What to see in Cádiz in 3 days
A three-day stay in Cádiz offers the opportunity to experience the city from different perspectives. Everything from its historic monuments to its traditional folklore. Not forgetting the city’s cuisine or its close relationship with the bay.
Of course, the beaches should not be omitted from the list of things to see in Cádiz in 3 days; in particular the flagship beaches of La Victoria and La Caleta. It is also well worth taking a look around its traditional neighbourhoods, such as La Viña, without question the hub of the city’s carnival scene. Teatro Falla could be described as the epicentre of this celebration, Cádiz’s largest-scale festival. This is an attractive building in the neo-Mudéjar style, and it stages a large number of performances throughout the year.
No visitor would want to miss Cádiz’s two most “technological” attractions: Torre Tavira, with its camera obscura, offering views of the entire city, and the Gadir archaeological site. The latter enables visitors to delve into the origins of Cádiz.
It is also well worth taking a catamaran excursion to El Puerto de Santa María, home to the amazing Bodegas Osborne winery and the San Marcos Castle, where Christopher Columbus stayed.
Itinerary day 1
This square, located very close to the city’s harbour, is dominated by the monument to the 1812 Cádiz Constitution. A massive architectural and sculptural work in white marble, it was designed by Modesto López Otero and Aniceto Marinas. It was unveiled in 1912, and in front of it a commemorative flame constantly burns.
Cádiz is also home to three works by the artist Francisco de Goya. These large-scale canvases depicting religious scenes are in the Santa Cueva Oratorio. They were painted towards the end of the eighteenth century. The oratorio is divided into two chapels (upper and lower) and it is one of the most notable examples of Andalusian neo-Classicism.
The Cádiz cathedral’s size is astounding. The impression of immense scale is heightened by the appearance of the square which is overlooked by its front façade, on the white marble surface of which is drawn the exact layout of the church. It was built over the period of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, thus spanning two stylistic periods: The Baroque and the neo-Classical.
This space came into being with the remodelling of Cádiz’s Central Market in 2009. Since then, it has become one of the flagship locations for sampling gourmet food from Cádiz, Andalusia and the rest of the world. Each stall has its own particular speciality. The Rincón Gastronómico [Gourmet Corner] is taking over more and more stalls in the wing where it is located.
It is, without question, the epitome of classic luxury in Cádiz. A café-restaurant perfect for afternoon tea and conversation, with a wide variety of coffees, teas and other drinks—which are even more of a treat if accompanied by a slice of one of their luscious cakes. The strange thing is that the frescoes and marquetry that comprise this establishment’s décor remained hidden for decades.
Although Cádiz’s harbour is not renowned for its beauty, it is nevertheless a good point of departure for a walking tour of the city’s historic quarter, using the sea as your point of reference. This walk takes you close to the Puertas de Tierra, and through the Campo del Sur, taking in La Caleta beach, Genovés Park, the Alameda Apodaca, and the La Candelaria fortress.
Located close to the Plaza de Mina, this restaurant and inn is one of the best places to try authentic Cádiz cuisine. There certainly is an impressive range of Iberian roast meats. There are of course seafood dishes on offer, as well as whole grilled fish and ham from the Sierra de Huelva.
Itinerary day 2
This is the epicentre of Cádiz’s Carnival activities for over a month. This is the setting for all the rounds of the competition, and normally it is also where the Grand Finale takes place. It is worth taking the time and trouble to appreciate its architecture. It was built between 1884 and 1905, following the design by Adolfo Morales de los Ríos and Adolfo del Castillo.
Still with the Carnival theme, it is well worth continuing your promenade around the streets and squares of the La Viña neighbourhood. It is, together with Santa María, the most working-class neighbourhood within Cádiz’s historic quarter. Apart from its modest houses decorated with colourful pots of flowers, this is a good place to stop for tapas.
A visit to Cádiz would not be complete without gaining some insight into its history. And the Gadir archaeological site, beneath the Teatro del Títere [Puppet Theatre], is a good place to learn about the origins of the city. What the visitor can see here is part of two streets built by the Phoenicians in the ninth century BC, and a number of Roman structures.
The Garbanzo Negro is one of Cádiz’s great surprises. The simplicity of its walls and its décor hide a highly traditional kitchen, using quality ingredients as well as unexpected touches of creativity. Especially when one takes into account the prices of the midday set menu, and even those of the à la carte menu.
A bird’s eye view of Cádiz from a novel perspective: projected onto the concave screen of the camera obscura. This was the first camera obscura to open in Spain and, of course, it provides a complete view of the city, with amusing, very knowledgeable commentaries from the centre’s guides.
The afternoon in Cádiz is a good time for taking a stroll by the sea. The great length of the Playa de la Victoria (3 kilometres) runs parallel to a pleasant seafront promenade, and is one of the best ways of achieving this. If the weather is good, the sandy beach is perfect for enjoying the sun and the sea.
Itinerary day 3
Of all the surviving entrances in the historic walls of Cádiz, there is no question that the Puertas de Tierra are the most impressive. They are also the largest, as one would expect from the road that connected this city with the rest of the country across the Cortadura isthmus. The tower, the central dome and the upper terrace are all open to the public.
The catamaran service run by the Bahía de Cádiz public enterprise will take you to the El Puerto de Santa María in a pleasant, 25-minute crossing. During the trip, you can admire the city’s maritime seafront, the imposing Puente de la Constitución [Constitution Bridge] and the beautiful view of the Bay of Cádiz.
This town’s old quarter has numerous palaces (over 100), monasteries and churches. Among them is the Mayor Prioral church (built between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries), with its impressive Baroque façade. Here also stands the Castillo de San Marcos castle, built during the time of Moorish domination, and the place where Christopher Columbus stayed while he awaited the decision of the Catholic Monarchs about his transoceanic expedition.
Come enjoy gourmet-style tapas at this laid-back, contemporary restaurant. The exquisite oxtail parmentier with foie and the savoury smoked sardine tosta with Arzúa cheese and tomato marmalade are just two examples of the delicacies prepared here. Wine aficionados will be delighted at the wine list – it boasts a wonderful selection of Spanish wines.
Sherry production goes on well beyond the confines of this city, and also takes place in wineries in Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto. The Osborne bodega is one of the most outstanding within the Marco de Jerez Designation of Origin. Thanks to the quality of its brands and the winery itself, it is a true oenological jewel.
Returning to Cádiz, it is well worth savouring the atmosphere of the terrace bars and cafés of the Plaza de San Juan de Dios. This space is dominated by Cádiz’s Town Hall, built in the late eighteenth century. It was designed by the architects Pedro Ángel Albisu and Torcuato Benjumeda in an attractive style that hovers between Baroque and Isabelline styles.
Creativity and joy. These words best define the cooking of this chef who, a few years ago, decided to move his temple to gastronomy from Puerto Real to the heart of Cádiz. There is a clear exotic influence on the menu, but good local ingredients are always very much in evidence.
No visitor should leave Cádiz without enjoying its nightlife. Around the Plaza de San Francisco are several establishments where you can have a glass of wine or a beer while mingling with the natives of Cádiz at their most fun-loving, seeing how they enjoy a party and how at ease they are with everyone.