If you've got just 24 hours on your hands, your express tour of Tenerife should definitely include the three must-sees: Mount Teide, La Laguna and Candelaria.
Teide National Park
What better way to start the day than atop Spain's highest peak, 3,178 m (12,198 ft) high? Teide National Park is home to magical settings and native plant species, such as the Teide Violet or the bugloss. At the foot of the volcano, the Ucanca Valley reveals its desert-like landscape and lunar beauty.
If you want to reach the summit, the cable car will drop you off just 200 m (650 ft) below. Then, you will need a permit from the National Park's office to climb the final stretch to the top on foot.
San Cristóbal de La Laguna
Next on the "must-see map" is the city of San Cristóbal de la Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its own irresistible character. To get there, take the TF-24 from El Portillo. Visitors flock to its historic quarter every day, eager to explore the colonial charm of its old buildings and its charming cobbled streets.
The La Concepción church tower, the Tenerife History Museum, the Diocese Building and the Cathedral are just some of the sites that are worth visiting whilst here. The streets of La Laguna are buzzing with lively groups of young people, but are also full of elegant ladies and gentlemen taking a leisurely evening stroll. Families with kids while away their hours at its many children's play areas. The city is a hive of art and culture with an astonishing eclectic variety.
Shopping here is another great option. Take your pick from retro fashion items and bold vintage accessories or exclusive designer items hot off the catwalk. For the interior designer in you, there is also a range of decorative products, from minimalist to classical, made by the Island's craftsmen.
And to round off the day, recharge your batteries in one – or several – of its hundreds of cosy taverns and cafés. Treat yourself to the local "barraquito", a dose of coffee topped with fresh milk and a dash of condensed milk to taste, plus a few drops of liquor and a slice of lemon rind, topped off with a sprinkling of cinnamon – exquisite!
Anaga Country Park
Don't worry if you're not tempted by the bustle of the city. What you are looking for is not far away. The nearby Anaga Country Park is one of Tenerife's most stunning natural areas. The lookout point at Cruz del Carmen on the Monte de las Mercedes affords spectacular views over the laurel forests that cover the mountainside and the farmland beyond, with its colourful country houses sprinkled about the land.
Picturesque hamlets and welcoming restaurants are dotted along the roadside as it ventures into the park. Don't expect any fancy frills. This is about savouring the typical substantial dishes of traditional Canarian cuisine, including the local stew and rabbit in 'salmorejo' sauce.
Heading further south along the TF-1 motorway, Candelaria entices visitors with its charm. This small town is home to the Basilica of the Virgin of La Candelaria, the patron saint of the Canary Islands. In the square, right by the sea, huge statues of Guanche people guard the basilica representing the nine Guanche leaders who reigned in Tenerife before the arrival of the Spanish. The surrounding pedestrianised streets are full of shops where you will find the perfect souvenir of your stay. The most popular is the image of the Virgin of La Candelaria, the patron saint of the archipelago.