Puerto de la Cruz is Tenerife’s main tourist resort in the north of the island which, although it welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, remains resolutely Canarian in character.
Puerto de la Cruz has a reputation as a sophisticated holiday destination and its many fine restaurants, its stylish garden beach, its elegant plazas and streets and its upmarket shopping make it a favourite with Spanish mainlanders throughout the summer months and with Northern Europeans who stay in Puerto for their Tenerife holidays over the winter.
Due to its position on a promontory at the foot of the La Orotava Valley on Tenerife’s North West coast, Puerto de la Cruz enjoys the very best of Tenerife’s bounty. It receives less rain and more sunshine than the rest of the north of the island but nevertheless receives enough rainfall to sustain lush vegetation that provides the town with its abundance of gardens and its sub-tropical appearance.
November and February are normally the rainiest months; summer trade winds can bring cloudy, hot days in June, July and August; September and October are often the perfect climate months with clear skies and wonderful visibility, long hot days and warm nights. The winter months of December and January usually enjoy long hours of clear skies and sunshine with cooler temperatures after sundown.
Temperatures range from the low to mid 20°s in winter and from high 20°s to mid 30°s in summer.
Puerto de la Cruz developed originally as a port for the wealthy town of La Orotava, exporting sugar and wine to the New World and was known as Puerto de La Orotava.
Today, the harbour remains a centre of activity with brightly painted fishing boats bobbing on its surface and berthed on the pebbly shore.
Food stalls line the side of the harbour wall serving wonderful, traditional Canarian food and filling the air with the succulent aroma of paella as it sizzles in a giant pan next to the fish-laden tables.
Twice a year a large fairground fills the lower car park at the side of the harbour, and once a year the circus comes to town.
In the picturesque and appropriately named Plaza de la Iglesia (Church Square) opposite the Monopole Hotel is Puerto’s main church.
Dating from the 17th century, its interior is amongst the most beautiful on Tenerife.
Originally built by the English in the late 19th century, the former Casino and Hotel Taoro is perched in 100,000 square metres of gardens on the site of a volcanic cone overlooking the town.
Views from here allow you to see the whole of Puerto de la Cruz laid out below you and you can reference everywhere by the two main plazas of Charco and Iglesia with their oases of palm trees.
In front of the hotel a vast waterfall cascades down through abundant terraces behind the view point and there’s a genteel café which serves lunch and drinks with a view. Behind the hotel, paths meander through lizard filled rock gardens, cactus gardens and tree lined avenues providing a paradise for joggers and strollers.
In its heyday, Hotel Taoro attracted such notaries as Sir Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie. Today there are plans in motion to restore it to its former glory as a five star hotel.
Follow the signs to Playa Jardín and continue along the front towards the town centre until you get to a narrow left turn entrance to the Parque Marítimo (sign posted ‘Parking’) which provides free, unlimited parking with easy access to the town one way and the beach the other. In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve always been able to find a space here, although once or twice (during Carnaval) it’s taken a while.
The number one ‘must do’ for all visitors to Tenerife, Loro Parque provides 135,000 square metres of sub-tropical gardens, including 7,000 palm trees, filled with exotic birds and wildlife. It boasts the biggest and most diverse collection of parrots (hence the name; ‘loro’ meaning parrot) ever assembled in the world; the biggest artificial iceberg which is populated by penguins and the biggest dolphinarium in Europe. Add to that killer whales, gorillas, tigers, flamingos…the list is endless.
All the shows are spectacular so you’ll need a full day to cram everything in. Tickets are €30 for adults and €19 for children (6 to 11 years) and include entrance to all the shows.
Designed by Lanzarote-born architect César Manrique, the swimming pool complex of Lago Martiánez is like the setting for a James Bond movie; seven pools, including a 15,000 square metre artificial lake which has an island in its centre below which is housed the town’s Casino, are set around tropical gardens, cascading waterfalls, foot bridges and sun terraces.
Populated by sculptures by Manrique, the complex includes bars, restaurants and snack bars as well as kiosks for ice cream and sweeties. By night, the pools are lit from below and lights sparkle in the pathways creating the stunning entrance to the Casino. Eat your heart out Daniel Craig.
Entrance is €3.50 for a full day and includes sun bed and mattress.
Puerto de la Cruz’ main beach was also designed by César Manrique and provides one kilometre of fine black sand which runs from Punta Brava opposite Loro Parque, to Castillo San Felipe at the west end of the town.
Backed by extensive gardens, including a large cactus garden, the beach gets high rollers most of the year which provide endless amusement to those brave enough to face them when the red flag isn’t flying, and to the rest of us from the comfort of our sun beds.
A self-service restaurant provides a reasonably priced range of food and drinks and there are shower, toilet and changing facilities.
In the upmarket district of La Paz, a 10 minute taxi ride from Plaza del Charco, is the magnificent Botanico Gardens with over 5,000 exotic tree and plant specimens from all over the world.
Originally intended as a holding ground for exotic flora from the New World en route to the court of King Carlos III in 1788, the Spanish winters proved too harsh for the hot sapped specimens and so the project was abandoned, to the great benefit of Puerto de la Cruz in whose perfect climate the plants and trees thrived.
Within the 60,000 square metres of park are such wonderful exhibits as the drunken tree (Palo Borracho) which seems to sway on its feet; the sausage tree (Árbol de las Salchichas) whose fruit really does look like sausages and the gigantic, 200 year old Higuera whose aerial roots spread over a large part of the garden and that looks like a cross between a Triffid and Tree Beard; pretty it’s not, but awesome it certainly is.
Long awaited expansion plans to the gardens are finally underway, but it could be a couple of years before we see the ‘fruits’ of these (ouch).
Entrance is less than €5 and you can easily lose a couple of hours here.
These gardens have been in English ownership since 1774 and in their time have enjoyed the company of such luminaries as Alexander von Humboldt, Marianne North and Agatha Christie. The gardens have changed little in their history and represent a little piece of England in Puerto with the added bonus of the largest collection of orchids on Tenerife.
Entrance is €4.75
Alongside Hotel Taoro, these water gardens are in need of a little TLC but nevertheless provide a beautiful series of cascading falls and lily-filled, frond shaded ponds on several levels, criss-crossed by pretty foot bridges and leading to hidden corners draped by bougainvillea. The air is filled with the sound of insects and the gardens are a haven for dragonflies and butterflies.
Entrance is €4.
Getting drunk is not part of Spanish or Canarian culture and the pace of nightlife is much more laid back with the emphasis on socialising with friends and later, dancing to good music, usually a Latino/Club mix.
Having said that, as a resort, Puerto de la Cruz also has its fair share of Brit/German/Scandi bars specifically to cater for its visitors.
There are also almost 300 restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz to choose from. Click here for our guide to the best.
Limbo. Over the Cha’ Paula restaurant on Calle Blanco and accessed via the restaurant’s traditional Canarian courtyard. A series of individually styled rooms supply chill-out space and a more intimate setting but head out the back into the large roof bar which is teeming with 20/30-something Canarios. Music is loud, up tempo and often includes some UK/US chart-based.
Azucar. Cuban bar in former 18th century Gentleman’s Club , upstairs on corner of Calle Blanco and Calle Iriarte. Nothing ‘gentlemanly’ about the place on Friday and Saturday nights when a DJ blasts Latino/Club/Salsa mix to four rooms, packed beyond capacity with a wide range of age groups. Several dance floors where you can watch couples Salsa-ing at a frightening tempo.
The drink to order is Mojito (pronounced mo-hee-toe); a cocktail of white rum, sugar, soda and fresh mint.
Live music occasionally on Thursday nights, DJ Fridays and Saturdays. Doesn’t really warm up until 1 am. No idea what time it closes, never survived beyond 3am to find out!
Blanco Bar. With live bands, theatre. comedy, rock, jazz & retro, Blanco Bar on Calle Blanco is Puerto's newest super cool bar in the heart of the old town. There's usually some sort of act Thur-Sat. Bands normally play from 11.30pm, comedy from 10.30pm
Frigata. Enviable position right on the harbour front. Friendly, efficient service in a great atmosphere. Favoured by Brits up until 11.30 pm or so when the locals start to gather.
Puerto’s answer to ‘Cheers’.
Elements. Tiny bar on three floors in the Ranilla District on Calle de Mequínez behind the harbour.
Trendy bar with a chill-out atmosphere, laid back sounds and great cocktails. Popular with 30/40-somethings.
Color Café. Perfectly positioned in Plaza del Charco on the first floor inside El Rincón. Wicker chairs on the dark wooden floor of a traditional Canarian courtyard lend the terrace an ‘Out of Africa’ feel while inside, Bohemian décor, jazz/funk/ R&B sounds and great views over the Plaza accompany excellent cocktails. A French husband/wife team whose smiles never falter.
Pequeño Buda. Imaginatively designed cocktail bar on two levels whose seating has a distinctly eastern flavour as you'd expect given the name - think pouffes and cushions for reclining on. Looks great, but a bit of suppleness in the limbs is required.
The Beehive Pub on Calle La Hoya screens every sport it can get its hands on, and particularly Premiership, European and Cup football fixtures and Rugby Internationals. Staff are friendly and efficient and there’s always a good atmosphere during games. They serve good toasties too.
Molly Malone’s is downstairs on the street that runs between Casa Aduana and La Caixa Bank just off the harbour. Owner Des provides a full repertoire of traditional Irish songs accompanied by his guitar and there are usually other ‘guest’ appearances. Usually packed to capacity on Friday and Saturday nights, time is called at midnight. It’s all rather formulaic but worth going once for the craic.
There are loads of clubs in Puerto de la Cruz, most are found along Avenida Generalísimo and generally don’t get going until after 1.30 am. Usually a small fee on the door (€4-€6). Touts will take you in or give you a ticket for a free ‘shot’ which you can drink while you decide if the place is right for you, if not, move on.
There are several good supermarkets in and around the town where you can pick up everything you’re likely to need on your stay. The Commercial Centre Martiánez has a large supermarket and there’s a HiperDino on Avenida Generalísimo. There’s also a small Spar in the centre of town but prices tend to be considerably higher.
For fruit and vegetables, there are independent shops dotted around the main streets and a large Municipal supermarket on Avenida Blas Pérez (the palm-lined road which runs up the hill from behind Playa Jardín) which has a farmers’ market every morning on the first floor where you’ll find a bewildering selection of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Clothes and shoe shopping is best in and around Agustín de Bethencourt and Calle de Hoya and in the CC Martiánez.
For a real shopping treat, take a 10 minute taxi ride to the La Villa CC on the border with La Orotava where you’ll find the Al Campo hypermarket and a brilliant selection of fashion, shoe, jewellery, lingerie and sports wear from designer outlets at a third cheaper than in the UK and from stylish Spanish outlets like Zara and Stradivarius.
Five minutes from the town and set amidst banana plantations with greens facing Mount Teide, La Rosaleda Campo de Golf is a friendly nine-hole golf course with stunning views.
(0034) 922 373 000
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Plaza Charco. Great venue for people watching and enjoying a leisurely vino rosada (rose wine), jug of sangria or a G&T. Live music is provided by a singer/guitarist duo with a repertoire of traditional Canarian/Spanish numbers. The down side is the sometimes slow waiter service.
Café Ebano. Romantic setting in Plaza de La Iglesia for this stylish bar/café, popular for its cakes and ices as well as its big cane chairs and great location. Another good people watching spot while you enjoy a wine aperitif.
Any visitors who come to Puerto de la Cruz without spending a night or two in 'The Majestic' bar will miss out on seeing one of the best live acts on the island. The 'Bitter & Twisted' show is hilarious and outragous good fun. Great bar, friendly and professional staff, good prices and top entertainment.
Entrance is free and doors open at 8pm on Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday night;
Puerto de la Cruz Routes - €3