For those planning a Tenerife vacation, there will likely be excited thoughts of beautiful beaches, delicious meals, palm trees, relaxing swimming pools and sipping drinks with sunset views.
Santa Cruz, Tenerife’s vibrant capital is sometimes overlooked, but this is a city well worth discovering, even if you are staying along the south coast. With a regular bus service directly from Costa Adeje, it is a perfect place for a day trip or a couple of nights stay. Here is a selection of five brilliant things you should see and do:
1. Enjoy a view of the splendid Plaza de España
Right in the heart of the city you will find the Plaza de España (Spain Square) which offers an absolutely dazzling combination of vibrant colours and relaxing atmosphere, all surrounded by absolutely beautiful scenery. At first glimpse you cannot help but feel amazed!
Plaza de Espana Tenerife, Canary Islands
One of the most impressive aspects of the Plaza de España is its grand size, as it is the largest square in the Canary Islands. It was constructed back in 1929, but thanks to a recent refurbishment, it now boasts a beautiful artificial lake with a powerful fountain.
This is a location well loved by locals and visitors alike, but you don’t need to worry about stress though, as everyone is in a laid back mood, either there to stroll, sit or take a siesta.
With its beautiful blue water, impressive fountain, colourful flowers, verdant trees and splendid surrounding buildings, the Plaza de España won’t disappoint. In the distance you can clearly see the incredible Macizo de Anaga mountain range, offering an awesome natural contrast to the city architecture. It is picture perfect and well worth seeing, or for enjoying a lakeside drink or meal.
2. Take a peaceful stroll around the picturesque Palmetum
Santa Cruz already offers an amazing contrast to other more bustling cities, despite being Tenerife’s capital. If you are looking for one of the most tranquil and picturesque spots, then you should definitely head to the absolutely splendid Palmetum!
In my opinion, this is a hidden gem, as on the several occasions I have been, there have only been a handful of other people. It is located next to the ocean, around 15 minutes walk from the main bus terminal (Intercambiador). The entry cost is very reasonable, with various discounts available, and you can even get a special twin ticket price to also enjoy the stunning outdoor swimming pools of the adjacent Parque Marítimo César Manrique.
Once inside the entrance, you will be transported into a world of natural beauty filled with a variety of exotic palm trees and other plants, some native to the islands, with many others from across the world. Further inside the Palmetum, any remaining urban noises become more distant, replaced by the relaxing sounds of flora and fauna such as the various resident birdlife and swaying leaves in the breeze.
The design is extremely impressive, including various pathways leading to alternate zones, with each zone recreating different areas of the world. There is a mini lake near the centre with fish, frogs and birdlife, with a river running into it. You can also discover an area that simulates a tropical rainforest with mini-waterfalls, ponds and water falling like raindrops. From various viewing platforms you will be able to enjoy splendid views out to the ocean on one side, or the city on the other.
3. Take a closer look at the incredible Auditorio de Tenerife
Any visit to Santa Cruz is incomplete without a closer look at the incredible Auditorio de Tenerife (Tenerife auditorium), as it is definitely one of the city’s most iconic symbols. The design stands out from all other architecture in Tenerife and likely most other buildings you’ve ever seen.
The Auditorio has been likened to the Sydney Opera House and when you visit it will become apparent why, with its gleaming white exterior and giant arc supported by just two points, a world first architectural achievement. The tip of the arc seems to defy gravity as it hangs suspended in the air!
It is an amazing sight when you first glimpse this unique building, regarded as one of the finest modern buildings in the Canary Islands. It’s location is excellent as it is right next to the Atlantic ocean, only a short walk away from the main bus terminal.
Throughout the year there are many world class shows, but you may not have the time to see one. If you want to enjoy the ambience of this incredible building for a short while, there is an excellent restaurant/bar with a wonderful view out to the ocean, the fantastic features of the city, and Tenerife’s amazing mountainous landscape in the distance. You may be tempted to sit there all day.
4. Enjoy exploring the gorgeous Parque García Sanabria
If you enjoy exploring natural spaces, then you’re going to absolutely love this incredible city centre park. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most gorgeous parks I have ever been to, and it is probably one of my favourite areas of the city!
Opened back in 1926, it is named after Mayor García Sanabria who approved its construction. It is extremely impressive, partly due to being the largest urban park in the Canary Islands, yet another of the Santa Cruz’s many claims to fame! What will undoubtedly strike you as you wander around, is not just the size, but also the stunning variety of nature.
This includes a vast number of different trees, many of which are tropical palm trees, but also many other types, bright colourful flowers, a variety of cacti and more. There are also ponds with frogs and fish, birds flying around, lizards scurrying about, and insects such as dazzling butterflies. This is a park teeming with life!
It is very easy to while away many hours here with so many different sections to explore, such as a long beautiful pathway with bamboo along the sides that curves over the top, a number of impressive fountains, and many statues. To enjoy a chilled out drink or meal surrounded by beauty, there is also an excellent multi-leveled Restaurant/Bar called Strasse Park.
5. Explore the vibrant streets of Santa Cruz city centre
Unlike other parts of the island’s north, Santa Cruz is blessed with a wonderful year round warm sunny climate, making an exploration of its vibrant, colourful city centre all the more enticing!
Much of the centre, especially the main shopping streets are pedestrianised, thus very relaxing to stroll around. It offers the perfect combination of amenities such as an abundance of shops, restaurants, cafes, museums, parks and plazas, mixed with the laid back atmosphere of the Canary Islands.
You rarely see any kind of rush hour stress, making it an ideal place to go at your own pace while you take in the many wonderful sights, sounds and smells. If you are looking for somewhere to eat or drink you will be spoilt for choice, as there are a host of excellent restaurants serving a variety of local and international cuisines, including many vegan options!
If you enjoy shopping, then you won’t be disappointed as Santa Cruz boasts a fantastic combination of smaller independent boutique stores and larger big name brands. With the palm tree lined streets, impressive architecture and friendly locals, Santa Cruz should definitely not be overlooked!