Three words come to mind when describing Sanlúcar de Barrameda: bueno, bonito y barato—good, beautiful and cheap! 😉 I moved to Sanlúcar over 10 years ago, and this post contains my go-to list of free activities for when family and friends come to visit.
If you’ve got any suggestions on other activities I should add to my list leave a comment below. Si se te ocurre alguna actividad más que debería añadir a mi lista de cosas gratis que hacer en Sanlúcar, no dudes en dejarme tu sugerencia en los comentarios de abajo.
1) Visit the botanical garden
Sanlúcar’s botanical garden was originally designed by French gardener Lecolant in the 19th century for the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier’s summer home (the palace now serves as Sanlúcar’s city hall). The garden offers tranquil beauty against the backdrop of the Orleans-Bourbon Palace, and it’s totally free to visit. The gardens are open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 1:30pm. Just look up the palace on Google Maps, once you find the front gate stroll right in, walk to the back and you’ll see the entrance on the right side of the building.
You can see the palace from the garden
2) Experience the Mercado de Abastos
Head to the Mercado de Abastos for fresh seafood and unbeatable prices. It’s undoubtedly one of the most authentic experiences you can have in the city, and you’ll find over 50 vendors selling fresh seafood, fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, etc. Even if you’re not interested in buying food you should still check it out! It’s the best place to see the variety of local seafood offered in this region—especially Sanlúcar’s famous langostinos (prawns). The market is located on Calle Trascuesta and is open from 8am to 2pm every day except Sundays.
The most authentic experience in town
Don’t forget to look for the mermaids! 🧜♀️
3) See the salt marshes of Sanlúcar
Salt production in Sanlúcar can be traced back to the 14th century, and the marshes in Bonanza are still used today. The salinas run through Doñana National Park and border the Guadalquivir River. There is a trail you can walk, bike, or drive while enjoying fantastic views of the wildlife in the area (hello flamingos!). If you put “Observatorio de Aves, Salinas de Bonanza” or “Pinar de Monte Algaida” in your GPS it should take you to the right spot. If you’re able to visit the marsh in the evening around sunset you’ll enjoy some spectacular views✨ as the light reflects off the salty, calm pools.
Plan to go just before sunset for spectacular views
4) Attend local events and fiestas
No matter what time of year you visit Sanlúcar, chances are there’ll be a free local event happening. A few of my favorites are Feria de la Manzanilla in May/June, the horse races in August, Carnaval in February/March, and the Ruta del Mosto in November/December. This year, there’s also special events planned around the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world; Elcano and Magellan are expected to return this year (there’s a clock on Calle Ancha counting down to September 6th) and the city has planned an exciting celebration to welcome them home. 😉 See Sanlúcar’s 2022 event calendar here.
You can enjoy all of these events for free; the horse races take place on the beach, and at feria the casetas are open to the public. For carnaval, the parades and chirigotas occur in the public square and streets so you can enjoy the shows for free. And during the ruta, there are usually free zambomba concerts (flamenco Christmas carols) all around town on the weekends.
The fairgrounds & casetas are open to the public
5) Explore Sanlúcar’s city center
The Plaza de Cabildo is the heart of Sanlúcar. It features a beautiful mosaic stone floor, fountain, and it’s the perfect place for people watching. Calle Ancha is the main avenue in town. It’s located just off the Plaza de Cabildo. Both sides of the street are lined with local shops, bakeries, restaurants and pharmacies. Most afternoons you’ll find local Sanluqueños strolling up and down Calle Ancha, running errands, or sipping on manzanilla as they watch the hustle and bustle of the city. One thing to note, most stores close daily between 2pm – 5pm for siesta, also shops are usually open in the morning on Saturdays; only restaurants are open on Sundays.
I love going to the plaza in the evenings!
6) Enjoy rooftop views of the city
I always take visitors to the rooftop of Sanlúcar’s Hotel Guadalquivir; it’s the tallest building in town and has some of the best views in the area. Go to the lobby of the hotel and take the elevator to the rooftop bar. If you’ve got time, order some Moroccan tea (té moruno) and enjoy the scenery. Pro tip: plan to go an hour before sunset, you’ll be able to grab a table with a view and watch the sun dip into the ocean. Look out for the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack blasting through the bar right as the sun hits the horizon. 😂
Enjoy panoramic views of the city from the rooftop bar
7) Stroll along the paseo marítimo
If you walk 10 minutes down the Avenida Calzada Duquesa Isabel (aka. “la calzada”) from Sanlúcar’s center you’ll find yourself at the paseo marítimo. The paseo is a walkway along Sanlucar’s beach and ends in Bajo de Guía (learn more below). Here you can watch the sun set over the water and enjoy the views of the boats anchored just off the beach. Do as the locals and stroll the paseo after a big lunch, it’ll help you ‘bajar la comida’ so your siesta will be more enjoyable.
I will never get tired of these sunsets…
8) Check out Bajo de Guía
Bajo de Guía is Sanúcar’s maritime neighborhood and it’s one of the trendiest spots to be these days. You’ll find the city’s nautical club here along with a variety of fantastic seafood restaurants lining the water, not to mention the most popular bars in town. In summer this area is packed to the brim with locals and tourists alike. Definitely stop by this area while you’re in town and check out the old ice factory (now a museum and visitor’s center). The ice factory has a free exhibit on Doñana National Park and replicas of archaeological items that have been discovered there.
Enjoying the view from El Botero, a bar in Bajo de Guía
9) Enjoy Sanlúcar’s historical heritage
Sanlúcar has been inhabited since ancient times, as far back as the 4th century B.C. It’s also been a significant point of interest throughout history (by the Romans, Moors and Spaniards) for its strategic location on the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. You’ll find a variety of historical monuments and sites located throughout the city, and most offer free entry. The top ones to see are: Orleans-Bourbon Palace, Palace of Medina Sidonia, Santiago Castle, Our Lady of the O Church, and many more. Click here for a full list of historical sites to visit in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Javi and I were married in this church 💖
10) Relax at the beach
Sanlúcar’s beach is actually an estuary, where the Guadalquivir River and Atlantic Ocean meet, creating a sandy riverbank. The conditions are ideal for floating around and relaxing, and the beaches in Sanlúcar are perfect for small children (you don’t have to worry about them being toppled by waves). If you go to the beach with little ones, bring water shoes and nets; the shore is lined with shells and critters—they’ll have a blast chasing crabs and collecting shells. Local tip: most weekends in summer you can catch free concerts at chiringuitos like Afrikano.
The beaches in Sanlúcar are great for small children
I hope you found these tips helpful, let me know what you think in the comments below! Check out my original post 12 Things you should do in Sanlúcar de Barrameda for more information about activities in the area.
Head to Instagram to see these tips in action 👇
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