Welcome to the sunny and vibrant city of Cadiz, a place where the ancient history meets the youthful energy of the locals. This charming coastal town, located in the southwestern part of Spain, has been inhabited for over 3,000 years, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe.
In this article about how to spend one day in Cadiz I will take you on a journey through the best of what this city has to offer, the must see monuments when you have only a short time available, as well as explain what makes Cadiz such a special place. I would highly suggest spending more time in the city. When you visit Cadiz for a day trip you will get a taste of its charm and want to return for a second, longer trip.
How to Get to Cadiz
The nearest airport is Jerez de la Frontera, just a short 9-kilometre drive from Jerez de la Frontera and 32 kilometres from Cadiz. However, there aren’t many direct flights to here, and the ones that do can be on the pricier side. Jerez is a more seasonal airport, with most of the flights coming here in summer. An alternative option is to land at Malaga Airport and rent a car to reach Cadiz. You can read my guide on how to hire a car in Malaga here.
Many people who come to Cadiz for the day are doing a road trip around Andalucia. Cadiz is very well connected with all the nearby cities, such as Malaga, Jerez de la Frontera, and Sevilla, so no matter which way you are coming from, there is a direct motorway.
Cadiz is connected to the main cities in Spain by fast train. The easiest city to come from is Seville, with a journey time of just one and a half hours.
You can reach Cadiz by bus as well from any other city in Andalucia, however, you will need to be prepared to spend a bit of time on the journey. It takes between 4-5 hours to reach Cadiz by bus from Malaga or Sevilla.
How to Get Around Cadiz
You don’t need to use the public transport inside Cadiz. If you only have one day to spend in Cadiz you will be mostly exploring the old town, which is easily walkable. Many of the streets are pedestrian only as well.
The old town of Cadiz is a 15 minutes walk away from the train station.
How to Spend One Day in Cadiz
In this guide about how to spend one day in Cadiz I will tell you exactly what I did during my first visit to this wonderful Andalucian city. Back then I spent one day exploring the city at a slow pace, enjoying its atmosphere but also visiting the main sights. For a first time visit to Cadiz, this itinerary will give you a taste of what the city has to offer, and, hopefully, the desire to return for a longer time.
Walk Around El Pópulo Neighbourhood
Start your day in Cadiz by walking through the most historic area of the city.
El Pópulo encompasses the impressive Cathedral of Cadiz, the Roman theatre, and the ancient mediaeval passageways that have stood the test of time since the 13th century. As one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Europe, it is a must-visit destination for everyone who comes to Cadiz. A stroll through the area will reveal magnificent buildings and palaces lining narrow streets.
Some of the massive entrance doors to these buildings are often left open, allowing curious visitors to peek inside. The interiors of these buildings are always fascinating. The hallways are tiled with beautiful mosaics, and the floors are laid with white marble. Decorative stone fountains and colourful flower pots can be found in the interior gardens, creating a serene atmosphere.
Visit the Cathedral de Las Americas
No visit to Cadiz is complete without a trip to its most important monument: The Cathedral. And this is the first monument I will include on this one day in Cadiz itinerary. The impressive structure was built between 1722 and 1838 and is known as “The Cathedral of the Americas” due to the funding received from trade between Spain and the Americas. During the 18th century, Cadiz was a wealthy port city in the Atlantic Ocean, and having a grand cathedral was a symbol of its prosperity. Originally designed by the same architect as the Cathedral in Granada, the construction of the monument took an astonishing 116 years. As a result, the original plans were altered, and the cathedral was completed in a neoclassical style with rococo elements.
It is interesting to note that the crypt of the Cathedral lies below sea level, creating a very humid environment. The tower is open for visitors to climb and offers incredible views due to the cathedral’s proximity to the sea. Although the ascent is steep, the views from the top are well worth the effort.
A fee of 5 euros allows visitors access to the cathedral, museum and tower, and the experience typically takes around an hour to complete.
Check Out the Old Baroque Parroquia de Santa Cruz
Located just to the left of the Cathedral is a small square where the old baroque church of Cadiz, Parroquia de Santa Cruz, can be found. Before the construction of the Cathedral of Cadiz, this was the primary religious site in the city. Inside the old mosque converted into a church, you can admire some fantastic wooden sculptures that should not be missed.
Climb Torre Tavira
Before lunch, we continue this one day in Cadiz with a climb up Torre Tavira, to build up the appetite. Torre Tavira is not only an observation tower but houses a Camera Obscura as well. Constructed at the start of the 18th century, the tower was part of a defence watchtower system that stretched across the southern coast of Spain. Torre Tavira is one of 134 watchtowers that remain standing, and is the tallest, rising 45 metres above sea level.
In addition to its role as a lookout point over the sea, the tower was also used to identify approaching ships and the cities they were headed towards, with each tower flying a different coloured flag. Today, visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views of Cadiz from the top of Torre Tavira.
The tower has three levels, with a terrace on the roof. The third floor houses the camera obscura, which projects a real-time image of life outside the tower and provides an interesting glimpse into ancient technology.
A ticket to Torre Tavira and the camera obscura can be purchased for 7 euros, but advance booking is currently required. This is an experience not to be missed during a visit to Cadiz.
Have Lunch in the Fish Market
The fish market is an essential stop in Cadiz, one of my favourite places to observe the life of the city. As morning sets in, vendors begin slicing and selling the freshest fish that was caught just a few hours prior. The market is a treasure trove of seafood, with the best the Atlantic has to offer available, for purchase: giant tuna, prawns, dogfish, eels, rosada, salmon, lubina, crabs, and more.
The prices are highly competitive, and the quality of the seafood is unbeatable. It’s hard not to be tempted to take some of the fresh fish home, even if you’re just visiting for the day. As lunchtime approaches, the shops and restaurants around the market begin to open, offering visitors the chance to sample the delicious seafood they’ve been admiring hours earlier in the market. Each shop offers its own unique specialities, including grilled hake, raw sea urchins, fresh oysters, tiny shrimp, and fish croquettes.
The tapas usually range from 2 to 3 euros per dish, and everything is served to-go, to be enjoyed at one of the tall tables at the front. Around the market you will find street vendors selling fresh sea urchins that they open on the spot for you, as well as paper cones filled with boiled shrimp and tortillas de camarones, one of the typical foods in Cadiz.
Walk to the San Sebastian Castle
The next monument on this one day in Cadiz itinerary is the San Sebastian Castle. Although the Castle has been closed for several years, you can still enjoy a pleasant walk along the promenade leading up to it, which offers pretty panoramic views of Cadiz. The castle is situated on a small island and can be accessed via a concrete walkway that connects it to the mainland. Built in the early 18th century, the castle was originally constructed to defend the city against sea attacks from the North.
Check Out La Caleta Beach
Cadiz is home to several stunning beaches, all within walking distance regardless of where you choose to stay in the city.
One such beach is La Caleta, situated at the tip of the Cadiz peninsula. Nestled between two castles, Playa La Caleta features golden sand and has been awarded a blue flag for its cleanliness and excellent nearby facilities. It’s a popular destination, so if you plan on spending the whole day sunbathing, be sure to arrive early. La Caleta is also a great spot to watch the sunset from, especially when the small fishing boats return to the harbour.
Located on the opposite end of La Caleta Beach from San Sebastian Castle is the star-shaped fortress of Castillo Santa Catalina, which was constructed at the end of the 16th century solely for defensive purposes. At present, the castle is primarily utilised for various exhibitions, cultural events, and arts workshops. During the summer months, you may have the opportunity to attend an open-air concert.
See the Sunset from Paseo del Vendaval
Paseo del Vendaval is in my opinion one of the most romantic places in Cadiz. This promenade which protects the city from the sometimes violent waves of the ocean is one of the most popular places in the city for rendezvous or peaceful strolls.
As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky explodes in shades of pink and orange, casting a warm glow over the city. The ocean breeze through your hair, the scent of saltwater in the air, the sound of seagulls calling overhead – all of these elements come together to create a truly magical experience. The views of the Cathedral in Cadiz from here are simply breathtaking, and it’s easy to see why this spot is so romantic in the evenings.
Have Dinner in La Vina
We will finish this one day in Cadiz with dinner in one of the liveliest areas of the city. Locals and visitors come together here to socialise and indulge in delicious Spanish food, giving the area an energetic atmosphere. The area is bursting with colour and exudes a sense of joy because of all the buzz happening around. Sit down at a tapas bar and try some of the typical seafood dishes like boquerones al limon, boquerones en vinagre, gambas pil-pil, puntillas, or typical grilled fish, and soak in the great ambiance of the neighbourhood.
For more articles about Cadiz, check out my recommendations below:
- How to spend two days in Cadiz
- The best day trips from Cadiz
- Is Cadiz worth visiting?
- Day Trip to Tarifa
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