Cadiz is the hidden gem of Andalusia. Cadiz may not be as well known as some of its Andalusian counterparts, like Sevilla and Granada, but I highly recommend a visit. It is a perfect spot for a day trip or a weekend while visiting the south of Spain.
Cadiz-Cuba Connection. Cadiz is known as the twin of La Habana, Cuba, and it’s easy to see why the two are compared so often. Cadiz’s ocean side esplanade is similar to La Habana’s malecon, and its charming pastel-colored streets also echo those in Cuba’s capital. Cadiz was in fact where the scenes in “Cuba” were filmed in the James Bond movie Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry. In fact, the steamy scene when Halle Berry walks out of the water was actually filmed on Cadiz’s La Caleta beach!
Where to Stay. We stayed in the Hotel Boutique Convento Cadiz. This pleasant hotel is centrally located in the old town of Cadiz and is in easy walking distance of the city’s important sites. The hotel is actually a repurposed historic convent from the 17th century, so it has a charming and traditional feel.
What to Do: Here are 8 activities to guide your visit of the Hidden Gem of Andalusia.
#1. Street Strolling. The most pleasant thing to do in Cadiz is strolling through its picturesque, colorful streets. The whites and pastel tones of the buildings’ facades contrast well with the blue sky and palm trees of this Spanish town. The city has a tranquil, tropical vibe that will put a smile on your face. Calle Ancha is one the city’s main streets and a good place to sit down for a coffee if you need a short break.
#2. Eating: “Pescaito Frito.” “Pescadito frito” (or as the Andalusians call it, “pescaito frito”) means “fried fish.” It is a typical dish in Andalusia and a beloved favorite of many Andalusian people. It’s especially popular in the warm summer months paired with a refreshing “caña,” or small, cold beer. As you stroll through Cadiz, pick a restaurant that has nice outdoor seating and a good selection of “pescaito frito.” Restaurants usually offer many types of fish, but going with a basic “mixto” option, which is typically a mix of different kinds of fried fish, shrimp, and squid, will be a good call. We ate on an outdoor terrace on Calle Libertad, but there are plenty of good places all over the city.
#3. The Cathedral. A cathedral is always an integral part of a Spanish city’s culture and history, so stopping into any is worthwhile. Cadiz’s cathedral is quite large, and for 5 euros you’ll get a useful audio guide. I loved the choir section, which includes intricately carved images of male saints. On top of these carvings, you’ll find a row of carved busts of female saints, above which sit small cherubs playing musical instruments. The crypt is also interestingly creepy: it houses unusual portraits and you can feel the eerie humidity due to the fact that chamber is below sea level.
#4. Playa de la Caleta. This beach is gorgeous. The water is scattered with picturesque boats that make for great pics. The beach is flanked by Castillo de Santa Catalina on the right side as you approach from town.
#5. Castillo de Santa Catalina. This castle-fortress was built to protect the city in the 17th century. It was one of my favorite spots in Cadiz: the views of the water and the town from the castle are spectacular.
#6. Plaza de San Antonio. This is a picturesque plaza in the heart of Cadiz. Its creamy white and pink facades make for an interesting visual. Stop into the church – Parroquia de San Antonio – which you’ll easily recognize by its pink double-tower facade.
#7. Gran Teatro Falla. Although we didn’t enter this theatre, it’s nice to stroll by. It’s a beautiful building!
#8. Campo del Sur at Sunset. Campo del Sur is the maritime walkway by the water, known as the equivalent to La Habana’s Malecon (see the main picture for this post above.) Time your day so that you’re here in the later afternoon before the sun goes down. Photos taken of the cathedral and the water from Campo del Sur are probably the most iconic images of Cadiz, so make sure to take a few pics.
My time in Cadiz was really special. I hope you get to explore this hidden gem of Andalusia soon! Comment below for tips.