The general rule of thumb for getting top value from a visit to Tenerife is to go native - eat and drink at local restaurants, enjoy the free entertainment of local fiestas and shop where the locals shop.
Eating and drinking
- Eating out in Tenerife is generally very reasonable and you can get top notch food for what you'd pay in run of the mill places in the UK. But to get the best value for money, go for the menu del día whenever you see one. Three courses plus bread and a glass of wine, beer or water will usually cost you somewhere in the region of 7-10 euros.
- Whenever you get the chance, eat at a guachinche. Guachinches are makeshift stalls serving a small menu of traditional food. Portions are generous, produce is usually fresh and home grown and prices are exremely wallet-friendly. Some guachinches are permanenet fixtures, such as around the harbour at Puerto de la Cruz, others spring up around fiestas and holidays.
- Save money on eating out by having picnics. Eating al fresco is a summer weekend ritual on Tenerife. There are zonas recreativas (picnic areas) all over the north and interior of the island which have tables and benches, barbecues, toilets, water and endless scented pine forests in which to enjoy a picnic. At weekends they're packed to capacity but go on a week day and you'll have them all to yourself.
- Petrol stations and bus stations often have excellent, no-frills cafes attached where you'll find good quality bocadillos (crusty rolls), tapas and main meals all freshly made and substantially cheaper than in restaurants.
- You'll pay a considerable mark up on bottles of water at the beach and in hotel bars and mini bars. Head to the nearest supermarket, buy a five litre bottle of water for around 80-90 cents and smuggle it into your room. Use it to re-fill smaller bottles.
- Fish lovers should watch for mis-translations on the menu. Commonly translated as sea bass, dorada is in fact bream; sea bass is lubina and the local speciality of vieja is parrotfish and is excellent.
- Buy your cigarettes and alcohol for taking home in the local supermarket, prices at the airports are inflated.
- Buy a Bono card from bus stations and kiosks displaying the green circular 'Bono' sign. You can get them for either 12 or 30 euros worth of travel credit and they give you up to 50 per cent discount on buses and trams. You only need one Bono card between you – just punch it into bus and tram machines once for each person traveling. Once used the card shows how much of your 12 or 30 euros credit is left for future journeys.
- Take the free white tourist train in Costa Adeje and Santa Cruz for a tour of the main highlights of the area.
- If you're visiting Siam Park and staying in the south, use the free bus which the park operates. You'll find routes and timetables on the website. If you're visiting Loro Parque (Loro Park) and staying in Puerto de la Cruz there's a free train which runs every 20 minutes from alongside the Las Vegas Hotel.
- If you're planning on visiting both Siam Park and Loro Parque, buy a twin ticket online from either website, it will save you money.
Sights and attractions
- Some of Tenerife's best attractions are absolutely free to everyone - the packed calendar of fiestas. All summer long you'll find Romerías happening in villages and hill towns which are not only fabulous spectacles with musicians, livestock and oxen pulling carts laden with people in traditional costumes, but they also GIVE AWAY meat, potatoes, popcorn, gofio cakes, fruit and wine to spectators. Fiestas also almost invariably involve fantastic firework displays and live music and they're FREE for everyone to attend. Get hold of a good fiesta calendar and make the most of it.
- Government owned museums such as the Museum of Man and Nature and the Anthropological Museum are free on Sundays and are relatively quiet.
- If you have a valid Bono card, use it to get discount on entry to museums.
- La Laguna Tourist Office (Casa de Los Capitanes, Calle de la Carrera, 7) and Santa Cruz Tourist Office (Plaza España) both offer free guided tours of their respective cities in English and German.
- If visiting the famous Millenium Drago Tree in Icod de Los Vinos (www.parquedeldrago.es), unless you also want to wander around the medicinal and herbal plants garden, don't pay the entrance fee to the site, you can get better views of the tree from Plaza de la Pila.
Other useful tips
- The southern resorts of Costa Adeje, Playa de Las Américas and Los Cristianos all have timeshare touts who offer you a scratch card and then feign amazement that you have won a prize. It's just a ploy to get you in front of a hard sell colleague. Smile and walk away, unless you want a timeshare.
- Prevalent in all the resorts are the illegal hawkers who disappear into the crowds when Policia Local appear. They're usually very pleasant and you can have a laugh with them but don't be fooled into thinking you're buying a genuine Gucci, Fendi or Prada.
- If you're hiring a car, don't think that because the locals park on pedestrian crossings, double yellow lines and blatant restricted zones, that you'll get away with it. You'll be towed by the grüa (tow truck) quicker than you can say “not fair” and face a hefty fine to recover your vehicle.
- In summer backpackers and students might want to consider buying a cheap tent from one of the major supermarkets or from Decathlon in La Laguna and spending your holiday camping. There are several Cabildo (Island government) run camp sites in the interior and the north and they're all free to stay in. Don't expect any mod cons, this is camping in the raw sense but you'll find water, a toilet and the perfect tranquillity of the pine forests. It's essential to book online before you arrive (http://www.todotenerife.es/index.php?sectionID=41&lang=2&s=5&ID=4484) and you can stay a maximum of seven nights in any one camp.