Discovering the corners of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
If you’ve decided to travel to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, read on to find out what needs to go on your must-see list to make the most of the city. Places to visit, restaurants to sample traditional Canarian cooking and beaches to behold the landscapes at sunset.
Interesting spots in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
The island’s capital offers a wide range of possibilities to enjoy the city in all kinds of different ways. Let’s start our tour of the things you have to see with the Santa Cruz de Tenerife’s Plaza de España, where historic buildings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries rub shoulders harmoniously, encircling gardens with exotic plants and a lake with a geyser that shoots water up to 30 metres into the air. The way it’s illuminated at night is an attraction in itself. Hundreds of lights in the form of different-sized water droplets give the square a magical touch when the sun has gone down. In this space, in an underground gallery, you’ll also find the ruins of Santa Cruz de Tenerife’s San Cristóbal Castle, an old fortress that once defended the city and watched over its port. Only a few sections of its outer walls remain.
What else can you see in Santa Cruz? Another essential spot in the city is the Rambla de Santa Cruz, better known as simply La Rambla. This is a central street with a pedestrian zone which is always a lovely place for a stroll, especially if you stop and contemplate the abundant vegetation, including jacarandas, Indian laurels and the characteristic Canary Island palm trees.
If you would like to discover the native culture of the Canary Islands, you need to see the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Museum, which displays the largest exhibition about the Guanches (the indigenous population of the Canary Islands) there is. It’s known as the Museum of Nature and Archaeology and it contains incredible mummies of the islands’ first settlers, as well as stones, utensils and amphorae.
And how could you miss out on the fresh produce that’s cultivated right here on the island? If you’re a gourmet, you must visit the Nuestra Señora de África Market, better known as La Recova, to see the home-grown produce. Located in a neo-Colonial style building, it was opened in 1944 and has been operating as the city’s central market ever since. It’s arch, central courtyard and Mudéjar-style tower are its stand-out features. As, of course, are the fruit, vegetables and fish from the land and the waters surrounding the so-called ‘Fortunate Islands’.
Another unmissable attraction in Santa Cruz is the new, modern Tenerife Auditorium, renamed the Auditorio Adán Martín in 2011. Work of the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, it’s a spectacular building that’s similar to the Sydney Opera House, thanks to the structure of its outer shell. This shell rests upon a central base, freeing up one of its sides to spread out like a wing, defying the laws of gravity. Its appeal is down to its cutting-edge architecture, and the fact that it is one of the leading cultural spaces in the Canary Islands. Dance, theatre, circus and concerts all form part of its varied line-up.
Eating in Santa Cruz de Tenerife: recommended restaurants
If there’s something in particular that you can’t miss out on in the Canary Islands, it’s their gastronomy. And the island of Tenerife is the perfect place to sample authentic Canarian food. Picking somewhere to eat in Santa Cruz de Tenerife could be a tough choice, as it’s bursting with traditional Canarian establishments, and others that offer more modern, international cuisine. An example of the former is the Restaurante La Hierbita (El Clavel, 19), an eatery located in a building with more than 120 years of history, with a wooden roof and antique furniture. Its cuisine is focused on local produce bought from the market and local suppliers. It serves up homemade, traditional, delicious food.
And if you prefer Canarian food with a touch of creativity, you have to see and sample the offerings of establishments such as La Posada del Pez (Carretera San Andrés-Taganana, 2). Here you’ll find good taste, elegance and excellent wines from Tenerife and other Canary Islands, along with fabulous views of the Atlantic Ocean, all in a rural village which is home to farmers and fishermen.
A night out in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Fiesta in Tenerife is all about Carnival. The colour, the fantasy, the joy and the spectacular costumes flood every single one of the streets of the city with an extraordinary festive atmosphere for days on end. It lasts until Ash Wednesday, with the Entierro de la Sardina [Burial of the Sardine] ceremony, and then returns the following weekend (the weekend of the piñata). It’s one of the most important carnivals in the world and has been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest.
Also worth mentioning are the festivities celebrated in May and July, the latter of which are dedicated to Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of sailors. They both provide a unique opportunity to discover the city’s popular traditions, folklore and culture.
Beaches in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
With the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop, the beaches of Santa Cruz de Tenerife offer spectacularly contrasting scenery. The closest one to the capital, and the most popular with tourists, is the Playa de las Teresitas beach, with its golden sand and surfeit of palm trees. A good tip is the Playa de las Gaviotas beach, although it’s a bit of an effort, as it is 13 kilometres away from Santa Cruz. It has black volcanic sand and sits at the feet of dramatic cliffs. And if you want to enjoy spectacular nature at its purest, you can’t beat Playa de Benijo beach, which is 26 kilometres from Santa Cruz. It’s worth the journey, as you’ll be greeted by a unique landscape and views that will take your breath away. Not far from here is Playa del Roque de las Bodegas beach, where you can enjoy a magnificent sunset in the Anaga Rural Park, a Biosphere Reserve since 2015, which stands out for the valleys and ravines that lead down to the ocean.