Sanlucar de Barrameda is part of the sherry triangle that connects it with Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa Maria. It is just a 20 minute drive towards the coast from Jerez. Sanlucar is famous for its fine wineries and especially the manzanilla sherry whose distinctive salty taste is due to the moisture the local vines collect from the Atlantic sea breezes. The town is also known for its superb seafood which is amongst the best in Spain. The town’s visitor’s centre is located inside the ice factory (fabrica de hielo) just before the restaurants at Bajo de Guía.
Arriving from Jerez you’ll see Bajo de Guía well signposted. This is the seafront overlooking Doñana National Park where the best seafood restaurants are to be found. Casa Bigote is probably the most famous of these eateries. But be warned … this isn’t a cheap place to eat and whenever you see “s/m” in place of the price on the menu you’ll often find surprisingly expensive dishes once the bill arrives. This means that the price is charged according to weight at today’s fish market prices. Some will point out that it costs a certain amount per kilo and you’re charged accordingly and left thinking “that was never a kilo of fish”!
In the old town itself there are lively bars and restaurants frequented by locals who are extremely partial to their local alcohol produce, namely the manzanilla sherries and the excellent Barbadillo white wine.
As is the case with all of the Cadiz coastline the beach is fabulous golden sand. During the year it is quiet most of the time but attracts Spanish tourists during the summer months. Across the water from Bajo de Guía you can see Doñana National Park which is a fascinating ecosystem made up of beaches, dunes, wetlands and pine forest. It is home to many aquatic birds, as well as endangered species such as the Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx. You can visit Doñana by taking a boat which leaves from Bajo de Guia and travels 13km up the Guadilquivir River as far as Las Salinas. Here you disembark and take a guided walk before returning Bajo de Guia. The trip lasts about 3.5 hours. Check timetables and booking information at www.visitasdonana.com. Tickets are sold at the ice factory or call 956 363 813. Reservations are recommended. Specialised Doñana birdwatching tours are also available.
A novel time to visit Sanlucar is in August when there are horse races on the beach with big bucks gambled on the results. The first unofficial race documented were over 200 years ago when horse owners whose animals were used to carry fish and seafood to local markets from the old port of Bajo de Guia raced one another along the sand. The first official races were in 1845. The races take place twice during the month of August with each “meeting” lasting three days. Dates are set to coincide with low tides but also ensuring that there is enough sunlight for evening races.