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Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands

One day in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

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The starting point for visiting the rest of the island


Santa Cruz de Tenerife, capital of the island of Tenerife, is perfect for enjoying at any time of the year thanks to its great weather. If you’ve organised a few days’ holiday to tour the island, don’t miss spending 24 hours in this cheerful city full of gardens, squares and pavement cafés that’s also world famous for its Carnivals. In fact, Santa Cruz can serve as an excellent base for exploring the rest of Tenerife by car. These are just some of the activities that you can do.

MORNING

The first part of the day could be spent at the beach.

In the Canary Islands, the weather is always good, with temperatures ranging between 16ºC and 24ºC even in the coldest months. This means you’ll be able to wake up and go for a dip, sunbathe, or simply take a stroll along the most famous beach, Las Teresitas. It has dozens of palm trees, and although it belongs to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, it’s actually located in the village of San Andrés. Calm seas and all the amenities make it perfect if you’re travelling with children. A little further from the city you’ll also find the beaches of Taganana and Benijo. The town hall has installed a series of webcams, which means you can see what things are looking like in real time before setting out. 

Left: Las Teresitas beach / Right: César Manrique Maritime Park in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Canary Islands

Wanting more options for a refreshing dip? The César Manrique Maritime Park is a complex with several pools featuring artificial waterfalls, and boasts stunning views.If you’re feeling more like action than relaxation, then you why not try your hand at scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing or paddle boarding. A varied range of activities are on offer at the Marine Sports Centre.

MIDDAY

Leaving San Andrés and heading back to Santa Cruz. Time for a spot of shopping, and form sampling the amazing array of food on offer at the iconic Nuestra Señora de África market.

And you can’t leave the coast without snapping a few photos to take home with you, either at Las Teresitas beach or in the marina where there are dozens of yachts moored.Afterwards, why not take a leisurely stroll around the city’s main shopping streets and pick up a few souvenirs. You’ll probably be hungry by this time, and there are plenty of options for you to choose from. One is to treat yourself by booking a table at one of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Guaranteed to impress.

Or why not check out the popular Nuestra Señora de África market, where you’ll find lots of different regional cheeses, wines, freshly prepared meals, and an endless array of delicious dishes that you can either try at the stalls or take away to enjoy. It’s only open in the mornings, and you’ll absolutely love it if you want to discover the real taste of Santa Cruz.

AFTERNOON

It’s time to get to know some of the city’s top tourist spots on a leisurely walk.

Start by paying a visit to some of the most well-known squares, like Plaza de la Candelaria, Plaza de Weyler, Plaza Príncipe de Asturias or Plaza de España. The latter is also home to the remains of the 16th century Castillo de San Cristóbal, the island's first major fortification, hidden away in an underground gallery. However, the best-preserved castle in the city has to be San Juan Bautista.One of the best experiences that await you when exploring Santa Cruz de Tenerife on foot is the large permanent outdoor exhibition which extends over several avenues, and parks such as García Sanabria. A great opportunity to admire works by renowned artists like Henry Moore, Martín Chirino, Joan Miró and Óscar Domínguez.

Left: San Juan Bautista Castle / Centre: Plaza de España / Right: La Concepción Church in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

You can’t leave Santa Cruz without first taking a peek inside the churches of La Concepción and San Francisco. And if you fancy a spot of culture, why not pop into the Museum of Nature and Archaeology (MUNA), home to the famous Guanche Mummies. However, the most visited museum in the city has to be the avant-garde Tenerife Espacio de las Artes (TEA), which has works by Warhol, Ansel Adams, Patti Smith, Carlos Schwartz, Dorothea Lange and Henry Moore. If you’re travelling with children then you’ll love the Palmetum Botanical Park with its impressive collection of palm trees (the largest in Europe).

NIGHT

Santa Cruz is full of bars, restaurants, taverns and pretty little pavement cafés where you can try the tapas, or tasting menus, or simply enjoy a nice glass of wine.

Relax while you sample some of the typical papas arrugadas con mojo, roast cheese, almogrote, ropa vieja, and more. On this page you can choose from the different beach clubs, roof top terraces, gastrobars and restaurants around the city.

Night view of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands

Taking in a show, either before or after dinner, is a great way to round off your visit. The spectacular white building that houses the Tenerife Auditorium (designed by Santiago Calatrava), offers a great repertoire of shows including music, dance and opera. Check out the programme, and don’t miss the opportunity to catch one of these world-class performances.

Tips and recommendations

Worth knowing

If you’re flying to the island, there are two international airports: Tenerife Sur and Tenerife Norte (the latter just a ten-minute drive from the city).There’s a bus and a tourist train linking the main places of interest in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, such as the Plaza de España square and the Auditorium. You can check the different stopping points and timetables on this map.The most popular trips from the city are:- The Anaga Rural Park, declared a Biosphere Reserve, where you can explore the different trails and swim in little coves with fine black sand, like the one at Benijo.- The Teide National Park - take a cable car ride up to the top of the volcano (the highest peak in the whole of Spain). - The nearby World Heritage City of San Cristóbal de La Laguna.- Boat trips to the neighbouring island of La Gomera.- Whale watching sailing trips.

When to go on the route

Any time of year is good for visiting Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the island in general, but you should definitely visit at Carnival time in late February at least once in your life. It‘s considered to be one of the best in the world. But you’ll need to be sure to book your accommodation in advance. At the Casa del Carnaval you’ll find a permanent exhibition of typical carnival costumes, posters and a sensory space with coloured lights and the sounds of the Carnival.

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