Cadiz is the oldest surviving city in Spain which was founded by the Phoenicians in 1100BC and was later occupied by the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors. Today a narrow bridge is the only connection between the city and the mainland. In recent years the port of Cadiz has grown in popularity as a cruise ship destination which has given cruise passengers the opportunity to get a taste of western Andalucia. The dock for cruise ships is right in the city centre near the majestic Plaza del Ayuntamiento which is the city’s main hub. From here you can walk to most of Cadiz’s main attractions.
The most popular day excursion for cruise arrivals is to the magnificent city of Seville which lies 125km to the north with a journey time by road of about 1½ hours. There are trains which run between the cities but with journey times of around 2 hours each way and no guarantee that there will be a departure to suit your arrival in port it’s hardly the best way to get to Seville when you have limited time available.
Some visitors choose to visit Jerez de la Frontera and pay a visit to the famous sherry ‘bodegas’ or see a show at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art if they are fortunate enough to arrive on the day of a performance. Jerez lies just 40km (and 40 minutes) from the port. Again train services are an option with hourly departures taking just 50 minutes to get there but you’d be far better off booking a private excursion so that you can make the most of the time available in port and tie in a visit to some of the ‘Pueblos Blancos’ (White Villages) which are close to Jerez.
If you do decide to go down the private excursion line you’ll have an English speaking driver awaiting your arrival who will transport you to your chosen destination. On arrival you will usually meet up with an official local tour guide who will show you around the highlights of Seville or Jerez de la Frontera before returning you safely to the Port of Cadiz in plenty time for your ship’s departure.
Most Popular Shore Excursions from Cadiz Port
1 – Full Day Visit to the Magical City of Seville
Seville is a magical city known for its love of flamenco dancing, sherry and bullfighting. It has a wealth of art and monuments and a day trip to the capital of Andalucia will no doubt be one of the highlights of your vacation. You could spend a week visiting the many wonderful attractions that Seville has to offer. Unfortunately, you’ll only have a few hours so your guide will do their best to show you some of its highlights before you have to head back to Cadiz.
Depending on time your tour guide will show you some combination of the following attractions:
- The immense Cathedral which was built on the site of Seville’s main Mosque between 1401 and 1507.
- The Giralda tower which was the former minaret of the Mosque and dates from the 12th century.
- The Alcazar which was a fortress in the Muslim era (dates from AD 913) and served as a hideout of Muslim and Christian royalty for many centuries.
- Seville’s bullring which dates back to 1758 and is one of the oldest in the country.
- The Archivo de Indias which holds over 80 million documents related to Spanish colonialism in the Americas dating back to 1492.
- The Antigua Fábrica de Tabacos which was the city’s old tobacco factory used in Bizet’s Carmen. Today it is a part of the University.
- The Plaza de España which was built for the the 1929 Spanish-Americas Fair and is probably the most spectacular square in all of Spain.
2 – Sherry Tasting and Dancing Horses in Jerez de la FronteraThe excursion to Jerez follows the same format as the Seville trip in terms of your driver and guide but thanks to the shorter journey time there’s a little more flexibility on this tour. Life in the charming city of Jerez de la Frontera revolves around the Andalucian passion for horses, flamenco and sherry. Taking a tour of one of the city’s famous sherry ‘bodegas’ such as González Byass, Sandeman and Domecq is one of the main tourist attractions. The other is trying to see a show of the famous dancing horses of Jerez at the Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. These performances take place 2 or 3 times a week during the summer months (once in winter) so check the Real Escuela http://www.realescuela.org/en/ website for confirmation of dates to see if they coincide with your visit. Just 30 minutes inland from Jerez is the stunning White Village of Arcos de la Frontera which can often be included in a private tour before returning to Cadiz.
3 – Walking Tour of Cadiz
The perfect arrival point in the very heart of the city of Cadiz means that if you’d prefer not to take a full day excursion you could quite happily pass the day wandering the many grand ‘plazas’ of this historic location. Cadiz’s cathedral with with its golden roof and the Tavira watchtower are worth a visit, the latter housing a ‘Camera Obscura’ which gives a fantastic 360° view of the whole city. If you’re not keen on walking around there’s a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ bus service that tours all the main sights. Other options include taking a short boat ride across the bay to El Puerto de Santa Maria or heading for the beautiful beach at La Caleta which is uniquely located between two ancient castles. Alternatively, join a walking tour of Cadiz in the company of a resident guide, enjoy a typical Andalucian lunch and see a flamenco performance.
If I Were You …
I’m more than confident that you will enjoy any of the three options suggested above. Cadiz city is a unique place to visit and you can happily spend many hours discovering what it has to offer whilst not having to walk very far at all. Watching the dancing horses in action in Jerez is a sight to behold and you’ll marvel at the beauty of the ‘Pueblos Blancos’ in the interior of Andalucia. However, if this is your first time in this part of the world then in my opinion Seville has to be the top recommendation. I’ve visited there countless times and always look forward to my next visit. Whilst you’ll marvel at the Cathedral, the Giralda and the Alcazar you’ll also find so much more. The city seems to exude a festive atmosphere whilst its sky always seems to be bright blue, its people are welcoming. Just take this day trip and I’m sure you’ll have one of the best days of your cruise.
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