Cádiz is a busy little city, buzzing with energy and quirky in its uniqueness. Wandering the streets it’s fills you will it’s one-of-a-kind personality, combining historical and cultural architect with uplighting sunshine that beams down between the buildings.
Considering we are talking about the oldest city in Spain and Western Europe, its charm shouldn’t a surprise us. And if there is something that this little treasure doesn’t lack, is the hoards of people wanting to visit. In this post we’ll give you the heads up on what to see and do in Cádiz so you can organize your getaway without missing a thing.
What is there to do in Cádiz?
Cádiz is is gaining popularity, evident by the thousands of visitors that pass through the city every year. It’s claim to fame now has been confirmed by an article published by the New York Times in 2019. The newspaper says the three key reasons for choosing this destination are:
- The history of Cadiz Capital
- The excellent gastronomy
- The beaches
Although the New York Times has focused on these three aspects, there are many other reasons that make Cádiz a benchmark for its people and culture. Let’s delve a little deeper into what there is on offer in Cadiz.
The composer Carlos Cano already said: “Havana is Cádiz but with more black people; Cádiz is Havana but with more salt”. Whilst the Malecón de Cádiz has its distinct identity and history, seen by the colorful facades of the houses, both promenades, Cuban Malecón, resemble one another.
And as similar as they are, are also individual in their uniqueness which gives them both their charm.
What is for certain is Havana and Cádiz both sit poised looking out at each other sharing the swirl of Atlantic Ocean wash up on their shores.
Who knows who copied who?
Santa Catalina’s Caleta beach, or simply, La Caleta, is the top destination beach in Cádiz. This small bay is situated near the neighborhood of La Viña, the true carnival epicenter of the city. In summer it is very busy, filled to the brim with Gaditanos, the Cádiz locals.
La Caleta beach is busy for many reasons, mainly due to its close proximity to the city centre and it’s undeniable quaintness. Also due to its orientation it’s also a perfect place to shelter from Levante, which are hot inland winds that sweep the coastline, an excellent beach choice if you fancy a picnic lunch but don’t feel like eating a “sand” sandwich! Also a few others things just to bear in mind: when visiting the Caleta beach on a busy day and you spot a small patch of sand to lay down on, politely ask your neighbouring beach buddies if the spot is available, as many residents in La Viña already have their usual spot. Manners go far and the locals would appreciate this. It’s also compact in size (half a kilometer in length and 50 meters in width), so be careful not to get caught out by the rising tide; a high tide not only means a rather “cosy” beach, but also can mean watching your towel float away.
La Caleta Beach wouldn’t be La Caleta beach without the Balneario de la Palma and Real, which is a stunning building jutting out over the beach. In its origin, the emblematic property was used as changing rooms and showers in exchange for a couple of pesetas. Towards the end of the 50s, it became a hotel establishment. However currently, the destination of the Balneario de la Palma remains uncertain, although the possibility of reopening it is being considered, either restoring it as an hotel, as in the past, or as a museum.
To have one of the best views of the city, along with those offered by the Clock Tower in Cádiz Cathedral, we have to climb up to Torre Tavira. It is one of the most famous viewpoints of the capital and was built in the eighteenth century. It is located at one of the highest levels of the city, 45 meters above sea level, and was once one of the main watchtowers of the bay which oversaw the maritime movements.
Whilst over the years it has been given several uses, to date, it has become one of Cadiz greatest tourist attraction thanks to its Camera Obscura. It was the first installed in Spain and allows us to enjoy a 360º tour throughout the city through real time moving images.
➡️ From October to April from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
➡️ From May to September from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
➡️ Normal rate, 6 euros
➡️ Reduced rate, 5 euros (over 65, students with a university card, large family, groups of more than 10 people, people with disabilities)
Cathedral of Cádiz
Cádiz has a very special charm contributed by its magnificent Cathedral. One of the most distinctive aspects of the Cathedral of Cádiz is its interesting fusion of styles; the Baroque and the Neoclassical.
The construction took more than 115 years to finish, combining different architectural influences and expression.
The Cádiz temple keeps numerous treasures hidden beneath its golden dome and oyster rock walls such as Jesus Christ Crown of Thorns, The Tomb of Manuel de Falla, The Body of a Girl Dressed in Communion.
Boasting 74 meters high, the Clock Tower is the highest point of the city offered some of the best views of the city. From here you can see Campo del Sur, Cortadura Beach, Victoria Beach, San Sebastian Castle and Santa Catalina.
April, May, June, September and October
➡️ From Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
➡️ On Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
July and August
➡️ From Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
➡️ On Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
➡️ Adults: 6 euros
➡️ Senior Citizens: 5 euros
➡️ Group of adults: +20: 4 euros
➡️ Group of students: +20: 3 euros
➡️ Students up to 25 years old: 4 euros
➡️ Disabled up to 60%: 4 euros
➡️ Children: free
The entrance includes access to he Cathedral, The Crypt, The Choir, The Sacristy, the Accounting House and the Clock Tower.
Castle of Santa Catalina
Continuing the trail of popular buildings in Cadiz, includes Santa Catalina Castle. Back in the day it was once a bulwark, a defensive that protected the city, but today we can see it used as cultural centre with several exhibition halls. Most shows are temporary although the cultural centre does have a permanent exhibition about the history of Cádiz.
The Santa Catalina Castle is located on the northside of La Caleta Beach, in front of the San Sebastian Castle. Another feature of this historic site is its five-pointed star shape. Two of the points are directed towards the city, third points to La Caleta and the Castle of San Sebastián, fourth to the Atlantic Ocean and the fifth to the Bay of Cádiz.
Although entrance is free and there is no restrictions as such, there is security staff keeping an eye out. To get there you have to delightfully cross a moat. In order to enjoy the whole experience offered by the Castle of Santa Catalina, we recommend visiting it at sunset, as the views of the city are incredible: as the sun sets, it illuminates the sky with its palette of paint, brushing the Atlantic Ocean full of colour. Of course, it is always good idea to take something warm with you, as although Cádiz is known for its good weather, it can also get rather nippy in the evenings.
➡️ Winter.- Monday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m to 19:30 p.m.
➡️ Summer.- Monday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
When we think about Gran Teatro Falla the first thing that comes to mind is Cadiz Carnival. It’s considered “The Temple” of this festival, hosting the Carnavalesque Grouping Competition (COAC) every year which attracts fans from all around the world. Whether or not you are passionate about Cadiz Carnival, you will surely be impressed by the theatres architecture. The first thing that will grab your attention on your visit to the Gran Teatro Falla is its unusual red bricks dating from neo-Mudejar style.
The Gran Falla Theatre was built on the ruins of an old wooden theater (El Gran Teatro de Cádiz) that burned down in 1881. Luckily, the theatre was rebuilt in the 19th century, receiving the name of one of the most influential musicians in Cádiz, Manuel de Falla. The theatre hall structure follows the form of a horseshoe to which the different floors and the stalls are adapted. The highest area is known as “El Paraíso” (The Paradise), although all the locals call it “El gallinero” (The Chicken Coop).
The theatre holds many a secret, a witness to the progression and evolution of a city which has lived through much change. It has seen not only the first sounds of the Carnival that reverberated its walls and the timeless shows and performances since then but also the censorship and silence it suffered during the Franco regime. Another best secret kept of the theatre is the hole under the stage that leads to a tidal well. A priori it seems not very important, but it takes strength when the tide rises and the water resonates on the tables.
Genovés Park is a little haven of peace in the heart of Cádiz and only located a few metres from La Caleta Beach. It was originally known as “El Paseo del Perejil” (Parsley Walk) because when it was created in the seventeenth century the park had very few trees and was poorly maintained. Whilst today many local people still call it that, over the years the walk has undergone various changes. The most important was by Eduardo Genovés i Puig in 1892, hence its name. With this remodeling a large number of botanical species were added as well as the park fountain, coffee area, and a waterfall.
To this day the park remains well looked after, continuing to capture the true essence Eduardo Genovés work. That is providing a harmonious and serene space which people are free to roam, relax and enjoy. It has several entrances, the main one being Avenida Doctor Gómez Ulla. One of its greatest attractions is undoubtedly La Gruta, a pond with artificial waterfalls where you can pleasantly see ducks and geese toddling about.
Among the different sculptures that adorn the park, the most popular one is “Children under the umbrella” a monument in honor of the naturist Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente representing the allegory of a story.
La Viña Neighborhood
Whilst La Viña means Vineyard in English nowadays the area doesn’t flaunt such imagery. There was a time when La Viña was full of orchards and vineyards, however due to its enclave and distance from the port of Cádiz, it failed to arise interest from shippers from the Indies. Little by little the area became inhabited by the popular classes of the city; fishermen and such like who could settle near Caleta Beach, so more commonly seen today are rows of fishing poles. The heart of La Viña is Plaza de Santa María but the area also includes La Caleta Beach, the church of La Palma and San Sebastian Castle.
The neighborhood of is renowned for its great gastronomy. La Viña is full of restaurants and tapas bars where you can enjoy all types of fresh and fried fish. It has a bubbly vibe and offers other charms such as colorful narrow streets, very typical of Cadiz architecture and a carnival atmosphere.
Cádiz smells of the sea, tastes of salt and during the month of February sounds like a carnival. This is seen in every street corner where you can find groups and choirs singing their original material and making the locals laugh. The groups are called either: Chirigotas de Cádiz, comparsas, choirs or quartets. But there is another protagonist of Carnival of Cadiz and that is fancy dress. Most outfits have an element of humor and irony which will make you chuckle.
The Carnival just happens around you, so just strolling about Cadiz you will be immersed in the songs: Plaza de San Antonio, Plaza de las Flores, La Viña, Santa Cruz, El Mentidero, etc.
Although you are free to dress up any day throughout the carnival, there are two dates that you are not to miss out on, the first Saturday and “la Cabalgata” (procession day). Our advice is to just zip up your frock and join in the fun.
Where to stay in Cádiz?
Cádiz is a city that has two zones divided by Puerta Tierra. The most touristic part is the old city that in starts after Puerta Tierra, which is also known by locals as “Cadi, Cadi”. This is to differentiate it from the new part of the city which is either simply called “Cádiz” or “Bedouin” (people who reside in the new area of Cádiz) although this term is slowly being lost. That’s why when speaking to Gaditanos, the locals, some will tell you they are from “Cadi, Cadi” and others from “Cádiz”.
To stay in Cádiz it is advisable to find somewhere near the old town and historical city, as this is where most of the sightseeing will be located. Cádiz is small so if you stay in the old town you can happily get about on foot. In fact, the city itself actually says Cadiz is best visited by foot, as is truly the only way to experience the offerings of narrow streets, charming facades and spacious squares.
Inn Hostels Cádiz
At Inn Hostel Cádiz you will find shared or private rooms. We are in the old town, very close to the train and bus station of Cádiz and only five minutes from the Cathedral. We have simple, bright rooms with a shared bathroom.
From our reception we will help you with anything you need; recommendations on places to eat, walk, activities, guided tours or just simple sunbathing. Also since breakfast is the most important meal of the day and seeing as we want you to get to know the city as thoroughly as possible, we offer you breakfast every morning free of charge. Decide between having you breaky on our terrace where you can contemplate the beauty of Cadiz capital or in our shared kitchen to exchange experiences with other travelers. It’s up to you.
Apartments in Cádiz
Forget about taking the car since we are in a privileged area of the old town of Cádiz. Our newly renovated apartments are equipped with kitchen, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi and everything you need to feel at home.
We have a rooftop swimming pool from where you can chillax and take in the seabreeze, whilst admiring the how the sun pretends to hide behind the Cathedral, illuminating the dome and the city with color and light. If you have any questions, we are always happy to help. Just find us on reception for advice, tips and general information of activities and places of interest. Cadiz is city to enjoy as a family, as a couple or by yourself.
Now feeling better informed of what there is to do and see here in Cadiz, all you only need to plan your holiday and have fun. Remember to really get to know Cádiz it’s essential you squeeze the most out of your trip, take advantage of what Cadiz has to offer; places of interest, atmosphere, beaches, gastronomy, history and culture.
From Innhostel you have the option to book private rooms, shared apartments or apartments in the city centre. Because we don’t have words, only experiences.