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If your cruise ship docks at the port in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, how do you go from the Cruise Terminal into the city center? It's easy. Just follow the blue line and pedestrian symbol on the red brick walkway.

Blue line on red walkway guides pedestrians from Tenerife port to Plaza de Espana
Blue line on red walkway guides pedestrians from Tenerife port to Plaza de Espana
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Located on the northeast tip of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, Santa Cruz is the capital city. On a Variety Cruises shore excursion, our guide Natalia brought us on a walking tour of the oldest part of Santa Cruz.

Plaza de España

It's about a 20-minute walk from the Tenerife Port to the main square of Santa Cruz, Plaza de España. The focal point, a saucer-shaped artificial lake, entices walkers to rest on its concrete rim.

Calle del Castillo, a pedestrian shopping district, joins this square to the tree-enclosed Plaza del General Weyler and a beautiful white marble fountain, built in 1899. Its outdoor café is a good place to stop for hot chocolate and churros (traditional Spanish donuts).

Chicharro fish

We walked with Natalia to Plaza del Chicharro to see a bronze sculpture of a chicharro. "It's a fish that we eat, similar to a sardine," she explained.

Bronze fish sculpture and dragon tree in Plaza del Chicharro, Santa Cruz
Bronze fish sculpture and dragon tree in Plaza del Chicharro, Santa Cruz
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

"When Santa Cruz was a fishing port, fishermen caught them here. As a result, people from La Laguna used to call residents of Santa Cruz chicharreros. I'm proud to be a chicharrero!"

A magnificent dragon tree grows behind the monument. "To calculate the age of a dragon tree, count the branches and multiply by seven years," said Natalia. "This tree is about 200 years old."

Santa Cruz Carnival

Today, the population of Santa Cruz is 250,000 people. The entire island of Tenerife has a population of 900,000, the highest of all the Canary Islands.

A clown-faced Carnival sign stretched over a street near the monument. "Plaza del Principe de Asturias is the main Carnival park," said Natalia. Held every February, the Santa Cruz Carnival is the second largest in the world after Rio de Janeiro's.

Mercado Nuestra Señora de Africa

There are many other things to see and do in Santa Cruz. The Tourist Information kiosk near Plaza de España provides city maps and directions for self-guided walking tours.

Among the most interesting is the Mercado (market), located just west of the traffic circle at Calle de San Sebastian and Puente General Serrador. Open from early morning until 2 pm daily, the apricot-colored stucco building is very clean.

Mercado Nuestra Senora de Africa, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Mercado Nuestra Senora de Africa, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

We joined other visitors and local residents shopping for fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, fish, cheese, meat, eggs, cakes and cookies. The market also had an art exhibit, a kids' playground and a food court with outdoor tables and umbrellas, where you can enjoy lunch for a reasonable price.

Santa Cruz Opera House (Auditorio de Tenerife)
Santa Cruz Opera House (Auditorio de Tenerife)
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Opera House

After the walking tour, our shore excursion continued by bus to the attractions in the newest part of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. On the way, Natalia pointed out oil platforms in the harbor.

"They're here for maintenance," she explained. "Many people in Santa Cruz earn income from cleaning, painting and restoring them."

The giant white wave of concrete arching over Auditorio de Tenerife reminded us of Sydney Australia's opera house. It houses the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra. The modern emblem of Santa Cruz contrasts in color and architectural style with the Black Castle behind it.

Castillo de San Juan

Surrounded by palms and dragon trees and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Castillo de San Juan Bautista (Castle of John the Baptist) was built in 1641. Also called the Black Castle, it stands next to Parque Maritimo César Manrique.

Black Castle (Castillo de San Juan), Santa Cruz
Black Castle (Castillo de San Juan), Santa Cruz
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The Tenerife Auditorium and Castillo Negro are located just under one mile (1.4 km) south of Plaza de España. From here, we returned to the Cruise Terminal and followed the blue line on the red brick path back to the port and our ship, the Harmony V.


Contact GLP Worldwide for brochures, bookings and information about Variety Cruises Canary Islands trips.

More things to see & do in the Canary Islands:

Lanzarote, Canary Islands - Wine, Volcanoes and Cesar Manrique's Home

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands - Beaches, Surf, Dunes and Aloe Vera

Valle Gran Rey Walking Tour - La Gomera, Canary Islands

La Gomera - San Sebastian, Garajonay and Mirador del Palmarejo

Los Cristianos Tenerife - Beaches, Marina and Restaurants