Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is located in the northeast of the beautiful Canary Island of Tenerife. The city with a population of 223,000 people is the capital of the island and the homonymous province. Together with the neighboring city of San Cristobal de La Laguna and some other smaller nearby towns, it forms an agglomeration with a population of over half a million inhabitants.
Founded in 1494, Santa Cruz is a typical Spanish city. Busy and vibrant, with wide crowded boulevards and narrow quiet streets, spacious squares, fountains, shops and markets, the second largest city in the archipelago is very different from the resorts in the south of Tenerife.
Unlike modern resort cities such as Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos, the architecture of Santa Cruz de Tenerife dates mostly from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Although located amidst the Atlantic, Santa Cruz de Tenerife looks like a typical Mediterranean city. It is dominated, however, mostly by colonial style architecture with strong Spanish influence.
Most of the two- or three-storey buildings with flat roof are painted in bright pastel colors such as pink, red, blue, yellow, green, orange and others. In the city there are also a few skyscrapers and other structures with modern architecture.
The city center of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the main area to explore while in the city. It is a very nice place not only for tourists but also for locals to walk.
Clean streets and beautiful architecture combine perfectly with exotic vegetation. Here you will find beautiful parks and gardens with flowering trees and a carpet of colorful flowers.
Garcia Sanabria with its lush greenery and shaded benches is the biggest and most famous city park in Santa Cruz.
Among the most popular places to walk is Rambla del General Franco. This is a major street that has a wide and shady pedestrian alley between the two lanes. The street passes through some of the most beautiful parts of the city.
Another interesting route in the capital of Tenerife is Avenida Francisco la Roche. In a north-south direction the street follows the coast of Santa Cruz, passing near the city’s port.
Walking south along palms and other tropical trees you will suddenly find yourself in the Plaza de España. This is a spacious square, probably the largest in Santa Cruz, surrounded by beautiful buildings.
In the middle of the square there is a large artificial lake. According to local residents, this place is the central-most part of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Next to the lake stands the memorial of the victims of the civil war “Monumento a los Caídos.”
Just a few steps to the south, you will find Iglesia de la Concepcion, one of the most famous churches in the Canary Islands.
The imposing tower of the catholic church rises impressively above all the surrounding buildings. It dates back to 1500, a few years after the founding of the city, but was rebuilt later in 1653.
Following the Atlantic coast, you will reach the Tenerife Auditorium, the most famous modern building in the Canary Islands.
The Auditorium is a concert hall with an area of 23,000 square meters and is the work of the eccentric architect Santiago Calatrava.
Adjacent to the Auditorium you will find the Cesar Manrique Maritime Park. It is known for its azure sea-water pools that compensate the lack of beaches near the city center.
The area is particularly attractive in weekends when numerous visitors flock here attracted from the combination of refreshing water and warm tropical sun.
Immediately to the south is located Palmetum park, famous for the largest collection of palm trees in Europe.
In close proximity to the Cesar Manrique Maritime Park there are also some pretty interesting buildings such as the International Center of Fairs and Congress and the 120-meter tall twin towers of Torres de Santa Cruz, giving the city the contemporary look that every major European city has.
If you want to soak up the atmosphere and feel the true lifestyle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, you have to mingle with the crowd of local people.
For this purpose, there is no better place than Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África. This is one of the must visiting spots in the city, a place where you can buy all kinds of fresh fruits at good price or just to have a cup of coffee while enjoying the inspiring Spanish architecture.
Whenever you visit a city, it is advisable to visit at least one museum. This will allow you to experience the historical and cultural heritage of the place you are visiting.
The Archaeological Museum of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a place you should not miss. It has a rich collection of artifacts that will help you experience the past of the city from the period long before the first Europeans to set foot on the island.
You will have the chance to see artifacts from clay, wood and other materials telling about the culture and lifestyle of the Guanches, the aboriginal population of Tenerife.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife boasts the most beautiful artificial beach in Europe. Playa de Las Teresitas is located about 8km from the city center, not far from the northern suburb of San Andres.
In weekends Las Teresitas becomes the most attractive, beloved and visited place in the coastal city.
The panoramic road that winds through the steep mountain slopes north of the beach offers spectacular views that will take your breath away.
Mountains with a height of over 1000 meters protect the colorful and charming coastal city from northern winds during the winter season.
For this reason Santa Cruz de Tenerife enjoys very mild and pleasant temperatures even during the coldest months.
The average daytime temperature in January and February ranges between 19 and 23°C. In dry and sunny days there are very good conditions for the beach, and the seawater along the coast is pleasantly refreshing with temperature of around 19°C.
In cooler days, however, you may need a light spring jacket or an anorak. Summers are also very pleasant with temperatures up to about 28 – 29°C and plenty of sunshine. The sea surface temperature in summer reach up usually to about 24°C.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a city that charms its visitors not only with its lovely weather, but also with its tropical spirit and southern pace of life.
Numerous carnivals, street parades and concerts make this place an attractive tourist destination for lovers of fun, dancing and good music.
Held annually in February, at the height of winter, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is perhaps the most exciting event to attend while in the city.
It is considered one of the largest events of its kind in the world as a whole after the annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Carnival of Santa Cruz lasts several days and is accompanied by great music and breathtaking costumes.
As a city visited by millions of tourists every year, Santa Cruz de Tenerife offers hundreds of culinary options.
In the city you will find not only restaurants serving traditional local cuisine, but also many others offering delicacies and dishes from all over the world.
However, given the fact that you are on an island surrounded by the Atlantic, seafood is the most important local food and is not to be missed.
It is also recommended, if you are a wine lover, to taste some of the incredible local wines, renowned for their characteristic aroma and delicious qualities.
How to get to Santa Cruz de Tenerife? Tenerife North is an international airport located near the city of San Cristobal de La Laguna, about 13 kilometers from the city center of Santa Cruz.
There are regular flights to and from destinations all around the world. Another alternative is to fly to the neighboring island of Gran Canaria.
Once having arrived in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, you can reach the island of Tenerife with the regular ferry boats that travel every day between Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
When to visit Santa Cruz de Tenerife? Year round. The city offers excellent weather conditions and pleasant spring-like temperatures in all four seasons.