Find out the top things to do, the best restaurants, hotels, and some insider information to help you plan your visit to Cadiz in Andalucia, Spain.
Vivid green water dotted with fishing boats, white buildings as far as the eye can see, skinny cobbled streets running from one side of the peninsula to the other, and a buzzy, local vibe with characterful tapas bars on street corners.
After falling in love with Cádiz on my first visit, I just know it’s somewhere I’ll return to again and again.
So what is Cadiz like? Well, it’s historic, quaint and charming. However hard I try to describe why it’s special, I think it’s the photos that really tell the story. Is Cadiz worth visiting? 100% Yes. Definitely.
Why Visit Cadiz Spain?
If you’re into history, this is the city for you! Founded by the Phoenicians 3,000 years ago, Cadiz is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. The Romans also settled there, building an impressive city (some of which is still in existence today!)
Over the years it was one of Europe’s most important ports, with trading links to America. For somewhere relatively small, it really does have a fascinating past, and one you can really get under the skin of.
For those less interested in the past who are considering visiting Cadiz, there’s plenty more to this city. There are several beautiful beaches, including La Caleta right in the centre. There are wiggly narrow streets, beautiful tree-lined plazas, fountains, great restaurants and sensational views.
You could easily create a Cadiz itinerary packed with tours and museum visits, or just spend a few days eating, drinking and exploring at your own pace. And that’s exactly why I loved it.
While some of Spain’s larger cities are becoming more multi-cultural, Cadiz has retained a truly Spanish flavour.
It’s one of those places where it feels like all the locals know each other, only walking a few paces before bumping into an old friend and catching up over a cerveza or a coffee. Tapas bars go back several generations, and despite some restaurants specialising in modern Spanish cuisine, there are still lots with menus virtually unchanged from 50 years ago.
Is Cadiz safe to travel around? I found it to be very safe. I visited on my own in early summer and walked the streets during the day and at night. While the skinny streets can make you feel a little paranoid, I didn’t have any trouble at all and felt Cadiz to be very safe for a solo female traveller.
Where Is Cadiz And How Do You Get There?
Cadiz is located on the south coast of Spain, close to Gibraltar. How big is Cadiz? It covers an area of 4 square miles, making it an extremely walkable city.
The most direct route from the UK, is to fly with Ryanair from London Stansted to Jerez, which is just 33 minutes away by car. It’s also quite easy to fly from the UK to Seville and catch the train (1 hour 40) or hire a car to drive down to the peninsula.
If you’re already heading to the south of Spain, Cadiz makes a great day trip, and the high-speed rail network makes it easy to get around.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cadiz?
Southern Spain benefits from warm temperatures all year around. Even if you plan to visit Cadiz in winter, you could be enjoying temperatures as high as 16 or 17 degrees. In fact, trips to Cadiz in January, or just before Christmas in December, are popular with those looking for winter sunshine.
Is Cadiz good for a holiday in peak summer? Well, you may find the weather uncomfortable in the summer months as temperatures can reach as high as 38-40 degrees. It was around 39 degrees during my visit in late June, so check before you pack and be prepared!
Spain knows how to party, so there’s a high chance you’ll see a few festivals or celebrations during your visit. During my trip in June there was a huge celebration for San Juan, which included fireworks over the sea, and a religious festival with parades winding their way through the city.
Cadiz is particularly famous for its Carnival in February. There are also plenty of celebrations during Semana Santa (Holy Week). Just remember, the city will be extra busy during these periods, and accommodation may be a bit pricier, and harder to find!
Wondering how many days to spend in Cadiz? It’s a tricky one as it depends how much you want to see, and what kind of pace you travel at. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend spending 24 hours in Cadiz, it’s simply not enough.
A weekend in Cadiz is a good starting point, but for the full experience, I’d recommend staying 3-4 days in the city.
Top Things To Do In Cadiz, Spain
They know which bars have interesting stories to tell, where to get the best fried fish, and where you should spend your Euros for the rest of your stay!
Cost: From 30 EUR
Roman Theatre: I couldn’t believe it when I was walking down the main street with the sea on my left and I spotted the remains of a large Roman amphitheatre. Free to visit, it’s amazing to walk all over this piece of history. The museum is very well formatted too.
Climb Torre Tavira And Check Out The Camera Oscura: Recommended by everyone I met, Tavira Tower is the highest point in the city and offers incredible panoramic views.
You’ll need to book onto a guided tour in order to marvel at the periscope images of the city projected onto the camera oscura.
Cost: 6 EUR
Climb Cadiz Cathedral Tower: So you’ve taken in the panoramic views of the city from Torre Tavira, now compare them with the views from the top of the cathedral. Personally, I preferred the views from up here, as I loved snapping photos with the bells silhouetted against the incredible city backdrop. I also really liked being closer to the water.
Cost: 5 EUR
Hit The Beach: The beaches around Cadiz have won plenty of awards, including being recognised as one of Europe’s best urban beaches. La Caleta at one end of the peninsula is a popular spot with both tourists and locals, but it can get a little crowded.
If you want to spread out, head just a few minutes into the new city to Santa María Del Mar or La Victoria.
Explore The Shops: While there are a few streets around Calle Columela with well-known stores such as Zara, Desigual and Mango, Cadiz has lots of boutiques, gift shops and food stores.
The fun comes in discovering them as you explore Cadiz on foot.
Tour Cadiz by bus: Hop on board and explore the city from the comfort of your seat, seeing all the key sights including La Caleta Beach, the Roman ruins and more! Getting around Cadiz has never been easier. When you fancy a break hop off, then hop back on and head to the next stop!
Visit Mercado Central: A buzzy market in Plaza Libertad with a truly local vibe. You’ll be able to watch the locals buying their fish and fresh produce, and check out some of the strange sea creatures for yourself.
Relax In Parque Genovés: With a water feature, plenty of birds, beautifully manicured trees, exotic colourful flowers and a café, it’s not hard to understand why several locals I spoke to said this was their fave spot in Cadiz.
Walk The Entire Peninsula: It’s funny as a few people have asked me ‘is Cadiz an island?!’ Nope, but it was at one time. It’s a peninsula, and as mentioned, you really don’t have to race around the city to have a good time.
I spent a day in Cadiz wandering the entire peninsula, starting at Plaza de San Juan de Dios, passing Parque Genovés, La Caleta Beach, the Cathedral, Roman Theatre and more.
Tour The Underground Caves And Catacombs: It’s thought that there are well over 50km of ancient passages, caves and burial sites under Cadiz, some dating back 3,000 years to when the city was founded!
There are plenty of remains from Roman times and the 16-18th centuries when there was almost as much happening underground as above.
The best way to experience it is to head off on a tour of the city’s caves, La Casa Del Pirata and the Catacumbas Del Beaterio.
Visit The Castles: The two castles that extend at either side of La Caleta Beach are free to visit, and along with their historic significance (built in the 17th / 18th Centuries) Castillo De San Sebastian and Santa Catalina provide magical views of the city.
Where To Eat and Drink In Cadiz, Spain
If you’re trying to plan where to eat during your trip, I’d recommend reading my guide to the best restaurants in Cadiz. In that post I go into lots of detail about tapas bars, what items to choose on the menu, cute bars, fine-dining options and more. Here’s a quick overview in the meantime though!
Before revealing where I had some of my favourite meals, it’s worth remembering that this is Spain, and schedules may be different to what you’re used to.
Breakfast tends to be around 8/9am, around midday people might stop for a quick drink and a tapa, then lunch at 3pm and dinner around 9/10pm. Once I understood this Spanish way of life, it made sense that a lot of places are closed between 4pm – 8.30pm.
La Marmita Centro – This smart restaurant serves modern Spanish cuisine. For the best experience, I’d recommend choosing the tasting menu.
Dishes such as a cone of tuna and avocado tartar, mussels with seaweed, Iberian pork with bulgar wheat, and a dramatic Jack Daniels smoked pork came paired with tasty sherries and wines.
Service was excellent, and I came away with new knowledge of the ingredients, dishes and wines.
Casa Manteca – Cadiz’s most famous bar, this is a right of passage for anyone visiting the city. It’s lively, with walls covered in old pictures of Cadiz’s legendary carnival and bull fighting.
Food is cheap and tasty, with the house speciality being chicharrones – a type of pressed pork served on waxed paper. I’d also recommend the roasted peppers stuffed with prawn and cod.
La Candela – In contrast to the city’s numerous traditional restaurants, this one was quirky, arty and along with delivering great flavours, they also took pride in presentation.
The croquettes were totally delicious, as was the marinaded tuna. It can get busy, so it’s best to book in order to guarantee a spot.
Cafe Royalty – Lavish décor, paneling, accents of gold and beautifully-preserved murals make this historic café somewhere you just HAVE to visit during your trip to Cadiz.
The café is famous for its picatostes – fried bread covered in sugar. I enjoyed them for a late breakfast one morning, with a strong coffee.
Mesón Cumbres Mayores – Another popular haunt, this tapas bar shows off its hams by hanging them from the walls, the ceiling, and anywhere else it can fit them!
Even the pumps for the cervezas look like legs of jamon. It’s laid back and traditional, and I’d recommend the solomillo presa and secreto.
La Tabernita – Arrive before 9pm to grab one of the few tables in front of this popular tapas bar. For something new, try their cuttlefish meatballs (black from the ink) or their tortillitas de camarones (a baby shrimp fritter).
Cadiz Tours, Activities And Attractions
Bike Tour Of Cadiz: Join a small group tour and explore the beautiful city on two wheels. It’s a great way to get around, and by travelling with a knowledgable Cadiz guide, you’ll learn lots as you go!
Flamenco Tablao Show in Cadiz: Check out a real flamenco show with live band in Cadiz’s warehouse district. The shows are always full of surprises and a really great part of Spanish culture.
Check prices and availability here.
Horse Riding Tour in Cadiz: Take in the beauty of Cádiz at sunset with a a horseback ride along the long open stretch of sand at Playa Mangueta. Expert travel guides will show you some of the most beautiful spots, and make you feel at ease!
Check prices and availability now
Hiking Day Trip to La Garganta Verde and Zahara de la Sierra from Cádiz: If you have time, a visit to see La Garganta Verde canyon and the mountaintop village of Zahara de la Sierra makes an amazing day trip!
The tour included a 2-hour hike through the gorge, spectacular views of Zahara Castle and epic views of the 1,300-foot high canyon walls.
Check latest prices here.
Best Hotels In Cadiz, Spain
I’ve popped together a brand new Cadiz travel guide to the best hotels in the city. Take a look at it here: Where to stay in Cadiz – Best hotels for all budgets
Here are a few places I’d highly recommend…
Casa Patio del Panadero – I stayed here for the duration of my trip and the location was perfect for exploring the city on foot. The restored 19th-century building has a traditional Andalusian central patio, friendly staff, and my room had a sofa area and mini kitchen with fridge and microwave.
Parador De Cadiz – One of the top-rated hotels in Cadiz, this smart oceanfront property is just 5 minutes walk from the beach. It has a spa, outdoor pool and beautiful sea views. If you’re looking for a smart place to stay in the city, definitely take a look!
Occidental Cadiz – Just a few minutes away from Playa de la Victoria Beach, Occidental Cádiz has comfortable, spacious rooms. This hotel is in the new part of the city, so it’ll take you around 15 minutes to walk to the historic centre of Cadiz.
Hotel Convento Cadiz – Stay in a little piece of Cadiz’s history at this converted convent! This stunning building dates back to 1635 and has a beautiful interior courtyard. It’s a lovely place to stay, close to the cathedral and the stunning streets of the old city.
Hotel Spa Cadiz Plaza – Another of the top rated hotels in Cadiz, this one is located in the new town opposite Playa de la Victoria Beach. Along with a fab location and modern rooms, the spa is a great selling point!
Or if you’re travelling in a big group, an apartment might suit your needs a little better. This is one of my favourites, mainly for its incredible view!
Pacifico Family Home – This modern apartment is located on the 11th floor next to Parque Genovés, and has some of the best views you’ll see in Cadiz, right over La Caleta Beach. It has 4 bedrooms, and can sleep 8-10 people comfortably. It’s received lots of great reviews, with many saying that the location and the views make it an extra special place to stay in Cadiz.
Where To Visit Next And Day Trips From Cadiz?
If you have a car, I’d recommend all of those, along with Seville, Granada and Cordoba. Each place is surprisingly different, has a unique cuisine and absolutely loads to see and do.
Not far from Cadiz is Jerez, home of sherry, a bullfighting arena and a beautiful old town! If you’re staying in Cadiz, book a Cadiz to Jerez day trip to see all the sights. If I had to choose between Jerez or Cadiz, for a base, I’d recommend you stay in Cadiz, but that Jerez is a great day trip.
While it’s a little further, you could also spend a day in Seville exploring the ancient city, Cathedral, Plaza De Espana and more!
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