For those of us who have exhausted the list of well-known Spanish cities, Cadiz is an exciting new destination to visit.
In the last year, several airlines have introduced flights from various regional airports to Seville making Cadiz easier than ever to visit for a short break or as part of a longer trip incorporating the other splendid cities nearby including Jerez and of course Seville itself. Flights are now available from East midlands, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and London airports. Still feeling ‘undiscovered’ by international tourism, the towns and cities surrounding the Costa de la Luz feel somehow more exotic and isolated than that of some of their Andalusian neighbours giving them an exciting edge.
Offering the warmth and excitement of Andalucía, Cadiz is full of charm and mystique. The centre of the city is almost entirely surrounded by water but doesn’t have that gritty feel of some other Mediterranean ports. The old city with its Arabic forts and watchtowers, is Moorish in appearance and lures you into its narrow, cobbled streets. These lead you to the main square, where the cathedral is mesmerising. Cádiz’ yellow-domed cathedral combines the beauty of both baroque and neoclassical architecture. Construction started in 1716 but was not completed until 1838 by which time neoclassical elements (the dome, towers and main facade) had changed architect Vicente Acero’s original baroque design. A walk to the top of the cathedral’s Torre del Reloj rewards you with beautiful views of the white washed buildings below with a golden glow from the midday sun. Torre Tavira, an 18th century watchtower also offers outstanding views over Cadiz. It is the highest point of the city and provides visitors with two exhibition halls, the Camera Obscura and viewing terrace.
I visited Cadiz for the day during the summer as part of a family holiday to the Costa de la Luz but I could easily have spent a few nights here. Enjoying the musicians playing and flamenco dancers performing in the Plaza Catedral was a splendid addition to a delightful tapas lunch. After exploring the myriad of winding streets surrounding the cathedral we headed to the north-western border of the island like city and stumbled on Parque Genoves with its sculptured trees, palms, flowers, water cascades and ducks. With views over the sea, benches to relax on and a garden café, it was a welcome retreat from the warm Andalusian sun and hustle and bustle of the vibrant city life.
Another reason to visit to Cadiz is not only does it offer a lively working city vibe but it has an excellent choice of beaches which again are much appreciated if travelling during the scorching summer months. Playa La Caleta is a small beach and closest to the old historic town on the far end of the peninsula located between Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de San Sebastián. The Playa Victoria beach is also popular, particularly with locals. Backed by a long promenade, it has a lively atmosphere and many bars and restaurants to choose from. Both beaches have been awarded a blue flag for high standards of cleanliness and excellent facilities.
Cadiz is certainly high on the list of cities with an inventive gastronomy scene, attracting attention on Rick Stein’s long weekends. Exquisite seafood and tapas can be found at reasonable prices. The “pescadito frito” (small fried fish) is a typical favourite in Cadiz with several Freidurías specialising in the dish. Situated in the middle of the sherry triangle, sampling the local wines in one of the bars in the old town is a must.
The train takes around 1 hour and 25 minutes from Seville so Cadiz works well as a twin centre break. This allows you to experience the many wonders of Seville alongside the laid-back atmosphere of a smaller city conveniently located on the coast.