Home Lifestyle Spain’s ‘sunshine coast’ gem hailed as Barcelona without the tourists

Spain’s ‘sunshine coast’ gem hailed as Barcelona without the tourists


Cathedral de Santa Cruz is one of Cádiz’s top attractions (Picture: Getty Images)

Whether it’s culture, nightlife or beaches you’re looking for, Barcelona has it all.

But in 2023 alone, more than 12 million people holidayed in the Catalan capital – and the Sagrada Familia is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain.

If you’re looking for a similar cultural experience without the crowds, the ancient port city of Cádiz in Andalucia has been hailed as the perfect destination dupe.

One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, Cádiz’s Port was the main harbour in Spain during the eighteenth century.

As such, the streets of Cádiz are lined with historic buildings, from plazas to churches.

And, much like Barcelona, there are also numerous beaches and restaurants to be found, appeasing all travelling tastes.

Cádiz is one of Europe’s oldest cities (Picture: Getty Images)

Things to do in Cádiz

From historic buildings to sparkling blue waters, Cádiz offers a similar calibre of activities to Barcelona – but without the over-tourism.

The city’s top attraction is the Torre Tavira, an eighteenth-century watchtower that forms the highest point in the city.

For picturesque views of the sunshine coast, head to the terrace – where you can also see the Cádiz Camera Obscura, the first one installed in Spain.

Cádiz must-try

Want to fully immerse yourself in the Cádiz culture?

Try bienmesabe, a traditional dish in Andalusian cuisine made from cubes of dogfish, marinated and then fried. ¡Buen provecho!

To follow the city’s rocky coastline, take an afternoon stroll along Avenida Campo del Sur and finish at the cathedral.

Meanwhile, the Mercado Central offers a vibrant array of traditional Spanish food, from fresh seafood paella to tapas, whilst Playa Victoria and La Caleta Beach offer relaxation, largely undisturbed by noisy motorboats.

To learn about the local history, as well as fine arts and archaeology, the Museum of Cádiz is the perfect knowledge-broadening opportunity.

And, if you don’t mind a little excursion outside of the city, Setenil de las Bodegas, a 90 minutes drive away from Cádiz, and also goes by another name: The Cave Village. The town is nestled within a deep canyon, and large rock formations overhang the quaint white houses.

How to get to Cádiz

The easiest way to get to Cádiz is by plane, but unfortunately there’s no direct flight from London.

At present, the best route is to fly to Barcelona and change for a 1h45 minute flight to Jerez, Cádiz’s main airport. On average, one-way tickets start from £50.

Cádiz offers history, culture and beaches aplenty (Picture: Getty Images)

It’s around 25 minutes by car to the city centre, and well connected by public transport – just take the train four stops.

From Manchester, you can fly to Madrid and then change.

When to visit Cádiz

If you’re wanting to dodge the sweltering Spanish heat, the ideal time of year to visit Cádiz is May and June or at the beginning of autumn, between September and October.

By June, temperatures can reach balmy highs of 25C, whilst September can see the mercury skyrocket that bit further, to 26C.

During the height of summer, in July and August, the highest averages reach 28C – slightly cooler than Barcelona, which reaches highs of 29C.

See you at the beach!

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