Cadiz was also not part of my plans, this was a newly added destination thanks to a good friend I made in Edinburgh. Well, it was really a trade because I sacrificed Malaga to head out here and I don’t regret it one bit. The only reason I am in Cadiz, because truth be told I had never even seen a picture of what Cadiz looked like nor had done research on things to do here, I only knew it was in the south of Spain and that was that, my friend would not stop talking of the amazing beaches and how beautiful of a town it is. Cadiz is a one hour train ride from Seville, and there are trains running every half hour throughout the day so no need to rush.
As soon as you get off the train in Cadiz, the first thing you are going to see is a tourist information booth, which I thought was incredibly convenient and smart of the city to have, here you can get a map of the city and possibly join some tours if you like. I usually don’t book any tours, I always rather explore by myself if I don’t have a lot of time at a certain place, just so I can go at my own pace and actually see and hear about what I am really interested in. I first headed out to the walking tour which was great, if you are spending the night here your hostel probably hosts a free tour so make sure you check that out first before paying someone else.
The walking tour will take you through the center of the city, old town. In between the most important alleys and neighborhoods like Barrio del Populo, to the Cathedral and main Churches, the little mercados and famous restaurants like “Las Flores” where, according to my tour guide, the locals still go, it’s not like it’s a tourist only spot it is still very well loved by everyone in Cadiz. The tour will also take you to a very interesting tavern that will provide a free Vino de Jerez tasting. It’s very characteristic of the region and it’s particularly harvested in the souther area of Spain.
The tour bus takes about an hour to take you around the main areas of town, I recommend it because it is a small town and you can take a little break from walking and hear some cool stuff about the city. After taking that hour tour on the bus I went back to the spots I wanted to explore individually on foot, like the beaches and plazas. Castillo de San Sebastian and Castillo de Santa Catalinda stand by the water bordering Playa de la Caleta, make sure to check out the castles to get a great view of the city and of Playa la Caleta. I recommend walking the whole boardwalk through the beaches all the way from Castillo de San Sebastian to Plaza Espana, it might even be a better idea to rent a bike for the day. Right before entering the beach region, you will see the botanical garden, which has very tall trees cut and trimmed in very unique shapes with a varied species of flowers and bushes that make it a very interesting walk.
After the beach you can head to Plaza Espana, a circular park with the Cadiz tower int he middle surrounded by orange trees overlooking part of the ocean. You can take a little break here and sit for a while and I know you’ll want to eat one of those beautiful, colorful oranges hanging on the trees surrounding the park BUT don’t! This are not the oranges we are used to in America, they are bitter and are pretty much inedible, not poisonous, but just not a good taste. The region exports the oranges to other parts of Europe, particularly France to have products like jams made out of the peel of such.
One interesting fact I learned about Cadiz is that it is almost an island, I know that’s weird but the city is basically all surrounded by water EXCEPT for a tiny tiny strip of land or an isthmus that would take a 15 minute walk to get from the city to the edge.
About three blocks from Plaza Sevilla is the Oratorio de la Santa Cueva, a cave with original Goya paintings, very much worth your three euros. (1.50 if you booked the bus tour). If you keep going south about a ten minute walk down Columela street you will be close to Torre Tavira, which is one of the main buildings here in Cadiz and you can climb all the way to the top for the best view of the city due to its camera obscure effect (admittance is five euros). At this point I was walking it all out not following my tour guide or the bus, and to be honest, I had to walk for a while to find this place and turns out I had walked by it several times without knowing. Unless you walk with your head up you will not easily come across the tower, I guess I was expecting it to be way more visible, being one of the most important monuments, but it is compacted in with the rest of the buildings so make sure you look for the sign at one of the corners for the tower.
And last but not least, the Cathedral. The Cathedral I passed by with my tour guide and she gave us all the details and information about the history and building of such, but just seeing it from the outside it’s really mind blowing. What was even more amazing is that the building blocks used for part of the cathedral are rocks taken from the ocean,. Not only is this a porous material but it also contains sediments from shells and rocks that makes it look even more unique. Make sure you head out for some tortillas de camaron before leaving Cadiz and some tapas at the Mercado and restaurants around the area.
If you have some extra time I recommend renting a car or taking the bus to the southern area beaches; 138 km encompassing more than 83 beaches. Many of the beaches are well known particularly for surfing, windsurfing and some even for fishing. You can get more info on the beaches and how to get there through this link for Cadiz Turismo