Family-friendly Tenerife. A cousin to the UK’s Scotland?

Teide National Park

The island of Tenerife, in the Spanish Canaries, shares a flag with Scotland. Some claim it’s accidental, and point out that the blue behind the white saltaire (the criss-cross shape) is a slightly different shade on the two flags. Others explain that the flags are the same because the two places share a patron saint: St Andrew (or San Andres, in family-friendly Tenerife).

Scottish flag

Scottish flag, or Tenerife’s?

Scottish folk celebrate their saint’s day by taking the day off work, and partying in the evening with a ceilidh, or traditional dance. In Tenerife, local children drag tin cans through the streets, to symbolize the pots and pans tied to a drunken San Andres, while he slept off the booze. Or so legend has it.

Scotland’s a favourite destination of ours, and we visit at least a couple of times a year, so I was interested to find out more about its flag-cousin, Tenerife. Two million Brits travelled there in 2016. Just exactly what is the draw behind family-friendly Tenerife?

The weather

Tenerife’s weather is pleasant all year round, with highs of 29° in August, and 26° in October. Unsurprising for an island less than 70 miles off the coast of Africa, its lowest average high, in January, is 19°. Pretty balmy, when you consider that this just happens to be the top temperature in Edinburgh, in an average July and August.

Sweet treats

The people of Tenerife share a penchant for sweet treats with their flag-cousins in Scotland. Instead of shortbread, they eat galletas gomeras, a rich, crumbly biscuit made from butter, flour, eggs, sugar, aniseed and cinnamon. Scotland’s cranachan, a mixture of oatmeal, cream, honey, whisky and raspberries, is replaced by gofio, a mousse made with a toasted grain flour, honey and almonds.

Churros with chocolate

Churros con chocolate. A sweet treat not to be missed!

Tenerife wouldn’t be Spanish if it didn’t have some of the best churros con chocolate to be found on the planet. Again, the islander’s love of chocolate is a shared one: we tasted some incredible cocoa products at the Cocoabean Company, which has branched in Dumfriesshire and Glasgow. In special workshops, under-18s have the chance to mould the molten chocolate themselves before gobbling it all up. I couldn’t find an alternative for Scotland’s battered Mars Bar among Tenerifian cuisine, although their frangollo sounds pretty delicious. It’s made from milk, corn flour, lemon, eggs, sugar, butter, raisins, almonds and cinnamon, and is a light dessert, which isn’t too sweet.

Teide National Park

Tenerife has a ton of natural beauty. Half of the island is protected for its biodiversity, with six different vegetation zones and many ravines and valleys. In the middle, UNESCO World Heritage site Teide National Park holds Spain’s highest mountain, the Pico del Teide volcano, where families can join a specially designed cablecar excursion. There’s also an observatory. The Canary Islands are recognised across the world for their near-perfect star-spotting conditions. The skies are even protected by law.

This is another thing Tenerife shares with Scotland. The Galloway Forest Park, in Dumfries and Galloway, is a Dark Skies park, where on a clear night over 3,000 stars twinkle overhead. But there isn’t a volcano in Scotland – not unless you count the one whose lava flow created Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa, 66 million years ago. With sea water lapping at its pillars, the cave wouldn’t look out of place in Game of Thrones. A local firm runs family-friendly trips around the cave, so you can get up close to the natural spectacle.

Teide National Park

Teide National Park, one of the best places in the world to see the stars.

Siam Water Park

Family-friendly Tenerife boasts the largest water park in Europe, with one of the highest water slides in the world. At the end of the 28-metre high Tower of Power, you even shoot through a giant shark-filled aquarium. Gretta from Mums Do Travel described the Thai-themed park as “brilliant fun”. It caters for all ages, with a huge Lost City play area designed specifically for very young children.

And Scotland? Well, there are a couple of heated outdoor swimming pools. The most notable are at Gourock, with views over the Clyde Estuary, and the art deco Stonehaven, which is the most northerly lido in the UK. Outdoor swimming’s less common in the north of the UK – but they do a mean line in warming cups of hot tea.


So: although it’s different in many ways, family-friendly Tenerife has many qualities in common with its flag-cousin, Scotland. We’ll be heading to the island soon, to test out the theory (and to try out some of that delicious frangallo…..)

Which do you prefer as a family holiday destination: Tenerife, or Scotland?

If you want to read more features on Spain, check out these other posts on the Pigeon Pair and Me:

Eight top things to do in Ibiza with kids

What to see and do on a rail journey through beautiful Asturias, Spain

This is a collaborative post. All views are my own. All images in the post are from Pixabay.

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Family-friendly Tenerife

Suitcases and Sandcastles


  • Plutonium Sox
    May 22, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    Oh this is interesting, I had no idea they were so similar! I love Tenerife, especially Teide National Park and I’d love to go to the observatory. I’m also a huge fan of Scotland and we try to get up there every year too.

    • Nell
      May 25, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      Yes, there are plenty of differences, but I was intrigued when I learned they share a flag!

  • Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)
    May 24, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    This is a clever take on it, Nell and interesting to compare the two countries, particularly as I know how much you love Scotland. I was impressed to find out about so much of the natural beauty of Tenerife too. There’s a lot more to the island than the touristy beaches in the south. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      May 25, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Yes, Tenerife is very appealing!

  • Hilary
    May 25, 2018 at 3:44 am

    What a fun post! We love Scotland, but haven’t ever been to the Canary Islands. We do however, love chocolate y churos! Looking forward to reading all about your island visit on #farawayfiles

    • Nell
      May 25, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      Mmmm, yes – it is very yummy indeed!

  • Carolyn Eddie
    May 25, 2018 at 3:59 am

    Great post. As a Scot love the comparison but I suspect most are going not because it is the same but because you can guarantee the weather. I have lived outside Scotland for over thirty years. I am now deciding I need to return and explore my own country as there is so much to see. Scotland for me!

    • Nell
      May 25, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      Yes, the weather is the big differential, I reckon.

  • Nicky @GoLiveYoung
    May 27, 2018 at 9:37 am

    What a great idea for a post. I had no idea that the two countries had any real similarities! We live Scotland so maybe we should Tenerife a go #FarawayFiles

    • Nell
      June 11, 2018 at 10:33 am

      I think them having the same flag is really interesting. Plenty of differences, but a few key things the same, too!


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