Tall tales from North Tenerife

So there I am towering over Tenerife Sur airport, dwarfing Santa Cruz and looking down on Mount Teide, was it too much cheese for supper? Â No, I’m just visiting Pueble Chico, the miniature version of Tenerife at La Orotava, just outside Puerto de la Cruz.


It was definately time for a day up north, so catching the early 343 bus to Puerto de la Cruz ( 6.25 euros with a Bono ticket ) I linked to the free hourly coach to Pueblo Chico from Avenida Venezuela, just behind the Playa and Lago Martianez. Ten minutes later, and 8.50 € lighter (12.50 € non residents) I was passing through the volcanic lunar landscape model and facing a mini hillside dotted with the early Guanche tribesmen of Tenerife. This was just the first of 53 model areas, covering not just Tenerife but also key points of the other Canary Islands.

The models are meticulous in design and sound effects help to enhance the illusion. Tenerife Sur airport comes complete with passenger tannoy announcements and the motorway rumbles with traffic noise. La Orotava valley is an amazing backdrop to the parkand the plants and flowers lining the walkways contrast well with the iconic buildings such as the Santa Cruz auditorium, church of the Conception tower and the Cabildo offices. Nature may also provide you with some unexpected photos as the large lizards that live around the park, dart across the airport runway or scuttle by tiny Guanche figures, like a scene from a sci fi B movie.

Santa Cruz port

The compact arrangement of the models throws up some rare photo opportunities as Corte Ingles rubs shoulders with a Fred Olsen ferry and the auditorium, and the airport runway heads towards the wind park turbines. The park moves with the times, and the tram now glides around La Laguna, passing areas it doesn’t reach in the full size world. A few years ago they added a scale model of Mount Teide, and if you get your camera angle right, you can snap it with the real peak in the distant background. The model Teide is hollow and you can normally go inside but a cleaning lady was busy inside today – maybe it was Mother Nature? I kept thinking of Michael Bentine and what fun he could have had on Potty Time with such a vast playground.

Santa Cruz

The pathways lead inevitably up to the shop, cafe and restaurant at the end, I spent about 90 minutes exploring the models, that might give you some idea of where to fit it in your schedule. It’s certainly interesting and kids will be fascinated, but it’s definately look don’t touch. As for prices, adult rates start at 12 years old, which seems a bit harsh, and kids prices are 8.50 euros or 5 euros for residents. The park is open 9am to 7pm, more details on the website.

La OrotavaWith plenty of time in hand, I caught the Titsa bus into the centre of La Orotava for a bit of exploring. On my last visit I got as far as the Plaza de la Constitution, so this time I headed on upward into the old town, and was so glad I did. The tourist guide boast is that the town centre is one of the few in the Canaries that is preserved intact, how right they are. There are historic plazas, houses, churches and museums every few yards, all clearly maked with plaques giving their history. The narrow streets are seperated from the roads with ornate bollards linked with chains and interspersed with flowers and seats, all very neat and stylish.

I ventured up as far as the flower garden of Plaza de San Francisco and popped into the Casa de Turista and the Casa de los Balcones. These last 2 old houses are on different sides of the street and both have the old wooden overhanging balconies that are famous in the Canary Islands, the Casa de los Balcones has 3 floors of the balconies looking down over a plant filled courtyard. History oozes from every step of the old town, and thats on an ordinary day, a month ago the annual flower and sand carpets added another dimension to the plazas and public areas.

Plaza de Ayuntamiento

I didn’t have time to do justice to the wine route further on in La Perdoma village, so that will have to wait for another day. Retracing my steps, I stopped off for some tapas and coffee before catching the bus back to Puerto de la Cruz and on to Los Cristianos. My next visit to La Orotava may not be quite so cultural, as CD Tenerife play a friendly there in 3 weeks at the ground on the other side of town, but i will be back this way, with my sights set on the wine tasting.