Highlights of the Capital City
- Plaza de España – beautiful town square
- Barco de la Virgen – replica sailing ship and museum
- Avenida Maritima – waterfront promenade
- Old style wooden balconies – found throughout the town
With an important port and approximately 18,000 inhabitants, Santa Cruz de la Palma is an interesting, traditional Spanish town which lies on the eastern coast of the island of La Palma. Originally founded in the late 1400’s, it became the third largest port of the Spanish empire during the 16th century and developments in ship building to the area were seen during the 19th century.
It’s well worth a visit to see the architecture, explore the area and experience the culture of the town which isn’t commercialised and still holds its original charm. With cobbled alleyways leading from the main street, brightly painted wooden balconies and bustling streets, the town has a very pleasant feel to it and makes a perfect day out.
Exploring the Town
Follow Calle Real (also known as Calle O´Daly), the main pedestrianised street leading through the town from the bus station which encompasses both traditional and modern shops, bars and offices and ends at a charming bandstand, fountain and large wooden replica sailing vessel, “The Barco de la Virgen.” The vessel houses the naval museum displaying a collection of artifacts including flags, charts and instruments. The ship itself is a large-scale reproduction of the Santa Maria and was constructed in 1940 to commemorate the famous ship of 1492 which discovered the New World.
In the centre and very heart of the town lies Plaza de España where you will find the beautiful town hall and the 17th century Iglesia de El Salvador (Church of the Salvador). The bronze statue in the middle of the square is of Manuel Diaz (1774-1863), a liberal priest who was well-known for his charitable nature.
The attractive two-story town hall dates from 1559 and is built in a Renaissance style, with the original building being destroyed by a French pirate in 1553. The site of the original hall now houses a fountain which is built onto the side of a wall next to the church and was created in 1588.
Avenida Maritima is the waterfront promenade of the town. Make sure you stroll along the northern end where you will see the beautiful 18th century balconies that feature in the very top photo on this page. You will also find some lovely cafe’s and bars along here too, a great place to stop for a coffee or beer after a hard day’s shopping and sight-seeing!
Taking the Bus
The public buses run regularly from many of the popular tourist areas into the town. We travelled from La Palma Princess Hotel to Santa Cruz de la Palma which took approximately 1 hour 40 minutes with a change at Fuencaliente. The total cost per person there and back was just over 10 euros (Feb 2008) and the bus ride offered a good opportunity to see a good part of the island without having to drive.
Honest Reviews from Outdoor Views
Unfortunately our visit to Santa Cruz de la Palma started on a rainy day in February but despite that, we really enjoyed the town and all that it had to offer.
The architecture throughout the whole town is beautiful, especially in the Plaza de España. The main areas are pedestrianised so it’s safe and relaxing to walk around and the streets are generally flat unless you want to climb the steeper cobbled areas. If you want to go inside the church, check the opening times as we managed to arrive when it was closed for lunch but the exterior is beautiful all the same!
We had a lovely coffee in a small cafe on Avenida Maritima which was close to a mini supermarket where we picked up a few supplies before heading home on the bus. The Avenida Maritima cafes at the further end from the bus station seemed to be nicer (and cheaper!) than those closest to it and you are further away from the bustle of the traffic there.
All in all, we felt that Santa Cruz de la Palma is a good traditional place to visit for families, couples and individuals and there is something for everyone there. Plus the sun came out too!
The bus service from La Palma Princess is recommended too. Buses are on time, efficient and almost empty and we enjoyed the ride there and back which gave us both the opportunity to enjoy the views.