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.