Parliament building in Plaza de Espana, Seville

A city guide to Seville

The southernmost city in Spain, and the capital of Andalusia, Seville is the embodiment of laid-back city living, making it the perfect place for a relaxing short break. Seville’s long history is tumultuous, to say the least, with a multitude of conquests, wars and even a plague; its past is just as colourful as its present. With every century and change of rule, the landscape and backdrop of Seville has changed and evolved, creating an amalgamated identity like no other, and thankfully one that is available for us to admire and gaze at while indulging on delicious, salty small plates of food. 

A colourful, vibrant city that is as modern as it is ancient, Seville delivers a heady punch of culture, art, cuisine and escapism. Here are some of the things you need to have on your to-do list for a getaway to Seville. 

Plaza de Espana, Seville. Image credit: iStock/ellobo1

Plaza de España

Situated at the head of the María Luisa Park, the Plaza de España is one of the most popular tourist spots in Seville. A moat-style waterway hugs the impressive government building that arches around a central fountain. You can actually take a short cruise in a rowing boat along this little stretch of water. A walk through the impressive grounds of the park is essential. 

The Metropol Parasol. Image credit: Pixabay/bogitw

The Metropol Parasol

The Metropol Parasol is the largest wooden structure in the world. Known locally as Las Setas (meaning mushrooms in Spanish) the structure was designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer. Spend some hours pondering the magnitude of this feat of engineering and mooch along the suspended walkways as you marvel at the shadows cast by the Mediterranean sun beaming down. 

Inside the Alcázar Palace. Image credit: Unsplash/ Akshay Nanavati

The Alcázar Palace and gardens

It’s hard to decide which is more impressive: the Alcázar Palace itself or its magnificent royal gardens. Built in the early middle ages with centuries worth of additions and alterations, almost every wall of the palace is a spectacle for the eyes. Millions of colourful mosaic tiles adorn the rooms from floor to ceiling and you’ll have fun discovering the little hidden hideaways and alcoves throughout. A walk among the landscaped gardens is peaceful and serene – don’t sell yourself short on time here, this is bound to be one of the most wonderful afternoons you’ll spend in Seville. 

Cathedral Santa María de la Sede. Photo credit: Unsplash/Henrique Ferreira

Seville Cathedral

This impressive cathedral in the heart of Seville is the final resting place of intrepid explorer Christopher Colombus. Like many of Seville’s famous buildings, the cathedral is a mix of architectural styles including sublime gothic, renaissance and baroque elements. For a small fee, you can climb The Giralda tower and be rewarded with an impressive view of the city – from here you will also get a spectacular aerial look at the Alcazar Palace. Much of your time in Seville will be spent gazing in wonder at the blended Moorish, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture.

Flamenco dancer. Image: Pixabay/Werner Gmünder

Flamenco show

You’ll be spoilt for choice with high-end theatrical flamenco shows in this city, but if you’re looking for an authentic experience without the bells and whistles (castanets come as standard), then seek out ‘La Carboneria’. This secluded old warehouse bar is rammed every night with travellers coming for a glimpse of the real deal. Women and men dance to live music, demonstrating dramatic movements and stamping assertively on wooden boards. Photography is banned, so switch off and simply sway.  

Aerial view of rooftop cocktail bar EME in Seville. Image credit: EME Restaurant

Rooftop bars for sunset cocktails

With temperatures regularly reaching the high forties, taking advantage of any shade is a wise move when meandering through Seville’s cobbled streets. Kick back with the old-boys at one of the local bars for an ice-cold and freshly squeezed orange juice; one of Seville’s most infamous exports. As the sun sets, swap your dose of vitamin C for something stronger and linger over a refreshing cocktail at one of the many rooftop bars. A particular delight is the La Terazza de EME bar atop the EME boutique hotel, just a few steps from the cathedral, where you can enjoy your favourite tipple while enjoying panoramic views of the cityscape. 

Image credit: Pixabay/Richard Eisenmeng

Tapas

No trip to Seville (or Spain in general) would be complete without gorging on tapas at one of the many establishments frequented by locals enjoying a long and relaxing lunch. The top dishes to grace Seville’s tapas menus include salt cod, braised ox cheek, Padron peppers, Jamon and octopus; however, be sure to check the chalkboards outside each eatery for their daily specials. Wash them down with an ice-cold ‘Cerveza’ or a glass of delightful homegrown Spanish red. For plenty of choice in close proximity, meander down Calle Mateos Gago. For late-night drinking, continue down the street and you’ll be welcomed by hoards of people piling onto the pavement from the local tavern-bar ‘La Fresquita’. Other highly-rated picks for authentic local tapas bites include ‘Bar Alfafa’ and ‘Bodega Santa Cruz Las Columnas’.