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Discover Spain’s Oldest City: 15 Unmissable Things to Do in Cadiz

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Over the centuries, Cadiz has hosted diverse civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors. This Spanish city in the region of Andalusia isn’t just steeped in history- it’s practically marinated in it. According to legend, Hercules founded it, although historical records credit the Phoenicians who established the town of Gadir in 1100 BC. Today, it claims to be the oldest city in Western Europe. It’s a stunning showcase of historical and architectural marvels, featuring the remains of Phoenician settlements, iconic Roman ruins and over 100 watchtowers. It also hosts one of the world’s most vibrant carnivals. Planning to visit? We’ve handpicked these top 11 activities for your trip. Here is our guide to the best things to do in Cadiz.

Cadiz attractions

This charming coastal city extends into the Bay of Cadiz and is surrounded on three sides by sparkling blue waters. It’s no surprise that Christopher Columbus chose it as his point of departure on his second and fourth voyages.


15 Best things to do in Cadiz


1. Yacimiento Arqueologico Gadir

best things to do in Cadiz - visit the Gadir Archaeological site because it's one of the oldest Phoenician settlements in the West. 

Discover the incredible civilizations that once thrived in this city.


The best place to start your journey in Cadiz is undoubtedly the Gadir Archaeological site. Why, you may ask? Well, for starters, this is one of the oldest Phoenician settlements in the West. But what really makes it stand out is the rarity of finding Phoenician architectural remains. These are incredibly uncommon, like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why Gadir is a precious gem for anyone curious about ancient civilizations.



As you step back in time at Gadir, you’ll explore an archaeological site that showcases various periods of occupation dating back to the 9th century BC. Wander through well-preserved streets, peek into ancient houses, and see utensils that offer a unique glimpse into daily life thousands of years ago. Isn’t that fascinating? Additionally, you’ll also spot the human skeleton of a man who was between 20 and 30 years old. He tragically died in a fire around the 7th century BC.

see the ruins of the Roman fish factory

But wait, there’s more! This site also features fascinating relics from a Roman fish factory, complete with large basins used for salting fish. So, if you ever wondered how ancient people processed their seafood, this is your perfect chance to find out.


Visiting the Yacimiento Arqueologico Gadir isn’t just one of the best things to do in Cadiz for history enthusiasts. It’s a journey through time you won’t soon forget. It’s not every day you get to walk through the pages of history and learn about lost cultures.



  • The Gadir Archaeological site is the city’s main attraction, and admission is free for all visitors.
  • Access to this site is through the main entrance of the Puppet Theatre.
  • The Gadir Archaeological site is open from 11 am to 1 pm and between 4 pm to 7pm from Tuesday to Saturday. On Sunday, visits are possible between 11 am and 1 pm (closed on Monday). As of May 2024, guided tours featuring a short film about Gadir start every hour.


2. Cadiz Museum

attractions in Cadiz - Cadiz Museum because it shows the city’s rich cultural heritage, starting with the ancient Phoenicians

If you’re visiting just one more museum, make it Cadiz Museum. Why, you may ask? Because it’s one of the best attractions showcasing the city’s rich cultural heritage. From the moment you step in, you’re on a journey that zigzags through history. The museum offers an epic exploration, starting with the ancient Phoenicians and Romans and travelling right through to the 20th century – all without leaving the building. Here, you’ll find more than just old pottery and coins; there are some seriously cool artefacts on display, including Phoenician sarcophagi. They are so well-preserved you’d think they were crafted yesterday, but no, they’re from the 5th century BC!


best things to do in Cadiz - visit the Museum of Cadis, which showcases the city’s rich cultural heritage, including Phoenician sarcophagi.

These aren’t just boxes for death; they are masterpieces of art, history and mystery all rolled into one.


But don’t just stop there. Move through time to the Roman era and see artefacts that tell tales of the empire’s reach into Spain. Next, zoom into the world of fine art, where the stars of the show are big names like Zurbarán, Murillo, and even Rubens. One minute you’re exploring ancient relics, and the next, you’re admiring masterpieces that have survived centuries. Isn’t that amazing?

the Roman era

the Roman era


More than just paintings

For the grand finale: step into the world of 19th and 20th-century Cadiz and visit its Ethnography section on the top floor. Ever heard of Tía Norica traditional puppets? They’re local celebrities here, showcasing the quirky and local traditions of this Andalusian city. It’s a delightful mix of humour and history of the 19th and 20th centuries, but with strings attached – literally!


Tía Norica traditional puppets - a quirky and local tradition of this Andalusian city. 

Get cultured with local customs: A unique peek into what entertainment looked like before Netflix existed.



Cadiz Museum is not open on Monday but welcomes visitors from 9 am to 9 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Remember, visits on Sunday are only until 2 pm as of May 2024. And guess what? If you are an EU citizen, admission to Cadiz Museum is absolutely free. Otherwise, expect to pay €1.50 – a true cultural bargain.


3. Roman Theatre of Cadiz

things to do in Cadiz - visit the Roman Theatre because it's the second-largest Roman theatre in the world

The Roman Theatre, or as the locals might whisper the mighty Teatro Romano.


If you’re on the hunt for a true historical gem while exploring this city, you’ve got to check out the Roman Theatre. Now, here’s why visiting this site is among the best things to do in Cadiz, and it’s not just because it’s old.


Size Matters

Archaeologists discovered this theatre in the El Pópulo district and found out it dates back to around 70 BC. This is when Lucius Cornelius Balbo, a friend of none other than Julius Caesar, thought, ‘‘Hey, let’s expand Gades (the old-school name for Cadiz).’’ That’s why the locals sometimes refer to it as Balbo Theatre.

one day in Cadiz - visit the Roman Theatre because it's the second-largest Roman theatre in the world (after Pompeii)

Now, get this: It’s the second-largest Roman theatre in the world. Only the theatre of Pompeii, south of Rome, can say it’s bigger. This grand venue could squeeze in a whopping 10,000 spectators. It was so famous that Cicero and Strabo mentioned it in their texts. When legendary classical authors talk about a place, you know it’s a big deal.

But like all good things, its era eventually came to an end. After its glory days, the theatre closed its final curtains in the 4th century. It took a long nap until the 13th century when King Alfonso X of Castile slapped a fortress on top – because why not? The site later housed Almohad houses and even 17th-century pits. The coolest part? The most monumental area of the complex, the scene and the portico, are still buried under the district.


 the part of the complex is still buried under the district.


  • Pop into the modern interpretation centre right at the site. They have displays in both English and Spanish, so you won’t miss out on any juicy details. And guess what? The Roman Theatre is absolutely free (as of May 2024).
  • From April to September 2024, it’s open from Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. The theatre also welcomes visitors on Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm. During the lower season, you can explore the ruins from 10 am to 4.30 pm,  Monday to Saturday. They stop letting in visitors 30 minutes before closing time, so don’t be late. Also, note that the theatre is not open on the first Monday of each month.


4. Find the Cathedral Square

things to do in Cadiz - find Cathedral Square, or Plaza de la Catedral as the locals call it

The Cathedral Square, or Plaza de la Catedral in Spanish, was tailor-made to show off the cathedral in all its glory.


You’re strolling through the sun-soaked streets and suddenly, you stumble upon Plaza de la Catedral. Why is it a must-visit hotspot in Cadiz? Because it’s not just a space, but the city’s pulse! This historic square is not only a feast for the eyes but also a plaza buzzing with life, history and pure Spanish charm.


History with a view

At its centre stands the iconic New Cadiz Cathedral, a masterpiece of architectural design that demands attention. To make sure it got all eyes, planners in the 1700s cleared out old houses to give a better view of the cathedral from anywhere in the square. And as if it wasn’t enough, they turned the plaza floor into a work of itself. How, do you ask? If you’re a fan of hidden details, here’s a kicker: the plaza’s floor mirrors the cathedral’s floor plan. They’ve laid out the pavement in white marble, so you’re literally walking on a scaled map of the building. How cool is that?

the plaza’s floor mirrors the cathedral’s floor plan.

Walk on art: Look down, and you’ll see a mini-map of the cathedral under your feet.


Arch with a past

Did you know an old medieval wall used to surround this square?


Don’t just stroll past the Arco de la Rosa. It’s not just a pretty archway; it’s an old gateway that once led into the old fortress of Castillo de Villa (sadly, it’s lost now). Back in the day, this entrance gate even had a mini-chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Rose above it. And yes, the locals had to tweak its height a little to let carriages pass through comfortably.



After a few hours of walking and learning about the city’s rich history, you might need a break. Good news: This square is a perfect spot to grab a drink and soak in the lively atmosphere.


5. Cadiz Cathedral

things to do in Cadiz- find Cadiz Cathedral, which symbolizes the city’s golden age.

If you’re in this city and don’t visit its cathedral, did you even go to Cadiz? This iconic structure has earned the nickname ‘’The Cathedral of America’’. Why, you may ask? Because it was funded by the flourishing trade between Spain and America, symbolizing the city’s golden age.

Imagine this: It’s the 18th century, this city is thriving, and they need a grander cathedral than its old Santa Cruz Cathedral. The city’s solution? Build a new, more magnificent cathedral to reflect the newfound prosperity.


A marvel of history and architecture

construction of the new cathedral

Construction kicked off in 1722 under the guidance of the architect Vicente Acero, who also built the Granada Cathedral. And guess what? The ambitious goal for this new cathedral was to outshine the iconic Giralda Tower of Seville in both height and architectural grandeur. However, despite its aspirations, the towers reached only about half of their intended height due to, you guessed it, financial problems.

What truly makes the cathedral stand out is its architectural evolution. This wasn’t a straightforward project, and the construction lasted 116 years. It started as a baroque building with a hint of rococo, but the final design showcases a majestic Neoclassical style. And its façade? It’s a harmonious blend of Italian baroque with the Spanish tradition of great cathedrals, creating a façade that demands admiration. Fun fact: The original plan also included a dome with colossal dimensions, but the council rejected the plan. Still, the result is a sight to behold.


A marvel of history and architecture

The dome, adorned with yellow tiles, gives the cathedral a striking appearance, shimmering in the sunlight.


A living museum

cathedral inside

Step inside, and you’ll discover that this cathedral is a treasure trove of art and history. Its chapels house relics and paintings from the old cathedral and various Spanish monasteries. Also, visit the crypt – it’s the final resting place of composer Manuel de Falla and poet Jose Maria Peman, both native sons of Cadiz.

cathedral crypt

the crypt


Levante Tower

best things to do in Cadiz - climb Levante Tower for the best views

If you seek vistas, climbing Levante Tower is one of the best things to do in Cadiz for breathtaking views of the city and the sea. The tower doesn’t have steps but ramps, making it easier to reach the top.



  • Cadiz Cathedral welcomes visitors with open arms and affordable prices. As of May 2024, general admission is €7. This allows you to explore the cathedral and crypt, climb its tower, and visit the Courting House exhibition. Alternatively, consider the Sacred Cadiz (48-hour discount card) for €9, or Cadiz Cathedral and Sacred Cadiz for €14.
  • OPENING TIMES: From April to October 2024, the cathedral opens its doors from 10 am to 8 pm. The tower is accessible from 12 pm to 2.30 pm and from 3.30 pm to 8 pm. Sundays offer late opening hours, starting from 1.30 pm. For current winter season hours, please check the official website.


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Places to visit in Cadiz


6. Torre Tavira

Torre Tavira

Ever wonder what it’s like to spy on a city from the sky? There’s no need for a drone when you have the historic watchtowers. Back in the 18th century, Cadiz buzzed with over 160 towers. Why so many, you may ask? Well, sharp-eyed merchants used them to spot incoming ships loaded with treasure from the New World.

The Torre Tavira stood out from the crowd, situated at the city’s highest point at 45 metres (147 feet) above sea level. It was handpicked by the Navy as their official lookout in 1787, thanks to its prime location that offered the best views for monitoring sea traffic. But there is much more to this tower than its impressive height.


A watchtower with a twist

things to do in Cadiz - explore Torre Tavira to learn to understand the city’s rich maritime heritage.

Step inside, and you’ll discover a world filled with wonder. The Torre Tavira isn’t just any watchtower – it’s a gateway to understanding the city’s rich maritime heritage through its two exhibition rooms. Here, visitors can dive deep into the city’s past and learn about the trade in the golden age of Cadiz in the 18th century and its merchant houses.

evolution of the city

And let’s not forget the tower’s camera obscura. It’s a fascinating device that turns the entire city into a live panorama, all thanks to a pinhole camera and some fancy lenses. It’s been wowing visitors since 1994, making it the first of its kind in Spain. Plus, the rooftop terrace offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city’s skyline and sparkling sea. Whether you’re a history buff, a technology enthusiast, or someone who loves stunning views, exploring the Torre Tavira is one of the best things to do in Cadiz.


things to do in Cadiz - climb the Torre Tavira for the best views of the city and the cathedral

the views from the tower



  • From October to April, the Torre Tavira welcomes visitors daily from 10 am to 6 pm, extending hours from May to September from 10 am to 8 pm. A typical visit lasts around 45 minutes.
  • As of May 2024, general admission to the Torre Tavira is €8, with an additional €5 for a guided tour of camera obscura. Remember, the last entry is an hour before closing time.  For the most accurate visiting information, especially during the winter season, check out their official website.

Torre Tavira plan


7. Playa de la Caleta

things to do in Cadiz - relax on Playa de la Caleta, which is the city's most popular beach.

Heading to this coastal city and skipping Playa de la Caleta is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower-absolutely unthinkable! Here’s why seeing this charming slice of beach paradise is one of the best things to do in Cadiz.


A slice of Havana

attractions in Cadiz - stroll along Playa de la Caleta and La Caleta’s boulevard because it bears a striking resemblance to Havana’s famous Malecon. 

Ever dreamt of visiting Havana but never got the chance? Just stroll along La Caleta’s boulevard, and you might forget you’re not in Cuba. Why, you may ask? Because it bears a striking resemblance to Havana’s famous Malecon. So much so, that this scenic spot even made it into the James Bond Movie, Die Another Day. It’s not just a beach; it’s a slice of Cuban vibe right here in Cadiz.


Historical Hotspot

Don’t let La Caleta’s compact size fool you. At just 400 meters (1,300 feet) long and 30 meters (98 feet) wide at low tide, it’s the city’s smallest yet most popular beach. But there’s more to it than just sand and sea.

This spot has seen Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans, sailing into this natural harbour in its heyday. So, when you’re lounging on its sands, you’re relaxing where the ancient sailors once anchored their ships. Yes, that’s right; La Caleta Beach boasts more historical layers than some museums. Where to find it? It lies between two mighty castles – San Sebastian and San Catalina – in the heart of the historic city centre.



Remember to check the tides before you visit – low tide is perfect for exploring more of the beach and uncovering the remnants of ancient times. You might also spot the canal that once divided the city into two islands.


8. Playa Santa Maria del Mar

Playa Santa Maria del Mar

If you plan a beach day in Cadiz this summer, make sure Playa Santa Maria del Mar is on your list. Wondering why? This 650 m (2,132 ft) urban beach is ideal for those who are seeking a more intimate seaside experience. Plus, it boasts stunning, postcard-perfect views of the Old Town that you won’t want to miss.

Here’s where it gets really interesting: this isn’t just any strip of golden sand. Imagine two stone piers elegantly framing the sandy coastline on either side, giving it a distinctive shell-like appearance. Plus, the journey there adds to the adventure. Equipped with ramps and a charming spiral staircase, accessing this gem is an experience in itself. This unique feature sets it apart from its larger sibling, Victoria Beach, or Playa de la Victoria, as the locals call it.



Playa Santa Maria del Mar offers minimal facilities, just a small bar providing drinks, snacks and basic toilet facilities. For a dash of history, don’t miss the Punic Tombs from the old Necropolis of Gadir, located just above the beach.


9. Castillo de San Sebastian

attractions in Cadiz - Castillo de San Sebastian

Ever wonder what it’s like to walk back in time? On the Paseo Fernando Quinones, a narrow path stretching into the sea, you can do just that. This scenic pathway, built in the 19th century, connects La Caleta Beach with a 16th-century fortress on a small island. Walking to the castle isn’t just a stroll with the salty breeze teasing your senses. It’s a time-travel adventure where every step takes you deeper into history.


things to do in Cadiz - stroll along the Paseo Fernando Quinones, which connects the mainland to the Castillo de San Sebastian

A long boardwalk connects the mainland to the Castillo de San Sebastian, making it accessible even at high tide. Here’s why you absolutely must take this walk when exploring this city.


Not just walls and cannons

Did you know this wasn’t just any old military spot? Legend has it that this very spot where the castle stands was once the site of a temple dedicated to Kronos, the Greek god of the Titans and father of Zeus. Over the centuries, this small island has seen many faces. From a Muslim watchtower to a refuge for plague-stricken sailors in the 15th century, it has witnessed tales as wild as the waves crashing against its walls. In 1457, Venetian sailors who took refuge here rebuilt the tower and added a chapel dedicated to San Sebastian. They even carved the arms of Venice on the stones as a token of gratitude for the city’s hospitality.

Fast forward to the 16th century, Cadiz got a rough visit from the Anglo-Dutch. After that, the Spaniards decided to give the tower a major facelift. They even added the latest artillery and slapped a lighthouse, which guided sailors safely home.


Strategic fortress

Castillo de San Sebastian

By 1706, it was time for another renovation. This time, the Spaniards began building the current castle – Castillo de San Sebastian. Over the years, it started taking shape, fortified with impressive batteries for added defence. They even added a modern lighthouse in 1908. Today, this fortress, with dramatic gates and water-filled moats, offers beautiful views.



As of May 2024, the Castillo de San Sebastian has been closed for several years, but plans are underway to reopen it soon. For the most current information, check their official website.



Walk the scenic path during the low tide to see the channel that once divided the city into two islands in ancient times. Also, you can see the canal dividing La Caleta Beach.


10. Castillo de Santa Catarina

things to do in Cadiz - explore the Castillo de Santa Catarina because it's the city’s oldest military stronghold.

Ever wondered what secrets lie behind the wall of Castillo de Santa Catarina? This 17th-century star-shaped fortress isn’t just a relic of the past but the city’s oldest military stronghold.


Its construction began in April 1598 under the watchful eye of the architect and military engineer Cristóbal de Rojas. Why? Because the city’s defences needed to be improved after a rather unwelcome visit from the Anglo-Dutch Nave a couple of years earlier. That’s why King Felipe II decided to reinforce the Playa de Cadiz with the ambitious Castillo de Santa Catalina project.

Sadly, the king passed away five months after the building works started. Yet, the project persisted, witnessing its completion 23 years later, at the end of Felipe III’s reign. But what makes this fortress a must-visit attraction? Castillo de Santa Catarina boasts two bastions and a moat strategically designed to regulate water levels and protect the fort’s entrance. Inside it’s like a mini-city with the Chapel of Santa Catalina and various buildings arranged around a central parade ground. Don’t forget to explore the Chapel of Santa Catalina and the exhibition commemorating the 1947 explosion in the Navy ammunition of the city’s depot.



As of May 2024, admission is entirely free. Castillo de Santa Catarina welcomes its visitors any day of the week from 11 am to 8 pm.


11. Paseo Santa Barbara

best things to do in Cadiz - stroll along Paseo Santa Barbara because it's the premier spot for scenic walks in the city. 

Ask any local and tourist about Paseo Santa Barbara, and they’ll describe it as the premier spot for scenic walks in Cadiz. This stunning promenade is more than just a pathway; it offers a feast for the senses: feel the cool sea breeze, hear the soothing sound of waves, and enjoy the vivid contrast of lush greenery alongside the endless blue ocean.

Why take a stroll here? Because it’s not only tranquil and visually beautiful but also beneficial for your health. Whether you’re kicking off your day with a morning jog, seeking the perfect spot to watch the sunset, or simply in search of breathtaking views, Paseo Santa Barbara offers everyone a chance to enjoy this beautiful seaside walk.


12. Genoves Park


A natural wonderland next to the sea


Genoves Park isn’t just your average park – it’s the largest one in town! This urban green oasis lies right next to the breezy northern seafront promenade (Paseo Mirador Santa Barbara). It isn’t just big – it’s historical. Its roots stretch back to the late 18th century, and it’s been getting spruced up ever since. The highlight here? La Gruta – a magical grotto complete with its own mini-lake and waterfall. But here’s the twist: the real stars of the show are ducks and geese, living their best lives in this charming spot.

Stroll through the park, and you’ll spot over 100 different species of trees and shrubs. Keep an eye out for the 100-year-old Dragon Tree or the impressive Iron Heart Tree from New Zealand – considered one of the finest examples in Europe. And let’s not forget about the towering Monkey Puzzle Trees, the very first trees planted here, now reaching 50 metres (164 feet). But it’s not just greenery – the park also hosts a collection of commemorative monuments, adding a touch of history to your leisurely walk.



Genoves Park is open year-round, and admission is free, making it a welcoming spot for visitors at any time of the year. Whether you’re here for a peaceful stroll or a duck-watching session, it offers a perfect break from the bustling city life.


13. Baluarte de la Candelaria

Baluarte de la Candelaria

Afterwards, head to Baluarte de la Candelaria, a fortress that’s been watching over the city since the 17th century. This military fortification strategically positioned on the northern edge at Punta Candelaria, defended the city’s entrance against any maritime intruders. The Baluarte de la Candelaria isn’t your average fortress, it’s got character.

First things first: this isn’t your regular four-walled fortress. No, this one decided to go irregular – its triangular layout makes it the Picasso of the military architecture. One side faces the city, while the other two stand towards the bay, as it was saying: ‘’You shall not pass!’’

Now, here’s the funny part: In the 1990s, someone had the bright idea to turn this old military structure into a Museum of the Sea. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out. Instead, the Baluarte now opens its doors for the occasional art exhibition.



If you’re lucky enough to visit when it opens for public events, give this unique triangle-shaped fortress a chance. Peek inside and explore its walls – it might surprise you with its tales.


14. Alameda Apodaca Park

Alameda Apodaca Park

Ever felt like you’re melting under the scorching summer sun? Then head to leafy Alameda Apodaca – it’s your oasis. This beautiful spot is a wide avenue and is perfect for a leisurely walk or a peaceful moment of relaxation. Imagine strolling through a green promenade with cobblestone streets, each one arranged in funky geometric designs. But here’s the real showstopper: the massive trees like huge Ficus. They’re everywhere, creating a lush canopy that provides the perfect shade on those hot summer days. And here’s the twist: between the trees, you’ll find paths covered with pergolas and pretty fountains. There are also quirky stone columns of different influential people, mainly Latin Americans.


best things to do in Cadiz - Alameda Apodaca Park


This romantic-style landscaped area that overlooks the sea lies between the Baluarte de la Candelaria and the Carmen Church. From this walk, you can see gorgeous views of the Bay of Cadiz and neighbouring cities in the bay.


15. Plaza San Antonio

things to do in Cadiz - Visit Plaza San Antonio, which became the birthplace of Spain’s very first constitution

Plaza San Antonio isn’t just any old square; it’s a place where history whispers through cobblestones. Picture this: on 19th March 1812, something monumental happened here. This 18th-century plaza became the birthplace of Spain’s very first constitution, known as La Pepa. This wasn’t just any constitution – it was a groundbreaking document, a product of over 1,400 meetings and countless debates. Imagine the locals’ passion for national sovereignty, fair power distribution and rights for working people. It was a bold move, especially considering that during this time, Napoleon’s troops were knocking on the city’s door. Fortunately, he failed to conquer this resilient city.


Spain’s very first constitution

It was right here that the sound of freedom and rights for all echoed loud and clear.


Now you know what the best things to do in Cadiz are!

Places to visit in Cadiz

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Have you been to Cadiz in Spain? Did we miss anything? Please let us know in the comments below.



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