Basic guide for cruise visitors to Tenerife: things to do and main attractions; where ships dock; the free port shuttle bus; sightseeing; exploring on foot, and shore excursions.
The cruise port of Tenerife is the gateway to lots of interesting and diverse sites in the largest island of the Spanish archipelago known as the Canary Islands.
There are also many things to do for cruise visitors who enjoy exploring on foot sites and attractions close to the port. The island capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is within walking distance, and there are a few sightseeing services available next to the cruise terminal exit.
- Where is Tenerife and the cruise port
- Where cruise ships dock
- Port shuttle bus
- How to explore Tenerife on a cruise
- Sightseeing in Tenerife
- Top Things To Do in Tenerife
- What's within walking distance
- Attractions in the city of Santa Cruz
- Cruise shore excursions
- Tourist info, language, and commercial hours
- Safety, US travel advisory, and basics
Tenerife is one of the most visited cruise port of call in the South European Atlantic itineraries during the Spring-Summer season, with as many as 1 million passengers and over 500 cruise ship visits in 2019.
The cruise port of Tenerife has a pleasant ambiance, is very tidy and well kept. By and large, Tenerife Island and its capital city, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, are safe. The local population is friendly, agreeable, well-mannered, and speaks English very well.
For those cruising with families, there are quite a few things to do. Cruise passengers with disabilities or with walking difficulties will find it simple to wander around in Tenerife on their own.
Where is Tenerife and the cruise port
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the island's capital (population around 204,000), is located in the Canary Islands, on the northeast coast of Tenerife Island. The island is the largest and most populous island of the eight Canary Islands, on the Atlantic Ocean.
Tenerife is 195 miles (314 km) west of the coast of Morrocco (Africa) and 295 miles south of Funchal (Madeira, Portugal), another major cruise port in the Southern European Atlantic region. The cruise port is very close to the city center of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Where cruise ships dock
Ships dock on a medium-sized mixed port with a long breakwater officially named Muelle Sur, where up to 5 cruise ships dock. You can walk along the breakwater to a welcome center and a terminal building farther away - between ¾ of a mile and 1 mile (1km and 1.6 km).
Port shuttle bus
There is a free shuttle bus from the breakwater, next to all berths where cruise ships moor, to the cruise terminal. Once outside the terminal, Plaza de la Candelaria, the main square in the historical city center of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is around ⅓ of a mile (450 meters) south of the cruise terminal.
How to explore Tenerife on a cruise
Cruise or shore excursions are advisable to explore farther away attractions like the El Teide volcano or La Laguna, the old capital of Tenerife. For those that enjoy walking, the highlights of the historical city are easy to explore on your (on foot).
If you want to enjoy one of the many beautiful beaches in Tenerife Playa de Las Teresitas is just 5.9 miles (9.6km) north of the city. There is a direct bus to Las Teresitas with a stop by the terminal's exit. However, the most famous beach of Tenerife, Playa De Las Américas, is around 48 miles (78km) south of the port (we recommend a shore excursion).
There are two different sightseeing hop-on hop-off buses in Tenerife and a Choo-Choo tourist train. There are taxis right outside the gangway and on the main square (Plaza de España) next to the cruise terminal exit to your left. Abridging, these are the best ways for cruise visitors to discover Tenerife:
- Book a Shore Excursion
- Sightseeing services
- Taxi and public buses
- On foot
Sightseeing in Tenerife
Cruise passengers that enjoy sightseeing services will find hop-on-hop-off buses starting a stone's throw from the cruise port terminal on Plaza de España. Here you will also find the stop of the Choo-Choo Train. Click on the links below to check schedules and prices.
Top Things To Do in Tenerife
Tenerife top attraction is the Teide National Park, but the Anaga Rural Park is also quite interesting for those that enjoy nature gazing. The shows in Loro Park are great for cruise passengers with young ones.
If you appreciate quaint landmarks, historical towns like La Laguna, La Orotava, and Puerto de la Cruz are delightful. Las Teresitas, El Médano and Playa de las Américas are the three most famous beaches in Tenerife. Here are the top attractions in Tenerife:
- Visit the Teide National Park
The Teide National Park, named after Mount Teide, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the island. The park is home to Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain. Cruise visitors can take a cable car to the top of the volcano for panoramic views of the island. The park also offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and a visitor center with information about the history and geology of the area. The park is a site since 2007 and the most visited national park in Europe.
- Go to the Beach
The island of Tenerife is home to some of the best beaches in Spain. Popular beaches include Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos, and Puerto de la Cruz. Cruise visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing, and other activities at these beaches.
- Visit Loro Park
Loro Parque is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The park is a 33-acre (13.5-hectare) zoo on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz. The park is home to a variety of animals, including dolphins, whales, penguins, and parrots. Visitors can also enjoy shows featuring these animals, as well as take part in educational programs about them.
- Visit San Cristóbal de La Laguna
Commonly referred to as La Laguna, this city was the capital of the Canary Islands until the 18th century, and is known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture. La Laguna is a UNESCO World Heritage site located just outside of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Cruise visitors can wander through the streets admiring the buildings or visit one of the many museums or churches in the city.
Top sites to visit in La Laguna: Cathedral, Plaza del Adelantado, Casa Salazar, Museum of History and Anthropology, Church of the Immaculate Conception.
- Puerto de la Cruz
Formerly known as Port of the Cross (in English), Puerto de la Cruz is a city with many charming landmarks such as the pedestrianized center, the Plaza Charco, the botanical gardens, the St Francis Church, or Archaeological Museum.
- Discover La Orotava
La Orotava is an historic town with a few attractive landmarks: the Humboldt's Viewpoint, the Casa de Los Balcones, the St. Augustine square and church, and the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
- Visit the Museum of Sciencie and the Cosmos
The museum has a permanent exhibition, an astronomy room, and a 21 ft (6.5 meters) planetarium.
- Anaga Rural Park
The Anaga Rural Park is a national park with the highest number of endemic species in Europe. Within the park, Taganana is a remote town that retains a rare authenticity in its vernacular architecture.
- Enjoy Las Teresitas beach
The Playa de Las Teresitas is the closest to the cruise port in Tenerife. The palm-edged beach has a paddling area, restaurants, beach bars, and facilities like loungers, umbrellas, and showers.
- Relax in El Médano beach
El Médano is a well-known coastal resort town. A boardwalk along the beach starts by the town square and has many bars and restaurants for a quick bite or lunch al fresco.
- Explore Playa de las Américas (beach)
Playa de las Américas is a holiday resort built in the 1960s with five main beaches and countless bars, restaurants, shopping areas, and many tourist attractions.
What's within walking distance
The city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the Canary Islands and offers a variety of things to see and do. Cruise visitors can stroll through the old town, which is home to historic buildings and monuments, or visit one of the many museums or art galleries.
The historical center of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is within walking distance of the cruise port, no more than a 5-minute walk. Unless you are booked on a full-day shore excursion, meandering the city on foot is a pleasure not to be missed.
Attractions in the city of Santa Cruz
Here are the top attractions, sites, and landmarks cruise visitors can enjoy on foot or with sightseeing services in the city Santa Cruz:
- Plaza de la Candelaria
- Plaza de España
- Calle Castillo
- Calle Bethencourt Alfonso
- Church of St. Francis of Assisi
- Church of the Immaculate Conception
- Museum of Nature and Archaeology
- Museum of Fine Arts
- La Recova Market
- TEA - Tenerife Espacio de las Artes
- Carnival House
- Military History Museum
- García Sanabria Park
Cruise shore excursions
Obviously, all cruise lines callling at Tenerife offer many and diverse shore excursions in Tenerife. Norwegian Cruise Line has available 12 shore tours, and Carnival only calls at Tenrife on transatlantic cruises offering 6 cruise excursions.
The upper-premium cruise lines like Oceania, Viking and Azamara visit Tenerife cruise port on a few itineraries. Oceania Cruises organizes 17 shore excursions in Tenerife. Although most luxury cruise lines include shore excursions with the cruise fare, Regent, Seabourn and Silversea offer unique and diverse explorations ashore in Tenerife. Regent lists 15 port excursions, and Seabourn has 8 excursions
The large european fleets of Costa and Aida sail the Canary Island all year round offering great excursions in Tenerife. Costa lists 15 tours.
There are also excursions offered by the following reputable private online services and local tour operators:
- Shore Trips
- Shore Excursions Group
- Tours by Locals
- Venture Ashore
- Private Shore Trips
- Shore Excursioneer
Tourist info, language, and commercial hours
As previously mentioned, cruise passengers will not miss the tourism office kiosk by the exit of the terminal. If walking to town, you will see another tourist info kiosk but, be aware, this is not a representation of the offcial local tourism. The main office of the tourism office is at the southern end of Plaza de España, right by the unamissable round lake.
Castilian Spanish is the most common language in Tenerife, but English is widely spoken in all major touristic areas.
Business and commercial opening hours
Museums in Spain are open with different schedules. Some museums open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm, while others are open between 10 am and 5 pm. Be aware that all museums in Spain close on Mondays. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 2 pm.
Most shops are open on weekdays, and Saturdays, from 8:30 am to 8 pm. However, smaller stores and boutiques may close for lunch (and “siesta” ) between 2 pm and 5 pm. Most shops close on Sunday except for shopping malls, which open seven days a week and on most holidays from 10 am to 11 pm.
Safety, US travel advisory, and basics
For comprehensive and updated information about traveling to Spain see the U.S. Department of State website page evolving advisory.
Covid-19 advice for cruises to Tenerife (Spain)
Tenerife Basic Info at a Glance
|Entry Requirements:||A valid passport is required for American, Canadian, and British citizens. EU and EEA visitors need valid national ID cards.|
|Emergencies:||Medical Emergency, Police, Fire Rescue - 112|
|US Emergencies:||US citizens may call the US Dept of State (+1-202-501-4444) for emergencies abroad.|
|Driving:||Driving is on the right.|
|Electricity:||The standard voltage in Spain is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Typical European two round prongs are used.|
|Cell phones:||T-Mobile US plans offer unlimited data at up to 2G and text at no cost. Calls to the US cost 20 cents/min. Calls to other countries (including Spain) may be costly. It is advisable to check for International plans before departing the US.|
|Drinking:||Legal drinking age is 18 years.|
|Smoking:||Smoking is prohibited in restaurants and public buildings. Bars may allow smoking outdoors.|