25 Best things to do in Cadiz Spain

Looking for the best things to do in Cadiz Spain? Then you’re in the right place. I’ve spent considerable time in the city over many years and explored it on a local level.

On my last visit, I stayed over a month exploring way beyond the regular tourist route and I’m excited to share what to do in Cadiz so that you can get the most out of your visit.

As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, there is so much to do and see in Cadiz. With a long history ruled by the Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors, you can wander in history through a Roman Theater, watchtowers, and castles.

Cadiz was the main port for trade between the Mediterranean and the New World. Today, you can discover the different layers of history and culture that have built up throughout the years in one of the most culture-rich and underrated destinations in Spain.

But the beaches in Cadiz are also stunning. In fact, the province has some of the best beaches in Andalucia and the city is great for surfing all year round.

In this post, I’ve put together some of the top things to see in Cadiz Spain including some fun activities so whether you’re spending a day or two as part of an Andalucia road trip or several days in the city, you’ll have enough to do in this incredible city near Seville.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Old town Cadiz Spain

Best things to do in Cadiz Spain

Cadiz is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and one of my favorites. With all the history and charm of this ancient city, I’ve compiled an overview of what to do in Cadiz Spain, including some lesser touristy spots.

If you have enough time, there are also a whole lot of must-do day trips from Cadiz that you should check out.

Cadiz Cathedral

One of the top Cadiz tourist attractions is without a doubt Cadiz Cathedral, and even if you only have one day in Cadiz, this is a must-visit. Towering above the city, you can see it from the seaside which might be the most iconic sight of Cadiz.

Cadiz Cathedral took 116 years to build and was finished in 1838 when the sacristy and the towers were added. The most distinctive feature is the golden dome that you can admire from the shore.

In the cathedral’s crypt, both the local composer and pianist Manuel de Falla and the local journalist and poet Jose Maria Pemán are buried.

The cathedral is just as beautiful inside as outside so it’s absolutely worth popping inside. Check out opening hours and admission fees on the official web page.

Things to do in Cadiz

Climb the bell tower

One of the best things to do in Cadiz is to climb the 56-meter-high bell tower of Cadiz Cathedral for the astounding views. You pretty much have the whole waterfront at your feet as well as the beautiful, whitewashed city.

Its path up to the top is built exactly the same way as the Giralda in Seville, with a ramp winding up so that it was possible to reach the top by horse. That said, there are a few steps up the last bit to the Bell Tower viewpoint.

The climb to the clock tower is included in the general cathedral admission. However, if you reside in Cadiz province you get free entrance to the cathedral, but not to the bell tower, so if that’s your case, you must purchase a separate ticket.

You can check out ticket prices and updated opening hours directly on the cathedral’s web page.

views from the belltower of Cadiz cathedral with beautiful statues on the cathedral's rooftop and whitewashed houses stretching all the way to the deep blue sea

Explore the city by bike

In Cadiz, things to do and see are all within walking distance, but I still think that taking a bike tour is a fantastic way to explore the city.

It’s a fun way to learn more about the history of Cadiz while cycling through the historic streets. Whether you travel solo or are in a group of family or friends, this is a great activity.

I highly recommend this small-group bike tour which takes you past some of the most iconic Cadiz sights like the cathedral, the Roman Theater, and Santa Catalina Castle.

Hunt for Roman remains

When visiting Cadiz, what to do should include hunting for Roman ruins. Because there are lots more Roman heritage in the city than the Roman Theater!

Hidden away in parks and squares, you’ll find some pretty incredible historical remains that most tourists just walk past without acknowledging or don’t even walk past because they’re far out of the main tourist trail.

Along the promenade of Playa Maria del Mar, you find some remains and if you walk further to the Valeria Parks there are some incredible remains from Roman and even Punic times.

Besides, there are the remains of a Roman aqueduct in the Asdrubal Square not far from there.

the remains of an old Roman villa
The remains of an old Roman villa

Tavira Tower

Tavira Tower is the highest point in Cadiz’s old town at 45 meters and boasts the best views of the city including the magnificent Cadiz Cathedral.

These views are an absolute must-see, Cadiz doesn’t look better from any other place (at least if you’re a sucker for views like I am!)

The tower is also the highest of the remaining 126 watchtowers from the 18th Century and the only one that the public can visit.

Inside the tower, you can visit the Camera Obscura where you can see a projected live view of the city. This visit takes 15 minutes and you must book a time slot up front.

In the high season, I recommend booking as early as possible to ensure you get in and can plan your itinerary accordingly.

Read my complete guide to visiting Torre Tavira here.

View from Tavira Tower

San Sebastian Castle

A leisurely walk through Puerta de la Caleta along the Paseo Fernando Piñones walkway takes you to another of the ancient attractions in Cadiz. San Sebastian Castle is situated on a tiny peninsula off the coast next to La Caleta Beach.

The castle was built to protect the city from enemy attacks. San Sebastian Castle was first built in the 15th century, but what we see today dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

In 1985, it was declared Bien de Interés Cultural. The castle has been closed to the public for a few years now, at least the last times I’ve been (I usually pass by Cadiz 2-4 times a year) but I’ll update here as soon as I experience otherwise.

Even so, strolling out to the castle is a must when you visit Cadiz Spain. The views of Santa Catalina Castle and the beaches from this point are unmatched.

Castillo de San Sebastian - Things to do in Cadiz Spain
Castillo de San Sebastian

Santa Catalina Fortress

Santa Catalina Fortress is one of the most famous Cadiz attractions and its oldest military structure dates back to the early 1600s. Its unique star shape is widely recognizable.

A visit to the fortress is one of the must things to do in Cadiz. It’s strategically placed by La Caleta Beach on the opposite side of San Sebastian Castle so you can easily combine it with a dip on a warm day. The views from the fortress are beautiful.

In 1985, the fortress was declared Bien de Interés Cultural. Inside the castle, you find a tiny chapel and museums with both temporary exhibitions and a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of the castle. It’s free to visit and open every day from 11:00-19:00.

a guard tower jutting out in the sea from Santa Catalina Castle in Cadiz

Roman Theater

The Roman Theater in Cadiz was discovered as late as 1980. It’s believed that it was built in the 1st century BC as one of the biggest Roman Theaters that were built in the Roman Empire. It’s also the oldest one in Spain.

Nearly 1000 years after it was abandoned in the 4th century, King Alfonso X de Castile ordered the construction of a fortress on top of its ruins which is probably why it has been forgotten.

It’s a pretty cool tour as you can walk in the corridors under the theater. Only parts of it are excavated as the rest remains under today’s city. The museum is set below the houses.

The Roman Theater is no arguing one of the coolest tourist attractions in Cadiz and is completely free to visit.

Opening hours:
Summer/Mon-Sat: 11:00-17:00 and Sun 10:00-14:00
Winter/Mon-Sat: 10:00-16:30 and Sun 10:00-14:00
Closed on the first Monday of the month and on public holidays

the ancient ruins of the Roman Theater in Cadiz which are still not completely reconstructed

Plaza de San Juan de Dios

If you come to Cadiz by car, there’s a big chance you’ll walk through Plaza de San Juan de Dios walking into Cadiz Old Town from the port.

The busy square has been a commercial center since the 16th century. Even today, a busy market crowds Plaza de San Juan de Dios on Sundays and over the Christmas holidays. You can find different locally handmade artifacts throughout the different stalls.

The square is also home to the City Hall and the San Juan de Dios Church making this area a must among what to see in Cadiz Spain when you visit.

What to do in Cadiz - Plaza de San Juan de Dios
Plaza de San Juan de Dios

Stroll through the old town

Walking around Cadiz Old Town is one of my favorite things to do when visiting the city. The narrow alleys and cobbled streets lined with small boutique shops and niche shops selling everything from spices to local olive oils and sherries are truly captivating.

A great way to explore the center is by going on a guided tour. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about one of the oldest cities in the continent by a local and especially if you travel solo, it’s a fabulous opportunity to meet other travelers.

If you’re a group of friends or a family traveling, I suggest going on this private tour as it’s more customizable and you get a better connection with the guide.

a narrow street in Cadiz Old Town with beautiful architecture and a tower with a dome at the end of the street

Plaza de San Antonio

Plaza de San Antonio is another historic square in Cadiz, once called Campo de la Jara (field of rockrose.) The San Antonio Hermitage, later turned church, was built on the square thus giving it its current name – and remains the most photographed landmark on the square.

The square was where the Constitution was proclaimed in 1812 and later in 1820, the repression of the liberal movement took place there, so it’s a historically important spot in Cadiz not only for the city but also for Spain.

Today, it’s a beautiful square for walking around, shopping from street vendors, and visiting the church. It’s also where the biggest concert scene is set up during the Carnival in Cadiz, a time when the square is jam-packed with people and an amazing vibe!

an old square with a church


Arcos de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera

Conil de la Frontera

Los Caños de Meca

Take a peek in Callejon del Duende

As one of the best-hidden gems in Cadiz, Callejon del Duende is the narrowest street in the city, though it’s covered in one way now making it a narrow alley.

It’s located right next to the Roman Theater, but most visitors will walk straight past it. It’s closed with a gate for preservation so you can’t actually enter it.

However, there are interesting legends connected to the alleyway of illegal love and tragedies. And to this day, neighbors hear the moaning of lovers in the alley on the Day of the Dead.

a narrow alley full of gnomes and plants

La Caleta Beach

La Caleta Beach is the most central beach in Cadiz lined between San Sebastian Castle and Santa Catalina Fortress. This is surely one of the most popular beaches in Cadiz due to its urban setting.

Its proximity to the old town also makes it a convenient beach to go to and there are bars and restaurants nearby to have lunch if you decide to spend a whole day.

In the summer months, you can rent paddleboards and kayaks on the beach to discover the coastline from the water.

La Caleta Beach has been an important anchor point for boat traffic for centuries and even today, colored wooden fishing boats are dotted around the bay.

I love how the locals use the beach all year round for hanging out, swimming, or going for strolls at sunset. Especially the sunsets are magical!

I highly recommend you join this sunset tour to experience it with a local.

sunset at La Caleta Beach

Genoves Park

Passing Santa Catalina Fortress, you get to the most famous park in Cadiz. The green space is popular among locals and travelers alike to disconnect.

So, if you wonder what to do in Cadiz Spain once you’ve seen all the main sites or when you need a rest from sightseeing, this is the place to be.

Charming footpaths winding through exotic trees, flowers, fountains, and a lake with waterfalls cascading into the water, it’s the perfect place to bring a good book and sit back on a bench and relax or take the kids to run around and play for a bit.

There is also a café in Genovés Park where you can grab a cold or warm drink depending on your preference.

me standing on the top of a waterfall in the lush green genoves park

Go on a tapas tour

Cadiz is a fabulous place to go on a tapas tour. There are so many traditional and hip tapas bars to choose from where you’ll get an authentic Spanish tapas experience.

There are naturally vegetarian and vegan tapas too, like Pimientos al Padron (vegan), Papas Aioli (vegetarian), Papas Bravas (vegan), Garbanzos y Espinacas (vegan), Huevos Revueltos (vegetarian if it’s only made with vegetables and eggs), Gazpacho (vegan), and Salmorejo (vegan).

I highly recommend joining this private tapas tour to get an authentic experience with a local guide – this is truly one of the most cultural additions to your Cadiz trip.


An image of the views from the top of Cadiz Cathedral with overlaying text saying "Best things to do in Cadiz Spain"

Take the ferry to El Puerto de Santa Maria

If you have enough time, a boat trip to El Puerto de Santa Maria is one of the coolest things to do. Cadiz and El Puerto de Santa Maria are so close that the ferry only takes about 40 minutes. If you’re lucky, you might see dolphins along the ride!

Whether you spend a few hours or an entire day in the charming port town, there are plenty of things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria.

Stroll along the harbor, eat ice cream, visit the fortress and the cathedral, or go sherry tasting. Strolling through the old streets you’ll stumble upon pretty, old squares with bars to have a refreshing drink and photo opportunities everywhere.

The ferry leaves about every 30 minutes and is less than 2 Euros each way as part of the public transport services. You can check the timetables here.

A beautiful church on a square  with bars and restaurants

Plaza de España

When visiting Cadiz Spain, things to do-lists often miss one of the most important squares in the city, Plaza de España.

However, it’s one of the most important places in Cadiz, home to the monument tribute to the Constitution of 1812.

Colorful flowerbeds adorn the monument and benches are set around the park so you can relax before continuing sightseeing.

the monument of the Constitution of 1812

Mercado Central

Every foodie’s dream is to visit the local food market. And even better when it’s the oldest covered food market in Spain! Mercado Central in Cadiz dates back to 1838, though it’s gotten a facelift since then.

There are around 170 stalls with local produce and you can enjoy tapas and drinks at any of the many bars around the market.

It’s usually a loud, lively, and busy atmosphere at Mercado Central and a great place to people-watch while you take in the local vibe making it a great place for a break in your busy Cadiz sightseeing schedule.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 09.00-15:00.

Things to see in Cadiz

Carnival in Cadiz

The carnival in Cadiz is one of the most famous in Andalucia, it’s also the oldest in mainland Spain. It all started in the 16th Century when Cadiz and Venice were doing trade and the people of Cadiz heard about the carnival in Venice. They wanted to make something like that too!

While the carnival in Cadiz isn’t as glamorous, it’s a full-on street party that goes on for days and days to end. The streets fill up with music and you see happy people dancing and drinking in different costumes. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one of my favorite fiestas in Andalucia.

It’s usually set to around 2 weeks of celebration before Lent and even when the Franco regime prohibited carnivals, Cadiz kept on living the tradition. However, during the pandemic, there was a pause like for any other celebrations in Spain.

Typical for the carnival in Cadiz are the groups of musicians and entertainers wandering the streets or taking up a random corner of a random street where you can join the crowds. There are also floats, fireworks, and live concerts.

If you happen to be in Spain during the carnival season, make sure you get a fun costume and hit the streets in Cadiz. You won’t regret it!

Cadiz things to do - Carnival
Street performers during the carnival

Take a Sherry tasting tour to Jerez

Jerez de La Frontera is famous for its sherry and a sherry tasting tour to the city is truly one of the best activities in Cadiz that you can do.

Home to many renowned sherry distilleries, Jerez produces big names with Tio Pepe in the lead. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir to bring back home, a bottle of local sherry can’t go wrong.

I highly recommend this private tour from Cadiz to Jerez where you’ll get a guided visit of the city and a tour of a sherry distillery with tastings.

The intricate Gothic cathedral in Jerez

Explore the beaches

Cadiz arguably has some of the most astounding beaches in Spain and you should make time to explore at least a couple of them.

Some of my favorites include Los Caños de Meca, El Palmar, and Bolonia Beach and dunes, which is one of the top beaches in Tarifa.

Also the beaches around Conil de la Frontera are amazing, especially the Calas de Roche beaches that are set in small coves in the cliff.

Due to the strong winds from the Atlantic Ocean, most beaches in this part of the country are wild and sand-blown. This also means you want to go on a day with little wind so that you don’t get all that blowing sand in your eyes.

Cala de Roche Cadiz adventure
Cala de Roche

Take surf lessons

When spending time in Cadiz, things to do like kite surfing and surfing are so worth it! The whole coast of Cadiz is renowned for its waves yet much less famous among travelers than the nearby Algarve coast in Portugal.

If you’re a seasoned surfer, you’ll have a blast but even if you’ve just been curious to try, Cadiz is a great place to take surf lessons for beginners. It isn’t for no reason that the locals refer to their city as Cadifornia!

Especially along Playa Santa Maria del Mar and Playa de la Victoria, you’ll find numerous surf shops and surf schools where you can book lessons and rent gear.

Surfing is also one of the best things to do in Tarifa if you fancy heading to a smaller surf town nearby.

surf class on the beach - surfboards lined up and the instructor is explaining to the participants

Step inside Iglesia de Carmen

Located right in front of the Clara Campoamor Garden, this is a beautiful church often overlooked by tourists.

The church dates back to the late 17th century and was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 2009. When you step inside, it’s easy to see why. Golden altars and chapels are detailed and beautifully ornated.

the facade of a beautifully ornated church with two towers

Walk through Arco de la Rosa

Arco de la Rosa is an old gate leading into the walled town dating back to the 13th and 15th centuries. It’s located on the side of Cadiz Cathedral in the direction of the Roman Theater and is one of the most important tourist attractions in Cadiz Spain.

In medieval times, there was a chapel next to it called the Chapel of Rosa Virgin where defendants would pray before meeting in trial.

me walkig through the medieval Arco de la Rosa

Stroll through Clara Campoamor Garden

This park is one of the most beautiful in Cadiz in my opinion, yet often overlooked, especially by day trippers.

It’s actually two separate parks, though they are right next to each other, though you might see them referred to as Alameda Hermanas Carvia Bernal and Clara Campoamor Garden.

What I love the most about these parks besides the sea view are the century-old ficus trees giving shade on hot days. The large trees are so beautiful and the roots whisper ancient tales.

Sit down on one of the tiled benches to people-watch for a bit or just stroll past fountains and through tunnels of colorful flowers. There’s also a bronze statue of the poet, Carlo Edmundo de Ory who was born in Cadiz in 1923.

me and my dog strolling through a park where pink Rhododendrons create a tunnel leading towards sweeping sea views

Reflections on what to do in Cadiz

The mix of culture, sea, and adventure activities that Cadiz offers makes this a favorite corner of Spain, still fairly off the radar compared to cities like Seville, Malaga, Barcelona, and Granada.

There’s so much to do in Cadiz no matter your interests and there are lots of hidden gems in Cadiz to explore once you’ve covered the major tourist attractions. Further, prices haven’t surged yet and they serve free tapas with the beers.

I’d love to see it stay this way though, so make sure you practice responsible tourism when you go. Especially when it comes to respecting the locals, spending money in small local businesses, looking for places in the backstreets to go for lunch, and using the rubbish bins instead of the street.

As there’s increasing cruise tourism to Cadiz, try to be considerate. According to locals I’ve spoken to, the majority of cruise tourists trample the streets in hordes, rush to the main sights, maybe they buy ONE drink (which equals a Euro or two,) and then litter all over the streets.

Keep this in mind because I’m pretty sure you don’t want to leave an impression like that on any local community when you travel.

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