I have to admit that I do enjoy taking bus tours (especially of the ‘open-top’ variety) around the major cities of this world, and having already enjoyed the delights of using the ‘City Sightseeing Bus Tours’ in places like Cape-Town, Singapore, Abu Dhabi -and even my home town of Cardiff, I have no-doubts whatsoever that the Santa-Cruz tour will live up to the reputation of its counter-parts -even-though I have yet to enjoy the experience, I must confess. Having already visited Tenerife’s capital city on several occasions, either on shopping / mini-sightseeing trips -or for the occasional Christmas functions, or a musical concert (i.e. to see Tom Jones, no-less) and of course, for the annual Santa Cruz Carnival, I guess one could say that I have seen a fair amount of the city already.
However, there are always new places to see when one embarks on an ‘Official City Sightseeing Tour’ -and for those of you who have never had the pleasure of visiting what is in my eyes, one of the prettiest capital cities in the world, then may I humbly suggest that the next time (or indeed the ‘first’ time) you visit the island of Tenerife, you take the time out to pay Santa Cruz a visit. There are actually ‘5’ buses in total, and the tour, which has ’13’ stops in all, begins at the Plaza de Espana, the largest plaza in all of the Canary Islands. One of its most-popular stop-off points is the Mercado Nuestra Senora de Africa, an African-styled market-place which has over 300 stalls selling fresh fish and local produce.
On Sunday’s this market is encompassed by the ‘Rastro Flea Market’, which offers a multitude of leather goods for sale, along with countless pieces of hardware -and scores of local handicrafts -all of them up-for-grabs at bargain prices. Moving-on to the many cultural and historical landmarks included in the tour, one is at liberty to hop-on and hop-off the bus at one’s leisure at any of the following places: Gabria Sanabria Park, Ramblas, the Plaza Pedro Schwartz, the Palacio Del Cabildo de Tenerife, the Palacio de la Carte -or even the Centro Internacional de Ferias y Congreso Auditorios of Tenerife, which apparently boasts a selection of exceptional examples of contemporary futuristic architecture!
Cuartel Almedia is home to the Military Museum, which, apart from housing stacks of war memorabilia, it also includes various collections of arms used by the Guanches and the Spanish soldiers during the time of the conquest of Tenerife back in 1496. Each bus tour also includes a stop at Playa de las Terisitas -once acclaimed as the ‘World’s Largest’ man-made beach, where one can simply chill-out for an hour-or-two, whilst enjoying the delights of a couple of cool beers in any one of the many bars that adorn this golden stretch of paradise. At the heart of Santa Cruz is the Plaza de la Candelaria, which has a wonderful artificial lake, along with the Monumento a los Caidos -a tribute to those soldiers who fought -and to those who sadly lost their lives, during the Spanish Civil War.
Apart from all of the above, there is also ‘TEA’ -the Tenerife Espanico de las Artes, a combined exhibition centre and art gallery -for the more discerning artiste -or perhaps a visit to the ‘Museum of Man and Nature, which delves deeply into the island’s history, maybe more to one’s taste? If all (or at least a selection) of the aforementioned places of interest aren’t enough to whet one’s appetite, then there is always ‘El Corte Ingles’, of course -a seven-storey mega-store that encompasses almost everything one could ever wish to purchase in a lifetime, along with housing a wonderful restaurant, an ornate coffee-shop -and a huge supermarket. Tours of Santa Cruz run every half-an-hour, and each one takes around 60 minutes to complete the cycle.
‘Hop-on, hop-off’ bus passes last for a full 24-hours, and so passengers can either spend a whole day sightseeing, or they can begin their tour in the afternoon, before finishing-it-off the following morning. The first tour starts at 10 am and the last tour is at 6 pm. Currently ticket prices are around €20 (£14) for adults, and €10 (£7) for children, but these can be purchased on-line (and in Sterling) should one prefer to book a tour in advance of their arrival on our beautiful sub-tropical island of Tenerife.