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Santa Cruz de Tenerife Travel Guide

Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain)
Coat of Arms of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain)

Santa Cruz de Tenerife
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Coordinates: 28.466667°, -16.25°

Population: 208,688 inhabitants (2022)

The area where Santa Cruz de Tenerife is located had its origins at the beginning of the 1st century during what was known as the Guanche kingdom of Anaga. It remained completely isolated until May 3, 1494, when the troops of Alonso Fernández de Lugo landed on the island.

During the conquest process, they nailed a cross that would give its name to the future Royal Garrison of Santa Cruz, which eventually became the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

After initial fierce resistance from the Guanche population, which lasted for a couple of years, the peninsular troops managed to take control of the island, and the garrison became a fishing village.

In a short time, the strategic location of Santa Cruz made it a seaport of great importance, as it was a mandatory stop for all shipping fleets heading to America.

Commercial flourishing

The year 1706 represented the great push of Santa Cruz to become the main port of the island of Tenerife after the eruption of the Trevejo volcano devastated the old port of Garachico.

By 1723, Santa Cruz de Tenerife had become the residence of the commanding general, further boosting its political and economic importance.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain)
In a short time, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was one of the most important commercial ports in the Atlantic. That is why it became the target of attacks by the British navy, forcing the city to fortify and entrench itself. From then on, it was consolidated as a key commercial and military port for Spain.

Until 1803, Villa de Santa Cruz received great support from Charles IV, which increased its importance and commercial and economic influence. In 1833, it was declared the capital of the province of the Canary Islands.
With the advent of the Free Ports Law of 1852, the urban and commercial development of Santa Cruz originated. It expanded its administrative influence to the Spanish colonies in Africa, making its port a point of arrival for the coal supply of large ships of the time.

The splendour and prosperity of Santa Cruz were consolidated when it received the title of city in 1859. This situation was maintained throughout the 19th century.

The century of tourism

Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain)
Despite its remoteness and splendid economic development, which resulted in an ambitious redevelopment plan and expansion of its port, the city could not escape the turbulent events during the first decades of the 20th century, when the 1929 depression affected the economy. Political instability was exacerbated by the adoption of the second republic in 1931.

The Francoist uprising broke out in Melilla in 1936, converting the Canary Islands into the rear-guard of the rebels and carrying out a bloody political purge that lasted throughout the war.
Under the Franco dictatorship, the city maintained its importance as an international port, in addition to beginning to develop the immense tourist potential of the entire archipelago, which Santa Cruz took advantage of for its benefit.

With the advent of democracy, the city experienced a huge socioeconomic boom as new residential areas were created in an ambitious construction plan that completely modernized the appearance of the city.

In addition to the tourism sector, Santa Cruz de Tenerife benefited from its industrial muscle thanks to the refinery and its manufacturing sector, which had its largest distribution channel in the port and which fed local commerce.

The great challenges of the 21st century

The island of Tenerife is located in an area of the Atlantic prone to strong storms and floods. Thus, it is continually subjected to inclement weather that, since the 15th century, has forced it to reinvest in repairs.

These inclement weather conditions have been further exacerbated by climate change, which has become one of the main problems facing the city in this century.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain)
In addition to climatic problems, the crash of 2008 represented a severe socioeconomic blow. It lasted more than a decade and seriously affected the tourist, commercial, and industrial sectors of Santa Cruz, slowing its development and delaying ambitious plans for the modernization of Tenerife.

Added to this is the fact that the Santa Cruz refinery became obsolescent, which further aggravated the economic situation of the city.
Another of the great challenges facing Santa Cruz is the enormous competitiveness that exists within the shipping ports, both in the Atlantic and on the southern coast of Africa, due to the incursion of Chinese companies that are positioning themselves with great audacity.
Its isolated geographical location, which in the past represented a great competitive advantage, has now become a serious obstacle, forcing the city, and the rest of the Canary Islands, to modernize their airports so that they don’t lose influence in the goods and services sectors.

Top 5 things to visit in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is home to very important buildings and monuments of significant heritage, artistic and cultural value. Among some of the most relevant are the following:

Castle of Saint Christopher

Plaza de España (Santa Cruz de Tenerife)
The Castle of Saint Christopher was the first defensive construction to be built on the island of Tenerife and was part of the main defensive complex in the bay. Its construction began in 1575 and it began to operate in 1577.

Its architectural design is characterized by a square base with rhomboidal bastions and a typical diamond-point shape. This was the most common defensive design of that time. Masonry was used in its construction, taking advantage of the solid and enormous basalt formations from ancient eruptions.
Over the decades, the castle lost strategic importance, being completely abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century and later collapsing in 1928. Currently, its area is occupied by Spain Square and only the original walls remain intact. These provide an idea of its magnificent original dimensions.

Church of Our Lady of the Conception

Church of Our Lady of the Conception (Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Spain)
Although this temple is not a basilica or cathedral, it is of great importance and is very loved by the inhabitants of the city, as it is the first temple built on the ruins of the first hermitage established by the conquerors in 1496.

The construction of this church began in 1499, and over the centuries it underwent continuous modifications and reforms that expanded its original base. Ultimately, it consisted of a Latin cross floor plan and five naves with several side chapels and a transept with a dome made of masonry, as well as décor based on basaltic stone.
Its last restoration was in 1996, when it was under the administration of the Society of Jesus, and it currently serves as the main parish of the city.

Masonic Temple

Masonic Temple (Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Spain)
Built between 1900 and 1920, this is a spectacular building that served as the headquarters of the island's Masonic lodge. It is considered the most beautiful in all of Spain with an architectural design brimming with symbolism, especially Egyptian.

Its façade has three bodies, with the central one having large columns with a smooth fuse embedded with palmiform capitals, supporting an enormous triangular pediment on which a radiant eye can be seen. It represents the Great Architect, the representation of God in Freemasonry.
The façade is completed by four sphinxes, the work of the famous sculptor Guzmán Zamorano, and an enormous door carved with geometric motifs with a lintel adorned with a winged sun symbolizing the god Horus.

Garcia Sanabria Municipal Park

Garcia Sanabria Municipal Park (Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Spain)
Inaugurated in 1926 in honour of the mayor who approved its construction, and with dimensions exceeding 65,000 square meters, this is the largest urban park in the Canary Islands archipelago.

Since its inauguration, the park has become a meeting point for both recreational events and important cultural activities. One of the most important was the International Street Sculpture Exhibition in 1973. Since then, the park has been decorated with 13 sculptures. In 2016, the park was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.

Urban sculptures

Urban sculptures (Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Spain)
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a city with a highly developed cultural pulse, as evidenced by the large number of sculptures found throughout its streets, squares and promenades. Some of them are of immense heritage value.

In addition to the series of sculptures in Garcia Sanabria Park, one can find the famous Angel Monument in honour of Franco, the Candelaria Triumph and the spectacular Candelaria Obelisk, from Genoa, as well as the work of the artist Pasquale Bocciardo.

What to do in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife works almost 100% due to its tourist engine. This Canarian city is captivating, fun and dynamic and the recreational options are countless and impressive.

Thanks to its strategic geographical location, the Atlantic current and its spectacular climate, Santa Cruz de Tenerife has some of the best beaches in the world. Along its more than 150 square kilometres, it offers a wide variety of natural entertainment options.
Tourists can enjoy its magnificent beaches, go hiking, visit the volcanoes of Tenerife, enjoy bird watching and rent boats to ride around its coasts. You can also rent diving equipment to admire the impressive dolphins that abound in its waters, go horseback riding and even observe the stars at some of its many strategic points.

Like any cosmopolitan city, Santa Cruz de Tenerife has a vibrant day and nightlife thanks to its multiple options for fun and entertainment. The city has great restaurants, taverns and bars, as well as multiple options for musical shows by world-famous international artists.


In addition, it has a vibrant and highly developed trade. Tourists can buy items from the world's most famous brands in any of its many stores and shopping centres. Santa Cruz de Tenerife has exciting nightlife thanks to its many nightclubs, discos, bars and casinos.

Gastronomy in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Since the Canary Islands became a tourist emporium, they have become world famous, not only for their natural beauty and pleasant climate but also because they are the cradle of one of the most interesting cuisines in all of Spain.

An interesting aspect to highlight is the importance of the port of Santa Cruz in terms of the development of this gastronomy.

For example, the world-famous wrinkled potatoes with mojo picón are a direct legacy of trade with America. Thanks to this commercial contact with America and the rapid adoption of this tuber and corn, the Canaries successfully overcame the daily famines that occurred in the past by creating the popular “gofio”.

Gofio is a flour made with roasted grains and added to countless preparations in the kitchen.

An interesting, exotic and full gastronomy

Wrinkled potatoes with mojo picón
Because the Canary Islands is a volcanic archipelago, its soil, especially that of Tenerife, is outstandingly fertile.

For this reason, its garden ingredients are splendid. Also, the Atlantic current is directly responsible for an abundance of seafood.

In addition to these geographical benefits, the topography of Tenerife has contributed to the development of an exotic and interesting culinary menu. The coast, the land and the port have become great catalysts for a generous gastronomy.
In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, fish is the staple of the diet, especially those served fresh and salty, such as fish “escaldón”, fish soup and stewed octopus.

However, as one moves a bit from the coast, meat-based dishes with more complex stews flood the tables.

Among the most popular dishes are those made from beef, goat, rabbit and pork. These are served with many of the vegetables harvested throughout Tenerife and include fried rabbit, lamb casserole, sirloin, etc.

Stews and desserts

Other dishes that abound on the Santa Cruz de Tenerife menu are stews made with vegetables and meat that are very popular and represent one of the pillars of the diet, as well as Canarian stews, popularly known as “garbanzas”, peas and ranches.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife confectionery has some exquisite and popular desserts that have crossed hemispheric borders such as the famous “bienmesabe”, flans, “quesillo” and “frangollo”.

The wine treasure

One of the most developed industries within the vast gastronomy of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and all of Tenerife in general, is wine production, which dates back to the Spanish conquest of the 15th century.

Since then, the art of extracting the sweet nectar of the grape has taken deep roots within the archipelago and has prospered over the centuries.
One of the reasons for the rapid adoption of wine in Tenerife is its extraordinary climatic and topographic benefits. Also of note is the use of native vines highly appreciated for their quality, which translates into excellent white wines.

Among its many wines, those made by the “guachinches” stand out. These places produce their own wines in an artisanal way. According to their quality, harvest, maturation or fragrance, such wines usually accompany certain dishes, be it fried rabbit, wrinkled potatoes, goat meat, etc.

An archipelago of Michelin stars

Thanks to environmental, geographical and topographic factors, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is home to a series of world-famous restaurants, several of which are on the famous and renowned Michelin List, which rewards the best restaurants worldwide.

This enormous variety is heightened by the city's port, where countless gastronomic influences of enormous importance arrive and have made this paradisiacal Atlantic city an authentic cradle of flavours.

Accommodation in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The Weather in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has a transitional subtropical climate between hot arid and warm semiarid. However, the great territorial extension of the city gives it the singularity of having three other different climates: cold semi-arid at its middle level and a Mediterranean and oceanic Mediterranean climate at its highest levels, especially in the Anaga Massif.

This unique mix of climates within the same city means that its annual temperatures measure around 21ºC. This makes it the warmest provincial capital in all of Spain. Its climate is very pleasant, with temperatures averaging 18ºC between January and February and 25ºC in August. The lowest temperature is usually 8ºC in February, while the highest is 29ºC in August.
Another characteristic of this combination of climates is that rainfall in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is usually very low, with an average of just over 200 mm per year. However, there are cases in which more than 250 mm fell in one year. of rain in a single day.

Generally, the greatest amount of rain occurs between November and March. This is unlike May to September, which are usually drier months, and even more so between June and July, when it practically never rains. However, despite the low rainfall, Santa Cruz de Tenerife usually has high humidity, registering an average of up to 63% due to the enormous coastal influence.

Festivals in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

If there is something for which the city stands out, it is its spectacular festivities and celebrations such as the May Festival, during which innumerable events take place, such as the picturesque parade with traditional costumes called “wizard costumes,” dinners in the open air and joyful dances and acts in honour of the Holy Cross.
Tenerife Carnival
But without a doubt, the most important celebration in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the entire Canary Islands archipelago is the lavish and spectacular Carnival.

It is celebrated in January or February and is considered the second largest and most important in the world, surpassed only by the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro.

It has been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest.
During the carnival, the streets fill with hundreds of thousands of tourists and visitors who witness the parade of huge and impressive comparsas that last all night amid fireworks, dances, parties and dozens of improvised events characterized by the rondallas and murgas.

This enormous celebration, held to the sound of salsa and batucadas, is interspersed with thousands of costumes full of colour and fun. It ends with the popular election of the Carnival Queen in a lavish and spectacular act that literally paralyzes the city for days and turns Santa Cruz de Tenerife into a magical place.