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What to see in El Puerto de Santa María besides its beaches

There are lots of great things to see in El Puerto de Santa María. In fact—while its beaches are undoubtedly its main attraction—this large town is brimming with amazing things to see, such as its many palaces, historic monuments and characteristic urban design.

Its cuisine, in which sherry plays a key role, is also noteworthy.

El Puerto de Santa María also offers a fantastic nightlife, especially during the summer, with several different nightlife hotspots in the centre of town, the Puerto Sherry area and the Vistahermosa shopping centre.

The beaches of El Puerto de Santa María

If you’re wondering what to see in El Puerto de Santa María, its beaches are certainly worth paying a visit. This town enjoys around 16 kilometres of Atlantic coastline (marshlands aside). Much of this coastline is represented by fine sandy beaches, offering lifeguard services, shower facilities and various other infrastructures. Best of all, the city enjoys a pleasant climate during most of the year.

 

 

Below are the main beaches in El Puerto de Santa María:

  • Playa de Valdelagrana: This beach is the most popular with tourists. It is also the longest beach, especially if you combine it with the adjoining Playa de Levante (over 6 kilometres long). It forms part of the Bay of Cádiz Natural Park, which has a particularly rich avifauna. There is an impressive range of accommodation options, hotels and restaurants alongside the Playa de Valdelagrana.
  • Playa de la Puntilla: This is the urban beach of El Puerto de Santa María, located alongside the mouth of the Guadalete river (although separated from this by a breakwater). A large part of this beautiful beach is flanked by a set of sand dunes, covered by pine trees and scrubland. In total, the beach measures 850 metres long, and has some sections that measure up to 200 metres wide.
  • Playa de la Muralla: This beach lies alongside Puerto Sherry and owes its name to the huge wall of cut stones that marks the end of the beach, previously forming part of the coastline defence system. The beach measures 800 metres long, with an average width of 15 metres.
  • Playa de Vistahermosa: This is the municipality’s second longest beach (measuring over 3 kilometres long). It belongs to the luxury Vistahermosa complex, which also has its own golf course. At high tide, much of the beach is submerged in water. Swimmers should also note the steep drop-off when entering the sea.
  • Playa de Fuentebravía: With similar characteristics to the previous beach (and practically conjoined to it), this beach is slightly over 600 metres long. Its westernmost tip is marked by the Rota Naval Base.

What to do in El Puerto de Santa María

With regard to the things to see in the city centre of El Puerto de Santa María, we must stress that this is a city of huge historical significance. Fundamentally, from the sixteenth century onwards, this city served as a thriving trading hub between America and Europe.

In fact, El Puerto de Santa María became known as the ‘City of the hundred palaces’, owned by the traders who became rich through the buying and selling of goods between these continents. Despite this city’s declining success from the nineteenth century onwards, many of these palaces remain, representing one of the main attractions for visitors to El Puerto de Santa María.

Other must-visit places include:

  • Puerto Sherry: This is unquestionably the most important marina on this stretch of the Andalusian coastline. Besides its nautical services, Puerto Sherry also offers various culinary and recreational opportunities.
  • Castillo de San Marcos: Constructed during the period of Moorish rule in Spain, this castle ended up being occupied by the counts of El Puerto de Santa María, who were descendants of the Medinaceli family. Its most notable tenant was Christopher Columbus, who stayed here for several years before the Discovery of America.
  • Iglesia Mayor Prioral: Built between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, this church is notable for the detailed stone carvings on its main façade. It is categorised as a minor basilica.
  • Rafael Alberti Museum-Foundation: This museum is located in the very same Andalusian house where this Generation of ‘27 poet spent much of his childhood. Many mementos of his life are showcased in this fascinating museum. The mission of the foundation is to raise awareness of—and preserve—his literary legacy.
  • Bodegas Osborne: This set of caves is the perfect representation of the importance that sherry has had—and continues to have—in the area. After completing a tour of the winery, visitors can sample various types of this wine.
  • Monasterio de la Victoria: Despite being heavily deteriorated, you can still enjoy the beauty of this church, which dates back to the early sixteenth century. Its cloisters were occupied for much of the twentieth century by the El Puerto de Santa María prison, made famous by the escape of renowned criminal El Lute.

Good restaurants to eat at in El Puerto de Santa María

Famous chef Ángel León is the flagbearer of local cuisine. However, there are many fantastic places where to eat in El Puerto de Santa María:

  • A Poniente (Francisco Cossi Ochoa, no number): This is the personal project of Ángel León, operating as the experimentation laboratory of his fantastic kitchen staff. Located in the middle of an old salt mine, the sea always plays a prominent role in his dishes.
  • La Taberna del Chef del Mar (Puerto Escondido, 6): In the first home of A Poniente, Ángel León offers many more of his culinary proposals—but in more accessible formats (and prices).
  • Puerto Escondido (Puerto Escondido, 5): In this historic building, Pablo Terrón offers his cuisine based on locally sourced products, serving typical Andalusian dishes with various international twists.
  • La Bodeguilla del Bar Jamón (Misericordia, 5): This street is home to some of the most popular restaurants and tapas bars in El Puerto de Santa María. La Bodeguilla is one of the most popular ones, serving impressively presented local dishes.
  • La Micaela (Micaela Aramburu, 26): The originality and authenticity of the cuisine, combined with the warmth and professionalism of the staff, are reason enough to visit this restaurant. Whether eating inside La Micaela or on its beautiful terrace, you won’t be left disappointed.
  • Romerijo (Ribera del Marisco, 1): This is one of the most famous establishments in El Puerto de Santa María, with other branches located elsewhere in the city. This place is always busy, especially in the summer.

Information of interest

How to arrive

  • By car: El Puerto de Santa María is located 25 kilometres outside of Cádiz. By taking the CA-35, CA-32 and N-IV roads, you can arrive in around 25 minutes.
  • By public transport: The marine terminals of Cádiz and El Puerto de Santa María are connected by a catamaran service, with several departures each day. This voyage takes approximately 25 minutes. You could also take the Renfe commuter train or a bus (M-040, M-041, M-902, M-960 and the M-961 routes) from the transport interchange.

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