Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Your guide to Santa Cruz in Tenerife. Insider information from people who live there.

Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) is the island's vibrant capital and is the site of the 'Tiger' cannon with which Admiral Nelson famously lost his right arm, in his unsuccessful attack on the city. As you enter the city from the motorway it is obvious that the city does not rely only on tourism for its income as it has a very industrial landscape, with many oil refineries and a maze of cranes and containers along the waterfront. It has always been important to shipping, as it is the last staging point from Europe to South America. The port has played host to most of the world's important liners at one time or other, from the QE2 to the recently launched QM2.

The city centre is a marked contrast to this harsh external landscape. It has a very cosmopolitan, Spanish, Latin American feel to it. It is an excellent place to do some shopping with prices that tend to be cheaper than some of the resorts and has several notable museums such as the Museo Militar Regional de Canarias (military museum) and the Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre (museum of nature and man). The tree lined city streets are joined by numerous plazas and parks, the main one being the delightful Parque Municipal García Sanabria, which was laid out in the 1920s and is full of exotic plants, trees, flowers and fountains.

The most impressive sight in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the new Auditorio , whose architecture is reminiscent of a ship's sail. It cost millions of euros to build but is almost as impressive as the Sydney Opera House. Its surface is covered in millions of reflective white tiles, in a mosaic fashion, which reflect in the abundant sunshine. It is the home of the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra who holds regular concerts there. Next to the Auditorio is the sea front lido 'Parque Marítimo', which is not as large as the one Puerto; but provides a place to sunbathe, as there are no beaches to speak of near the city centre. However, a short bus ride out of the city (bus 910) takes you to the breathtaking golden Sahara sanded beach of Las Teresitas, which is dotted with palm trees and has a gentle shelving shoreline which is ideal for swimming.


Santa Cruz really comes to life during Carnival. This normally takes place the last two weeks of February and is the world's second largest carnival after Rio, albeit a much more friendly and safe one. The high point is Shrove Tuesday, when huge processions and parades take over the city centre, many of the participants wearing colourful outfits that they have spent the whole year making. The carnival ends with an open air ball and massive fireworks display.

The Tourist Information Office is located in Plaza de España, telephone 922 605592.

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