Santa Cruz is home to Tenerife’s main cruise port which also happens to be the Canary Islands’ largest cruise port. The port is largely used as a principal homeport with many cruises departing and / or finishing in Santa Cruz. This all makes sense given the island of Tenerife is the largest island in the Canary Islands ans is super popular with tourists seeking some Spanish sun.
Santa Cruz is said to be Spain’s second busiest port after Barcelona and sees an astonishing 1 million cruise ship passengers pass through it each year! The port offers a free shuttle bus service which is provided by the port authority and gives passengers the opportunity to get dropped off at Plaza de Espana and get stuck in exploring what’s on offer. With Santa Cruz often being a port of departure for a cruise then it is useful to know that the port is about 9 miles from the airport and you can expect a taxi to cost between 15 and 20 Euros.
Plaza de Espana
If you decide to take the shuttle bus into Plaza de Espana then you won’t be disappointed. A beautiful and busy part of Tenerife will greet you, with an artificial lake fountain, plenty of boutique shops and tasty places to eat. There is, of course, the classic Santa Cruz tourist sign for you to have your picture snapped at too so don’t miss this! There’s plenty of historical and intricate architecture too if that’s your bag. Plaza de Espana is home to one of the island’s hop on hop off bus stops too so if you fancy a bus tour of what there is to see then head here to pick up the open-top bus!
Of course one of the most famous sights associated with Tenerife is the incredible Mount Teide – a volcano dominating the island at 12,402ft high! Mount Teide is the reason for Tenerife’s volcanic, craterous landscape which is truly diverse and unique.
Passengers cruising to Santa Cruz can enjoy excursions to Tiede National Park where they will find the Mount Tiede Cable Car. This exciting modern cable car offers visitors a chance to explore Spain’s highest volcano and reaching 2,356m above sea level.
The cable cars looks super cool and hold up to 44 passengers each. The ride from the base station to the top takes roughly 8 minutes and offers tourists stunning panoramic views of the volcano and craters below. When you reach the upper station at 3,555m altitude, visitors can find information on three incredible walking routes to enjoy the peak of Mount Teide and various vantage points. Some of the routes do require visitors to have permits so check this out if you plan to visit.
Return tickets for the cable car cost €37 or €39.50 with an audio guide. The official cable car website also offers half days tours which include a bus ride through the national park, cable car return tickets and choice of viewpoint walks which you reach the peak. These tickets cost €63 and occur on set days of the week so do check ahead of your visit!
Many cruise lines will offer excursions to experience Mount Tiede and it is probably advisable to take one of these if you want to visit due to the distance from port and need for a car to reach the base station.
Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus
As mentioned previously, there is a CitySightseeing hop on hop off bus route around the island enabling you to see the main sights, explore Tenerife’s culture and get a good overview of this special island. 3 places not to miss according to their website are the Plaza de Espana, the Nuestra Senora de Africa Market and the Auditorium.
Included with the bus ticket is a free walking guided tour. This leaves from Plaza de Espana and will provide you with all the history of Tenerife and everything you need to know to feel you’ve really immersed yourself in local life. Also included with the ticket is entrance to the Botanical garden on the coast of Santa Cruz and the Museum of Nature and Man. As if that isn’t enough, the bus ticket also allows you to travel on two of the local buses that take you to Teresitas Beach for a spot of sunbathing. With all this included with the ticket we think that’s a pretty good deal!
Route of Sculptures
If you fancy heading on a nice walk around the island then definitely try the walk along the route of sculptures. This route takes you around the popular La Laguna which is the main city in Tenerife. It is the oldest city on the island and is easily reached from Plaza de Espana. Along the pretty walk you will encounter various sculptures by famous sculptors – perfect for those Instagram shots!
Museum of Art & History
For those interested in finding out more about the culture of Tenerife then a visit to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) is a must. Here visitors can enjoy changing art exhibitions and displays of Tenerife history. Check out their website for up to date exhibition information.
Museum of Man & Nature
For museum lovers out there, the Museum of Man & Nature offers visitors an insight into the natural history of the early inhabitants of Tenerife and a chance to explore its volcanic landscape formation. The museum is located in the Old Civil Hospital and includes exhibitions including ‘natural sciences’, ‘archaeology’ and the Canary Islands down the ages’. The museum is free to all after 4pm on a Friday and Saturday, although these are unlikely to be ideal times to visit when cruising so a €5 entrance fee for non-residents will need to be paid at all other times.
For those looking for something a little bit different then head to Submarine Safaris. Here passengers can enjoy an under the sea excursion from the comfort and dry of a big yellow submarine! The submarines drop down to 30m where many sea life and tropical fish can be seen. Not for the fainthearted, it’s not advised those who are claustrophobic as the submarine is rather compact. A chance to dive down to see rays, starfish and barracudas will set you back €53 for adults and €32 for children. Many cruise lines offer an excursion for the submarine adventure which includes transport and sometimes lunch too.
Following along the aquatic theme, another cool excursion often offered by cruise lines is to Aqualand. Here passengers will experience wild water slides, chutes, whirlpools and more! There’s plenty of attractions for people of all ages and adrenaline-seeking needs and even the chance to go to a dolphin show. Entrance tickets to Aqualand costs €27 for adults and €19 for children aged 5-10 years. If booking through a cruise line to ensure transportation is included, prices are on average €45 per person.
San Cristobal Castle
A fun place for history lovers is s the San Cristobal Castle Interpretation Centre. Here visitors can learn more about the remains of the castle and its defence system, as well and seeing an original Tigre cannon. The centre includes many relics and artefacts and will certainly immerse you in Tenerife’s history. Most visitors stay no more than an hour and it’s free to enter.
Santa Cruz Botanic Gardens
The Jardin Botanico are simply stunning and have been compared to those of Kew Gardens in London (must be good eh!). Here there any acres of exotic and sub-tropical plants to be seen and gorgeous flowers to admire. The gardens are open all year round and can be reached via the hop on hop off sightseeing bus. Entrance ticket costs €3 – bargain!
We hope this brief overview of Santa Cruz, Tenerife has given you some ideas of places to visit should your cruise ship dock here. Have you ever docked at Santa Cruz before or holidayed in Tenerife – if so, let us know your fave spots in the comments below 🙂