Seville offers the best of Southern Spain. Music, food, art, history, beauty and wonderful people. I had visited as a child with my family and returned nearly 20 years later with my boyfriend. It was his first time visiting Spain and I wanted to bring him somewhere truly magical after spending several weeks in my home base of Murcia. It was difficult to choose our favorite single thing to do, so I’ve assembled this list of inspiring adventures we embarked on during our visit.
#1 View the city from the Metropol Parasol
This is a relatively new activity that costs next to nothing at 3 euros per entry. The structure, located in the center of the city at Plaza de la Encarnación, is a sight to see from below. Its architecture stands in sharp contrast to the surrounding old world of Seville. You’ll enter through the basement of the visitor’s center and take an elevator up to a wavy observation deck that allows panoramic views of the city. It’s a perfect thing to do early on in your trip because the exceptionally tall landmarks and cathedrals will put your location in context when you’re out and about. We went at night and despite how cold the December air was, we enjoyed the radiance of the well-lit cathedrals busiest streets.
Metropol Parasol: Pl. de la Encarnación, s/n, 41003 Sevilla
#2 Visit the Alcázar of Seville
It’s on everyone’s list – especially since the Real Alcázar was used as a filming location for Game of Thrones. Westeros aside, I have never felt more awe-struck by a sightseeing activity. It left us speechless with its grandeur. The ‘enclosed’ outdoor space actually felt like it would never end – and one would not want it to. If you love gardens, this is for you. Every doorway you walk through leads you to another whimsical part of the grounds detailed with fountains, statues, orange trees, flora, oh – and peacocks! Another lovely aspect of visiting the Real Alcázar? Despite how many visitors are allowed in at once, you’re never truly crowded, allowing you to wander at your own pace without feeling rushed. I think we spent about 4 hours wandering the grounds inside and it couldn’t have been more perfect – or romantic! Additionally for the art nerds, you’ll appreciate the exhibit on historical and religious influences of Spanish mosaic tiles.
Do NOT overlook booking your tickets in advance. It takes about ten minutes to do online and will save you so much of your precious time in Seville. When we approached the entrance, we saw a line of hundreds of people standing outside without tickets. Thanks to our minimal effort to plan ahead of time, we zipped right to the front and waited a grand total of 90 seconds to enter. Afraid you’ll forget about printing your tickets? Fear not – we did so at the last minute at a Fotocopia shop located five minutes away.
Seville Alcázar: Patio de Banderas, s/n, 41004 Sevilla
#3 Enjoy the city’s incredible music
Seville is known as the capital of flamenco music. There are plenty of places where you can see a full, proper sit down show in Seville and enjoy it. However, after some research, we found another option that had us return a second night… La Carboneria. This bar, filled with long, bench seating offered a show starting at about 10:30 pm. At the front of the house, the floor was cleared for flamenco dancers, boys, girls, adults and children alike. The location was cozy and had the most authentic feel, with the dancers’ families sitting alongside the audience. The show was absolutely free, though I would recommend buying a ‘Seville Sunrise’ to sip on while watching the inspiring display of passionate dancing. If you want a good seat, get there early… this gem fills up fast and gets crowded!
Take time to enjoy the musical city of Seville in its other forms. First off, the buskers performed some of the coolest music I’ve heard traveling through Spain thus far. We were pleasantly surprised by few young people playing the Game of Thrones theme song in Plaza Nueva.
Additionally, if you’re music freaks like us, you may want to scope out the city’s record shops. We visited several that stood out to us. Record Sevilla and Discos Latimore both had a good variety of genres and were just down the street from each other. The shop that really had us grinning was Totem Tanz, whose selection was primarily of the electronic genre. They had the most unique assortment of drum and bass, reggae, dubstep, funk – as well as house, techno, disco, and jazz.
La Carboneria: Calle Céspedes, 21, 41004 Sevilla
Record Sevilla: Calle Amor de Dios, 17, 41002 Sevilla
Discos Latimore Calle Amor de Dios 4, 41002 Sevilla
Totem Tanz Calle Amor de Dios, 66, 41002 Sevilla
You are in Andalucia. This should be the first thing you’re getting excited about. The food here, namely in Seville, is fantastic and less expensive than many other popular travel destinations in Europe. The tapas are excellent and vary perfectly among fish, meat, cheese and vegetable-based. The first thing I ordered was blue cheese and walnut croquettas and it was like a welcoming chorus to the city. For foodies, Seville will surely spark your in Spanish cooking fire. I think I made it my mission to eat as much as we could while in Seville. Oddly enough, our favorite, non-traditional meal was at Cantina Mexicana. I cannot say enough good things about this spot (Dare I say it… one of the best meals I’ve ever had). It was full on Mexican cuisine – not your average, run of the mill Tex Mex. The Taco al Pastor, made with pork fajitas and chipotle sauce on a thick, flavorful tortilla was phenomenal, along with the Chilaquiles al Guajillo and the Enchiladas Verde. Everyone working the house was so friendly and even offered to make a vegetarian version (not listed on the menu) of the enchiladas for my boyfriend. Everything was also really well priced and – gasp – they accept American Express. Be sure to make a reservation, however! We didn’t but they squeezed us into a small table – luck was on our side that night. Seriously, go here immediately.
Cantina Mexicana: Calle Francos, 14, 41004 Sevilla
#5 Visit the Food Markets
Haven’t had enough to eat at the many restaurants in the city? Try visiting some of the cafes within Mercado Triana, which sits at one end of the 19th century Puente de Isabel II. The foundation of the market is actually the remains of castle San Jorge, which additionally was once the seat of the Inquisitorial Court. The structure itself, however, is older than that, dating back to 1171! Even if your not a history freak, this location is sure to stir up your culinary imagination. You can tell just how fresh the menu is at every seafood cafe is inside, due to the impressive ten pescaderías housed in Mercado Triana. You can find it all – from coffee beans to cooking classes and everything in between such as fruterías, carnicerías, bread, pastries, flowers, beer and wine. I love my colorful, abundant markets, so I had to see what Seville offered up in this part of town. If markets aren’t on your typical travel agenda, change that now. As with any market, try to get there early as these small shops begin to close down early afternoon.
Mercado de Triana: Calle San Jorge, 6, 41010 Sevilla
#7 Visit at Christmas time
One of Spain’s many, many holidays occurred mid-December and created a long weekend. This permitted me to travel for a bit longer than usual, which was perfect for visiting Seville. At this time of year, the city is blanketed in the Christmas spirit and full of life. Every street and business was decorated with lights, while Christmas music faded in and out as you walked down any street. A Christmas market was even set up in front of Catedral de Santa María de la Sede. Seville is certainly one of the most charming places to be during the holidays. This was actually the first time I experienced serious homesickness after moving abroad!