When potential visitors pose this query it can invariably be translated as questioning the difference between the three resorts of Playa de las Américas, Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos and the only decent sized resort in the north, Puerto de la Cruz.
So, for the purpose of this exercise, these are the areas I’m referring to when pitting the south and north of Tenerife head to head in ten categories.
Weather on Tenerife
We’ve covered this in depth many times but the bottom line is that the south of Tenerife is sunnier and drier than the north. People get silly about this topic and overlook the fact that it is all relative but anyone who’s interested in only getting a sun tan and nothing else should head south.
South 1, North 0
Hotels on Tenerife
Whilst there are some very good hotels in the north of Tenerife and some with character and a family feel, they really can’t match the newer luxury hotels in the south’s most recent resort developments from Fañabe to El Duque in Costa Adeje. There’s no real competition in this category. If a plush hotel is your number one thing when choosing a destination, the south it is.
South 2, North 0
Restaurants on Tenerife
The southern resorts boast an endless choice of restaurants. But where do top chefs and even Spanish royalty head to when they’re on Tenerife? The north. The irony is that glossy books in some hotel rooms in the south list Tenerife’s top restaurants and very few included are anywhere near the southern resort areas. Apart from quality of food, it’s difficult for the newer resorts to compete with quaint restaurants located in the courtyards of colonial buildings or around historic plazas. It’s a knockout for the north in this category.
South 2, North 1
Scenery on Tenerife
The north wipes the floor with the south on this one as well. The northern green scene is just more aesthetically pleasing and the supreme bulk of Mount Teide, anonymous from southern resorts, adds a truly unique and world-beating aspect to the backdrop above Puerto de la Cruz. If luscious landscapes are your thing, head north.
South 2, North 2
Beaches on Tenerife
Tenerife doesn’t boast exotic beaches. But the strip from La Caleta in Costa Adeje to Los Cristianos offers man made beach after man made beach with golden-ish sand and all the amenities sunseekers need. Puerto de la Cruz, on the other hand has the black sand Playa Jardín and a couple of other small beaches as well as the trio of black beauties at Playa Bollullo (some of my personal faves on Tenerife). But a lot of people aren’t keen on black sand and golden beaches simply look better. If a golden beach is your queen, the south it is.
South 3, North 2
Activities on Tenerife
This depends on different preferences. The south has many activities designed purely for the pleasure of mainstream tourists – water sports, boat trips, theme parks etc. Whereas although the north has a couple of theme parks, the activities are more cultural and natural with art galleries, museums, historic corners, theatres, parks and gardens. I’m calling this one a draw. When people say there is nothing to do in either north or south, they actually mean – there’s nothing to do that suits me. Not the same thing at all.
South 4, North 3
Traditions on Tenerife
The southern resorts are purpose built. The most authentic town of the three is Los Cristianos, but even as little as 50 years ago that was little more than a tiny fishing community where some people still lived in caves. The northern towns had been thriving and developing a sense of community and subsequently traditions for centuries. There’s a massive gap in this category. In the north every fiesta is held for the Canarios first and foremost. In the south, with a couple of exceptions, many traditional themed events are put on for the benefit of the tourists.
South 4, North 4
Nightlife on Tenerife
Just about every bar and club in Tenerife’s south offers live acts and even restaurants seem to be under the impression that diners need to be entertained when they eat. These pubs don’t exist in the same numbers in the north, although there are plenty of clubs, bars and outdoor free festivals. But as well as numbers – Puerto de la Cruz cannot compete with the sheer scale of the trio of southern tourist resorts – the main difference is that bars in the south cater for British tastes and the best ones in Puerto cater for the local scene. If familiar sounds equate to offering a better nightlife, the south wins hands down… but if experiencing the local scene is more important, then it’s a different story. On the basis of choice though, the south wins.
South 5, North 4
Recently I spent a couple of nights at a hotel in the south of Tenerife that was popular with families. People rarely strayed from poolside and children spent the whole day messing around in the water. The bottom line is that with warm weather and access to a pool or the sea, you’ve got the perfect bank-account friendly ingredients to keep children happy as Larry for the whole holiday. Both south and north deliver this – a draw.
South 6, North 5
So the south wins overall by a nose. There are more tourist amenities in the south and the weather (in terms of sunshine) is better. But if it’s scenery, restaurants, traditions and culture, then the north is the better option.
Ultimately the south and north of Tenerife have contrasting personalities and qualities and subsequently will appeal to people with varying tastes. The real answer to which is best will depend on your preferences… and only you know what those are.
You gave very good summary, Jack. I agree with your comments in all categories but, personally, having lived in both South and North, I feel that the North has to win. The South is fine for Club 30 types (and those over 60s who still think that that are 30ish), but for quality of life, peace, tranquillity and beauty – it just HAS to be the North. The Northern locals are much friendlier, they are aware that we are not the run of the mill Tourists and treat us with respect and appreciate that we are here permanently. Even tourists in the North are treated better than in the South – this could be due to the fact that we have a different class of tourism in the North. I would say, the South is perfect for young holiday makers, Sun, Sangria etc., but the North is for the more discerning types of holiday makers and residents, be they foreigners , Canarians or Spaniards. Having lived in Isla Baja for many years we could never, ever return to the type of life in the South again. How sad that you gave the South 6 and the North 5!
I’m a northerner through and through and there’s no competition as far as I’m concerned. But that’s because of my preferences and in this particular case I was aiming for a more objectively ‘mainstream’ approach.
Giving the south 6 and the north 5 was deliberately throwing in a bit of a curve ball – many people who know our sites would expect it to go the other way. But the scoring part was just meant as a bit of fun and nonsense.
The real message is in the last two paragraphs 🙂
Thank you very much for this summary! I’m thinking of going to Tenerife for the first time next year in february, but was confused by the different information about the north and the south. Now that I’ve read this article I’m certain I will go the North if I plan to go to Tenerife!
If you are a wheelchair user the South wins as you can wheel or be pushed for miles. Have had five very happy holidays in Los Cristianos
Your commets have been helpful as i am planning a trip to Tenerife and i am struggling to decide South or North. I feel the Souths wins me over. BUT may i ask how long does it take to go fromt he south to the North? is it an easy travel?
We think getting from north to south or vice versa is easy. We can be in the south in an hour by car. Public transport takes longer but there’s an excellent bus service.
So if I wanted to move to Tenerife for beaches and all year round good weather it would have to be south or could I go to the North. What’s the weather like in the north. Would l need heating
If you’re coming solely for beaches and weather Maria I’d definitely advise the south and specifically the south west (from Playa San Juan to Los Gigantes area). We love the climate and vibe in the north and enjoy sunny weather most of the year. But we also like the change in seasons and a few day’s rain every now and again during parts of the year which is what you get in the north. It’s part of the life of the island (the south doesn’t totally escape either but it is warmer and drier – although when talking about a sub-tropical island it’s all relative).
What a great summary thank you it has been very helpful and well written to help decide on whether we go to the South or the North.
So if I decided to go and live there purely for the all year round climate would the north be wors than the south in regards to it being cold and wet?
I think it’s a very balanced summary. Having been to Tenerife twice a year for many years with my family for holidays we always base ourselves in the South. But there are so many beautiful areas in the North that we always make several trips North. I agree that the Spanish people in the North are more friendly and it’s a nicer climate generally I find. It is a few degrees cooler and often a little cloudy but much more comfortable if you like to get out and about rather than laying on a beach.
The North strikes me as far more authentic than the South. If your idea of fun is getting drunk in a Karaoke bar with a lot of brexit voting people from Romford then the South wins every time. If it is the opposite, head to the North!
Wow, what a nicely balanced comparison that answered many of my questions. And even though the South won by a nose in your more objective side-by-side analysis, I agree that it’s down to one’s preferences and the north would be (I think) more to my liking. Thanks for posting!
Thanks for your comment. The south only won when it came to the more touristy side of things, the north does better when it comes to authenticity and things the Canarios like 🙂
Is either easy to get around without a car? Which is easiest? Recommended sites for 3-4 days in North (late Oct-early Nov). Also, what clothing is needed then?
Yes, it’s relatively easy to get around without a car, there’s a good cheap bus service. Recommended sites depends on your likes, but you should find plenty of ideas on the website. And for clothing think warm weather but with a light waterproof jacket as that’s change of seasons and there can be heavy rain in places.
Is Maspalomas worth a daytrip (or 2 days) from Tenerife? Best budget-friendly way to get there (no driver’s licence). How much will it cost? Going late October
That depends on how long you’re staying on Tenerife. If it’s a long period then a jaunt across to other islands for a day or two is a good idea. If it’s for a short period I personally wouldn’t bother as it might dilute experiences of both places. I wouldn’t do it just to go to Maspalomas, but it does depend on what is important to you when you travel.