Things to do in Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Spain

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the western Canary Islands. A small but captivating city filled with culture, history, and entertainment. Santa Cruz is a coastal city located in the middle-top eastern side of Tenerife. Its port constantly welcomes many visitors from cruise ships and connections with other islands.

The Canary Islands themselves have become more and more popular because it features almost every element that tourists desire: nice weather, good food, great places to visit filed with activities for people of all ages at an affordable price.

There are many English speaking tourists in Santa Cruz so the language barrier is generally not an issue. Most establishments and general information are provided in many languages. But lets analyse in a deeper way the marvels of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Must do

Traveling is in some ways similar to going to the movies, we previously watch the trailer or read something that gives us a hint of what we can expect. When a person wants to travel to a specific destination, most have already checked what are its best attractions. So here are some of Santa Cruz best:

  • One of the best aspects of Santa Cruz is that it has everything you need: both malls and small shops of every kind; cafeterias and bars where to seat and relax… all guided by well-structured and modern cosmopolitan.
  • Las Teresitas beach. One of Tenerife’s most famous beaches. A beach with golden sand from Sahara dessert, perfect for relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends.
  • For those art lovers out there. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the home of two very prestigious buildings. El Auditorio is depicted as the symbol of the city.
  • A beautiful botanical garden that has more than 500 species of palm trees.
  • Located next to “el Auditorio” this waterpark is a wonderful destination for families with children.

These are just some honorable mentions, Santa Cruz certainly has wonderful elements that succeed at fascinating those who visit it.

What I like most about Santa Cruz

For me, I think that what I like the most about Santa Cruz is its diversity in every one of its aspects. Santa Cruz is definitely a summer city, in a sense of aesthetic and the atmosphere that evokes. I myself am a person who prefers cold weather, but you can’t help but love the warm nights walking by the coastal walks and avenues with a delicious ice cream in your hand.

Santa Cruz City has the rare attribute of being both lively and calm. A balance between the two. Also, as mentioned previously, Santa Cruz has everything you need and it is easy to “get lost” in a good way spending hours walking through it. It would be difficult to plan a whole day in Santa Cruz and expect to be able to visit everything, there is just no way.

It amazes me the fact that even though Santa Cruz is a small city in comparison to other big cities of Europe, it still manages to collect every sort of establishment that a city usually has (malls, theatres, museums, etc…).

In regards to sports, as a football (soccer) fan, I’m privileged to have the stadium of C.D. Tenerife very close to where I live and many supporters go and enjoy watching our team represent the island. Tenerife’s football team plays on the second division of the Spanish league. Still, it has been on the first division on several occasions and has even reached the semi-finals of the European cup.

Best Walks

Santa Cruz is a city perfectly designed for walking. It is way easier and cheaper to move around on foot than spending time looking for a parking space, except for las Teresitas beach.

The city has two famous walks:

  • This long maritime walkway covers the whole length of the city by the sea-side. From Cesar Manriques Maritime Park and Auditorio to las Teresitas beach itself. Most walkers are people who like to practice footing, ride bicycles or just enjoy walking with the family. There´s even a skate park in the halfway of the avenue.
  • This is the most populated street of Santa Cruz, right above Plaza de España. in the heart of the city. Hundreds of people go up and down through it every day. It is filled with stores and cafeterias. It is a perfect road to start the journey through Santa Cruz.

Best Restaurants

Spanish people, in general, take food seriously, and in Tenerife, it won’t be any different. Therefore, the capital counts with every type of restaurant (local food, elegant, low-cost, Italian, etc…). Here’s a selection of some great quality affordable restaurants in Santa Cruz:

  • . A place that serves great quality local food at affordable prices.
  • If you like a more fancy style of cuisine, this is a great option for you.

Best Hotels in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

This is a small selection of hotels in Santa Cruz de Teneriffe please click on the links for a bigger description and customer reviews on TripAdvisor.

  1. The Iberostar Heritage Grand Mencey is a hotel that features La Cocina del Mencey, a culinary space where you can experience all kinds of gastronomic offers. You will enjoy yoga and Pilates classes, plus paddle tennis courts and elegant spaces with stunning architecture and unique services.
  2. Hotel Colon Rambla is located in the heart of Tenerife’s Santa Cruz, this elegant hotel features free Wi-Fi and has an outdoor pool and charming gardens. The Colon Rambla is fronted by an impressive glass wall which continues around to the garden and outdoor terrace.
  3. Sercotel Principe Paz Hotel is a 3 star hotel with 80 rooms with all the services available for a perfect stay. All rooms contain free internet and views of the sea or Plaza del Principe

Best Festivals

The carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is, along with that of Rio de Janeiro, the best-known carnival in the world, declared a festival of International Tourist Interest since 1980. During these days, color, music, and dance take over the streets of the city to welcome the party.

After 2 weeks of the Murgas Contest, the party begins with the spectacular Queens’ Galas, both adult and children’s. In them, the candidates squander glamor by parading on a stage wearing great costumes of incredible fantasies that weigh more than 100kg.

Santa Cruz is also excited, it is stirred every year with the mystery of the Carnivals. The city is transformed to enjoy a party of international repercussion, in which they celebrate life with as much joy and ingenuity as respect and camaraderie. You will be able to enjoy the opening of the party, the children’s costumes contest, the choreographic festival, musical group competitions, the gala for the election of the queen for children and adults, a costume contest and much more.

Best Nightlife

Nightlife in Santa Cruz offers a wide range of possibilities. Calle Noria and its surroundings are the main stage of the party in Santa Cruz. In the historic center of the city, when night falls, the many restaurants installed in old houses of La Noria are transformed into pubs and discotheques for all tastes and musical varieties. Among the most outstanding: the Mojos and Mojitos and Los Reunidos. To the north, passing the port, is Avenida de Anaga, another place to spend a few hours at night in Tenerife. Here most bars have terraces to take advantage of the island of eternal spring.

Best Day Trip Out of the City

Some of the best experiences are free. The rural park of Anaga is located in the north-eastern region of Tenerife. And features one of the most beautiful amazing routes of the island, “El Sendero de Los Sentidos”.

Anaga Rural Park

We enter the fantastic laurel forests, also called Monteverde, of the Anaga Rural Park in Tenerife, declared a Biosphere Reserve. The Path of the Senses is ideal to take the pulse of the place since it is done very quickly: approximately 30-45 minutes.

Very easy to do with young children and it even has a section adapted for people with reduced mobility. It is not a hiking route in itself, but rather a small walk without difficulty through a beautiful environment that can be done, for example, before or after that of the Sendero del Pijarral, since it has a length of only about 1.5 km. It is an ideal walk to spend a good day with the family.

Throughout the journey the trail offers a didactic character and invites us to smell and touch the vegetation, to admire the beautiful landscape and to listen to the wind and the song of the birds that inhabit the forests through structures created for it.

We will see these panels with sensory signs with pictograms of a nose, an eye, an ear and a hand that indicate that we wave, look, hear or touch a certain element of the path.

There is also an audio guide that is available at the visitor center. The guide tells you the history of the place while you walk. This is a very interesting option to leave children entertained on the way.

El Sendero de Los Sentidos

Three routes known as El Sendero de Los Sentidos depart from Cruz del Carmen that runs along an old royal road that linked the towns of Anaga with the city of La Laguna. All propose different experiences through smell, sight, and touch with which to discover different elements of the environment.

Along the way, the panels with sensory signs (nose, hand, eye) try to capture the attention of the users so that they smell, touch or look at a certain element of the path. The Path of the Senses 1, the shortest, is made up of a walkway and a small terrace, making it adapted for people with motor or sensory disabilities. It is just a small section of 350 meters which is the one that is prepared for people with reduced mobility through wooden walkways

This section of just 550 meters is part of the Camino Real, with its sculpted steps on the pavement. If we make this route, in the lower part we will arrive at the Mirador del Llano de Los Loros, from where we will get a beautiful panoramic view of the Barranco de Tahodio with a small reservoir and even part of the city of Santa Cruz and its port. It is highly recommended to do this route if you want to spend a few days of rest and disconnection as a family since the Anaga Rural Park is a paradise for hiking and nature

Something that not many travelers would know about

The Battle for Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The Forces

9 ships were equipped with 393 cannons and a force of 3,700 men. The English believed that the Canary city would be easy prey. Santa Cruz was defended by a garrison of just under 1,700 men. There were regular soldiers (60 gunners, 247 soldiers from the Battalion of Infantry of the Canary Islands.

Also there were 110 men of the Provincial Hunters and 60 soldiers of the Flag of Cuba. Plus sailors (among them 110 of the French corvette “La Mutine”), militiamen (330 of the Militias of La Laguna and Orotava).

And above all civilians (from peasants to fishermen, through artisans and servants). In addition to the 89 cannons distributed in 16 batteries. The forces were uneven and the Spanish had everything to lose.

However, General Antonio Gutierrez de Otero, a Governor of Tenerife, arranged a mobilization to defend the island against the English. After a couple of landing attempts that ended badly for the attackers.

The Battle

Nelson made his way to Santa Cruz at dusk on July 24, beginning the landing the next morning. The batteries of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Spanish infantry swept the attackers.

Before being able to set foot on the ground, Nelson himself was badly wounded by a shot from a cast bronze cannon. The cannon that was made in Seville in 1768 and is known as “Tiger”. Nelson had to be evacuated and as a result of the injuries sustained, he lost his lower right arm.

The English, cornered, capitulated that same morning, suffering great losses: 700 casualties between dead and wounded, compared to only 24 Spanish casualties.

The Aftermath

In a letter – the first he wrote with his left hand after losing his right hand. Nelson thanked the Spaniards for the good treatment of the English wounded.

It was Nelson’s greatest defeat and he is remembered today as one of the greatest British naval leaders. In his defense and to mitigate his shameful defeat, he reported, upon returning to his homeland, that he had encountered 8,000 defenders, completely false data.

Today the “Tigre” cannon is kept in the Castillo de San Cristobal in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in good condition and still capable of fire. Every July 25 a recreation is held in Tenerife to remember that formidable Spanish victory.

Interesting Facts about Santa Cruz de Tenerife

  • Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the 2nd largest city in the Canary Islands after Las Palmas.
  • It is home to the Parliament of the Canary Islands.
  • The Carnival of Santa Cruz is the most important carnival in Spain.
  • In 2012 The Guardian newspaper listed Santa Cruz as one of the best 5 places to live in the world.
  • The town became one of the most important ports in the Atlantic after the port of Garachico was destroyed by a volcano in 1706.