La Orotava is a beautiful little town in the north of the island - very close to the resort of Puerto de la Cruz. It kept both the adults and children in our party happy. It is an old, elegant and very sophisticated hill town with amazing architecture - great for the grown-ups, but with steep, cobbled streets, wooden balconies and great places to explore so it is also fun for children.
Traditionally La Orotava was home to Tenerife's aristocracy. The most wealthy and noble families settled here after the Spanish Conquest. There is still something of an aristocratic air about the whole place today.
We parked and crossed over the bridge towards the old town. If you stop on the bridge and take in the view, it is very special. You see the town, the valley and beyond. Our son was especially taken with the dragon trees - there were a lot of them here, all various ages.
Close to the bridge, there are some little shops and when we were there, they had photos in the window of the Corpus Christi events in the town. They cover the streets with flowers, and in the town hall square, they use coloured sand from the volcanoes to make the most amazing and intricate "sand carpets" - usually showing religious scenes. Apparently the town has entered the Guinness Book of Records for the largest event of this type in the world. We enjoyed looking at the pictures, then walked up to the town hall to see where it all takes place.
The Town Hall itself is also a very nice building, with a wonderful dragon tree right next to it. The streets all around are full of beautiful old mansions and the architecture everywhere you look is simply stunning.
If you walk up the (extremely) steep hill near the town hall, then you come to the Casa de los Balcones. Just a word of warning - the streets here are really steep, lots are cobbled as well, so you definitely need to make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes.
The Casa de los Balcones have the finest examples of traditional balconies that there are in Tenerife. The balconies are ornate and very beautiful - even our 9 year old was very taken in by them. You can actually go inside the buildings too - I would definitely recommend this. The building on the left side of the road had lots of displays of Canarian costumes, a big gift shop, local wine tasting and displays of the sand carpets inside. They had 2 examples of the sand carpets you could get very close to. This was fascinating. Outside there was a wonderful terrace, with views over the valley and a potter at work making things to sell in the shops. We had to almost tear our son away, so interested was he in watching this craftsman.
The balconied house on the other side of the street is also well worth a visit. Inside there is the most beautiful inner courtyard - it is amazing. Upstairs they have a quirky museum. Entrance is very cheap and it is worth having a quick look.
Walking back down the hill, there is a lovely skyline view - the Iglesia de la Concepcion is stunning with its round tower. We went inside this beautiful church too for a few minutes.
We spent about 1.5 hours in La Orotava - a beautiful town and interesting for children with the sand carpets and Canarian balconies.