Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of Tenerife, and also the provincial capital of the Western Canary Islands of La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and Tenerife. More than 200,000 people live in Santa Cruz and it is the second largest conurbation in the Canary Islands. The large port, which has great significance as a trading centre for international goods, and in particular for ships travelling between America and Europe, plays a central role in the city's past and present.
A special feature of Santa Cruz is that the city centre is located not in the centre, but at the south-eastern edge of the city. This is because almost all of the northern tip of Tenerife, which is only sparsely inhabited in parts because of its wild landscape and the harsher north coast weather, is part of Santa Cruz. The city centre and the large beaches of Santa Cruz, however, lie at the foot of the Anaga Mountains on the west coast, well sheltered from the strong currents and the fierce trade winds, which is why the weather can be very different in different parts of the city at the same time.
As one of the southernmost cities in Europe, situated about 1200 kilometres from the Spanish mainland off the coast of Africa, Santa Cruz has lots to offer its inhabitants and visitors. In addition to the pleasant climate and the varied landscape around the city, there are lots of beautiful squares, parks and pedestrian areas in the centre, such as the Parque Municipal García Sanabria, Parque de La Granja and the Plaza del Príncipe de Asturias, which are a delight to stroll around.
A good starting point to reach the city's sights on foot is the spacious Plaza de España, with direct views over the large port. The square was recently redesigned at great expense with the central "Lago", an artificial lake that includes a large water fountain. Some of the most famous buildings in the city can be found here, including the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepción. From here you can follow the Calle del Castillo to the beautiful Plaza Weyler to go shopping or window shopping in the surrounding streets.
If you turn right from Plaza de España as you're looking towards the sea, you can walk along the shore to the impressive buildings of the auditorium, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House. The ancient walls of the Castillo de San Juan right next to it form a picturesque contrast to the Auditorio. Another nearby spot has lots to offer holidaymakers who love bathing: the Parque Marítimo César Manrique is a water park with several swimming pools and access to the sea, and nicely complements the beaches of Santa Cruz, which could hardly be more multi-faceted and varied.