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Jerez de la Frontera: sherry, flamenco and Andalusian horses

by Flitter Fever
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Have you ever heard of Jerez de la Frontera? This mid-size city is located in the Andalusian region of Spain, 1.5 hours south of Seville. Major cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Granada get overwhelmed by tourists these days. Time to explore a less famous yet very interesting Spanish city: Jerez de la Frontera.

Andalusia is an autonomous region that covers most of southern Spain, along the Mediterranean coastline (Costa de la Luz). With a record breaking 82 million visitors in 2017, Spain has overtaken the United States as the second most popular destination in the world, right after France.

Sunshine, beaches, tapas, architecture, affordable… Spain has got it all!

I remember talking about Jerez de la Frontera at least ten, maybe fifteen years ago, with my friend Marja. She told me about the popularity of sherry in the Netherlands in the 70s and together we fantasized about visiting the nursery of sherry one day.

Some things may have changed in the meantime, but never my wish to visit Jerez de la Frontera. So when the opportunity came by earlier this month, I could not resist to grab it and finally plan my trip to this intriguing Andalusian city. Jerez de la Frontera is not only the nursery of sherry, but also of flamenco and Andalusian riding school. My expectation of visiting a place where you can get a true taste of the real Spain finally became reality. Jeeh, so exciting!

Palm trees, mandarin trees… Jerez de la Frontera breathes that tropical atmosphere.

Sherry

Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes grown near Jerez de la Frontera. The word “Sherry” is an Anglicization of Xeres (Jerez). Sherry is made available in many different types and colors, most commonly poured are the light colored ‘secco’ (Spanish for ‘dry’) or the brown colored sweeter version of sherry. Try before you die! The brown colored, sweeter version of sherry is my favorite. It reminds me a bit of Vin Santo wine from the San Gimignano region in Tuscany, Italy.

Those who know me personally, know that I am a big fan of dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Torrontes, Vernaccia, etc. With sherry this is a completely different story. The dry, light colored version of sherry wine is a lot drier than a regular dry white wine. A bit too much for me. I know, this is like swearing in the church of special wine. Forgive me! I guess you have to learn to drink and appreciate dry sherry.

Not an alcohol drinker or pregnant? Try Tinto de Verano. It’s sold in most bars and restaurants. Completely different but delicious! I wish we had it in The Netherlands.

Bodegas

Jerez is the oldest wine-producing region and the only region where the wine can be called ‘sherry’. Others will be prosecuted without a doubt. The most famous sherry brand is called Tio Pepe. You will notice the logo hanging around the city and there is even a statue! One of the things to do in Jerez de la Frontera is to visit one of the many bodegas (wineries) that are located right in the heart of city. No worries about how to get back to the hotel after a wine tasting in Jerez!

The main bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera are the following. It is recommended to contact the bodega of your choice in advance to check their availability, several of them offer English tours.

Andalusian horses

If you like horses, you probably know the Andalusian horse breed at least by name. These horses are really beautiful and super elegant! The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art is a must visit in Jerez de la Frontera. This is THE place to witness the classical tradition of Spanish baroque horsemanship.

You can walk around the premises and/or see a show (1.5 hours). Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre as it’s called in Spanish, is comparable to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria.

Shows at the Royal Andalusian School in Jerez are usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, plus one Saturday a month, once per day at 12:00h, see their website. Opening hours 10:00-14:00h. We were lucky enough to be there on that particular Saturday in October. During the show it is not allowed to take any photos inside. Tip: take photos outside while the horsemen prepare their horse(s) for the show. And buy you tickets online in time.

Are you really into horses and is the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art your main reason to visit Jerez de la Frontera? Then try to go during Feria del Caballo (Horse Festival), held every year in Jerez de la Frontera in the first half of May. This festival should be real fun! Around town you will see many big horse statues, for example along Avenida Jerez.

Flamenco

Jerez de la Frontera is the very heart of this unique art form, part of the so-called ‘golden triangle’ together with Cadiz and Seville’s Triana neighborhood. The International Flamenco Festival, attracting the very best flamenco dancers from around the world, is held every year in Jerez de la Frontera in the last weekend of February till early March. In 2019 it will be held Feb 22 till Mar 9.

Going to Jerez de la Frontera during another time, yet interested to see some flamenco culture? Try one of the below mentioned places between Thursday evening and Sunday. Unfortunately most will not allow any photos to be taken during the show.

Other highlights

Jerez de la Frontera has several highlights that are basically a smaller scale of those in Seville, such as Alcazar de Jerez and Jerez Cathedral. But then without long waiting lines or expensive entrance fees! Please be aware that out of season (Oct-Jun) attractions such as Alcazar de Jerez are only open 09:30-14:30h, Jul-Sep till 17:30h (Mon-Fri).

Palacio Domecq can only be visited on Mondays 9:00-14:00h, requesting access by appointment in advance. There are also a bunch of nice squares (‘plaza’) such as Plaza de Arenal, Plaza de la Yerba, Plaza Rafael Rivero with Casa Palacio Petra de la Riva, and of course churches such as Chapel of Saint Juan de Letrán.

Want to see something out of the city? Check out Cartuja de Santa Maria Jerez Defensión.

Where to sleep

I would personally recommend to stay at one of the following hotels in Jerez de la Frontera:

Where to eat

Being in Spain, eating tapas is obviously a must do. Serrano ham, croquetas, meat balls in tomato sauce… whatever you like! Tapas are usually a few small bites like snacks, but if you order a bunch of them, it can easily serve as lunch or dinner. We enjoyed sitting at Casa Nicolás at the peaceful Plaza del Blanco and particularly the ‘pollo croquettas’ at La Viña T. See also the map below this post.

In the mood for a big piece of juicy meat? Go for a so-called ‘meson’ restaurant, there are several of them around Jerez de la Frontera, see also the map below this blog post. Some of those mesons show their large hams and other pieces of meats hanging in front of the window of the restaurant. For example Meson del Asador near Plaza de Arenal. Reservations highly recommended!

We also enjoyed our dinner at La Esparteria, on short walking distance from Hotel Jerez & Spa and NH Avenida Jerez. Right between the locals, cheaper than the average place in town and lots of fresh fish options. For other restaurant options, check out Tripadvisor.

How to get there

Now here comes the tricky part. You live nearby an airport with direct connections to Jerez de la Frontera airport (XRY), for example Brussels (BRU) or Düsseldorf (DUS), congratulations! You just saved yourself a lot of hassle. Check out your flight possibilities via Skyscanner.

Unfortunately there are several airports that do not have direct flights to Jerez de la Frontera, for example from Schiphol-Amsterdam, Eindhoven or Rotterdam in my case. This situation basically leaves two options:

  1. Book an indirect flight to Jerez de la Frontera including a stop-over, for example with Vueling, Iberia, British Airways or eurowings.
  2. Book a flight to Seville airport (SVQ) and go further by train, bus, car or taxi to Jerez de la Frontera. Here comes the hassle.

I truly believe Spanish public transport deserves its own soap opera show. Before choosing option #2, please be informed about the following:

  1. A single Uber ride between Seville and Jerez costs around EUR 225 one way. Yikes!
  2. Rent a car to drive back and forth between Seville airport and Jerez de la Frontera. Not the cheapest option, but considerable if you plan to stay longer than a few days and want to explore the area a bit more. Especially if you are with a small group or family for example.
  3. If none of the options mentioned in this blog are available or affordable, try the app or website Blablacar to ride along with a local who is going there anyway and willing to take extra passengers with their own car for a reasonable fee. Check the reviews of the driver.

Bus or train

The best affordable option to travel between Seville and Jerez de la Frontera is by bus or train.

From Seville airport there is no direct train connection to Jerez de la Frontera. First take the local EA bus from Seville airport to Santa Junta Estacion (24 min). This bus goes every 15 min or so, step out at Auxiliar Kansas City and walk in 2 min to Santa Justa Estacion, from where you can take the train to Jerez de la Frontera.

Trains between Seville and Jerez go once or twice an hour and the ride takes about 1 hour. Trains sell out easily, so make sure you book your train tickets in advance, especially during high season, around the weekends, national holidays, etc. These trains only have reserved seats, standing up is not an option. Tickets can be purchased online, at ticket machine or service desk at the station, but you need to be lucky and patient. Trains may show online as available while in reality completely sold out. Taking an early morning flight yet having to wait for four hours for the first available train is no fun, I can tell you!

There are four bus companies working from Jerez de la Frontera bus station, but only a few go to/from Seville. The one that I could find and used is Groupo Valezuela. Their buses go about six times a day between Jerez de la Frontera bus station (next to the train station) and Prado San Sebastian bus station in Seville. Bus tickets can be purchased at the bus station only. Tip: take ear plugs or a headphone for fellow travelers’ noise resistance. And like the trains: purchase your bus ticket as soon as you can, just to ensure your spot.

Wonder how to get around Jerez de la Frontera? It’s simple: by foot! Uber does not work in Jerez de la Frontera. Ask your hotel reception or restaurant waitress to call a taxi, or simply Google Jerez taxi and you will get several options. Or try to use public transport (bus).

What it costs

Spain is still very affordable. Part of the fun! Prices in general are definitely lower in Jerez de la Frontera compared to Seville. Eating outside the main center of Jerez will save you money.

  • Glass of wine and a cup of coffee EUR 3
  • Tapas EUR 1.50-5
  • Dinner for two EUR 25-50
  • Horse show Real Escuela EUR 21-27
  • Entrance Real Escuela EUR 6.50
  • Entrance Real Alcazar Jerez EUR 5-7
  • Bus ticket Seville airport – Santa Justa train station single ride EUR 4
  • Train ticket Seville – Jerez de la Frontera single ride EUR 11
  • Bus ticket Seville – Jerez de la Frontera single ride EUR 8.50
  • Blabla car ride Seville – Jerez de la Frontera single ride EUR 7-25

Map

Please feel free to use the mobile friendly map below to orientate and get around Jerez de la Frontera.

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