The Ultimate Travel Guide to Cadiz City, Spain
Cadiz, an exciting port town in SW Spain and the capital of the Costa de la Luz, is an ideal place to visit if you like combing a beach holiday with exploring a city which will surprise you with her mixture of ancient monuments (the city is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city of Western Europe) and cutting edge modern architecture.
Given that Cadiz is located on a narrow peninsula bordering the Atlantic Ocean, it’s also a paradise for fish and seafood lovers. Not to forget the world famous carnival for two weeks in February. If you plan to stay longer and tire of beach and city, Cadiz is an ideal starting point for day trips to beautiful places like Jerez de la Frontera or Puerto de Santa Maria. Laid back and slow paced, there is nothing of the hectic of the big cities like Madrid or Barcelona. More than 3000 hours of sunshine a year and scorching temperatures in the summer dictate the tranquil life of this charming city.
In this Cadiz City Travel Guide Blog, we listed some tips on how you can do your own DIY Day trip to Cadiz, Spain. We also included Cadiz City Itinerary, Things to do and see, how to get there and more.
Best time to visit
Cadiz has a hot Mediterranean climate with very mild winters and hot summers. Thankfully a constant breeze from the Atlantic makes the summer heat bearable. Even so, you are well advised to keep the Spanish custom of siesta from 2pm to 5pm. Snowfall is unknown and there is very little rainfall, therefore it’s best to visit in spring and fall to avoid the greatest summer heat. If you would like to see the outrageous carnival make your way to Cadiz in February.
How to get there
Cadiz does not have its own airport. The nearest (approx. 25m north) is in Jerez but even that serves more low cost and local carriers than international airlines. More international is the airport of Seville.
On the other hand, Cadiz is well connected to a High-Speed Train network (AVE) from all major cities in Spain, as well as local trains (cercanias), buses and 2 daily ferries from the port to the Canary Islands.
Especially Cadiz’s old town invites to exploring on foot. The numerous beaches are easily accessible by local buses or taxis. Cadiz isn’t a big city so it’s easy to navigate.
Places to stay
Cadiz has her fair share of accommodations for all budgets.
Senator Cadiz Spa Hotel
Address: Calle Rubio y Díaz, 1, 11004 Cádiz, Spain
For 4star luxury, enjoy the Senator Cadiz Spa Hotel in Calle Rubio y Diaz 1. Located right in the center of the old town and within minutes from train and bus stations, the hotel impresses with the Moorish style lobby, decorated with tiles, arches and illuminated by a huge skylight. The rooms are ample and comfortable, bathrooms provide plenty of goodies and the breakfast buffet is much praised. Guests can use the hotel’s urban spa which even features a Turkish Bath. WiFi is provided for free.
Hotel Boutique Convento Cadiz
Address: Calle Santo Domingo, 2, 11006 Cádiz, Spain
For an unusual hotel, experience makes the Hotel Boutique Convento Cadiz in C/Santo Domingo 2 your home from home. It’s located in the center of the old town and is a converted 17th-century convent owned by the Dominican order. The unusual thing: monks still also live in the building, although in far less luxury than your modern and comfortable rooms have to offer. This fact may account for the rather low price of the accommodation and abundant breakfast.
Dormir en Cadiz
Address: Calle del Hermano Ignacio, 22, 11002 Cádiz, Spain
For the lower budget consider the pretty guesthouse Dormir en Cadiz in C/Hermano Ignacio 22. Located in the center of the old town, it features beautiful balconies and stained glass windows, as well as a simple but comfortable room. You have a choice of shared or private bathrooms. It’s a colorful neighborhood with plenty of bars and restaurants nearby and easy access to the beach.
Best places to eat
Nobody goes hungry and thirsty in Cadiz. Between lively ‘chiriguitos’ on the beach, tapas bars and first class sit down restaurants, the choice is endless. As we said before, you really should concentrate on fish and seafood, unless you are allergic of course. Never fear, you’ll find vegan and meat too.
Sit down in elegant surroundings in the renowned restaurant El Faro de Cadiz in Calle San Felix 15. When in Cadiz you not only want to try exquisite fish specialties but also enjoy a view of the ocean which is what you can do in El Faro located at the sea facing the end of Barrio de la Viña. Oysters, a delicious fried seafood platter, crispy prawn fritters and much more are on the menu. Wash it all down with a glass or two of the great Andalusian wines, open your appetite with a glass of fino and have some sweets for dessert.
If you want to try something fancy but still based on the seasonal and typical foods of Cadiz, although with a twist, try Restaurante Sopranis in Calle Sopranis 5. Sea bass is one of their specialties as are zucchini cannelloni and other innovative combinations.
From fancy to rustic and hearty: make your way to Taberna Casa Manteca in Calle Corralon de los Carros.
Be prepared to be served thinly sliced pork doused with lemon and sea salt, slapped onto wax paper to make your own sandwich with the help of bread or breadsticks. Meat, especially pork in the form of cured ham, chorizos and much more dominate the lively tavern.
It’s also a lot cheaper than the above restaurants.
Of course, like always a market, in fact, the Mercado Central is a great option to sample the freshest products prepared in stalls located in the r the market’s gourmet corner.
Things to do and see
If, as we suggested, you make your Cadiz stay a beach/sightseeing combination, then it’s best to spend the morning on the beach, keep the siesta and go exploring the city in the late afternoon and evening, including a good meal.
Therefore we will start with the beaches. There are two major beaches La Caleta and Playa de la Victoria. Both are on the west and therefore ocean-facing side of Cadiz and both are urban beaches, which means easy access from whichever hotel you may have chosen. As you will be swimming in the Atlantic, the water is slightly cooler than the Mediterranean Sea, a fact most welcome in the hot temperatures.
Both beaches are a mixture of sand and pebbles, with some rocks lining the sea. Playa de la Victoria is 2.8 km long, so no problem with overcrowding. The Paseo Maritimo runs along the entire length of the beach with plenty of shops and chiringitos.
La Caleta is smaller and of historical importance as it forms a natural harbor where the ancient Phoenicians and Romans used to anchor. Each of the rocks here has a name, inspired by its shape.
Cadiz’ strategic location and sheltered port have been the coveted prey of many civilizations. You can see the architectural remains of those who came and went in many places.
The castle of San Sebastian is an absolute must to visit. The 18th-century castle with a lighthouse of Moorish origin at its highest point is reached by a walk along the stone causeway which forms the end of Calle Fernando Quiñones. Once there you have a great view over city and ocean and, if you have seen the Bond movie Die Another Day, you’ll instantly recognize it.
Cadiz’s Old Town and modern part are very different from each other. No better place to see the narrow winding and cobbled streets which dominate the Old Town than a visit to the Barrio del Populo. The streets are so narrow that hardly any sunlight comes in. Arches lead from the house to house, shops, plenty of tapas bars, tiny squares and remains of a Roman theatre make you want to spend some hours in the oldest part of Cadiz.
Not far is the Gadir Archaeological Site. 9m under the surface and covered with glass you can see a nearly intact Phoenician settlement of great historical value. You’ll even see some tools and household appliances these ancient and powerful people used.
Continue on to the Cathedral of Cadiz, a church from 1700 with a combination of baroque and the Modejar style, a distinctive adaptation of Moorish architecture to be found in many places in the south of Spain. The cathedral is richly decorated because, at the time, Cadiz was a very rich city, due to the trade with the Americas, which also gave the cathedral the nickname Cathedral de Las Americas.
The modern part of Cadiz shows wide avenues and newer buildings, some art deco. The most outstanding modern feature is the Pylons of Cadiz, 178m high electricity pylons which span the Bay of Cadiz and have a very unusual shape.
Other buildings to enjoy are the Tavira Tower and the Gran Teatro Falla which plays a crucial role during carnival because it’s here that all the competitions are held. Talking about carnival: if you can’t make it during February you can still get a glimpse because preparations and rehearsals go on during the whole year.
If you want a breath of fresh air mixed with a sea breeze, head for the Parque Genoves with many details like waterfalls and dinosaur statues. The park is also a botanical garden with a great variety of exotic plants.
Being surrounded by water always invites to a boat trip and the nicest is a ferry ride across the bay to Puerto de Santa Maria. It’s more a village than a town with wrought iron balconies, pastel-colored house and hanging baskets full of flowers. Puerto de Santa Marias’ claim to fame is that it was here that Columbus set off for his second voyage to America. Be aware that the waters of the bay are quite choppy, so if you tend to be seasick take precautions.
Currency, language etc
Currency is the Euro. With the exception of small shops and stalls in the Central Market, credit cards are widely accepted. The local language is Spanish, but due to a great number of visitors, English is widely spoken. WiFi in the Old Town is sketchy but not in hotels, bigger restaurants and large parts of the beaches and new town.
Best places to shop
If you are looking for an American style shopping mall with shops, bars, restaurants and entertainment, head to Centro Comercial Bahia Sur in Paseo de la Fuente 1. For Spain’s most popular department store, visit El Corte Ingles in Avenida del Toro. Much more fun are of course the tiny shops in Barrio del Populo or those along the Paseo Maritimo.
It might require a somewhat longer journey from other cities in the south of Spain, but Cadiz is worth every minute of travel time. You’ll fall in love with the lifestyle, the views of the ocean at practically every corner and the cozy atmosphere of the Barrio del Populo.
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