Regional Guide to La Laguna
The opposite end of the scale from Costa Adeje, La Laguna is one of the oldest settlements on Tenerife where all things bling, shiny and five star are side stepped in favour of the historic, the authentic and the traditional and where 'new' refers to anything built in the 20th century. Capital city of the Canary Islands for over 300 years, the city's old quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second most populous city on the island after the capital Santa Cruz.
More charismatic than chic and more delightful than deluxe, La Laguna's only two hotels, Hotel Aguere and Hotel Nivaria, are in the city centre. Facilities don't run too much beyond a phone in your room but they're in beautifully refurbished old mansions and are perfectly placed for exploring the historic cobbled streets and independent shops of the old quarter. Forget theme parks and amusement arcades, in La Laguna you'll find ancient convents with lookout towers where nuns watched the city in secret; hidden courtyard gardens, galleries, theatres and museums.
More salsa than ketchup, jamon than hamburger and chorizo than chips, La Laguna is top heavy with traditional tapas bars tucked into tranquil terrace courtyards. When it comes to shopping, the only brands you'll find are the ones on the packets of traditional gofio flour which stack the shelves amidst the tropical fruits, exotic flowers and home grown vegetables of the vast farmer's market in Plaza del Cristo which is open every day until 2pm. In the old streets of the town, book worms and antiquers will find treasures aplenty in the myriad of tiny outlets that sit alongside barber shops with chairs straight from the set of Mastermind.
With a winter weather default setting that favours cool and wet over hot and dry, sun seekers make a bee line for the borough's coastal resorts of Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo. Set at the foot of the ancient Anaga Mountains with brilliant views over the north coast to Mount Teide, what they lack in beaches they make up for in crystal clear rock pools where you can swim without fear of being swept away to America, and stylish decking where you can sunbathe without getting sand on your towel.
When the family get fed up with sun and sights, take them to Mars via the Cosmic Tour at the Museum of Science and the Cosmos. Or head out to Tenerife's greenhouse of Valle de Guerra where you'll find the Museum of Anthropology, which may sound about as much fun as a visit to the dentist, but is actually set in a rambling old mansion with loads of fun things to see and do.
Devotees of dramatic vistas will fall head over heels in love with the stunning Anaga Mountains that border the north east of the borough. Plunging ravines, rocky pinnacles, clusters of white cottages clinging to the sides of cliffs and ancient forests provide an overdose of WOW moments. If the urge takes you, park the wheels and pull on the hiking boots to explore this wonderland of unspoilt wilderness where the family pet usually has a beard and hooves and where people still live in caves, ones with satellite TV - naturally.