Cádiz is one of the lesser-known destinations for foreign tourists, but Spanish tourists have been flocking here for years. A city with a long history, founded more than 3,000 years ago, it is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has hosted a diverse and astonishing variety of civilizations including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Visigoths, Romans, Moors and Spanish.
The name Cádiz derives from its Phoenician name “Gadir” meaning “Walled Stronghold”, the city is said to have been founded by Hercules after his tenth neighbor and named it “Gadeira”, according to Greek legend. The Moors called the city “Qadis” which they ruled for 500 years, the melting pot of different cultures has made Cádiz a distinctive and important city.
When Christopher Columbus set sail to the new world he departed from El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cádiz; his voyage and arrival in the New World brought riches and wealth to Cádiz and trading families established their palatial homes in the city.
The city was built upon a sand spit and is surrounded by water, its bays were crucial to trade and defence in the 16th century. Since then the city has adopted a slightly dilapidated air with its aging colonial style buildings, the city echoes the atmosphere of Cuba, so much so that the James Bond film “Die another day” was filmed in Cádiz despite being set in Havana, Cuba.
The city has something to offer for everyone, excellent dining, beautiful long beaches, historical landmarks and an annual Cadiz carnival that rivals the famous Carnival of Rio De Janeiro, coming in second place!
This guide is perfect for those who only have 48 Hours in Cadiz – A 2 Day Itinerary. We will show you what to do in Cadiz, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether its a weekend in Cadiz Spain or just a quick trip.
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The Best Time to Visit Cádiz
The South of Spain is lucky to have excellent weather almost all year around and even in mid-winter temperatures stay around 16 or 17 degrees centigrade. In the summer the weather reaches into the 40s and can be uncomfortable, sticky and humid.
The best time to visit Cadiz is in in May or September, avoid the peak seasons of June, July and August when flocks of Spanish tourists fill the beaches and the city and beaches become very crowded. Prices for rooms double in the summer months and if you go in September you can still enjoy the sunny weather and pay half the price for accommodation!
If you want to experience Cádiz carnival in all its glory, visit from February 28th 2019 to March 10th 2019. This is when Cádiz will be busy with carnival goers, everyone will be dancing and drinking in the streets in flamboyant costumes. This is also a pricey period to visit as Cádiz carnival comes in second behind Brazil in world renown for its Carnival parties.
How to get around Cádiz
Flying into Cádiz is easy, with daily flights flying into Jerez airport with trains that run almost hourly from the airport to Cádiz railway station. The journey takes 45 minutes on the train and costs only €7.25 one-way.
Alternatively you can fly to Seville and take the €5 airport bus to Seville Santa Justa train station where you can catch the hourly trains to Cádiz, which takes just over an hour and a half and costs around €16 each way.
Renting a car is the best way to get around Cádiz and surrounding cities, as there are not many rail connections to some of the best places to visit and buses can be unreliable.
Having a car will give you the freedom to visit nearby beaches and cities such as Conil de la Frontera, Vejer de la Frontera and Jerez de la Frontera.
For getting around Cádiz city you can walk around easily on foot. However, there is also a bus service and you can purchase a Bonobus pass, which is valid for 10 trips and can be bought at the local newsstands and tobacconists.
Where to stay in Cádiz
Cádiz is a very affordable tourist destination and you can find very reasonable offers on Airbnb from around €20 per night for a room in a shared house to €50 for a whole apartment per night. This works out cheaper than the local hotels, especially in the high season of June, July and August where prices for many hotels double due to demand.
There are lots of excellent budget hotels as well. Here are some of the best:
Hotel La Catedral – A charming Hotel with a rooftop terrace, outdoor pool and views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Cádiz cathedral, this is an excellent base for your trip to Cádiz, the rooms start from €65 depending on the season.
Hotel Boutique Convento Cádiz – This hotel is a 17th century convent located in the centre of Cádiz, it has maintained its original design with archways and a charming courtyard, baroque marble décor and ornate stonework. Prices start from €69 depending on the season.
Hostal Bahia – This cheap and cheerful hostel is located in the centre of Cádiz, just four minutes walk from the train station, the beach is a short 15 minute stroll and the hostel is located only 300m away from the cathedral. Prices start from €48 depending on the season.
Things to do in Cádiz
Hit the beach
Cádiz has amazing beaches that stretch for miles along the coastline:
This small beach is situated in the far end of the peninsula and just a short walk from the Viña fishermans village and is bookmarked by two castles, the Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de San Sebastian. It has a reputation as one of the most beautiful and most photographed beaches in Cádiz, so be prepared to blow up instagram with your stunning sunset shots.
Santa Maria Del Mar
This beach is also known by locals as La Playa Los Corrales or La Playita de las Mujeres and consists of fine golden sand. Located just next to La Victoria, this beach is a family favourite and you will see people body-boarding on the waves. The best way to get there is by bus.
Just next to Santa Maria Del Mar is one of Cádiz’s most popular beaches, being so close to the city, it is always brimming with locals in the summer months. Along the beach there are numerous chiringuitos or beach bars and it has a lively nightlife scene. The beach can be reached by line 7 of the local bus. Further to the South you can find Playa de la Cortadura, a continuation of La Victoria beach.
El Chato and Torregorda
This 70 m wide beach stretches along the road to Cádiz called Avenida Vida Augusta Julia and is separated by a row of golden sand dunes. The waters are home to floating vegetation such as sea lilies and can be access by car. The nearby continuation of this beach called Torregorda makes a total of 3.5 km of beach with both of them combined.
Cádiz is also close to Tarifa and Conil de la Frontera, both of which are short drives away and boasts beautiful long stretches of golden beaches.
Eat Tuna from Barbate
Savour the melt-in-your-mouth flavours of local tuna from Barbate, which are hand caught with a method that has been used by local fisherman for more than 3,000 years called “almadraba”. The tuna here is world-renowned and during fishing season in May, Japanese restaurateurs flock here to purchase red tuna fresh off the boats, in fact 80% of the tuna is exported to Japan! At the ports the tuna is filleted, frozen and vacuum packed and flown straight back to Japan, ready to be served as sushi and sashimi.
The tuna is so highly-prized that it often sells for at least €40 per kilo. Cádiz and surrounding towns are the best places to eat this delicacy at a fraction of the price.
Try the local method of serving red tuna, called Mojama. The tuna is air-dried and cured and served with high-quality olive oil and a smattering of roasted almonds. Or taste the incredible tuna in tataki, sashimi or carpaccio.
One of the best places to taste tuna in all its forms is Francisco Fontanilla, the beachside restaurant in Conil offering an array of dishes of prepared tuna, tartar, sashimi, tuna belly with apple and sesame compote, tuna pate and more. A meal for two with wine will set you back around €60 or €70.
Eat Retinto Beef
This highly-prized beef called añojo, is raised in Cádiz on a diet of grass, shrubs and acorns. The locally-bred cattle is slaughtered at the age of one or two and produces a tender, juicy steak.
The cattle is bred on the coastal area in Zahara de los Atunes, it is of such high quality that the European Union recognizes the meat as a special entity.
In September, a Ruta del Retinto is held in Zahara de los Atunes and local restaurants create a variety of tapas dishes starring Retinto beef. A similar event is held in Conil in December.
The most famous place to eat Retinto is the restaurant La Castilleria, which is a must for meat-lovers but is usually packed so book early!
Try the local Cádiz dishes
The local dishes consist of a lot of seafood, fried fish. You will be astounded with the cheap prices of local food in small authentic bars. Try the Chicharrones de Cádiz, which is a mouth-watering pork belly slow roasted and served with a dash of fresh lemon, ground cumin and served up with a delicious glass of red wine. Another dish that should be savoured is Tortillitas de Camarones, crispy, fried fritters made from tiny little shrimps in a batter of chickpea flour, onions, parsley and salt.
Sherry from Jerez de la Frontera is famous, it is made from the local Palomino grapes and the best ones to try are fino and manzanilla. If you get the opportunity it is worth visiting a bodega or winery where you can see how the sherry was produced and enjoy a sherry tasting.
Take in a flamenco show
The spirit of Andalusia is most visible in its traditional dance, flamenco. The passion and the fury of this energetic gypsy dance can be found all over the South of Spain. If you want to catch a flamenco show check out Peña La Perla, Calle Concepcion Arenal. Here you can watch a flamenco show for free several days a week, the local bar serves sandwiches and plates of Jamón.
Places to visit in Cádiz
Santa Catalina Castle
The castle was built in 1596 and was seized and sacked that year by a fleet of Anglo-Dutch invaders. Here you can see the fishing fleet in La Caleta Bay or observe fisherman wading in low tide and searching for sea urchins, a delicacy in Coastal Spain. You can visit the adjoining museum and see Andalusian artists on display. Admission is free.
San Sebastian Castle
At the end of the long walkway is the San Sebastian castle with views over the Atlantic Ocean, this fortress is situated at the end of La Caleta and was built in 1706. Inside there is a modern lighthouse, which was built there in 1908 and was Spain’s second lighthouse at the time. This castle has provided a backdrop for several films shot in Cádiz including “Die another day” a James Bond Film starring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry which was supposed to be set in Cádiz.
Visit the Santa Cruz Cathedral
Cádiz’s key attraction is the Santa Cruz cathedral, built between 1722 and 1838 on the site of a historic Muslim mosque. It was formerly known as the Church of the Americas because it was funded by the lucrative trade between Spain and the New World. You can ascend one of the two towers to take in the spectacular panoramic views. Admission is free!
Visit a historic fishing village
A trip to Cádiz would not be complete without visiting La Viña, just on the edge of Playa Caleta. This is a great place to go at night wit its offering of tapas bars, restaurants and hangouts. This is the beating heart of Cádiz’s streetlife. A great place to visit for tapas is the old-school Casa Manteca, one of Cádiz’s most famous tapas bars and full of old school charm.
Climb up Torre Tavira
Visit the tallest tower of the 129 towers of Cadiz. The many towers were built as lookouts for ships coming into the port.
Tours to do in Cádiz
You can hop on a bicycle and see the city on a three-hour bike tour starting from only €26 per person. Not only will you explore the city but you will also learn some insider tips on the best places to eat and visit in Cádiz.
Visit Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets and is within easy reach from Cádiz city, there is a train that takes approximately 45 minutes from Cádiz station; it can also be easily reached by car. This city is famous for two things: its sherry and horses.
In the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art you can admire the grace and elegance of their beautiful horses.
To experience the most famous sherry in Spain you can visit a bodega and do a tour and tasting at one of Spain’s most iconic sherry companies, Tio Pepe.
Yet another white village, Arcos de la Frontera is perched atop a limestone ridge with a sheer cliff, which drops off into the Gadelete River in the valley below. This town was declared a national historic-artistic monument in 1962 and is home to spectacular architecture, a castle made of sandstone, cobbled streets and authentic Spanish charm.
For adrenaline junkies, Tarifa is a water sport paradise. Here you can find kitesurfing on the beaches or rent 4x4s to drive through sand dunes. Tarifa is a little further from Cádiz than the previous two locations and is only 1 hour and 16 minutes away by car. Here you can visit the charming seaside village of Tarifa, eat almadraba tuna and catch some sun on the long stretches of windy beaches.
48 Hours in Cádiz
Visit the city on foot and start at the Cádiz Cathedral, which is open to tourists from 10am to 8pm every day, and on Sundays from 1:30pm to 8pm. Visit the Plaza de España where Spain’s first liberal constitution was signed in 1812. Take a stroll along the old city walls until they lead you to the Parador hotel and the Castle of Santa Catalina, here you are a short stroll from La Caleta beach.
This is the perfect place to sample some local freshly-caught seafood and afterwards, you can spend the afternoon lounging on the beach and exploring the nearby San Sebastian Castle before heading over to La Viña neighbourhood to try out some local tapas bars. Finish up with an authentic flamenco show to experience the passion and flair of Andalusia’s culture.
Take a day trip to Jerez on the train and explore the historic city, head towards a bodega to do a tour and tasting, after this you can enjoy a good lunch in the city centre before heading back to Cadiz on the train and catching a sunset from one of the many stunning beaches of this charming
Recommend budget tours in Cádiz
- Andalusian Horses Dance Show
- Gutierrez Colosia Sherry Winery: Guided Visit and Tasting
- Private Cadiz Tapas Tour with the Food Market
- Bike Tour of Cadiz
- Cadiz Old Town Private Walking Tour
- Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas Day Trip from Cádiz
- City Sightseeing Cadiz Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
- Morocco Tangier Full-Day Tour from Cadiz with Lunch
- Seville Day Trip From Cadiz
- Tangier from Tarifa Day Trip
- Gibraltar and Bolonia Day Trip from Cádiz
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