TENERIFE – TOP DESTINATIONS ROADTRIP (Story by Yurena Rodriguez Diaz)
If you are going to Tenerife for a couple of days, we recommend that you follow the route we suggest below, so that you can enjoy some of the island’s top spots in just a few days.
VISITING THE CITIES SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA LAGUNA
The city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, founded in the 15th century, should be at the top of your list when you arrive in Tenerife. As you stroll through the streets of its historic quarter, named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, you can feel and witness its classic European magic.
The city has a universal and exceptional value for how it was created. The historic complex is the archetype of the “cityterritory”. It is the first example of a non-fortified city, designed and built according to a plan inspired by navigation, the science of the time. Make sure you also reserve time for the Plaza del Adelantado, the Cathedral of La Laguna, and the Church of La Concepción or La Casa Linares. When your legs begin to feel weary, stop by any café and sip “barraquito” (a traditional coffee drink) and simply watch the world go by.
It’s very easy to fall in love with this city. Every corner is a delight for the senses, lively, colorful, yet tranquil. It’s lined with historic buildings in bright colors as well as monuments and palatial mansions. But don’t let these sights dominate your time; the shopping district, fantastic restaurants and cafes are also equally inviting.
If you have a car, I recommend you leave the old town and visit Chinamada, a popular destination for hikers with a majestic view, hidden in the Anaga Massif, a mountain with an elevation of 852 meters.
Chinamada is a small place famous for its cave houses built into the mountains and its breathtaking viewpoints overlooking the farm terraces on one side, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. At the end of the path there is a restaurant where you can enjoy typical Canarian cuisine before returning.
La Orotava, declared a Historic-Artistic Site, is one of the most beautiful towns on Tenerife, renowned for its outstanding, well-preserved colonial buildings which lead to the town center.
The historic quarter of this municipality is divided into the Villa de Abajo, where the wealthiest families of the municipality once lived, and the Villa de Arriba, which looks somewhat humble, although still an attraction of great architectural value.
A visit to the Casa de Los Balcones reveals Canarian-style architecture with vast and neatly-designed interior courtyards. Located just opposite is the Gofio Mill which I particularly enjoyed visiting. Gofio is a staple in the islanders’ diet. It is toasted flour made from grains, cereals, and legumes, and considered an ingredient, not a dish, by the locals. Although it has a peculiar taste, it is very nutritious. As a Canarian, it’s one of my favorite foods as it can be eaten in so many ways.
Another impressive place is Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where a carpet of volcanic sand is made every year during the Corpus Christi festivities. A short walk further will take you to the majestic church of La Concepción, declared a Historic Monument in 1948. Its dome and towers flanking its façade form part of the most characteristic landscape of La Orotava.
Whenever I go to La Orotava, I always stop for a slice of cake and an Appletiser (apple drink) at Casa Lercaro, an old Canarian mansion, and take some time to immerse in the atmosphere. The origin of the House of Lercaro, also known as the House of Ponte Fonte, can be traced back to the mid-17th century with the marriage of Don Jerónimo de Ponte Fonte y Pagés and Doña Catalina Grimaldi Rizzo de Lugo. It is one of the many beautiful houses in La Orotava worth visiting for its unique design.
Nowadays, La Casa Lercaro is a popular venue for events as it boasts well-crafted sgraffito (a form of glass making) and the originality of its four balconies made of wood and iron.
PUERTO DE LA CRUZ
Very close to La Orotava is Puerto de la Cruz, a place known for its captivating dark, volcanic sandy beaches and the huge Loro Parque Zoo to the west. Facing the sea is Lago Martiánez, a complex of saltwater pools designed by the architect César Manrique. The old port is home to a 17th-century customs house and the Batería de Santa Bárbara, a dilapidated 18th-century fortification.
It is one of my favorite cities. You can feel the sea breeze while strolling on the cobbled streets or have dinner and gelato on a seaside terrace. That is always how I perfect my trip whenever I’m there. The Mequinez Street, a pedestrian street full of street art, is a discovery in itself. You will find artistic surprises awaiting you at every turn.
Another recommended spot is the Botanical Garden which has its origins in a founding order of 17 August 1788, by King Charles III of Spain. It is also a place where scientific collectors in the Spanish colonies of the New World gathered their exotic plants, and after a period of acclimatization, transferred them to the royal gardens in Madrid and Aranjuez. The Botanical Garden, after the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, was the second such garden in Spain.
Garachico breaks clichés: ‘Who said that someone can’t rise from the ashes?’ The eruption of the Trevejo volcano, which almost completely devastated the town in 1706, was rebuilt to a standard more beautiful and charming than before.
In the north of the island of Tenerife, Garachico offers the chance to discover the oldest towns in the Canary Islands. Founded at the end of the 15th century by a Genoese banker, its port was a point of reference in the commercial traffic between Europe and the Spanish colonies in South America. Destroyed in 1706 by a volcanic eruption, it now offers quiet strolls through squares and pedestrian streets near the seafront, facing the natural monument of the Garachico Rock.
The history of Garachico can be discovered by walking the historical center with its rich architectural heritage dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. It is one of the best preserved and most representative artistic centers in the Canary Islands. In 1994, it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in the Historic Site Category. Garachico has also been awarded the Gold Medal of Fine Arts for its artistic treasures. A visit to Garachico can be rounded off with routes through natural landscapes, such as Caleta de Interián, the Chinyero volcano, and the La Culata cliff.
Although there are many other stunning places worth visitng, an obligatory stop is Teno. The Teno Alto area consists of a quiet village surrounded by picturesque landscape. Here is another chance to savor another Canarian speciality – freshly made cheeses, along with other locally made Canarian dishes.
Every corner of Tenerife radiates peace, happiness, and warmth. The island offers many hours of sunshine every day, with clear skies and an ocean that invites long leisury swim.
Here is a perfect place for peace. To swim by the Faro de Teno Lighthouse at sunset is a unique and incomparable experience.
SPORTS AND BEACHES
If you are a nature and water sports lover, you will adore Tenerife even more, so make sure you don’t miss “El Medano”.
Tenerife has many beaches characterized by black sand due to the island’s origin. The middle part of the island was the focus of volcanic eruptions that took place some three million years ago.
The highlight of El Medano village is the beaches which are touted as among the best places for water sports, apart from the great walking routes. Despite its small size, El Medano has many beaches such as “Playa Chica”, “Playa Grande”, “Playa Leocadio Machado”, and “Playa Sur o Los Balos” where the World Windsurfing Championships are held. They are also popular places for kite surfing.
Hidden behind Montaña Roja is the kilometer-long beach of La Tejita. At the end of the beach is “Chiringuito Pirata”, a small, friendly beach bar and restaurant with a decent variety of food and refreshments.
Although the beaches are beautiful, the real charm of Tenerife is its natural pools, called “Charcos” in the Canary Islands. They are rock formations created after volcanic eruptions through which water enters. There are many all along the coast of the island.
Recommended places to visit are “Charco de Golete” in the village of Güímar, “Charco de La Virgen” in the village of Arico, “Charco de La Jaquita” in the village of Guía de Isora, and “Charco del Faro de Buenavista” in Buenavista del Norte.
THE TEIDE: Located in the Teide National Park, it is the highest mountain in Spain with unique landscape. It is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and has many trekking routes to enjoy all year round.
Majestic Mt. Teide is the third largest volcano in the world from its base on the ocean floor. It is the highest volcanic cone in Europe and the highest peak in Spain, rising 3,718 meters above sea level
The mountain has made Tenerife, throughout the ages, a point of reference in the Atlantic Ocean. Its majestic beauty has made it the subject of many literary references. Declared a National Park in 1952, it contains 139 species of flora, a third of which are endemic to the Canary Islands, with the Teide violet a standout amongst them. This great wealth of flora, fauna, geology, and landscape led UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage Site in 2007.
The National Park has an extensive network of fortyone trails of varying distances and difficulty. To discover your ideal route, ask for information at the visitor centers.
One recommended route which requires a high level of physical fitness is the ascent of Pico del Teide, although sleeping in the refuge requires permission. But if you don’t have a head for heights, you can always take a simpler route, stay at the Parador del Teide and enjoy the starry night.
Another highly recommended place for hiking is the Anaga Massif. This area was listed as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2015 and is a natural area with the largest number of endemic species in Europe.
There is such a wide range of trails to explore depending on your fitness and the time you have available, so the best thing to do is to look for information at reservabiosfera. tenerife.es
And there is still more, such as the Anaga Massif, one of the seven Biosphere Reserves of the Canary Islands and a refuge for laurel forest species now extinct in most parts of the world, where natural and cultural values coexist in perfect harmony.
Another place is the Teno Rural Park, which boasts impressive cliffs, valleys, and wooded areas whose isolation has worked in its favor as it has allowed valuable habitats that serve as a refuge for endangered species to remain almost intact The Natural surroundings are also home to charming farmhouses dedicated to agriculture and livestock farming.
Who can resist a leisurely stroll through these places?