Ever since I watched Rick Stein’s Long Weekend in Cadiz on TV I’d wanted to pay it a visit. At the time of watching, I wasn’t even living in Spain so mentally filed it away for a future holiday destination.
Fast forward a few months and not only was I living in Andalucia but Cadiz was practically on my doorstep. No excuse not to go!
Where is Cadiz?
Cadiz sits on a strip of land jutting into the Atlantic Ocean at the northern end of the Costa de la Luz.
For us the quickest way of getting there was a 90 minute drive inland from Los Barrios on the A381. There’s also a longer route using the N340 which goes through the lively coastal towns of Tarifa and Conil de la Frontera.
Cadiz is easily accessible as a day trip from Seville (around a 90 minute drive) as is the town of Jerez de la Frontera, a half hour drive away.
With its cobbled streets, Cadiz’s old town is the perfect size for strolling around and, handily, there are four different coloured walking trails around the town. Just pick a route and follow the painted line on the ground.
Each coloured line offers you the chance to see a different part of the city, whether you want to explore its oldest neighbourhoods, explore some of Cadiz’s history, or wander around the old city walls and check out the sea views.
There are plenty of guided tours to choose from too whether you’re interested in history, culture, or food and drink.
There’s so much to see in Cadiz but these are some of my personal highlights.
Mercado Central de Abastos
We arrived mid-morning on a Saturday and first stop was the Mercado Central (Central Market) – wow! What an experience. So much so that it deserves a blog post of its own. While not on the grand scale of Barcelona’s La Boqueria, it’s still a great introduction to an authentic Spanish market with more than 150 stalls selling fish and seafood, meat, fruit and veg, bread, pastries and deli items.
If you fancy a visit, you’ll find the market, which is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3pm, in Plaza de la Libertad.
Catedral de Cadiz
Situated in Plaza de la Catedral, Cadiz Cathedral dates back to the 18th century. There were very few people visiting the Cathedral when I was there which really brought home the sheer size and scale of it. The entry fee of €6 includes an audio handset for a self-guided tour of the cathedral, the crypt plus admission to the clock tower (Torre de Poniente) for an amazing view over the rooftops of Cadiz. Interestingly, there are no steps to climb to reach the top of the tower. Instead, it’s simply one long circular ramp which definitely made things easier!
Opening hours are from 10am to 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and 1.30pm to 6.30pm on Sundays.
Castillo de San Sebastian
San Sebastian Castle is a 17th century military fortress and getting there is a pleasant walk from Avenida Campo del Sur (where you can take the iconic photos of Cadiz Cathedral with its golden cupola) along the causeway to the castle at the end. Unfortunately, the castle is closed to visitors but the walk itself is worth it (and gives another perspective on Cadiz) and certainly blew the cobwebs away on the day we were there.
Interesting fact: In the Bond film Die Another Day when Halle Berry emerged from the sea, it was on to La Caleta beach to the right of the causeway and not Cuba, as the movie would have you believe.
Castillo de Santa Catalina
A walk along Avenida Duque de Najera to the other side of La Caleta beach leads to the 17th century fortress of Santa Catalina. This was originally a military prison but is now used for cultural events and exhibitions. It’s free to get in – there’s a small church, some interesting sculptures in the courtyard and we were able to walk around the walls for panoramic views back to Cadiz and further up the Costa de la Luz and beyond.
The castle is open daily from 11am until 7.30pm (8.30pm during the summer).
A walk through Cadiz’s Botanical Gardens on Avenida Doctor Gomez Ulla was a peaceful ending to our Sunday morning waterfront stroll. The park is free to enter and is open daily from 8am to sunset (10.30pm in the summer months).
Dating back to the late 18th century there’s a great variety of plants and trees, and it was lovely to sit and have a drink in Café Bar El Parque listening to the squawking of the parakeets in the palms.
What we ate
Thanks to Rick Stein (and our visit to the market) we were both keen to sample some of the local delicacies (and of course, we needed plenty of energy for all that walking!).
Our first food stop on the Saturday morning was to Café Bar La Marina, which is near the market in Plaza Topete and popular with the locals, for a plate of churros con chocolate. The chocolate was really thick and sweet – in other words, perfect for dunking churros, and always my favourite way to start a weekend!
For dinner on the Saturday evening we visited Freiduria las Flores also in Plaza Topete. The first thing we did on entering was seek out the guy with the clipboard otherwise there’d have been no chance of a table! He took our name and, while we waited, we had a drink at the bar. When our name was called we were led to an outside table which meant I could indulge in my love of people watching, as well as enjoy the Christmas lights. We ordered a couple of tortillitas de camarones (shrimp fritters) and then had a mixed platter of the pescaito frito (fried fish) all followed with a glass of sherry (well, it was nearly Christmas and Cadiz is, after all, just on the periphery of the sherry triangle!).
On the Sunday before we headed home we popped in to Bar Casa Manteca at Calle Corralon de los Carros 66, a traditional Spanish bar with bullfighting memorabilia adorning all the walls. All the outside space was already taken and it was standing room only at the bar but we were lucky to get a prime spot right next to the only beer pump. Tapas are served on sheets of greaseproof paper – the cheese was the local payoyo variety (super strong just how I like it!) and the anchovies in olive oil and vinegar were delicious. I can’t comment on the chicharrones (slices of cured pork belly with lemon and herbs) as I don’t eat meat, but Mark demolished two servings so they must have been good!
Where we stayed
We stayed in Hotel Convento Cadiz on Calle Santo Domingo in the heart of the old town. This boutique hotel was a converted convent and in an ideal location for seeing all the sights. Our room on the first floor was beautifully furnished, spacious and came equipped with its own Nespresso machine – definitely a plus point for me!!
The hotel has a small breakfast room on the ground floor but we chose to eat outside in the courtyard (despite it being mid-December it really wasn’t too cold). We tucked into a variety of hot and cold dishes (the pastries were delicious!) accompanied by the sounds of Michael Buble singing Feliz Navidad. I’m reliably informed that, when it’s not Christmas, the soundtrack is the rather more fitting chanting of monks.
If you’re planning a trip to Spain, why not add this to your Pinterest board?