Which part of Tenerife has the best weather in January?
On an island with six distinct climates: ranging from Hot Desert to Subarctic (at high altitude around Mount Teide), it is essential to consider carefully where to stay on the island. This is especially important in January when the difference in temperature between Tenerife’s North and South Airports is more than 5 degrees Celsius.
In general, the south-west of the island has much sunnier weather, since it is sheltered from the prevailing north-easterly trade winds by the high mountains of the interior. The highest mountain on the island, Mount Teide (3,715m – 12,188ft) is often covered in snow at this time of year, and sometimes the road through Las Cañadas is closed due to bad weather. All of which can be in stark contrast against the sunbathers on the beach at sea level.
Guaranteed sunshine or Travel Industry Lies?
There is an incredible amount of inaccurate information being circulated about the winter weather in the Canary Islands. Not all of this is positive spin from the travel industry attempting to sell sun holidays in January. Often the temperatures reported are from cooler parts of the island (e.g. Tenerife North Airport) and sometimes they are just plain wrong, such as in the screenshot below where TUI report an average nighttime low of 2°C in Puerto de la Cruz in January (in reality, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Puerto de la Cruz is 10.9°C).
Often these inaccuracies are due to automated systems taking values from weather stations that are geographically close to a resort town, but separated by altitude or mountains. It is very common to see weather apps reporting temperatures that are a few degrees colder than the actual temperature in Costa Adeje or Los Cristianos.
Conversely, Tour Operators often exaggerate how good the weather is in the Canary Islands in January, and it should be remembered that this is the coldest month of the year in Tenerife. The south of Tenerife has some of the best weather in the Canaries at this time of year, and there’s usually plenty of sunshine. Just remember that there is always the chance of some rain, and if there is bad weather at this time of year, it can often last for several days.
To get accurate reporting of current weather conditions and temperatures, visit the Spanish Meteorological Agency’s website for government weather station data or Wunderground for data from private weather stations.
Daytime Maximum Temperatures
In January, Tenerife South Airport sees average daily high temperatures of 21.7°C, while Tenerife North Airport sees average daily maximums of 16°C. The resorts on the south coast (Playa de las Americas etc.) will typically see daytime temperatures of between 20 and 26°C at this time of year. The island’s capital, Santa Cruz, sees average daily highs of 21°C.
Up in the mountains, the weather station at Izaña (2371 metres above sea level) sees daily maximums of just 7.5°C. The highest temperature ever recorded at Tenerife South Airport in January is 29.3°C, recorded on the 15th of the month in 2016.
At night, temperatures around the coast drop to around 15 or 16 degrees Celsius in January. This is cool enough that you will definitely want a jacket, cardigan or fleece if you plan on sitting outside at night. At this time of year, Izaña sees average nightly lows of 1.1°C, while the Parador in Cañadas del Teide National park will see likely see sub-zero temperatures on most nights.
As always, the south is generally sunnier than the north, with about 2 completely overcast days during the entire month in the South, and 5 – 7 completely overcast days in the North. In the South, there will usually be some cloud in the sky on most days, with varying amounts of sunshine mixed in.
As with cloud cover, there is also a huge difference between the north and south when it comes to rain. In general, north-facing slopes get the most rain, and Tenerife North Airport sees an average of 11.2 days with rain over 0.1mm in January. Conversely, Tenerife South Airport sees an average of 2.8 days with rain over 0.1mm during this month. In terms of total rainfall, Tenerife South Airport sees an average 16.6mm over the month, while the North Airport sees 84.4mm.
The sea temperature around Tenerife is usually 19 or 20°C in January. This is just warm enough for a quick dip on a sunny day, but you will likely need a wetsuit if you plan to spend a long time in the water.
The weather in January varies considerably from year to year – some years can be cool and cloudy with lots of rain, while others can be warm and sunny. The best advice that we can offer is that if sunshine is your priority, then stay in the south of the island to maximise your chances of getting sunny weather.