The Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuito de Jerez is a colourful event which draws massive crowds from all over to watch the world’s best riders do battle in the sunshine of Andalusia. The Jerez circuit in southern Spain was built in 1986, hosted its first Grand Prix a year later and has remained on the MotoGP™ calendar ever since.
As a nation, Spain has produced some great riders over the years such as Angel Nieto, Ricardo Tormo, Sito Pons, Alex Criville and Jorge Martinez “Aspar”. The likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Maverick Viñales now continue the Spanish success story in the premier class.
If you have ever spent time in Spain beyond a package holiday on the beach, you will already know how easy it is to fall in love with this magical and diverse southern European country. If you are yet to discover Spain you have good times ahead.
From the vibrancy of the Mediterranean gem that is Barcelona, to the art galleries, monuments and museums of the elegant capital city Madrid, and not forgetting the stunning vistas, mountains and sweeping vineyards of Asturias, Galicia, and the Basque country in the north – any visitor will have a packed agenda.
With a great climate and close to 5,000 km of coastline, it is little wonder that amazing seafood, sunshine and chiringuitos (outdoor bars) are never hard to find. And in Spain’s Balearic Islands – Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca – the offer of chilled-out coves and all-night parties.
Then there’s Andalucia, in the glorious south, where you will find Jerez. Here you can discover flamenco, visit whitewashed villages, see the great mosques and Moorish palaces of Granada, Seville and Cordoba, and take in sunkissed landscapes. These is also yet more beautiful coastline to enjoy, along with fantastic cured ham and crispy fried fish with a cool beer or a fine sherry.
The nearest major airport to Jerez is Seville, and this is a wonderful part of Spain to spend a few days exploring.
Weather: Jerez enjoys fine weather almost all year round. MotoGP™ visits the area in early May, before the extremely hot summer months. Expect sunshine, with warm to hot afternoons, but cooler evenings.
Jerez de la Frontera is a sizeable city with a local population of over 200,000 people, meaning there are ample options for places to stay.
Hotels in Jerez range from larger, modern establishments located a short distance from the middle of the city, to boutique hotels in converted townhouses – often with roof terraces overlooking the old city centre. There are also hostels and bed & breakfast guesthouses available at budget-friendly prices.The nearby port of Cadiz provides further options and is a pleasant place to stay if you prefer to be by the sea. The nearby port of Cadiz provides further options and is a pleasant place to stay if you prefer to be by the sea.
In the city of Jerez, you can take in the atmosphere of the local bars and bodegas, explore the Alcazar fortress or the dramatic San Salvador cathedral, and visit the Andalusia Flamenco Centre with its original 15th-century Mudejar entrance and baroque courtyard.
Be sure to try a glass of the locally produced Jerez sherry and call in at the Royal Andalusia School of Equestrian Art for a remarkable Spanish equestrian show.
On the coast near Jerez is the "Puerto de Santa Maria", where you can take a ferry ride across the bay to the peninsula city of Cadiz, one of Europe’s oldest ports. Cadiz is a great place to explore on foot, with its compact centre and narrow streets, its cathedral, ancient walls, old fortifications and the charming La Vina fishing district.
Elsewhere in Andalusia, the Punta de Tarifa is the southernmost point in continental Europe, whilst the Moorish legacy of the three major cities, Granada with its stunning Alhambra palace, Seville with its ornate Alcazar and Cordoba with its grand Mezquita, are worthwhile to behold.
When it comes to food in Andalusia you will not be disappointed. Dishes like gambas al ajillo (prawns in garlic chilli oil), jamon serrano (cured ham), arroz con marisco (seafood paella), salmorejo (smooth tomato soup originating from Cordoba) and pescadito frito (fried white fish in batter) are all popular delicacies.
Lunch is typically served between 2pm and 4pm, and many people do not eat evening meals until 10pm onwards, after an aperitif or two. In the big cities restaurants often open a bit earlier for both meals. Tipping is not always expected but it is courteous to leave a few cents or euros in a bar and tip around five percent in restaurants.
When visiting churches, cathedrals or mezquitas it is respectful to cover up. Longer trousers or skirts, and covered shoulders would be the order of the day for those situations.
In 2013, Jerez was designated the "European Capital of Wine", celebrating the fine sherry and wine-making traditions of the area. With protected designation of origin status, all wine labelled as ‘Sherry’ must come from the Sherry Triangle, between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria.