Known affectionately as ‘Little Havana’, the enchanting port of Cadiz, in Spain, is home to a warren of narrow streets, sun-filled squares and a waterfront like that of the Cuban capital.
So similar are the cities that Havana scenes in the Bond film Die Another Day — with Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry — were filmed here.
Cadiz is famed for its carnival in February, good-times vibe and friendly Gaditanos (or locals). Expect bargain tapas and live music alongside ancient sights and sandy beaches.
Cadiz has a lot to offer, from bargain tapas and live music to ancient sights and sandy beaches
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Las Cortes de Cadiz
This charming yellow-fronted building in the heart of the shopping and dining district has 36 rooms off an impressive marble staircase. Its air-con bedrooms have classic furniture and the roof terrace is ideal for catching Cadiz’s Saharan sunset.
B&B doubles from £78 (hotellascortes.com).
Hotel La Catedral
Situated in one of Cadiz’s most popular squares, this hotel’s rooftop has a front-row view of the cathedral. And, there’s a plunge pool for cooling off while admiring the architecture. Rooms are modern and comfortable.
B&B doubles from £76 (hotellacatedral.com).
Hotel Casa de Las Cuatro Torres
On a quiet square with orange trees, this boutique hotel is housed in an 18th-century Baroque building topped with four towers. Rooms have original features such as beams and studded doors.
B&B doubles from £77 (casadelascuatrotorres.com).
Hotel Convento Cadiz
Hotel Convento Cadiz, pictured above, is a converted 17th-century convent with original archways and Baroque marble
How about a stay in a converted 17th-century convent? The original archways, Baroque marble and stonework remain, and its simple rooms have modern amenities.
B&B doubles from £95 (hotelconventocadiz.com).
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Enjoy the history
Enlist an English-speaking guide to get your bearings in this historic, yet confusing city. Tours are free but a tip is usual — £8 is about right.
For more information visit cadizforniatours.com.
See Cadiz from above
The Baroque watchtower of Torre Tavira offers stunning views of Cadiz from above. Pictured is the panoramic vista from the tower
For panoramic views of the city, climb the Baroque watchtower, Torre Tavira (£5.90). The camera obscura tour included in the price shows how the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans shaped Cádiz.
For more information visit torretavira.com.
Hit the beaches
Pack a picnic and head to Caleta beach, pictured above, an old town beach framed by a fort
Decamp to the beach with a picnic like the locals. Caleta — the old town beach framed by the fort — is the most popular, but further along the peninsula there’s 8km of golden sand. Hire a bike (£10.20 a day, segwayspot.com) or hop on the No 7 bus from Plaza de Espana.
The best spot for flamenco is the El Pelicano bar perched on the city wall.
Check facebook.com/ElPelicanoMusiCafe for its list of free entertainment.
Take to the water
Pictured is the Castle of San Marcos, one of the historic sites in the whitewashed town of El Puerto de Santa María
Take the catamaran (£2.30 one-way) to El Puerto de Santa Maria. Spend an afternoon in the whitewashed town drinking sherry at a bodega, visiting historic sites or the beaches.
For more information visit catamaranbahiacadiz.es.
WHERE TO EAT
La Taperia de Columela
Hidden on Cadiz’s main shopping street, you can make out this tapas spot by the people queuing round the corner. There are four tables out back but most of the action is in the bar. Expect the waiters to chuck plates at you to pass to fellow diners.
The food is high quality and good value with chacinas (cured meat) for £2.40 and Andalusian dishes such as the ensalada columela (a seafood and potato salad) for £2.90.
The bar is located at Calle Columela, 4, 11001.
El Faro de Cadiz
Enjoy fine-dining at El Faro for less by propping up the bar rather than eating in the main restaurant. Situated on a side street, this is a great place for trying the best fried fish — a Cadiz speciality. Start with tortillitas de camarones, crispy fritters made with tiny shrimps (£2) before trying more innovative dishes like codfish tempura with Indian mustard sauce (£3).
For more information visit elfarodecadiz.com/la-barra.
Cafe-Bar La Marina
Tuck into hot churros and hot chocolate at Cafe-Bar La Marina, which is set on the corner of Plaza de Las Flores, pictured above
No trip to Spain is complete without indulging in the ritual of merienda — the fourth meal of the day taken between 5pm and 6pm. This old-school cafe on the corner of Plaza de Las Flores is the perfect place to try it. Join the locals for a coffee or hot chocolate (£1.50) and receive a plate piled high with fresh, hot churros completely free.
The cafe-bar is located at Plaza Topete 1, 11001.
Bar La Tabernita
Located on a buzzing street in La Vina — the best barrio (neighbourhood) in town for tapas — this no-frills bar is seriously good value. Every tapas dish that flies out of their kitchen costs £2.10. Order the cuttlefish meatballs in black ink and cheese-stuffed aubergine.
The bar is located at Calle Virgen de la Palma, 32, 11002.
Breathtaking: The Bay of Cadiz as seen from the cathedral. The Spanish city is home to a warren of narrow streets and sun-filled squares
Las Isleta de la Vina
For when you’re tired of tapas, this restaurant’s menu of fusion food (served on large plates, not tapas-sized ones) is great. Feast on local fish ceviche with mango and cashew nuts (£8.40) and the orange chicken with black sesame (£8.20), before finishing with heavenly dark chocolate ganache (£5.80). It’s in a lovely square and has regular live music.
For more information visit Isletadelavina.com.
HOW TO GET THERE
Ryanair flies from London to Jerez from £36 return. Jerez airport is 46 minutes from Cadiz by train (£4.60) or 30 minutes by car (europcar.com).
Fully vaccinated tourists can travel to Spain without taking a test, but must complete a Health Control Form (spth.gob.es) before travelling. Unvaccinated tourists are banned.
Before returning to the UK, travellers are required to take an antigen test and to have booked a PCR test to be taken by day two of their return.