This post is also available in: Dutch

Latest update: 2 August 2023

It is actually incomprehensible that Cádiz in Spain is still so unknown. And well, maybe it should stay that way because then you have the best port city of Andalusia all to yourself. Enjoy the (often free) sights, the good restaurants, and especially the atmosphere: Spanish with Moorish influences and a touch of Cuban. Find out what you can do in Cádiz.

Connected island of Cádiz

Cádiz is the capital of the province of Cádiz. The city was founded over 3000 years ago, making it the oldest city in Western Europe. At that time, it was called Gadir, which means walled city.

It has always been an important port city. It housed the Spanish silver fleet, and Columbus left from Cádiz for one of his voyages of discovery. The city is actually a kind of headland with water on all sides: the Bahía de Cádiz. It was once an island, but now the city is connected to the mainland by bridges and a long stretch of beach with a road. You can see the most famous bridge from afar. This is the Puente de la Constitución.

Cádiz: Spain’s underrated treasure

The center of Cádiz is at the very tip. It’s pretty and cozy. Just about every building seems worth a photo. The tall houses with bulging balconies, pastel colors everywhere, squares with palm trees… Cádiz would actually be a fantastic city trip location. But because you can’t fly directly to it, many people visit the city during a tour of Andalusia. That is why it is so lovely and relaxed here, and you mainly hear Spanish around you. Very different from famous Spanish destinations such as Valencia and Seville. For the Dutch readers: perhaps you can best compare the different feel by comparing Haarlem versus Amsterdam.

What to do in Cádiz?

Anyway, I think Cádiz is a wonderful city with enough sights to keep you entertained for a few days. So, what can you do in Cádiz? Here are my best tips!

Join a city walking tour or bike tour in Cádiz

As far as I’m concerned, discovering a city starts with a city tour or bike tour with a guide. It helps me quickly catch a glimpse of all the highlights, get good tips for outings and restaurants, and learn about the history and life now in Cádiz.

My guide is the friendly Maria. I meet her on this walking tour. In 1.5 hours, we walk through Cádiz, and Maria continuously fires facts and stories at me. We walk past the main sights, and she points out small details on buildings and squares.

This is by no means the only walking tour you can do in Cádiz. For example, there are also themed tours and longer walks. Or maybe you prefer a bike ride? Check out these providers:

Cathedral of Cádiz

The most imposing building and main sight of Cádiz is probably the cathedral. It’s so big! And look at that bling-bling dome! If you stand in front of it, you may notice that different types of stone have been used. You can see the color difference. That’s because the construction took no less than 116 years. Which also explains the different architectural styles.

You can see the church map on the ground on the square in front of the cathedral. The cathedral is the most beautiful at the beginning of the evening when the sun turns the building golden yellow. And, of course, you can also view the cathedral from the inside. The dimensions of the crypts will surprise you: so big! There is also access to the church tower at the entrance, for a view of the city.

Google Maps location

Visit the Roman Theater

The Teatro Romano (Theatrum Balbi) is a nice surprise in Cádiz. Just behind the cathedral, you can take a look for free at the ruins of the Roman theater. There is a small museum, and you can admire the stands up close. It used to hold as many as 10,000 visitors. It wasn’t until 1980 that the theater was accidentally discovered when a fire broke out in a warehouse. Now it is partly excavated so that you can visit it.

Google Maps location

City Hall of Cádiz

The Plaza de San Juan Dios is the large square in Cádiz full of outdoor cafés, benches to rest, and home to the town hall. When you visit, make sure to loop up the facade of the city hall: you will see coats of arms and statues. I can imagine a beautiful balcony scene here. If you walk under the building’s arches, you will see that the bottom of the building is made of a brownish stone. They call this ‘oyster rock’ here. It was the cheapest stone at the time of construction, all-natural with shells and stones from the sea. Nowadays, the stone is forbidden, and people copy the oyster rock.

Google Maps location

Watchtower Torre Tavira with Camera Obscura

The top of the 18th century Torre Tavira is the highest point in Cádiz: 45 meters high. You have spectacular views of the city here. The watchtower is one of the 160 original watchtowers in the city of Cádiz. About 130 are left, but you can only visit a handful. The watchtowers are often part of houses, old merchant houses. They allowed the occupants to easily keep an eye on the ships. People stood on the tower, gazing at the ocean for pirates and fleets or perhaps their husbands or children coming home after a long journey.

You can simply climb the tower, but you can also buy a ticket including the Camera Obscura. That is a dark room with a lens so that the natural light from outside is projected so that you see what is happening outside. For example, you can project the cathedral of Cádiz in the Camera Obscura.

If you want to visit the Camera Obscura and not just climb the tower, it is best to book online in advance (here). There are time slots and different languages available. A reservation is unnecessary if you only come for the Torre Tavira and the view.

Google Maps location

The two fortresses of Cádiz

There are no fewer than two fortresses in Cádiz. From the city beach, one is on your left and one on your right. You cannot visit the Castillo de San Sebastián, but you can follow the pedestrian road across the sea toward it. Sometimes the fortress hosts concerts or other events, making it accessible at that time.

The other fortress is Castillo de Santa Catalina. You can walk around the premises for free. There is usually a small exhibition, and you can check out the chapel. And, of course, you can gaze out over the ocean while you walk along the fortress walls.

Google Maps location

To the beach in Cádiz

To be honest: I wouldn’t go to the beach in Cádiz. There are much nicer beaches on the Costa de la Luz. But there are some options in the city too, which is perfect if you just want to go for a quick dip and are staying in Cádiz. You have two options: Playa Caleta (here) and Playa de la Victoria. Playa de Caleta is the city beach. It is between the two forts, with many fishing boats at anchor.

Playa de la Victoria (here) is the long stretch of beach in the new part of Cádiz. Here you will also find some beach bars, such as Tirabuzón (here). Because of the location of the beach bars, you usually pay the top price for a snack and a drink.

The Campo del Sur runs between the two beaches: the pedestrian boulevard. If you have ever been to Cuba, you will understand that this part is called Little Havana. It looks like the Cuban malecon in Havana.

Cádiz and James Bond: shaken, not stirred

Speaking of the beach and Cuba… In the James Bond film Die Another Day, the Playa Caleta beach and the boulevard passed for Havana. Pierce Brosnan walks the Spanish malecon as James Bond and Halle Berry emerges from the sea at Playa Caleta beach while James sips his mojito. Just pay attention watching the video: in the background, you can see the fortress of Cádiz.

Tip! Would you like to order your drink in Spanish? Then take Spanish lessons at Spanish in Cádiz. That is a small language school in the suburb of Cádiz. I took private lessons for a week and found it both fun and affordable. More info.

The 3-in-1 Museum of Cádiz

The Museo de Cádiz has something for everyone: it is an archaeological, ethnographic, and art museum in one. AND! It is free to visit. So be sure to pop in. The building used to be a monastery. The museum looks rather large from the outside, but the exhibition space is manageable. And of course, you can always visit only part of it.

Google Maps location

The squares of Cádiz

Cádiz is a maze of streets that connect several squares. There is the Plaza Libertad with the market hall, the Plaza de las Flores with flower stalls, and Plaza de Mina with the Museum of Cádiz and many trees. My advice? Just wander through the city, and you will automatically encounter them. The squares of Cádiz almost all have bars and restaurants where you can rest your legs and order something tasty.

Barrio de la Viña in Cádiz

The neighborhood of Barrio de la Viña used to be a vineyard and then became a fishing district. El Faro is a household name here, and is a very popular seafood restaurant. There are many tapas bars too, and Calle Virgen de la Palma is absolutely stunning. It is a long street with palm trees and cozy cafes. You have to come and have a drink for sure!

Google Maps location

Cádiz Barrio de la Viña

Botanical Garden Parque Genovés

Mister Genovés was the mayor of Cádiz in the 19th century. Under his reign, the botanical garden Parque Genovés was created. It is located on the edge of the center, directly on the bay of Cádiz. And it is a beautiful, relaxing place. Children play, local residents chat on a bench, and many photo shoots take place of beautifully dressed children. The garden is full of remarkable trees and plants, so unleash your inner botanist!

Google Maps location

Cádiz Botanical Garden Parque Genovés: walking path with cut trees

Celebrating Carnival in Cádiz

Suppose you are in the region during carnival (February or March), then you MUST go to Cádiz. This is the largest carnival in Spain, and I read online that it is even the 3rd largest carnival in the world. Carnival is celebrated grandly and for a long time. In the Netherlands, we limit ourselves to three days. Here in Cádiz, Carnival takes over three weeks. Every day, there is something to experience: from parades to free food (yes, you read that right, free!). It is best to consult this site with Google Translate for what to do, where, and when. The Carnival highlights are the parade and the singing choirs in the city.

Get back to nature in Cádiz

The Bahia de Cádiz is not only the ocean but covers a much larger area. It is a nature reserve where many birds can be seen. There are marshes, beaches, salt pans, and more. You can go on some short hikes. Find an overview of the options here.

Restaurants and bars in Cádiz

I have the impression that there are more restaurants and bars in Cádiz than there are houses. Lots of tapas bars, and lots of international cuisines.

La Bodeguita de Plocia

La Bodeguita de Plocia is a tapas bar where you eat amidst the Spaniards. The portions are large, and the service is attentive. The Calle Plocia this tapas bar sits on is a good bet if you’re looking for food. It is full of restaurants and bars, so if La Bodeguita doesn’t have a spot for you, you’ll quickly find something else.

Google Maps location

Freiduria Marisquería Las Flores

For a quick snack or simple lunch, Freiduria Marisquería Las Flores offers all kinds of fried fish. Have it inside or order it in a bag at the counter if it’s too busy. Because it will be busy. The Spaniards also like to go there because it is reasonably priced for good fish.

Google Maps location

Empanadas Malvón

Another snack tip: the empanadas from Empanadas Malvón. An empanada is a dough filled with, for example, cheese or chicken and then it gets deep fried. At Empanadas Malvón, they have many different ones, and they experiment with unique flavor combinations.

Google Maps location

Empanadas Malvón Cádiz


For breakfast near the Playa de la Victoria beach, Bokallena is the place to be. The people in the neighborhood know that, too, because it is always busy. There’s a good chance you’ll have to wait for a table. The decor is modern, and the service is reasonably fast. Except for one waitress, she doesn’t want to speak English or deal with our limited Spanish and goes out of her way to avoid us.

Google Maps location

Código de Barra

Reserve one evening in Cádiz for a luxurious dinner. And then go to Código de Barra. This restaurant (owned by a Dutchman by the way) is so good! The Gadir menu is no less than 13 courses (for 70 euros) and it’s very surprising. The service knows how to explain in detail what is on our plate and is at the table in no time to pour water and wine. It is a bit of a fancy restaurant where it can feel like a museum sometimes, but the food… yum!

Google Maps location

Parking in Cádiz

Free parking in Cádizis impossible. You should look for a parking garage on the city’s outskirts. For example, this one or this one. Because you probably don’t want to drive through the city center anyway: the roads are so narrow. As you walk around, you may notice that melted-down cannons are mounted on the corners of houses as protection against cars. You won’t be the first to scrape their car against such a wall. So make sure you rent a car with the proper insurance. Try Sunny Cars or EasyTerra.

Cádiz wall cannon

Hotels in Cádiz

Looking for a nice hotel or apartment in Cádiz? There are plenty, especially apartments, as there is simply no room for large hotels or resorts in Cádiz. Be sure to include these options in your search:

More Spain inspiration?

  • Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com and Campspace. Rather stay in a hostel? Try HostelWorld.
  • Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. Another good option is WithLocals. And Freetour.com and GuruWalk both offer ‘free’ walking tours, while Baja Bikes has bike tours.
  • Attractions and museums. Get a 5% discount at Tiqets on museums and attractions with the discount code: KIMOPREIS22
  • Boat. You can catch a boat to Mallorca from Barcelona, for example. Book your ticket at Balearia. You can also get to the other Balearic Islands with Balearia. Compare ferry prices at Direct Ferries.
  • Bus and train. Travel to Spain with NS International or Flixbus. Other useful companies are Busbud, 12go, and Omio, also for buses and trains within Spain.
  • Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers. Want to compare more prices? Check out Discover Cars.
  • Flights. Have a look at Transavia and Vueling, but do compare prices! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
  • Money. Your debit and credit cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel. 
  • Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? From The Netherlands, there is plenty of choice. ANWB vakanties, Tui, Shoestring or Sawadee, of rather D-reizen, Sunweb, Corendon or Vakantie Discounter?
  • SIM card. Beware of unexpectedly high calling and internet costs. Buy a local SIM card when you arrive, or arrange one online via Airalo.
  • Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
  • Travel guides. Let’s get you ready for your trip! Order a travel guide to browse through. For example, at Bol.com or Amazon.
  • Yoga retreat. Or why not treat yourself to a yoga retreat in Spain!

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, I might receive a small commission.

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