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As it’s a mere 500 years or so since the conquest of Tenerife, the island doesn’t boast the sort of architecture or sense of history found in those magical medieval towns in mainland Spain. But neither is it only made up of modern, purpose-built tourist resorts younger than a good majority of the people who drink from their pleasure fountains (that’s bars just in case I was being too flowery).

There are plenty of towns across the island that boast picturesque quarters and charming old streets filled with lovely examples of colonial architecture. These are ten of the most picturesque to be found on Tenerife.

Garachico
Tenerife’s unluckiest town (volcanic eruption, plagues, floods…) is also possibly its prettiest. The area around the Plaza de la Libertad is especially photogenic and the bandstand kiosk is ideal for soaking up the scenery ““ as well as a cerveza.

La Orotava
A town of two halves; one bustling and functional, the other filled with elegant town houses, exquisite gardens and grand churches. The town’s hidden courtyards are filled with surprises including peacocks, the Tin Man and effeminate Guanches.

La Laguna
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Laguna’s old quarter looks as delicious after dark as it does during daylight hours. This is the place to come for churches, museums, art exhibitions and… salt cod, found piled high in the farmers” market.

Masca
Any list of picturesque towns on Tenerife has to include the sensational scenery of Masca. Some call it Tenerife’s Shangri-La, others Tenerife’s Machu Picchu. I call it murder on the thighs after you’ve walked the Masca Barranco and back.

Vilaflor
Spain’s highest village has a ‘fresh as the morning dew’, alpine-esque atmosphere which is aided and abetted by the fact that it’s located in the middle of the pine forest. It’s a peach of a location until low cloud rolls through the streets turning it into Silent Hill.

Santiago del Teide
Apart from the Señorio del Valle Visitors” Centre and the church there aren’t really any attractive old buildings, yet Santiago del Teide has an unmistakeable charm. It even gets away with having a cheesy horse outside one of its restaurants.

Icod de los Vinos
Most people think only of the Millennium Drago when thinking of Icod, but head upwards and away from the tree and there are some lovely old parts to be explored, and there’s another drago. These are mostly overlooked by visitors as to explore them requires negotiation of streets so steep that if you lean back you’ll topple over.

Arico Nuevo
The secret gem of the south (-ish) of Tenerife. A sweet and immaculate little village of higgledy-piggledy architecture where you’re as likely to meet a praying mantis as another tourist. Walking around it can feel as though you’re trespassing on private property.


Los Silos
This bohemian little town near Garachico is home to a fairy-tale church and a storytelling festival. The streets are too narrow for excursion coaches, so it remains a hidden treat for independent explorers.

Buenavista del Norte
Another pick in the north west of Tenerife. It’s no coincidence that the furthest places from the airports have remained relatively undeveloped and therefore retained more olde Tenerife charm; you’ll still occasionally see caballeros tether their horses outside bars here. Apart from its pretty plaza there’s a picnic zone hidden in a ravine in the centre of the town ““ a perfect place for pigging out on sinful goodies from the town’s chocolate factory.

Although these are my pick of Tenerife’s picturesque towns there are quite a few other locations that could easily have made the list. Feel free to add your own favourites.

1 comment

  1. Highly recommend Bodegon Plaza in Garachico for lunch, just love the place and the food is perfect – The Gofio that comes with with the Papas Arrugadas is particularly memorable

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