La Orotava is a city of 42,000 people (2018) in Tenerife. Its historic centre is included in the Inventory of the European Cultural Heritage Protection, and much of the Teide National Park (a World Heritage Site) is in the municipality.
Located in the fertile Orotava Valley uphill from Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava (from Guanche: Arautaba) was established in 1504 by the Spanish following their conquest of Tenerife. As the area was blessed with a mild climate, many Spanish elite chose to settle here; most of the city's historic buildings from this early period have been preserved and now now fall under landmark protection.
The municipal boundaries of La Orotava encompass most of Teide National Park, making it the largest municipality in Tenerife. It can be a good base for hiking, with many trail heads just outside the city and easily accessible by bus.
La Laguna lies just south of the TF-5 expressway, 26km from La Laguna and 35 km from Santa Cruz. Parking spots in the city centre are very scarce, and day-trippers will likely find it much easier to visit the city by bus.
- 1 Estación de Autobuses (Estación de Guaguas / Bus Station), C/ San Juan Bosco, s/n, ☏ . Information centre: M-F 06:00-12:30 13:30-20:30, Sa Su and holidays 06:00-10:15 13:00-15:00. From Puerto de la Cruz, bus 345 runs daily 05:40-21:55 (€1.45, 20 min, leaves every ½ hr). From La Laguna, bus 101 runs 06:00-21:00 (€3.15, 54 min, leaves every ½ hr). From Santa Cruz, bus 108 is the most direct, running 06:15-22:15 (€4.30, 53 min, leaves every 1-2 hr).
If you're reasonably fit and able to walk up and down steep streets, most sights can be easily visited by foot. Otherwise, the long-distance Titsa buses are used as the local bus service. See above for bus details.
- 1 Plaza de la Constitución (Plaza del Kiosco) (above C/ Calvario). The pleasant square with a café is a good viewing platform, with good views as far as Puerto de la Cruz.
- 2 Iglesía de San Agustín (Church of St. Augustine) (NE corner of the plaza). The 17th-century church was once part of a former monastery which is now used as a music school. Especially noteworthy are its bell tower, built of black volcanic stone, and the elaborate Mudejar-style carved wooden ceiling.
- 3 Liceo de Taoro, C/ San Agustín, 6 (SE corner of the plaza). Built in 1925 as a private mansion, the building is now used for a school and also houses a café. The garden in front is freely open to passersby.
- 4 Jardines del Marquesado de la Quinta Roja (Jardines Victoria). Once belonging to the mansion of the Marquis de la Quinta Roja, the terraced 19th-century gardens were acquired by the city in 1991 and opened to the public. The structure located on the uppermost terrace was initially conceived as a mausoleum, but never used. Free.
- 5 Hijuela del Botánico (Hijuela Botanical Garden). M-F 09:00-14:00. Located on the grounds of a former convent, this lovely garden established in 1788 as a nursery for the larger Jardín Botánico in nearby Puerto de la Cruz. It has tropical plants from several continents, as well as an especially large drago tree. Free.
- 6 Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Facing the 19th-century neoclassical town hall, the square is the focal point of annual festivities including Carnival, Corpus Christi, and Christmas.
- 7 Iglesia de la Concepción (Church of the Immaculate Conception). Considered to be the finest example of Spanish Baroque in the Canary Islands, the current structure was built between 1768 and 1788 on the site of several earlier structures, the earliest dating to the late 15th century. The sculpture in the plaza in front of the church represents an alfombrista, an artist responsible for the volcanic sand 'carpets' created during Corpus Christi celebrations.
- 8 [dead link] Casa Lercaro (Casa Ponte Fonte), Calle Colegio. Built in 1654, facade has beautifully carved balconies and windows, and there is a lovely interior courtyard with a café that can be visited. There is a gift shop on the first floor, also accessible from the first door up the street. Free.
- 9 Casa de los Balcones (Casa Mendez-Fonseca), C/ San Francisco, 3, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 08:30-19:30. The three-storey house was built in the 16th century and is noteworthy for its carved wooden balconies, not only those on the outer facade but especially those inside the courtyard which are also decorated with subtropical hanging plants. The house functions as a museum, and still has its original furniture as well as a wooden wine press in the back of the courtyard. There is also a large souvenir shop on the ground floor which has an especially good selection of traditional embroidery. €5, additional €1 for audioguide.
- 10 Museo de Las Alfombras (Casa Jimenez Franchi), C/ San Francisco, 5. M-F 11:00-13:00. Built in 1592, the museum has exhibits illustrating the tradition of alfombras, volcanic sand 'carpets' used in the Corpus Christi celebrations.
- 11 Museo de Artesanía Iberoamerica (MAIT / Museum of Iberian-American Handcrafts), C/ Tomás Zerolo, 34 (next to the Iglesia de Santo Domingo), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10:00-15:00. Located in a former 17th-century convent, the museum is devoted to the exhibition of arts and crafts from the Canary Islands, as well as from Latin America and the Philippines. The building is worth seeing in its own right. €2.50 (adults), free (children).
- 12 Mirador de Humboldt (Humboldt's Viewpoint), TF-21 Expressway. Named after the Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, the view today encompasses many more buildings than it did in his day when he passed through the valley and admired it in 1799. It's unclear whether this exact spot is the same visited by Humboldt (there is also a restaurant and another parking spot with the same name); from both spots however there are fantastic views from La Orotava to Puerto de la Cruz, and on clear days the peak of Teide is also visible. Take a moment too to look in the other direction – on the upper part of the mountain is the 13 Cueva de Bencomo, where it is believed the Guanche king Bencomo once lived.
- 14 Telesforo Bravo Visitor Centre (Centro de visitantes Telesforo Bravo), Calle Doctor Sixto Perera Gonzalez 25, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-14:00, 15:00-18:00. Visitor centre and ornamental garden displaying Tenerife's native flora. It houses an exhibition that journeys across the island in altitude and historically. Considering free admission, the Centre is worth exploring before climbing Mount Teide to learn about its history. Free.
- Festividad del Corpus Christi (Feast of Corpus Christi). 60 days after Easter, usually late May or early June. The Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi has been celebrated in the Canaries since the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century. As in some other nearby parishes, street processions take place atop elaborate flower 'carpets' (alfombras), laid out the day before by neighbourhood groups, in a tradition practiced since the mid-19th century. Unique to La Orotava is the giant volcanic sand 'carpet' in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. This tradition dates to 1912, and its creation requires several weeks; visitors can observe the process from the upper steps of the plaza.
- Hiking. Given that Teide National Park extends right up to the edge of the city, Orotava is a good starting point for a number of hikes of varying length and difficulty, a few of which can be accessed by public bus. The Tenerife tourism board maintains a list of nearby hiking trails with descriptions here.
- 1 Casa del Turista (Casa Molina), C/ San Francisco, 4, ☏ . Daily 09:00-06:30. Housed in a former 16th-century convent, the shop sells embroidered textiles along with ceramics and Canarian cigars. It also has a permanent exhibit with mannequins dressed in traditional costumes as well as a room displaying the technique of producing the volcanic sand 'carpets' used in the Corpus Christi celebrations.
- 2 La Villa Centro Comercial, Autopista del Norte, TF-5 (Exit 36), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Alcampo supermarket and a few smaller shops, ideal place to stock up on food, drinks, and convenience items.
- 1 Bar Restaurante La Duquesa, Plaza Patricio García, 6B, ☏ . M-F 07:00-16:00, Sa 08:30-15:00. A very popular family-run restaurant which serves traditional Canarian dishes. There is outdoor seating in the plaza as well as indoors. Set menu €8.50.
- 2 [dead link] Restaurante Sabor Canario, C/ Carrera del Escultor Estévez, 17, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 12:00-22:00. Located in the courtyard of a hotel, this highly-regarded restaurant serves modern variations of traditional Canarian dishes. Set menu €13-15.
- 3 DaBeke, Calle la Candelaria 9, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 19:30-23:00. Restaurant specialising in quality food from the Spanish-speaking world made with local ingredients. Try the ceviche (based on the fish of the day), and the carrillera de cerdo ibérico (Iberian pork cheeks served with a green curry sauce).
Vineyards were first established in the Orotava Valley with the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century, and both red and white wines produced here are specially designated by the Spanish Denominación de Origen for Valle de la Orotava. The most popular red varieties are listán negro and negramoll, and the most common whites include gual, malvasía, and verdello.
- 1 Cafeteria Dulceria Los Jardines, c/ Sabino Berthelot Aurgiers S/N, ☏ . Cafe and restaurant next to a small park with plenty of outdoor seating. They have a nice selection of cakes and other sweets.
- 1 Pensión Silene Orotava, C/ Tomás Zerolo, 9, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Free Wi-Fi. Rates include full breakfast.
- 2 Hotel Alhambra, C/ Nicandro Gonzalez, 19, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00-21:00, check-out: 08:00-12:00. The hotel is non-smoking. Facilities include an outdoor pool and garden, free Wi-Fi, and free parking. €112 doubles, breakfast included.
- 3 [dead link] Hotel Rural Orotava, C/ Carrera del Escultor Estévez, 17, ☏ . Located in a historic manor, the hotel is operated by the same owners as the onsite Sabor Canario restaurant. All rooms are nonsmoking and furnished with original period furniture, and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the building. €160+ doubles, breakfast included.