Santa Cruz the Sunshine City Break

Mon, April 11th, 2011 - By Linda

Tenerife is possibly the last place in Europe which comes to mind when you think about city breaks. It took a long time for the penny to drop for me, it happened whilst giving friends a whirlwind tour last year. They’d arrived on a cruise, and had only a few hours here. I’d given them the choices: visit the famous resorts of the south Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos; a road trip along the northern coast to see Puerto de la Cruz and historic Garachico; a jaunt to the lunar landscape and Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide or a mosey around Santa Cruz. They opted for the last.

That was when I realized just how much the city has to offer – it was so difficult to decide which sights to see. Santa Cruz has a history going back to 1494, just after the Spanish conquest. There is so much of historical interest including the Natural History Museum which houses exhibits such as mummified bodies of the original island inhabitants, the Guanches, and the story of Mount Teide, the volcano which dominates the island.

After a morning wandering the halls of the museum, it’s a short step over to Calle Noria for lunch, stopping en route to admire the original parish church of La Concepción. This beautifully renovated, pedestrianized street is home to several top-notch restaurants, almost all with outdoor seating, so you can lunch al fresco, enjoy a delicious Canarian wine and people watch as the elegant city-dwellers pass by.

After lunch, maybe a stroll in the shady and mellow Parque García Sanabria and then some shopping as you meander the narrow streets of the old city before the difficult task of choosing a restaurant for dinner, or taking in a concert in the stunning Calatrava-designed Auditorium or the 19th century Teatro Guimerá.

You will be very unlucky if the next day you don’t wake to brilliant sunshine.  Bad weather spoiled city breaks for me in Amsterdam, Paris and New York, but that’s unlikely in Santa Cruz.

The island was subject to invasion attempts by Britain over the years. Most famously Lord Nelson lost his arm in the Battle of Santa Cruz in 1797.  The canon which did the deed is in the tiny Museum of the Castillo de San Cristobal beneath the main square, La Plaza de España. Or you might want to take the tour of the city’s 18th century fortifications when an expert guide talks you through the battle.

The capital has a thriving cultural life, drawing on not only Spanish traditions but those of Africa only 200 miles away, and the Americas to where many Canarians immigrated during hard times.  As well as museums embracing the past, you’ll find art galleries, photographic exhibitions, amazing street art and a rich variety of architecture, from 16th century to present day; a vibrant Sunday street market and a colourful produce market.  If after all the sight seeing you need to chill, you can take a ten minute car or taxi ride to the beach of Las Teresitas or visit the Lido oceanside, next to the Auditorium, not options available in most cities.

One thing’s for sure, you’ll want to return to explore the rest of this delightful city by the sea.

Posted : Monday, April 11th, 2011 at 10:09 am
Category : days out
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One Response to “Santa Cruz the Sunshine City Break”

  1. […] half a million Canary Island cruise passengers annually dock in the port of Santa Cruz and disembark with six to eight hours on their hands and little or no idea what to do with them. […]

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