Jerez de la Frontera is a classic Andalusian city with an old school Spanish charm.
Crumbling medieval walls hide classic tapas restaurants and tabancos (small working-class bars) that sell fresh sherry from £ 1 a glass.
Stroll the streets and you will hear cheerful locals using the word "ole" as an everyday expression (it is usually shouted just to compliment flamenco performances). It's time to write "Jerez" at the top of your city break list.
Spanish Charm: A map showing the main sights of Jerez
Where to stay
Hotel YIT Casa Grande
This boutique hotel has two main selling points: its large sunny terrace and its location in the historic center. It has an old-world British B&B setting with cozy rooms, a cozy area for relaxing and a small internal courtyard perfect for breakfast. Double Rooms from £ 40, visit hotelcasagrandejerez.com.
La Fonda Barranco
A charming family-run hotel, La Fonda Barranco prides itself on its excellent service – you can even send WhatsApp messages to the manager. Traditional rooms and a rooftop terrace overlooking the old cathedral of Jerez add to the allure of the hotel. Double Rooms from £ 45, visit lafondabarranco.com.
Hotel Dona Blanca
Just around the corner from the central market, Hotel Dona Blanca is a typically Andalusian three-star hotel that has been in the same family since 1992. Rooms are small but well finished, some in a minimalist style with neutral tones, while others have a private bathroom. English countryman feels. Double Rooms from £ 46, visit hoteldonablanca.com.
Hotel Palacio Garvey
Like many hotels in Jerez, Hotel Palacio Garvey is housed in a 19th-century palace. The rooms have high ceilings and there is a lovely communal courtyard. But there are only 16 rooms, so book quickly. Double Rooms from £ 68, visit hotelpalaciogarvey.com.
What to see and do
Walk through history
Begin your visit by taking a walking tour with the Sherry Tour (freetour.com) It's based on tips, so bring cash – £ 8.50 to £ 17 pp is the average. Tours in English take place in the Plaza del Arenal, Jerez's main square, and offer a glimpse into the city's intriguing past – from its links to the Phoenicians, Arabs and English to its sherry heritage.
Have a sherry tasting
It would be unthinkable to visit Jerez and not take a sherry tasting tour – after all, Jerez means sherry in Spanish. Try da Lustau (tastings of £ 16 pp from Monday to Saturday, lustau.es) The information on this tour is easy to digest and you can enjoy six different types of sherry while strolling through the dark and cool winery.
Try the flamenco
Colorful: Flamenco runs through the veins of the natives here, many of whom claim it originated in Jerez
Flamenco runs through the veins of the natives here, many of whom claim it originated in Jerez (though Seville, Cordoba and Granada may have something to say about it). Visit Tabanco El Pasaje (tabancoelpasaje.com), a small rustic board. Or try Damajuana (damajuanajerez.com), which features flamenco shows in an old palace courtyard.
I like the market
Act like a Jerezano navigating the Central Market of Abastos, the city's central market. Here, vendors drink cold sherry while locals scramble for meat, fish and vegetables. For an authentic experience, take the first right through the front door and buy a bag of olives the size of a golf ball and some jamon and then enjoy them with a Cruzcampo cold beer.
Watch horses dancing
Visit the Royal Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre Foundation (£ 18, realescuela.org) for a proper experience in Jerez. Sit in the grand auditorium and watch impeccably groomed horses, making elegant kicks to classical music under the command of expertly dressed riders. Then, go through the training areas and the Recreo de las Cadenas Palace, with its exotic gardens of technical colors.
Explore Moorish Architecture
The Moors have left beautiful architectural impressions in many Andalusian cities, including Granada (Alhambra) and Seville (La Giralda), so it is not surprising that Jerez has its own ancient Arabic buildings.
Most notable is the Alcazar (£ 4.50), an 11th or 12th century Almohad fortress, which was heavily restored in the 17th and 18th centuries. Walk through the botanical gardens, see the old noble baths and climb the octagonal watchtower to dine on the city views.
Where to eat
This old school Andalusian restaurant used to be Jerez's favorite (even Jude Law visited once). Its popularity has declined somewhat, but it is still a solid choice for affordable and meaningless breeds (great dishes to share, starting at 5 pounds). Artichokes cooked in dry sherry sauce (9.30 pounds) are what Bar Juanito is known for – but it's an acquired taste. Visit bar-juanito.com.
Tuna Tapas (image)
Overlooking the popular Plaza Plateros, making it a worthy place for people to watch mid-afternoon cold sherry, tapas and racing here are homemade, cheap and full of flavor. Try the slow-cooked pork's cheeks in sherry sauce (2.70 pounds) and paprika squid with potatoes (12.50 pounds for a large dish). Want something more to accompany your sherry? Head to the El Espartero deli and take her back to the restaurant – okay, they have a deal. Address: Plaza Plateros, 3.
A five-minute walk from Plaza del Arenal, El Trastero is a no-frills bar and there's a chance for you to eat tapas the real way – by getting up. But the food is exceptional, and the prices are cheap. Order the fried shark or red tuna (both £ 3) and a small glass of Alhambra beer (£ 1.25). Visit eltrastero-bar.business.site.
Meson del Asador
Meat lovers will appreciate this open-plan restaurant with exposed brick walls. Try the shared steak (£ 15), which comes with a barbecue, or the fried pork with potatoes and flaming chorizo (£ 3). Parts are American size – you have been warned. Address: Calle Remedios, 2.
Plaza de Jerez Churros
Spaniards love to delight in churros (long pieces of fried dough) over the weekend. Buy yours at this market-front stall, then head to Cafe Plaza de Jerez to buy your chocolate – and get stuck. Address: Puesto, 2.
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