A gem hidden in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, the Acclimatisation Gardens of La Orotava is one of the best places on the island for long walks among nature. It is a tranquil jungle within the city that boasts a massive collection of trees, plants, and flowers varying in rarity, appearance, size, and age. Flora lover or not, it’s almost impossible not to be impressed with the enormous roots of ancient trees growing above ground, a scene that seemed to have leaped straight out of a fantasy movie set. The experience also entails traveling thru the island’s history and other continents’ diverse vegetation. Walking around the orderly yet organic display of plants and trees in this garden is more than worth paying the entrance fee.
A Garden Full of History
Over two centuries ago, there was a need for Spain to cultivate exotic plant species collected from the Spanish colonies of the New World in a place with a suitable climate. This necessity led to the establishment of Jardín de Aclimatación on the 17th of August, 1788, by the Royal Order of Carlos III. Extensive germination tests were performed, and Tenerife’s lovely environmental conditions and rich soil were found ideal.
In 1790, the work based on the plan drawn up by Nicolás Eduardo, an architect from La Laguna, began on the site gifted by Don Francisco Bautista de Lugo y Saavedra, Señor de Fuerteventura. Two years after, in 1792, 35 plantings and sowings started. The acclimatization of these foreign vegetations was successful on the island, but not so on mainland Spain due to frost brought about by winter.
The French horticulturist-explorer Anselme Riedlé and naturalist Andre Pierre Ledrú explored Tenerife in 1796. It was Ledrú who proposed using the Linnaean system (introduced in 1753) in organizing the plants. While this approach was presumably implemented, the plants are no longer organized based on scientific criteria.
Alonso de Nava-Grimón, Marqués de Villanueva del Prado, initially managed the La Orotava Acclimatisation Gardens and played a critical role in its early development. When he died in 1832, the oversight of the garden was passed around various agencies until 1983, when its management was permanently assigned to the Canary Island Regional Government’s Research and Agrarian Technology Centre.
Why Visit Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava
Of the many wonderful attractions in Tenerife, why should you visit a botanical garden? If you are on the island to temporarily escape the blahs of everyday life and urban living, the tranquility and the chance to reconnect with nature in the 20,000 m2 Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava are precisely what you need to relax.
In addition, strolling through paths after paths of unusual plant varieties is educational. The Botanical Garden of Puerto de la Cruz (Jardín Botánico de Puerto de la Cruz) boasts a unique collection of tropical and sub-tropical plants. Its narrow walkways put visitors in the middle of lush vegetation, giving them a chance to take a close look at curiosity-inducing plants, such as the Bromeliaceae, Araceae, and Moraceae– varieties of palms that look nothing like the palms we’re used to. There’s an information plate with the name and country of origin beside every noteworthy plant and tree. You’ll also notice QR codes to scan for an audio guide on some trees.
Moreover, Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava supports and helps in discovering new ideas and information. The garden is involved in international germplasm exchanges, which means they supply seeds and other relevant materials to partner scientists and organizations abroad. A visit to this place also instills a deep appreciation for the plants’ critical role in our ecosystem and quality of life.
Lastly, for only €3, you get to support Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava’s research and plant conservation efforts mainly focused on floras native to the Canary Islands.
You will most likely want to eat after walking around the lush greenery of Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava for an hour or two. Fortunately, the garden is nearby several food enclaves—from the go-to for hearty Italian classics to a little, cafe-style restaurant with an international menu. Read on to know the best dining options around the botanical garden.
Nestled among Italian restaurants in the building across the Acclimatisation Gardens is Delhi Darbar, one of the most popular sources of authentic Indian food in Puerto de la Cruz. Their mouth-melting curries, korma, mixed tandoori grill, and garlic naan bread are ultimate crowd-pleasers. They also have a vegetarian variant of samosa, pakora, and biryani for plant-based guests.
Da Arianna Restaurante
Only a two-minute walk away from the botanical garden, Da Arianna is where you go for traditional Italian food. The restaurant is only a two-minute walk away from the botanical garden and is along the palm-lined Avenida Marqués de Villanueva del Prado, also known as TF-312. This fast-casual dining option is nothing like the many establishments in tourist-heavy areas that serve a combo of soggy pizza and bland pasta. The menu here features fresh focaccia, pizza da Arianna (tomato, mozzarella, tuna, ham, mushrooms, prawns, and olives), and a selection of dry or homemade pasta you can match with any of their collection of 16 sauces. The pasta bolognese and pesto gnocchi are sublime. Complemented with the sweetness of tiramisu, a slice of Italian heaven!
Set in the building opposite Acclimatisation Gardens, Restaurante Oliva’s simple exterior is easy to pass if not for it being almost always packed and its buzzing atmosphere. The lovely little restaurant’s menu isn’t extensive, but there’s something that will satisfy every taste, not to mention the portions are enormous. Some dishes are also offered in half sizes, which works well since they do not have a kids’ menu.
Dine on Oliva’srange of tapas—a sample size of some of the main course dishes, wiener schnitzel, Jagerschnitzel, and surf and turf. Along with these top-rated eats, the selection of house wines and beers has a good variety and value.
How to Reach Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava
Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava is along TF-312, accessible via exit 32 from the TF-5 motorway, then TF-31. If you’re already in Puerto de la Cruz, bus line 363 should pass the botanical garden. The bus stop is just on its left corner, a few steps from the entrance. Here’s a list of the bus lines from other major points in Tenerife:
Tenerife Norte Airport – bus line 30
Santa Cruz de Tenerife – bus line 103
San Cristobal de la Laguna – bus line 103
Closer to Nature in Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava
Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava is not only where tourists can learn about the endemic flora and their environment, it’s also a place for relaxation where city dwellers can connect with nature. At the same time, every visit supports research and conservation efforts, a beneficial way to have fun and escape from the hubbub of daily life.