Santa Cruz de Tenerife is at the eastern tip of the island of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Island chain. The municipal borough covers an area of 150 km² and it is divided into two areas: the Anaga Massif and the southern ramp formed by the lava flows that run down from the Acentejo peak to the coast. The city's population was 205,000 in 2018.
From the beginning, the economic nucleus of the city centred on the port. The first wharf, constructed in 1548, was by the beach of Añazo, later destroyed in a storm. The bay of Santa Cruz was appreciated by navigators due to its natural advantages and that turned it into a food supply centre for the ships that sailed for the New World.
At the end of the 15th century a heterogeneous society began to form. The first settlements were near the castle of San Cristóbal, a fortification that protected the small town. New defensive castles were constructed along the coastal areas because the people of Santa Cruz had to defend themselves from frequent attacks by privateers and berberiscos pirates, Gallic and English. It fell to the British Navy, commanded by Admiral Nelson, on 25 July 1797.
There are two different airports in Tenerife.
- Taxi fare from Tenerife North Airport to Santa Cruz is €15, from Tenerife South Airport - €60.
- Bus lines 102, 108, and 109 go from Tenerife North Airport to Santa Cruz (€2.65 as of Jan 2018). Line 111 goes from Tenerife South Airport to Santa Cruz (just under €10.00 as of Feb 2022). The company operating these routes is Titsa, times and fares can be checked on its website. Note that some 111 buses run express and take ~50 minutes to Santa Cruz and some are all-stops and take ~90 minutes. Don't get caught out by getting an express bus to Santa Cruz and assuming the bus back to the airport will be just as fast!
There are lots of buses coming from other cities of Tenerife island. Routes and times can be checked on Titsa's website.
The Titsa website is terribly difficult to use unless you are already familiar with the island, and Google Play doesn't let you download the Android app unless your phone's region is set to Spain. A good alternative is to use Google Maps. Simply tap on the bus stop you want to go from and it will display a list of all upcoming buses and their times and destinations. This doesn't work in all Intercambrios (bus interchanges) however.
The highways TF-1 (Tenerife Sur) and TF-2 (Tenerife Norte) meet south of Santa Cruz, making the capital well connected by the road network. Traffic may be an issue, and finding a parking spot can be a challenge before noon. The Meridiano shopping centre has a large, free underground parking that's open from 09:00 until 01:30.
The Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has become one of the main ports of the country. You can arrive at the city on a ferry that connects Santa Cruz de Tenerife with Cadiz, on the mainland, but the trip takes two days, the company that operates this route is Acciona Transmediterranea.
Another possible destination is nearby island of Gran Canaria. Transmediterranea company runs ferries to Las Palmas (3 times a day, €35, 3 hours). Fred Olsen has ferries to Agaete - small town on the western coast of Gran Canaria (almost every 2 hours, €31, 50 minutes).
3 Ferry terminal (Estación Marítima). It has a few cafes and bars, car rental agencies, ticket sales office.
Fairly cheap and fairly regular. The local company has a website in Spanish and English, but you're probably better off using google maps or a similar app to plan trips.
Better prices if you have either a ten+ card, which can be purchased at the bus terminal, from a tobacco shop or a tram station; or the ten+ app (Android and iPhone, requires you to scan the QR code in the bus with the app and show it to the driver). Daily and weekly tickets allow for unlimited travels in every bus line in the island, but are only worth it if you're planning to take intercity buses.
Line 1 starts from the bus terminal and connects Santa Cruz with La Laguna, though it's slower than bus 15 if you're planning to travel the whole line. Paid with the same methods as buses (see above), but sometimes slightly more expensive.
Driving is very fast or very slow with little in-between. Streets can be very narrow. Parking is hard in the centre unless you're willing to pay for private parking. More useful in the outskirts or if you're planning to go outside the cities.
One of the capitals of the Canary Islands, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a modern city with a rich colonial history. It has a variety of historic and modern architecture, parks, and museums for travellers to discover.
Churches and cathedrals
- 1 Church of the Immaculate Conception (Iglesia de la Concepción).
- 2 [dead link] Church of St. Francis of Assisi (Iglesia de San Francisco de Asís), Calle Villalba Hervás. The second most important church in the city, after the Church of the Conception, completed in 1680 and notable for the large number of artworks inside. It is a good example of Baroque architecture on the Canary Islands.
- 3 Auditorio de Tenerife, Avenida de la Constitución. Auditorium designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Constructed between 1997 and 2003, the design is framed within the tenets of late-modern architecture of the late 20th century, and regarded as one of the finest modern buildings on the archipelago. It has been featured on post stamps and commemorative coins of €5. The auditorium is the most recognizable and most photographed structure in the city. The main hall has capacity for 1616 spectators with a 16.5 m (54 ft) wide stage.
- 4 Santa Cruz Towers (Torres de Santa Cruz).
Castles and fortifications
- 5 Castle of St John the Baptist (Castillo de San Juan Bautista).
- 6 Spain Square (Plaza de España). 24/7. The largest square in the city, with an artificial lake fountain by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron in its centre. It was constructed at the original location of the Castle of San Cristóbal in 1929. Free.
- 7 Castle of San Cristóbal (Castillo de San Cristóbal), Plaza de España, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-18:00. The first fortification of significance on Tenerife, intended as defensive stronghold for the Santa Cruz Bay, constructed between 1575 and 1577 to protect the city against pirates. From the 20th century it lost its significance as defensive structure and was demolished in 1929 to make space for the Plaza de España, which was built over the foundations of the castle. When the Plaza was remodelled in 2006, remains of the castle were discovered and a tunnel was constructed to make them accessible to the general public. They can be visited, along with a small visitor centre.
Museums and galleries
- 8 [dead link] Museum of Nature and Archeology (Museo de la Naturaleza y Arqueología), Calle Fuente Morales, ☏ . Tu-Sa 09:00-20:00, Su M 10:00-17:00. Considered one of the best repositories of Pre-Castilian objects on the Canary Islands, with significant paleontological, botanical, entomological, and marine and terrestrial vertebrate collections. It holds the largest collection of Guanche objects, for which it is internationally best known. It is widely thought of as the best museum of the Canary Islands. €5.
- 9 Canarian Military History Museum (Museo Histórico Militar de Canarias), Calle San Isidro. Military history museum in the north of the city, housed in Fort Almeyda, a fortress built in 1859 to house artillery pieces to protect the vulnerable side of Santa Cruz against English invaders threatening the coast since 1797 under the command of Rear Admiral Nelson. It was designed as a compensation for the lack of defenses on the northern and western parts of the city, and protect the entrance of the Almeida ravine.
- 10 Photo Center Tenerife Island, ☏ . Opened in 1989, the centre owns a studio and photo lab, a conference room, and specialized library with more than 3500 books and files.
- 11 Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes de Santa Cruz de Tenerife). Museum founded in 1840 when the city took the initiative to store flags from the Battle of Cape St Vincent in a permanent location. The classic style building was established in 1929 by architect Eladio Laredo, and decorated with 10 different busts. The museum has 14 rooms, with collections ranging from 16th century Flemish to 20th century paintings, along with numerous sculptures and crafts. The "Tríptico de Nava y Grimón" by the Flemish painter Pieter Coecke is one of the most important pieces on display. There are also works from Canarian painters Juan de Miranda, Afonso Gaspar de Quevedo, Jose Rivera, and Cristóbal Hernandez de Quintana.
- 12 Tenerife Space of Arts (Tenerife Espacio de las Artes), Avenida de San Sebastián 8. Cultural space and modern arts museum opened in 2008, with a permanent exhibition of the works of Óscar Domínguez. €7.
- 13 García Sanabria Park (Parque García Sanabria), Rambla de Santa Cruz. 24/7. Public park inaugurated in 1926, laid out as a large garden with fountains and architecture. It is the largest urban park in the Canarias with an area of 67 230 m². The most important eye catcher is the park's floral clock, manufactured in Switzerland and gifted to Tenerife by the Consul of Denmark in 1958. Free.
- 14 Palmetum, Avenida de la Constitución. Botanical garden with an area of 120 000 m² specialized in palms, set on an artificial hill overlooking the ocean. The garden includes a large system of streams, ponds, and waterfalls, as well as a museum dedicated to palms and a display shade house. Curiously, the botanical garden was built on a former landfill that was capped over in 1995, and opened to the public in 2014. It has over 600 species of palms on display, specializing in those native to tropical islands from around the world. The garden is an example of ecological botany, and is maintained without the use of pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Don't forget to pick up a map at the entrance for €0.50. Adults €6, children €2.80, under 2 years old free.
- There are a number of museums. A good history museum is five minutes' walk from the bus station, where Bus 14 stops. An art gallery in town and a small planetarium/science centre on the way to La Laguna (Bus 14 passes it). A Bono bus card not only entitles you to cheap travel on TITSA buses, but also cut-rate museum entrance. Large Sunday market near the bus station.
- Football: CD Tenerife play soccer in Segunda División, Spain's second tier. Their home ground Estadio Heliodoro Rodríguez López (capacity 22,800) is just east of Av Reyes Catolicos.
- 1 Parque Marítimo César Manrique, c/ Artistica Union el Cabo 5 (Edif Buena Vista), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:00-19:00 daily. Water park designed by architect César Manrique, covering an area of 22 000 m², and aims to recreate a natural environment with volcanic rocks, palm trees, and ornamental plants. It has pools with sea water, artificial waterfalls, hot spring jacuzzi, and a small artificial beach. There are also sports facilities and a gym. However only one pool is open. Warning: there are no lockers to store valuables left unattended while swimming, and pickpockets roam around the park. Don't bring valuables into the park, and only bring the minimum amount of money necessary. Adults €5, children and seniors €1.50.
- Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Annually in February. The carnival is the second biggest event of its kind (after the Rio de Janeiro Carneval). The historical event is held every February, and attracts around a million of visitors.
There are two El Corte Ingles department stores selling pretty much everything, as well as various shopping complexes on the outskirts. The main market is well worth a visit, although it is not aimed at the tourists - great fruit, veg, flowers, etc. There is a flea market on a Sunday near the bus station, if you're short of fleas. Some electrical tourist tat near the main square, which are probably best avoided.
If you're on holiday though, there's more to life than shopping. Why not stroll around the beautiful park up by the Rambla instead?
- 1 La Recova (Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África), Av. de San Sebastián 51, ☏ . M-Sa 06:00-14:00, Su 07:00-14:00. Covered market in Neocolonial style, built in 1943 to accommodate the needs of the growing city after the old market on the other side of the Ravine of the Saints had become too small. It played an important role in the distribution of food on the island. Economic importance declined from 1974 when wholesale retailers took over the role of food distribution, and the reduced commercial activity facilitated the development of the laid back experience the market offers today. Free.
- 2 Centro Comercial Meridiano, Avenida Manuel Hermoso Rojas 16, ☏ , email@example.com. M-Sa 10:00-22:00, Su 10:00-01:00. Shopping mall with free toilets and a Carrefour supermarket to stock up on snacks and drinks. Free.
Canaries food, Spanish food and inevitably, fast food. Most places are good value, but one or two tourist traps near the port. Plenty of good fish, although a dictionary may be helpful.
All these are in the city centre:
- 1 Tasca Bodega Candido, C. Clavel, 13, Local Bajo 5. Tasca with typical Canarian food. Well presented. Abundant tapas. The ropa vieja with shredded meat is highly recommended. The place is very cosy. Fast service.
- 2 bodegon el puntero, C. San Clemente, 13. Small, authentic restaurant.' Fresh seafood and fish. Very tasty. Good atmosphere. Very friendly waiters. Locals eat here on a daily basis. They have more than 40 years of experience.
- 3 Restaurante La Cayena, C. Santiago, 2. Good place to taste homemade menus. Their menus are healthy, they change them every day, always trying to make innovative dishes..
- 4 PizzArte, Av. Ángel Guimerá, 65. Very good pizzas, salads, and very friendly service. Modest and quiet inside. Also working late in the evening and the service is good.
- 5 Gonzalo's Bar Restaurant, Calle Dr. Allart, 29. Tender grilled meat. Nice grilled entrecôte. Calm backstreet seating. The escape from the sun in the shade is appreciated. The fish tartare and shrimp tempura are both very good.
- 6 Taberna del Puerto, C. la Marina, 4. Traditional restaurant. Great food and wine. The staff is friendly and professional. Cozy atmosphere. Service may be a bit slow.
- 7 La Albahaca, C. José Hernández Alfonso, 17. Takeaway, homemade food. The roasted chickens have a very good good taste. Nice service.
- 8 Restaurante La Hierbita, Calle Clavet 19, ☏ . Typical restaurant; try ropa vieja (minced steak in tomato sauce).
- 9 El Porron Tasca Andaluza, Calle Antonio Domínguez Alfonso 36, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Often regarded as the best restaurant of Santa Cruz, it specializes in a mix of Andalusian specialties and local Canarian cuisine. Great food, but relatively pricey.
- 10 Picatostes, C. San Francisco Javier, 59. Small place with great food. The lamb is nice. Well-chosen natural products and a varied menu of food and wine. The appetizer is offered as a courtesy on the house.
- 11 Restaurante La Posada, C. Méndez Núñez, 61. Great croquettes. The tortilla there is very good. A place with tradition, one of those that almost no longer remain.
- 12 La Estrella Polar, C. Porlier, 15. Authentic homemade food and a nice service. Always very crowded, better to book. The staff is very friendly and they make you feel at home.
- 13 Etéreo by Pedro Nel, Calle San Antonio 63, ☏ , email@example.com. Upscale Spanish restaurant with a serious price tag. The food is excellent, and accompanied by a rich selection of local and European wines.
There are only a few bars, with a few local people in them.
- 1 Hotel Principe Paz, Calle de Valentin Sanz 33, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Parking can be a nightmare, so it's best to use one of the underground car parks at around €12 a day. €51.
- 2 NH Tenerife, Calle Candelaria 3, ☏ . In the centre of the historical and business areas of the city. It is very close to the Auditorio, the shopping area, the harbour, and the theatres. €64.
As of June 2022, Santa Cruz has 4G from MasMovil/Yoigo, and 5G from Movistar, Orange and Vodafone.