What to see in Cádiz in 4 days
There is an easy answer to the question of what to see in Cádiz in four days: the city has so much to offer, and there’s something for everyone. This is a diverse city: it welcomes visitors and the weather is pleasant throughout most of the year. All this makes for a thoroughly enjoyable holiday whatever the season.
Of course, a four-day trip to Cádiz gives you the opportunity to visit its main historical sites, such as the Gadir archaeological site and the Roman Theatre. In addition, there are the various archaeological finds on display in the Cádiz City Museum, and historic monuments including the Cathedral and Santa Catalina Castle.
You will also have enough time to enjoy a few of the beaches, such as La Caleta and Cortadura, the historic barrios, or neighbourhoods, such as La Viña and El Pópulo, and the main squares, including the Plaza de Mina, the Plaza de la Candelaria and the Plaza de San Antonio. And in the Plaza de España, you will find the Monument honouring the 1812 Constitution in Cádiz, generally known as ‘La Pepa’.
You could round off your four-day visit to Cádiz with a trip to Jerez de la Frontera, one of the province’s principal cities in terms of its size, population and wealth—and it also has the wonderful winery Bodegas Tío Pepe.
Itinerary day 1
Cádiz City Museum
By browsing its three sections (Archaeology, Ethnography and Fine Arts), it is possible to gain an insight into the history and development of the city from prehistoric times up to the present day. Without doubt, the museum’s highlights are the two anthropoid sarcophagi dating from the Phoenician period that were unearthed from beneath Cádiz’s shipyards.
Plaza de Mina
The Museo de Cádiz is in the Plaza de Mina which is, to all intents and purposes, the city’s main square. This space was the result of the remodelling of the gardens of the Franciscan monastery following the Mendizábal Disentailment in the nineteenth century. Other buildings of note include the house where the composer Manuel de Falla was born.
La Viña neighbourhood
It is well worth taking a stroll through Cádiz’s most authentic, traditional, working-class neighbourhood. Along Calle Virgen de la Palma, for example, with its taverns and terrace cafés and its houses bedecked with pots of flowers. In La Viña it is also worth being alert to your surroundings so that you enjoy the spontaneity and ingenuity of the area’s inhabitants.
Tapas at Casa Manteca
Casa Manteca is one of those places that never disappoints. From your first glance, taking in the photos of bullfighters, flamenco performers, religious images and other curiosities, not to mention the hundreds of bottles displayed on the shelves, you know that here you are going to experience the real Cádiz: in terms of the food, the drink and the atmosphere.
Santa Catalina Castle
This fortress, built in the late sixteenth century, closes off the little bay of Playa de Caleta on its right-hand side. The structure itself has survived to the present day in a remarkably well-preserved state, enabling us to understand how these types of fortresses were built, and what it was like to live inside them.
Parque Genovés and Alameda Apodaca
Genovés Park is the largest green space within Cádiz’s historic quarter. It was named in honour of the mayor of Cádiz who sponsored the conversion of former military land into this lush park. Beyond it lies the Alameda Apodaca, designed by Juan Talavera y Heredia: a pleasant coastal garden which lies in the shade of two massive fig trees brought here from Australia.
El Balandro Restaurant
This restaurant can, to some extent, claim the credit for introducing the new, twenty-first century cuisine into Cádiz. Its revolutionary style of interpreting regional cooking has lost some of its original intensity, and what remains is a most pleasant, light and airy establishment, always thronged with diners (both at the bar and in the dining room) with a fresh, appealing menu.
Itinerary day 2
Cádiz’s relationship with its Central Market goes way beyond the mere buying and selling of food. Because in a city where such importance is attached to food, this veritable shrine to flavour has become one of the great epicentres of daily life. Wandering around the stalls here is a complete sensory experience.
Another of Cádiz’s nerve centres is the bustling Plaza de la Catedral, dominated by this place of worship that took a century to build, and which spans two stylistic movements (the Baroque and the neo-Classical). This can be clearly seen in the building’s façade, with its different accents and stylistic features. For energetic visitors, there is the option to go up to the top of one of the towers.
When the first stone seating tiers of this theatre were unearthed during the 1980s, it was difficult to imagine the full scale of this structure. This is still true today, as a good part of it lies under different buildings, some of which are so significant from an artistic and historical perspective that any thoughts of demolition are ruled out.
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.
Plaza de España
A stone’s throw from the harbour, this landscaped space is dominated by the monument honouring the promulgation of Cádiz’s first Constitution on 19 March 1812. This accounts for its popular name ‘La Pepa’. The monument was built on the occasion of the Constitution’s hundredth anniversary.
Playa de Cortadura
The beach of Cortadura is the most unspoilt beach in the province of Cádiz. In fact, a large part of it lies outside the nucleus of the city; it is bounded by the sea and the road that crosses the isthmus to connect the provincial capital with the town of San Fernando. One can stroll along it and enjoy the sea for several kilometres.
Ventorrillo El Chato
In the middle of Playa de Cortadura is the Ventorrillo El Chato, a prime example of a classic Cádiz restaurant. It is nothing like the traditional concept of a beach bar. For one thing, it is open throughout the year, and for another, its menu is a testament to the very best of Andalusian cuisine, combined with the establishment’s extensive sherry cellar.
A few drinks on the Paseo Marítimo
In summer or winter, Cádiz’s Paseo Marítimo [seafront promenade] is the perfect place for an evening drink. Some of the most popular bars are Suite, La Calle del Libre Albedrío and Woodstock Bar. When the weather is good, a few of Playa de la Victoria’s beach bars join in the party, such as Bebo los Vientos.
Itinerary day 3
Churrería La Chata
To get the day off to a good start, what about churros [traditional fried doughnuts] served with hot chocolate from the city’s most iconic stall? It makes a delicious breakfast, and it tastes even better when you know that the La Chata churrería has been in existence next to the Central Market for over a century, feeding market workers, night owls and early risers alike.
The idea behind Torre Tavira is as simple as it is successful: to capture images of Cádiz using a system of mirrors and project them onto a screen in a darkened room. The system is very effective, and thousands of people visit this watchtower every year, attracted by the magic of the spectacle and the commentary of the guides.
Gadir archaeological site
The Gadir archaeological site is the perfect complement to the Torre Tavira experience. Thus, from the elevated vantage point of one and the underground angle of the other, visitors can obtain a full perspective of the city, from its origins back in the ninth century BC right up to the present day.
La Gorda te da de Comer
Every bit as surprising as the name of this establishment—meaning The Fat Lady will feed you—are the prices on the menu. Here they serve home-made tapas, which normally cost no more than 3 or 4 euros. You need to bear in mind that a Cádiz tapa is the equivalent of half the portion served in many other places. So, however good the price may be, it’s worth taking care not to order too much food.
The Museum of the Cádiz Parliament
Since 2012, the two-hundredth anniversary of the promulgation of the Cádiz Constitution, this place has taken on a new life and strengthened the narrative thread. Nevertheless, the main focus of visitors’ attention is the enormous, late-eighteenth-century scale model of Cádiz, crafted in fine wood and marble by the military engineer Alfonso Jiménez.
Gran Teatro Falla
Ideally, one would choose to see the Gran Teatro Falla in its entirety. In other words, to be able to go in and look at the stage, the tiered seating, the stalls and gallery. But as this is only possible on days when there is a performance, at other times one must be content with looking at the outside of the building, and admiring its neo-Mudéjar architecture, based on different-coloured bricks arranged in parallel bands.
An aperitif in the Rincón Gastronómico
Back to Cádiz’s Central Market, but this time to enjoy an aperitif sitting at the high wooden tables near the stalls in the Rincón Gastronómico [Gourmet Corner]. These take up a whole wing of the market, and on offer is everything from traditional tapas such as pork crackling, to gourmet cheeses, local wines, beers of the world, and even sushi.
La Curiosidad de Mauro
Continuing the gastronomic theme of this third day in Cádiz, finishing up at this restaurant is an excellent idea. The expertise and imagination that Mauro Barreiro applies to his dishes come as no surprise to customers who have been following him for years. But if it’s your first time to eat here, it’s worth approaching it with all your senses well alert.
A night out at Pay Pay
The Pay Pay café-theatre, in the heart of the El Pópulo neighbourhood, was once the city’s largest brothel. For decades, it was associated with the darker, seedy side of Cádiz. The dark patina has gone, but a risqué element persists in many of the establishment’s shows. Whether there is a performance or not, it’s a good place for a drink or a cocktail.
Itinerary day 4
In the eighteenth century, Cádiz acquired great importance on being designated a Puerto de Indias [Port of the Indies]. Although the present-day port has little in common with the port of that time, it is still, nevertheless, a picturesque scene. This is particularly true early on the days when the massive cruise ships stop off here.
To Jerez de la Frontera by train
The journey to Jerez de la Frontera from the provincial capital takes barely 45 minutes on a Cercanías [commuter] train. From Jerez’s railway station, it is a 15-minute walk to the city centre, which offers a good number of cultural and culinary attractions.
This is, with apologies to the church of Saint Michael (which we will talk about shortly), the city’s most impressive place of worship. It was built in the seventeenth century, and brings together various styles, ranging from the Gothic to the Baroque. Its bell tower came from an earlier, fourteenth-century church, on the foundations of which the present cathedral was built.
Bodegas Tío Pepe
The Bodegas Tío Pepe, part of the González Byass group, constitute Jerez’s great temple to sherry, so a visit there is essential, whether you like sherry or not. And that is because strolling along its rows and rows of barrels, stacked one on top of another for ageing, you can fully appreciate the uniqueness of sherry and how vital it is, economically and culturally, to the province of Cádiz.
The freshness and integrity that characterise the cooking of chef Israel Ramos are a welcome addition among the new temples to gastronomy which have sprung up in Jerez in recent years. Ramos trained with some of the finest chefs in the country, and here the focus is on the ingredients themselves, paired expertly with Jerez wines.
Calle Ancha and Plaza de San Antonio
Returning to Cádiz’s historic quarter, it’s worth going for a stroll along Calle Ancha to the Plaza de San Antonio, the scene of many of the city’s great spectacles and celebrations. Along the way, you will come across the Salón Italiano, where you will probably be unable to resist trying one (or more) flavours of the range of ice creams on offer.
This luxurious classic-style café also boasts an outstanding international haute cuisine menu. Dishes include Retinto sirloin steak tartare, duck magret with sweet potato mash and lobster and ruby-red king prawns with rice. Of course, the dishes featuring almadraba tuna take centre stage.