Discover El Puerto de Santa Maria
There are very few better places than El Puerto de Santa Maria to learn Spanish. The city and its people have much to offer. We at Spark love El Puerto! Our team is either made up of local ‘portuenses’, who would never consider living anywhere else, or ‘guiris’, foreigners who fell in love with the town and have settled down here. Below are some of our personal favourites of some of the great things you can do in El Puerto. Most of these activities are also included in our Cultural Events Programme and we can also recommend you many more, so just ask!
Follow the historical route in the centre and you will see El Puerto’s culture and history, taking in the famous Plaza de Toros (the widest bull ring in Spain), the Gothic Church (commonly known as ‘la iglesia mayor’), Castillo de San Marcos (with magnificent Moorish architecture), as well as some of the 100 ancient palacios (palaces) that still line the main streets in El Puerto. Moreover, it has a lot of cultural festivals and events. Although our beloved city is not as historic as Sevilla, El Puerto has enough to interest the historic minds and has a lot to offer too, while it has a calmer, cosier environment.
A beach stroll
El Puerto de Santa Maria has five different beautiful beaches and each one deserves not only your time of sunbathing, but these beaches are also perfect for a morning or afternoon stroll along the beautiful golden sand. One of the must-do’s is a stroll to Puerto Sherry followed by a second breakfast or lunch next to the picturesque little beach surrounded by the brightly coloured houses with marvellous views across the bay of Cádiz. The ultimate way to relax and enjoy the good life!
– Start in Fuentebravia (you can get a local bus there) and walk the 5 kms back along the golden sand to Puerto Sherry or alternatively do it the other way round and get lunch in Fuentebravia in one of the amazing restaurants perched high on the top of the beach, with beautiful views across the sea.
– Start at Sparkville residence and walk to Playa Puntilla and then along the promenade past the sailing club to arrive at Puerto Sherry.
– Get the bus across to Valdelagrana and walk the 5-7 kilometres along the beach, marvelling at the fine area and views of Cádiz and maybe stopping for a drink along the way!
A Portuense (local) night out
Not too long ago the Spanish King came to holiday and participate in the El Puerto Regata (Sailing Race) so you can imagine that El Puerto is well equipped with good restaurants, nice bars and a great nightlife to cater for the massive influx of Spanish tourism. A great night out can start with tapas in the centre in our favourite El Asador (make sure to stand at the bar for the best tapas selection) or Bar Betis and then continue onto the art deco Blanco y Negro for a quiet drink surrounded by artwork of local El Puerto artists. Visit Bar and Co or Gold (or one of the many dance clubs) to dance the night (and much of the morning) away. El Puerto is also famous for its restaurants and whether it is a nice dorada (sea bream) at a chiringuito (beach bar) or traditional Spanish food at one of El Puerto’s many popular restaurants, there are options for all price ranges, and quality in general is very high. Feel free to ask us for some tips and we’ll point you in the right way.
A bodega crawl
Yes, you have all heard of a pub crawl, but in El Puerto de Santa Maria there is such a thing as a bodega crawl where you go from bodega (wine cellar) to bodega, tasting the local variety of sherry. This is a must-do, as it mostly includes sherries only available for sale in that bodega. Combine this with some nice tapas, good company and a pleasant stroll through streets of the old town on the way to the next bodega, and it is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. We recommend a visit to the bodega 7 Esquinas, a must on any crawl and it is a relaxing place to go any weekend afternoon.
Connecting with the Portuenses (locals)
People from Andalusia are notoriously sociable and welcoming, especially when there is food and drinks around. Portuenses are especially kind, so don’t be surprised to find yourself coaxed into a conversation in your gym, when walking along the beach or when enjoying your second breakfast. Few locals speak good English and even fewer speak other European languages and therefore these conversations are always in Spanish, offering an excellent opportunity to practice your Spanish language skills you learnt at Spark. Moreover, you can take advantage of local knowledge on the best places to eat, dance or go shopping! Befriending the naturally friendly locals is the best way to improve your Spanish and who knows, it might even lead to more…
– Second breakfast: Start your day with a typical Andalusian second breakfast: a ‘mollete’ (typical yummie piece of toast) with ‘jamon’ and ‘tomate’, a cafe and a zumo de naranja natural, for less than 4 or 5 Euros in any bar in El Puerto. Combine your breakfast with reading a Spanish paper (Diario de la provincia de Cadiz if you want local news, El Pais or El Mundo if you worth something more substantial or the football magazines Marca or AS if you just can’t do without your football scores) and let the sun shine on your face and enjoy life.
– Gypsy market: Every Tuesday morning the gypsy market takes place on the boulevard between the river and the Playa Puntilla. You can find hundreds of stalls with great presents for you or somebody else, such as scarves, arts, shoes or jewellery. Also following it up with a walk out the pier is well worth it.
– National Park: Rent a bike and visit the Parque Natural Bahia de Cadiz, an amazing park at the coastline of the Bay of Cadiz. Visit it for a work-out or a just to relax and enjoy the amazing view!
– We have so many more tips so don’t hesitate to ask…
Check this out:
Why learning Spanish in El Puerto and Things to do around El Puerto for more info about the culture and history of El Puerto and daytrips around El Puerto and its surroundings.
Also, take a look at our Spark blogposts for some personal experiences on our cultural events, nights out in Puerto, eating tapas, things to do in El Puerto, as well as some great videos of El Puerto and the area.
And check out these websites for more information about El Puerto:
– Trip Adivsor: Things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria
– Townhall info about what’s on in El Puerto de Santa Maria
I’ve visited and worked in El Puerto for the past 4 summers and I can guarantee it’s a marvelously diverse place: Not only does it have a great night life, fantastic restaurants, friendly locals and the genunine buzz of a proper energetic Spanish town, it also has a rich history. There’s one of the oldest and biggest bullrings in Spain, a stunning church (Iglesia Mayor Prioral), plus it was the location from which Chris Columbus began his second expedition and where the first world-map was drawn up! You’re also only a quick train ride away from Jerez, and authentic Cherry! I’ll definitely be returning soon!
Having lived in El Puerto myself I can definitely say it presents as a great place to learn Spanish and experience Spanish culture. You can immerse yourself as much as you want to and whilst there are a few English speakers around to make you feel comfortable, fortunately they most definitely haven’t taken over!
I love second breakfast! It´s one of the best things about living in Spain. Molletes are fantastic.