Best Things to do in Cádiz Spain

The city of Cádiz on Spain’s Costa de la Luz is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe. Founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC, the city has a rich history marked by its strategic military and commercial location on the Atlantic Ocean. Over the centuries, Cádiz has been influenced by various civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors.

The city experienced a resurgence in the 18th century due to its position as the centre of sea routes and commercial trade with the Americas. Nowadays the city’s cultural heritage and location on the Costa de la Luz ensure that there are plenty things to do in Cádiz which has become a popular tourist destination for cruise ships and city break visitors.

Things to do in Cádiz

Getting to Cádiz

Cádiz lies 650km south-west of Madrid on Spain’s Costa de la Luz. The most convenient way for travellers to get to Cádiz is by flying into one of the Andalucía’s international airports. These include Jerez de la Frontera Airport (45km), Seville Airport (130km) or Málaga Airport (225km). If you’re arriving in Madrid or Barcelona from overseas you’ll be able to book domestic connections to these airports. Alternatively, you can get to Cádiz from all over the country on the first class rail network or on long distance buses. Car hire is another option from any Spanish airport or major train station.

Top 11 Things to Do in Cádiz Spain

Visit the Yacimiento Arqueologico Gadir

The Yacimiento Arqueologico Gadir is an archaeological site in Cádiz which showcases the ancient Phoenician and Roman history of the city. The site is divided into different levels, corresponding to the different periods of occupation of the settlement of Gadir, which is historically one of the oldest of Phoenician character in the West. On the site, you can see the paved layout of the streets, housesand tools from the 9th century BC.

These constructions were built using earth architecture, mainly with mud and clay. The site is considered one of the best-preserved Phoenician settlements, with fossil traces of numerous cattle which crossed these roads also visible. The archaeological site provides valuable insights into the lifestyle and culture of the ancient Phoenician civilization.

Admire the Catedral de Cádiz

The Catedral de Cádiz, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Cruz, is a Roman Catholic church and the seat of the Diocese of Cádiz y Ceuta. The cathedral’s construction began in 1722 and was completed in 1838, spanning over 116 years. Due to the extended construction period, the cathedral underwent several major changes to its original design. Initially intended to be a Baroque-style edifice, it now contains Rococo elements and was finally completed in the Neoclassical style, evident in its facade, towers and domes.

Things to do in Cádiz

The cathedral is often referred to as ‘The Cathedral of The Americas’ because it was built with money from trade between Spain and the New World. The 18th century marked a golden age for Cádiz and the construction of this grand cathedral was a testament to the city’s prosperity at the time.

See Cádiz Through the Camera Obscura of the Torre Tavira

Torre Tavira is the most famous watchtower in Cádiz and was built in the mid-18th century in Baroque style. The tower was named after its first watchman, Lieutenant Antonio Tavira, who used a telescope to observe ships arriving from the Americas. Today, the tower houses a Camera Obscura, which offers a 360-degree tour of the city with real and moving images, accompanied by a guide who explains the history and curiosities of Cádiz and its monuments.

Explore the Roman Theatre of Cádiz

The Roman Theatre of Cádiz, also known as Theatrum Balbi, is an ancient structure built during the 1st century BC. It was one of the largest theatres ever built in the Roman Empire and could accommodate up to 10,000 spectators. The theatre was abandoned in the 4th century and in the 13th century, a fortress was built on its ruins by order of King Alfonso X of Castile. The remains of the theatre were discovered in 1980 and have only been partially excavated.

Wander the Barrio del Pópulo

Barrio del Pópulo is the oldest neighborhood in Cádiz and is considered the oldest in Europe. Its origin dates back to the 13th century and it features three entrance arches from that period: Arco de la Rosa, Arco del Pópuloand Arco de los Blancos. This medieval neighborhood is home to narrow streets and historic buildings, including the Casa del Almirante, a beautiful Baroque palace and the Iglesia de Santa Cruz.

Relax on the City Beaches

There’s always something special about cities with beaches and Cádiz is one of them. Its three urban beaches are as follows:

Playa La Caleta: Located between two old castles, Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de San Sebastián, Playa La Caleta is a small, beautiful beach known for its soft sand and shallow waters.

Playa de la Victoria: This popular urban beach is backed by a promenade with plenty bars and restaurants. It has been awarded a Blue Flag by the European Union for its high standards of cleanliness and excellent facilities.

Playa de la Cortadura: Located just south of the city, Playa de la Cortadura is another Blue Flag-awarded beach in Cádiz, offering pristine sand and clear waters.

Sample the Local Cuisine

The whole of the Costa de la Luz is synonymous with excellent local seafood served in its restaurants and tapas bars. Here are a few suggestions of places worth visiting in Cádiz:

La Candela: This lively tapas bar offers inventive dishes using global influences and Andalusian ingredients, making it a must-visit for foodies.

Bar La Tabernita: One of the best tapas bars in Cádiz, Bar La Tabernita serves a variety of typical local dishes including tuna tartare and tuna lasagna.

Asador Puntaparrilla: As one of the top-rated restaurants in Cádiz, Asador Puntaparrilla offers a great dining experience with a focus on grilled meats and fresh seafood.

Attend the Cádiz Festivals

One of the best time to do in Cádiz is to plan your trip so that it coincides with city’s festivals between February and May. During this period, you can experience three of the city’s most popular festivals:

Cádiz Carnival: Held in February, this is the liveliest of annual events with serious partying through the city streets which are filled with music, dance and people in elaborate costumes reminiscent of the Carnaval celebrations in Rio de Janeiro.
Semana Santa: This is holy week in the Christian calendar, and its dates depend on when Easter falls. It is an important religious event with incredible processions through the city streets.
Manuel de Falla Music Festival: Every May the city celebrates the life and work of Cádiz-born composer Manuel de Falla with a series of concerts showcasing his compositions.

Drive Along the Costa de la Luz

The province of Cádiz is home to the Costa de la Luz which runs from Tarifa on Spain’s southern tip as far as Sanlúcar de Barrameda and the national park of Doñana. This stunning coastline is home to some of Spain’s most beautiful golden beaches as well as some remarkable historical attractions such as the Roman ruins on the beach at Bolonia.

Costa de la Luz: Playa de Conil de la Frontera

Take a Road Trip of the Pueblos Blancos

Inland lie the “White Villages” (Pueblos Blancos) which are a series of small villages with chalk coated houses dating back to the Middle Ages. Arcos de la Frontera, Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema and Setenil are some of the better known ones. Fascinating wildlife abounds in the interior with many species of eagles and vultures which make this a birdwatchers paradise. Around Medina Sidonia are large bull breeding farms where you can see these magnificent beasts in their natural environment. Take a look at our suggested road trip through the White Villages of Andalucía.

White Villages of Andalucía: Arcos de la Frontera

Go Sherry Tasting in Jerez de la Frontera

Many towns in the area are called “de la Frontera” which results from the period of the Reconquest when the border between the Christians and the Moors was constantly changing as the battle for territory took place.  The most famous of these towns is Jerez de la Frontera whose regional airport is now a destination for a growing number of budget airlines jetting people in from abroad.  Jerez is the world centre of the sherry industry and daily tours of the cellars (bodegas) is a popular activity as is a visit to the Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Art where you can watch fabulous displays by the dancing horses.