Spain Guide

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La Palma Tourist Attractions Things to Do

In La Palma you won't find all the usual tourist activities of the busier Canary Islands but its rugged geography, pretty towns and fine cuisine will delight the more discerning tourist who prefers to give the popular package holiday scenario a wide berth.

Spend your days exploring the fascinating landscape of this tiny island which has everything from volcanic mountains and beaches to banana plantations.and even a small tropical rainforest.

Take the time to visit the capital, Santa Cruz, on the east coast. This picturesque port town has some delightful steep alleyways, traditional tapas bars and restaurants and many historic buildings.

The old part of the town, around Plaza de España, is the most charming area with elegant Canarian manor houses built hundreds of years ago. The tourist office is housed in the 17th century Palacio de Salazar in Calle de O'Daly and is the place to go for details of local excursions, fiestas and cultural events.

The San Salvador Church, the small chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Luz and the town hall all date back to the 16th century and are well worth a visit if you're a history buff. Down at the Avenida Maritima waterfront you'll find some lovely old houses, brightly painted with a wonderful assortment of carved wood balconies.

Visit the Casa de Tabaco to see the production of the hand made Cuban style cigars which you'll find for sale throughout the island.

Los Llanos, on the west coast, is also worth a visit. Concerts and local fiestas are held in the plaza beneath the shade of the laurel trees and you can buy local produce (smoked goat's cheese, fresh fish and exotic fruits) at the town's indoor market.

There are various sports to be enjoyed on the island, many of them provided within the hotel and apartment complexes, but probably the favourite of all leisure activities here is hiking. There are hundreds of kilometres of marked routes via which you can explore La Palma's volcanoes, tropical orchards, ravines and rugged coastline.

Many local companies organise walking tours and jeep safaris to see the island's wealth of natural beauty spots.

Top of your list (literally!) will probably be a trip to Roque de los Muchachos, the island's highest mountain rising to 2,423 metres with an observatory at its peak. This is on the northern edge of the Caldera del Taburiente the world's largest erosion crater with a diameter of nine kilometres and a depth of 770 metres.

Around 400,000 years ago the colossal roof of this volcanic mountain collapsed and formed the present basin. Rocks lying at the bottom of the crater are pieces of the original roof.

You can walk along the rim, enjoying fantastic views of the inside of the crater, of most of the island and on a clear day the islands of Tenerife, Gomera and El Hierro.

One of the most challenging walks is the seven hour "Volcano Route" which takes you along the central ridge of the island past the seven volcanoes which makes up its mountainous spine.

If you run out of places to explore on La Palma take a ferry trip from Santa Cruz to the beautiful unspoilt islands of Gomera and Hierro or the lively international playground of Tenerife where you can see the world's third biggest volcano.