Santa Cruz de Tenerife,
Although this busy port city is smaller, quieter and less attractive than Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz has its own share of elegant monuments. Until 1837, the island's capital was La Laguna, not Santa Cruz, so there are only a few of the buildings in the city center that are any older than that. At the busy Plaza de España, there are several pedestrian streets leading north and to the area west of the port, where you'll find the city's stunning auditorium and maritime park. A real highlight of the city are its ramblas, long tree-lined boulevards that fall steeply from the north end of the city to the sea.
The core of Santa Cruz nightlife is Avenida Anaga, facing the port. For about seven blocks beginning at Plaza España, Anaga crawls with upscale disco-bars. The more traditional bars, where you can have drinks and tapas outdoors, are near Plaza España. Farther away from the plaza are the louder bars and dance clubs, dominated by the latest hits and filled with a younger crowd.
By Canary Island standards, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a major shopping center, although it doesn’t have the variety and number of stores found in Las Palmas. Calle Castillo, the main pedestrian street through the center of town, is lined with souvenir shops, trendy boutiques, and electronics stores. Calle del Pilar has higher-end fashions and the department stores Marks & Spencer and El Corte Inglés (another branch is next to the bus terminal).
El Lateral 27
This restaurant's key position in the main shopping street makes it a handy place to stop for a meal after sightseeing, especially since the kitchen is open from 11 am to midnight. If there are free tables, sit outside on the pleasant terrace in the leafy pedestrian street—inside is less pretty. Specialties include a wide range of salads such as ensalada de bacalao confitado con pimientos asados (slow-cooked cod with baked peppers) and fresh fish.
Opposite the Mencey Hotel, this tiny bar serves Canary cooking in abundant portions at reasonable prices. Tasca Tagoror (it means "meeting place" in Guanche) has a low, beamed ceiling with white walls dashed with gray rock. Seating is on wooden benches or stools around barrels, which doesn't exactly encourage lingering. Food is simple and unpretentious—daily specials might include fried fresh sardines with black potatoes or chicken breast with garlic and mushrooms. The wine list is surprisingly comprehensive.
La Casa de Los Balcones
Near Plaza España, this shop stocks colorful Canarian blankets, embroideries, jars of mojo sauce, and hefty bags of gofio.
Artenerife sells traditional crafts made by local artisans and guaranteed by the island's government as productos artesanos. The selection includes Tenerifan calado—exquisitely embroidered linen tablecloths and place mats—and clay pottery made using the same methods as those used by the island's aboriginal settlers. (The aborigines didn't use potter's wheels; rather, they rolled the clay into churros, or cylindrical strips, and hand-kneaded these into bowls. Pebbles, branches, and shells were used to buff the results.)
La Cava La Cubana
Local and foreign cigars are available at this tobacco shop.
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción
The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción has a six-story Moorish bell tower. The church was renovated as part of an urban-renewal project that razed blocks of slums in this area. Chruch opening times vary, but you can generally visit before and after Mass.
Mercado de Nuestra Señora de Africa
This colorful city market is part bazaar and part food emporium. Stalls outside sell household goods; inside, stands displaying everything from flowers to canaries are arranged around a patio. Downstairs, a stroll through the seafood section will acquaint you with the local fish. A flea market with antiques and secondhand goods is held here on Sunday.
Museo de Bellas Artes
Old masters and modern works are in the two-story Museo de Bellas Artes, including canvases by Breughel and Ribera. Many works depict local events. The museum is on the Plaza Príncipe de Asturias.
Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre
Primitive ceramics and mummies are on display at the Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre. The ancient Guanches mummified their dead by rubbing the bodies with pine resin and salt and leaving them in the sun to dry for two weeks.
Plaza de España
The heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the Plaza de España. The cross in the plaza is a monument to those who died in the Spanish civil war, which was actually launched from Tenerife by General Franco during his exile here. For two weeks before Lent each year, during Carnaval, Santa Cruz throbs to a Latin beat emanating from this plaza. Castillo San Cristóbal and the tourist office are both here.
Playa de las Teresitas
Santa Cruz's beach, Las Teresitas, is about 7 km (4½ miles) northeast of the city, near the town of San Andrés. The 1½ km of beach was created using white sand imported from the Sahara and planted with palms. A manmade barrier runs parallel to the sands and ensures safe bathing. Busy in the summer and on weekends, this beach is especially popular with local families. The 910 TITSA bus route connects the beach with Santa Cruz. There's a good choice of bars and restaurants, and plenty of lounge chairs for rent. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets. Good for: sunset; swimming; walking.
Parque Marítimo César Manrique
Just west of the auditorium, this maritime park with its three saltwater pools and tropical gardens is a favorite with locals. Designed by the Lanzarote architect César Manrique, the park combines volcanic rock with palms and local flora.
Castillo San Cristóbal
The walls of the city castle were uncovered when the car park under the Plaza de España was built. The site is now a museum that includes an 18th-century cannon, a shot from which reputedly cost Britain's Admiral Nelson his right arm in an attack he led in 1794. Entrance to the museum is via a stairway opposite the lake.
Auditorio de Tenerife
A magnificent white shell of an auditorium dominates the west end of the city. Built by the architect Santiago Calatrava in 2003, the auditorium has a year-round program of concerts and opera. If you want a guided tour, it's best to book one ahead of time.
Tenerife Espacio de Artes
Soon after it opened in 2008, this art museum became quickly became the main landmark for contemporary art on the islands due to its sleek low-rise design as well as its avant-garde exhibitions. Designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & Meuron, it's next to the Museo de la Naturaleza. The emphasis is on the 20th and 21st centuries, and art incorporating or commenting on modern technology. A major permanent exhibition is dedicated to the Tenerife surrealist artist, Oscar Domínguez.