San Cristóbal de La Laguna, informally known as La Laguna, is a city in Tenerife. It is the oldest city on the island and has a well-preserved city centre, and in 1999 was designated a UNESCO world heritage site. It is located at a considerably higher elevation than Santa Cruz, and is noticeably cooler than other nearby settlements.
First called Aguere by the indigenous Guanche inhabitants, the area was originally a pilgrimage site due to the large lake which once existed nearby (hence the Spanish name 'La Laguna'). Following the conquest of Tenerife, the Spanish officially established their own settlement in 1496, which functioned as the capital of the Canary Islands until 1723. The city centre with its current layout and architecture dates largely to the late 16th century. Its urban plan was considered to be so successful that it was then used as a blueprint for later Spanish colonial cities in the New World, including such diverse places as Oaxaca, Lima, and Havana.
La Laguna is home to the oldest university in the Canary Islands with 30,000 students, giving the city a youthful vibe. Over a quarter of the non-student inhabitants are also connected to the university. Other primary economic activity includes manufacturing and tourism.
- 1 Oficina Turismo (Tourist Office), C/ Obispo Rey Redondo, 7 (Casa Alvarado Bracamonte), ☎ . M-F 09:00-14:30, Sa Su 10:00-14:00; closed holidays. Located in a grand 17th-century manor. Helpful staff can advise on ongoing events and hand out free maps.
1 Tenerife Norte (Los Rodeos) is just next door to the city. Titsa bus lines 102, 107, and 108 all depart from the airport to the central bus exchange (intercambiador), which is a single stop away. Departures are approximately every half-hour, and a one-way ticket is €2.45, payable directly to the bus driver.
La Laguna is well-connected with other parts of the island by bus, with most buses stopping at the 2 La Laguna Intercambiador (bus exchange), which is about a ten-minute walk to the centre. The Titsa Information Centre (tel. +34 922 381 807, M-F 06:00-20:00, Sa Su and holidays 09:00-17:00) has bus schedules and route maps, and sells Bono cards, which can save 25% on bus fares as well as on museum entries.
From the Santa Cruz bus exchange, buses 14 and 15 arrive every 10 minutes or so, with a journey taking 20 minutes and costing €1.45. Buses 101, 102, and 103 serve Puerto de la Cruz, and 108 is the most direct bus to La Orotava.
Line 1 of the MetroTenerife tram system links Santa Cruz with La Laguna, terminating at 3 Trinidad, at the southern edge of the historic centre. Trams depart approximately every 10 minutes, and the journey takes 20 minutes. There is an automated ticket vending machine at every stop; a one-way fare costs €1.35, and Bono cards are accepted.
Motorway TF-5 connects the city with Santa Cruz to the east and with Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava to the west. From the south of the island, TF-1 connects with the shorter TF-2, from which travellers can pick up the TF-5.
The historic city is closed to motor traffic, and therefore drivers must park on the outskirts. There is a large free public 2 car park on the eastern edge of the old city with a second free 3 car park just a short distance north, but parking spaces can be very scarce, so be prepared to circle around the lot a few times before finding a space.
The historic city centre is completely pedestrianized and fairly easy to walk around. For further distances, Titsa buses also function as the local bus service; see above for details.
The following sights are all located in the beautiful world heritage listed historic center.
Architecture and religious buildings
- 1 Iglesia de la Concepción (Church of the Immaculate Conception), Plaza de la Concepción, s/n, ☎ . M-F 08:30-13:30 18:00-19:30, Sa 08:30-13:30 18:00-20:30, Su 07:30-14:00 16:30-20:00. Established in 1511, this is the oldest parish church on the island. The interior has beautifully-painted Mudejar wooden ceilings, and visitors can climb the bell tower, which is the tallest in the Canary Islands. Outside the church is an ossuary with the remains of victims of many epidemics. Photography inside the church is not permitted. €2 (adults).
- 2 Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Cathedral of San Cristóbal de La Laguna), Plaza Fray Albino, s/n. M-Sa 08:00-18:00, Su 08:00-14:00. The current structure was built between 1904 and 1915 in the Neoclassical and Neogothic styles, on the site of an early 16th-century chapel which is believed had been built atop an earlier Guanche necropolis. Inside is the elaborate Baroque 18th-century altarpiece of the Virgin of Los Remedios (La Virgen de los Remedios), the patron saint of the city; seven painted panels have been attributed to the Flemish master Hendrick van Balen. Also noteworthy is the marble 18th-century pulpit carved by the Genoese master Pasquale Bocciardo. Free.
- 3 Convento de Santa Clara de Asís (Convent of Santa Clara of Assisi) (between C/ Viana and C/ Anchieta). Tu Th Sa 10:00-17:00. This working Franciscan convent was established in 1547 as the first nunnery in the Canary Islands. Inside, visitors can see the beautiful carved wooden balconies and visit the museum, which showcases monastic treasures of gold, silver, textiles, and sculpture and painting. €5 (adults), free (children).
- 4 Real Santuario del Santísimo Cristo de la Laguna (Royal Sanctuary of the Christ of La Laguna), Plaza San Francisco, s/n (Plaza del Cristo). M-Th 08:00-13:00 16:00-20:45, F 08:00-21:00, Sa 08:00-13:00 16:00-20:45, Su 08:00-21:00. The most important religious building in the city, this houses the Cristo de La Laguna ('Holy Christ of La Laguna), one of the most venerated religious artifacts in the Canary Islands and a symbol of the city. The church also has an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin, one of only two copies existing in Spain. Free.
- 5 Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán (Church of St. Dominic of Guzmán), C/ Santo Domingo, 1, ☎ . Daily 10:00-19:00. Built on the site of an earlier chapel, the current church and the attached convent date to the 16th and 17th centuries. The church is known as the burial spot of Amaro Pargo, one of Spain's most infamous pirates, a La Laguna native who died here in 1747. Also noteworthy is the interior 22-metre-long fresco, painted in the 1940s by Mariano de Cossío and Martínez-Fortún. Free.
Museums and galleries
- 6 Museo de Historia y Antropología de Tenerife (Casa Lercaro / Museum of the History of Tenerife), C/ San Agustín, 22, ☎ . Tu-Sa 09:00-20:00, Su M and holidays 10:00-17:00. Housed in a reportedly haunted mansion which once belonged to an Italian noble family, the museum has exhibits illustrating Canarian life from the 17th to 19th centuries. €5 (adults), €3.50 (concessions), €3 (Canary Island residents), free (F Sa 16:00-20:00).
- 7 Museo de la Ciencia y del Cosmos (Museum of Science and the Cosmos), Avda Los Menceyes, 70, ☎ . Tu-Sa 09:00-20:00, Su M and holidays 10:00-17:00; last admission 30 min before closing. An interactive museum for both children and adults, with a planetarium and holograms. Museum: €5 (adults), €3.50 (concessions), €3 (Canary Island residents), free (F Sa 16:00-20:00); planetarium: €1 (adults), free (children under 8).
- 8 IES Canarias Cabrera Pinto (Ex-convento de San Agustín), C/ San Agustín, 48, ☎ , fax: . Tu-F 10:00-20:00, Sa Su 10:00-15:00. This former convent is now the home to a school, known for such famous students as the surrealist painter Óscar Domínguez and the novelist Benito Pérez Galdós. Visitors can see the cloisters and two exhibit halls which have rotating temporary exhibits, usually of Canarian artists. The former convent church now lies in ruins and is off-limits to visitors, but it is possible to gain a peek of the interior through a window in the locked gate. Free.
- 9 Fundación Cristino de Vera (Casa Saavedra y Martínez-Barona), C/ San Agustín, 18 (next to the Museum of History), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 11:00-14:00 17:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-14:00. The foundation has a permanent collection of artwork by Santa Cruz artist Cristino de Vera, and hosts temporary exhibits by other highly-regarded contemporary artists. Free.
- 1 Mercado Municipal de la Laguna (La Laguna Municipal Market), Plaza del Cristo, s/n, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Su 07:00-14:00, Th 17:00-20:00; closed on Th in Aug. A good place to buy fruit, vegetables, and artisanal products as well as clothing at good prices.
There are plenty of tapas bars and cafés in the centre; prices in the pedestrian zone tend to be higher than on the outskirts. There are also some excellent cake shops with great prices.
- 1 Ca'Zona, Plaza de la Concepción, 22, ☎ . Su 11:00-16:00, M 11:00-17:00, Tu W 10:00-22:00, Th-Sa 11:00-24:00. This very popular restaurant serves traditional tapas as well as full meals. €11 set menu.
- 2 Tasca La Venta de la Esquina, Plaza Concepción, 9, ☎ . Tu-Su 12:00-24:00. A lively tapas place offers traditional Canarian-style tapas as well as a large wine selection.
Since there are so many students in the area, there is little accommodation available for tourists.
- 1 Hostal Berlín (Pensión Berlin), C/ Marcelino Perdomo Reyes, 1 (near the airport), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Singles/doubles with shared toilet €20/40, singles/doubles with private toilet €30/50.
- 2 Hotel Aguere, C/ Obispo Rey Redondo, 55, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in a restored 18th-century manor, the hotel also has an onsite bar-restaurant and a couple of shops. Free Wi-Fi is in the lobby. Singles €62, doubles €80, includes breakfast.
- 3 Hotel Laguna Nivaria, Plaza del Adelantado, 11, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The centrally-located hotel offers apartment rooms with kitchens. Other facilities include a fitness centre, onsite restaurant, and free Wi-Fi; pets permitted by request. Private parking €8/day. Singles €90+, doubles €110+, includes breakfast.
The new tram system takes you to Santa Cruz bus station in about 40 minutes for €2.35 return. There are also frequent buses taking you from the new bus station close to Avenida Trinidad: number 015 directly to Santa Cruz via highway in just 15 minutes or 014 which takes more time as it goes through the city.