Icod de los Vinos is a charming ancient and in many ways unique town in Tenerife that is worth adding to your itinerary. It’s a must visit for a stroll through the town’s cobbled streets, linking small squares and fountains, sampling the local food and wine, and checking out the ancient Dragon Tree.
Understand Icod de Los Vinos Tenerife
To understand Icod de Los Vinos, you need to understand its history. And yes, Icod de Los Vinos has a fascinating history.
Based on the story told by the Spanish historian and priest Fray Alonso de Espinosa (1534), the area where Icod de Los Vinos is now located was settled by the first Guanches in Tenerife, numbering 60 people. The ancient people passed this story on by word of mouth and did not let it be forgotten.
When they arrived on the island, they founded a settlement here and called it “Alzanxiquian abcanahac xerac”. Before the island became a Spanish territory, it was ruled by the Guanche King Pelicar.
In the 15th century (1496), the Spanish conquistadors conquered Tenerife.
After conquering the island, the Spaniards developed the area. Thanks to the availability of fresh water and a good climate, the Spaniards grew crops. They built beautiful houses with wooden decorations and expanded the town.
The Spanish started growing sugar cane and grapes from the fertile lands of the valley, exporting them from the port in Garachico.
The Spanish conquistador Alonso Fernández de Lugo built the first sugar cane factory in Icod.
However, grape gradually replaced cane. As it turned out, the special composition of the volcanic soil gave the grapes and wine from them an unusual flavour, which made the local wine very popular and highly prized.
In 1500 the town was named Icod. The second part of its name, Icod de Los Vinos, was given later because of the excellent wine produced from the grapes grown on these lands.
Where To Stay: Icod De Los Vinos Hotels
Although you can get around the town in a few hours, I recommend staying in Icod de Los Vinos for one night to really get a feel for the town, avoid rushing anywhere, have dinner in a local restaurant, taste the famous local wines and go to the local beach.
It’s an authentic Canarian town, with most tourists only visiting for a few hours. Few expats from England or Europe live here either, and the main population is Canarians. But that doesn’t mean the city is boring. On the contrary, it’s very cool! Here you can find out how ordinary Canarians live. All in all, if you have an extra day to spare, Icod de Los Vinos is a good place to slow down and just enjoy the moment.
I recommend you stay at the rather unusual Hotel Emblemático San Agustin. This hotel is unique and different from the usual chain hotels. Hotel Emblemático San Agustín is located in a traditional manor house, built in the early 18th century, in the historic centre of the town.
At the hotel, you will discover the original canary interior, have breakfast on a beautiful patio, and simply relax and unwind. Click here for more information about this hotel.
Another unique place to spend the night in Icod de Los Vinos is the Platanera Suites, an old historic house on a banana plantation converted into a hotel.
There’s a small plantation of bananas in the backyard, which you can visit for free to learn more about how bananas get from the palm tree to the supermarket shelves. Click here to view photos of this hotel.
Icod de los Vinos Dragon Tree
The main attraction of Icod, for which most tourists come to this town, is the ancient dragon tree.
The dragon tree in Icod de Los Vinos in Tenerife is one of the oldest plants on earth!!
There is still debate in scientific circles about its age, with some scientists believing the tree to be 2,500 years old and others 3,000 years old. These numbers are quite impressive, but the exact age cannot be determined because there are no annual rings on the tree.
The tree resembles a giant cactus, and a blood-like red sap flows from its sharp and stiff leaves. The locals used to use this sap for embalming, and the tree itself was considered alive and sacred.
The dragon tree is impressive in size – it reaches 25 metres in height, has a girth of 10 metres, and weighs around 80 tonnes.
Like most large sites, it is best viewed from a distance; if you want to see the tree up close, you need to pay a small fee. Click here to book your ticket in advance.
Other Things To Do in Icod de Los Vinos
1 >> Take a walk in the old town
It is a very picturesque town with a great vibe. The difference with the resort of Las Americas is striking.
So it is worth a walk through the streets of the old town, its squares with tropical plants.
You can visit the church of Saint Mark and the town hall, formerly a monastery.
2 >> Taste the excellent and uniquely flavoursome local wine
The town’s name reveals the main occupation of its inhabitants – winemaking.
In Icod de Los Vinos, you can taste and buy the original Malvasia wine of the Canary Islands. You can do it at the local restaurants or at ‘Museo de Malvasia‘.
3 >> Get out into nature
The unique nature of Icod de Los Vinos attracts travelers from all over the world. The town is surrounded by a picturesque valley and canary pine forests and has 10 kilometres of beautiful black volcanic sand beaches with remarkable views of volcano Teide.
4 >> Relax at a local beach
Playa de San Marcos is small (160m long, 40m wide) but cosy, with black volcanic sand. It is located in the village of Saint Marcos, which is called the Icod de Los Vinos town beach.
Playa de San Marcos is situated in a shell-shaped bay with rocky shores that protect it from the wind. This is why there are no big waves, and you can swim even in winter. The beach is equipped with showers, sun loungers, and restaurants nearby with a sea view.
The beach has a car parking for 50 cars. A public bus goes to the beach. It takes 10 minutes by car from Icod city centre and 40 minutes on foot.
5 >> See butterflies in the Butterfly Park
Another famous place in Icod de Los Vinos is the Butterfly Park, Mariposario del Drago. It is located close to the Dragon Tree Park. The place is considered not only a park but also a research institute that studies butterflies.
You can get to know and get close to the life of live butterflies, witnessing their life cycle from the very beginning.
At Mariposario del Drago, you can see the very first flight of a butterfly after its metamorphosis. Every year, around 150 different species emerge in the park and live for just two to three weeks.
The humidity is always high in the park, around 80%, and the temperature is between 24 and 29°C. It also contains a large number of flowering plants, as the butterfly has to choose a flower for itself, what to feed on, and where to breed. Many of the plants come from tropical countries such as Indonesia, Costa Rica, Thailand, and other places.
6 >> Visit the Banana Museum
If you go around the island by car, you will see countless banana plantations. Tenerife is just like a banana republic. In order to learn all about bananas of Tenerife, head to the Banana Museum.
The Banana Museum (Casa del Plátano) is a beautiful colonial-style building next to a banana plantation. The museum’s first room sells banana marmalade, banana sauces, banana liqueur, and other products made from this plant.
You will learn about the history of the island and the development of banana plantations. All the exhibits are labeled in Spanish and English. You can watch a film about how bananas grow and the importance of their cultivation to Tenerife. The guides will take you on a tour of the banana plantation and explain the different varieties that grow in Tenerife.
On exiting the museum, each visitor receives a banana as a treat.
7 >> Learn the history of the Guanches
If you are interested in learning more about the indigenous people of the Canary Islands, visit the Museo Guanche.
It’s small, with only four rooms, but it’s worth seeing.
You’ll be able to immerse yourself in history thanks to an audio guide and information boards.
You will discover the writings on the rocks, the islanders’ way of life, traditions, the burial process, and fascinating artefacts.
I think it is important to learn the history of the natives of the island.
Icod de Los Vinos with children
Icod is a great town to visit with children. Children will love the butterfly park and the banana museum. There is also a wonderful playground in the centre where the children can play while you relax in the nearby café.