El Puerto de Santa Maria
El Puerto de Santa Maria (El Puerto in short) is a small sized city (82306 inhabitants in 2005) located in the Cadiz Province in the Andalucia region of Spain. It lies on the North-East shore of the Cadiz Bay and is easily reachable from the city of Cadiz in a short boat trip aboard "El vaporcito" (or "El vapor del Puerto")
- The nearest airport is Jerez (XRY) (30 minute drive) and is accessible by car, taxi, bus or train. It has direct flights to/from Madrid, Mallorca and Barcelona in Spain as well as destinations in Austria, Belgium, England, Germany, and Portugal. However, many of the international flights are seasonal or not daily.
- Another option is to fly into Seville (SVQ) (about 1 hour drive or train ride away).
- Malaga (AGP) is also an option but not as easy to reach (about 1.5 hour drive).
- From Madrid (Atocha train station) there are 3 daily (4 in the Summer) Alvia trains direct to/from Cadiz which stops at El Puerto as well as Córdoba, Ciudad Real, Jerez de la Frontera, Puertollano,and Seville.
- If you need a wider range of schedules you can consider taking an AVE to Seville and then a Media Distancia (regional train) to El Puerto.
All the trains are operated by RENFE.
- Buses leave from Madrid's Estacion Sur de Autobuses in Mendez Alvaro and are operated by Socibus/Sercobus. There are several a day (including an overnight service) and stop at other towns and cities along the way.
- There are several local buses operated by PuertoBus that tend to operate every 30-40 mins, check their website for routes and schedules. A single-fair ticket costs 1€ but there's also multi-fare options which offer discounts.
- Taxies are also available and not too expensive (average cost from the train station to any area in the city center will be around 4€). However, if you are going heading toward Fuentebravia or other areas outside the city limits the prices are higher. There are designated taxi stops at several locations or you can call via telephone (local number is 956 85 85 84).
- If you have a car then be advised that several of the streets downtown have been closed to traffic, except for local residents. Parking is usually not a problem in most areas except during the Summer months (June to September). Downtown there are several public parkings which are reasonably priced.
- The main part of town is not very big, crossing from one end to another is no more than 45-50 mins. Except in the noon hours during the Summer period, when it can be hot, it is probably best to walk around. There are bicycle stands around the town but be sure to secure your bike well.
- The area between El Puerto, Jerez and Sanlucar is well known for being Sherry country. The main wineries in El Puerto are Bodegas Osborne (famous for its bull logo that has become a Spanish icon), Bodegas Terry, and Bodegas 501.
- In the old part of town you can also visit the Castillo San Marcos built by Alfonso X around 1264.
- There are also several beaches to take in the sun or have a swim. La Puntilla is the closest to the downtown area located to the west. Valdelagrana is a bigger more popular beach, especially in the Summer, south across the Guadalete river. Both these beaches are on the Cadiz Bay which means less waves and warmer water. Along the open ocean you can find La Muralla (near the Puerto Sherry marina/development). This is a nice little beach which is somewhat protected from the sometime strong winds (known as Levante). Further along is a series of beaches streching from the Vistahermosa to Fuentebravia developments.
- Near Valdelagrana there is a nature reserve known as Los Toruños that offers bicycle and kayak rentals, as well guided tours of the area.
- Enjoy some of the wonderful beaches that El Puerto has to offer. Among them: La Puntilla, Las Redes, Valdelagrana, Fuentebravia. Pristine white sand beaches, well serviced and not as crowded as their mediterranean counterparts in "La costa del Sol"
- Learn Spanish
- Interested in learning more about sherry? You can visit the Osborne brandy factory, but you have to contact them beforehand.
- Uncountable gastronomical delicacies both in the form of restaurants and the more informal tapas bars (not less delicious or delicate).
- El Laul.
- El Betis.
- El rincon del Jamon.
Top of the range restaurants
- El Faro
- Casa Flores
- Los Portales
- This is one of the 3 cities of the Sherry wine (together with Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda), so make sure you try it in all its possible incarnations: Fino (dry), Oloroso, Dulce, Pale cream. Also try the excellent brandys.
- Lots of hotels in town and around, one of the best hotel offers from all the cities in the Cadiz Province. Good base place to explore the surroundings and other places in the Cadiz Province
- Cadiz: just a short trip across the Cadiz Bay
- Sanlucar de Barrameda: together with El Puerto and Jerez one of the towns of the "Sherry triangle". On the mouth of the Guadalquivir river