Located on a peninsula at the very south of Andalusia, and thus Spain, the beautiful Cadiz is a destination worth visiting for at least a few days. The city of 126 towers, built to more easily spot the ships loaded with cargo coming from the New World, is the oldest city in Europe, founded by the Phoenicians in 1104 BC! The archaeology museum, which notably holds two Phoenician crypts dating back to 600 BC, is there to remind us of this... Protected by ramparts overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Cadiz is perfect for discovering on foot. You can visit the cathedral, mysterious hidden patios, beautiful churches and the towers, like Tariva, home of the ingenious system that is the 'camera obscura'. More generally, the city proposes 4 theme-based strolls. Around the Medieval centre and the oldest districts, with their narrow cobblestone streets; between the cathedral and the Roman theatre; along the ramparts and the castles, (this shows off the splendour of the city in its heyday, when Cadiz was the port of arrival for boats coming from the New World); and finally the route of the Constitution of 1812, which is a reminder that Cadiz was the only city not to have been conquered by Napoleon's troops. In fact, the cannons which can be seen here and there in the city date back to this period! Cadiz is also a seaside resort destination though, boasting a spectacular beach that stretches over 5 miles!
The Monument to the Constitution of 1812 (which abolished slavery, guaranteed freedom of the press and strengthened women's rights) and the archaeological museum (housed in a former convent), which notably holds two Phoenician crypts dating from 600 BC. There are 126 towers in Cadiz (once allowing inhabitants to be on the lookout for ships arriving from America) but if you are to visit only one, we strongly recommend the Tavira tower, the highest one in the city with its 45m overlooking the sea. In addition to the superb panorama over the city and the beach, you will also be able to experience the 'camera obscura', an invention by Leonardo da Vinci which consists of a box with a hole in one side through which light from an external scene passes through and strikes a surface inside, where it is reproduced. It is kind of like the periscopes used in submarines. You can also enjoy superb views from the top of Torre de Poniente, the watchtower of Cadiz Cathedral.
A classic outing is to go for a ride on the famous 'vaporcito' in Puerto de Santa Maria. This motorboat (once powered by steam, thus explaining its name) has been providing a connection between El Puerto de Santa Maria and Cadiz in 45 minutes since 1928 and was even declared 'Property of Cultural Interest' by the Andalusian government. It is on this legendary boat that the famous film "La Lola se va a los puertos" was shot. It is the best way to discover Cadiz. For those who are in more of a rush, or who want to do it like the locals, there is a catamaran that makes the same trip in just 25 minutes.
After having wandered around the city centre and its ramparts, you can take a well-deserved dip and rest on the huge beach in Cadiz, which stretches for over 5 miles!
+ The peninsula's location: the sea is everywhere!
+ The 5 mile-long beach!
+ The charm of the Old Town, its 126 towers and medieval ramparts.
- The crowd in summer.
- The complicated access by boat or bridge; the airport is in Jerez de la Frontera, 16 miles away.
Take the opportunity to visit the old casino; not many tourists know this but it conceals a true gem: a superb patio decorated with stucco and Italian marble. Dating from 1845, it is a Neo-Mudéjar-style reproduction of the famous Court of the Lions of Alhambra in Grenada. To really discover Andalusia, you absolutely have to visit the little gems that are Seville, Cordue, Grenada and Malaga. Less cultural but more rustic, the Route of the White Villages is also full of wonders.
The weather here in summer is cooler than it is inland, thanks to the ocean breeze, which means that it can get quite crowded, be it at the beach or in the city centre.Keep in mind that there are no fairs in Cadiz, contrary to the other cities in the region.
Above all else, the seafood! Cadiz is known for its 'marisqueria' (seafood restaurants) and 'freiduria' (fried fish restaurants). You will find cones filled with gambas, shrimp, calamari and even crab legs. Customers here choose the products they want by the weight, directly from the counter. Drinks are ordered separately. Cadiz is full of excellent fresh fish restaurants where the fish is cooked in a thousand different ways. To accompany your dishes, there's nothing like the local wines: fino, manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso, Palo Cortado, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel, among others, without forgetting the vinegar, made from Sherry with a Protected Designation of Origin label. The best known fino is produced by the famous Osborne brand, whose emblem, a bull, can be seen in all of Spain's streets.
To bring back
A bottle of AOC (protected designation of origin) fino sherry, a fan, chestnuts, Flamenco dancer figurines, bull-themed souvenirs. It is in Andalusia that you will find one of the best hams in the world: Spanish Pata Negra ham, especially that which is from Jabugo. For guaranteed quality, ask for the 'cinco jotas' label produced by Sanchez Romero Carvajal. It's quite expensive, but this is truly a luxury product!