Here is just a little post about an easy day trip I took while staying in the north of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It’s maybe just an excuse to share some photos but, hey, is that so wrong?
First of all; nope, I’m not at all an expert on the Canary Islands. I spent most of my time in the north and I think that was (by accident) a good choice. From what I saw and heard, it seemed to be on the less-touristy side and that was what I wanted. Having said that, everyone speaks English so you won’t get in trouble. I cracked out my school girl Spanish at every opportunity and got myself in some laughably confused conversations for no reason at all.
Puerto de la Cruz
Puerto de la Cruz is a bit of a hike from the main airport, which is in the south and is called Tenerife South. No confusion there. There is another airport in the north though, so you could see if you can get a flight there instead if you were keen.
I was arriving really late at night so I hopped on an airport transfer and really for the money it was worth it. I booked through cheapesttaxis.com and it cost about £12 for a 90min journey.
There are public buses that are a cheaper option (during the day) but take far longer and you have to change at least once.
Or of course you could hire a car.
The main charm of Puerto de la Cruz for me was the cute little pedestrian streets – by lucky chance I stayed on one smack bang in the middle of this area on Calle del Lomo.
It turned out to be perfect as it was walking distance to beaches (Playa Jardin – a black sand beach so not really for me but worth visiting for the rock garden and gorgeous graveyard) (sunscreen was apparently not en vogue and be warned – it is very expensive to buy there and basically maxes out at SPF 15 so BYO), the central square (Plaza del Charco), a wide range of restaurants and the main bus terminal. Perfecto.
You can also get a free street train thing to Loro Parque which is like a water park I think? I didn’t want to go but was tempted to hop on the train for the heck of it.
After one day wandering the streets of Puerto de la Cruz I was ready to see something different. I’m not much of a beach-or-pool-lazer.
So I took myself off to La Orotava!
It was super easy to get there.
Head to the bus terminal on Calle San Felipe (ok, I had a little trouble because google maps let me down and was pointing me to a street on the wrong side of a car park – so if you are lost, try the next street. It will be really obvious with buses everywhere).
There are a range of buses you can get (101, 345, 352 etc) – just look at the signs. La Orotava will be written on one. The ride takes about 20-25 minutes and you pay the driver as you get on.
When you arrive just follow the signs up the hill to the old town. It’s about a 10 minute walk.
La Orotava is a bit higher up the hill so you will get nice views of the coast in one direction and the volcano El Teide in the other.
Many of the island’s wealthiest families settled in La Orotava after the Spanish conquest (I thought the name might translate to something to do with gold, but it doesn’t seem to have an English equivalent, so these brackets are a dead end).
As you arrive you’ll see the Orotava valley is full of banana plantations, which are beautiful.
The town of La Orotava is still Tenerife’s most aristocratic with fancy schmancy streets of houses like this looking out over the ocean:
The streets of the old town are lined with Renaissance mansions and architectural treasures such as churches and convents; independent shops; restaurants and beautiful gardens.
A big attraction in the town seemed to be the Casa de los Balcones on Calle San Francisco. I’m not sure about the history – it was featured in Time magazine one time when there was a big parade in the street, and I guess it was just owned by a really rich family? Anyway, it was nice to poke around the courtyard and the museum and shop.
Apparently the woodwork is made from Canary pine and is notable because a) it’s really hard to carve like that and b) it’s last hundreds of years without ever being treated.