The inside guide to Cádiz, Andalucia’s most underrated coastal city break

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Cadiz City Guide

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Cádiz, one of the most ancient cities in Western Europe, has managed to maintain its unique charm. The city’s skyline is dotted with over 120 watchtowers, vestiges of its bustling trading port history. The gold-domed cathedral serves as a symbol of the prosperity it once relished. The soul of the city lies in the white-painted Casco Antiguo (old town), a labyrinth of slim streets guiding tourists past verdant plazas, ornate baroque churches, and grand 18th-century merchant buildings.

Kick-off your day the Spanish way with crispy churros and chocolate. Café La Marina is a crowd favorite, but if you prefer to avoid higher prices, mingle with the locals, known as ‘gaditanos,’ in the queue for Churrería La Guapa, conveniently located across the Plaza de la Libertad.

A stone’s throw away, you’ll find the 150ft-high Torre Tavira, the tallest watchtower in Cádiz. Once serving as a lookout for ships arriving from the Americas, it now offers breathtaking city views and an entertaining camera obscura. After your visit, venture below ground at the Yacimiento Arqueológico Gadir, where you can marvel at the intact remains of the Phoenician settlement that founded Cádiz in the 9th century.

Continue your exploration in the old town, home to a warren of miniature bars and vintage barber shops, adorned with distinctive art nouveau iron balustrades and tiled entrances. Tucked away is the Oratorio de la Santa Cueva, a neoclassical treasure housing three magnificent paintings by the 18th-century Spanish maestro, Francisco Goya. For a touch of retail therapy, Sasha Alpargatas offers a wide range of espadrilles, or visit Mira-Mira for colorful jewellery and handbags.

Cumbres Mayores, just off Plaza de Mina, offers a place to recharge. This restaurant and tapas bar has been serving traditional Andalucian delicacies since 1966. Savor their grilled pork ribs or garlic prawns amidst the hanging jamóns or in the rustic dining room. For a sweet treat, roam the old town streets to taste pan de Cádiz, a marzipan and candied fruit cake that’s a local favorite.

Summertime visitors should not miss Cádiz’s sandy beaches. La Caleta, close to the old town, Victoria, a short drive away, and the untamed Cortadura, to the south of town, are particularly renowned. Alternatively, take a train to the neighboring El Puerto de Santa Maria, part of Andalucia’s ‘sherry triangle’. Visit Bodegas Osborne for a guided tour, including a tasting session of this famed fortified wine.

Continue your journey in Santa Maria’s cobbled streets. For more gastronomic delights, visit Romerijo, a family-owned restaurant and fishmonger offering fresh seafood on the go. Following your meal, take a catamaran back to Cádiz, a relaxing 30-minute journey across the water.

Sunsets in Cádiz are best savored from bars. During summer, the crowd gathers near La Caleta beach, while in the winter, Ajolá is a cozy venue just a short walk away. To end your day, stop by La Bodeguita de Plocia, a revered local tapas bar, where you can enjoy fried anchovies and a glass of ultra-smooth manzanilla sherry.

This feature was made possible with the collaboration of Visit Andalucia and the Cádiz Tourist Board. As published in the June 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cadiz City Guide

What are the main attractions in Cadiz mentioned in the guide?

The guide mentions several attractions in Cadiz including the watchtowers such as Torre Tavira, the gold-domed cathedral, Casco Antiguo (old town), Yacimiento Arqueológico Gadir (archaeological site), Oratorio de la Santa Cueva church, and the beautiful beaches of La Caleta and Victoria. Also, culinary experiences at Café La Marina, Churrería La Guapa, and Cumbres Mayores are suggested.

Where can I taste traditional Andalucian fare in Cadiz?

The guide recommends Cumbres Mayores, a restaurant and tapas bar located just off Plaza de Mina, for traditional Andalucian food. They have been serving delicacies like grilled pork ribs and garlic prawns since 1966.

What kind of shopping options are available in Cadiz?

The guide suggests Sasha Alpargatas for a variety of espadrilles and Mira-Mira for colorful jewellery and handbags as great shopping options in Cadiz.

Where can I taste the local sherry wine in the region?

You can taste the local sherry wine at Bodegas Osborne winery located in El Puerto de Santa Maria, a town near Cadiz and part of Andalucia’s ‘sherry triangle’. The winery offers guided tours that include tasting sessions.

What are some recommended places to enjoy the sunset and nightlife in Cadiz?

According to the guide, sunsets in Cadiz are best enjoyed from bars near La Caleta beach during summer. In the winter months, Ajolá, a cozy spot just 10 minutes’ walk away from the beach, is recommended. For nightlife, La Bodeguita de Plocia, a local tapas bar, is one of the best places to end your day.

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