25 Things You Absolutely Need To Do in Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
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The first thing that comes to many people's minds when they hear the name Jerez is sherry, since it's where the drink originates from. Sherry is actually the English form of Jerez, which was something that I had no idea about until I visited the city. In fact Jerez, along with El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, make up the famous Sherry Triangle. But the city is also known for being the birthplace of flamenco, as well as producing dancing horses and being home to one of the world's most prestigious classical riding academies - Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre. If you visit the city, you'll soon learn that there are a lot of things to do in Jerez de la Frontera, especially if you love exploring places off the beaten path.
The origins of the city are somewhat obscure, but there are archaeological remains proving that the area was inhabited before the Romans arrived. By the 11th century it started to become an important city under the rule of the Moors, and was later reconquered by the Christians in the 13th century, when it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Castile. Jerez is a city rich in history, which is just begging to be explored, and really should be on anyone's list of places to visit in southern Spain. Not convinced yet? Here are my top recommendations for the best things to do in Jerez de la Frontera:
1. Visit the Manuel María González Statue
Manuel María González is synonymous with the city of Jerez de la Frontera. He was the founder of the González Byass sherry bodegas, which is now world famous and the largest sherry producer in the world. To mark his importance to Jerez, there's a lovely statue of him next to a barrel of Tío Pepe, standing between the bodegas and the cathedral, which is handy if you're doing a Jerez sightseeing tour.
2. Tour Bodegas Tío Pepe
If you're looking to go on a sherry tour in Jerez, Bodegas Tío Pepe is an absolute must. We joined them on their Uncle Pepe Tour, which was a really informative English speaking guided tour, taking us through cobbled streets, courtyards, and ending with a little bit of sherry tasting. Tío Pepe is part of the González Byass brand, which took me longer than it should have to realize. Visiting the bodegas is one of the best things to do in Jerez de la Frontera, and if you're feeling particularly keen for some sherry tasting, you can upgrade your ticket to include even more drinks and tapas too! If you only have one day in Jerez, I would highly recommend heading to this bodegas and learning about the sherry culture in the region.
3. Walk Along Ciegos Street
Ciegos Street is considered to be one of the most beautiful streets in Spain, and I also came across it in a few lists of the world's most beautiful streets as well. Once an active street in Jerez, it was absorbed by Bodegas Tío Pepe and is now a highlight on their guided tours because of the grapevines that have grown to create a roof over the street. So, if you want to get that all important Instagrammable photo, you'll need to join one of their tours first!
4. Alcázar de Jerez
Located directly next to Bodegas Tío Pepe is another key point of interest in Jerez - the Alcázar de Jerez. This formidable castle dates back to the 11th century when the area was under Islamic rule during the Almohad dynasty, and was later taken over by the Christians during the reconquest of Andalusia. Today, you can explore the grounds of the castle, which still show the remains of Islamic influence, and visit the camera obscura for some spectacular city views. The camera obscura is one of the more unique things to do in Jerez, so it shouldn't be missed!
5. Catedral de Jerez
One of the top things to do in Jerez de la Frontera is to visit the Catedral de Jerez. Despite it looking medieval, it was actually built in the 17th century and has a bell tower with parts dating back to the 15th century. It was only declared a cathedral in 1980, but it was still one of the most important religious buildings in the city. The view from the ground is very impressive, but the view of the cathedral from the roof of the Arab Baths is even more breathtaking, especially at sunset.
6. Relax at Hammam Andalusí Arabic Baths
A very unique thing to do in Jerez is to relax in the Hammam Andalusí Arabic Baths, which are ideally located across the road from the cathedral. The baths are made up of three pools, each with different temperatures, which you're supposed to alternate between before heading to the steam room. This technique actually comes from the Romans, but was perfected by the Arabs who added more warmth to the atmosphere. Visiting southern Spain wouldn't be complete without taking part in this historic tradition. We visited after a long day of exploring Jerez on foot, and finished our time in the pools off with a calming massage and some Arabic tea. Make sure you add this to your itinerary of southern Spain - it was one of my favourite things to do in Jerez de la Frontera and I would definitely go back.
7. Museo Arqueológico Municipal
If you're interested in learning more about the history of Jerez de la Frontera, you can find the Museo Arqueológico Municipal only a short walk from the cathedral. It's located in Plaza del Mercado, and houses some incredibly rare artefacts found in the city dating back to the Roman period and the Corinthians. If you're looking for free things to do in Jerez, they offer free entry on every first Sunday of the month! It's definitely a hidden gem in Jerez, and often overlooked by tourists.
8. Iglesia de San Mateo
Located across the plaza from Museo Arqueológico Municipal is another gorgeous religious building in Jerez - Iglesia de San Mateo. It may not be at the top of the list of things to do in Jerez de la Frontera, but it's worth a visit if you're in the area or have some spare time. The church itself has recently been restored, but it originally dates back to the 13th century.
9. Plaza Mamelon
There are a lot of lovely plazas in Jerez to walk around, but one that I thought was worth pointing out is Plaza Mamelon. It's considered by many to be the most elegant plaza in Jerez, and serves to connect the commercial and historical parts of the city. It's a great spot to sit under some shade for a bit and get out of the Spanish sun!
10. Convento de Santo Domingo
A short walk from Plaza Mamelon is another impressive historical building. Convento de Santo Domingo was one of the first temples to be built outside of the city walls, and is said to be the location of the first Catholic mass following the reconquest of Jerez in the 13th century. It was also recently used as a filming location for the hit TV series The Crown, where it featured as a hospital.
11. Iglesia de San Miguel
Jerez is not an expensive city to visit, and I found that most of the attractions were free or very cheap to get into. One of the best free things to do in Jerez de la Frontera is to visit the Iglesia de San Miguel. We arrived as a mass was taking place, but were allowed in to stand at the back and observe the ceremony. The church dates back to the end of the 15th century, and it's said to have been commissioned by the Catholic monarchs when they visited Jerez. Since its foundation, it was constantly added to up until the 18th century, and is now made up of three different architectural styles. It's only a short walk from the main plaza, so definitely worth visiting, even if you only have one day in Jerez.
12. Plaza de la Asunción
Plaza de la Asunción is one of the nicest places to visit in Jerez, and is home to some important historical buildings. To the left of this photo is Iglesia de San Dionisio, a 15th century church which has been beautifully maintained. And to the right is the Antiguo Cabildo (old town hall), which was built in the 16th century when Spain was at the height of its power as a result of its trade with the Americas.
13. Plaza de la Yebra
Sitting just behind Plaza de la Asunción is another, much smaller plaza known as Plaza de la Yebra. It's very popular among locals who like to enjoy some tapas while getting out of the sun. There are plenty of restaurants in Jerez to choose from, but this spot has some of the most popular ones. The weather in Jerez can get quite hot at times, so it's always nice to find some shaded areas!
14. Try Some Langostinos
I'm not a major seafood fan, but due to its location near the sea, Jerez has some of the best seafood options available in the province of Cádiz. There are tonnes of dishes available at almost every restaurant, so if you love seafood or just want to try some traditional Andalusian food, Jerez is a good place to be. Don't forget to try the langostinos!
15. Stop for Ice Cream at Heladería La Rosa de Oro
Nestled between Plaza de la Yebra and Plaza del Arenal is Heladería La Rosa de Oro. They began making traditional pastries and delicious ice cream in 1928, and still use the same methods today. They make their products based on specific times of the year and have become somewhat of an institution in the city. Make sure you write this one down on your list of things to do in Jerez de la Frontera - you'll probably come back more than once!
16. Calle Larga
Calle Larga has played a central role in the history of Jerez since the 16th century. Many of the nobility who settled in Jerez had their palaces along this street, as it gave important access to areas outside of the town walls. The street was eventually used for coffee shops and social gatherings, before it was pedestrianised and turned into more of a shopping street. There are plenty of nice shops and places to eat along Calle Larga, and it's surrounded by other points of interest in Jerez too, so take some time to stroll along this historic street and soak up the atmosphere.
17. El Gallo Azul
The central figure of Calle Larga is El Gallo Azul. It was built in 1929 as a gift to the city from the Domecq family to mark the exposition in Seville. It was actually designed by the same man who designed Plaza de España in Seville. At the top of the rounded building you can see a sign of the brand Fundador, a famous sherry brand from Jerez. It has a tapas bar on the ground floor which was meant to offer the best food and wine from the city. Sadly it was closed when we visited, but I still wanted to take a quick look as it's a unique thing to see in Jerez de la Frontera.
18. Mercado Central de Abastos
Sitting just to the right of El Gallo Azul is the Mercado Central de Abastos,which was built at the end of the 19th century. It's a very popular place with the locals, and sells all fresh produce. If you're planning a trip to Spain, chances are you'll end up in one of these markets wherever you travel to - they're that popular.
19. Plaza del Arenal
Plaza del Arenal is the centre of activity in Jerez, and is surrounded by lovely tapas bars and restaurants. Right in the centre of the plaza stands a statue dedicated to Miguel Primo de Rivera who was born in Jerez and became the dictator of Spain in the 1920s. It was actually his son who started the Fascist party that would lead to Franco's rule. It's a somewhat controversial statue, but has been placed in a beautiful setting in the midst of flowers and a water feature.
20. Eat Tapas at La Taberna
Don't leave Jerez without trying the tapas. There are many restaurants to choose from, but I would highly recommend visiting La Taberna which is located in Plaza del Arenal. They serve a mixture of traditional and regional dishes, most of which you can get as tapas portions. Best of all, it's a great place to eat if you're visiting Spain on a budget!
21. Heladería La Polar
Sitting directly across the plaza from La Taberna is another ice cream shop that I'd recommend trying out - Heladería La Polar. It's actually right around the corner from Heladería La Rosa de Oro which I mentioned earlier. It's considered to be the oldest ice cream shop in Jerez and they have a good selection of flavours to choose from. Just make sure you eat it fast or it will start to melt like mine did!
22. Grab a Cocktail at La Favorita
Sure Jerez is famous for its sherry wines, but the city also has some great cocktail bars to hop between. We stopped at La Favorita, which is a short walk from Calle Larga so it's in a great location. It's a Cuban inspired bar with a unique space upstairs, and a large selection of cocktails on their menu.
23. Take in a Flamenco Show
Every summer Jerez holds weekly flamenco shows on a Friday, which are normally in the courtyard of the Alcázar de Jerez. This year however, they had a change of venue and the performances took place at Claustros de Santo Domingo. Seeing a flamenco show is one of the top things to do in Jerez, so if you have time I would highly recommend doing some research and seeing a live show. Flamenco remains an important part of the culture in this region, so what better place to watch it?
24. Monasterio de la Cartuja
If you have a car or don't mind taking public transportation, and are spending longer than one day in Jerez, visiting the Monasterio de la Cartuja is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. It was one of my favourite things to do in Jerez, and is a very peaceful spot in the city. It was built in the 15th century using funds left by a knight who fought in the reconquest of the city in the 13th century. He had no descendants so instead wanted a Carthusian monastery established in Jerez. It's still an active monastery today, and when we visited we caught a glimpse of the nuns at prayer which anyone is welcome to join.
25. Wine Tasting at Bodegas Lustau
What better way to end this list than with another bodegas? Lustau is one of the leading names in sherry production, and their bodegas is located right in the heart of Jerez. It was founded in 1896 and is the only winery within the Sherry Triangle to produce wine in all three of the main towns. It's a beautiful bodegas to walk around and the tour takes you to some of the most important (and interesting) parts of it.
We joined their full tasting tour, and were given the opportunity to sample a wide variety of different wines, including their very popular Vermouth. It was a very informative tour where we learned about the production of their wines as well as a lot of interesting historical facts about the bodegas and the company itself. Our guide was a licensed sommelier who was very nice and able to answer any questions we had during the wine tour - make sure you ask for Carmen if you want to book an English speaking tour of Lustau!
BONUS: Cycle Around Parque de los Toruños
Although not exactly in Jerez de la Frontera, Parque de los Toruños is a gorgeous area to explore, either by bike or on foot. It's located between El Puerto de Santa María and Puerto Real, so you'll need a car to get to it. If you don't have your own bike, you can rent one on site for a very small fee. We visited just before sunset so were able to take in the views along the beach before cycling around this ecological paradise.
If you're still in the planning stages of your trip to southern Spain, or are looking for somewhere to go on a day trip, Jerez is a gorgeous city to visit with lots to offer. It's often overlooked because of the larger cities in the area such as Cádiz and Seville, but there are a lot of things to do in Jerez de la Frontera that will definitely keep you busy for a day or more.