Known as ‘El Puerto’ by the locals, the coastal town of El Puerto de Santa Maria lies a short ferry ride across the Bay of Cádiz from the city of Cádiz. The town was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC and has been inhabited by various civilizations throughout its long history, including the Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. It stands on the banks of the Guadalete River and is known for its beautiful beaches, historic monuments, and delicious seafood.
Main Sights: One of the most notable historic sites in El Puerto is the Castillo de San Marcos, a fortress built on the remains of a 10th century Moorish Mosque. From the castle visitors can get stunning views of the town and the surrounding countryside. Other attractions include the 15th century Iglesia Mayor Prioral and the 15,000 seater Real Plaza de Toros bullring.
Bodegas: Puerto de Santa Maria is part of the great sherry triangle that connects with Jerez de la Frontera and Sanlucar de Barrameda. Numerous well know producers have wineries there that are open to visitors including Bodegas Osborne which has been producing wine here for over 200 years.
Beaches: One of the main reasons why El Puerto is such a popular tourist destination is its beautiful beaches. The town is home to several beaches, including Playa de la Puntilla, Playa de Valdelagrana and Playa de la Puntilla. These glorious, sandy beaches attract many local ‘Gaditanos’ throughout the summer months.
Seafood: Another draw for tourists is the town’s delicious seafood. El Puerto is known for its excellent seafood restaurants, which offer a wide variety of fish and shellfish dishes. A personal favourite is Romerijo (Plaza de la Herreria) which serves the best Gambas Pil-Pil (Prawns in a spicy sauce) you’ll ever taste. La Pescadería (Calle de la Luna 19) is another great choice for local seafood dishes.
Getting to El Puerto de Santa María
There are hourly RENFE train services from Cádiz train station (Plaza de Sevilla) near the cruise port. The journey only takes less than 25 minutes. In addition, there are less frequent bus servies from Cádiz Plaza Asdrúbal to El Puerto de Santa María Valdelagrana which take 20 to 30 minutes depending on the operator and time of day.
A much more fun option for day trippers is to hop on the Catamarán Bahía Cádiz at the Terminal Marítima (Avenida del Puerto) next to the cruise port. There are departures almost hourly throughout the day and the crossing of the Bahía de Cádiz takes 30 minutes. Ferries can also be taken to Rota which lies a little further up the coast and is home to a well-known Spanish-American naval base.
There are RENFE trains from Sevilla-San Bernardo to El Puerto De Santa Maria every couple of hours which take just over an hour. Few direct buses services are available although you could go to Cádiz and change there. If you have a hire car then driving is a great option from Seville to El Puerto. It’s only 115km away and easy driving along the excellent E5 motorway. A number of organised day trips from Seville might include El Puerto De Santa Maria on their itineraries along with Jerez de la Frontera and Cádiz.
Sherry Bodegas of El Puerto de Santa Maria
The origins of Bodegas Osborne dates back to 1772 when an English wine merchant called Thomas Osborne founded his first winery in Cádiz. His business interests grew when he became a partner in some wineries in El Puerto de Santa María which had been owned by his friends James Duff and William Gordon. In 1872 the Osborne family took full control of the Duff-Gordon brand and in 1890 they began marketing their sherries under the Osborne name. Eventually the Duff-Gordon brand was dissolved and all sherry and brandy produced in their bodegas was marketed under the single Osborne brand.
There’s a Bull on the Road
When driving the highways of Spain have you ever noticed the huge bulls that have been constructed in fields next to the road? Well these bulls were originally advertising billboards for the Osborne winery. When the government decided they were a distraction to motorists such advertising was banned but nobody was upset by the sight of these huge bulls so they remained without publicity on them. What great (free) advertising for the company.
You’ll also occasionally see the outline of a man with a guitar. This was Gonzalez Byass’s roadside advert for their Tio Pepe brand which has also survived the test of time.
Today, more than 250 years later, the company is regarded as one of the world’s top producers of quality sherries and brandies from its bodega in El Puerto. Bodegas Osborne is also well-known for its iconic logo, the Osborne Bull, which has become a symbol of the region and can be seen on billboards and signs throughout Andalucía. The Osborne Bull is a registered trademark and is considered a cultural heritage of Spain.
Visitors to the region can visit Bodegas de Mora Osborne where tours and tastings are available throughout the year. Visits include a guided tour of the cellars, an audio visual show and a tasting culminating in a visit to their wine store.