There is no shortage of things to see and do in Jerez de la Frontera, from watching the famous equine ballets to touring its characterful sherry bars. Read on for our pick of the 20 must-visit attractions in this beautiful Andalusian city.
One of Jerez’s key architectural attractions, the Alcazar dates from the 11th and 12th centuries, during the city’s period under Moorish rule. Still with us today are the defensive walls and watchtowers, the in-house mosque and the buildings that housed the Arabic baths.
Just a two-minute walk from the Alcazar is Jerez’s other most notable building. Although constructed between 1695 and 1778, the San Salvador cathedral was only designated the seat of a bishop in 1980. Its bell tower stands apart from the main structure, on the site of an earlier church.
A rider trains at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez | A rider trains at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez
Jerez is home to the prestigious Royal Andalusian of Equestrian Art, which every Thursday (and more often during high season) puts on a world-famous show. “How the Andalusian Horses Dance” showcases the magnificent agility of the school’s equine members as well as the skill of its riders.
A patio in the Tio Pepe bodegas | A patio in the Tio Pepe bodegas
The world’s most famous sherry was founded in Jerez in 1835 by Manuel González Angel, who learnt all about wine making from his uncle (hence the name). To discover the centuries-old secrets of sherry-making, take a tour of the beautiful Tio Pepe cellars (run three times a day).
A pretty courtyard in the Tradición bodegas | A pretty courtyard in the Tradición bodegas
Started twenty years ago by a member of one of Jerez’s oldest and most distinguished sherry dynasties, Bodegas Tradición specialises in producing wines and sherries in their purest state (en rama). It’s also home to one of Andalusia’s most notable private art collections.
Sherry barrels at Bodegas Lustau | Sherry barrels at Bodegas Lustau
One of Jerez’s most successful sherry producers, Lustau was founded in 1896 by an amateur wine maker, who was joined by his son-in-law Emilio Lustau in the 1940s. The brand has since become instantly recognisable by its smooth-contoured black bottles. Tours and tastings run several times a week.
Jerez’s somewhat odd-looking plaza de toros dates from 1840 and required substantial reconstruction after fires in 1860 and 1891. To the right of the main entrance, a series of tiles commemorate the greatest bulls to have been fought and killed here since the ring opened.
Every May, Jerez celebrates the Feria del Caballo (Horse Fair), one of Andalusia’s most charming and inclusive ferias. Marquees (casetas) for dancing, eating and drinking are set out on a beautiful sanded fairground on the edge of the city and are the focal point of seven days’ worth of joyful partying.
The entrance to Tabanco El Pasaje | The entrance to Tabanco El Pasaje
Jerez’s local bars specialise in sherry and local wines and are called tabancos. One of the oldest and best is Tabanco El Pasaje: located in the heart of the old town, it also stages live flamenco shows in its intimate interior. As you eat and drink, your bill is written on the bar in chalk.
Enjoy a glass of the local tipple at Tabanco San Pablo | Enjoy a glass of the local tipple at Tabanco San Pablo
Since it served its first chilled glasses of fino (dry white sherry) in 1934, Tabanco San Pablo has become a local institution. It’s located on a bar-lined alleyway just off Plaza del Arenal, which fills up with locals enjoying copas at the weekends. Blend in amongst them for a typically Jerezano experience.
One of the old town’s prettiest squares is the leafy, romantic Plaza de la Yebra – a great place for a long lunch or early-evening copa. This lovely space is also home to one of the city’s most popular tapas joints, La Cruz Blanca, which specialises in traditional Andalusian cuisine.
On the next square down from Plaza de la Yebra, you’ll find one of Jerez’s most attractive churches. The Iglesia Dionisio combines a Gothic-Mudejar exterior dating from the 15th century, an 18th century Baroque interior and a bell tower built as a lookout post in the mid-1400s.
Opposite the Iglesia San Dionisio is Jerez’s beautiful old town hall building, or Antiguo Cabildo. Designed by two leading local architects and built in 1575, it’s fronted by an intricate Renaissance facade with statues of Hercules and Julius Caesar guarding the main entrance.
Las Cuadras stages live flamenco shows | Las Cuadras stages live flamenco shows
Staying on Plaza de la Ascunción, this part of the old town also boasts one of Jerez’s best tapas bars. Tucked away in one corner of the square, Las Cuadras’ interior walls are decorated with pieces of old farming equipment, which you can admire as you enjoy a sherry and one of the frequent live flamenco shows.
The Alameda Vieja Park in Jerez | The Alameda Vieja Park in Jerez
Separating the mighty Alcazar from the Tio Pepe winery is the Alameda Vieja, one of Jerez’s most attractive parks. Its leafy central boulevard runs parallel to the Moorish fortress walls and leads up to a bandstand where live music is performed in the summer.
The botanical gardens in Jerez | The botanical gardens in Jerez
Developed from the end of the 19th century and sometimes called the El Tempul Park, Jerez’s botanical gardens make for a great family day out. They’re located in the flamenco barrio of Santiago, boast over 1,000 species of shrubs, plants and flowers and house a great little zoo.
The old town’s principal square is the stately Plaza del Arenal. Surrounded by bars and cafés with outside terraces, this is a great spot for breakfast or early-evening drinks. At the plaza’s centre, colourful flowerbeds surround a statue of Miguel Primo de Rivera, Jerez-born prime minister of Spain from 1923 to 1930.
Tabanco Plateros is a modern sherry bar | Tabanco Plateros is a modern sherry bar
This popular sherry joint is decorated in a contemporary style, providing a refreshing contrast to the old-school ambience of the city’s other tabancos. Located on a pretty and lively square in the old town, it offers a comprehensive selection of Jerezano tipples to enjoy on site or to take away.
The Andalusian Centre of Flamenco in Jerez | The Andalusian Centre of Flamenco in Jerez
Given that many aficionados claim that Jerez is the true birthplace of flamenco, don’t leave the city without visiting the Andalusian Centre of Flamenco. Housed in a beautiful 15th century mansion, its informative exhibits look at influential local artists and the flamenco traditions of Jerez and Andalusia.
At the beginning of September, Jerez celebrates the second of its two annual festivals. The Feria de la Vendimia marks the beginning of the grape harvest season – a crucial time of year for the city’s sherry producers. It starts properly on the 8th with a grape-treading ceremony outside the cathedral.