Seeking Canarian Culture? Explore Tenerife

The reputation of Tenerife is so entrenched in its appeal as an idyllic sun, sea and sand holiday destination, sometimes the sheer breadth of its history and traditions can be overlooked in the rush to hit the beach. But while it’s one thing to be seduced by the very worthy attractions of the southern resorts, I like to remind my clients that there’s a fascinating culture just waiting to be explored if you look a little left of centre. East and west to be more precise.

Nobody loves the beach culture of the Canaries more than me and I think Tenerife’s beaches are certainly among the best. But I do get a little excited when a client expresses an interest in learning more about the other kind of culture.

So much history has gone into moulding this multi-layered destination into what it is today and, for me, there’s nothing more rewarding than peeling back those layers to get a fascinating glimpse into the past. We can organise a hire car so you can explore the towns and villages in the east and west of the island and do justice to the rich cultural experiences on offer.

“Unlock the doors to the past of this multi-layered island and do justice to the full cultural experience on offer.”

 

Exploring the East

Recommended Hotel

The quirky eighteenth-century San Roque offers a truly unique base from which to explore the east of the island. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, but straight into the lap of luxury. This lovely boutique hotel has been authentically restored to its stately grandeur, but despite its elegant décor and extensive mod-cons, it enjoys a warm and welcoming ambience that I just can’t wait to get back to every time.

Garachico

The lovely village of Garachico, where San Roque is situated, was once the main port of the island. However after the 1706 eruption of Montãna Negra, the harbour was destroyed and the main port was moved to Puerto de la Cruz. You can still see the legacy of the molten lava in the scars that criss-cross the mountain. Interesting sites include the oldest surviving building in the town, the Franciscan monastery San Francisco di Asís (now home to the Casa de la Cultura), the monastery of Santo Domingo, and the sixteenth-century waterfront fortress, Castillo de san Miguel.

La Oratava

La Oratava is one of my favourite places to visit and it’s only around a half-hour drive from San Roque. It’s got a really authentic Canarian feel to it; with its character-filled cobbled streets and status as the highest town in Spain, it’s a real delight just to stroll around and soak up the history and views. If, like me, you have an interest in architecture, the lovely Concepción Parish Church and the Casa des los Balconies should be on your itinerary. While for a very relaxing interlude, I suggest a visit to La Hijuela de Botànico, the town’s glorious botanical gardens – home to more than 3,000 species of exotic tropical plants.

Masca

Secreted in the embrace of the Macizo de Teno Mountains, Masca really is like the lost world it’s often described as, which is why I think this tiny hamlet is one of the most captivating places in the Canaries. Around 45 minutes from San Roque, the last 5kms of the drive are one ‘wow’ moment after another as you traverse the hairpin bends that wind you slowly up the mountain. Needless to say, when you reach the village at its dramatic altitude of 650m, the views are simply astounding. For those with energy, another way to experience the area is on a hiking excursion from the village back down to the coast to finish off with a boat cruise. It takes some three hours to get down the trail but it’s a satisfyingly adventurous way to enjoy the view.

Wandering the West

Recommended Hotel

The super-luxurious Grand Hotel Mencey in Santa Cruz has played host to rich, famous and royalty since the 1950s, so I know that it’s good enough for my clients. Set in a lovely residential area, the hotel is both charming and extremely well appointed, with all the five-star touches you’d expect and then some. Basing yourself in Santa Cruz puts all the attractions of the west within easy reach, and you might even get to rub shoulders with a movie star or two.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

From the Grand Hotel Mencey, the extensive cultural offerings of the island’s capital are, quite literally, on your doorstep. Put on your comfortable shoes and take a walking tour of the important historical sites and you’ll get an overview of the entire island’s history. Some of the must-sees are Castillo de San Cristoble, the mighty El Tigre cannon that stopped Admiral Nelson in his tracks, the Museum of Fine Arts, and a wander along La Rambla to enjoy the open-air artworks. The most notable feature of the city, its stunning Colonial architecture, can be enjoyed at its best in the elegant mansions around Plaza Weyler.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

From the Grand Hotel Mencey, the extensive cultural offerings of the island’s capital are, quite literally, on your doorstep. Put on your comfortable shoes and take a walking tour of the important historical sites and you’ll get an overview of the entire island’s history. Some of the must-sees are Castillo de San Cristoble, the mighty El Tigre cannon that stopped Admiral Nelson in his tracks, the Museum of Fine Arts, and a wander along La Rambla to enjoy the open-air artworks. The most notable feature of the city, its stunning Colonial architecture, can be enjoyed at its best in the elegant mansions around Plaza Weyler.

La Laguna

La Laguna, a 20-minute drive from Santa Cruz, holds the honour of being one of Tenerife’s two UNESCO World Heritage sites, owing to the deep cultural importance of its Historic Centre. The innovative grid layout of the streets was so admired it was used as the basis to plan numerous cities in South America. For those who appreciate architecture, the city displays a wonderful blend of its many influences over the centuries. In the beautiful Gothic, Baroque and Colonial buildings that line the streets you can almost hear the echoes of the French, British, Italians, Brazilians and many more who made the island their home at one time or another.

Candelaria

The charming village of Candelaria is less than half an hour’s drive away and is one of the island’s most revered religious sites. The beautiful Basilica is its centrepiece as the spiritual home of Tenerife’s patron saint, the Virgin of Candelaria. Along with its religious significance, the town is renowned for its architecture, which is a mix of Baroque and Mujedar styles. As with many of these small island towns, the only real way to get a feeling for it is to wander the streets. As well as the Basilica, don’t miss the evocative Pilgrim’s Fountain, the Dominican monastery, the bronze statues of the nine Guanche kings (the Guanches were the original inhabitants of the island), and the Cave of the Achbinico.

Find Out More

If you’re inspired to delve into the wonderful culture of Tenerife, our collection of luxury hotels can help you find the ideal base from which to do it. Give our friendly, experienced advisors a call to find out more about the cultural attractions of the Canary Islands and assist you with booking your holiday.