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Tenerife City Guide
- Places of Interest
- Getting to
- Getting around the city
Teneriffe is the largest of the Canary Islands, which are set South West of Spain in the Atlantic Ocean, just 108km off the west coast of Africa. The island enjoys a mild climate during the autumn and winter with temperatures around 22° C, and so naturally welcomes a steady flow of visitors from Spain and abroad. Puerto de la Cruz is the second biggest town and is located on the North of the island in the Orotava Valley. Its lush gardens, sweeping promenades, long history, vast and varied selection of open-air restaurants and sea make it a relaxing and intriguing paradise in which to learn Spanish. If you're looking to soak up the sun and laze on the beach, Teneriffe is the perfect destination. However, if you're looking for adventure and discovery there's also plenty to keep you busy, from a zoo and sea-life park and beautiful botanical gardens to historic churches, an archaeological museum and climbing the Teide volcano! The island's famous Carnival celebrations, held in February or March, are also a claim to fame. The streets and squares turn into a huge party area with parades, samba shows and live music. But don't worry if you can't make it during these festivities, since as an internationally famous tourist destination, Puerto de la Cruz also has a fantastic nightlife!
Places of Interest
The Lago Martiánez is part of Teneriffe's most stunning leisure complex. The complex covers over 50,000 square meters and was designed with the utmost respect for the ocean and its wildlife. The lago, or lake, is an artificial lagoon of beautiful emerald green seawater surrounded by bathing areas, beaches and tropical gardens. The lake houses five natural islands, the largest of which has a huge tourist complex equipped with bars, restaurants and food vendors to ensure there is never a dull moment.
This zoo-come-sea-life center is most famous for its namesake, as it has the world's largest collection of parrots (loros), with over 300 species! It runs breeding programs for those that are endangered, as well as housing penguins, flamingos, crocodiles, giant tortoises, tigers and monkeys. You can also watch a dolphin show or an orca show, performed by whales. Loro Park has built one of the largest facilities in the world to house the orcas, apparently offering them premium optimum living conditions. Or have a picnic nestled in amongst the tropical plants and flowers that decorate the whole park.
Castillo de San Felipe
Constructed for the defense of the island against pirates and corsairs, this castle's pentagonal, clear-cut design is reminiscent of the colonial period in which it was constructed. Originally surrounded by a moat and accessed only by a drawbridge, it remained in use until 1878. Today, part of the interior has been converted into a cultural space where poetry recitals, classical music concerts and art exhibits take place.
Since the 16th century, the marina in Puerto de la Cruz has been a major Canaries port and its own construction and development has coincided with that of the town. It grew as a result of its sea links and prospered, just as the port did. It saw the commercial boom of the 17th century and the transition to a fishing port. Its fishing industry may not be the most prosperous of businesses but it does ensure that the marina retains its quaint charm. The marina is the ideal location to relax and soak up the atmosphere of Puerto de la Cruz.
This building dates from the 18th century and is dotted with decorative balconies on its façade. The museum was relocated to its current building in 1991 and today houses Guanche pottery, mummified remains of natives and 17th century cartography. A tour of the "La Cerámica Guanche" exhibition is well worth a visit, creating aspects of daily life, magic and death in order to aid an understanding of the original inhabitants of the island.
This active volcano forms part of the Parque Nacional de Teide, which today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is highest point in Spain and, in fact, the entire Atlantic Ocean. There are excursions to the volcano, either to its base camp or, by cable car and a hike, to its summit, where you can peer into its crater and marvel at the sheer size and power of this natural phenomenon.
With such a tropical climate, Teneriffe is home to a number of parks, ideal for soaking up the sun or sheltering in the shade. Here are a few you should explore in Puerto de la Cruz…
Jardín de Aclimatación de la Orotava
These botanical gardens have 4,000 species of plants and trees, many of which can be admired for their beauty, size, age, scarcity or remote origin. The 20,000 square meter park has attracted tourists and scholars for decades. Wander through and admire the vivid colors and shapes while breathing in the sweet scent of exotic flowers.
At 220 years old, this garden is the oldest in Teneriffe and is attached to a privately-owned mansion. It is home to the island's largest collection of orchids and Puerto de la Cruz's oldest and largest Dragon Tree.
Jardín Acuático del Risco Bello
Part of the surroundings of the Hotel Taoro, this park is considered by many as the most beautiful in Puerto de la Cruz. With 500 tropical and sub-tropical species of plants and cascades and fountains flowing through the 2 hectares of space, it makes for a very pleasant day out. The garden was designed by René as an act of love for his sick wife, hoping that it would help her to get better.
For beautiful sand and clean waters, check out Playa Jardín. It is frequented by locals and tourists alike who enjoy playing or relaxing on its half-submerged jetty and black volcanic sand. This beach is fringed with gardens offering winding pathways in the shade, as well as typical Canarian gardens, waterfalls and caves. Bars, restaurants and a bandstand mean this beach has all the amenities you could need.
Playa San Telmo
Nestled against San Telmo's sweeping promenade, you can watch young people diving into the clear waters from what was once a jetty for loading ships, and children dipping in and out of rock pools, formed by the ebbing tide. Sit in the bar or restaurant that overlook the black sand and pebbles as you stare out to sea on a warm summer's evening.
Situated against the cliffs of Puerto de la Cruz, this beach is ideal for surfers. However, away from the cliffs there is volcanic sand and a water break, ensuring the waves lap gently onto shore. Playa Martiánez's popularity first increased when the town's first health-center-come-spa opened there. The climate, its distance from the town and its medicinal waters contribute to its fame.
Getting to Teneriffe
Teneriffe is the only Canary Island to have two airports - Los Rodeos in the north of the island and the second, newer airport, Reina Sofia in the south. The nearest airport to Puerto de la Cruz is Los Rodeos which is located 35 km from the city center and is primarily used for domestic flights arriving from Spain and the other Canary Islands. The city is well served by bus routes from the northern airport. You can take the 102, 107, 108 or the 340 routes from the airport into Puerto de la Cruz, the buses run every 30 minutes from 6.00 to 23.00 and the journey takes around 30 minutes. The Reina Sofia airport is the busiest airport on the island as it mainly handles international flights and some domestic flights from the mainland. You can take the 340 bus from outside the Arrivals area to Puerto de la Cruz, which is located 100km/60 minutes away. Taxis are also in plentiful supply outside both airports and are a good and reliable means of getting into the town center if you arrive late at night or have lots of luggage. The fare ranges from 25 to 35 Euros from the northern airport and from 80 to 85 Euros from the southern airport. To travel to Teneriffe from destinations outside Europe it may be necessary to transfer in mainland Spain, normally from Madrid.
Getting around the city
Puerto de la Cruz's center is compact enough to get about easily on foot. The majority of the sights, from the sea front promenade to the narrow streets of the old town, are ideal for simply wandering through and exploring. However Puerto de la Cruz also boasts an efficient and economical public bus network that runs throughout the city center and suburbs. The cost of a single journey varies on how far away your destination is. For example, a single ticket between Playa de la Americas and Puerto de la Cruz, (the longest bus service in Teneriffe), costs 12.25€ if you pay in cash. However, you can save a lot of money if you buy a pre-paid "Bono bus card" for 12 or 30€, this same trip would only cost €7.25 and shorter journeys cost €1-2 with a bono. An hourly night bus service also runs in the city center. Taxis run 24 hours a day and taxi ranks are located all over the town center. A short journey through the town center rarely costs more than 6€.
Cost of living:
Teneriffe is one of Europe's most popular tourist resorts and so the cost of living is markedly higher than in some of Spain's other destinations. Meals in restaurants can vary from as little as 8€ for a set 3 course lunch, or a menú del día, to much higher in Teneriffe's seafront restaurants. Bear in mind that hunting down a more typically Spanish cafe or bar, away from the main tourist trail, will bring your bill down considerably. Partaking in the Spanish tradition of the tapeo, or tapas bar crawl, can also be a reasonable way to eat - and a delicious way of tasting typical Canarian cuisine. A single tapa is occasionally free with your drink or costs between 1.50 and 3€. Equally the cost of drinks can vary enormously. A coffee taken outside on a cafe's terrace may cost you up to 3.50€, whereas a small espresso in a bar or café can be as little as 1€. Sodas tend to cost more - about 3€. Food and drink is also available cheaply in the supermarkets, of which there are several dotted around the town center. A baguette will set you back approximately 0.60€ whilst a 1.5 liter packet of milk generally costs around 1€. The tinerfeños love to party and you will find no shortage of places to let your hair down in Puerto de la Cruz. There is sometimes an admission charge although prices vary and there is often a free drink included. Drinks can vary in price from 3€ for a small beer to 10€ for a large mixer or cocktail. A cinema ticket costs around 5€ - although discounts are available on selected days. Entrance to museums varies between 2€ and 4€ - although many museums also have discounts for students and free entry on certain days.
With the least difference in climate between summer and winter of anywhere in the world, Teneriffe is the "island of eternal spring". With its location in the Atlantic, just off the north coast of Africa, Teneriffe enjoys an exceptional climate with pleasant temperatures in both the summer and winter and little rainfall. Average temperatures range from 15°C in winter to 24°C in summer with temperatures rarely rising above 30°C on its hottest days. However cool winds and snow can be found in the Teide region, so do come prepared if you're planning an excursion there! The North and the South of the Island also have different climatic conditions. There are more hours of sun all year in the South and more rainfall and higher humidity in the North.