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  • Writer's pictureAmar Dhaliwal

Cádiz, Spain - February 2024

Cádiz was stop seven of our Andalusian adventure (previous stops were Malaga, Granada, Ubeda, Seville, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and Jerez de la Fronterra).


Arriving by taxi from Jerez de Frontera (a 40-minute drive that cost €53.43), we wandered straight into the mayhem of the last day of Carnaval!!


We were joyously unprepared for the scale and boisterousness of Carnaval, and also embarrassingly uninformed about its history and cultural significance to the people of Cádiz. To say the streets were jammed would be the understatement of the year. There were moments, especially during the parade of floats around the Mercado Central de Abastos, when we could not take a step in any direction because of the crush. Not for the faint hearted or for anyone with enochlophobia.




As we headed to bed around 11.00pm, the party was going strong. The streets were still teeming with people and piling up with empty bottles, cans, and other rubbish. 


The next morning, we woke up to a quiet, serene, and astonishing clean Cádiz.


Cádiz is an enchanting, lively, and historic city. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in Europe, it is an incredible, multi-layered history lesson of Phoenician, Roman, Moorish, and Baroque influences, blending ancient heritage with a vibrant modern culture.


Cádiz is compact and walkable, with narrow, winding streets that open up to picturesque plazas and stunning sea views. We spent three days in Cádiz, which felt just about right for a first visit, and it was one of those places you visit where your expectations are completely exceeded.


In the sections below, I have only listed places that I have personally visited.


 

Staying (prices are from February 2024)

Hotel Argantonio (map), (C. Argantonio, 3)


  • Hotel Argantonio is a 2 star “boutique” hotel on the east side of the old town, that is perfectly placed to explore Cádiz.

  • The rooms are quirky, and each is unique. To be honest they are a bit dated and tired, but clean and comfortable enough and in line with the rating of the hotel.

  • The hotel has a comfortable roof top patio to soak up the sunshine - of which there was plenty during our stay in February.

  • The staff are exceptionally friendly and attentive.

  • We paid €182.86 the first night (because of Carnaval) and €96.96 for the second and third.

  • When we go back to Cádiz, we will certainly consider this hotel again.

  • Recommended.

 

Eating (prices are from February 2024)

 

La Mafia (map) (Pl. San Agustín, n° 2)

  • The name gives away the cuisine at this modern, large, and bright restaurant.

  • We ordered risotto with nduja and burrata as a starter to share and followed with entrees of spaghetti arrabiata and a sirloin steak with salt flakes.

  • The food was ok, not great. The service was attentive and efficient.

  • We paid €80.80 for our meal (including a bottle of local wine).

  • Recommended.

 




Mesón de las Américas (map) (Calle Dr. Ramón y Cajal, 1)

 

  • Just around the corner from Hotel Argantonio was the Mesón de las Américas and it was amazing.

  • A cozy bar (with a restaurant downstairs), the Mesón de las Américas serves great food with an Argentinian focus.

  • We ordered a selection of tapas including tomato and tuna salad, empanada, entrecote, grilled provolone cheese, along with a bottle of local red wine. The food and wine were exceptional – some of the best we had on our entire trip. Not fancy. Just tasty.

  • The service was great.

  • We paid €42.00 for our meal, including a bottle of local wine.

  • Highly recommended.

 




Casa Angelita (map) (Calle Nueva, 7)

 

  • Just off the lovely Plaza de San Juan de Dios, we stopped at Casa Angelita for lunch.

  • Sitting at one of the outside tables, we shared some plates of sardines and asparagus to start and followed with entrees of bacalao gratinado (cod gratin) and patatas bravas with local sausage. All delicious.

  • The service was friendly and efficient.

  • We paid €48.70 for lunch (including two beers and glasses of wine).

  • Highly recommended.

​​

 

Tapería De Columela (map), (C. Columela, 4)

 

  • Arriving in the maelstrom that is the last night of Carnaval in Cádiz, every restaurant and bar was full to brimming.

  • We managed to snag a couple of seats at the counter at Tapería De Columela and ordered some jamon, cheese and bread. Along with some a few glasses of wine (including a lovely manzanilla and a local red called Garum) this proved to be the meal we needed.

  • We always enjoy watching the action while sitting at a bar and Tapería De Columela did not disappoint. The servers were wonderful and chatted with us throughout our time there.

  • We paid €37.40 for our food and drinks.

  • Recommended.

 



 

Bar Terraza (map), (Pl. Catedral, 3)

 

  • Located in the plaza that is home to the Catedral of Cádiz, Bar Terraza is the quintessential tourist restaurant.

  • We had tomato and tuna to start (again!), and then some albondigas (meatballs) and a salad to follow.

  • Food was ok'ish. Service was friendly.

  • We paid €42.00 for lunch (including a glass of wine and a beer).

  • Not worth going out of your way for.


 

Drinking (prices are from February 2024)

Taberna Casa Monteca (map) (C. Corralón de los Carros, 66)


  • This is an iconic tapas bar and you should visit. When you do, it is likely to be busy, so just walk in the door and try find a few square feet to perch. 

  • We went at lunchtime and managed to secure a couple of stools by the window. 

  • Along with a couple of drinks we ordered tapa of chicharrones (the famous thinly sliced pork belly at €2.70) and tortilla de camarones (the equally famous shrimp fritter at €2.70)

  • Expect to pay €2.20 for a glass of wine or a caña (glass of beer)

  • Highly recommended.

 




La Barra (map) (pl. de San Juan de Dios)


  • Situated on the lovely and lively Plaza de San Juan de Dios, La Barra is a nice bar, with a big terrace, and a great menu of beers (including craft brews).

  • A good place to overlook the plaza and enjoy a drink.

  • Expect to pay €2.50 for a glass of Verdejo and €4.00 for a beer.

  • Highly recommended.

 

Plocia 3 (map), (C. Plocia, 3)


  • Plocia 3 is just off Plaza de San Juan de Dios. It’s a nice modern bar with a nice outdoor space with high top tables. We enjoyed sitting here and watching the world go by.

  • Expect to pay €2.80 for a glass of white wine and €2.50 for a manzanilla.

  • Highly recommended.


 

Doing (prices are from February 2024)


Carnaval

 

  • If you get the chance, visit Cádiz during Carnaval, you will not be disappointed.

  • It is one of Spain's most famous and vibrant celebrations, and the amazing atmosphere, satirical performances, and elaborate costumes are joyous. How did we not know about the scale of it before?

  • By pure luck, we arrived on the last Sunday which is known for the "Humor Parade," when performing groups wind through the historic center and showcase the city's unique blend of humor, music, and community spirit. It is a matchless event and, quite honestly, absolute mayhem (in a good way).

  • Cádiz has a Museo del Carnaval (map) which is really worth a visit. Learning about the role of Carnaval in Cádiz society was super interesting and we came to understand that the performers are using sarcasm, mockery, and irony to critique current events, political figures, and societal issues and that Carnaval is a way for the community to voice their opinions and grievances. Fantastic!

  • Admission is free. Highly recommended.

 



 

Mercado Central de Abastos (map) (Pl. de la Libertad)


  • I say this a lot, but visiting a mercado in Spain is just one of our most favourite things to do.

  • Nestled in the heart of Cádiz, the Mercado Central de Abastos is a vibrant nod to the city's rich history, fun attitude, and culinary heritage.

  • The market today has nearly 200 stalls full of the freshest local produce, from fruits and vegetables to an impressive array of seafood straight from the Atlantic.

  • The market's Rincón Gastronómico area cooks up traditional Andalusian dishes alongside many other flavors from Spain and beyond.

  • Whether you're there to shop, eat, or simply soak in the local culture, the Mercado Central is a brilliant spot to hang out for a while.



Run or Walk the Malecón

 

  • Running or walking around the Malecón (seawall) of Cádiz is brilliant.

  • The path is well-maintained and stretches along the coastline and takes in the industrial port area, Parque Genovés, Playa de La Caleta, and the old town (with stunning views of the Cathedral).

  • The nice thing is that you can make your circuit as long or as short as your like by simply walking away from the ocean and into the town.

  • The full circuit makes for a flat and picturesque 10km run, for those into that sort of thing.

  • Highly recommended.

 



 


Teatro Romano (map)

 

  • The maddest thing about visiting the Teatro Romano, or Roman Theatre, in Cádiz, was learning that it was only discovered in 1980!

  • In its day, it could accommodate nearly 10,000 spectators and is one of the oldest and largest Roman theatres in Spain.

  • Despite still only being partially excavated, the theatre is an impressive site and the perfect testament to Roman engineering and Rome’s cultural influence in the region

  • Admission is free. Highly recommended.

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