Living in Lanzarote, it’s easy for me to island hop across to Tenerife for short breaks. We travel as a couple and enjoy staying in luxury hotels on the South coast for some well deserved chill time. We always hire a car when visiting Tenerife, partly as our flight connection is only to Tenerife North airport, but mainly as we like to take day trips out to continue our exploration of the island. Here are my tips for enjoying 3 places that you could discover on your next holiday in Tenerife.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital city and definitely worthy of a visit, it can be reached in under an hour’s drive via the TF-1 from the South coast. For stress free parking, we normally take the TF-4 and park along the seafront, near the Plaza de España.
We always head to the Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África as our first stop because it closes at 14:00. We love browsing the vibrant food stalls, packed full of fresh and interesting produce. Give in to the temptation and enjoy a coffee or tapa here and soak up the atmosphere. There’s plenty of history surrounding La Recova, in fact the market celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2018.
For shopping, leave the food market behind you, to cross over the Barranco de Santos and work your way through the block of streets towards the Plaza de España. Here you will find an assortment of shaded pavement cafe’s, boutique shops and high street brands.
Don’t miss walking through the Plaza de La Candelaria to the Plaza Muñoz de Bustillo (Plaza de España) to admire the architecture dating back to 1929.
If you haven’t already succumbed to eating, and are feeling in need of sustenance, we like to dine in the shadow of the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Concepción. There are some lovely restaurants in this pedestrian location where we’ve enjoyed brunch, lunch or evening meals on various visits.
Finally to complete your day trip to Santa Cruz, we’re going to let you in on a secret, there’s a fabulous beach! Playa Las Teresitas is a perfect example of how a beach should be. Nestled at the foot of the Anaga mountains, there’s palms for shade, sun beds for chilling out on, chiringuitos for refreshments and a sheltered bay for swimming. Simply follow the coast road past the docks, through the fishing village of San Andrés, where you will find the large car park for the beach.
Puerto de la Cruz
Puerto de la Cruz is a beautiful example of a Canarian tourist resort. This location offers a more Spanish holiday experience compared to the resorts developed on the South coast. Surprisingly Puerto de la Cruz was actually the first tourist resort in Tenerife!
Originally known as Puerto La Orotava this fishing village developed into a strategic port for Tenerife due to the passing trade on route to America and Africa. These 19th century trade ships also carried passengers, who quickly realised the potential health benefits of Tenerife’s climate. Puerto de la Cruz was firmly established on the tourist map and developed in the 1950’s.
From the South you can take the TF-1 to reach Puerto de la Cruz in just over an hour. Personally, we’d suggest taking the more scenic route through the Teide National Park via the TF-38 and TF-21 which will take around 2 hours.
We’d recommend looking for parking in the area by the famous Lago Martiánez which was designed by César Manrique. This artificial seawater lagoon and seven swimming pools dominates the waterfront in the resort. There are only black sand / pebble beaches to be found in this area of the island, which aren’t safe for swimming, hence the pools are a popular place for sunbathing.
Take a walk along the seafront, past the chapel of San Telmo and Plaza de Europa to reach the restored fort of the Batería de Santa Bárbara and Casa de la Aduana. This is a picturesque spot with canons and stone walls protecting the harbour. Next head into the old town area to find the Plaza del Charco and let yourself wander around the historic streets which have been well preserved and were declared as “Histórico Artístico” in 1985.
If you fancy fresh fish for lunch and you can secure a table on the terrace, the Cofradía de Pescadores is the perfect spot with sea views. For tapas try El Balcón (Bar Luis) situated in a lovely courtyard off the Plaza del Charco.
The Jardín Botánico in Puerto de la Cruz, is worth paying a few euros entry to have a stroll around. These botanical gardens covering 20,000 m2 were created for King Carlos III during in the 18th century. Alternatively you could stop at Icod de los Vinos on your drive back, to see the famous Dragon Tree at the Parque del Drago. You can view this magnificent specimen of Dracaena draco canariensis from the Plaza de la Constitution or pay €5 to enter the park.
A visit to Loro Parque could also be combined with a day trip to Puerto de la Cruz.
San Cristóbal de La Laguna
A visit to San Cristóbal de La Laguna is like taking a step back in time, this is a beautiful example of a preserved city dating back to the 15th century. Situated only 12km from Santa Cruz, you could easily combine a visit to explore the old and the new capitals of Tenerife in the same trip.
San Cristóbal de La Laguna was the first city to be established in the Canary Islands, and the old capital of Tenerife due to its elevated position, which made it a safe location from pirates. Named after a lake which has long since disappeared, the old town of La Laguna is now a Unesco World Heritage Site.
We normally park by the Plaza del Adelantado, this square identifies one end of the criss crossed pattern of pedestrianised streets. The Iglesia La Concepción is a landmark at the opposite end of the grid used to establish the town.
The majority of these colonial buildings have been preserved. Many of the beautiful facades have an information plaque attached, with interior photos and historical details. It makes for a fascinating linear walk as you glean an insight into who lived there and what purposes the building has been used for. The Nava and Salazar palaces are open to the public, as well as the Iglesia del Cristo and convents of Santa Catalina & Santa Clara.
Apart from the heritage value of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the other reason to visit this old town is for the numerous tapas bars. We’ve never seen so many choices of places to enjoy a tapa. To give you an idea of the choice, it’s not unusual for the annual Ruta de La Tapa por San Benito held each July to include 50+ establishments!
We’ve only visited San Cristóbal de La Laguna during the day, normally as a last stop for a relaxed stroll through the streets and lunch before we fly back to Lanzarote. Apparently there’s a lively nightlife scene too, thanks to the students studying at the University of La Laguna.