CADIZ, SPAIN. During the first week of January, a friend and I decided to visit Cadiz, a costal city in Southern Spain. Cadiz is a well-known beach town, buzzing with tourist in the summer. During the winter, however, few come to visit. But regardless of its amazing beaches, there are a lot more things to enjoy in Cadiz than just the summer sun.

No crowd, no problem. Cádiz has much to offer even during the off season

No crowd, no problem. Cádiz has much to offer even during the off season

When I went to Cadiz, it was the dead of winter, not typical of a tourist. My friend and I took a five-hour train ride from Madrid to Cadiz. Renfe offers direct train tickets from 135 euros (185 USD). Round-trip, overnight bus tickets heading to Cadiz start at 20 euros (27 USD).

Before heading to our hostel, we decided to explore the town. We walked through the narrow streets only wide enough for a single car to pass, quite different from the streets of Madrid. When we finally reached the beach, it was like nothing I had ever seen: deep blue waves lapped the shore, attempting to unearth giant emeralds buried in the sand.

Later, we went Sudiz Hostel, which only cost us 17 euros (23 USD) per night. At the receptionist desk was a young man named Javier, who informed us that we would be the only ones staying at the hostel for the night because “no one comes to Cadiz in the winter”. He would be going home. We were a bit surprised but found it nice that we would have the place to ourselves.

As we explored more of the city late that night, we noticed a fried seafood restaurant still open. We decided to get fried calamari. The owner was talkative and friendly. He joked that he never sees tourists come through in the winter. We had intended to eat the calamari at our hostel but couldn’t wait so we ate the on the way. Check out the official Cadiz tourism website for more great food options.

Although Cadiz is a beach town it still has many important historical landmarks, like the Tavira Tower, the tallest watchtower in Cadiz. Formally used to keep an eye on the activities along the beach, it is now frequently visited by tourists. At the top of tower there is an incredible view of all of Cadiz. And for just six euros (8 USD) people can take a tour of the tower and take pictures of Cadiz from above.

A photo from the top of the Tavira Tower overlooking playa Victoria

A photo from the top of the Tavira Tower overlooking playa Victoria

Not far from the tower was a Haitian art shop called Kiskeya –which interestingly, is the Taíno name for Hispaniola. The owner was an older Haitian painter, Ronald, who hand painted all of the artwork in the shop.

We had a half hour conversation about art and his life. He told me that people from all over Spain come to Cadiz to buy his artwork. He told be about his adventurous life. He had lived and painted in several nations such as Germany, Japan, Hattie and Venezuela. His incredible work ranged from 40 euros to several euros (50-400 USD).

Cadiz also has an amazing botanic garden located by the beach. We took several amazing photos of the garden. These plants were greener and more vibrant than any other plants of I’ve seen in Spain. Even in the heart of winter the plants are flourishing. This was a great place to visit and what was even better is that it was free.

A lonely heater on the patio of one of playa Victoria's restaurants

A lonely heater on the patio of one of playa Victoria’s restaurants

On our last day before heading back to Madrid, we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the playa Victoria, a never-ending beach, stretching along the West of the peninsula. After several trips to the beach and eating massive amounts of seafood we finally had enough of Cadiz and headed back to Madrid, our cameras filled with spectacular images and a lifetime worth of stories to tell.