Last Updated on January 3, 2022
Here you can find our Insider guide on the most essential tips for your first visit to Tenerife, including top things to do during your first time in Tenerife. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital city, jointly with Las Palmas, of the Canary Islands and is home to nearly half of Tenerife’s entire population.
Despite this popularity with the locals, it tends to not be as flocked with the sun seeking tourists that visit the south of the island. Situated on the northern eastern coast of the island it thrives with Canarian culture and boasts a balance of modern, urban architecture and traditional Spanish lifestyle.
1. Find authentic & local cuisine
If you’re wanting to indulge in authentic Canarian cuisine you would be well advised to avoid the food stalls and restaurants situated in the more tourist based locations such as the Plaza de España. Now this usually goes without saying in most holiday locations but we all know it can be tempting to grab a bite from the closest place you pass.
We made this mistake early on in our holiday as we were impatient and our growling stomaches were demanding that we tend to them immediately. The disappointment as I was greeted with what I can only describe as a sad large plate of lettuce on tortilla bread was enough to make us re-think our future food decisions.
Do make use of apps such as TripAdvisor for local recommendations on where to eat from fellow tourists. Not surprisingly, most of the top rated restaurants fall outside of the tourist dominated areas. For the rest of our holiday we swore by TripAdvisor reviews and found some incredible, local run restaurants that satisfied our stomachs and our wallets!
2. Talk to the locals
One of the best parts of travelling abroad is meeting people. Make an effort to speak to the local people of Santa Cruz, have a beer with them and you’ll learn things about the wonderful city that guidebooks will not tell you. The people of Tenerife are some of the most welcoming and warm people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.
3. Learn some Spanish before you arrive
Despite Santa Cruz de Tenerife being a popular area amongst its citizens, it is not so popular with tourists compared to the south of the island; the majority of Santa Cruz’ tourism is from the cruise stop overs in the port. Santa Cruz is the perfect destination if you want to soak up the true culture of Tenerife as it is not built specifically around tourism and attractions.
However, learning a little Spanish beforehand will help you during your stay as not only is it common courtesy to speak a little of the local language, but we found a lot of the citizens do not speak any English. Learning some Spanish will make your stay a little easier.
4. Visit the Parque Garcia Sanabria
Situated in the heart of the urban landscape is the most beautiful, green, botanical garden that flourishes in the warm weather. It is full of a whole host of colourful plants and greenery, as well as fountains, little walkways and the local wildlife. It’s easy to spend a few hours wandering through this park and marveling at its natural beauty.
5. Do not hold back with your carnival costume
You may or may not have heard of the Carnaval de Santa Cruz, but it just so happens to be the biggest carnival celebration in the world after Rio. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the wonderfully electric, fantastical carnival season then I have one tip for you: do not hold back on your costume!
The residents of Tenerife go all out when it comes to dressing up! We were naive to think a few rainbow sequins and tropical print shirts would suffice for a decent carnival costume, but we were wrong! Think extravagant headdresses, gold foil hot pants, eccentric wigs and more glitter than you’ve ever encountered. You’re more likely to look a fool if you’re not dressed up!
6. Escape the city and see Teide National Park
Although Santa Cruz is just wonderful, why not break up your stay by taking a day trip to the enchanting Teide National Park? Take a trip above the clouds and gawp at the almost 4km high Mount Teide and it’s volcanic scenery. Sometimes it’s nice to step away from the busy, bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the more natural landscapes the island has to offer.
7. Spend a day just walking
Walk through the city as far as your legs can carry you. There is no better way to see Santa Cruz other than on your own two feet. Walking and letting yourself get lost in the endless streets and winding alleys of the city means you’ll encounter hidden spots you may never have stumbled upon otherwise.
8. Rent a car to see the rest of the island
If you have the option to rent a car then you certainly should! Tenerife has much, much more to explore than the northern city. A car will allow you the freedom to take a few road trips outside of Santa Cruz and see the rest of the island. Why not visit the ever famous Siam water park or the ancient, mystical Dragon tree? Make the most of the dreamy Canary island whilst you have the chance!