If you want to head to Tenerife in January in search of some winter sun, your best bet is to book into a southern beach resort. There you can expect lower average rainfall and higher temperatures than the north. Taking day trips means you can also experience the best of both worlds.
Europeans who are fed up with cold weather often head to the Canary Islands in search of some winter sun. With short flight times, cheap tickets and affordable accommodation available, there’s nowhere more accessible than Tenerife in January when you want to enjoy a warm, sunny climate during a short break or holiday.
In this article we will take a good look at the weather and what to do in January on the biggest and most popular Canary island. Despite the fact that this is one of the coldest months in the Canaries, people tend to flock here after spending the festive period with their friends and family.
In fact Tenerife is a lovely place to be when it’s cold elsewhere. But before you make up your mind about whether a winter visit is for you, here is all you need to know about visiting the island at the beginning of the year. The biggest bit of advice we can give is to choose the southern part of the island over the north during the chilliest season. Why? Let’s delve a little deeper.
Tenerife South vs Tenerife North in January
Tenerife has not one but two distinct microclimates (as well as two airports). Southern Tenerife has sunshine, warm to hot temperatures, and virtually no rain all year round. Including during January.
In the north, though, it’s a different story. Lower temperatures and more wet or cloudy weather can be expected here in winter.
Sometimes, the temperature variation between the north and south can be as much as 10 degrees celsius. For example, it could be 25°C in Playa de las Americas while it’s only 15°C in San Cristóbal de La Laguna.
However, this is the most marked contrast possible, as La Laguna is probably the chilliest and rainiest city on the island. Puerto de la Cruz, on the other hand, is much warmer. The difference between that location and the southern resorts could thus be around 5 degrees or so, rather than 10.
La Laguna is more cloudy and rainy in January than elsewhere in Tenerife, so we wouldn’t advise choosing this resort for a holiday in the sun. Why head there, when the sunshine, humidity and temperature is much more pleasant in the southern resorts?
Fun fact: The Los Gigantes area is considered to be the warmest place on the whole island. And we can confirm that. For around a year, we lived in Puerto de Santiago (which is adjacent to Los Gigantes). Every day we took one of the kids to the kindergarten in Playa de las Americas. There were several days during winter when it was sunny where we lived, yet it was cloudy and the temperature was a few degrees lower in more southerly Costa Adeje in January.
Don’t get us wrong, though. The weather is still amazing in the Costa Adeje and Playa de las Americas area for the vast majority of the time. Simply choose any southern resort and all will be good. If you do want to visit the best resort in Tenerife in January, however, the Los Gigantes area has to be the top option!
If you want to explore the whole island, your best bet is to stay in the south and make day trips to the north. Visiting the northern region is totally worth it – even in January – as it’s more lush and green than ever at this time of the year.
Let’s discuss some specific numbers. Daytime temperatures in Tenerife South in January range from 20 to 23°C on average. The temperature can be as high as 30°C on some days, though.
In the evenings it’s a bit cooler – typically around 18 to 19°C with the temperature dropping to an average of 16°C overnight. It’s considerably cooler than this in the north of the island – by day and by night.
Check out this table to see for yourself, which compares the afternoon and evening temperatures during January 2023 in Playa de las Americas and Puerto de la Cruz. This way you can see what to expect regarding the average temperature in Tenerife in January, according to which area you visit.
North vs South January Temperature Comparison Chart
So should you add swimming or water sports to your list of things to do in Tenerife in January?
It’s possible to swim in the ocean at this time of year, but most people do find that the water is a little too cool. The sea temperature in January is around 20 to 21°C. The same can be said of the island’s natural pools. In January they are generally too chilly to enjoy swimming in. Most are inaccessible in January anyway due to stormy seas at this time of the year.
That said, you’re likely to see many tourists enjoying the ocean, while the locals steer clear. People from northern countries do seem to tolerate chilly water better! Sheltered beaches such as Los Cristianos, Las Vistas and El Camison tend to be the warmest.
Despite relatively cool water temperatures, the weather is perfect for sunbathing, so don’t forget your swimsuit. If the Atlantic ocean is too chilly for your liking, you always take a dip in a hotel’s heated pool instead.
While we’re on the topic of water activities, let’s discuss Siam Park. Tenerife’s main water park is open all year round, so you will have no problem with visiting in January.
Siam Park is quieter in winter, and has heated water. So it’s a year-round attraction. Do visit during sunny weather, though, as it can feel chilly there, especially when going from one ride to another. Check out our Siam Park guide for more helpful tips.
Rain and Wind
January does have a reputation for being the windiest and rainiest month in Tenerife. But you will probably experience none of that if you stay in the south. Unless you pick a notoriously windy place such as El Medano: here it’s windy all year long and even more so during January.
But most of the rain and wind affecting the island in winter hits the north of the island.
If you plan to travel all over the island, then yes, your plans may be disrupted by weather. But it’s nothing like the rainy season in Southeast Asia, for instance. Rain showers are usually short, and often take place at night. At the end of the day much of it depends on luck. It can rain for a week straight in the north, or could be sunny for your entire holiday.
The bottom line when choosing the best place to stay in Tenerife in January? Pick any of the destinations in the southern part of the island and all will be well weather-wise.
What to Pack for Tenerife in January
Those who plan to visit Tenerife at the start of the year should pack T-shirts and shorts, or a light dress for daylight hours, plus a cardigan, fleece or light jacket for chilly evenings. If you are a person who feels the cold more than average, a pair of jeans to wear after sunset can also come in handy.
A swimsuit is of course a necessity, as is a sun hat. This guidance applies when you’re packing for the southern resorts.
If you do plan to visit northern towns (especially those at higher elevations) or visit Mount Teide, don’t forget to pack a sweater and a down jacket. It can actually reach zero degrees celsius in Teide National Park in January. If you’ll be taking a Teide stargazing tour at night, pack even more warm layers. Add a cosy hat and gloves to protect your ears and hands too.
For January hikes, pack sturdy hiking shoes or boots to wear on the trail. If you want to do some water sports, bringing or hiring a wetsuit can also be a wise idea.
Epiphany Day or Procession of the Three Wise Men
This takes place on 6th January. The day is a national holiday, so do expect shops to be closed. Celebrations, parades and events take place in all the island’s main towns and resorts for Epiphany Day.
Though partying happens all over the island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the number one place to be. Here a procession led by the Three Wise Men is a major celebration. Spectators gather, kids are given sweets and camels are ridden through the centre of the capital.
In fact 6th January is when many children in Spain are given their main gifts, rather than on Christmas Day.
Religious Festival of San Sebastián
The festival in honour of San Sebastián takes place on 20th January. Costa Adeje plays a key part in the celebrations. The festivities begin with a midday mass, then a procession travels between the church and the coast. This is led by animals like goats, camels, sheep, cows, donkeys and oxen as well as people.
At Playa de la Enramada, both humans and their creatures enter the ocean. A statue of the saint is also placed on the shore, and this is said to calm the waters. Both man and beast then return to the chapel to receive the priest’s blessing.
When they reach the beach of Enramada, they enter the sea and the statue of San Sebastián is placed on the shore. It is said that in the saint’s presence, the sea which is often very rough in this area, becomes calm. The participants and animals then return to the chapel in Plaza de San Sebastián to be blessed by the parish priest.
The Pros and Cons
So, to sum it up, here are the main advantages and disadvantages of visiting Tenerife at the beginning of the year.
Pros of Visiting in January
- It’s cheaper to go on holiday to places like Playa de las Americas in January. There’s also fewer tourists than during the summer peak season.
- January is a great month for shopping in Tenerife. Annual sales kick off on 7th January, and can last until March. Find out more about this in our shopping guide.
- The weather is warm and sunny in the southern resorts, with temperatures of around 21 to 25°C during the day. This means you can spend time on the beach without the harsh sunlight of summer. Winter has a UV index of around 4, compared to 10 or more during summer.
- Even though the best times for hiking in Tenerife are spring and autumn, winter does come close. It’s way better to hike in winter, than under the scorching summer sun. More frequent rainfall also makes the north of the island – where the majority of the hiking is – much greener. It’s so nice to see after experiencing the desert-like South.
- If you’re lucky, you may get to see the majestic Teide covered in snow during January. And if you’re fortunate enough to find that the roads to Teide are open, you can experience hot sunny weather in southern Tenerife and snowfall in the north of the island. All via a short, one hour drive.
- Somewhere between the middle and the end of January, the island’s almond trees start to blossom and this is a sight not to miss. Local residents love this time of year and often head out hiking to enjoy the natural phenomenon. You don’t need to travel to see the trees, either: they’re scattered all over the island. The best place to see them, though, is near the small town of Arguayo. Drive to the end of this road, park your car and head towards the mountain. If you are up for a hike, the trail also starts here and you can use this map.
- If you are into surfing and windsurfing – and you are experienced – the waves in January are amazing. This is true all over the island, and it’s also more windy.
- If you are wondering what to do in January, the good news is that you can do the same things as at any time of year. Unlike mainland European resorts, no activities on this island depend on the month of your visit!
Cons of Visiting in January
- As you might expect, the days are shorter during the winter months. The sun rises at around 8 am in January, and goes down at 6 pm. In July, sunrise is at about 7 am, and sunset is at around 9 pm.
- The ocean temperature is a bit too chilly for many people to enjoy swimming in (around 20°C). That said, there’s often plenty of tourists splashing around in the ocean! Beach days are a reality, however, and there’s no harm in trying out the water where conditions are calm.
- One of the advantages we listed was seeing Mount Teide covered in snow. But this could also be classed as a disadvantage. When there is a considerable amount of snow around the volcano – such as between December and February – the roads will be closed so you can’t drive there. The cable car may not operate on these days either. When Teide National Park does reopen, thousands of people tend to rush up there, resulting in traffic jams and parking problems.
To explore Tenerife to the fullest and at your own pace, we highly recommend renting a car. Our favourite place for car rental is the RentalCars website. It allows you to compare different providers and pick the best deal. You also get the best protection and flexibility for booking terms.
We also recommend taking at least one guided tour. Our favourite place for booking tours in Tenerife is GetYourGuide.
Top 3 excursions on the island:
- A whale and dolphin watching (pick by location: Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes).
- Stargazing in Teide National Park
- Kayaking and Snorkeling with Turtles
The best hotels for families with kids (in our opinion):
Luxury: GF Victoria (Costa Adeje) or Bahia Principe Fantasia (Golf del Sur)
Mid-Range: Spring Hotel Bitácora (Playa de las Americas) or Iberostar Bouganville Playa (Costa Adeje)
Budget: GF Isabel (Costa Adeje) or Paradise Park Fun Lifestyle Hotel (Los Cristianos)
The best adults-only hotels:
Luxury: Iberostar Grand El Mirador (Costa Adeje) or Gran Melia Palacio de Isora (Alcalá)
Mid-Range: Tigotan Lovers & Friends (Playa de las Americas) or Iberostar Selection Sábila (Costa Adeje)
Budget: Barceló Santiago (Puerto de Santiago)
Top hotels for everyone:
Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama or Bahia del Duque (Costa Adeje)
Mid-Range: Hard Rock Hotel (Playa Paraiso) or Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa (Costa Adeje)
Budget: Alexandre Hotel Gala or Olé Tropical Tenerife (both Playa de las Americas)