Do you want to discover more of Tenerife's 'Off the beaten track' locations, independent restaurant reviews and wonderful scenery?
If when your holiday's over, you want to go home with more than just a tan, then let 'Island Drives' show you the real Tenerife and you'll also take back the sounds, sights, tastes and memories of a truly fascinating island.
On the North West coast of Tenerife, in the valley of the same name, the town of La Orotava was home to many of the island’s wealthiest and noblest families who settled here after the Spanish conquest.
The valley’s fertile slopes were the perfect growing medium for firstly sugar, then vines, both crops yielding fortunes for the wealthy landowners of the town.
Today the slopes of the valley are carpeted with Tenerife’s current cash crop – bananas, and the town of La Orotava is still Tenerife’s most aristocratic. The streets of the old town are lined with Renaissance mansions and awash with architectural treasures. There are beautiful churches and convents; independent and exclusive shops; elegant restaurants and beautiful gardens. Leave yourself plenty of time to explore.
Tour groups flock to the Casa de los Balcones to marvel at the ornate eponymous balconies and to wander the splendid inner courtyards with their views over the valley. Casa Méndez-Fonseca has a particularly stunning inner courtyard, a wonderfully quirky museum upstairs with entrance for the price of a button, or thereabouts, and the splendid added bonus of local wine tasting.
The town is blessed (ouch) with an abundance of churches and monasteries, the best of which are the Iglesia de la Concepción – a Gothic masterpiece, and the Iglesia de San Agustín – A Baroque masterpiece.
Floral perfection is provided by the perfectly manicured beds of the formal Victoria Gardens with their mausoleum and by the lushly tropical contrasting chaos of the botanical gardens.
If you’re lucky enough to time your visit with the Feast of Corpus Christi, normally in early June, (on 14th June in 2012) streets are covered in flower carpets and the town hall provides the setting for a breathtaking tapestry of flowers, coloured soil and sand which has just entered the Guinness Book of Records as the largest of its kind in the world. It’s a sight to behold.
Submerge yourself in La Orotava’s unbridled opulence and head to Zona Kiú in the magnificent 17th century Casa de Ponte-Fonte. For lunchtime, choose a table in the courtyard which is straight from the set of a Merchant Ivory production; for dinner, try one of the elegant candle lit tables in the wine bar and indulge yourself in delicious local cuisine and the best of La Orotava’s excellent wines.
Museo de Céramica
Almost 1000 pieces of traditional Spanish pottery in charming old mansion.
Entrance €2.40, Calle León, 3; La Orotava
Museo de Artesanía Iberoamerica
Handicrafts from Latin America and Spain displayed in a beautiful former Dominican convent.
Entrance €2.40, Calle Tomás Zerolo, 34; La Orotava