Anything But Paella

Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Sanlúcar de Barrameda is an easy trip out from Jerez de la Frontera or Cadiz if you are staying there. It’s a fairly small town but with a strategic location on the Guadalquivir River it has rather a rich and varied history. Due to that strategic location, the city was a starting point for the exploration and colonisation of the Americas between the 15th and 17th centuries. 

Waterfront history

A good place to start your visit is the old ice factory at the northern end of town. From the outside you can see the impressive tiled facade, but inside is the visitor centre where you can learn all about the voyages of exploration by Columbus and Magellan. Look upstream and you can see the lighthouse at Bonanza which is where these voyages set sail from. The visitor centre also serves the Doñana Natural Park which can be accessed on pre-arranged tours and is located on the other side of the river.

Along the river and into the national park

Right outside the visitor centre is Bajo de Guía beach. Out of season it’s a nice place for a stroll and there are restaurants on the shore all year round. Seafood and sherry-based dishes unsurprisingly dominate the menus. Turn the other way and head south if you prefer a paved promenade. You can walk for miles admiring the views along the way. Don’t feed the seagulls though! They are everywhere!!!

To access the National Park over the water you will need to arrange a visit in advance as they are usually fully booked. Sadly a lack of planning meant that we were unable to do that and missed out. It looks like a lot of fun and as the park is not too accessible by private means it is one of few ways to really explore the area. has all the details you need. There are other visitor centres around the park but they are a long way from Sanlúcar and your own transport would be imperative. The birds and animals you may get to see certainly look impressive.

The Romería del Rocío

Not far from the visitor centre is the impressive statue paying homage to the Romería del Rocío which takes place over three days at the end of October every year. It is a religious festival but there’s bound to be a party atmosphere as the image of the Virgin is taken around town and across the river.

Horse Racing on the Beach

Spain is not exactly famous for its horse racing tradition. Sanlúcar may well beg to differ though. Every August a huge festival takes place with races on the beach. More details and specific dates can be found here.

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