explore Santa Cruz, Tenerife
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Explore Santa Cruz, Tenerife

Explore Santa Cruz the capital and largest city of Tenerife. It’s also the capital city of the Canary Islands, together with Las Palmas.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is situated at the eastern tip of the island of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Island chain. The municipal borough covers an area of 150.56 square kilometers and it is divided into two differentiated areas: the Anaga Massif and the southern ramp formed by the lava flows that run down from the Acentejo peak to the coast. The maximum altitude in the borough is 750 meters above sea level. Over half the municipal perimeter is shoreline.

Before the arrival of the Castilian conquerors, the territory where the city would be based, constituted zones of wild vegetation pertaining to the menceyato (kingdom) of Anaga, that governed the Mencey Beneharo. The pre-Hispanic history of the city is carried out by the legacy of ‘guanches’ (from Guan Chenech, meaning ‘man from Tenerife’) and several foreign expeditions which arrived at the coast. In 1494, in one of these trips, the Castilians arrived and established in Santa Cruz the camping bases for the conquest of the island that extended until 1496, the year in which Tenerife was incorporated into Corona of Castile.

From the beginning, the economic nucleus of the city centered on the port. The first wharf, constructed in 1548, was located by the beach of Añazo, but it was later destroyed in a storm. The present port corresponds with four old points of dockage in the municipal coast: the port of Horses with the creek of Blacks, the creek of Blas Diaz, the High Step and the Bufadero. The bay of Santa Cruz was appreciated by navigators due to its natural advantages that turned it into a food supply center for the ships that sailed for the New World.

At the end of the 15th century a heterogeneous society began to form, composed of soldiers, native sailors, merchants and guanches. The first population establishments were located in the surroundings of the castle of San Cristóbal, a fortification that protected the small town. In the second half of the XVI century, one began to construct the first seat, located in front of to the castle, that would denominate seat of Pila and it corresponds with the present seat of the Candlemas. 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 pirates, Gallic and English. Until the British Navy, with Admiral Nelson to the front, it fell defeated the 25 of 1797 July. This episode, by its importance, will mark the history of the city.

There are two different airports in Tenerife.

  • The Tenerife South Reina Sofia International Airport is located about 60km away from Santa Cruz, in the south of Tenerife. It’s open the 24 hours of the day with almost 9 million passengers every year.
  • The other airport Tenerife North Los Rodeos International Airport closest to the capital was limited only to island and nationals flights, but the recent opening of the new airport terminal and the entrance of international flights has allowed it to improve the connections with the rest of the country and abroad.

The beaches are less crowded than in the south. The largest is Las Teresitas is made of imported yellow sand and a short 20 minute bus ride.

The quieter Las Gaviotas is the next bay over and features black sand and plenty of nudists. The infrequent bus gives impressive views of Las Teresitas.


  • A good natural history (Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre) museum five minutes’ walk from the bus station. It has some interesting mummified human remains on display.
  • an art gallery in town
  • a small planetarium\science centre on the way to La Laguna.
  • Large Sunday market near the bus station.
  • A free museum on the history of the former castle now buried under the car park at the Plaza Espana, it is on the port side of the square and is open from 10am Monday-Saturday. It’s quite interesting with lots of information on the history of the city.
  • Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is one of the biggest and most spectacular events of its kind in the World. Every February, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the largest of the Canary Islands, hosts this historical event, attracting around a million people from everywhere. edit

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?

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 to eat, a dictionary would be useful.

Most of the bars are concentrated around the streets running off the main esplanade and the pedestrian zone around the Plaza Espana.

Official tourism websites of Santa Cruz

For more information please visit the official government website: 

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