Cádiz marked our first city to visit in the country of Spain, and Spain was officially our 2nd country to visit in our year long journey. It was JJ’s 26th individual country to visit in total, and Len and JJ’s 20th Country to visit overall as a couple!  Len had visited Spain previously with stops in Barcelona, Madrid, Ibiza, and Pamplona (that one crazy time when he ran with the bulls at the San Fermin festival.)

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We were once again early risers, and got off the ship very early by 8:05 AM (with the first availability to get off at 8:00 A.M.) We were basically so early that the City Sightseeing Tour buses weren’t there yet and basically none of the shops or cafes were even open yet. As a blessing in disguise though, we used this opportunity to explore much of the city center in a very quiet and uninhabited fashion. The early bird still indeed gets the worm sometimes.

Cadiz Cathedral

Try getting a shot like this of the famed Cadiz Cathedral past 10:00 AM:

 Or seeing the narrow streets and alleys near the cathedral district this empty:

The Cadiz Cathedral was stunning to say the least and was the most popular attraction in the entire City we would learn later that day, given the huge lines of people awaiting entry.

Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour Cadiz

This was our second stop in a row to include a free hop on Hop Off bus tour ticket, only this time it was with the Red City Sightseeing tour company. The WiFi did not work as predicted, and the bus only had one very simple, 12 stop route. The city also seemed to be heavily under construction everywhere we looked.

Around 8:45 A.M., we made our way back to the port area where we finally started to see the red sweaters and signs for the City Sightseeing hop on hop off buses. Once again, we don’t necessarily recommend a hop on hop off bus tour as the main activity to do in any city, but this was once again completely free through Norwegian, so we wanted to take advantage.

As we do always recommend, if you’re going to do the hop on hop off bus tour in any city, the best way to take advantage is to get on as early as possible so you can do an entire lap of the city and the full route with plenty of time left in the day to go explore the places that looked the most interesting.

After one quick trip around the entire loop on the Hop on Hop Off Bus, we were able to locate two specific areas of Cadiz that we wanted to explore further, Playa Santa Maria and Parque Genoves. Both of these areas of Cadiz were walkable from the cruise port which conveniently was the beginning of the bus tour. So after a full loop, we started walking to our first destination of Parque Genoves.

Casa de las 4 Torres (House with 4 Towers)

As we made our way towards the park that we saw on the bus tour (Parque Genoves), we saw a cool example of Baroque Architecture called Case da les 4 torres.

As you can somewhat tell in the left and right photos, the left side of the building is still originally in tact, while the right side has been architecturally modernized.

Parque Genoves

Parque Genoves was a visual wonder, with colorful flowers, ginormous trees, and stone paved walkways bordered by immaculately manicured hedges and greenery. It’s clear that Cadiz takes their cultural heritage seriously, which includes the upkeep of their parks and historical landmarks.

Cathedral Square, Casa Hidalgo, Las Nieves

From Parque Genoves, feeling peckish, we made our way back to the Cathedral Square, which by this time was bustling with activity and an extremely long line of people waiting to enter the Cathedral. We found an amazing bakery called Casa Hidalgo that had gigantic meat pastry pies (not quite an empanada, more so in the style of a meat pie you would find in Jamaica or Turks & Caicos) for the whopping price of 2€, with a Coke “Zero Azucar” for 1€. Later on in the day, we also visited Las Nieves, a cool little cafe for Tapas and Chocolate’ (basically the most decadent hot chocolate you could ever hope to drink, which made JJ very happy).

Castle of Santa Catalina

From the Cathedral square and the delicious meat-filled pastries, we took the roughly mile long walk along Cadiz’s scenic coastline. This included prime views of the Castle of Santa Catalina and La Caleta beach.

The Castle of Santa Catalina was a popular destination for many in Cadiz, probably second place only to the Cadiz Cathedral. As you can see from the above photo though, La Caleta beach left much to be desired. The tide was low, so you could see tons of boats stuck in the proverbial mud. We continued our journey down the scenic coastline for greener beach pastures.

Playa Santa Maria

Finally, we made it to Playa Santa Maria. For those that don’t know, or are too lazy to Google, “playa” means “beach” in Spanish. And for those that don’t yet know, but will soon realize as they follow this blog, Len and JJ are beach lovers to the max!

Playa Santa Maria was largely uninhabited, with just the right amount of activity for primo-people watching. There was a surf school going on at the far end, and a few overzealous folks running back and forth along the hard sand portions of the beach. We didn’t have our suits on, but did pack our Lytepark Microfiber Beach Towels (which are huge, and virtually impossible for sand to stick to) and enjoyed a scenic spot along the slanted stone wall. A cloudy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at the office, we always say. We thought Playa Santa Maria was subtly beautiful, a rare diamond in the rough and off the beaten path destination in Spain.

Len and JJ’s Overall Rating:

Worth Visiting At Least Once

All in all, we enjoyed Cadiz very much. We liked the town of Cádiz, Spain overall much more than say, Funchal, Portugal or Cartagena, Spain. There just seemed to be more going on and the city was infinitely walkable. It felt like a real Spanish city, where real Spaniards work and live, as opposed to a more touristy Spanish destination such as Palma, Mallorca. It was also pleasantly affordable as one of Spain’s smaller, and likely less popular cities. Besides, our opinion is that any day at the beach (especially one as beautiful as Playa Santa Maria) is a good day. Well played Cadiz, well played.

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