Cadiz, Spain

Historic, mysterious and romantic, the Spanish city of Cadiz is unlike any other. Founded in about 1100 BC, it is generally accepted as the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in today’s Europe.

But for the thin strip connecting it to the mainland to its south, Cadiz is an island of history and architecture that impresses at every turn through the streets of this charming ancient port.

You will find a complex warren of streets, bustling bars and pretty beaches; it is difficult to know what to do or where to go first. Packed with historic sites, monuments and an excellent museum of art and archaeology, Cadiz is a draw for history buffs and those attracted by the arts.

To begin with, consider a visit to the Catedral de Cadiz, an elegant, baroque-neoclassical, yellow-domed cathedral. Admire the view from the Campo del Sur as the sun goes down to see a breathtaking array of colors. Outside the cathedral, you will find the sizeable Casa del Obispo museum. It is on the site of 1,640 square yards of excavated ruins, and helps to bring to life the colorful history of Cadiz.

Cadiz is home to one of Spain’s most famous carnivals – Los Carnavales. Roaring on for two weeks, this carnival is distinctive due to its celebration of the clever, the witty and the irreverent. Rehearsals and contests are held throughout the year, meaning that in Cadiz, the carnival feels omnipresent.

When you are ready to relax after all that heat, head to one of Cadiz’s many beautiful beaches. Try Playa de la Victoria, a spacious beach with a happy and relaxed vibe and easy transport links. It is just over half a mile south of the Puerta de Tierra and stretches 2.5 miles along the peninsula. Whether you want to sit back and enjoy the weather or try your hand at some water sports, you can do it all here.

You may also want to visit La Caleta- this pretty beach is sandwiched between two castles; Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de San Sebastian. It is not difficult to see why this beach is one of the most photographed in the city, and the picturesque cove also attracts many small fishing boats at sunset. Make sure to pick up some seafood by the beach, as it is some of the best in Spain.

The history of this Spanish city is fascinating and complex. La Pepa, Spain’s first liberal constitution was signed here in 1812. It went through plenty of turbulent times, too: in 1587, England’s Sir Francis Drake raided the harbor and “singed the King of Spain’s beard,” delaying the Spanish Armada. The city came under siege again in 1596, when Anglo-Dutch attackers burnt the city to the ground.

Fortunately, Cadiz’s fortunes changed in the 18th century, when it saw 75% of Spanish trade with the Americas. Because of this, Cadiz grew into one of the richest and most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in Spain, producing the country’s first progressive and liberal middle class.