The Canary Islands are incredibly popular holiday destinations, especially for Brits looking to escape the gloom for some winter sun. Located off the coast of Morocco, the Spanish territory consists of an archipelago of 7 islands that are known for dramatic scenery, volcanoes and black sand beaches.

Most people visiting the Canaries will head to Gran Canaria, Tenerife or Lanzarote. These islands have countless resort hotels and developed tourist towns and are perfect for a family holiday.

But when we mentioned going on holiday to La Palma, not a single person we spoke to had even heard of this island.

We took this to be a good sign 😉

We are known for trying to escape the crowds, but what greeted us as we landed in Santa Cruz de La Palma completely exceeded expectations.

Aside from one large 5* star resort in the south part of the island, the tourism development is few and far between and very consciously done wherever it does occur.

 

 

La Palma consists of a string of volcanoes running down the spine of the island they’ve formed. It’s mountainous, tropical and feels like you are on some far-flung Caribbean island.

The island is tiny, but because of the terrain, it can take ages to get from A to B – to cross the island from east to west you quite often end up above the cloud line.

We chose to stay in the north-west of the island which is renowned for its hiking, stunning scenery and most importantly, peace and quiet.

Although I’m reliably informed that the bus network on La Palma is excellent, we wanted the freedom to venture down quiet roads and try to explore as much as we could in 7 days, so we hired a car.

 

A Week in La Palma – 7 Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Puntagorda

After landing on the east side of the island we began the journey over to the west.

What seemed like a hair-raising drive on day 1 felt like nothing at all after a couple of days, you quickly get used to the narrow mountain passes.

We stopped off briefly at the Caldera de Taburiente National Park Headquarters in the middle of the island to get some hiking information and then headed straight to the village of Puntagorda which would be our home for the week.

After checking in, resurrecting my rusty Spanish and grabbing a lovely tapas dinner, it was time for bed.

 

Day 2 – Fuencaliente & Volcano San Antonio

You wouldn’t believe how much the landscape of such a small island can change from one end to the other. The north is lush, green and has a tropical feel.

Once we made it down to the south it had a more stark, volcanic landscape – the youngest volcanoes on the island are in the south and they are still creating more land today.

We stopped for a great seafood lunch at a tiny bay and then visited the salt mines on the southern tip of the island.

The most recently active volcano on the island, San Antonio, has a visitor centre and you can walk around the edge of the caldera.

It’s quite eerie seeing the lava path and how it has expanded the geography of the island.

 

Fuencaliente La Palma

The salt pans at the southern tip of the island – Fuencaliente

 

Day 3 – Roque de Los Muchachos

If there is one thing I’d recommend above everything else on La Palma it would be a drive up to Roque de Los Muchachos followed by an observatory tour.

 

Roque de la Muchachos

Some of the telescopes at Roque de Los Muchachos

 

I had no idea that La Palma was such an important centre for astronomy but scientists from all over the word have giant telescopes here and we got to tour the British observatory which was pretty amazing.

You sit above the cloud line and the winding road to get to the top seemed to go on and on – you really feel like you’re on top the world.

 

 

Day 4 – Caldera de Taburiente

The location is utterly stunning, the bowl of an enormous volcano which has had hundreds of years to cultivate gorgeous pine trees.

There are a number of trails crossing through the Caldera de Taburiente and we decided to hike the Caldera rim from La Cumbrecita to Pico Bejenado, which promised a lovely view into the whole volcano basin.

There isn’t a huge amount of hiking information online for La Palma so make sure you stop at the National Park Headquarters just outside Los Llanos. The staff are very knowledgeable and can help you plan your itinerary.

Despite the lack of information, the trails were very well maintained.

It was lovely, quiet and wonderful to hike at my favourite time of day, the early morning when the pine starts warming up and smelling divine.

 

Pico Bejenado - Caldera de Taburiente National Park

The trail to Pico Bejenado – Caldera de Taburiente National Park

 

Day 5 – North East Road Trip & Los Tilos

Everywhere on La Palma is stunning but the north of the island has a rainforest feel to it and there is barely anyone there.

We spent the day road tripping the coast, along winding roads that are tucked right into the cliffs.

We stopped at lovely villages like Santa Domingo and San Andrés y Sauces and had a wonderful morning enjoying the scenery.

After a stellar lunch at Bar Charco Azul we decided to visit Los Tilos rainforest which truly feels like you’ve been transported to Jurassic Park.

Ginormous plants line the narrow gorge, there are real jungle vines hanging down from the trees – you go a few miles inland from the coast and feel like you’re in another world.

 

Charco Azul La Palma

Lunch at Bar Charco Azul – right on the ocean

Day 6 – The Dream Paths

After the hectic day before we opted for a sedate hike along one of the island’s most beautiful trails.

The Dream Paths, which start in the tiny village of Las Tricias, descend into a canyon where people have been living perched on the cliffs for 1000s of years.

There are ancient cave dwellings to visit and you can see how people are still making their homes today – with no car access and precariously balanced on the cliffs.

The Dream Paths are like stepping back in time and a lovely way to spend half a day.

 

Dragon Tree La Palma

The famous Canary Island Dragon Tree on the Dream Paths

 

Day 7 – Playa Nogales and Santa Cruz

We checked out of our farmhouse in Puntagorda and made one last trip over the mountain to spend the night on the east coast.

The morning was spent visiting the not so “secret beach” of Playa Nogales.

It may not be a secret anymore, but the many steps down to the beach seemed to put people off and we were the only folks watching the surfers on this stunning coast.

 

Playa Nogales La Palma

Some of the many steps down to Playa Nogales

 

We spent the rest of the day rambling around the small capital city of Santa Cruz de la Palma, which looks like it’s barely changed in the last 100 years.

Our last night was spent walking the long promenade at Breña Baja and grabbing a final bite to eat overlooking the ocean.

 

Santa Cruz de la Palma

Lovely old streets of Santa Cruz de la Palma

 

Trip Information

Getting There

Flight from Manchester to Santa Cruz de la Palma – £204 ($290) PP

You can fly direct from London and Manchester. We booked quite late for this trip but I’ve seen flights as cheap as £80 ($113) PP return if you book longer in advance.

 

Getting Around

Use one of the local rental car agencies rather than a well-known brand, they are much cheaper.

We used Plus Car and I’ve also heard good things about Cicar.

We paid around €90 in rental for the whole week – it was a bargain.

 

Gorge La Palma

Can you see the tiny car in the top left? This is fairly typical of the many narrow, winding gorges to drive around

 

Where to Stay

If I was to visit La Palma for a week again, I’d split my time between two different locations on the island.

With every road hugging a steep cliff it takes a while to get anywhere, a split destination trip would make better use of your time.

 

Puntagorda

We stayed in Puntagorda in the North West and it is absolutely gorgeous, but we actually spent our last night on the island on the east coast just for a change of scenery.

 

Santa Cruz de la Palma

Santa Cruz de la Palma

 

I wouldn’t recommend our own partocular accommodation in Puntagorda but there are many great villa and farmhouse rentals in the area if you book enough in advance.

 

Breña Baja

We had an early flight home so stayed just north of the airport the night before at Apartamentos Cancajos La Palma.

This place was lovely and the perfect area for grabbing a bite to eat, a walk along the promenade and an early night before a flight. We paid around £60 for an apartment with living room, kitchen and terrace.

 

Where to Eat

Cerveceria Isla Verde

This gorgeous little tapas bar in Tijarafe has its own micro-brew and fantastic Belgian waffles. The staff are lovely and the small menu is done very well.

 

 

Bar Charco Azul

If you like seafood head to Bar Charco Azul for lunch. The restaurant couldn’t get any closer to the sea and the menu is sublime.

They design the menu based on whatever is caught that day – when we visited there were 5 ways to have tuna steak.

Bear in mind that La Palma still very much conforms to a traditional siesta so you will be unlikely to find anywhere to eat between around 3-6pm.

 

Sp, what do you think? Does La Palma look like somewhere you’d like to go to get away from it all?

 

Don’t forget to pin me!

A 7 day itinerary for the quiet Canary Island of La Palma - Things to do, Where to stay and Where to eat.

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