The city of Jerez de la Frontera revolves around the twin passions of sherry and horses with a bit of flamenco to complete the full Andalucian experience. There are some budget flights to Jerez from abroad which has helped open up the city to foreign tourism. The airport is only 6km away from the city centre and Jerez Airport Transfers can easily be reserved in advance.
If you’re arriving by car please read the next paragraph carefully and trust my words. I’ve been driving clients on tours to Jerez for several years and the traffic system is an utter nightmare which insists on sending you in the direction you don’t want to go. Of all Spain’s cities this is one of the worst to negotiate which is incredible considering how small the tourist centre is.
Getting to Jerez de la Frontera
There are two exits off the AP-4 Seville-Cadiz motorway. The best one to take is the Jerez Norte exit which also goes to Arcos de la Frontera in the opposite direction. Follow the sign for city centre (centro ciudad) and continue through several traffic lights and roundabouts until you come to a roundabout which has the Hotel Jerez to your right. Take the road to your left off this roundabout (Avenida Alvaro Domecq) and select one of the fine hotels which are located in this part of town
Accommodation in Jerez
If you stay at one of the Jerez hotels around here you are only a few minutes walk from the Royal School of Equestrian Art where the dancing horses show takes place and the Sandeman winery is just around the corner. You can walk to Plaza Arenal and the Alcazar in the city centre in 10 to 15 minutes or get a taxi to take you there or to some of the other Jerez sherry bodegas. Parking in this area, to the north of the city centre which we recommend for hotels, is readily available.
Cheaper Places to Stay
For cheaper accommodation try the c/Arcos and c/Medina and surrounding streets in the city centre where there are various one and two star options available. A particularly clean, friendly and well looked after option is Hotel Avila (c/Avila, 3). Arriving by car is tricky, head for the railway station and cut up to c/Arcos at the Harveys winery then park at any pay and display you can find.
Things to Do in Jerez
The show of the dancing horses takes place every Tuesday and Thursday and must be booked well in advance as it is always sold out. Check the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre website for information and booking procedure. Alternatively, you can book a tour from Seville. A tour of one of the sherry bodegas is the other main tourist attraction of Jerez. Advance booking isn’t necessary but check the website of your selected winery to find out what time guided tours take place in English (see Jerez Sherry Bodegas).
Jerez Attractions & Excursions
The other main attractions of the city are the 12th century Alcázar (fortress) within which you can visit the ‘Camara Oscura’, a 360 degree camera lodged at the top of the Alcazár from where you get fabulous views of the whole surrounding area. Now that all the construction has ended Plaza Arenal is once again a beautiful square right in the heart of the city centre with a fabulous fountain in its centre. As you walk north east out of the square along c/Lancería you’ll see the huge Domecq clock tower ahead of you in Plaza Gallo Azul. This has long been Jerez’s most well known landmark. Continuing on you enter the pedestrianised Calle Larga which is the city’s main shopping street.
The Centro Andaluz de Flamenco which was set up to protect and promote the art of flamenco is worth a visit and for younger visitors a trip to the zoo (Parque Zoológico) is a must. The most popular short excursion from Jerez is to Sanlúcar de Barrameda just 20 minutes away by car where you can dine on some of Spain’s finest seafood at one of the restaurants at Bajo de Guía which overlook the Doñana National Park (get directions in advance from your hotel reception).
For dining in Jerez a nice place to sit is at one of the terrace restaurants in Plaza Arenal which serve up reasonable dishes relatively cheaply. If you’re looking for something more upmarket try La Mesa Redonda (c/Manuel de Quintana,3) just opposite the Sherry Park Hotel. In the old town La Carboná (c/San Francisco de Paula, 3) is highly recommended as it is located in an ancient wine cellar. Just a couple of doors down you can eat for half the price in the popular local’s bar/restaurant of Mesón Alcazaba.
A nice spot at lunchtime is the small alley next to the tourist information office on the western side of Plaza Arenal. Here you’ll find a few tapas bars where you can order a selection of tapas or raciónes (they’re bigger portions) washed down with a few glasses of sherry of course. A great breakfast spot is the kiosk in the market square (Mercado de Abastos) where you rub shoulders with the locals who stand in line ordering their churros con chocolate.
Festivals in Jerez
Jerez takes its festivals seriously and a great time to visit is during the Jerez Sherry Festival (Fiestas de la Vendimia y Otoño) which takes place during the middle two weeks of September. This is a time to bless the grape harvest, dance flamenco, sing aloud and drink sherry like there’s no tomorrow.
The two other main annual festivals are the international Jerez Flamenco Festival in February/March which attracts flamenco performers from all over the world and the Jerez Horse Fair (Feria del Caballo) in May which celebrates the region’s love affair with its horses.
A time to avoid Jerez unless your a motorcycle fan is one weekend in May (check dates) when the Spanish MotoGP at the Circuit de Jerez attracts an estimated 150,000 motorcyclists from all over Europe. It’s a wild few days but not recommended if your here to discover the cultural heritage of Jerez.