Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the vibrant and culturally rich capital city of Tenerife. With its 221,000 inhabitants and covering an area of 150 km², it is the second-largest city in the Canary Islands. Located on the northeastern coast of the island, it offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, historic charm, and modern urban life.
Santa Cruz is a vibrant city and a fantastic place to visit. It is also a great location to use as a base if you want to explore the north of the island, due to its excellent transport links.
You will find a wide selection of shops, bars and restaurants to choose from. There is a busy fishing port, which is the gateway to mainland Spain as well as being a popular stop-off for cruise liners. To get an overview of the city, why not take one of the city’s open top bus tours, to see all the main places of interest.
Santa Cruz is a top destination for anyone looking for great food, scenery, sightseeing and shopping. What’s even better: Some of the best beaches in Tenerife are nearby. It is an excellent destination to visit any time of the year as Tenerife has a great all year round climate. This makes the city a perfect destination in the winter months, if you are trying to escape the cold and the rain in northern Europe.
There are also several different festivals and carnivals throughout the year which attract many visitors, giving the city a lively feel. A wide variety of accommodation is on offer and there is something for everyone from budget hostals to upmarket boutique hotels. The city is easy to navigate on foot and also has an excellent bus and tram service.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a wonderful city with much to see and do. Here is just a small selection.
Often referred to simply as the “Auditorio,” this world-renowned concert hall and architectural masterpiece designed by Santiago Calatrava first opened in 2003. It is one of the most iconic and recognisable buildings in the Canary Islands and a symbol of the city.
Its design is characterised by its striking and avant-garde architecture, with a distinctive wave-like roof that resembles the shape of a crashing wave or a soaring bird. The building is made of reinforced concrete and features a combination of curves and sharp angles, giving it a unique and futuristic appearance.
The Auditorio is not only a visually stunning structure but also serves as a cultural hub for the Canary Islands. It hosts a wide range of events, including classical music concerts, operas, ballet performances, theatre productions, and conferences. Its main concert hall, Sala Sinfónica de Tenerife, is acoustically renowned and can accommodate a large audience.
The Plaza de España is a prominent and central square known for its picturesque setting, surrounded by historic and architectural landmarks. The plaza is centred around a beautiful, artificial lake known as the “Lake of Tenerife”.
It features various sculptures and monuments, including the Monument to the Fallen (Monumento a los Caídos), sculptures by renowned artist Henry Moore and a stunning piece called “Lo llevo bien” by Julio Nieto.
The square is lined with palm trees and greenery, providing a pleasant and shaded environment for visitors to relax. There is no shortage of restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a drink or meal with a view of the square.
Right next to the Plaza de España, is the “Cabildo Insular de Tenerife” or simply “El Cabildo,” a prominent and historic structure built in a traditional Canarian architectural style. It serves as the headquarters for the governing administrative body of the island and is often used for official meetings, administrative purposes, and cultural events.
The Iglesia de la Concepción, also known as the Church of the Immaculate Conception, is a historic church dating back to the late 15th century – one of the oldest on the island. It features a beautiful example of Canarian Baroque architecture, with intricate façades, decorative details, and a bell tower.
A museum, art gallery and library in Santa Cruz, which is open daily and well worth a visit even if art isn’t your thing. The artwork is displayed on two floors and the gallery is an interesting place to spend an afternoon. There is a gift shop and café to sit in and appreciate everything the gallery has to offer. It can be found in the historic city centre, between the Nuestra Señora de Africa market and the Iglesia de la Concepción.
Theses botanical gardens are set in the centre of Santa Cruz. Here, you will find the largest selection of palm trees in Europe. The site covers 12 hectares and is a must-visit for plant lovers, with a wide variety of plants and trees.
One of the best beaches in Tenerife is Playa de las Teresitas. A beautiful unspoilt long beach approximately 1 ½ km in length, with golden sand, surrounded by palm trees. It is situated in a protected position below the Anaga mountains.
A perfect beach to relax on sunbeds which you can hire, or alternatively enjoy the water sports facilities. There are toilets and changing facilities at the beach and a selection of places to enjoy a drink or something to eat in one of the nearby restaurants.
Playa de las Teresitas beach is easily accessed by car or taxi from Santa Cruz. You can also take the bus from Santa Cruz to Playa de las Teresitas, which is just a short journey away.
Playa de las Teresitas is a wheelchair accessible beach which offers the following facilities for people with limited mobility:
A little further on from Las Terisitas north of Santa Cruz, is the small bay of Las Gaviotas. This beach is a lot quieter than Las Teresitas and there are no changing or catering facilities available.
There is a car park nearby, which can get quite busy during the summer months. The beach has a laid back feel and people come here just to relax and get away from it all. Dogs are allowed on the beach too. Las Gaviotas is also a popular destination for nudists.
A great local market selling all you need, from fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, pastries, fish, cheese and meat. There are also a range of hand-made items to buy including jewellery and clothing.
This is a place not to miss and to try out some local food and drink and a souvenir or two to take home. The market is open daily from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm from Monday to Saturday and from 8 am to 2.30 pm on Sundays.
Only a short bus or tram ride away from Santa Cruz, you will find the island’s former capital San Cristóbal de La Laguna with a slightly more relaxed atmosphere. Its well-preserved historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you will find charming streets, colourful buildings, and notable landmarks such as the Cathedral of La Laguna. Also easily reachable by bus or taxi is the pretty little town of Candelaria. It is best known for its Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, a prominent religious site and pilgrimage destination.
Santa Cruz is easily reached from Tenerife North Airport (Los Rodeos). By car or taxi, the 13-kilometre long journey takes about 18 minutes. The 62-kilometre journey from Tenerife South Airport to Santa Cruz takes just over 40 minutes. The drive from both airports is an easy one.
If you don’t want to hire a car, the quickest way of getting from the airport to Santa Cruz is via a pre-arranged airport taxi transfer. By pre-booking you can avoid queuing at the airport taxi rank, as your driver will already be waiting for you when you land.
There is a regular bus service from Tenerife South Airport to Santa Cruz. The direct routes from Tenerife South Airport to Santa Cruz are:
Bus Route 111 – This bus runs regularly during the day. The cost of a single ticket from Tenerife South Airport to Santa Cruz is 9,35 Euros.
Bus Route 711 – This is the night bus from Tenerife South Airport to Santa Cruz, which departs the airport at regular intervals. A single ticket is 9,35 Euros.
As an alternative, you can catch the express bus 343, which runs from Tenerife South Airport to Tenerife North Airport (a single ticket is 9,70 Euros) but does not stop off at Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Once at Tenerife North, you can take bus number 20 to Santa Cruz. The single ticket for this journey is 2,65 Euros.
There is a regular bus service number 20 from Tenerife North Airport to Santa Cruz. The bus journey from Tenerife North Airport to Santa Cruz takes approximately 20 minutes and a single ticket is 2,65 Euros.