Home to the island’s north airport, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, to give it its Sunday Best name, was Tenerife’s capital up until 1821. Chosen for its elevated, inland position making it a clear vantage site and safe from the attentions of sea-faring brigands, the city was named after a nearby lagoon which supplied its water source but which no longer exists.

La Laguna quickly became the most populated city in the Canary Islands and attracted wealthy merchants, landowners, artisans and professionals to swell the population. With wealth came religion and by the end of the 16th century, more than 1000 dwellings made up the city including several convents and a multitude of churches and ermitas.

20th century housing developments have spread the city out across the Aguere Valley leaving La Laguna’s beautifully preserved old quarter to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site where elegant 16th, 17th and 18th century mansions display an eclectic range of architectural styles including Portuguese, Genoese, Flemish, French and Castilian.

A university city and busy commuter hub for the ‘new’ capital of Santa Cruz, La Laguna has a lively nightlife, excellent tapas bars, a cathedral that’s been closed for renovation as long as I’ve lived on the island, a strong spiritual life, and tram connectivity with the capital. It’s also considerably cooler than much of the rest of Tenerife and gets the lion’s share of rainfall, hence ‘La Laguna’. It’s the perfect venue for anyone looking for the real Tenerife and for day trippers. Don’t forget the brolly.

To get the most out of your visit to La Laguna, order a copy of the La Laguna Town Walk which includes comprehensive information on 17 of the city’s most interesting sites; detailed directions on how to get there by public transport and by car; where to park; and recommended refreshment stops. Priced at just €3 and delivered via email in PDF format.

 

Recommended Accommodation in La Laguna, Hotel Aguere

Sited directly opposite the Teatro Leal in the old quarter, the best thing about the 18th century Hotel Aguere is its lovely courtyard café where a slightly below par breakfast is served but where you can linger over their excellent coffee enjoying the ambience. Rooms have highly polished wooden floors and plenty of space to move around in and en suite bathrooms are generous in size but the courtyard layout can mean noise travels from other rooms.

Recommended Accommodation in La Laguna, Hotel Nivaria

Taking pole position facing directly onto Plaza del Adelantado, the Laguna Nivaria has been extensively refurbished this year (2011) and now proudly boasts four stars. A lovingly restored 16th century mansion, the hotel offers quasi apartment rooms, the standard doubles being geared more towards business than tourism with high speed Internet access via cable, but encompassing oodles of character and a modicum of charm nevertheless.

Recommended Restaurants in La Laguna

If you want some of the finest Castilian and Canarian tapas, head straight for the cloistered splendour and 18th century mansion setting of Patio Canario where the choice of hams alone is mind blowing. Popular with locals who enjoy the well prepared, traditional Canarian dishes is the Guaydil alongside the cathedral and just around the corner is Rucola y Grana where, if you enjoy Italian, you’ll fall in love with the food.

Recommended Accommodation in Vilaflor: Hotel Spa Villalba

Romantic retreat or base for hiking, Hotel Spa Villalba is a beautiful rural hotel set in the pine forest above Vilaflor. It also has the added bonus of having a great spa; again perfect whether for a lazy,  romantic afternoon or for soothing muscles after a long hike.

Restaurants in Vilaflor: El Rincon de Roberto and La Vendimia

El Rincon de Roberto (+34 922 70 90 35, Av. Hermano Pedro, 27) serves the best of Canarian cuisine with a dash of style (and has a brick fire for those cool winter days when the cloud rolls in). We recommend the degustación menu. La Vendimia at Hotel Spa Villalaba has an imaginative and delicious menu and uses vegetables from their own garden.

Recommended Accommodation in La Laguna, Hotel Aguere

Sited directly opposite the Teatro Leal in the old quarter, the best thing about the 18th century Hotel Aguere is its lovely courtyard café where a slightly below par breakfast is served but where you can linger over their excellent coffee enjoying the ambience. Rooms have highly polished wooden floors and plenty of space to move around in and en suite bathrooms are generous in size but the courtyard layout can mean noise travels from other rooms.

Recommended Restaurant in La Laguna: San Pablo Market

Not one restaurant but lots of little gourmet stalls in the fabulous San Pablo Market - a foodie's treasure trove. Whether it's tapas, seafood, jamons, pastries, Mexican, Venezuelan, Indian or even cigars there's something to get your teeth enthusiastically into here. It's open all day and into the early hours at the weekend.
Calle Herradores 59

What is Nightlife Like in La Orotava?

It's a university town so that should tell you all you need to know. On the one hand, La Laguna's old streets can seem as quiet as they do during the Silent Procession at Semana Santa. But in term time there is a triangle of streets which burst into life late on with an eclectic mix of bars including some good live music joints. The main plazas are used as open air concert venues where occasionally you get some surprising bands performing.