A thriving student and cultural city in Tenerife, La Laguna was once the former capital of the island and boasts a beautiful historic centre, a unique climate and loads of amazing things to do around.
If you’re visiting Tenerife, especially the lesser-explored north of the island, then La Laguna is a must-see.
A wonderful place to stay, with good hotel choices, not to mention, cafes, restaurants and shops, this is very much a local city.
So if seeing a real slice of Tenerife is high on your list, and by that I mean the places away from the crowded tourist resorts and southern beaches, then La Laguna is the place to head for!
Here’s my full travel guide to exploring this wonderful part of the island…
- GF Victoria Tenerife: Luxury Hotel Review
- Where is Tenerife? + 10 Island Tips
- Top 11 Things to Do in South Tenerife
My trip to Tenerife was sponsored by Visit Tenerife but, as always, all views are my own.
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
Why Visit La Laguna?
Once the former island capital, La Laguna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was originally built by the Spanish colonisers of Tenerife back in the 15th century.
Generally acknowledged as the model for many of the subsequent Spanish colonial settlements in the Americas and beyond, La Laguna was constructed in a grid layout and characterised by a lack of Medieval walls or ramparts, which had surrounded most towns up until this point.
Much of the original cobbled-street, tiled-roof city has been maintained (and beautifully restored since 1999), which is absolutely one of the reasons why you should visit La Laguna if you’re a history fan.
Given its elevated location, it’s also delightfully cooler compared to the rest of Tenerife!
So if you’re looking for somewhere on the island that’s a little fresher, La Laguna is again a great place to visit!
Before the Spanish arrived, there was (perhaps unsurprisingly given the name) a huge lake in this part of Tenerife but, given its favourable non-coastal position, the Spanish decided this was the spot for their island capital and promptly set about filling the lake in and building La Laguna.
There was also a lot of fertile land in this part of Tenerife (another reason to build a city here) and, thanks to its cooler climate, even today cloud forests and lush green landscapes scatter the city surrounds.
This gives rise to some great things to do around La Laguna, including hiking in Anaga Rural Park, but we’ll get on to this later!
Finally, you should also visit La Laguna because, despite not being the capital of Tenerife anymore, it’s still one of the most populated cities on the island and was the site of the first university in the Canaries.
Local vibes abound, which means if you want an authentic Tenerife experience filled with students sipping coffee and locals bustling off to school, La Laguna is the place you need to visit on this island.
Where is La Laguna?
So as you’ve probably grasped by now, La Laguna is in northern Tenerife.
It makes a great base for exploring this lesser travelled, but stunning, part of the island.
Situated in a valley, La Laguna lies at the foot of the elevated Anaga Rural Park, a short distance from the current island capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
La Laguna is just under an hour’s drive from the island’s main airport – Tenerife Sur – which, as the name suggests is located in the south of the island.
There is a closer airport in the north, but it’s much smaller and most international flights land at Tenerife Sur.
How to Get There?
There is a good public bus network across Tenerife and you can certainly use this to travel to La Laguna from across the island.
Check out the timetables and plan your journey here.
You can also rent your own car to get to La Laguna, which is a great idea if you want to explore Tenerife more widely too.
Get some great deals on car hire for the island here.
Just remember to check that your accommodation offers parking and to factor in the costs of petrol / gas to any rental rates.
Finally, you can also use a taxi to get to La Laguna.
Uber doesn’t exist in Tenerife, but regular taxis are readily available.
While not expensive, the costs can add up if you use them a lot, so I’d only recommend travelling by taxi on isolated island journeys.
If buses or car rental don’t appeal, then you could catch a taxi from the airport to La Laguna and then use local tour companies to explore the north of the island after that.
How to Get Around?
Despite being one of the most populated cities in Tenerife, La Laguna (or at least the centre) is very compact.
You can easily wander around it on foot – in fact, this is exactly what I advise.
To get to other spots in the north of Tenerife such as Santa Cruz, Anaga or some of the wonderful vineyards and small towns around, I then recommend travelling by public bus, or hopping on a guided local tour.
Mayam Travel are a great operator and local guide, Ancor, is a wealth of knowledge and fun!
Where to Stay in La Laguna?
I stayed at the lovely Hotel Laguna Nivaria during my time in La Laguna.
Brilliantly situated on the main square – Plaza del Adelantado – exploring the historic centre of the city was easy from the front door and many great cafes, bars and restaurants are also within easy walking distance.
Decorated in a traditional style, the hotel is super comfortable and my room was spacious and well-equipped with a work area, comfy sofa and kitchenette.
A jacuzzi bath and lots of natural light made it very enjoyable!
The hotel has a great breakfast buffet to boot (vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free-ers are well catered for), as well as an onsite gym, swimming pool and restaurant – the perfect placet for dinner if you’ve had a long day!
As an aside, I was super impressed with the restaurant’s vegetarian / vegan options, which is a rarity on a Spanish island I can tell you!
Highly recommended, book your stay at Hotel Laguna Nivaria here.
How Long to Spend There?
I recommend allowing a day to explore La Laguna itself and then at least another day to explore Anaga Rural Park and the wineries around.
If you’re travelling at a relaxed pace and really want to soak up the vibe of north Tenerife, then consider 3-5 days here.
Top Things to Do in La Laguna
The main sights within La Laguna itself are situated within the historic centre.
Here’s the ones you shouldn’t miss…
#1 Cafe Plaza Catedral
Situated close to one of the main squares, this bustling local café is a great place to enjoy a Barraquito – the unique Tenerife coffee that is comprised of coffee, evaporated milk, alcohol and orange peel.
A bit like an Irish coffee, the citrus gives it an amazing, refreshing twist and it’s the perfect mid-sightseeing revival drink!
Enjoy one at an outside table in the sun on a warm day, or sit in amongst the local crowds and warm up if it’s a bit cooler.
#2 Obsipo Rey Redondo Street
One of the most popular streets in La Laguna, this is the perfect place to browse the cute, arty shops of this city, to snap the colourful historic buildings and also see the Leal Theatre.
#3 House of the General Captains
A stunning building, set within a gated courtyard, you can wander into the ground floor of this former mansion to admire the architecture and enjoy the peaceful setting.
A great photo spot, with a beautiful fountain in the open-air centre of the building, Casa de Los Capitanes Generales (as it’s called in Spanish) is also where the city’s tourism office is housed, so swing by to grab more info about all things La Laguna.
#4 Catedral de San Cristobal de la Laguna
The main church in the city, this iconic building should definitely be visited during your time in La Laguna.
Open from 9:30am to 6pm daily, except Sundays, this neoclassic cathedral has a neo-Gothic interior and was built in the early 1900s.
#5 Place del Adelantado
Not the liveliest square, but certainly the most important, this main plaza of La Laguna boasts many of the city’s historical buildings, including the City Hall, two art galleries and the Santa Catalina Monastery.
#6 Museum of the History of Tenerife
Definitely worth visiting to learn more about the history of this fascinating island, this small but useful museum is open daily and is housed in a former 16th century property.
Enjoy an audio guide and the free entrance!
#7 La Laguna Market
A great spot to see the locals in action and to pick up some delicious fresh produce, including cheese, fruits and pastries, the La Laguna market is the perfect place to prep a picnic lunch!
#8 El Guaydil
My favourite restaurant in La Laguna, heady to this trendy yet relaxed spot for delicious dinners featuring many traditional Tenerife flavours and, most importantly, wines.
They also cater well for vegetarians – hoorah!
Check out El Guaydil on Instagram here.
Best Things to Do Around La Laguna
Given its location, La Laguna is a great base from which to explore the north of Tenerife, including the following top highlights.
And if you’re wondering how best to structure your time, then this 7 day Tenerife itinerary is the perfect guide…
#1 Anaga Rural Park
An amazing biosphere reserve filled with excellent walking trails, this is the perfect place to head for an active day.
With all trails clearly marked and graded, choose from boardwalk-style easy strolls (ideal for those travelling with kids) to long hikes that take you deep into the forest and offer shady solitude.
The central car park and visitor area – Cruz del Carmen – is the main place to head for on arrival.
It has toilet facilities, a visitor centre, a park rangers office, a restaurant, a viewpoint and, surprise surprise, plenty of parking!
There’s also lots of trailheads that begin from here including the favourite – PR-TF 1 (known as the Path of Senses) and the PR-TF 10, 11 and 12.
Each have their own detailed signpost at the trailhead, with lots of information about duration, difficulty and terrain.
Pick your route and enjoy wonderful cloud forest views, great bird spotting and lush vegetation as you stroll through this peaceful and unique park.
With a prehistoric feel, it reminded me a lot of hiking in Madeira!
Learn more about hiking in Tenerife (including my top 7 trail picks) here.
Anaga is a great example of just how diverse Tenerife is and the viewpoints on the way to Cruz del Carmen exemplify this perfectly.
In particular, Pico del Ingles should not be missed for its epic mountain vistas and Mirador De Jardina gives stunning views over La Laguna and beyond to Teide National Park.
#2 Bodega El Lomo
Who knew Tenerife made delicious wines?
Or least until I visited!
If you’re similarly in the dark and about the unique grape varieties they cultivated on this island and the delicious wines they produce as a result, then a trip to a local vineyard is the perfect thing to do around La Laguna.
I visited Bodega El Lomo and loved the experience of this small, family-run winery.
Full of personal touches, not to mention delicious tastings and a fascinating tour of the cellars, the coastal views you get strolling around the vines and the mouth-watering pleasure of enjoying the wines and lunch in the onsite restaurant here, make it a must-visit in my opinion.
Manager Borja and owner Ana, could not have been more welcoming and this full sensory, wonderfully relaxing experience was definitely one of my top experiences in north Tenerife.
Learn more via their website.
#3 Puerto de la Cruz
If you want to hit the beach in North Tenerife, then Puerto de la Cruz, around half an hour’s drive from La Laguna, is the best place to do it.
With a black sand beach, lively seaside strip, surf schools, public pools and an old town filled with eateries and even some street art thrown in for good measure, this is the perfect day trip from La Laguna if you’re looking to catch some rays and enjoy a salty dip!
Mini Travel Guide to Tenerife
Best Time to Visit?
The great thing about Tenerife is that it’s a year-round destination.
Situated off the coast of West Africa, yet politically part of Spain and Europe, Tenerife provides plentiful sunshine hours and good temperatures 12 months of the year, making it an excellent winter sun destination.
Summers can be stinking hot here however, so the best time to visit is really October through May.
How to Get to Tenerife?
Tenerife Sur is the main airport on the island.
As always, I use Skyscanner to get the best flight prices, as they include budget airlines in their searches.
Travel Insurance for Tenerife
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
5 Key Packing Items for Tenerife
- Camera – Don’t miss snapping all the action in this beautiful part of the island
- Dry Bag – Ideal if you plan to enjoy any water-based activities
- Arizona Birkenstocks – The best sandals for walking or enjoying the beach
- Osprey Day Pack – Ideal for carrying your sunscreen, towel, sarong, book, snacks and water
- Sunglasses – Ensure you have UV protection to keep your eyes safe from the strong rays
Learn more in this complete Tenerife packing guide I wrote.
Travel Money for Tenerife
When it comes to paying for things in Tenerife, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise card away with me wherever I travel.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups, no sneaky transaction fees and a free Euros account, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card and it links easily with Google and Apple pay. Grab yours here.
SAVE THIS TO PINTEREST!
And that’s my full travel guide to La Laguna Tenerife.
Have you visited this fab city in the north of the island?
Did you enjoy it too?
Tell me all (and help other travellers out too) by leaving your thoughts in the comments box below…