Cadiz has long been one of my favorite cities in Andalucia. I’ve spent time there with locals, partied at the carnival, surfed the Atlantic waves, and relaxed on the windswept Cadiz beaches.
I’ve also covered all the top things to do in Cadiz as a tourist, like visiting the cathedral, climbing the Tavira tower, and strolling through Genovés Park.
On my latest trip to Cadiz, I spent about a month in this lovely destination and dedicated my time to the less touristy things like discovering hidden gems in Cadiz.
The thing is that Cadiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in western Europe, which also means that there are a whole lot of ancient remains in the city that don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve.
A lot of the reason might be that most travelers only spend one day in Cadiz, while you could gladly spend a week taking advantage of all the free things to do in Cadiz.
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Hidden gems in Cadiz
Casa Romana Varela
Situated in one of the less touristy parks in Cadiz, Jardin Erytheia Varela Norte, you find the impressive archaeological finds of a Roman house.
What I love the most about Cadiz is that you can see so many interesting archaeological sites for free, starting with the Roman Theater, if you only know where to look.
Among the most impressive finds they did when excavating this house, which was found 2.50 meters below the ground surface, were the distinctive floors.
The floors were covered in marble, though experts in the field believe that it was just the grounding layer and that there might have been mosaics or something else on top of the marble. They also suggest that the different rooms were painted in different colors.
The floors are showcased in Museo de Cadiz, though some pieces are left on the actual archaeological site that you can see.
Callejón del Duende
One of the Cadiz hidden gems that are so centrally situated that you’ll walk straight past it if you walk from the Roman Theater to the Cathedral is the Callejón del Duende.
This is the narrowest street in Cadiz and was discovered as they were restoring the buildings around it. One end of the street has been covered with a wall and the other side is permanently locked with a gate to protect the site.
However, this slim street has a lot of legends attached to it. Among them, is a love story from the napoleon invasion. A french captain fell blindly in love with a local girl from Cadiz, and to free her boyfriend from the enemy, she played along.
But things didn’t go as planned for her as she slowly fell for the Frenchman. The “illegal” couple was said to hide out in this street making out vigorously.
In the end, the couple was caught and sentenced to death.
according to the neighbors of Callejón del Duende, they can hear the moaning of the couple every year on the day of the Dead.
El Duende, meaning the elf or the gnome, was also the nickname of a famous smuggler in Cadiz. It’s said that he carried out his monkey business in Cadiz’s narrow streets. Thus, a different theory is that the street is named after him.
Either way, the street is now decorated with gnomes and other spiritual creatures, including plastic snakes, while pot plants and statues liven up the street.
Throwing a coin inside the Callejón del Duende is said to bring good luck, so why not try your luck?
Phoneician and Roman ruins in Parque Kotinoussa Varela Sur
This is one of my favorite hidden gems Cadiz hides in its parks. Parque Kotinoussa Varela Sur is one of the most interesting Cadiz parks with more than 10 archaeological finds spread across the park. The 11th was dug out in October 2022.
The park has multiple information signs telling the history of the finds and Cadiz’s history from the Phoenicians founded the city and about its glory times throughout the Roman era.
Some of the finds that you can see in the park are originals while others are replicas. In the latter case, the originals are exhibited in the Museo de Cadiz.
Among the remains you can see, there are several Phonecean and Roman tombs.
On top of that, the plants and trees planted in the park were typical for the era when the old city was flourishing.
Head to Plaza Asdrúbal to witness a long piece of Cadiz’s ancient Roman aqueduct. Once the longest aqueduct on the Iberian Peninsula it was among the longest of the entire Roman empire stretching across 83 kilometers.
The aqueduct was put together with large limestone rocks in a circular shape with a flat bottom and a drilled hole in the middle. The aqueduct is seen as some of the most impressive engineering in Roman times in Hispania.
It’s pretty fascinating to think about how they built this feature more than 2000 years ago!
3D boat street art
Being parked up in the van for a month in Cadiz, we had the pleasure of finding this unique piece of art on the wall on the paseo in front of Playa de la Victoria in the new part of the city.
From a distance, it looks like a regular wall painting, but once you come closer, you’ll notice that there’s an actual wooden boat attached to the wall which gives it the 3D effect.
Definitely one of the coolest hidden gems of Cadiz.
There is more street art on the street behind the paseo. Though it’s old and a lot of the painting is falling off, there are some strong messages behind many of the pieces of art which I found well worth a look. So if you love street art, you might want to take a stroll past it.
Climate change exhibition
On the Paseo along Playa de la Victoria shortly before reaching the 3D boat street art, you can witness this strong exhibition of photography showcasing locals in Cadiz protesting against climate change.
Information signs in Spanish are set up next to each photograph putting the focus on how important it is that politicians take action now to save the planet before it’s too late.
They explain what climate change means, what causes it, and the causes of climate change, as well as putting light on the young Swedish climate change warrior, Greta Thunberg.
A number of photographers have donated their photographs for this free exhibition which is easily ignored as there are usually caravans parked in front of them, as this is one of the best spots to park for free in Cadiz.
Photographers involved are Luis Miguel Moldes, Antonio Barce, Francisco Virues, José Torres, Eulogio Garcia, as well as Agadén – EA, Café Feminista Cádiz, Yuval Kamin, and Fridays For Future Cádiz.
Of all the hidden gems in Cadiz, I really wish that this one would have had a more central place in the city where more people would get the chance to watch this powerful message.
Punic tombs of the Necropolis of Gadir
On the Paseo above Santa Maria del Mar beach, you find the remains of a Punic tomb dating back the 4th Century BC.
Among all the hidden gems in Cadiz city, this is probably the most seen, though mainly overlooked by tourists, even the ones heading to this beach.
It’s worth stopping by and it makes for a great photo with the cathedral and San Sebastian Castle in the background.
EPIC DAY TOURS FROM CADIZ
Reflections on hidden gems in Cadiz
While these are some incredible hidden gems in Cadiz, I recommend you to walk around the streets, look for hidden parks, and get out of the old town. There are constantly new archaeological finds popping up in Cadiz.
Just at the end of October 2022, a new archaeological find was dug out and made available for the public in the Parque Koutinoussa Valera Sur – on top of the already 10 excavations displayed throughout the park.
It is truly worth heading for the hidden treasures once you’ve hit the most popular tourist sites like the Torre Tavira and Cadiz Cathedral.