Cádiz sits a bit off the well trod path when it comes to the most popular cities in Spain. Many people chose to visit the larger Andalusian city of Málaga or coastal areas between Valencia and Barcelona to the east. But you are here because you are wondering if is Cádiz is worth visiting, and our answer for that is a hearty sí!
We’ve got 7 reasons to visit Cádiz that are solid enough to earn a spot on your Spanish itinerary.
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How I Came to Visit Cádiz
My most recent visit happened without much forethought or planning. I had been hiking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain and finished the trail earlier than expected. I found myself with some free days before being joined by my husband. I began asking my fellow hikers what they would suggest based upon a criteria that included: nice warm beaches, interesting city, chill atmosphere, good food.
Well, the good food can be found everywhere in Spain, but the other criteria aren’t guaranteed to go together. But when a friend suggested Cádiz, I found that it fit the bill perfectly.
It was a sweet place to rest-up after my long hike. But there is so much to do there, you won’t find yourself vegging out.
7 Top Reasons to Visit Cádiz
1. Long Wide Beaches
Cádiz sits at the far western edge of Spain’s coast. It’s even west of Gibralter, and the beaches actually sit on the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean. It boasts 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) of nearly uninterrupted beach. You can join the throngs right in old town Cádiz on La Coleta beach, rent a beach chair and get some cold drinks on Playa la Victoria or have the waves to yourself on Playa de Santibáñez.
You can play beach volleyball if you want, or you can do as the Spaniards do and simply put up a beach umbrella and settle in for a chill afternoon of beach time.
2. It’s the Oldest City Still Standing in Europe
Spain has a lot of cities that date back to Roman times (like Lugo) and quite a few what are layered with Jewish, Muslim and Christian history (like Toledo), but Cádiz is much older than both.
It was founded by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC, following the Trojan war. They chose the location because of its strategic position on the Atlantic and the sheltered back bay, both of which helped to foster their commercial trading.
The Carthagians moved in around 230 BC, becoming a flashpoint for Hannibal’s conquest of the southern Iberian Peninsula. In 206 BC, the Romans wanted a piece of the action, booting the Carthagians and establishing their own outpost. Then came the Moors (711-1262) and finally a consolidated Spain in ~1262.
You can explore these many layers of history by visiting the Museo de Cádiz, which has artifacts from all of the abovementioned eras, and also the Roman Amphitheater ruins.
3. The Town is Built for Walking
Because the old town is so very old, it’s a rabbit warren perfectly suited for wandering around and getting lost. Sure, take a walking tour for historical context, but also give yourself some time to poke around at your own pace.
I also recommend walking out on the strip from La Caleta beach to the Castillo de San Sebastián, because it offers lovely ocean views and a nice back-look at the town. You can also take a good long walk from the malecón in old town all the way down to Playa la Victoria along the promenade.
In fact, Cádiz’s colorful building facades and the malecón inspired a similar civic design in Havana, Cuba. And Cádiz even served as a Havana stand-in for a James Bond movie.
4. Old Town is Beautiful (Especially from Above)
From the ground level, you’ll find lovely tiled courtyards and tight streets that open up into airy courtyards.
But Cádiz really shows off when you can see it from above. The views alone are a compelling reason to visit Cádiz. The best place for that is from the bell tower of the Cathedral. It offers a 360′ view of the entire peninsula. Spot the onion domes and tiled roof of the Parroquia de Santa Cruz, which was the original cathedral of Cádiz (and prior to that, the original mosque).
Get an eyeful of beach as you gaze south. And look north and west for an overhead view of the cathedral square and old town streets.
The inside of the cathedral is lovely too with its baroque features and ornately carved choir.
5. The Andusían Food is Delish
Andalucía is known for its cured ham, fresh seafood, salmorejo (which is a gazpacho variant) and sherry. You can find all of that and more in Cádiz. For some of down home cooking try the Taberna Casa Manteca for grandma’s croqueta recipe. You won’t go wrong with any of the restaurants along that same street. Or put a picnic together with fresh produce, bread and cheeses at the central market. Get some dessert at the Naragoni Gelato stand in front of the cathedral.
If you are down at La Victoria beach, stop into La Tapería del Lulu. This unassuming place has an extensive and unbelievably fresh tapas menu. And nearby Villanos Bistro Canalla offers classics that have been updated with contemporary flavors.
6. It Has Some Quirky Museums
Do visit the Museo de Cádiz history and archeology museum mentioned above. But leave some time for a few quirky choices. We are all about visiting offbeat museums here at Wayfaring Views. There is the penis museum in Reykjavik, the sewer museum in Paris, the Pharmacy Museum in New Orleans, the Rooster Cemetery in Key West and the Puppetry Museum in Tallinn. Well, you get the picture.
If you raised your eyebrows at the Tallinn Puppetry Museum, you are in luck. Because they also have a similar museum in Cádiz. It’s full of old school (and mildly creepy) hand puppets, finger puppets and marionettes. And best of all, it’s free!
You can also visit the Lithographic Workshop Museum, the Naval Museum and the creepy Catacombs del Beaterio.
7. Cádiz Makes a Great Day Trip or Road Trip Stop
Even if you can’t do a long multi-day stay, it’s still worth visiting Cádiz even if it’s just a day trip from Seville or part of a longer southern Spain road trip.
Other nearby sights that you can include on the road trip include Málaga, Gibraltar, the White Villages (like Ronda), sherry tasting in Jerez and the National Park de Donoña.
Where to Stay in Cádiz
If you do choose to have a longer stay in Cádiz, here are a few lodging options for you:
- Budget: La Sal by Pillow. This budget hotel is located right in the center of old town, near the cathedral and the food market. It has a modern design and one of the rooms has a airy terrace. Check reviews and book it here.
- On the Beach: Hotel Cádiz Paseo del Mar. This hotel sits right on Playa la Victoria and is one of only a handful of hotels that front the beach. From there, it’s a short, easy bus ride to old town. Check reviews and book it here.
- Rooftop bar & pool: The Hotel la Catedral. This boutique hotel is located right on the cathedral square. They have a rooftop deck and bar with west facing sunset views. Check reviews and book it here.
More Cool Things to Do in Spain
- Make the most of three days in Madrid.
- Or stay longer and do some day trips from Madrid (which are easily done by train).
- Learn more about the Camino de Santiago with our first timer’s guide.
- Explore some cool things to do in Burgos.
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