day or weekly pass, costing €10 and €50 respectively and giving you unlimited travel on the island’s bus network.
Ride the guagua up Mount Teide
Often shrouded in cloud, Mount Teide at 3,715m (12,188ft) is Tenerife’s tallest heart-stealer, rising above a volcanic valley with panoramic views across the shimmering Atlantic to the islands. neighboring La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro. At the heart of the lunar rust-red rock landscape of Teide National Park, the volcano is the jewel of the island.
Two public buses can take you to Teide: bus 348 from Puerto de la Cruz in the north of the island and bus 342 from Costa Adeje in the south. Once up there, you are free to explore at your own pace. If you’re an experienced hiker and want to tackle the big time by trekking to the top, you can do so without hiring an expensive guide, but be sure to apply for the necessary two to three month permit. ‘advance.
Look for car rental offers
Compared to the rest of Europe, Tenerife is quite cheap when it comes to car hire, which can cost as little as €15 per day. You’ll need your own set of wheels if you plan to venture off-road into the wilder corners of the island, especially in the spectacularly rugged and remote north. Save money by checking out the best deals on a cost comparison site like Kayak, which not only covers international companies like Europcar, but also more local ones like Canarias.com.
Car rental companies often add last-minute extras that you may have overlooked in the fine print when booking, such as upgrade, damage and extra mileage charges. One way to reduce these costs is to research additional insurance before you travel.
Choose your station or city wisely
Picking the right beach – and often switching between bays – is an instant way to cut the cost of your Tenerife holiday. In busier resorts like Los Cristianos and the mile of five-star hotels of Costa Adeje in the south of the island, you’ll pay through the nose for sunbeds and umbrellas on the beaches, often up to 12 € per day. Go remote and take your own towel, drinks and picnic.
Pitch a tent in a beautiful location
Wild camping is technically not allowed in Tenerife, but there are loopholes. Specially designated wild campsites are dotted across the island, some of which are in stunningly beautiful areas, such as on the slopes of Mount Teide. Facilities are basic, but most have toilets and running water. Obtaining a residence permit in one of them is free, but you will need to be organized and book your dates well in advance.
Alternatively, pitching a tent at an official campsite is a cheap way to stay in Tenerife. The island has plenty of campsites to choose from, and a pitch for two will set you back around €25.
Sleep in an inn
Hotel rates skyrocket in high season in Tenerife, and good rooms can be like gold dust, so thumbs up for hostels, the perfect choice for solo travelers or anyone who wants to see the island with little medium, with dorm beds costing as little as €20.
Great options to feel the excitement of the capital, Santa Cruz, include the Tenerife Experience Hostel near the main bus station and the Wanderlust Hostel, a backpacker favourite. For sea views, more summery vibes, and the chance to hit the waves, head to Casa Grande Surf Hostel on the south coast of El Médano. To the north, the nine-bedroom Albergo Montes de Anaga offers privacy and relaxation with wonderful mountain views away from the crowds.
Rent a rural house
If you’re traveling with family or a group of friends, renting a self-catering apartment or villa is a no-brainer – you can split the cost, dine and see a side of the island away from the big resorts.
You will find amazing rural houses everywhere on the island, which, despite their name, oscillate between modern and elegant apartments with views of the vineyards and rustic cottages with their own swimming pools. These can be fantastic value at just €20 per person per night. Handy websites to get you started in your search include Casas Rurales, Rural Tenerife and Tenerife Holiday Apartments.
Go out in the traditional towns of the Canary Islands
Costs rise rapidly in Tenerife’s resorts, but count a day or two in the island’s charismatic towns and you’ll get a real slice of island life for free or at little cost. In Santa Cruz, stroll along the shady Rambla and stroll among the sculptures and subtropical trees of Parque García Sanabria.
In the north, it costs nothing to stroll the cobbled streets of La Orotava, home to some of the island’s most striking traditional architecture, swim in the lava pools of pretty Garachico or explore the beautiful gardens Botanicals of Puerto de la Cruz.
Opt for the menú del día
If you want to eat out for a small change in Tenerife, make lunch your main meal. Many simple cafes and restaurants offer a no-frills menu of the day (menu of the day) from €10, including a starter, main course, glass of wine and dessert or coffee. Ask for tap water (grifo water) saves money on buying bottled water, but you might get a raised eyebrow or even a firm “no.” As a general rule, avoid restaurants by the sea, where the view certainly comes at a cost.
Eat Canarian style in a guachinche
The humble guachinche is the best way to eat cheap in Tenerife. Located largely in the wine-growing north, these bustling and popular family restaurants pop up a few months each year in random settings, from garages to sheds, backyards to banana plantations.
Let’s be clear: beauty is not the goal. Often guachinches are dilapidated with handmade panels, DIY furniture and no view to speak of. But you’re here to eat, and you’ll do it traditionally and well, dipping into hearty dishes like puchero (meat and chickpea stew), carne de cabra (goat) and cone and salmorejo (braised rabbit in white wine). A meal with local wine can cost you as little as €10. Bring cash and at least some Spanish.
Having trouble finding a guachinche? Download the Android or Apple app, Guachapp.
Graze the markets for picnic fixings
Volcanic wines and smoked goat cheese, fresh bread, tangy chorizo, tangy mojo and ripe tropical fruits picked that morning – Tenerife’s well-stocked produce markets are a great way to get a sense of local life and everything you need for a great picnic in the mountains or on the beach.
Join the hungry locals to raid the stalls of Mercado Municipal de La Laguna and Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África de Santa Cruz. Alternatively, you can stock up on basics at Hiperdino and Mercadona grocery stores across the island.
Daily costs in Tenerife
Room in hostel: 20 €
Basic room for two: €60
Independent apartment (including Airbnb): €50
Daily public transport pass: €10
Cortado (espresso): €1.20
Menu of the day: €10
Beer (0.5l): €2
Guachinche lunch with wine: €10
Bocadillo (sandwiches): €4
Tapas dinner for two: €30