The Cadiz province in southern Andalusia, Spain is a great area to explore as we already found out in spring 2010 before heading off to Morocco. Places like Seville, Jerez de la Frontera, Arcos de la Frontera and the nature parks Los Alcornocales and Sierra de Grazalema are absolutely worth a visit. Though for those traveling by campervan, motorhome, RV or caravan the Cadiz interior is not the easiest region to travel in as we experienced in the summer of 2010. Have a look.
In this article;
Parking a campervan in Cadiz - Spain
Parking a mobile home in Andalusia - Spain
Andalusia Background information
To summarize the experience of traveling for several weeks in the interior of the Cadiz province of Andalusia with a rig like ours – it’s rather difficult. More difficult than in most other countries we’ve visited in 4.5 years of traveling.
|Area Recreativa El Higueron near Zahara de la Sierra - brand new building but closed. No parking overnight
Nonetheless, the Cadiz province certainly is a gem and worth the effort – but there are a few things to know. In this story you’ll find our experience and several options for staying inland, rural as well as city area’s. Hopefully it will save you fuel, time and probably frustration.
Several factors makes a stay in the interior of the Cadiz province different from other regions in Europe when traveling with a motorhome, campervan, camper or RV. First of all public campsites are in decline in the interior of Cadiz province – we found many closed, also near popular area’s. It might be the recession but we suspect strict environmental legislation is also in play here.
|Closed Camping Entre Olivos near Zahara de la Sierra - due to license problems.
Secondly, natural parks – covering a large part of the Cadiz province are very restrictive regarding overnight stays in public park area’s. Simply put, overnight stays are forbidden and actively enforced by local police – the Guardia civil.
Third, rural Cadiz is a very private place. Most of what we’ve seen is fully fenced off and diligently signed posted with “coto privado de casa”. The fencing industry apparently has many customers in rural Cadiz.
|Coto privado de Caza and Parque Natural sign - a double no-go zone - a common sight in the Cadiz province
And last but not least - rural roads have very little roadside parking space other than at gasoline stations, towns and villages. This quite a difference with for instance other parts of Spain, France or Greece – where most roads have lots of roadside parking space.
In contrast, the Cadiz costal area is a quite different experience from the interior, making it easier to stay there with many campsites and public parking spaces. So here’s an overview of public parking spaces in several popular area’s in the interior of Cadiz with GPS locations.
We found the following closed campings in Cadiz province in July 2010. These campsites are listed on the internet and paperback guides as if they are open, they are not.
- Camping Lagos de Arcos in Arcos de la Frontera (closed down)
- Camping Club Dipronautica near Arcos de la Frontera (reconstruction)
- Camping Entre Olivos near Zahara de la Sierra (license problems)
- Camping La Jaima in Prado del Rey (closed down)
- Camping El Celemin near Benalup – Casas Viejas (never opened)
- Deserted campsite near Costa Ballena (closed down)
The following restrictive area's in the Cadiz province are actively patrolled by the Guardia Civil. Don't try and stay here overnight, chances are you'll be sent away right at dinner time:
- Area Recreativa El Celemin near Benalup – Casas Viejas
- Area Recreativa near El Bosque but when the nearby campsite is full, just try this place.
- Area Recreativa’s El Higueron near Zahara de la Sierra
- Area recreativa La Puente near Zahara de la Sierra (closed)
- Area recreativa El Dolmen near Zahara de la Sierra (closed)
- Area Recreativa Arroyomolinos near Zahara de la Sierra
- Area Recreativa at the A-381 near Les Barios (closed)
Please note that this is the situation found in the summer 2010. As always things might change. If your time and budget is limited, don't waste your time on visiting these places.
In the following sections you find alternatives for parking your campervan, rv, motorhome or camper in the most popular area's in the interior of the Cadiz province.
Close to Sevilla, Jerez de la Frontera is the city of Sherry and Flamenco. It’s a very popular foreign as well as local tourist destination. Unlike Sevilla there is no camping / campsite in Jerez de la Frontera. Staying close to the center means using public parking areas. A summary:
- Carrefour parking – busy all day, but closest to the center.
- Jerez Zoo parking – closes during the night
- Stadium parking – can be busy in the evening
- Ikea parking – Ongoing construction nearby
- Residential parking – In the evening this place might be full with residents
- Costa Ballena beach parking – might be (height / paid) restricted in the future
- Deserted campsite parking – open terrain, might change in future
- Beach side parking – busy and loud place, lots camp wild
Costa Ballena is a very popular coastal tourist resort with a huge parking lot. Many have a 2nd house here with crowded beaches.
|Costa Ballena beachside parking near Jerez de la Frontera - most likely with height restrictions in the future
Local guardia civil apparently allows nighttime parking with a campervan in the summer of 2010. Though we expect the parking area to be paid parking, even with height restrictions in the near future.
This stunning village located on a cliff is known for it’s white houses and remarkable street scenery high up the hill. Arcos de la Frontera had one camping – Camping Lagos de Arcos , but it’s closed since 2008. Also a nearby campsite called Camping Club Dipronautica at the large reservoir lake Arcos de La Frontera was closed due to reconstruction. This site is the only location with recreational access to the lake.
|Closed Camping Club Campo Dipronautica near Arcos de La Frontera - the only place with access to the lake
Here’s a summary of places near the city center of Arcos de la Frontera
- Carrefour parking – at the backside
- Public park parking – might be reconstructed soon, might be busy in weekends
- Market ground parking – except for Friday for local market
- Industrial zone parking – level parking space up the hill
- Parking behind factory - near road & lake
Unfortunately the big reservoir lake near Arcos de la Frontera has only 1 public location to access the waterline. It’s located near Algar about 25 Km from Arcos de la Frontera near the bridge. It has a small parking strip, the rest of shore line is accessible by foot behind the fence. The rest of the lake shore-line is private property or natural park.
El Bosque is a small village at the entrance of the natural park Grazalema with campsite Camping La Torrecilla as the place to stay. Though the camping is too small for large motorhomes and during summer 2010 it was fully booked.
About 1 Km from Camping La Torrecilla you’ll find Area Recreativa El Bosque. Again it’s forbidden to park here during the night, but local Guardia Civil doesn’t always enforce the rules. This site also has a popular public water well with excellent water for drinking. Note that the water is not pressurized so filling up your water tank must be done by hand.
Forget about visiting the Camping La Jaima in nearby Prado del Rey – although a roadside campsite sign still exists, the campsite is gone. Unfortunately the camping sign makes many drive up to the hillside village wasting fuel and time and causing difficult maneuvering in this small rural village.
Zahara de la Sierra is an absolute must see – this white village perched on a hilltop overlooks the Zahara lake in great natural surroundings. It’s particular difficult to stay near this village or at the lake, with a very active Guardia Civil patrolling public spaces to prevent nighttime parking. There are 2 places known to us to park and stay during the night:
- Public parking in Zahara de la Sierra (not level, cramped space)
- Bus parking near Area Recreativa Arroyomolinos
The three new area recreativa’s located at the Zahara lake, El Higueron, La Puente and El Dolmen are either closed or it’s forbidden to park there in the evening and after sunset. The local Guardia civil is actively patrolling these sites. Unfortunately the camping Entre Olivos near Area Recreativa Arroyomolinos is closed due to license problems. There is a public water tap at the gate – it’s drinking water. Locals fill up here too.
|Hiding for the Guardia Civil - hoping not to be sent away again in Zahara de la Sierra
Area Recreativa Arroyomolinos at 5Km from Zahara de la Sierra has a small artificial lake which is very popular among locals, specially in weekends. With the huge Zahara lake just 100 meters away it remains a big question mark to us why either of the new Area Recreativa El Higueron, La Puente and El Dolmen remains abandoned.
The nearest operational campsite near Zahara de la Sierra is located in Grazalema - Camping Los Linares – though most peculiar their price list does not mention motorhomes, campervans, campers or RV’s. For those with dogs don’t bother going there – pets are not allowed on this campsite.
It’s a crying shame to see 3 new “area recreativa” El Higueron, La Puente and El Dolmen located at the lake shores in unused and abandoned state. Clearly the buildings and facilities are new – leaving many questions why such expensive public developments can exist without (commercial) exploitation. Though a recent article in the Diaro de Cadiz discusses future exploitation in the article “La explotación del pantano Zahara- El Gastor será pionera en Andalucía”. It's a deja-vue of what happened to Area Recreativa El Celemin. Read about this place in Los Alcornocales Natural Park in Andalusia Spain.
To summarize the locations mentioned above:
- Area recreativa El Higueron
- Area recreativa La Puente
- Area recreativa El Dolmen
- Area recreativa Arroyomolinos
- Camping Entre Olivos (closed)
- Camping Los Linares (open, but no pets allowed)
Seville has several campings, which are listed in this article. Remarkably, 2 of the 3 campings / campsites are practically unknown and worth a visit. Also have a look at the marina’s at the guadalquavir river – most likely they allow nighttime parking.
About 50 Km into the interior direction Seville there are two sites: Area Recreativa El Celemin and Area Recreativa at the A-381 near Les Barios. The latter was closed in 2010. Area Recreativa El Celemin has it’s own story and is open only during the day – it’s in a similar state as the Area Recreativa’s El Higueron, La Puente and El Dolmen near Zahara de la Sierra. The only permitted night time parking space is located at Embalse de Barbate near the heli-pad of the dam – with space for 3 – 4 vehicles.
With 6 campsites closed and 5 new but unused / abandoned Area Recreativa’s in rural Cadiz it raises a lot of questions about the reasons why. With popular destinations like Morocco and Portugal nearby, literally magnets for people with campervan, motorhome, RV, and campers it’s remarkable why rural Cadiz doesn't tap in into this massive tourism flow.
Digging deeper on the internet shows several Spanish sites discussing abandoned sites like Area Recreativa El Celemin and the 3 new Area Recreativa sites at the lake of Zahara de la Sierra. It seems there is public discontent about failed public spending, though as far a s we could see no trace of corrective action by local governments. It looks like they are paralyzed by local, regional or federal legislation – preventing measures to get at least some return on investment from expensive public developments.
With at least 6 campings closed in the Cadiz province appears like a worrisome development. The ongoing recession is hard enough already and with the highest unemployment rate in Spain, it seems the Cadiz region is shooting itself in the foot.
On top of that the active Guardia Civil, no roadside parking and lots of private fencing there are very limited alternative’s for those traveling by campervan, motorhome, camper or RV other than public parking areas in villages, towns and cities.
To prevent further loss of revenue it would help if local authorities would be more lenient to allow overnight stays at the many developed Area Recreativa’s in the Cadiz Province.
It would help those to fill up watertanks, recharge batteries and dispose of chemical toilet waste in a proper manner.