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Since I watched Rick Stein’s Long Weekend in Cadiz on TV about a year ago 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 ten months and not only was I living in Andalucia but Cadiz was only about an hour’s drive away. No excuse not to go!
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 (which you can read here).
Cadiz is a beautiful old town with cobbled streets built on a strip of land jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the perfect size for strolling around and, handily, there are four different coloured walking trails around the town (which you can download here). Just pick a route and follow the painted line on the ground!
There’s so much to see in Cadiz but these are some of my personal highlights.
There were very few people visiting the Cathedral which really brought home the sheer size and scale of it. For €5 I was given an audio handset for a self-guided tour which included the crypt and admission to the clock tower (Torre de Poniente) for an amazing view over the rooftops of Cadiz – no steps to climb simply one long circular slope (which definitely made things easier!).
Castillo de San Sebastian
It’s a pleasant walk 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.
Castillo de Santa Catalina
On the other side of La Caleta beach is the 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 views back to Cadiz and further up the Costa de la Luz.
A walk through the park was a lovely peaceful ending to our Sunday morning waterfront stroll. There’s a great variety of plants and trees and it was lovely to sit and have a drink 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 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! My favourite way to start a weekend!
For dinner on the Saturday evening we visited Freiduria las Flores – the first thing we did on entering was seek out the guy with the clipboard otherwise there’d be no chance of a table! He took our name and, while we waited, had a drink at the bar. We ended up sitting outside which was lovely as Cadiz was lit up for Christmas. We ordered a couple of tortillitas de camarones (shrimp fritters) and then had a mixed platter of the pescaito frito all followed with a nice glass of sherry (well, it was nearly Christmas after all!).
On the Sunday before we headed home we popped in to Casa Manteca, a traditional Spanish bar with bullfighting memorabilia adorning all the walls. It was standing room only at the bar – we got a prime spot right next to the only beer pump! Tapas is served on sheets of greaseproof paper – the cheese was the local payoyo variety (super strong just how I like it!) and the anchovies were to die for.
Where we stayed
Our hotel, Hotel Convento Cadiz, was a converted convent 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!!
There’s 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 in to a variety of hot and cold dishes (the pastries are 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.