If you’re looking for an authentic and vibrant coastal town where the beaches are ace and you have a short drive to some of the most beautiful cities in Andalucia, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz is the place to be.
The town is part of the Sherry Triangle together with Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Jerez de la Frontera and is the perfect place to sample some of the finest sherries.
After spending a lot of time in what I think is one of the best coastal towns in Andalucia throughout the years, it is only fair that I write a guide to the best things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Only a short boat ride from the historical city of Cadiz, you can soak in some of the most delightful fine-sanded beaches in Andalucia, explore castles and churches, and of course stroll through enchanting streets between whitewashed houses.
There is something exceptionally local to El Puerto de Santa Maria and the number of foreign tourists is a lot lower than in other places on the Andalusian Coast, like the busy villages in Costa del Sol. Read on to find out the best things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain.
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Things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz
As one of the most popular day trips from Cadiz, let’s have a look at what to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Plaza de España
In the heart of the historical center, you find Plaza de España, a vibrant square with restaurants and bars. The most prominent attraction on the square, however, is the Iglesia Mayor Prioral which is one of the top attractions in El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Below the square, a number of 18th-century tombs of upper-class people were found when the square underwent restoration work a few years back.
Plaza de España has played a central role as a meeting point since El Puerto was founded in 1104 BC and even today it is an energetic square.
Iglesia Mayor Prioral
Situated on Plaza de España, Iglesia Mayor Prioral is a must-visit in El Puerto de Santa Maria. The stunning church was started built in the 13th century but wasn’t finished until the 17th century.
The church was dedicated to the Virgin of Miracles and inside, you can see a religious image of the saint alongside others.
The Baroque entrance, Puerta del Sol, is particularly stunning.
Monday-Friday 10:00-12:30 and 17:00-19:30
Saturday 10:00-12:30 and 18:00-19:30
Sunday (+ Public Holidays) 8:30-13:45 and 18:30-21:00
Visit Castillo de San Marcos
One of the top things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria is to visit Castillo de San Marcos, which is one of the best castles in Andalucia.
The current castle dates back to the 13th century but there are remains in the castle from a mosque, the Romans, and even from the Phoenician Era, which makes it an interesting historical site to visit.
You can also visit the castle’s winery and learn about their sherries while having a round of tastings.
Stroll along the promenade
A stroll along the promenade is one of the best things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria. In the summer months, there are often stalls selling handmade jewelry, clothes, and other items that you can take home as souvenirs or gifts.
While El Puerto receives a good amount of Spanish tourism, there is an enchanting local feel to the place and it is particularly vibrant in the summer months.
Maybe you even want to get ice cream and sit down on a bench people-watching and soak in the atmosphere?
Chill at the beaches
The beaches in El Puerto de Santa Maria are absolutely stunning, with white, fine sand, and on a hot day, there is nothing better to do than to relax at one of the beaches.
For a large beach with all facilities, head to Valdelagrana Beach. The beach is really great and has heaps of sunbeds and parasols for rent, restaurants and bars line the promenade, and the water is crystal clear. This has been a go-to beach with friends for years, but it is easier to get there by car.
Other beaches you might enjoy that are within walking distance are Playa de la Muralla, Playa de la Puntilla, and Playa de las Redes.
Sherry tasting at the Osborne cellars
A visit to the Osborne winery is a must when you’re in the sherry triangle. Osborne dates back to 1772 in El Puerto and holds some of the most exquisite brandies and sherries.
A tasting tour takes you through the wine cellars, the colorful patios, and the museum and is no doubt among the top things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria.
For more information about opening times and guided tours, see their official website.
Explore Puerto Sherry
Puerto Sherry has turned into a leisure port and main hub for going to the beach, eating out, and doing water sports. You can enjoy lovely strolls along the waterfront with views of the Bay of Cadiz.
You will have a great time at Puerto Sherry both in the daytime and at night when the port lights up and animated tourists and locals alike hang out.
You can also enjoy some of the finest beaches in Cadiz in the area so I highly recommend packing your swimwear and towel in the summer months.
Visit Monasterio de la Victoria
Monasterio de la Victoria is definitely an Andalucia off the beaten path site and situated right outside the town, it is one of the best things to see in El Puerto de Santa Maria.
The 16th-century convent was built by the Dukes of Medinaceli but after serving as a cloister, it was victim to multiple raids and natural catastrophes. It has served as both a hospital and a prison, so a visit there will fill you in on an intriguing history of the coast of Cadiz.
Go on a day trip to Cadiz
If you are staying in El Puerto de Santa Maria for a few days, make sure you go on a day trip to Cadiz. You can easily take the ferry over the Bay of Cadiz, it is a nice 45-minute trip that gives you the chance to see the historical city from the water.
There are a lot of great things to do in Cadiz so I suggest you go as early as possible to get the most out of the day. Start by visiting the Roman Theater and take a peak inside the narrowest street in Cadiz, Callejón del Duende, which is one of the many hidden gems in Cadiz.
Then continue to the Cadiz Cathedral and climb the clock tower for exquisite views. If you want more views, head to Tavira Tower where you will learn more about the history of the city and its watch towers.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the old town where you can grab lunch, but you might want to check out the food market.
One day in Cadiz gives you time to walk through Genoves Park, which is the most prominent of the parks in Cadiz. Finally, head to Santa Catalina Castle, and walk along the historical La Caleta Beach to San Sebastian Castle before returning down the promenade back to the old town for dinner.
Go on a day trip to Jerez de la Frontera
Another must-do day trip from El Puerto de Santa Maria is to the sherry city of Jerez de la Frontera. It is a 20-minute drive from El Puerto and well worth the trip.
Often underrated, there are a lot of things to do in Jerez, besides sherry rating of course. There are what seems like hundreds of splendid churches worth visiting, but the main attractions are the cathedral, the Alcazaba, and the Camera Obscura. There are also a number of opulent palaces worth your attention.
This is truly one of the prettiest cities in Andalucia and a great place to walk around, soak in the Andalusian vibe, and watch a Flamenco show. There are plenty of local restaurants and bars to grab a tasty tapas lunch between exploring the sites.
There is no doubt why this also is one of the best day trips from Seville.
Reflections on El Puerto de Santa Maria Spain
There are a lot of fun things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz Spain, and whether you go on a day trip or you decide to stay a week and base yourself in the charming beach town, you will have enough to spend your days on.
I highly recommend visiting and think that the town deserves a lot more attention than it gets. This is also one of the top towns near Seville, so if you stay in the Andalusian capital city, make sure you make a visit.
FAQ on El Puerto de Santa Maria
Is Puerto de Santa Maria worth visiting?
There is a lot to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria and whether you are a sherry lover, beach dweller, or enjoy culture and history, there is something for you.
Where is El Puerto de Santa Maria?
El Puerto de Santa Maria is situated west of Cadiz on Costa de la Luz.