The centerpiece of La Palma's incredible National Park is Caldera de Taburiente – a few kilometer-wide crater once mistaken to be volcanic in origin. An extended period of erosion caused the soil to sink, creating an enormous pit in place of a once-existing mountain. The park itself contains scenic hiking trails, waterfalls, forests, and is characterized by breathtaking natural landscapes.
Fuencaliente in the island's south is a good base for travellers looking to explore nearby natural attractions. Sight offerings may be limited in the central village of Los Canarios itself, but trips to nearby volcanoes (de San Antonio and Teneguia) and salt pools make for a dense excursion program.
Charco Azul (in San Andres y Sauces) is our top choice, followed closely by Piscinas de la Fajana – a similar location just a short drive north from Charco Azul. Both are rather well-maintained and equipped with visitor facilities. Pool waters are clear and shallow, with surrounding caves providing shelter from the summer sun.
One of the undisputable highlights of La Palma is the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory containing the world's largest optical telescope. Book a daytime tour and see professional telescopes used to watch the stars, or join an evening astronomy tour to take a close-up look at the night sky yourself. Roque de Los Muchachos is also excellent hiking grounds, and the island's highest point is a stone's throw away from the observatory.
The island's administrative capital is nestled beautifully on La Palma's east coast, and contains a few museums and quaint churches of visitor interest. Do not miss the best vantage point for seeing Santa Cruz in its entirety at 17th century Santuario de la Virgen de las Nieves, and stroll down the Avenida Maritima to see its colorful, idyllic balconies festooned with plants and flowers.
One of La Palma's two tourist-besieged destinations, Puerto Naos is a coastal settlement boasting the island's longest beach. It's a good choice for sun-seekers and those planning to dedicate a significant amount of time to the beach. Eco Finca Platano Logico makes for an interesting excursion, where visitors are granted insight into sustainable eco-farming.
The Los Tiles laurel forests are an enormous green oasis covering dozens of square kilometers, and containing a plethora of island flora and fauna. Take the hiking path to Marcos y Cordero to reach the Visitor Center with more information on the forest's species, or hike through the lush vegetation to the Marcos y Cordero natural springs.
The island's original inhabitants – the Benahoare – have left two circular rock carvings engraved in stone now on display in La Palma's Parque Cultural La Zarza. The on-site museum tells the story of the people who once populated the volcanic island and details the Spanish conquest of the mid-15th century.
It's a 3-kilometer uphill hike from Puerto de Tazacorte to this excellent viewing platform, from where sweeping vistas of the La Palma coastline and settlements unfold. There is a panoramic cafe serving refreshments at the top. The viewpoint can also be reached by car or public bus.
Enriclai only seats a few and is in high demand, so book ahead. The intimate restaurant has no written menu, so all the day's offers (these change depending on what's fresh or in season) are talked over with Enriclai's amicable hostess Carmen. Local wine varieties are represented in abundance.
The popular La Placeta serves quick bites and tapas on ground level, and turns into a more refined dining venue upstairs, from where a typical plant-bedecked balcony looks over the quaint Borrero square. Menu offerings range from international to local fare.
La Placita's palm-tree-shaded outdoor seating area with a view is rarely empty – arrive early to secure a spot in one of San Andres' favourites, a restaurant that serves a refreshing mix of Thai and Canarian flavours. The coffee selection is extensive to match.
The bodega's cavernous insides are adorned with hanging legs of ham and wine barrels, foreshadowing a dining experience heavy on the meat (cooked and served here in a multitude of different ways) and accompanied by an extensive selection of house wines. Pick up a bottle at the adjacent shop on your way out.
Heralded by many as the island's finest, Casa Osmunda is miles ahead of most upper-range restaurants on La Palma. The menu is heavily focused on Canarian flavours, and chefs are there to accommodate diners' dietary requirements. The wine selection impresses with labels of a varied price range.
Uphill from the island's capital lies a true find for meat-lovers and diners with dietary restrictions. Parrilla Los Braseros offers a mouthwatering selection of meat grills kept hot and steamy by the delightful miniature BBQ grills they are served on. Special meals available for those with allergies and/or dietary restrictions.
The sought-after Restaurante Azul is only open on weekends (from 1pm onward), so be sure to make a reservation if your intentions to dine here are serious. The glorious vistas are accompanied by excellent fresh fare, ranging from prime cuts of meat to seafood to a few vegetarian options.
Set overlooking the Charco Azul saltwater swimming pools, the bar cum restaurant could not be better located - many choose to follow a dip with the establishment's excellent offerings of fresh seafood, caught on a daily basis by the bar's owner. Have the bluefin tuna prepared wok, tartare or tataki-style.
Finding alternatives to the meat- and seafood-heavy La Palma dining scene may prove challenging, which is what makes La Vitamina's selection so appealing - the menu lists a large variety of vegan and vegetarian meals, with a multitude of fresh fruit juices to complement your choice.
You'd be wrong to take El Jardin de la Sal for a tourist trap, despite the fact that it hardly has any semblance of competition in the vicinity. The outdoor rooftop terrace overlooks the salt lakes and invites for a drink (the cafe serves local wines and draft beers) and a bite - salads, seafood, potatoes, and more.
The quaint Los Llanos cafe serves a delightful selection of dishes, sandwiches, light bites and dessert - from cake to ice cream, Frida has it all and more. Breakfasts deserve a special mention - do try and have one here if you happen to be staying in or passing through the area.
Run by award-winning barista Rayco Rodriguez, El Cafe de Don Manuel offers up some of the best brews on the island (and, arguably, all of Spain) in its compact courtyard just off Calle O'Daly. Try the signature barraquito - a coffee with milk, cinnamon, and citrus undertones. Seating is limited but worth the wait.
Upholding the La Palma tradition of eateries with a view, Tasca Catalina is set at an elevation and offers al fresco terrace seating overlooking the hillsides and water. Order a few tapas plates to share (five or so must be enough to feed a party of two) and sample a few dishes at once.
Enjoy breezy outdoor seating in the compact square out front, right in the middle of one of the island capital's thoroughfares. Habana is a restaurant, cafe and bar all at once, serving sandwiches, light snacks and complete meals (do try the burgers), along with a selection of drinks and coffee.
The unassuming cafe is – quite literally – a stop which most make when passing through the area. Apart from offering travelers a welcome respite, Parada sells delightful almond cookies (Almendrados) made in-house (these can be picked up at the tiny adjacent store).
This hidden gem of a cafe is one you must come across when hiking through Las Tricias – getting here is only possible on foot, as no paved roads lead up to Finca Aloe, a green hideaway that serves predominantly organic food from its very own garden. Organic products, such as spreads and cheese, are up for sale and take-away.
This delightful Santa Cruz bakery sells some of the freshest pastries in town, with sweet and savoury varieties on offer. Muffins, croissants, layered dough pastries and – in the savory department – pizzas and sandwiches, along with an extensive coffee selection. Exceptional quality to price ratio.
For a fix of tapas and beer with a view, try the little craft brewery cum restaurant in Tijarafe. It serves few varieties of home-brewed beer (dark, light and wheat ales) and local wines. The tapas selection is very decent, complemented by a changing offer of daily specials.
With no competition in sight, the Mirador El Time Cafeteria is perched on top of one of the island's highest peaks and excellent viewpoints, with sweeping vistas of the La Palma coastline unfolding from the cafe's terrace. Skip the bottled wines (available at half the price elsewhere), but do sit down for a drink and tapas.
Located right in the heart of Los Llanos de Aridane, this circular kiosk bar has been gathering locals and visitors in the central Plaza de Espana for decades. Grab a drink and enjoy the evening mingling with locals and travelers in the shadow of leafy green trees.
The longstanding La Papirusa is somewhat of a local institution, an establishment that keeps drawing return customers decades after it first started operations. The bar's recipe for success is a warm welcome and good value drinks and tapas served on the outdoor terrace.
Cinnamon Bar has a distinctly modern vibe, one that quickly dissipates in its outdoor seating area spilling out onto a quaint Santa Cruz square. Apart from a pleasant selection of drinks, the establishment also offers a rather wide range of tapas and platters.
The waterfront bar is located conveniently on the Santa Cruz promenade, making it a popular stop for cruise passengers arriving in the port. La Sirena serves a solid selection of local wines and beer from La Palma's own microbreweries (and other small producers in the Canaries).
A restaurant and bar widely popular with tourists, Tasca Alavasca is known not least for the array of delicious menu offerings - from meat grills to appetizing tapas platters, there is plenty to choose from with an extensive drink list to match. Live music shows hosted first Friday of every month.
A frequent site for evening gatherings, the La Palma installment of Bodeguita del Medio is an establishment with an interior that evokes one of a wine cellar, with customers often spilling out onto the street in the after hours. Serves drinks, food, and tapas.
La Palma is well-known for its wines, and Bodegas Teneguia is a winery, perhaps, best fit for familiarizing yourself with these. For a very modest fee, visitors will be able to sample all sorts of wines produced here, and enjoy the opportunity to purchase favourites at the adjacent store.
An excellent market catering primarily to local shoppers, Mercadillo del Agricultor is one of the island's best places to purchase fresh produce, organic jams and cheeses, handicrafts and knick knacks, and even try freshly pressed sugar cane juice paired with a slice of cake or a bocadillo custom-assembled from market offerings.
If your itinerary allows for a morning in the island's capital, do stop by this compact market, if only to sample the freshly squeezed sugarcane juice (served mojito-style with rum and lemon if you so prefer). The market sells fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, fish, and other local edibles.
Passed on through four generations, this family's rum distillery is now based in La Palma's coastal settlement of Charco Azul, nearby San Andres y Sauces. Take a guided tour of the distillery if time permits, and enjoy a tasting at the adjacent store selling the rum (prices are a steal).
Ferreiro Joyas is a jewellery boutique that sells artisan designs developed by Pedro Ferreiro, the mastermind behind the majority of the store's creations (although pieces by other designers are represented as well). See the online catalogue complete with original sketches.
Working directly with independent Canarian craftsmen and designers, La Molina brings visitors to La Palma a chance to shop for some incredible unique designs of jewellery, art and accessories, as well as local drinks (bottled wines) and delicacies.
This Sunday market, lost amidst banana plantations and old Canarian buildings, is a meeting point for locals and tourists, as well as an excellent place to browse through handicrafts, jewellery, artwork, and possibly pick up some fresh produce. Catch the glass blowing workshop during your visit.
The hillsides of Brena Alta harbour one of La Palma's most enticing attractions (and shopping spots) - this tiny tobacco processing farm where La Palma's historic tradition of cigar-making is upheld by a tightly knit, dedicated bunch. Take a tour and see the three-person production line and small plantation.
Artefuego is an artisan glass-blowing factory and store where craftsmen show off their skill to interested visitors - there is an open studio, one that gets frequented especially during the Los Llanos Sunday market. Stop by and pick out a figurine, colorful bowl or another one of many Artefuego's creations.
The island airport is located at a distance of 8km away from the capital, and serves multiple international destinations. There is a public bus connecting the airport to the island's capital of Santa Cruz and touristic area of Los Cancajos. Buses run every half hour from approximately 7am to 10pm daily. Pre-arranged transfers, car rental or taxi may be necessary to reach destinations elsewhere on the island.
There is a bus service that connects Santa Cruz de La Palma to several destinations across the island, including Los Llanos de Aridane. A detailed route map (with pricing) is provided on the Transportes Insular web page. Cash to the driver is the primary payment method, along with Bono Cards sold at some tourist offices and bus stations. Bus stops located along Avenida Maritima and at Plaza Constitucion.