10 Best Things to do in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

It was towards the end of my main course that the performance started.

Julian, the owner of the bodega, began a plaintive solo, strumming a small guitar suspended at chest height. One minute into his serenade, his wife, still wearing her scarlet chef’s hat, joined him in a soulful duet.

Spellbinding stuff and as far away from Tenerife’s fish-and-chip shops and all-day breakfast joints as you can get.

And here’s the thing.

The Spanish island of Tenerife has become synonymous with the soulless sun-and-sangria resorts lining its barren southern shores. However, travel to the lush north of the island to discover a different Tenerife, one that is sprinkled with colonial towns that are vibrant with local life.

The northern town of Puerto de la Cruz is not only an excellent base for exploring Tenerife by bus or car but is also a great destination in its own right. To help you make the most of your time there, here is my pick of the best things to do in Puerto de la Cruz. You’ll also find recommendations for where to stay and eat.

sign for puerto de la cruz tenerife

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large mural of a man's face on the side of a building in puerto de la cruz tenerife


  • Visit Jardín Botánico
  • Explore the town’s street art
  • Pay your respects to Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia
  • Watch the world go by in Plaza del Charco
  • Walk along Explanada del Muelle

BEST MONTHS TO VISIT: September & October; December & January.


Introducing Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz is on Tenerife’s north coast on a promontory at the foot of the lush La Orotava Valley.
Although it is the main resort in the north of the island, it is resolutely Canarian in character, with locals and tourists sharing the town. Therefore, far from being a Little Britain in the sun, it has a more traditional Spanish feel.
Banana plantations border family-run hotels and the pedestrianised roads of the charming old town are home to characterful bars and restaurants.


Best Things to Do in Puerto de la Cruz

As Puerto de la Cruz is relatively compact, you should be able to cover its main sights in a leisurely two days, or a busier one day. Except for the Botanical Garden, everything is walkable and you shouldn’t need to take public transport.

1. Visit the Botanical Garden (Jardín Botánico)

I do like a good garden and the Botanical Garden in Puerto de la Cruz did not disappoint. Thanks to northern Tenerife’s sub-tropical climate, the town’s Jardín Botánico is a small but perfectly formed lush wonderland.

pond in garden with reflections of vegetation

Founded by King Carlos II in 1788 as a halfway house between the Americas and the Far East, the origin of the exotic plant species, and their final destination in Madrid, the gardens have had a rocky history.

Whilst the plants thrived in Tenerife, they didn’t do so well during Madrid’s winters and the plan to eventually transport them all to the Spanish mainland was abandoned. Occasional storms and neglect subsequently took their toll until the Canary Islands Government took over their management in the 1980s.

You can easily spend an hour or so crisscrossing the Botanical Garden’s shaded paths, past leafy groves and ponds strewn with lily pads, taking care not to trip up on roots sprawling across the ground like giant tentacles.

close up of banana plant in botanical garden

There are coffee and cocoa bushes, pepper and tulip trees, and flowers that strangely resemble bananas. The star of the show is the majestic Moreton Bay fig tree, a magnificent beast of a tree that is as tall as a small church.

An enchanted sub-tropical forest and an essential addition to your list of things to do in Puerto de la Cruz.

Jardín Botánico is located on Calle Retama, a steep uphill 30-minute walk from Puerto de la Cruz’s old town. Alternatively, catch bus 103, 30, 345 or 363 from the bus station.

2. Visit the Orchid Garden (Jardín de Orquideas de Sitio Litre)

I know. Another garden. But if you have the time, this little gem near the Botanical Gardens is worth a visit. It is home to Puerto de la Cruz’s oldest dragon tree (drago) as well as the titular orchids.

The Orchid Garden is located on Camino Sitio Litre, a ten-minute walk from the Jardín Botánico.

3. Check out the street art in Puerto de la Cruz

One of the things that Spain is best known for is its artistic legacy and this extends to urban art forms.

I love to check out street art when I travel, from Brick Lane in London to the fabulous murals in Penang in Malaysia to Màlaga’s superb urban art.

In recent years, street art has thrived in Puerto de la Cruz thanks to a programme initiated in 2014 to improve the urban environment. This has effectively transformed the old town into an open-air art gallery, showcasing work by some of the greatest contemporary muralists.

ochre coloured buildings and mural of womans face

4. Or check out contemporary art in a historic building

The 17th-century Old Customs House, or Casa de la Real Aduana, is one of Puerto de la Cruz’s oldest buildings, featuring wooden windows and typical Canarian balconies.

whitewashed small building and people sitting outside

It hosted its last customs formalities more than 150 years ago and is now home to the super-friendly Tourist Information office on its ground floor.

Upstairs you will find The Museum of Contemporary Art (MACEW) which hosts exhibitions  by Spanish painters

5. Visit Puerto de la Cruz’s spiritual heart, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia

One of the most popular things to do in Puerto de la Cruz is to visit the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia, the town’s main church. This 17th-century Baroque spectacle was a little too sombre for my taste, but it does feature some remarkable side altars, including an Irish Altar.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia is located on Plaza de la Iglesia

6. Visit the Chapel of San Telmo

This small but beautiful chapel was much more to my liking and is in a spectacular setting, on the rock of the Caleta looking out across the Atlantic Ocean.

whitewashed chapel with small bell tower

Inside it is utter simplicity: black and cream chequerboard flooring, whitewashed walls, a painted altar and a wooden roof. Built by the families of fishermen in 1626, the church is dedicated to Pedro Gonzalez Telmo, the patron saint of the Spanish province of San Telmo.

Today, it serves as the German Catholic church in Puerto de la Cruz. It is located on Calle de San Telmo.

7. Cool off at Lago Martiánez

people enjoying water park by the sea in puerto de la cruz tenerife

Lago Martiánez is adjacent to San Telmo. Also known as Costa Martiánez Tourist Complex, this has your entertainment and leisure needs covered with its artificial seawater swimming pools, a large lake, gardens, terraces, islands, viewpoints, cultural spaces, bars and restaurants.

It’s a useful and reasonably priced option for relaxation and cooling off if your accommodation does not have a pool and you don’t fancy the beach.

8. Experience local life in Plaza del Charco

Plaza del Charco is the beating heart of the old town.

One of the best things to do in Puerto de la Cruz is to watch life go by as locals chat on wooden benches in the shade of the Canary palms and Indian laurel trees as children have fun in the playground.

two people sitting on bench in piazza in puerto de la cruz tenerife
Plaza del Charco, Puerto de la Cruz

9. Visit Castillo San Felipe

Castillo San Felipe lies one kilometre to the west of Plaza del Charco. Located next to Playa Jardín, one of Puerto de la Cruz’s main black-sand beaches, this small but imposing fort was built in the 17th Century to protect the city against pirates.

Today, Castillo San Felipe plays host to temporary art exhibitions and theatre and dance performances.

old fort with canon outside

10. Watch the waves crash over the sea wall (Explanada del Muelle)

Sometimes there is no greater pleasure than watching nature do its thing. And nature does its thing spectacularly in Puerto de la Cruz, where the mighty force of the Atlantic Ocean crashes into its sea wall.

Take a walk along its sea wall and marvel (and try not to get soaked).

waves crashing onto rocks
street with multicoloured buildings and woman walking past in puerto de la cruz tenerife
Puerto de la Cruz’s old town

My Favourite Places to Eat

You won’t go hungry in Puerto de la Cruz. Most restaurants are concentrated in the old town.

Here are a few that I highly recommend:

Bodega Julian

Calle Mequinez, 20

Proof that short menus are a good thing. Good service and even better food with the best lamb dish that I have ever tasted. Worth the price of a plane ticket to Tenerife alone.

Reservations recommended

Chriniguito Pipo

Calle de la Marina, 2

For super-fresh seafood and fish, head to this unpretentious café by the old harbour at the northern end of the sea wall. Red plastic chairs, wipe clean tables and service with a smile.

bronze sculpture of a woman with a basket on her head

Where To Stay in Puerto de la Cruz

When choosing accommodation in Puerto de la Cruz you are faced with one main choice: stay near the old town by the harbour or at one of the larger hotels or apartments built along the hillside rising from the sea.

The majority of accommodation falls into the second category. Although these places have many facilities, including swimming pools, the surrounding area is a little soulless and the walk back from town involves a steep uphill climb or a bus journey.

Therefore, I recommend choosing a place in or near the old town, close to most of the main sights and the bus station.

Note that luxury hotels tend to be located out of town.

The good news is that accommodation in Puerto de la Cruz is relatively inexpensive, even if you are visiting Tenerife as a solo traveller.

Miranda Penthouse AI

I stayed at this wonderful apartment in the heart of the old town with sweeping views across the ocean. Highly recommended.

lounge with table with fruit bowl and terrace overlooking sea
bed with white bedding and brightly coloured cushions


Here are a few other places to stay that I have found that look like good alternatives:

4Dreams Hotel Chimisay – A centrally-located hotel in the heart of Puerto de la Cruz’s old town, providing breakfast for a small additional charge.


Hotel Botanico y Oriental Spa Garden  – if you want to stretch the holiday budget, you can’t go far wrong with this 5-star luxury hotel. Whilst it is not located in the old town, it makes up for this with its three 3 outdoor pools,  attractive gardens and extensive spa facilities.


>>> None of these places take your fancy? Click here for other great accommodation choices in Puerto de la Cruz.

When to Visit Puerto de la Cruz

Although Tenerife is a year-round destination, broadly speaking, the south of the island is warm and arid; the north is cooler and wetter.
However, in Puerto de la Cruz you get the best of both worlds. Whilst it receives enough rainfall to nurture its gardens and to maintain its sub-tropical appearance, compared with the rest of the north it receives less rain and more sunshine.
The best months to visit are September and October with long hot days, warm nights and clear skies, or the cooler months of December and January.
I visited Puerto de la Cruz in January and enjoyed long hours of clear skies and sunshine, although the temperature did drop after sundown.
November and February are normally the rainiest months when you can get anything from sporadic nighttime showers to full-on monsoon-type deluges.
Although you will enjoy hot days in June, July and August, thanks to the summer trade winds these can sometimes be overcast.

How to Get from Tenerife South Airport to Puerto de la Cruz

If you are not hiring a car, or do not have a transfer included as part of a package tour, you have three options for getting from Tenerife South Airport to Puerto de la Cruz: taxi, shuttle bus or regular bus.

By taxi

As Puerto de la Cruz is nearly an hour’s drive from Tenerife South Airport, you will pay handsomely for a taxi ride. When I investigated this option, I was quoted a one-way fare of €100.

By shuttle bus

For a cheaper but longer transfer, book a seat on a shared shuttle bus from Tenerife South Airport (TFS). You can either do this online, for example via  Shuttle DirectSun Transfers or Hoppa, or at one of the desks in Arrivals.

Reckon on paying around £18 for a one-way transfer; discounts may be available.

Although I took a shuttle bus from Tenerife South Airport (TFS) to Puerto de la Cruz, I wouldn’t choose to do this again.

The bus sat at the airport for nearly an hour, as it filled with more passengers, before departing. On arrival in Puerto de la Cruz, it made multiple stops and, as I was staying in the old town, I was one of the last to be dropped off.

The entire transfer took close to three hours.

By regular bus

I travelled back to the airport on the regular TITSA bus and would choose this option again.

The large, modern and comfortable bus 343 plies the route between Tenerife South Airport (TFS) to Puerto de la Cruz in 90 minutes for under €15. It even features USB charging points above the seats.

On the return journey from Puerto de la Cruz, after its starting point at the bus station, it makes a few stops on either side of the Botanic Gardens before joining the motorway.

The 343 bus service is less frequent on weekend days.

I hope that this article has given you ideas for what to do in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife

Getting your hands on a good guidebook to help you plan your trip to Tenerife and explore the country whilst you are there, is a smart move. I highly recommend this excellent Marco Polo guide, which was my constant companion when I visited Tenerife.

If you want to discover more about Tenerife, take a look at my other guides here:

Happy travels!

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.