The bustling capital of the Western Canary Islands was once the frontier stepping stone between Europe and the New World. Today the city combines the ghosts of that past with vanguard design, a sleek tram system and citizen-friendly spaces.
For the biggest carnival outside of Rio and an experience you’ll never forget, cast off the winter blues and head to Santa Cruz for some hedonistic head-banging. For the full low down, see Carnaval in Tenerife: it's time to party!
Sun, sand and shopping
With a year-round average temperature of 22°C and a default setting of sunny, Santa Cruz is the perfect winter short break destination for you and your credit card to catch some rays. From the iconic Cortes Inglés, through the shopping Nirvana of Calle Castillo to the African Market and the vast Sunday morning rastro (flea market) – don’t forget to budget for excess luggage on the return flight.
When you’re all shopped out, head to the city’s tropical paradise of Las Teresitas for some beach therapy and a seafood lunch at San Andrés fishing village alongside. Check out my guide to shopping at Sun, sand and shopping in Santa Cruz
The oldest quarter of the city, La Noria, is fittingly now its most vibrant nightlife centre. Chill out lounges, stylish bars, rooftop terraces and trendy restaurants line the short street and throng with the city’s fashionistas and weekend clubbers. In July it’s the venue for the coolest music festival around at the annual Santa Blues. When the bars slow down in the early hours, the party switches to the clubs around Parque Marítimo to dance until the breakfast churros (finger doughnuts) and hot chocolate hour.
Room to breathe
Santa Cruz showcases the botanical fruits of its tropical climate in the lungs of the city that is Parque García Sanabria. Stroll its leafy paths dwarfed by exotic plants and trees to discover half hidden works of art and Francisco Borges Salas' sculpture of the naked lady bathing - ‘Fecundidad’ or 'Fertility'.
Art and architecture
Head to one of the city’s stunning galleries to enjoy its affluent art cache; from the Flemish 17th century of the Belles Artes to the contemporary internationalism of the Leyendecker and the T.E.A. Tenerife Espacio de las Artes. Or combine art with a city tour by following the open air sculpture trail which includes works by Joan Miró and Oscar Dominguez.
From the ancient to the avant-garde, Santa Cruz boldly goes where conservatism fears to tread in juxtaposing its architectural styles. Take a wander through the city’s streets to uncover stunning architecture spanning traditional Canarian, Renaissance, Victorian, Gothic and Baroque sitting cheek by jowl with glass and chrome modernism.