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Words by Erin Hardie | Photos by Ryan Platten

3.50€ per pint of Guinness
*2.20€ per pint of local beer (Cruzcampo)

The chalk to Seville's cheese!Click To Tweet
We visited Cádiz by an hour’s train ride from Seville, as we continued our southwards journey of Spain. We were excited to get out to the coast for our first time since visiting mainland Spain, but the beaches we found were not the only thing to set Cádiz apart from Seville. In fact, Cádiz seemed rather like the chalk to Seville’s cheese. Which is not to imply that Cádiz is lacking (I know we’d most of us choose cheese over chalk any day) but simply that all the things that make Cádiz wonderful are somewhat the opposite of the things that make Seville wonderful!

The palm tree-dominated seaside streets of Cadiz lend themselves to a nice laid-back atmosphere.

Seville is big and busy! And brimful of international tourists. Cádiz by contrast was much quieter and smaller, and the tourists were mostly “intranational”,

that is Cádiz seems the holiday choice for Spanish but perhaps doesn’t make the cut on the crowded schedules of internationally visiting tourists. We observed a near-total siesta closure from 3pm-5pm around the old town that further hinted that this was a place a dash more off the beaten track than big smoke Seville. And hardcore sightseers may be disappointed as by and large, you can “see” Cádiz in a day. But don’t forget that Cádiz is a beach town. Seaside places were never meant for rushing. And even if lying by the shore is not your favourite thing you could still relax tableside, there’s no shortage of alfresco options for a drink or a bite, in no less than ten different squares in the Cádiz old town area!

Plaza de las Flores in the heart of Cadiz’s old town mainly sells flowers, but other plazas are hubs for alfresco drinking and eating

And did I mention there’s a beach? In fact there’s beach for days. Cádiz is a narrow peninsula poking out of the south-eastern coast of Spain. Alongside the flat, yellow sand beaches runs a paved promenade, and across the road from the promenade, at certain points, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Havana, Cuba, so colorful and mid-height are the buildings opposite. In fact this is such an easy mistake to make that the makers of the 2002 Bond Movie, Die Another Day, used stretches of this vista for the opening Cuban scenes!

The waterfront of Cadiz looks remarkably similar to that of Havana 

Being seaside it will come as no surprise that seafood is the main event culinarily speaking in Cádiz. But our advanced research on the train journey down did turn up one point of shock and “whaaaat”!? Alongside the Spanish flavours you’d expect to find you will also find sushi! Cádiz’s fishing industry is the world’s second largest producer of tuna, and 80% of this catch (bluefin tuna) gets sent to Japan.

Cadiz's fishing industry is the second largest producer of tuna in the world!Click To Tweet
There is plenty left in town though if you’re hankering for a taste of the Orient; try the tuna sashimi or nigiri. You can get it at a number of sushi restaurants or just from a stand-up stall at the (mostly fish) market: the Mercado Central.

Every street you turn down has a restaurant or bar for you to relax in.

So whether you prefer old world sightseeing charm or long days of beach lounging and seaside strolling make sure Cádiz doesn’t get cut from your crowded schedule, it’s a gem whose charm is truly on a par with Havana, Cuba. Read on for our top picks to see slowly to really get the feel for Cádiz, which is to just relax and soak it all in 🙂 If you’ve been to Cádiz we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Until next time, Salud (cheers)! Erin & Ryan.

Our top picks

No surprise that this tops our list with its photo opportunities to mimic Havana, the beaches being of sand, alfresco restaurant/bars lining this wide street and one for the history lovers: a castle in the sea! The Castle of San Sebastian (Castillo de San Sebastián) is a fortress style castle connected to the La Caleta beach by a long jetty that feels to be of a similar vintage, although actually it was built over 150 years later in 1860, yes, so recently… The castle itself was constructed in 1706 on this small island that is approximately 1km from the shore. This stone jetty (levee technically speaking) is unsurprisingly a popular spot to run/walk the dog/do a spot of fishing/or just sunbathe on. And the castle, well that’s a bonus!

The Castle of San Sebastian sits out to sea off the beach connected by a long stone jetty.

The Teatro Romano de Cádiz, is one of the largest Roman theatres ever built in the Roman Empire. Likely built in the 1st century BC and rediscovered in 1980 it has been mentioned by classical Roman authors such as Cicero and Strabo. If claims to fame aren’t enough to sway you to go there then perhaps some of its structural features alone will seal the deal. For me the deal was sealed by the fact that visitors can still walk through the entirely closed tunnel of the vomitorium, and emerge out onto the tiered seating to view down to where the stage would have been. This gives a goosebumpy feeling of walking in the footsteps of an ancient civilisation. It was also seemingly free entry for international visitors and if my poor Spanish is to be trusted then this is perhaps not so for “intranational” visitors.

Walking under the Roman theatre is like taking a step back in time

Meander along the old town streets to get a feel for Cádiz’s long history stemming from the Phoenicians as far back as 1100 BC! The main squares (plazas) to hit are Plaza de Topete (aka Plaza de las Flores) which if you know Spanish you will have guessed means it is filled with flowers (from the daily flower market). Plaza de la Candelaria is named for the convent that used to be found there, it now has iron fenced, shady public gardens. Plaza de Mina boasts over thirty species of trees and is a good spot for nightlife. Plaza de San Juan de Dios is the town hall square, we stayed just off this square and there are plenty of well-priced accommodation options around here. If you do you will also pass the Cadiz Cathedral, Parroquia de Santa Cruz, Church of Santiago and many more churches, if grand cathedrals and churches are your thing. Sadly the Yacimiento Arqueológico Gadir (Phoenician archaeological site) doesn’t seem to be open any longer. The Mercado Central is an excellent spot for a cheap lunch and wherever you wander in the old town you can’t walk for falling over alfresco bars to then while away the evening.

Plaza de San Juan de Dios holds market stalls most days

Have you been to Cadiz? We’d love to hear your take on this quaint seaside town! Leave a comment below 🙂

Ryan & Erin
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Ryan & Erin

Founders at Downbubble Travels
Erin Hardie and Ryan Platten are teachers, travel writers and photographers/web admins from Perth Western Australia. A mutual love of travel and trying new flavours brought them together (til death do they part!). They have created this blog after having each travelled to over fifteen countries individually before joining forces. They now seek to bring a little taste of the places they go to the walls of others (please pin us!) and to share information with other travel lovers!
Ryan & Erin
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Whether you prefer old world sightseeing charm or long days of beach and seaside strolling make sure Cádiz doesn’t get cut from your Spain trip schedule, it's a gem! Read our guide to get inspired!