Along The Guadalquivir River
Sitting at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, Sanlúcar is well known for its sherry cellars, fresh seafood and horse races on the golden sand beach in August. The Carreras de Caballos de Sanlúcar de Barrameda is now in its 175th year. Parque Nacional de Doñana lying across the river, is filled with marshes, lakes, and dunes, and is popular with birdwatchers. Take a stroll along the beaches that stretch for nearly 6 km, from El Corral de Merlín, the stone walls visible at low time off the southern end of Jara Beach, to Baluarte San Salvador at the north end of Bajo de Guía Beach. The stone walls of the corral de merlín are the remains of a centuries old environmentally friendly fishing system still in use along the coast in places like Rota, Chipiona and Cádiz. Visit the 17th-century Convento Descalzas with its baroque altarpiece and collection of sacred art. The 15th-century Castillo de Santiago, which overlooks the city. The beautiful Auditorio de La Merced, a former convent dating from the 17th-century, a proto-baroque structure, is now used for concerts and other events. The El Rocio Pilgrimage, which takes place over the weekend before Pentecost Monday, attracts nearly a million people from across Andalucia and throughout Spain. Sanlúcar is one of the three main starting points for the pilgrimage. The popular 6-day Feria de Manzanilla typically takes place in late May.
Visiting a Bodega
After reaching Sanlúcar by bus, car, or boat from Cádiz, you head toward the heart of the historic center of Sanlúcar, on the border of the “Barrio Alto, the high neighborhood, and Barrio Bajo, the low neighborhood, at Plaza Madre de Dios. There you will find are a number of top sherry bodegas you can visit, but you will have to plan you day carefully as visiting more than three would be near impossible.
Bodegas Barbadillo is considered one of the most prestigious wineries in Sanlúcar since it came into existence in 1821. Founded in 1792 by Don José Pantaleón Hidalgo, Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana is one of the top sherries you’ll find in Sevilla during Feria. The family history of Bodegas Barón dates back nearly 400 years, to 1630. “La Guita”, the Gypsy, has been around since 1852. Bodegas Delgado Zuleta, is the oldest winery in Marco de Jerez (1719). The noted California wine collector and winemaker Francisco Yuste took over and restored the Bodega Santa Ana (dating from the 1920s) where he still produces Manzanilla La Kika. The Asencio brothers continue and improve the work of three important wine cellars in Sanlúcar de Barrameda: Pedro Romero, Gaspar Florido and Fernando Méndez at their Bodegas Alonso.
Dining along the Guadalquivir River
One of the main attractions in Sanlúcar, besides the excellent Manzanilla, is the abundance of fresh seafood, and dining overlooking the Guadalquivir River on a bright, sunny day. You are lucky in that there are several good choices, traditional seafood restaurants, along the Bajo de Guía, the ancient fishing quarter: Mirador de Doñana, Poma, Casa Bigote, Joselito Huerta, Casa Juan, Avante Claro, and El Embarque
We have only managed to dine at Mirador de Doñana, Casa Bigote (Bib Gourmand and 1 Repsol sun) and Avante Claro over the years, but all of these restaurants are equal in quality, and all with the same view.
Dining in Sanlúcar
The first place we headed to early on a Sunday in March was the Temple of the Shrimp Tortillas, Casa Balbino, for its Tortillas de Camarones. It was named one of the 10 best fried fish restaurants in Spain in 2016 by El País, and has been visited by people from all over the world.
You will need a few days if you want to sample the best of Sanlúcar, including the Michelin 2020 Bib Gourmand Restaurante El Espejo Sanlúcar, the small neighborhood wine and tapas bar, Taberna Der Guerrita, which opened in 1978, and is filled with old bullfighting posters and the smell of aged wine and Bodegón de Lola, named for Lola Trujillo Rodríguez who spent many years at the famed Casa Balbino producing the famous shrimp omelette. Entre Botas is located in the heart of Bodegas Centenaria, while Doña Calma Gastrobar and the Repsol recommended Veranillo de Santa Ana are near the river.
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