Santa Cruz De Tenerife And La Laguna
Santa Cruz de La Tenerife
As the capital city of Tenerife, Santa Cruz is the largest town on the island, a major transport hub and also the commercial centre for the region. As such it has far more in common with mainland Spain than the beach resorts on the south coast. Whilst it is a popular destination for day-trippers and a stopping off point on many a cruise ships itinerary, it is more of a place for passing through than a go to destination in its own right. Which is a shame, because it really is a great place.
The town centre itself is small and compact and easy to walk around in an afternoon, with lots of bars, cafes and restaurants lining the street. During the day it has a calm, cultured atmosphere, where you can wander up and down the tree-lined streets soaking in the Spanish ambience. At night, and especially at the weekend, the locals let their hair down and the town has a real buzzy vibe to it.
If looking to use Santa Cruz as a base for a holiday exploring the island, it really is ideal as many of the bus routes start and finish here. There is excellent public transport system here; you can get to the holiday resorts in the south, to Puerto de La Cruz and the coast, in the north and up to the Teide area, all from Santa Cruz. There is also a tramline, which connects the city to La Laguna, the culturally and historically important university town perched up on top of the hill Santa Cruz is built on. This journey takes about half an hour, and costs next to nothing. It is also only a 15 minute bus journey round to Playa de Las Teresitas, the most spectacular beach on the whole island.
We’ve stayed here a couple of times, as with most people, just passing through whilst waiting for connecting ferries to other islands. Both times though, we have stayed a couple of nights, as it is a really great place to kick back and relax in. Both times we have stayed at Hotel Principe Paz in the centre of town, which is similar in price and quality to somewhere like a Premier or Travelodge. Just downstairs, and perfect for your breakfast and first coffee of the day, is the lurid orange Pasteleria Diaz, with very cheap prices and an enormous selection of cakes and a very nice cup of coffee to kick start the day. And of course, no visit to a Spanish city is complete without a trip to the dirt-cheap pub chain 100 Montaditos.
Just up the hill and a 30 minute tram journey from Tenerifes’ capital city, Santa Cruz , La Laguna is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is generally considered the most beautiful town on the island, what with its narrow shopping streets, handsome buildings and of course, a large number of bars and restaurants lining the streets. Apparently quite a few colonial towns in the Americas were modelled on the street plans of La Laguna, hence its historical importance. Not surprisingly therefore, it is a very popular day trip from many of the islands resorts.
Due to its altitude, at over 500m above sea level, it is also noticeably colder than if visiting from one of the resort towns on the coast. It is also much more likely to be cloudy in the north of the island than in the south, so if visiting, remember to take a jumper.
As La Laguna is a university town, it also has a young trendy vibe to the place. Although it look completely different and is a lot smaller, it reminded me of Cambridge, Oxford or Durham, in terms of mixture of culture/history and influx of young population. For example, you would find old-fashioned tapas bars next door to a trendy student pub. Likewise you’d find classic Spanish restaurants jostling for space amongst an abundance of places for cheap eats, to cater for cash strapped students. We found a fantastic vegan burger café, Burger Mel, with a vast array of choice at a very cheap price. I would definitely recommend it.
La Laguna is a lovely place to amble round if just to admire the handsome architecture and browse the local shops. If looking for a bit more culture, there are also a number of museums in the town too. All in all a good day out.
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