La Palma

Known to locals as La Isla Bonita - The Beautiful Island - La Palma does not disappoint. The beautiful capital, Santa Cruz, provides wonderful sightseeing opportunities amid elegant old buildings. A tear-drop shaped landmass in the Atlantic Ocean, La Palma is dominated by dramatic cliffs and volcanic formations. It boasts a National Park and three protected natural areas, all offering stunning landscapes and wonderful flora and fauna. Good roads make all the highlights easily accessible by car, so take a breathtaking drive through lush tropical plantations, then climb higher into the scented pine and heather of the high mountain. For the more adventurous, trekking and overnight camping in the National Park is possible. Meanwhile, the southeast coast hides coves of black sand that can only be reached by sea - an invitation to those with sailing skills! Warm and pleasant all year round, La Palma doesn't have the guaranteed sunshine of neighbouring Tenerife and Gran Canaria, but neither does it draw such huge crowds. If watching the waves crash onto the shore and exploring a natural paradise are more appealing than holidaying in a beach resort, La Palma may be just what you're looking for.


La Palma's capital, Santa Cruz, is a beautiful place to spend a day (or two). Fine, colonial buildings attest to the wealth that flowed into Santa Cruz in the fifteenth century, when it was the third most important port in the Spanish Empire. Many houses are painted in soft hues of yellow and blue, with delicate wooden balconies overhead. The Plaza de España is home to the 16th century Town Hall, featuring an ornate coffered ceiling, a hallmark of many Canarian buildings. In the same square lies the Church of El Salvador, begun in the 17th century, with a tower constructed from volcanic rock. The interior is equally impressive, and home to some outstanding works of art. More artwork is to be found both in the Church of Santo Domingo, which houses a collection of Flemish canvases and a Latin cross, and the Church of San Francisco.

Away from the Plaza de España, in Santa Cruz's upper town, is the Sanctuary of the Virgen de las Nieves - “Our Lady of the Snows”. It owes its popularity to the image of La Palma's patron saint which it houses. Every five years (most recently in 2005) the city celebrates the "Descent of the Virgin of the Snows", a colourful festival in honour of the saint.

Heading inland, the road winds up towards El Paso, actually the largest town on the island. El Paso is worth visiting to see the Church of Nuestra Señora del Pino, deriving its name from an ancient pine tree that still grows alongside. El Paso has a visitor centre and entrance gate into the National Park of Caldera de Taburiente. Ringed by an 8 km wide circle of summits, the caldera was formed by the erosion of an extinct volcano. For a truly breathtaking experience, drive up to La Palma's highest point, El Roque de los Muchachos at 2,426 m. The mountaintop observatory can be visited, and is often shrouded in mist. Far away, the peaks of Tenerife may be seen rising above thick quilts of cloud.

To find more indigenous flora and fauna, head for the Barranco de los Hombres y de Fagundo y Costa de Barlovento. A protected area, it is home to cork trees, cactus and seabird colonies. Two more natural parks are also found on La Palma, a testament to the immense ecological importance of this tiny island.


Visitors will find supermarkets in the tourist centres Los Concacos and Puerto Naos, while shops are abundant in El Paso and Santa Cruz. You will struggle to find a shopping experience based around large department stores and luxury boutiques on La Palma, but the island does have plenty of charming souvenirs on offer. In El Paso, you should look out for silk and hand-rolled cigars, while Fuencaliente is famous as a wine-producing area.

Nightlife and Eating Out

In both El Paso and Santa Cruz there are restaurants in abundance, with typical Canary Island cuisine on offer in many of them. In the capital, head for Chipi Chipi on Calle Juan Mayor for local delicacies like baked cheese with mojo verde (a fiery sauce), grilled meat and chickpea soup. They have a good range of Canary Island wines and a meal costs around €20. Santa Cruz also has some fine pizzerias if you fancy Italian.

Santa Cruz has plenty of bars to enjoy a sundowner, while the “tourist village” of Los Concajos and the west coast town of Puerto Naos offer livelier discos.

Tourist Information

Avenida Marítima, 34 - 38700Santa Cruz de la PalmaLa PalmaTel. +34 922423340Fax +34 922423347email:


There are currently no direct flights to La Palma from the UK. You can travel via Madrid with Iberia, or alternatively fly to Gran Canaria or Tenerife. From here, Binter Canarias and Islas Airways operating connecting flights to La Palma. There are also daily ferry services linking neighbouring islands to La Palma, with a journey time from Tenerife of around 6 hours.

La Palma airport is located around 8 km from Santa Cruz, easily accessible from the coast-road that almost encircles the whole island. Taxis are available outside the terminal building – a ride into town will set you back less than €10. A bus service connects the airport with the capital and other destinations on the island.

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