Some Tips About Driving on Tenerife

Mon, March 14th, 2011 - By Jack Montgomery

Depending on who you talk to, driving on Tenerife is an absolute joy or a descent into a world of madmen and women.

Having seven years experience of driving all over Tenerife on a weekly basis, from its busiest four lane motorway to winding one lane, dirt track affairs, I fall into the ‘it’s a joy’ camp…but with a few reservations.

There is a marked difference between the way Tinerfeños drive on the TF motorways (especially between Costa Adeje, Playa de las Américas, Los Cristianos and the south airport and also between La Laguna and Santa Cruz) and the way they drive on country roads.

The motorways are designed for getting from A to B as quickly as possible and as such, some locals can use them to fuel their fantasies of being Fernando Alonso. If you’re in their way they flash their headlights furiously as they race towards you at the speed of a jet plane. It doesn’t matter if there’s a queue of traffic blocking the inside lane, they want you to move…NOW.

On these occasions I fantasize I’m driving James Bond’s Aston Martin. One press of a button and BOOM, the problem is gone.

What’s even more infuriating are the drivers who overtake you, pull into the inside lane and then drop way below the speed limit leaving you no choice but to overtake them…and hey ho, the whole charade begins all over again. Consistency and driving aren’t words that are related in the Tinerfeño vocabulary.

In the countryside it’s a completely different scenario. Life in the Tenerife hills passes at a languid pace and so does life on the roads where moving out of second gear is almost considered reckless behaviour by fedora wearing drivers.
Banana trucks, oversized lawn mowers with trailers, Toyota Pickups and ancient Mercs all seem to have a raison d’être of reducing those behind them to a snail’s pace. Not so much of a problem if you happen to be sightseeing, but hellishly frustrating if you’re trying to get anywhere in a hurry.

Despite the differences between the slow pace of life in the hills and the hi-speed alternative on the motorways, driving on Tenerife is mostly safe and fun…as long as you’re aware of these cardinal rules:

  1. Never use the inside lane of a roundabout; it just isn’t done. Try it and you will be stuck there for days.
  2. When the car in front indicates left, it doesn’t mean it’s actually turning left. The left indicator warns that the car is slowing down because of traffic queues or for a pedestrian crossing.
  3. Always keep an eye on the left arm that hangs limply out of the driver’s window in front. A flick of it indicates that the car is about to turn, to tell you they’re about to cut you up or to apologise for having done so.
  4. And finally never, ever attempt to drive through La Laguna at 9pm on a Monday morning if you want to remain sane.


Posted : Monday, March 14th, 2011 at 11:14 am
Category : days out
Subscribe : RSS 2.0

One Response to “Some Tips About Driving on Tenerife”

  1. islandmomma says:

    I love that “you will stuck there for days.” !! It’s so not an exaggeration!

    The left-hand indicator thing is useful though. Find it hard not to do that elsewhere. Apparently they do it in Cuba, so that should be useful when I finally get to go there!

Leave a Reply