You may have wondered why I haven’t posted much about our stay in Cadiz for the last eight days. Besides the fact we’ve been busy exploring the city, I wanted to confirm our first impressions of this place, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. People have lived here for more than 3,000 years. On a walking tour of the oldest neighborhoods, we encountered traces of the Phoenicians, Romans, and Moors, who once ruled these lands.
From our first day here, we really liked Cadiz, pronounced Cady. But we reserved judgment – how could a seaside town be this appealing? What flaws were we missing as we strolled the narrow streets, parks, and boardwalks?
Cadiz seemed to check all the boxes on our best place to live list. It’s beautiful, full of history and great architecture. It’s real, not a tourist trap. It’s on the coast with beautiful beaches and moderate weather. The people are friendly and helpful. Food and wine are world-class and affordable. Unlike other cities we have enjoyed, Cadiz hasn’t been ruined by tourism. There are way more locals in the streets, bars, restaurants, and plazas here than visitors.
To say Cadiz is family-oriented is an understatement. Families fill the plazas with good times. Parents sip drinks, chatting and laughing, while the kids play from afternoon well into the evening. And there are a lot of kids here, cute kids. We think making them is Cadiz’s most robust industry. Seniors are part of the equation too. Young men and women stroll arm and arm with their elders, who join them for meals or coffees. You can’t help but feel good about the human race watching them as you sip a cana or two.
OK, you’re thinking, it’s swell. Give me some details.
Cadiz, the province and city on the edge of southwest Spain, west of Gibraltar, on the Atlantic coast. Compared to Spain’s other coastal tourist destinations, it’s not on the radar of most travelers, including yours truly. We didn’t consider it until we watched a YouTube video by Spanish influencers James Blick and his wife Yoli, who have created dozens of programs extolling the virtues of Spanish life and destinations. In this “Spain Revealed” video, he confessed he wanted to leave Madrid and move to Cadiz. That caught our attention. So we added it to our current itinerary.
The streets are clean, and in the old town, you hear the sound of people, not the noise of buses, cars, construction, and sirens we endured in Lisbon. Cars are not allowed on the narrow streets without a special permit. There are only a few major department stores or supermarkets here. But there are lots of small family businesses on every street selling everything you need to live a good life, all within walking distance. The major fresh food market, the Mercado, is the best we’ve experienced anywhere: lively, clean, and packed with shoppers. Even the fish market selling the daily catch lacked the offensive odor found in other markets. Instead, the fresh, clean scent of the ocean filled the air.
There is plenty to do and places to visit, given Cadiz’s illustrious history as one of the ancient world’s most significant cities. There are many museums, galleries, and historical points of interest to explore. One feature we enjoyed most was its many plazas and parks, all beautiful and well maintained, and often surrounded by wonderful cafes and restaurants. We also loved the long boardwalks that hug the beautiful wide white sand beaches that stretch for miles southeast of the city.
Benches everywhere invite passersby to sit and enjoy life. In these outdoor living rooms, where people eat, work and relax, enjoying life is easy. It’s something we plan to do more of on a longer visit the next time Europe beckons.