I can’t believe that it took me two years to visit Cadiz after I moved to Andalucia, and only 2 seconds to fall in love with it. Cadiz is so beautiful, with a young, happy vibe, old architecture and a fantastic gastronomic scene. Visit Cadiz for an unhurried travel experience, with both relaxing moments and great fun, especially if you are in town during the carnival. This Cadiz itinerary will cover a little of everything the city has to offer.
Cadiz is, according to the archaeologists in Spain, the oldest city in Europe. The Phoenicians used to live here in the 8th century BC, and remains of building walls have been found seven meters underneath the current old town centre. Pieces of pottery, broken jars, bowls and plates, together with a bronze brooch, not only prove that a town existed here at that time, but also that the inhabitants had quite a high level of civilization.
I’ve put together this two days in Cadiz itinerary to show you all the amazing things the city has to offer, together with everything that I loved about it. There are so many fantastic things to see in Cadiz, let’s discover them together.
How to Get to Cadiz
The easiest way to get to Cadiz is by flying to Jerez Airport, which is 9 kilometres from Jerez de la Frontera, and 32 kilometres from Cadiz. However, as flights to here are quite expensive, a cheaper option is to land at Malaga Airport and rent a car. Cadiz makes a fantastic stop on any Andalucia road trip, and I recommend spending at least two days here to fully experience this beautiful city.
If you are driving from Malaga or Seville, there are fast motorways on which you can reach Cadiz in a relatively short time. From Malaga the journey takes around two and a half hours, whilst from Seville it takes one hour and 20 minutes.
How to Get Around Cadiz
Cadiz is divided into the old part and new part of town. Whilst the new part has large streets and modern buildings, the old part keeps its medieval style from the 16th century, with narrow alleys and hidden squares and is easily walkable. If you choose to stay in the new part of town overnight, you will need to take a bus to reach the old centre, as it’s quite far to walk.
Where to Park in Cadiz
There are many underground secure car parks in Cadiz, but they do come at a price. I would not recommend driving into the old town of Cadiz because the roads are very narrow and finding a parking space is practically impossible.
The best place to park in Cadiz, if you are looking for secure parking, is either at the train station or in one of the underground car parks near Plaza de Sevilla. Pricewise, you are looking at something between 16-20 euros for 24 hours.
Around the outer edges of the city there are blue lined spaces where you can park cheaper. An hour costs 0,90 cents, from 9:30AM to 2PM, and from 5PM to 8:30PM. Saturday afternoons and Sunday parking in the blue lined spaces are free of charge.
I parked for free in the street in the new part of Cadiz, on Avenida las Cortes de Cadiz, a 20 minute walk to the harbour. If you are driving a rental car however, I wouldn’t recommend this, as the chances of getting a “love bite” are quite high. I lost count of the number of times I found a new scratch or new dent on my car after parking in Spain.
Highlights of the perfect weekend in Cadiz
- Visit the Cathedral of Cadiz
- Join the locals in the fish market
- Eat tapas in the vibrant La Vina
- See the panorama of the city from Torre Tavira
- Watch the sunset from the Malecon of Cadiz
Map of the best things to do in Cadiz in a weekend
Visit the Cathedral
This 2 days in Cadiz itinerary has to start with a visit to the most important monument in the city: The Cathedral. Built between 1722 and 1838, the monument is also known by the name of “The Cathedral of the Americas”, because it was built using the money which came from the trade between Spain and America. Being an important port city in the Atlantic Ocean, Cadiz used to be a very wealthy city during the 18th century, and wealthy cities had big cathedrals. Initially, the cathedral was designed by the same architect who built the cathedral in Granada but, because its construction took 116 years, the original plans were altered, and from a baroque monument, it was completed in a neoclassical style with rococo elements.
It’s interesting to know that the crypt of the Cathedral is actually below sea level, which makes it very humid. The tower is open for visits and it’s quite the experience because of the location of the cathedral, just next to the sea. The climb is quite steep, but the views are well worth the effort.
The fee to enter the cathedral, visit the museum and climb the tower, is 5 euros. It takes around one hour to see everything.
Just on the left of the Cathedral, you will find a small square where lies the old baroque church of Cadiz – Parroquia de Santa Cruz. Before the Cathedral of Cadiz was built, this was the main religious place in town. Inside the old mosque which was converted into a church, there are some fantastic wooden sculptures that shouldn’t be missed.
Enjoy the vistas from Paseo del Vendaval
Walking along the Paseo del Vendaval in Cadiz brought back memories from my trip to Cuba. The promenade feels so similar to Havana’s Malecon. It’s no wonder that it also bears the same name. The Paseo del Vendaval follows the old walls of the city that separate the sea from the small island that is Cadiz. Here it is always windy, and the waves of the Atlantic Ocean break, sometimes violently, spreading mist into the air, after crashing into the strong concrete walls. Underneath, sheltered by the water, thrives an entire colony of cats. Who feeds them, who makes sure they have water, who cleans their litter boxes? No idea, but their bowls are always full of kibble, and scattered boxes make good shelters from the (few) rainy days.
Some of the best photos of Cadiz are taken from the Malecon, with the tall Cathedral and its golden roof as a perfect background. This is where you can watch the best sunsets and sunrises in Cadiz.
Walk Around El Pópulo Neighbourhood
El Pópulo is the area which includes the Cathedral of Cadiz, the Roman theatre and the old medieval passageways of the city with three archways still standing, since the 13th century. It is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Europe and worth strolling around, because of the magnificent tall buildings on each side of the narrow streets.
Some of the massive entrance doors are sometimes open, and I would recommend you to take a peek inside, as the interiors are always fascinating. The hallways are tiled with beautiful mosaics, the floors are laid with white marble and the interior gardens are decorated with stone fountains and colourful flowerpots.
Check out the Fish Market
The fish market is without a doubt the liveliest place in the city and a highlight of this Cadiz itinerary. During the morning, fishmongers are slicing and selling the freshest fish caught just a few hours before. Walking among the stalls made me wish I had gone straight home after the trip to Cadiz and not continue to Jerez de la Frontera, so I could buy some of that fresh fish. The prices are very competitive, and you can’t get a better quality anywhere else.
There is everything the Atlantic ocean has to offer in the Cadiz market: giant tuna, oysters, prawns (from the smallest to the ones almost as big as lobsters), dogfish (which you will only find in local tapas bars of Costa del Sol, marinated overnight in lemon and then deep fried), eels, rosada, salmon, lubina, crabs and many, many more. It’s fish heaven!
Have Lunch in the Fish Market
As lunchtime approaches, the shops and restaurants on the side of the market start to open. Having lunch in the fish market from Cadiz is like a treat for your taste buds. Usually each shop will sell something different: tiny shrimp which you eat whole, raw sea urchins open and ready to be enjoyed, the freshest oysters you have ever tasted, grilled hake, fish croquettes and many more. The prices usually vary between 1 and 2 euros per tapa and everything is served to go, to be enjoyed at one of the tall tables at the front.
Climb Torre Tavira
Once you have satisfied your stomach with the tastiest fish dishes of your life, it’s time to do a little bit of exercise to burn all those extra calories. Torre Tavira is a nice add-on to this Cadiz itinerary because it’s not just an observation tower but a camera obscura as well. Tavira Tower was built at the beginning of the 18th century and was part of a defence watchtower line across the coast of Southern Spain. Torre Tavira is one of the 134 watchtowers still standing, the tallest of all at 45 meters high above sea level.
The role of the tower was not only for people to look over the sea, but also for the ships approaching to know which city they were heading towards. Each tower flew a different coloured flag. Today, you can admire a beautiful panorama of Cadiz from the top of Tavira Tower.
The tower has three different levels, and a terrace on the roof. The third floor is the camera obscura, which projects an image, in real time, of life outside the tower. It’s quite fascinating to see, and to learn about the ancient technology behind it.
A ticket to the Torre Tavira and the camera obscura costs 7 euros and, at the moment, needs to be booked in advance.
Visit Cadiz Museum
The Cadiz Museum hosts both a fine art selection and an archaeological artefacts collection. The museum has three floors, with the archaeological exhibition on the ground floor, the fine arts collection on the first, and an intriguing set of puppets used to perform at the annual Cadiz carnival.
The entrance to the museum is free for Citizens of the European Union and 1.5 euros for people of other nationalities.
Go for Dinner and a Flamenco Show at Taberna El Marques de Cadiz
This very small tablao is located in the old town of Cadiz, just next to the Arco del Populo. It is a typical tapas bar, with small dishes and nice glasses of wine. They are known for their live flamenco performances in such an authentic and intimate location. Make sure you ask for a menu though before you order. Whilst this is a popular place for the locals, as a foreigner they might charge you more.
Hit the beaches
Cadiz has some gorgeous beaches and they are all accessible by foot, no matter which part of the city you decide to spend the night in.
La Caleta is a small but beautiful beach located at the tip of the Cadiz peninsula. Located between two castles, Playa La Caleta boasts golden sand and it has a blue flag because it is clean and have excellent facilities nearby. It is one of the most popular beaches in Cadiz, so if you want to sunbathe for the entire day here, plan to arrive early. La Caleta is also a fantastic place to watch the sunset from, especially when the small fishing boats return to the harbour.
La Victoria is another beautiful beach, more popular with the locals than with the tourists because it is located in the new part of Cadiz. It has beautiful fine sand and a long promenade packed with hotels, restaurants and bars.
Cadiz has other beaches too, but as a tourist who is only spending two days here, chances are you will either go to La Victoria or La Caleta, due to their proximity to the touristy areas of the city.
Walk to the San Sebastian Castle
Whilst the San Sebastian Castle has been closed for quite some years, the promenade leading up to it is still open to the public and makes a lovely walk with beautiful panoramic views over Cadiz. The castle is located on a small island and connected with the mainland through a concrete walkway. The castle was built at the beginning of the 18th century, to defend the city from sea attacks coming from the North.
Check Out Castillo Santa Catalina
On the opposite side of La Caleta Beach from the San Sebastian Castle, stands Castillo Santa Catalina, a star shaped fortress built at the end of the 16th century. The castle was constructed pure for defence reasons, and it’s a great example of military architecture of the modern ages.
Today, the castle is mostly used for different exhibitions, cultural events and arts workshops. If you visit in summer, you might be able to attend an open-air concert.
Have lunch around Plaza de la Catedral
For lunch, head over to one of the many local tapas bars and restaurants around Plaza de la Catedral. I found a perfect one just minutes away from the Cathedral, called “Porme otra” (Pour me another one), where I enjoyed a few vegetarian tapas and a beer. The bill? Merely 5 euros.
Relax in Parque Genoves
I wouldn’t usually recommend to visit a park during a city itinerary, but Parque Genoves is special. On a very hot day, which you will encounter most of the year in Cadiz, a walk in the park is a great way to cool down and enjoy some shade. Parque Genoves is not only a park but also a botanical garden, with a vast collection of plants from all over the world.
The main attraction of the park is the lake with a spectacular waterfall, where you will find ducks and geese hiding away from the heat. Don’t miss the dinosaurs statues taking a dip in the fountains.
Dinner in La Viña
La Viña is one of my favourite parts of Cadiz. This lively quarter is a great place to walk around during the afternoon or evening, when both locals and tourists gather here to meet their friends and share food. The area is so colourful, and it always seems to have that buzz that almost screams “happiness”. Order some of the typical fish dishes such as boquerones al limon, boquerones en vinagre, gambas pil-pil, puntillas, and some padron peppers on the side, and just enjoy the vibe of the area.
Where to stay in Cadiz
Budget: Casa Caracol
Casa Caracol is a friendly hostel located in the old town of Cadiz, a stone’s throw away from the Harbour. The staff are very friendly and contribute to the colourful and fun character of the hostel. The quirky design features tropical plants, and hammocks for guests to relax in. You can book either dorm or private rooms at Casa Caracol.
You can check the reviews on Tripadvisor or the most recent prices directly on Booking.com by clicking here.
Mid range: Senator Cadiz Spa Hotel
This hotel is located in an old Mediterranean 16th century mansion, featuring a traditional interior courtyard and a unique underground spa with a water circuit. The rooms are spacious, modern and tastefully decorated. The hotel is located in the old town of Cadiz, very close to the Cathedral.
You can book a room here for around 60 euros a night, out of season. During season, the prices go up to around 120 euros. You can check the reviews on Tripadvisor or the most recent prices on Booking.com by clicking here.
Luxury: Parador de Cadiz
For a luxury experience, check out the Parador de Cadiz Hotel, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, and has an impressive outdoors pool complex with jacuzzi and sensorial showers. The hotel is located only a 6 minute walk from Playa la Caleta and the vibrant La Vina neighbourhood.
Out of season, mid-week, you can book a room here for around 80 euros. In season, you will be looking at around 150-200 euros a night. You can check the reviews on Tripadvisor or the most recent prices on Booking.com by clicking here.
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