Tenerife in December: reasons to visit & guide for 2023

Are you thinking about visiting Tenerife in December? Read on, as I explain why that’s a great idea!

Tenerife is a stunning island in the Canary Islands archipelago of Spain, situated just off the west coast of Africa. 

What does this mean? 

Much milder winters than elsewhere in Europe!

I’ve visited this island a few times and can attest that it’s a fantastic December destination. 

It offers beaches, a variety of resorts, great weather even in December, a rich culture and history, and delicious food. 

Plus, if you’re into hiking, the weather is ideal.

So, whether you’re looking for a Christmas break in Tenerife or are planning on visiting at the start of December, here are all my top reasons to get booking that flight!

Reasons to visit Tenerife in December

There are countless reasons to visit Tenerife in December, from winter sunshine to Spanish Christmas celebrations! Let’s dive in:

Winter sun

This had to be the first reason, didn’t it? 

Tenerife is one of the warmest – if not the warmest – destinations in Europe during December

You can expect temperatures in the early 20s, maybe even up to 25 degrees celsius. 

That’s certainly sunbathing weather for us Brits at least! 

It’s typically a little bit warmer than other Canary Islands, like Lanzarote, in December.

The south of Tenerife is very dry, meaning it’s quite unlikely to rain. 

So, you’ll probably have a good chance of a beach holiday. 

While the weather isn’t as hot as mainland Spain in the summer, it’s comfortable (which mainland Spain in the summer certainly isn’t!). 

Top tip: When booking, I recommend sticking hotels with heated swimming pools, as non-heated ones can be chilly in winter. 

Also, some hotel pools do close in the winter, so if swimming is a must for you, double-check at the time of booking!

All of the hotels I recommend further on in this post have heated swimming pools for the winter months.

Perfect weather for hiking

Tenerife in December isn’t just about lounging by the pool. It’s also perfect weather for hiking and exploring the island’s phenomenal nature! 

Tenerife is a volcanic island, offering some really rugged natural beauty to explore.

The most famous site is Teide National Park, which is home to Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak. 

You can hike to the top of Mount Teide, but be aware that temperatures will drop as you gain altitude. 

In fact, Mount Teide is pretty much the only place where you can experience snow in Tenerife in December and throughout the winter. 

There are plenty of other hiking trails in Tenerife as well.

The Anaga Mountains are particularly scenic, with lovely viewpoints and glorious nature. 

We also did a wonderful nature walk to Cueva del Viento, a lava cave near Icod de los Vinos in the north of the island. 

Celebrating Christmas in Tenerife

Do you have plans to spend Christmas in Tenerife? 

While the island may be warmer than most European Christmas destinations, it’s still part of Spain and celebrates the holiday season with enthusiasm!

Christmas markets may lack gluhwein, but they still buzz with festivities and twinkling lights.

You’ll see nativity scenes and, depending on where you are, there may be festive singing and performances. Santa Cruz has a performance on 25th December in the evening. 

 Like with mainland Spain, the main celebration in Tenerife is on 24th December, Christmas Eve, which is called Nochebuena.

Locals will usually stay in and eat tapas, a main meal of meat and potatoes and a dessert. If you’re staying at a resort, they’ll usually have an event where you can try this Spanish custom yourself! 

There will likely be other festive events throughout December in Tenerife at your resort, but double-check when booking if having these is important to you!

Don’t miss trying Turron, a sweet nougat snack that’s popular throughout Spain in December (from Barcelona to Malaga and the Canaries!) throughout the Christmas period. 

Take a dip in the sea on Christmas Day! 

The water in December retains some of its summer warmth. It’s not warm, but it is one of the few places in Europe where you can enjoy a Christmas Day swim!

Temperatures are generally adequate for taking a dip, especially compared to January or February when the water gets colder.

Ideal weather for exploring Tenerife’s towns

The weather in Tenerife is about 8-10 degrees cooler in winter compared to summer – it’s ideal for exploring the island! 

From mountain wineries to fascinating lava caves, there’s an abundance to see in Tenerife in December, and it’s prime weather for getting out and about. 

Towns and cities like Puerto de la Cruz are glorious in the winter months. Walk around Puerto de la Cruz and enjoy architecture by César Manrique, or head to Icod de los Vinos to see the Dracaena Draco – the Canary Islands’ famous tree! 

Watersports in winter

The Canary Islands are pretty much the only place in Europe where you can enjoy watersports in December!

Whether you’re interested in surfing, jet-skiing, or stand-up paddleboarding, the island has it all. For most watersports, you’ll be comfortable wearing a wetsuit in winter. 

Fancy SCUBA diving? Don’t miss the unique “Cathedral” dive site, which gets its name because it’s a huge rock that looks like an underwater cathedral. 

Then there’s Siam Park, one of Europe’s most renowned water parks. 

Open nearly every day of the year, this water park boasts a broad array of water slides, including a slide that passes through a shark tank. 

With a mix of rapids, twisty slides, and sheer drops, it offers something for every age group and is a complete family day out!

Night skies and star gazing

December skies over Tenerife are particularly clear, and the island is widely regarded as one of the best places for stargazing in the world.

Skies are clearest at the top of Mount Teide (remember that it will be cold here!) and I’d recommend taking part in a tour to really get the most out of the night skies. Tours will include transport, an expert stargazer and equipment. 

Click here to read more about it.

Whale and dolphin watching

While Europe is hunkering down for winter, the waters surrounding Tenerife are a playground for marine life! 

Companies offer boat tours designed for spotting whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. 

And they don’t hide in the winter – the strait between Tenerife and La Gomera is perfect for spotting them. In fact, when I did a whale-watching tour in Tenerife, we saw about five whales! 

Click here to read more about and book a whale-watching tour!

All Saint’s Day

Stay in Tenerife for 28th December, and you’ll witness Day of the Innocents.

This is the Spanish version of April Fool’s Day, and it’s pretty hilarious. 

Like April Fool’s, locals come up with pranks and tricks and try to fool both tourists and their friends and family! 

If you’re on the island on the 28th, keep your wits about you – you never know who might be tricking you – and maybe think of a prank or two to pull yourself! 

New Year’s Eve

Staying in Tenerife to ring in the new year? 

It’s a fantastic place to do so.

There will be parties at many resorts across the island, and nightclubs in places like Playa de las Americas will throw open their doors to welcome tourists and locals alike. 

If you fancy something a bit more local, towns and cities across the island have their own New Years celebrations – usually starting around 10:00 pm and lasting until the early hours (some even until 6:00 am – that’s Spain for you!). 

Partake in New Year’s Traditions like eating 12 grapes at midnight and wearing red underwear for luck for the year ahead!

And the next day – while you might have a bit of a sore head (Canarian wine will be abundant, wherever you are!), the beach is calling! 

Plus, if you can stay on the island, 6th January is Three King’s Day, the finale of Christmas celebrations in Spain

Of course, they celebrate this elsewhere in the country too, so you could head to Malaga in January or elsewhere to enjoy this celebration.

Things to do in Tenerife in December

  • Stargaze during a guided night tour at Teide Observatory for an unparalleled view of the December skies.
  • Attend a traditional ‘Misa de Gallo’ Midnight Mass to celebrate Spanish-style Christmas.
  • Take a dedicated boat tour for whale and dolphin watching in the warmer winter waters.
  • Sample seasonal dishes like ‘Truchas de Batata’ at a Tenerife food festival.
  • Enjoy a quieter visit to popular beaches like Playa de Las Américas to avoid the crowds.
  • Zip-line through forests or go on Jeep safaris to explore the island’s diverse landscapes.
  • Witness the majesty of Mount Teide by hiking the famous Teide National Park.
  • Celebrate the incoming year at either Plaza del Charco or Plaza de España with local grapes and fireworks.
  • Experience Tenerife’s vibrant nightlife by attending beach parties and live events.
  • Enjoy luxurious dining at upscale restaurants offering special New Year’s Eve menus.
  • Wash away the old and welcome the new by participating in a morning swim in the sea
  • Discover local architecture and cultural heritage in towns like Puerto de la Cruz.
  • Surf, jet ski, or go stand-up paddleboarding to participate in watersports in the milder winter climate.
  • Spend an entire day experiencing the thrills at Siam Park, one of Europe’s most renowned water parks.

Check out my Tenerife in winter article for more information about what to do all over the island during this season.

Where to stay in Tenerife in December

Here are my three favourite places to stay in Tenerife in December, all with heated pools!

Olé Tropical Tenerife

Step into Olé Tropical Tenerife, a sanctuary in the heart of Playa de las Américas.

Find yourself just a 550-meter stroll from the sun-soaked beach and five minutes’ drive from the lush greens of Golf Las Américas.

Engage your senses in the hotel’s two cocktail bars—one situated by the outdoor pool—while tapping your foot to live music on a dance floor that buzzes with energy.

Unwind in air-conditioned rooms, each featuring a flat-screen TV and private balcony.

Click here to read more about it.

Bahia Principe Sunlight Costa Adeje

Bahia Principe Sunlight Costa Adeje is your gateway to the good life in the Canary Islands.

Located just a stone’s throw from Playa Las Salinas, the property offers far more than just a comfortable stay.

It begins at the 24-hour front desk, where the staff is ready to meet your needs, day or night.

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or a leisure seeker, the hotel has you covered with a well-maintained outdoor swimming pool and a variety of sports activities, including table tennis and darts.

Beyond the recreation, you’ll find an array of dining options to suit your palate, from continental to American to vegetarian breakfasts.

The rooms don’t skimp on luxury either, featuring air conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and terraces that open up to scenic views.

Click here to read more about it.

Hotel Botanico y Oriental Spa Garden

Discover a realm of luxury at Hotel Botanico y Oriental Spa Garden.

Set amid lush gardens with Atlantic Ocean and Mount Teide views, this haven is in the north of the island, in the town of Puerto de la Cruz.

Here, opulent rooms feature large, fully-equipped bathrooms and expansive balconies.

Indulge your senses in a 3,500-square-meter spa, complete with indoor and outdoor pools, Turkish baths, and a Japanese sauna.

Sample gastronomic delights from four on-site restaurants, including al fresco dining at La Palmera.

This hotel’s an experience in itself!

Click here to read more about it.

Weather in Tenerife in December

The weather in Tenerife in December is pretty good – much warmer than most other places in Europe!

Here’s a table with the conditions you can expect: 

Average daily max temperature22.2°C (72°F)
Average daily min temperature16.6°C (62°F)
Average relative humidity (%)67%
Average rainfall (mm)31
Average sunshine (hours/day)6
Average wind speed (mph)4.5
Average sea surface temperature21°C (70°F)

What to pack for Tenerife in December

  • Light layers
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Swimsuit
  • Light jacket
  • Small backpack
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Prescription medications
  • Personal toiletries
  • Camera
  • Smartphone
  • Travel adapter
  • Spare batteries
  • Portable charger
  • Snacks
  • Travel documents
  • Identification
  • Cash
  • Credit cards
  • Basic first-aid kit

Travel Tips for Tenerife in December

  • Check the Weather Forecast: Before your departure, it’s a good idea to check the local weather conditions.
  • Dress in Layers: Tenerife’s climate can change quite a bit from morning to night. Layering is the way to go.
  • Book Early for Popular Spots: Places like Siam Park or diving experiences can fill up fast, so make your reservations early. Unlike most of Europe’s mild destinations in winter like Marbella and Malaga, it’s actually the busy season in Tenerife!
  • Watch for UV Levels: Even in December, the sun in Tenerife can be strong. Use sunscreen and wear a hat.
  • Mind the Altitude: If you’re hiking in Mount Teide National Park, be cautious as you gain altitude. The air gets thinner and temperatures drop.
  • Try Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on local dishes like papas arrugadas or fresh seafood.
  • Reserve Restaurants in Advance: Popular eateries can book up, especially around the holidays!

Remember these tips, and your December trip to Tenerife will be flawless!

Are you ready for December in Tenerife?

As long as you plan it right, you’ll love your Christmas trip to Tenerife! Don’t forget to save this article for your trip planning.

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