From the traditions of bullfighting to the fictional Game of Thrones Kingdom of Dorne, Laura Peveller rounds up the key things not to miss on a trip to the Spanish city of Seville.
Home to bullfighting, flamenco dancing and the very best tapas you’ll ever taste, the Andalusian capital of Seville is a city break not to be missed. Whether you’re hopping on a flight for a long weekend or making a stop on a longer road trip, be sure to allow at least six days in this beautiful city to see all it has to offer and experience a truly authentic Spanish experience.
If you're planning a trip, here's a round up what to get up to while you’re there.
1. Soak up the Atmosphere in the Jewish Quarter
Your first day is all about soaking up the atmosphere of this amazing city. Take a walk around the quaint streets and let yourself get lost in the ancient architecture and cobbled corners of Andalusia’s capital. The Jewish Quarter or Barrio Santa Cruz is a popular place for tourists and locals – think brightly coloured buildings steeped in history, al fresco dining and the regular buzz of Spanish music. There's an endless amount of cool tapas bars offering the very best in Spanish cuisine so it’s worth thoroughly exploring the area on your first day to discover hidden gems and pin-point a few to return to later in the week. Each restaurant offers something different, with local chefs developing their own take on classic tapas dishes. Find the right tapas bar and you’ll spend hours grazing over delicious Jamón Ibérico, Solomillo Al Whiskey and Albóndigas which should always be washed down with a few glasses of sangria.
Seville is Spain at its most authentic – so throw yourself in, try ordering food and drinks in Spanish, you’ll be surprised at how well you can pick up the accent. Try talking to some of the locals if you’re able to as they may be able to suggest restaurants or places to visit that are off the beaten track if you ever need a break from tourists hotspots.
2. Take in some Gothic Architecture
The Catedral de Sevilla takes the top spot on the sightseeing list. If Gothic architecture is your thing then go spend the afternoon exploring the grounds of this stunning Cathedral which is said to be the third largest in the world. For a taste of history that dates back to the 12th century when the site was home to the Aljama mosque you should climb the 98 metres to the top of the Giralda tower. The views of the city are outstanding and it also gives you the opportunity to see the grandness of the Cathedral and appreciate how much it has developed and changed.
Want a sip of sangria and flamenco dancing to round of your first day? Go visit Bar Milagritos. It is right across from the Giralda Tower and provides stunning views of the Cathedral at night as well as the bonus of excellent, friendly service. Try their version of Tortilla Espanola washed down with a few of the speciality cocktails.
3. Explore Modern Seville
Whilst Seville is renowned for its classical architecture and rich history it is also a city that embraces change and modernity. Look no further than the Metropol Parasol, a wooden structure with a waffle-like shape that stands just over 28 metres high in the Plaza de le Encarnacion area of the city. It has become a hub of activity and culture with rooftop bars, restaurants and a farmers market set to revitalise an area that was once no more than a car park. La Seta (the mushroom), as the locals call it, has something for everyone: an archaeological museum in the basement for those wishing to learn more about the history of the city, restaurants on every floor and a walkway at the very top of the building offering stunning views of the city and the perfect opportunity for those much-needed panoramic shots. The lift to the top will cost you three euros but includes a free drink at the rooftop café (and don't worry, that includes wine). Have a stroll around the walkway then stop in the café for a few drinks and a bite to eat. It’s definitely worth spending an hour or so at the top to appreciate the size of structure and soak up the amazing views of the city. Stop off at the farmers market when you come back down if you want to sample more of the delicious local produce and support independent trade.
If you enjoy a little art and want to kick back somewhere that has personality and style in the evening then visit Red House. Relax on one of the many funky mismatched sofas and admire the alternative artwork decorating the walls. The menu is broad and includes a full range of savoury and sweet options to satisfy every diners need. Don’t forget to try a couple of craft beers as well while you’re there.
4. Visit the Kingdom of Dorne at Alcazar
A visit to the Real Alcazar Palace is a must, especially for history lovers. The rich history of the Alcazar includes architecture from the Moorish, Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance periods all of which can be seen in the differing styles of the various sections of the Palace. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan be sure to spend extra time by Mercury’s Pool, the Grotto Gallery and the Baths of Maria de Padilla if you want to experience life in the most exotic kingdom of Dorne. A sunny day in the Alcazar will give you plenty of photo opportunities with the backdrop of stunning, well-kept gardens also providing the perfect place for a picnic.
Fancy something a little alternative in the evening? Visit La Bicicleteria, a cool hipster bar that feels more like a house party than an actual bar. Everything from old school rock to bluesy jazz can be heard thumping through the walls of the smoky rooms. It has a laidback vibe with people of all nationalities gathering together to sip their way through cheap drinks menu and get involved in good conversation.
5. Cycle the Parque de Maria Luisa
For a more relaxed day and a chance to explore some of Seville’s natural beauty hire a bike and cycle around the Parque de Maria Luisa, a stunning park set in the south of the city that is full of exotic plant life and interesting architecture. The Plaza de Espana is the centrepiece of the park, a semi-circular structure that was originally built as part of the Expo 29 to impress international visitors and exhibitors. The stunning building is famous for its Renaissance and Moorish style, with its intricate ceramic tiling and grand stature attracting film directors from around the world who have used the location for blockbusters such as Star Wars.
You can try your hand at rowing by hiring a boat and travelling along the canal to see the Plaza from its many different angles or for the more romantic visitors a horse drawn carriage ride around the park might be more suitable. Even a simple stroll through the gardens provides a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of city life and the chance to discover hidden ponds, fountains and many more pavilions. There are plenty of opportunities for an ice cream or drink stop along the way – much needed on a hot summer’s day!
6. Be Captivated by Seville Culture
A trip to Seville is not complete without a visit to the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, the iconic bull fighting ring. With its stunning white, red and yellow exterior La Maestranza is a photographers dream. If you’re visiting between March and October then you might get the chance to watch a live bullfight. The Feria De Abril, an amazing week of celebration that brings together colour, excitement and tradition, is the most popular bullfighting period with the very best matadors making the journey to the city to perform for residents and tourists.
If a live action event isn’t your thing then a tour around the stadium is a must. Tour guides give information in both Spanish and English whilst guiding you through the stadium to give you a chance to see the bullfighting ring (which can be strangely eerie when empty) and explore the grounds which house important artefacts such as matador’s costumes and detailed paintings of infamous fights. All opinions aside, the tour is an interesting insight into an aspect of Spanish culture that is at the heart of Seville’s history.
How does sunset sangrias on a rooftop bar looking across at the one of the most stunning pieces of Gothic architecture sound for your final night? Go visit La Terraza Restaurante Panormanic de EME, or EME rooftop bar for short. The drinks are a little pricey but it’s your last night in the beautiful city of Seville so enjoy it. The view at night is breath-taking and is sure to give you lasting memories of your time in Andalucía’s capital.