For many Scandinavians Costa del Sol is the first thing that comes in mind when we talk about Spain, or the south of Spain at least. For me it’s the absolute last place in the whole country that I would call Spain. There are two reasons for this. First of all, whenever I travel, I always try to experience the country of visit in the most authentic way possible, that is through the eyes of a local. “English breakfast” signs, “Welcome” words in Finnish and restaurant owners that don’t even speak Spanish is for me the ultimate nightmare and as far from the “real” Spain as you can come. Secondly, since I’ve lived in Cádiz in the south of Spain and have formed very strong emotional bonds to certain places there, I am fully aware that my opinion is one hundred percent partial. 😀
What I can promise you, however, is that in “my Spain” you will eat the most delicious tapas of your life, meet the most sympathetic people you’ll ever know and see some of the most extraordinary places in the whole of Spain. I will warn you though, if you are to travel through these places learning Spanish, or gaditano as the local accent is called over there, might be a good idea. Welcome to the Province of Cádiz!
The Province of Cádiz is one of eight provinces of the autonomous community of Andalusia. Its capital is the city of Cádiz, which was founded by the Phoenicians approx. 3100 years ago and therefore makes Cádiz one of the oldest cities in the whole of Europe. With archaeological findings dating back as far as to the 1100s BC, you can easily say that Cádiz is a city of great historical and cultural value.
When I moved to Cádiz ten years ago to study political history at the University of Cádiz, there was no other choice than to learn Spanish. No one spoke English. Even the tourists were mainly Spanish. I was actually the first student from the University of Helsinki to do an exchange year in Cádiz. The contracts between the two universities had only been signed a couple of months before my departure. I will be eternally grateful to the University of Helsinki for handing me that spot. The year in Cádiz is one of the best years of my life.
FLAMENCO AND TAPAS
With the increasing tourism of the last few years things have definitely changed in Cádiz. Not as much though, that I don’t dare to say that Cádiz and its surroundings is still one the most beautiful and authentic places in Spain. For example, did you know that flamenco, both the music, the singing and the dancing, is originally from Andalusia and was born out its rich culture. A culture that consist of a mix of Andalusian, Arabic, Jewish and Gypsy culture.
Even the incredibly delicious food culture of today’s Cádiz can be traced back in time, and carries elements from all the different civilizations that have existed there throughout history. A winning combination if you ask me. And after my latest visit to Cádiz, I think it’s safe to say that my travel companions agree with me. Last November you see, I was finally able to take Oleg, my cousin Heidi and Heidi’s boyfriend Tuomas to Cádiz and show them the place that holds so many unforgettable memories for me. Since we were only there for five days, I wasn’t able to take them to all my favorite places, which I have gathered for you in the list below. But you gotta leave a little something for next time as well!
– Catedral de Cádiz (The cathedral)
– Torre Tavira (A 18th century watchtower with an incredible view of the city)
– Castillo de Santa Catalina (A 17th century military prison)
– Castillo de San Sebastián (A 18th century sea fortress)
– Parque Genovés
– El teatro romano de Cádiz (The Roman theatre)
– Beaches: La Caleta ja Playa de Santa María del Mar
– The old part of the town (Casco Antiguo de Cádiz)
– Avenida Campo del Sur
– The old city walls
– Mercado de Abastos (The market hall)
– Plaza de Las Flores, Plaza de San António, Plaza Mentidero, Plaza de Mina (stop for some tapas, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine)
– Flamenco show (La Cava Taberna Flamenca, Peña Flamenca la Perla de Cádiz)
– La Real Escuela Andaluza de Arte Ecuestre de Jerez de la Frontera (The dancing horses of Andalusia)
– Winery (Jerez de la Frontera)
– Football game (if in season)
In the end it doesn’t really matter where you eat, it’s good wherever you go. However, there are always a few places that I tend to go to over and over again which are:
– El ArteSerrano (a selection of the most popular tapas in Cádizin, a good place to start at)
– Bar La Gallega, San Fernando (the most incredible tapas you’ll ever eat)
– Freiduria Las Flores (famous for its fried sea food)
– Restaurante Balandro (both tapas and main courses)
– Taberna Casa Manteca (meat and cheese that will melt in your mouth)
– La Tienda de Velez (both tapas and main courses)
– All the beach bars (Los Chiringuitos)
– Grazalema (a picturesque mountain village, one of the best hidden gems in the whole province)
– Tarifa (a surfer’s paradise, Playa de Bolonia)
– Barbate (Playa de Zahara de los Atunes and Playa de Caños de Meca)
– Jerez de la Frontera (The dancing horses of Andalusia, flamenco, wineries…)
– Vejer de la Frontera (the white city)
OTHER SEMI CLOSE CITIES TO VISIT (not part of the Province of Cádiz)
– Ronda (very touristy but definitely worth a visit thanks to its incredible location on top of a ravine)
Ps. There will be a separate post about Grazalema, Ronda and Sevilla