Canary Islands Guide - Tenerife
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Spain Site Map - Canary Islands - Tenerife, Page 2
flower on the island of Tenerife

Tenerife Island, page 2 - La Laguna
By Lucy Corne

La Laguna (or San Cristobál de La Laguna to give the town its full title) was capital of the island until Santa Cruz stole the crown in 1883. Most agree that it’s a more charming spot than the capital, even though there’s not a great deal to do. Tenerife’s second city does have a couple of good museums. The Museo de Historia is a good place to get some background on Tenerife’s history.

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Just out of the city is the Museo de la Ciencia y el Cosmos, a superb day out for families (or anyone curious about science and space). Kids (big and small) can play with the 100 or so interactive exhibits and participate in a bit of ‘cosmic tourism’ – a taste of what the future holds for adventurous travellers perhaps. Other than the museums, La Laguna’s attractions are low key: taking photographs of the pretty side streets, enjoying coffee and churros (deep fried sticks of dough usually enjoyed for breakfast) in the market and joining students in the hip cafes. La Laguna also boasts a good nightlife scene – there’s a lot more going on here than in Santa Cruz, though it’s not as raucous and in-your-face as the all night party sessions in Playa de las Americas.

Parque Nacional del Teide
Sitting in the centre of Tenerife, its often snow-capped peak visible from all but one of the other islands, Mount Teide is the island’s crowning glory. At 3,718m it’s Spain’s highest mountain and is an absolute must-see for any visitor to Tenerife. Before tackling the mountain, drop in at one or both of the visitor centres – El Portillo in the north eastern part of the park and Cañada Blanca at the southern entrance..

Reaching the top of this dormant volcano isn’t too tough, as long as the cable car is up and running (if the winds are blowing it’ll most likely be out of action). The cable car (known locally as the teleférico) whips visitors up from the main road running through the park to a viewing platform a little shy of the peak at 3,550m. It’s an eight-minute ride, rising just over 1000m in altitude.

snow covered peak of Mount Teide as seen from the road
Those who want to continue to the peak have to apply in advance for a free permit, as tourist numbers are limited at the delicate summit.

For the more adventurous and the energetic there is an easy-to follow hike to the summit. Leaving from the El Portillo visitor centre, the hike snakes through the badlands before leading trekkers up a steep and unrelenting slope. A six-hour (12km) hike leaves you at the Refugio de Altavista, a mountain hut with very limited resources. After a chilly night’s sleep, hardy hikers arise before the sun to trek the final hour and a half (3km) to the summit, where the pungent aroma of sulphur hangs unmistakeably in the air. Views from both the peak and the refugio are stunning, as long as you can beat the clouds (and the crowds if you’re opting for the cable car). A word of warning though – the Canary Islands are renowned for their temperate climate, but up here all bets are off. Make sure you take warm clothes and if you’re hiking be prepared for a very chilly morning start – gloves, hats and waterproofs are not a bad idea.

An alternative hike is the Siete Cañadas route, a long but flat hike through the badlands, keeping the mountain’s peak in sight throughout. It takes five hours to walk the 15km route and can get seriously hot, so make sure you take plenty of water. The hike starts at the El Portillo visitor centre and snakes its way through a barren backdrop, ending at the Parador – a government run hotel and a good place to revive with a coffee or perhaps something stronger.

Continue to: Tenerife Island Page 3 - Los Cristianos, Playa de las Américas and Los Gigantes

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Canary Island photographs provided by Lucy Corne.
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