Santa Cruz de Tenerife (its full title) and neighbouring La Laguna make up a continuous urban area with a population of around 400,000. The two areas are connected by a modern tram system and in recent years there has even been talk of merging the two city councils.
By far the biggest annual cultural event on the Island, the Santa Cruz carnival is second only to the Rio de Janeiro carnival in size. The week long festivities culminate with main parade on the Tuesday and the burial of the sardine on Ash Wednesday.
Plaza de España is the physical centre of the city and most of the city’s historic buildings and pedestrianised streets are in and around this area. It has been extensively remodelled in recent years and is an impressive sight in itself.
The 14th century Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Concepcion – where you can see the original cross from the founding of the city as well as a British flag captured during Nelson’s disastrous 1797 raid.
The Iglesia de San Francisco dates back to 1680, but has received extensive additions and remodelling during the 17th and 18th centuries. Much of the work was patronised by wealthy Irish merchants that lived in the area – the nearby street and statue in homage to the 19th century Spanish politician José Murphy offer more proof of that influence.
El Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes (The Municipal Museum of Fine Art) is located adjacent to the Iglesia de San Francisco and houses a collection of European art from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
The spectacular Santiago Calatrava-designed Auditorio de Tenerife was completed in 2003 has already become an emblem of the city and of modern Spanish architecture in general.
Playa de Las Teresitas is an impressive stretch of golden sand is located just north of the city beside the village of San Andrés. The original black sand beach was capped with imported Saharan sand in the 1970s and breakwaters were constructed. The coconut palm-lined beach with its safe bathing conditions and spectacular mountain backdrop is the most attractive beach on the Island and is especially popular with locals at the weekend.