13 things to do when you visit Cádiz in South Spain
While many people head straight to Málaga when the journey is set for Andalusia in South Spain, try further west where the city of Cádiz is an excellent base for a combined beach- and city holiday. Cádiz is the capital of the province by the same name, set on a unique slice of land which is connected by bridges to the coastline nearby – and a city that will charm you with its historic streets, its beaches and its tasty seafood. Here are 13 things to do when you visit this beauty…
Try the famous ‘camarones’
If there is one thing Cádiz is known for it is seafood, and you simply can’t leave the city without trying tortillitas de camarones at least once. There are plenty of different seafood dishes to choose between at the local restaurants (especially fried fish), but this is one of the highlights. It translates to ‘shrimp fritters’ and they are made with a batter of wheat flour, chickpea flour, water, onion, parsley, salt and pepper – and most importantly little shrimps. They’re fried in olive oil, and end up looking like little “shrimp cookies”. Surprisingly simple but extremely addictive – and I tried them a couple of times at Marisquería Las Flores 1, at Plaza Topete 4. A restaurant I can highly recommend.
Stop to admire Catedral de Cádiz
The Cathedral of Cádiz is located near the coast in the old town, and it looks massive when admired from the square in front. In fact it’s so big that it can be difficult to get a goot photo of it up from here, but from along the nearby promenade you can get a nice shot of its two towers and golden dome. It was built from 1722 to 1838, and due to the long process it has been influenced by different architectural styles, from baroque to neoclassical. It can be visited for just 6 euros.
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Kick back on the “James Bond beach”
While the province of Cádiz offers a large selection of amazing beaches, the city itself has a few main beaches, with Playa de La Caleta (or simply La Caleta) being the most central to the old town. Set in a lovely little bay the water normally keeps relatively calm here, while the tidal difference is quite big. It’s a nice sandy beach and popular with families – and it became famous when it was used for the movie James Bond: Die Another Day (from 1997), where a famous scene features Halle Berry walking up from the water towards Mr. Bond. Don’t expect to find the actress tanning here, but you can still admire the pearly white pavilion-looking building, which apparently is the headquarters of an Underwater Archaeology Center.
Find your spot on Playa de Santa María
If La Caleta is too small for you, head to the west-facing beach of Playa de Santa María del Mar. Here (or further south along the coast), you will have plenty of space to unfold your towel, to chill out and go for a swim – or go body surfing as the waves are better here compared to La Caleta. You can easily overview the beach from the elevated promenade along the main road.
Check out Plaza de San Antonio
Plaza de San Antonio is a large and atmospheric square in the northern part of the old town – surrounded by beautiful architecture, with the Church of San Antonio as the focus point. A great place to just sit and watch life go by, but don’t forget to visit Casino Gaditano, which is a cultural and gastronomic highlight in a corner of the square – and it’s free to admire the detailed arabic architecture inside the foyer.
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Go shopping in Calle Ancha
Get your shopping fix along the lovely Calle Ancha that runs from San Antonio square and until it forks into two other shopping streets. Along Calle Ancha you will find a nice mix of stores, cafés and ice cream shops, as well as some neat architecture – so don’t forget to look up to admire the glass-covered balconies known as ‘galerías’. Keep on walking to Calle José del Toro where Pancracio will tempt every true chocolate-lover with their artisan quality products, including their unique chocolate-flavoured vodka!
Have breakfast in a bookstore
I love a good bookshop-café, so I was happy to come across La Clandestina while exploring the streets of Cádiz. A cultural hotspot with a touch of vintage atmosphere – and a lovely place to enjoy a cup of coffee and a light breakfast. The shelves hold a unique selection of alternative books from poetry to beautiful children’s books, and you will also find art and little gift items. A wonderful escape from the world outside. From time to time they also offer exhibitions, readings, book presentations and other events, so check their website if you’re in town for a few days.
Enjoy a stroll through Parque Genovés
Due to the unique location of Cádiz, the city naturally isn’t full of green parks – but it does have the lovely Parque Genovés, which is found along the promenade of the northwestern tip. Sit down for a cup of coffee or enjoy the view to the Atlantic Ocean from the elevated walkway. This park is an excellent place to take a break or go for a romantic stroll.
Good luck choosing your flavours at Narigoni / Photo: narigoni.com
Get addicted to Narigoni’s gelato
Beware! Once you try the gelato from Narigoni you’ll be addicted – so if you want to keep your budget – and your weight – try it on your last day in the city. If you don’t care, run there as soon as you arrive in Cádiz! Your hardest task will be to choose from a selection of everything between mouth-watering chocolate flavours to fruity gelato that tastes like the real deal. Some are popular classics while others are more unique combinations. My personal favourites were mojito and caramel cookie. As a bonus it’s located on Plaza de la Catedral – facing the city’s impressive cathedral.
Explore the central market
Mercado Central is not surprisingly located in the centre of the old town, and you shouldn’t miss out on a visit behind the walls. It’s a historic market that was heavily renovated to re-open in 2009, divided into and inner and an outer section. The inner section being dedicated to sellers of fresh fish and all kinds of seafood, while the outer part is lined by stalls of which many are selling freshly prepared food. Make your choice between everything from tapas to crêpes – or just a caña (beer) to enjoy in the shade.
See the sunset from a castle
While randomly strolling along the promenade my partner and I ended up at a free event inside Castillo de Santa Catalina, which is a star-shaped fortress neighbouring La Caleta beach. The event was a dj-session by sunset, and it turns out this unique setting is used for several events like this – this summer (2018) on Wednesdays from July to mid-August. The castle was built in 1693 and it was turned into a military prison in 1769. Today it’s a protected historic attraction mainly used as an event-venue. An excellent spot to watch the sun set beyond the sea.
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Tempt yourself at Monkey Bakery Café
Looking for a sweet treat or just a cup of coffee in the shade? Then drop in at the funky named Monkey Bakery Café, which is a modern café with a distinct urban feel. And the display will make any cake-lover drool when faced with their selection. But it’s not all sweet stuff, and you might be tempted to stay around for lunch or bring a freshly baked bread with you for a pinic at one of the city’s lovely squares.
Walk the city’s promenade
One of the best features of Cádiz is its long promenade along the sea front, which invites you to take a long stroll with ocean views. And you will also be able to admire some historic buildings along the way, like the two castles cornering the beach of La Caleta – Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de San Sebastián. And of course also the iconic Catedral de Cádiz. A few minutes from the the cathedral’s golden dome, you can take a break at El Pelícano Músicafé, that frequently offers live music – and sometimes salsa dancing on the street.
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