Vacation in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
Green oasis in the north
Puerto de la Cruz has a population of nearly 30,000, making it the sixth largest town in Tenerife.
From a small fishing village, its fortunes changed overnight when in 1706 a volcanic eruption destroyed the harbour at Garachico, then the most important port in the north of the island.
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Puerto de la Cruz assumed responsibility for the export of sugar cane and wine, flourishing trades at the time.
The benefits of Puerto's mild climate were discovered by the British in the early part of the 19th Century and it became so well known that doctors prescribed a winter in Puerto as the best cure for many an ailment.
In the 1950s Puerto began to develop as the tourist centre we know it today.
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The town lies at the foot of the most agriculturally productive part of the island, the Orotava Valley, whose wines and fruits enjoy a worldwide reputation.
Every February Puerto throws off its cloak of respectability to host its major international festival, La Carnaval.
It's a smaller version of the main event in the island capital of Santa Cruz, said to be second only to Rio de Janeiro in staging the world's biggest carnival.
Puerto's annual thrash is a more modest affair, but for ten days the whole town echoes to the exuberance of revellers well into the early hours of the morning.
Fancy dress is the main feature of La Carnaval and while some of the costumes will certainly make granny blush, the whole event is extremely good natured.
The carnival events are centred around Ash Wednesday, the night of the burial of the sardine when the burning of the effigy of a huge sardine is followed by a spectacular fireworks display.
The festivities begin and end with a procession and with this dummy run under their belts everyone then heads off to Santa Cruz for the island's main event. In 2007, Puerto's carnival takes place from February 15-25.
Puerto has a host of other fiestas, fairs, conventions and conferences happening all through the year.
Plaza del Charco ist the beautiful main square and meeting point for tourists and locals in the centre of Puerto de la Cruz.
Worth seeing in Puerto de La Cruz
Casa de la Material Aduana
The old customs office, dating back to 1620, is one of the oldest buildings in Puerto and is a fine example of Canarian architecture.
Calle Las Lonjas 1, Puerto de la Cruz
Castillo San Felipe
Built between 1630 and 1644, the castle's main function was to afford protection against pirate raids. An enormous cannon that once served to deter the pirates from venturing ashore now fires on special occasions to mark important cultural events and exhibitions.
Tuesday - Saturday 10am-1pm, 5-8pm. Paseo de Luis Lavaggi.
Ermita de San Telmo
A small white chapel next to the sea, the Ermita de San Telmo has provided spiritual comfort to sailors since 1780. The chapel has undergone substantial restoration work in recent times to repair the ravages of more than 200 years of close proximity to the sea.
Paseo San Telmo
Churches in Puerto de la Cruz
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Franzia
The most important place of worship in the town took 13 years to build, from 1684-1697. The neo-classic bell tower was added at a later date. The church can be found in the Plaza de la Iglesia.
Iglesia de San Francisco
The Iglesias de San Francisco was built between 1599-1608 and is probably the oldest building in the town.
Calle San Juan/Calle Quintana
Parks and places in Puerto de la Cruz
From relatively humble beginnings as the world largest parrot exhibition, Loro Parque has grown to become Tenerife's best man-made tourist attraction.
Virtually every important member of the animal kingdom is represented here. You'll need a whole day to do it justice and still you will want to go back again the next day!
Many of Loro Parque's inmates have been rescued from private owners. Others have been donated by other zoos who thought Loro Parque could offer them a better environment.
Many of the animal enclosures - there are few cages here - mimic natural habitats. For example, a virtual jungle has been created for the gorilla enclosure, housing six male gorillas and occupying 3,500 square metres
Loro Parque's list of species includes Orca killer whales, dolphins, sea lions, tigers, jaguars, sharks, alligators, chimpanzees and flamingos, to name but a few.
The Penguin House is a wondrous place, reproducing the climate of the Antarctic in the finest detail, even producing 12 tons of ice and snow a day for the enjoyment of the 250 penguins accommodated there.
Loro Parque shows are just as spectacular as anything you'll see in Florida, separately featuring the killer whales, dolphins, sea lions and parrots.
Loro Parque came into being over 30 years ago, initially specialising in the breeding of rare parrot species to prevent their extinction. They have since gone on to rescue and protect scores of other animals.
Taoro Park (Parque Taoro)
Overlooking the town, Taoro Park has been a popular area for the British for many years. In the Taoro Park you can see waterfall, children's playground, lookout points, restaurants and the beautiful garden Risco Bella. The Taoro Park offers superb views across the town and up to the Orotava Valley and Mount Teide.
View from the Taoro Park above Puerto de la Cruz
Restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz
Restaurant El Maná
Restaurant El Maná is in the centre of Puerto de la Cruz just a few metres from the Plaza del Charco. Head towards the sea and Playa Jardín and you will find it. El Maná offers a warm atmosphere and an excellent and varied menu that includes vegetarian dishes as well as a good selection of meat and fish.
Closed Mondays. Calle Mequínez 21
The cosy Restaurant Tambo is right by the sea and has a terrace with superb views out across the Atlantic ocean.
Closed Mondays. Calle Añateve 1, Punta Brava
Popular with locals and holidaymakers alike, Casa Régulo offers a wide range of dishes. It is set in an old but renovated town hall.
Closed Sundays. Calle Pérez Zamora 16
A romantic setting with meals served under large sunshades to a musical accompaniment. The Oasis Centre serves late into the night.
Open daily. Calle at Juan 18
Typical island cuisine is on offer at La Papaya, which is set in an old part of town.
Closed Wednesdays. Calle del Lomo 10
Close to the archaeological museum is the Italian restaurant Mamma Rosa. The bill of fare promises a multiplicity of Italian specialities - pasta of all kinds, gnocchi and pizza. And for dessert they are also specialised in the typically Italian tiramisu.
Closed Mondays. Calle del Lomo 6