When you think of cities by the water, the first things that would come to mind is the beach and the sun. Such is so when you mention the Canary Islands. With a beautiful montage of volcanoes, forests, mountains, sun and sea, it’s hard not to appreciate its natural beauty. But what the majority disregard often is the unique and rich culture they also offer. The same can be said for one of the Canary Islands’ capital - Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Santa Cruz has so much to share - from museums, galleries, opera houses, churches, and markets, to artificial parks. Take a closer look and you’ll see that the city is hiding some pretty amazing things just waiting to be discovered. Here’s a list of ten things to do when you’re in Santa Cruz:
1. Auditorio de Tenerife
Arguably one of the most iconic landmarks in the island, the auditorium is often compared to Australia’s Sydney Opera House. Although relatively smaller than its Australian counterpart, it does not pale in comparison. The auditorium provides its visitors with spectacular events like operas, concerts and festivals which are sure to capture every tourist’s interest. They have performances here all year round of different types, so there’s really something for everyone. There is also a lovely little cafe inside the auditorium so you can grab a cup of coffee if you’re ever in the area.
Auditorio de Tenerife
Address: Avenida Constitucion 1, 38003 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
Contact Number: +34 922568600
Operating Hours: 10 am - 3 pm
Website: Auditorio de Tenerife
2. The Museum of Man and Nature
Branded as the Canary Islands’ best museum, the Museum of Man and Nature not only educates its visitors about the geography, geology, and anthropology in the Canary Islands but it also entertains them with their interactive presentations. Situated in the building of a former civil hospital, this is a good place to take your children to as it is both informative and engaging, plus, it’s free for kids under 8. The exhibits are mostly in Spanish but they also provide audio guides on site for those not well versed with the language.
The Museum of Man and Nature
Address: Calle Fuente Morales, s/n, 38003 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
Contact Number: +34 922535816
Operating Hours: Mondays and Holidays-10 am to 5 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays-9 am to 8 pm, the museum is closed on the 24th, 25th and 31st December, 1st and 6th of January and Tuesday of Carnival
Entrance Fee: 3-5 EUR (3.5-5.5 USD). Children under 8, teachers on tour with school children, school groups of the Canary Islands, and visitors coming from 4 pm to 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays will be free from charge
Website: Museo de la Naturaleza y El Hombre
3. Canarian Military History Museum
This fort turned museum stood as the city’s defence against attacks from the sea back in the 1850s. The museum covers a large area so expect some large exhibitions and artifacts waiting inside. From military tanks, cannons, flags, to primitive weapons, this museum has everything you’d want from a military museum. The museum not only boasts the prowess and weaponry their cavalries had but also honors the men who kept the islands safe at the expense of their lives.
Canarian Military History Museum
Address: Calle San Isidro 2, 38001 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
Contact Number:+34 922298557
Operating Hours: 9 am-3 pm on Tuesdays to Friday and 10 am-3 pm on weekends, the museum is closed on Mondays
Entrance Fee: Free of charge
Website: Canarian Military History Museum
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4. Breathe in the fresh air at Palmetum Santa Cruz Jardin Botanico
One look at the Palmetum and you would never think that this was an old dumpsite converted into a recreational area for lovers of nature. The Palmetum is an oasis in the middle of the city. As the name denotes, the garden is filled with a variety of plants (majorly of the Palm kind) and some wildlife as well. It’s a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Palmetum Santa Cruz Jardin Botanico
Address: Avenida Constitucion 5, 38003 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
Contact Number: +34 922229368
Operating Hours: 10 am - 6 pm
Entrance Fee: 1.50 - 6 EUR (2-7 USD) exclusive of guide, children under 2 years old are free from charge
Website: Palmetum Santa Cruz Jardin Botanico
5. Take a break in Plaza de Espana
This plaza is the biggest among its counterparts in the Canary Islands. The plaza also holds a must not be missed; an artificial lake designed by Swiss architects. It is also here that we can see the monument dedicated to victims of the Spanish Civil War - the Monumento de Los Caidos. All the streets in the city lead to this plaza so it’s a perfect spot for visitors who need a break. The Plaza also offers some great views of both the water and city life.
Plaza de Espana
Address: Avenida Maritima 128, 38003 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
Operating Hours: 24 hours
Entrance Fee: Free of charge
6. Go down to the ruins of Castillo de San Cristobal
If you’re ever in Plaza de Espana don’t forget to check this place out! The ruins of the castle lay just below the plaza. It may be small but it is an important part of the city’s history. This is the very place where the cannon which took the famed Horatio Nelson’s arm lies. What is left of the castle has been converted into a museum which gives you insight on the historical Battle of Santa Cruz.
Castillo de San Cristobal
Address: Piazza di Spagna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
Contact Number: +34 922285605
Operating Hours: 10 am - 6 pm from Monday to Saturday, the museum is closed on Sundays
Entrance Fee: Free of charge
7. Shop in Mercado de Nuestra Senora de Africa
A market at its freshest. Fruits, vegetables, fish, bread, meat, dairy, flowers - take your pick - this market has everything and anything in store for you. The market also has some stalls which sell jewelry and other trinkets so it’s the perfect place to buy some souvenirs. Even the architecture of the place is a sight to be seen. With a neo-classical vibe given off by the market, going through this place is like a journey through time. Favored by both locals and foreigners, you can assure yourself a good shopping day.
Mercado de Nuestra Senora de Africa
Address: Avenida San Sebastian 51, 38003 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
Contact Number: +34 922214743
Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday - 6 am to 2 pm, Sundays - 7 am to 2 pm
8. See Playa de las Teresitas
A visit to the Canary Islands is never complete without a trip to one of their beaches. You’d expect that beaches from volcanic islands have black sand and that was the case of Santa Cruz’s most famous beach up until 1973. 270,000 tonnes of golden sand were imported from the Sahara Desert and was dumped onto this beach, replacing its black volcanic sand. With a temperate climate all year round, there is no offseason for coming to this beach. If you’re only planning to visit just one beach, then this is the one to go to. With lifeguards on alert and wave breakers to prevent big waves, it’s the perfect and safest beach around.
Not really up for a swim? Then try the seafood from Kiosco Lucas Restaurant; they serve some good seafood and tapas. What better way to have seafood than by the seaside?
Playa de las Teresitas
Address: San Andres, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
Entrance Fee: Free of charge
9. Drive through Las Canadas National Park
This park is the Canary Islands’ biggest park and was named as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2007. The park is centered on Mount Teide and Pico Viejo, the island’s volcano. Expect lava flows, volcanoes, open craters, and rocks that come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. There are bike trails and regular roads that go through the park so do exercise proper caution when driving as it also gets packed. However, despite the hordes coming to see the sights, it’s all worth it when you get to gaze upon this geological treasure.
Las Canadas National Park
Address: Calle San Francisco 5-4 Planta 38002, 38002 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain
10. Witness Carnaval
Second only to Rio de Janeiro’s version of the event, Santa Cruz’s Carnaval delivers with an explosion of color, noise, costumes, and merry-making. The festival has two parts: the official Carnaval and the street Carnaval. As already hinted by the names, the former is more organized with several performances to add to the mix while the Carnaval on the street is basically a party on the streets. Watch in awe as the streets explode with people celebrating their rich culture and diversity.
The festival usually starts a few weeks before Lent in late February. It is the most famous event held in the Canary Islands and is probably the hardest one to attend, however, the experience is well worth the effort.
Address: Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Spain
Contact Number: +34 922609600
Stray off the beaten sand
Island cities are usually not known for anything other than their beaches and clear blue waters, but that doesn’t mean that they should be! Santa Cruz offers so much more and it’s just waiting for someone to come and explore. Up for some new discoveries and adventures? Pack your bags and come to the city of Santa Cruz now!
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