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La Orotava
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La Orotava

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Our Editorial team's advice

More humid than the south, the northern coast of Tenerife benefits from a more varied and dense vegetation. The former fishing village of Puerto de la Cruz is the main hub of regional tourism and it is primarily frequented by a German clientele. Puerto de la Cruz offers a wide variety of parks and exotic gardens and the biggest of these is the Botanical Garden, which boasts thousands of plant species from around the world. There is also the Sitio Litre Orchids Garden, the Taoro Park, which offers a superb panorama of the city and the El Guanche banana plantation located in La Orotava.

Set back from the coast, the city of La Orotava, regarded as one of the island's most beautiful, unfolds in the heart of a lush valley of vast banana plantations. Its old quarter houses beautiful ancestral homes and old churches, some of which are accessible to the public. As for Lago Martianez, which borders the coastline near Puerto de La Cruz, from an architectural point of view it is without doubt the island's most amazing achievement. A product of the imagination of the Canarian artist Cesar Manrique, this gigantic aquatic complex houses an artificial lake of 953,496 cubic ft of seawater, swimming pools, a range of bars and restaurants, as well as a casino.

Not far from there, the popular Loro Park boasts no fewer than 27 attractions including the jungle gorilla, the crater of jaguars, a dolphinarium, a sanctuary dedicated to penguins, an underwater shark pen, the largest collection of parrots in the world, an orchid house and a big-screen cinema. There is a free shuttle service which runs to the centre of Puerto de la Cruz every 20 minutes.

Towards the west, the road runs past several coastal fishing villages before leading to Icod Los Vinos. This charming little town is known mainly for its 1000 year old Dragoner, one of the most unusual plants on the island. As for the town of Malvasia, wine enthusiasts will not miss the opportunity to buy themsevles a good bottle of the local wine from one of the many boutiques. Just a few kilometres away, you will find Garachico, Tenerife's most active port before its partial destruction during the volcanic eruption of 1706. Here you will see many of the miraculously preserved vestiges, such as the Church of Santa Ana, the Castle of San Miguel or the House of the Marquis of Adeje.

Those who wish to explore the rest of the island will find many opportunities for day trips by bus or 4x4. The most unmissable of all these remains the Del Teide National Park, classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Located in the centre of Tenerife, this volcanic site with lunar scenery also boasts the highest peak in Spain and in the Atlantic Ocean. Culminating at 12,198 ft high, this site presents many volcanic formations which continue to fascinate experts. A cable car can take you up to a panoramic viewpoint located 11,482 ft high, where you will be able to enjoy stunning views. In good weather you will be able to see all 7 islands of the archipelago.

To see

If possible, you must go to the 'Die festival' (the first Sunday in June), when people decorate the streets and squares in a carpet of flowers and volcanic stone. Another unmissable sight is the Botanical Garden and the old city of La Orotava, which is located off the coast and considered to be one of the island's most beautiful old cities.

To do

The north of Tenerife remains a destination of choice for sports enthusiasts who wish to practise their windsurfing, horse riding, golf, scuba diving, sailing, parasailing, tennis, hiking and climbing. In addition, both children and adults alike can enjoy the large aquatic complex of Lago Martianez, and the popular wildlife park of Loro Park, near Puerto de la Cruz.

pros

  • +  The UNESCO classified Teide volcano and national park
  • +  The beautiful town of La Orotava
  • +  The town's aquatic complex Lago Martiánez
  • +  The proximity to the wildlife park Loro Parque and the botanical garden
  • +  The tropical vegetation

cons

  • -  The journey time is sometimes long when you travel to the island's southern airport
  • -  The climate is more humid than on the southern coast
  • -  The lack of beaches and the presence of black sand

To think about

Live your days like the locals: the Spanish rhythm means that the afternoon starts at about 4:00pm. and extends to 9:00pm, dinner is not eaten before this time! Stores and offices close between 2:00pm and 5:00pm, but most will reopen their doors until 8:00pm or later.

To avoid

Lovers of beautiful beaches should opt for the south coast of Tenerife. Avoid talking about Francoism (Franco started the civil war in the Canaries), as it may make the local people uncomfortable.

To try

The traditional dish in the Canaries is a meat and vegetable soup that is typically served with rabbit. All dishes are accompanied with papas, Canarian potatoes served with the local sauce known as mojo. The dessert is usually the huevos mole, an egg-based mousse and the frangollo, a rich and creamy dessert available in different flavours. Do not hesitate to taste the Tenerife red wine for it is delicious - we recommend the Tacoronte.

To bring back

There are very few local handcrafts in Tenerife. You can, however, bring back some sculptures, jewellery, flowers (strelitzias or 'Parrot's Beak'), semi-precious stones (the Olivina, which comes from the Teide volcano) or bottles of malvasia, an amber coloured and highly alcoholic sweet wine. Be aware that the Canaries archipelago is a tax free port where you can buy a lot of non-taxed products.
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