Castles, cliff-tops and caves: exploring the white towns of Cádiz

  • The Lonely Planets latest edition recommends Vejer and the Califa

Centuries-old castles, rust-red-roofed homes, white-walled alleys, soul-stirring strategic cliff-top sites and an enthrallingly volatile history: Cádiz’ pueblos blancos (white towns) are a joy to unravel writes Isabella Noble for the informative and inspiring Lonely Planet guide books.

"There’s magic in the air in gorgeous Vejer, perched in windswept whiteness atop a rocky crag 50km southeast of Cádiz. Like its fellow de la frontera (‘on the frontier’) towns, Vejer hums with historical intrigue and a tangible Moorish influence. Original stone gateways and 15th-century defensive walls pop up around the tangled old town, watched over by the restored 10th- or 11th-century Moorish castle and the Iglesia del Divino Salvador, an architectural marriage of 14th-century Mudéjar and 16th-century Gothic.

Just off palm-dotted Plaza de España is the 18th-century Casa del Mayorazgo with its flower-filled patios and ancient watchtower. A short drive away at Los Caños de Meca, El Palmar and Zahara de los Atunes lie the broad, sandy blonde beaches of Cádiz’ wind-lashed Costa de la Luz.

But Vejer is also an understated foodie hotspot and boutique-hotel haven of Andalucía. Drop by the smartly reimagined Mercado de Abastos for sherry and tapas, both classic and creative; savour expertly executed Moroccan-Andalucian cuisine at labyrinthine El Jardín del Califa; and try local ingredients in inventive seasonal concoctions at Corredera 55. You can hone your culinary skills with food tours and cooking classes courtesy of Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen."

"The Califa - Rambling over several floors of labyrinthine corridors, this gorgeous hotel oozes style and character, and inhabits a building with its roots in the 10th century. Rooms are wonderfully soothing, with Morocco-chic decor; the top-floor 'Africa' suite is divine. Special 'emir' service (€45) brings flowers, pastries and cava (sparkling wine). Breakfast is a delicious spread in the fabulous Moroccan–Middle Eastern restaurant."

For the full article by Isabella Noble click here.