Set on a spit of land along Spain's Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light), Cádiz is reputed to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe. Founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 B.C., then ruled by Romans, Moors, and Visigoths until conquered by the Castilians in 1262, this sun-drenched town exudes old-world romance, with winding cobblestone streets, sweeping shorelines, and cafés and bars serving up tapas and manzanilla sherry.
What We Love
Flamenco: Cádiz has several clubs devoted to this artful Spanish dance, including La Cava Taberna Flamenca and Peña Flamenca La Perla.
Art: The city is filled with galleries. Check out the contemporary art space ECCO or head to a museum — Museo de Cádiz showcases archaeologic treasures (including Phoenician and Roman finds), paintings (Rubens, Zurbarán), and Tía Norica puppets.
Best Known For
Historical Sites: The launching pad for Columbus's second and fourth sailings to the New World, Cádiz is home to forts, statues, cathedrals, and ruins galore. Don't miss a visit to Torre Tavira, an 18th-century watchtower with panoramic views of the city.
Golden Beaches: Bodybuilders, bombshells, and families frolic on the city's wide, sandy swaths. Go for a swim or just people-watch at the many toes-in-sand chiringuitos (bars).
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Who It's Best For
Architecture Buffs: This city's storied past stretches back more than 3,000 years, and you'll see evidence of just about every era, from the Roman theater, built during the first century B.C., to Oratorio de la Santa Cueva, an 18th-century chapel with frescoes by Goya.
Seafood Addicts: Sample local specialties like garlicky potatoes with grilled mackerel, tortillitas de camarones (shrimp fritters), fried sardines, mojama (sun-dried salted tuna), and boiled langoustines.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Every Walk Is a Surprise: The most joyful way to sightsee in Cádiz is to stroll with no plan through the serpentine streets. And that is also how you will get inevitably lost. But don't worry: The city’s compact size and friendly residents will help you find your way you back to the port in no time.
Laura Manske is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Redbook, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan.