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Chiclana de la Frontera
© Peter Zoeller / age fotostock
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Chiclana de la Frontera

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Our Editorial team's advice

At the heart of the Bay of Cádiz, the town of Chiclana de la Frontera can pride itself for being home to one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain: La Barrosa. This is the ideal place for long walks, cooling down in the Atlantic Ocean, and enjoying some sport, like surfing. The region is also a great place for discovering the two different sides of Andalusia: the authentic side, with splendid typical villages with their white houses and locals, and the dream holidays side, including the luxury village of Sancti Petri. With its golf courses, hotels, classy chalets and idyllic beach, it is home to 95% of the hotels in the Chiclana region. The 75,000 inhabitants of Chiclana descend upon this village every summer, especially to Sancti Petri, and its population can quadruple with the arrival of Spanish (from Madrid, Basque Country and Extremadura) and foreign tourists, including many Germans. It's a real treat to enjoy an aperitif in one of the bars along the beach or in the centre. They often come served with shrimp crepes, fried fish, and fresh seafood. That's not to mention the wine of this region, whose economy was founded on the cultivation of its vineyards.

To see

Located in the middle of the ocean, Sancti Petri Castle is one of the most emblematic buildings in the region. Visible from the shore on La Barrosa beach, it bears witness to the spectacular sunsets of this part of the Costa de la Luz. This fortress was built in the 18th century on top of the ruins of the Temple of Hercules-Melqart. You can even attempt to swim to the islet on which it stands. Another classic place to visit here is the 'Clock Tower' on Plaza Mayor, which constitutes a meeting point for Chiclana's inhabitants, and the bell tower of St. John the Baptist Church. Other buildings not to be missed during your visit include: San Telmo church, home to the Virgin of Los Remedios, the patron saint of Chiclana, and the nearby Hermitage of Santa Ana, famous for its dome.

To do

This is the ideal place for relaxing by the sea and enjoying some surfing and golfing. In addition to being beautiful, the beaches are of a good quality (clean and well-maintained). Strolling for hours or enjoying a tasty aperitif with your feet in the sand are some of the options available to you on La Barrosa beach. As for the beach in Sancti Petri, it is ideal for windsurfing, fishing and diving. The one in Punta de Piedras is great for taking advantage of the dunes and cliffs, and finally, the beach in Puerco is more private and quiet. Golf is a very popular sport here that you can play at the Golf Novo Sancti Petri (a 36-hole golf course with spectacular views over the sea and surrounded by pines) or the Club Lomas de Sancti Petri (18-hole). Another good idea: why not relax in one of the famous Arab baths, a hammam where you can enjoy the beneficial effects of water or a good massage, or enjoy a tea or a cold drink in a North African and laidback atmosphere.

pros

cons

To think about

Depending on where you're setting off from, it could be a good idea (or a bad one) to travel to Chiclana-Sancti Petri by car. Once you've arrived, and especially if your hotel is in Sancti Petri, be warned that it really is 'mission impossible' to find a parking space in summer. Consider reserving a parking space at your hotel. Many hotels have a free outdoor car park but with a limited number of spaces. In any case, it's only really useful to have a car for going on excursions, as everything in Sancti Petri is close by, including the beach, the golf course, and the various shopping areas. The climate is generally pleasant; the only thing that could spoil your day at the beach being the easterly wind. Furthermore, do bear in mind the price differences when it comes to accommodations in Chiclana and Sancti Petri: the establishments in Chiclana are cheaper and include all of the services you'd expect from a town with no less than 100,000 inhabitants. Sancti Petri is more exclusive and bears prices that are line with the quality and services it offers.

To avoid

For those who don't like the hustle and bustle, you should bear in mind that Sancti Petri, and especially is hotels and restaurants, are pretty packed in summer. However, thanks to the large size of the beach, there is plenty of room to spread out your towels and parasols, even in July and August. Another important detail to help you save money: avoid the typical terraces with their tempting sofas and fantastic settings if you don't want any unwelcome surprises when you receive the bill. There is a high risk of this happening during high season in Sancti Petri but less likely to occur in Chiclana. Don't forget to jot down the address of your hotel, because seeing as how Sancti Petri is full of hotels, many visitors end up getting lost.

To try

Due to its location close to the Atlantic Ocean and the Sancti Petri salt marshes, the local cuisine of Chiclana is mostly composed of top quality fish and seafood. It is also very diverse, with all kinds of seafood-based recipes: marsh fish, shrimp, clams, langoustines, and gambas, among others. 'Berza de Chiclana' is a traditional dish made with chickpeas, white beans, courgettes, sweet potatoes and green beans, to which beef, chorizo sausage or lard can be added. These delicacies are accompanied by wines of the region: oloroso, moscatel and fino. To finish it all off, there's nothing better than an almond tart. For eating out, Chiclana is home to many restaurants and bars which serve very decent cuisine. As for those in Sancti Petri, these stand out for the quality of their facilities and their seafront location.

To bring back

Marin dolls are one of the symbols of the town, where the factory in which they are still made is open to visitors. Dressed in flamenco dresses and once all the rage, these dolls were the creation of José Marin who opened the factory in the late 1920s. This souvenir can be purchased directly from the factory-museum, and from other establishments in the town and Sancti Petri. Other typical souvenirs to be found in Chiclana include ceramic figurines and wrought iron items such as headboards. You shouldn't miss out on the wine here either, which can be bought directly from wine cellars. When buying your souvenirs, watch out for the price difference between Chiclana and Sancti Petri. Souvenirs sold in Sancti Petri are a lot more expensive due to its chic reputation.
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