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Property abroad: Tenerife

Find solace, sun and inspiring architecture in northern Tenerife, says Laura Latham

Famed as a winter sun destination, Tenerife boasts semi-tropical landscapes, numerous beaches and the third-largest volcano in the world. All of which have earned it the nickname "Europe's Hawaii".

Like Hawaii, it also has its fair share of big resorts and stack-'em-high hotels, with most large-scale development to the south of the island, which also has the best weather. However, despite seeing more rain, the greener, less-developed northern areas are now starting to attract attention, along with towns such as Puerto de la Cruz, Tacoronte and the island's capital Santa Cruz.

A working town with a large port, Santa Cruz may not be in the same league as Barcelona or Madrid but, with its wide streets and stunning architectural set pieces, such as the Auditorio concert venue, the city is becoming a thriving centre for local culture and the arts. It also throws one of the best carnivals outside Rio and has been heralded by design magazine Monacle as a cool new place to hang out.

"Santa Cruz has a lot to offer," says local agent Sonya Corris of The Property Gallery. "Lots of culture, nice walks and parks and has had a lot of investment and redevelopment." Corris points out that the northern part of the island is where Canary Islanders and Spanish residents tend to live. "You'll find Spanish bars and restaurants, rather than trendy cafes or clubs," she says, "whereas the south is more geared up for tourists."

Available property in Santa Cruz tends to be a mix of two and three-bedroom apartments in historic renovations or fairly standard high-rises. Prices average around £180,000 for a property with two bedrooms, though in up-and-coming suburbs, such as Radazul you'll pay from around £225,000 for a townhouse.

However, Corris says such places are sought after more by residents than second-home buyers, who prefer the more peaceful areas outside the city. She says those looking for more space and less bustle should head to small towns such as Tacoronte, which is around 15 minutes away. "You can find traditional cottages and farmhouses starting at around £180,000, though if you go for something needing work you can probably pay from around £90,000," she says. Francisco Valero of Real Inmobiliarias agrees that among the towns and villages of the northern hills you can find "plenty of nice villas in beautiful surroundings with all the services you need."

In addition to Tacoronte, he suggests buyers look at Sauzal, a pretty place surrounded by vineyards, or La Orotava, a historic town in a stunning location within the Tiede National Park. In these areas he says you should expect to pay from around £250,000 for a two- or three-bedroom villa on a plot averaging around 500 square metres. However, if you have £450,000 upwards to spend, there are some very impressive detached properties on the market.

Valero also says that buyers have not been put off by the poor exchange rate with the euro, but are instead using it as an excuse to drive a hard bargain. He says prices on the island have dropped markedly too and expects to see property values in some areas dip by as much as 30 per cent this year. "For those prepared to negotiate, there are definitely opportunities in Tenerife."

Real Inmobiliarias, 00 34 922 326 557, www.realprop.eu; The Property Gallery, 0871 222 8720, www.thepropertygallery.org