31 Jul, 2023 @ 15:45
2 mins read

RACY NIGHTS on the beaches of Sanlúcar

THEY call it the Greatest Show on the Southern Beaches, and the nightly horse races down the beach of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cadiz are spectacular and historic events. One of the oldest ‘English style’ races in Spain, the first was in 1845, and they take place in August every year. This year, there are races on August 10-12 and 25-27.

So, if bobbing boats on a calm blue sea, galloping horses against the glow of the setting sun, and the chance for a fine dinner of fish appeal, save the date and book your accommodation now.


Prepare yourself with a glass of wine and tapas at one of the line of restaurants and bars along Bajo de Guía, then stroll five minutes to the next beach, the main beach, La Calzada. The races start at the beginning of this beach and end at Las Piletas. 

The Calzada Duquesa Isabel promenade runs along the entire length, but spectators can also stand on the dry sand of the beach – or sit: lots of families arrive well-equipped with beach chairs, coolers and umbrellas.

The race area is beyond a safety fence on the wet sand left by the receding tide. There are either three or four a night, with about half an hour to wait between them. 

At the finish line, there’s an area run by the Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos, which organises the event, with a bar, the chance to place bets, and giant screens broadcasting the races. For this area only you’ll need to buy tickets from the Horse Racing Society

Once you are there, why not turn it into a short break? Sanlúcar, apart from being a great beach destination, offers so much to see – and eat – all packed into a compact area.

Plaza del Cabilde – great destination for tapas

Casa Bigote for the best of traditional, and try El Espejo for something modern and inventive up in the older part of town (C/Caballeros 11). For a snack, Tartessos Bar beside the market and famous for its unusual and delicious toast toppings, is a great choice (C/Carmen Viejo 2). For great tapas, stick to Plaza del Cabildo. The square with its fountain and palms is lined with bars selling cold crisp manzanilla sherry and hot crisp tortillitas de camarones

Castillo de Santiago in Barrio Alto

Sanlucar is the home of manzanilla, so visit CIMA, the Manzanilla Interpretation Centre, (Cuesta de Belén) and learn all about it. Their website is a one-stop shop for details on visiting 18 Sanlucar bodegas. 

The biggest is Bodegas Barbadillo, where you amble through the museum, take an educational tour and taste four wines. 

Barbadillo is in Barrio Alto, as is Orleans Borbon Palace Gardens, and Castillo de Santiago, the biggest castle in Cadiz, with views and canons, a good tower and a costume exhibition (C/ Cava del Castillo).

For information on the many other attractions Sanlúcar has to offer, visit the Tourist Information Office on Calzada Duquesa Isabel. 


For ancient, try Hotel Posada de Palacio (C/Caballeros 9) or Hotel Duques de Medina Sidonia (Pl. Condes de Niebla), virtually opposite it in Barrio Alta, the historic cluster of convents and palaces up the hill.  And for modern, try La Casa Sanlucar (C/ Ancha, 84) or Casa de las Especias (C/Regina, 44) round the corner.


Sanlúcar is roughly 100km south of Sevilla, 40 northwest minutes from Cadiz, 30 minutes northwest from Jerez. There’s a big underground carpark at Plaza de Cabildo (Parkia: Playa la Calzada, Av Calzada Duquesa Isabel).


How to spend a weekend in Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain’s 2022 capital of gastronomy

Sorrel Downer

Sorrel is a journalist based in Spain who writes for The Guardian, and whose bylines include The Telegraph, The Times, Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Business Life, Business Insider, Reader's Digest, Evening Standard, and the BBC.

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