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A guide to Santa Cruz de Tenerife

When it comes to luxury Tenerife holidays, it’s easy to be drawn to the best-known tourist destinations. However, if you want a real slice of luxury, I reckon it’s better to pick somewhere with a more authentic Spanish feel – and I don’t think you’ll find anywhere more perfect for that than Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The lowdown on Santa Cruz

So, what’s Santa Cruz all about? Well, first of all, it’s located in the north of the island, which already sets it apart from Tenerife’s tourist traps, since most of these are situated in the south. Second, it’s a port city and the island’s capital, boasting a really authentic and utterly Spanish atmosphere.

Dating back around 400 years, Santa Cruz has got some great historical attractions and is particularly well known for its architecture. With brilliant places to shop, a host of green spaces and a massive annual carnival, it’s definitely the cultural centre of the island.

Historical landmarks

If you’re interested in learning about some local history while you’re here, there are a couple of sites that really stand out. The Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Concepcion is one of these, with its original form dating all the way back to 1500.

Yes, it’s fascinating to look at from the outside (you can spot more recent additions to it too, since it was restored in 1653 and its tower added in 1786), but the real gems can be found inside, so make sure you don’t skip exploring the interior. Among its biggest claims to fame is the Cross of the Conquest, while you can also see a huge collection of religious art.

Another historic site well worth visiting is the Castillo de San Juan, which is perched on the waterfront and reputedly one of the best-preserved fortifications on the island. Dating back to the 1600s, it is a nice site to head to as part of a tranquil stroll along the waterfront.

Modern architecture

Not content with its great mix of historic architecture, Santa Cruz has its fair share of modern marvels too. If you only visit one, I’d pick the Auditorio de Tenerife. In fact, it’s actually a good place to head to after a trip to the Castillo de San Juan, since the two are right by each other.

Unlike the castle, the Auditorio de Tenerife has an ultra-modern avant-garde design that’s possibly made all the more striking by its waterfront setting. You can see all kinds of performances here – classical music, jazz, dance… – but it’s also worth booking yourself on a guided tour, during which you can find out a bit more about the building.

Green spaces

Santa Cruz is also home to some really gorgeous green spaces, which are among the best places to go if you’re looking for a spot to chill out in. The Parque Maritime Cesar Manrique is particularly impressive, thanks to its selection of designer pools you can swim in (though you can always just have a nice sit down too!), while the Garcia Sanabria Park is also lovely.

Carnaval!

Santa Cruz is a vibrant city all year round, but if you really want to see it at its dazzling best, time your trip to coincide with the Carnaval. This is one of the biggest carnivals in the world and lasts for an impressive three weeks (usually between February and March), during which time the streets come alive with colour and noise.

One thing to remember if you do want to stay in Santa Cruz for the carnival is that you absolutely have to book well in advance – the hotels for this time get snapped up fast!

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