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If you're planning a trip to Spain or are already exploring the country and looking for a unique city full of history and culture to visit, let me introduce you to Cádiz. Located in Andalusia, in the southwestern corner of southern Spain, sits Cádiz - an ancient port city whose wealth and prestige grew immensely in the late 16th century, and later in the 18th century, due to Spanish exploration and trade. It's also considered to be the oldest inhabited city in western Europe and isn't too far from Seville or Tarifa either, so there's that too. If you only have time for one day in Cádiz, there's more than enough to keep you busy!
Cádiz is a city full of historic places to visit, and unique sites to see. It's easy to see why it's one of the most beautiful cities in southern Spain, and one of the most popular destinations in Andalusia. This was my second time visiting the city, so I was excited to add some things to my list that we didn't have a chance to see the first time around. Although we only had one day in Cádiz again, we managed to see everything on my list, and even found some hidden gems along the way. Here are my latest recommendations for things to do in Cádiz during a day trip:
1. Puerta de Tierra
In my opinion this is one of the most overlooked attractions in Cádiz, even though it's sitting right in the middle of a roundabout. Puerta de Tierra (Earth Gate) sits only a few minutes walk from the waterfront, and is located very close to some of the city's main points of interest. The current wall dates back to the 18th century, but it comes as a result of different periods of construction dating back to the 16th century, when the wall was built in order to protect the city. It now stands as a border between the old town of Cádiz and its newer counterpart, and there's no entry fee to climb to the top of it and overlook the city, making it one of the many free things to do in Cádiz. If you're looking for something unique to do in Cádiz, you can also check out the Museo Del Titere (Puppet Museum) which is located within the walls itself.
2. Find the Trolls
This definitely was not on my list of things to do in Cádiz. As we were walking towards Puerta de Tierra, I noticed there was a small side street that was closed off but nicely decorated. So naturally I went to have a look and the only thing I can describe it as would be either a troll corner or a troll garden. Whatever you want to call it, it's an unusual attraction in Cádiz and one you might stumbled upon during your day trip here.
3. Walk Along El Malecón
No day trip to Cádiz is complete without a stroll along its famous El Malecón, which always gives people a Cuban vibe and is probably why it's known as Old Cuba. Along this stretch of the waterfront you not only get incredible views of the Bay of Cádiz, but you're also treated to the colourful buildings lining the main street as well as the glistening cathedral rising up in the distance. If you have a sharp eye, you may also catch some sunbathing cats who live amongst the man-made rocks in small houses that have been built for them. If you only have a short amount of time during your one day in Cádiz, I would recommend heading for this area first.
4. Playa de la Caleta
Beaches in Cádiz don't come any more centrally located than Playa de la Caleta. It's actually the smallest beach in the city but very popular due to its position in the historic centre. If you're only spending one day in Cádiz, you can cross off a couple of main attractions from your itinerary in this area, as the beach sits in the middle of both Castillo de San Sebastián and Castillo de Santa Catalina. This is one of my favourite areas in the city, so make sure you take some time to walk around and explore it!
5. Find the Rubber Trees
Located across the road from Playa de la Caleta are two enormous trees that you really won't want to miss. They're located outside of the university's Faculdad de Ciencias Economicas so if you can't find them you can type that location into your Google maps instead. The trees themselves are over 100 years old and have been affectionately called the Rubber Trees. This is another free and unique thing to do in Cádiz, and will take almost no time at all out of your one day Cádiz itinerary.
6. Catedral de Cádiz
Without a doubt, one of Cádiz's main tourist attractions is the Catedral de Cádiz. It was known as the Cathedral of the Americas and was built in the 18th century with money accumulated from centuries of trading with the Americas. Entry costs €6 which gives you access to all parts of the cathedral, including the Levante Tower where you can get panoramic views of the city. The cathedral is located in Plaza de la Catedral which is home to a number of restaurants where you can sit outside and enjoy this incredible view. Most of the city's main attractions are within walking distance of one another, making it very easy to explore Cádiz in one day.
7. Iglesia de Santiago Apóstol
Sitting directly next to the cathedral is Iglesia de Santiago Apóstol, a 17th century church which is often overshadowed by its larger neighbour. The original church was built in the 16th century, but had to be rebuilt following the damage done by the Anglo-Dutch troops. It's worth taking a look inside if you have time during your day trip to Cádiz, but if not, it has a beautiful exterior and is worth snapping a photo of.
8. Indulge in Some Churros
If you've read any of my previous posts about southern Spain, you may have noticed I have a slight obsession with churros and chocolate. Luckily we came across a great churro spot located in Plaza de Las Flores. The plaza gets its name from the flower market that's set up in the centre of it, and it's a lovely area to sit in and get some tapas and a quick drink. Or, better yet, get some churros! There are two sizes of churros you'll come across in Andalusia, but Cádiz likes to serve the thinner version. I would recommend heading to Café-Bar La Marina in Plaza de Las Flores for a huge amount of churros at a really budget friendly price.
9. Climb Torre Tavira
If you want a unique experience while in Cádiz, I couldn't recommend visiting Torre Tavira enough. We didn't have time on our previous trip to Cádiz to try out this attraction, so we put it at the top of our list this time! Cádiz is famous for its watchtowers, and at the end of the 18th century had 160 spread out around the city as a testament to its prosperity in the world of trade. 126 of these towers are still standing, and Torre Tavira is the tallest, making it the perfect tower to turn into a camera obscura! The views from the top are amazing, and included with your entry fee is a very informative presentation using the camera obscura where you get to view different parts of the city in more detail and in real-time. Visiting Torre Tavira is one of the most popular things to do in Cádiz, and at only €7 per person, how can you say no?!
10. Mercado Central de Abastos
Located between Torre Tavira and Plaza de Las Flores is the Mercado Central de Abastos. This historic market is a must-see in Cádiz, and offers a range of fresh produce that'll have your mouth watering. There are also a couple of restaurant stalls located inside the market if you're hungry and wanting to taste some traditional Spanish dishes. Fun fact: it's actually Spain's oldest covered market and was opened in 1838. Yet another free thing to do in Cádiz (unless you start buying things) and something that you can easily add to your itinerary if you only have one day in Cádiz.
11. Sample Camarones
I'm not much of a fish lover, but for those of you who are, you absolutely need to try a few Camarones. There were a number of fish stalls selling these tiny, translucent shrimps and they are very cheap too. You can buy them boiled and ready to eat, or you may come across them in restaurants in a batter and deep fried in the shape of a tortilla.
12. Parroquia de San Antonio
Parroquia de San Antonio is a bit of a hidden gem in Cádiz, and was a church we just stumbled upon as the rain clouds were rolling in. The building dates back to the 17th century and is one of the few churches in the city that sits in a plaza bearing the same name. We didn't have time to take a look inside, but it was beautiful to look at from the outside. You may not have much spare time if you're only visiting Cádiz for one day, but if you do you should check out this lovely church.
13. Plaza San Francisco
There are a number of interesting plazas to explore in Cádiz, but one of the most liveliest ones is Plaza San Francisco. It has long been a hub of activity, and dates back to the mid-16th century when it revolved around the Convent of San Francisco. It's also the starting point of one of the main streets in Cádiz, so if you have some time during your day trip to Cádiz, take a walk through the city's historic streets and explore some of the areas that are popular with the locals.
14. Have an Ice Cream at Bajo 0 Helados Artesanos
While you're in Plaza San Francisco, treat yourself to some deliciously creamy ice cream from Bajo 0 Helados Artesanos. For me, it's not a good trip if I don't get some ice cream, but luckily we managed to find one of the best ice cream shops in Cádiz before leaving! There's always time for ice cream, even if you're only spending one day in Cádiz.
The entire area surrounding Cádiz is beautiful to explore, whether you like to hit the Spanish beaches, immerse yourself in Spanish culture, or learn a bit of history while you're travelling. We spent one day in Cádiz, but we also took some day trips to nearby Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda which together make up the famous Sherry Triangle and are equally as interesting to visiting during a trip to southern Spain.
Get in touch in the comments section below if you have any other recommendations for things to do in Cádiz or nearby. I'd love to hear about your own experience in Cádiz or answer any questions you have about visiting southern Spain. Don't forget to connect with me on Instagram as well for more helpful travel tips and travel inspiration!