Discover the best things to see and do in Icod de los Vinos on your next day trip to the north of Tenerife. Icod de los Vinos is a typically laid-back, sleepy little Spanish town where everything is done mañana (tomorrow).
The surrounding municipality of some 35 square miles on the northwest slopes of Mount Teide, is one of pine forests on the upper slopes and rich, fertile, volcanic soil in the valleys.
Ideal growing conditions for local palms, flora and the cultivation of vineyards and banana plantations.
The original village was established in 1501, and vineyards have been a large part of the economy of Icod de los Vinos for centuries. The name, Icod de los Vinos, loosely translated, means Kingdom of the wines.
In 2004 the centre of Icod de los Vinos became a ‘Historical Landmark’ when it was declared an area of Cultural Interest by the Tenerife Cabildo. Narrow cobbled roads weave their way through the town, and tubs and baskets of colourful plants brighten homes and businesses.
You can take your pick of locally produced wines in the local bars, cafes and eateries, and sample genuine Canarian cuisine. Read on, to learn more about the best things to see and do in Icod de los Vinos.
Best things to do in Icod de los Vinos
1. The Dragon Tree – one of the favourite things to see in Icod de los Vinos
As you drive into Icod de los Vinos, find a parking space near the centre of town, and you should be able to see it. The old, gnarled Dragon Tree stands over 20 metres tall – right in the centre of a garden of other local flora.
Centuries ago, when the Guanches still occupied the area, the tree was thought to have magical properties, with the ruby-coloured sap (blood) used as a treatment for numerous health issues.
The species, Dracaena Draco, is endemic to just the archipelagos of the Canary Islands, the Azores and Madeira, with the tree in Icod said to be the grandaddy of them all and declared a National Monument in 1917.
Although locals might mention the tree is over one thousand years old, scientific studies have placed its age between 600 and 800 years, but what are a few centuries between friends.
For the photographers, the best viewpoint for the tree is from the old town square a few metres away. For those who want to get to the root of the matter, a small admission fee will gain you access to the garden and its other interesting plant life.
Entrance ticket costs 5 euros.
2. Parque del Drago – home to the Dragon Tree
The Parque del Drago is a relatively new addition to the things to see and do in Icod de los Vinos. The garden was created at the beginning of the 21st century to protect the Dragon Tree which, before its construction, sat alone as a centrepiece in the town.
The park contains plant species endemic to the island, including several baby Dracaena Draco, tabaibas and the vegetable cardoons. You will also find a cave depicting a Guanche burial, a coal bunker, a winery, gift shop and small café.
Admission is €5 per adult and half-price for children.
3. Malvasia Museum – a fabulous museum of local winemaking and associated products
With centuries of involvement in vineyards and vinification, local winemakers have finally decided to do a little product promotion – and not before time.
Malvasia Museum is all about the history of local winemaking and the connected products they produce. Opened in 2010 and sitting next door to the Dragon Park, the museum sets out to provide a tour full of flavours, aromas, history and sensory involvement.
The museum holds various events, courses and workshops throughout the year. And of course, let’s not forget the wine tasting in the garden during your tour.
You can also buy wines and other products, such as Gin and Tonic Jam, Grapeseed Oil and even Anti-Wrinkle Cream from the museum’s shop.
4. The Andrés Lorenzo Cáceres Park – the town’s central square
Laying alongside the botanic garden, Andrés Lorenzo Cáceres Park dates back to the 16th century and is a large square bordered by a mix of palm trees and Indian Laurels, providing some much-needed shade from the hot sun.
With the plaza having been expanded over the centuries, on the border of the square is the Church of San Marcos, and a welcoming little café/bar with outside seating where you can rest a while and take stock.
The park also provides some excellent photographic shots of the Dragon Tree and is close to a number of other things to see and do in Icod de los Vinos.
5. The Church of San Marcos – plus its museum of sacred art
Finish your cortado coffee and walk across to the typically Spanish Church of San Marcos. According to local legend, a statue of San Marcos was washed ashore on a local beach, and in the early 1500s, a small church was built in his honour.
Two centuries later, the church underwent major reconstruction to what you see today. White, with three naves, a steeple, a gabled roof, tall bell tower and stone doorways.
Inside, the church has a silver altar and cross, various paintings which form part of a museum of sacred art, and sculptures of San Marco Evangelista, the Virgin de los Reyes, Virgen del Rosario, Virgin de los Dolores, Virgin de los Remedios, Santa Rita de Casia, San Lorenzo, San Jose and San Andres.
6. The Plaza de La Pila – Square of the fountain
Squares play a big part in Spanish culture. Invariably surrounded by shops, businesses, cafes, bars and restaurants, they are used for political meetings, cultural gatherings, markets and as meeting points for friends and family.
With a resident population of over 25,000, Icod de los Vinos has its fair share. The Plaza de La Pila also goes by the name of the Square of the Constitution and has, in the past, been known as Plaza Mayor, Plaza Real, and Plaza de Calvo Sotelo.
It is another popular park with residents and visitors and is located close to Andrés Lorenzo Cáceres Park. With a stone fountain that gives the park its name, it is planted with palms and hibiscus plants and contains a small botanical garden.
7. Convent of San Francisco – now an impressive town library
Another majestic building to see in Icod de los Vinos is the town’s main library. Founded in the 1600s as the Convent of Saint Francis, it is one of few convents to have avoided any damage during the regular outbreaks of fire the area used to endure.
Built in the Portuguese Rococo style, its use as a religious building ended in the early 19th century. Over the years, it has been used as a school, theatre, cemetery, barracks and an impressive town library.
With its beautiful interior of patio and typical Canarian wooden balconies, it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 2002.
8. Casa de los Caceres – house of the Cáceres family
Around the borders are some beautiful Canarian-style properties, including the Casa de los Caceres (house of the Cáceres family).
The house was built in the early 1800s by the owner, Colonel Lorenzo Caceres, and is believed to be the first neo-classical property built in Icod de los Vinos.
Three storeys high with a long wooden veranda, central patio and lovely arched gateway, the building is now a museum of local archaeology and culture.
9. Mariposario del Drago – the Butterfly Garden of Icod de los Vinos
An interesting outing to do in Icod de los Vinos, the Butterfly Garden is close to the town centre and a popular tour for the whole family.
Initially opened in 1997, the garden has had a chequered past, with various court cases seeing the place closing and re-opening numerous times over the years.
Finally, the disputes seem to have been resolved, and the Butterfly Garden has happily remained open for the last few years.
A garden converted to a large glass-house; it maintains over 800 butterflies from more than 150 worldwide species.
With native plants from such locations as Malaysia, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Kenya propagated in the garden, all the butterflies are captive-bred, with many regularly breeding in the park.
Opening hours are 10.00 to 18.00, seven days a week.
10. Museo Guanche – the history of the indigenous Guanche Aboriginals
Located at the La Magalona shopping area, a short drive from the town centre, the Museo Guanche is a collection dedicated to the cultures, customs, habits and lifestyle of the north African Guanche, the first inhabitants of the Canary Islands.
The tour includes life-size re-creations, scenes and reproductions of how the Island’s aboriginal peoples lived in their caves, their customs and survival habits.
Also included in the exhibition are replicas of various paintings and rock carvings found in the cave areas known to have been inhabited by the Guanche.
Visitors receive a souvenir photograph, and parking is free.
11. Cueva del Viento – Cave of the Wind
Located on the edge of Icod, the cave was formed 27,000 years ago, from volcanic activity next to Mount Teide.
For those interested in caving, at 18 kilometres, it is currently the world’s fifth longest lava tube behind four in Hawaii. I say currently, because much of it is yet to be explored.
On a visit you will find lava cascades, lava stalactites, side terraces and lava lakes. There are also 190 known species of fauna that live in the pitch dark. Fifteen of which are new species discovered in the caves.
Tickets must be booked and paid for online or from the visitor centre, and it is guided tours only. The excursion starts from the visitor centre in Icod de los Vinos, where you will be kitted out with a helmet and torch.
Good walking shoes and long trousers should be worn and a waterproof, or at least warm jacket, carried for when you enter the cave.
Ticket prices are: visiting adults €20, residents €10, children up to 12 €8.50. No children under five are allowed.
The cave is open 7 days a week from 09.00 to 19.00, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And 09.00 to 16.30 Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.
12. ARTlandya – la Finca – a visit to the world of dolls, teddy bears and glass
If you’re struggling to find things to do in Icod de los Vinos to keep the youngsters happy, a visit to ARTlandya should do the job.
The Finca is located in Santa Bárbara, around 2.5 miles from Icod’s town centre. Heading towards Drachenbaum, look out for the Shell garage and the first brown sign to ARTlandya.
This museum is more than just a museum of old dolls and teddies. Instead, it has dolls and teddy bears uniquely designed and made by artists and designers from around the world.
It also has competitively priced dolls and teddies available for those unique gifts, and glass art collectables and handicrafts produced in their onsite workshops.
Finally, you can enjoy coffee, cake, or a glass of fizz from the museum bar in a restful garden full of palms, fruit trees and colourful borders.
Closed Monday and Tuesday, ARTlandya is open the rest of the week from 12.00 to 18.00
Entrance fee for adults €10, children 6 to 14 €4.50, and children under 6 with an adult, free.
13. Playa de San Marcos – if you fancy a swim or a little sunbathing
There are three beaches within easy reach of Icod de los Vinos. All are dark gold lava sand beaches, but only one is really suitable for swimming and sunbathing.
From Icod town, the village of San Marcos is around two miles away. Its small, picturesque beach is about 100 metres in length, and protected inside a deep horseshoe bay.
Parking near the beach is easy. Access to the beach is also disability-friendly, and it has the usual sunbeds and parasols with snack bars and shops along the small promenade.
14. Let’s not forget lunch – eating like the locals
At some point, while trying to visit all the different things to see in Icod de los Vinos, the hunger pangs will strike. While spending a day in a beautiful, rural district of Tenerife, it makes sense to live like a native, and sample the local cuisine.
Around the squares, and on the narrow streets, you will find everything from the odd street food cart to small, independent café/bars to larger restaurants.
Enjoy a freshly filled bocadillo (baguette). Sample the local small-plate tapas dishes. Or push the boat out with a popular main dish of papas arrugadas (Canarian potatoes), mojo sauce, chicken and a fresh side salad. Or maybe a fresh lobster salad may be more to your liking.
A good indicator of popularity is to note the number of residents eating in the establishment. Being busy with locals usually means good food at reasonable prices.
15. Casa del Platano – visit a plantation and learn the history of Canarian bananas
No doubt, on your travels around Tenerife, you’ve passed plenty of banana plantations covered in netting to keep the sun off. And wondered what was going on under the covers.
Find out all the answers on one of the best things to do in Icod de los Vinos, a visit to Casa del Platano, the Banana House.
The excursion starts in the museum section, where you can view old photos of harvesting the fruit, and see some of the farming machinery used in the days gone by.
The second part of the excursion is walking the small plantation to see how modern harvesting is undertaken. Getting up-close to the bananas, and learning how to tell the difference between Canarian bananas and those from other parts of the world.
The Casa del Platano is open 7 days a week, 10.00 to 18.00
GETTING TO ICOD DE LOS VINOS
Wherever you’re staying in Tenerife, booking a hire car is the most straightforward way of getting to the things you want to see in Icod de los Vinos.
Nonetheless, TITSA, the local bus service, is generally reliable and operates routes from different areas of the island as follows:
SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE:
- By hire car: Head out on the TF-21 picking up the TF-5 motorway. Look for exit signs for Icod de los Vinos off the TF-5. The journey time is around an hour.
- By TITSA: Route 348 leaving Santa Cruz four times daily.
PUERTO DE LA CRUZ:
- By hire car: Pick up the TF-5 heading out of the city and watch for the exit to Icod de los Vinos. The journey time is around 30 minutes.
- BY TITSA: Routes 363 and 354, both run twice daily to Icod de los Vinos.
PLAYA DE LAS AMÉRICAS:
- By hire car: From the south coast, pick up the TF-1 heading for Santa Cruz. Filter onto the TF-375, then the TF-82, then the TF-373 and finally the TF-366. Journey time approx. 90 minutes.
- BY TITSA: Afternoon bus routes 471, 460 and 473.
- Other TITSA routes are available to Icod de los Vinos, provided you are prepared to change services during your journey.
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