Beautiful architecture, mouth-watering local delicacies and damn good weather all year round, Seville is one destination that’s hot (seriously, hot) on the radar.
When people talk of Seville, the Game of Thrones-obsessed will know that the ornate 700-year palace “Real Alcázar de Sevilla” was used to depict the water gardens of Dorne in the fifth season of HBO’s hit TV show. Others however, dream of the “frito” (a fried fish speciality), the sherry region of Jerez, and the flamenco dancing that ensues into the early hours of the morning. I was lucky enough to be whisked away by my boyfriend on a surprise trip to this magical city for my birthday last year, and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
We took an early flight out of London and flew into Jerez, which is an easy one hour train ride away from
Arriving just in time for lunch, we grabbed some food then hopped on two SEVici bicycles which you can rent from one of 250 stations across Seville, and made our way into the old town until we came across the Metropol Parasol. This huge wooden mushroom structure is a welcome respite from the beating midday sun, casting some shade for locals to enjoy their lunch and tourists to appreciate it’s unusual form.
Whilst you can wander beneath and marvel at
We’d decided to book tickets for a few must-sees and make a dinner reservation for our first night before getting to Seville. El Pinton is one place you should definitely book ahead for, with its eclectic menu and Instagram-ready architecture. The magical courtyard looks up to the night sky and is surrounded by white brick archways and marble columns. With Aperol spritz on their way, we ordered a selection of tapas from the menu. Favourites included the croquettes, fried fish and what Spaniards know more commonly as patatas bravas, alongside a plate of red tuna tartar covered in tangy wasabi mayonnaise, and yaki udon pork.
On Saturday morning, we woke early and grabbed breakfast at a tiny café called La Cacharreria (their bagels are to die for) before enduring a 30-minute queue to get into the Real Alcázar de Sevilla. We had pre-booked our tickets as I’d heard the queue for non-ticket holders can be hours deep and in this Andalusian sun, I can assure you, it really wouldn’t have been much fun.
Give yourself a good few hours to look around at the exotic Mudejar architecture and gardens; ornate floor to ceiling azulejos (ceramic tiling) and lush green foliage overflowing with flowers, beautiful water features and peacocks strutting about the grass. Although it was pushing 35C, the arches create lots of shade and there’s always the welcome suggestion of cold ice cream (yes, please).
Our afternoon was spent mulling about the shops and walking to the Plaza de Toros – Seville’s famous bullring – before stumbling upon a cocktail bar along the river and ordering two mojitos!…which turned into four more because, hydration.
Some colleagues of mine had recommended the Mercado Lonja del Barranco, a lively food hall that’s open until 2 am, boasting both local and international cuisine. Housed in a 19th Century glass-and-wrought-iron pavilion, it boasts everything from sushi, to tapas, bao buns, salads, wraps, croqueta, empanadas, fresh shellfish and more. After freshening up at the hotel, we made our way out for dinner and enjoyed a few glasses of Rioja with some tasty paella – the perfect end to our first full day. We sat out back by the riverside where there’s a real buzz of people catching up over cocktails and enjoying the gentle breeze. Have a walk around at your own pace, then load up on food and find a shared table to enjoy it at.
We got up late on day three, mainly because we’re both usually early birds and sometimes need a lie-in (plus, that view!). I’d heard good things about El Rinconcillo, the oldest bar in Seville and by the time we arrived at 12:45pm (15 mins before opening), people were already gathering around the entrance. Being such a small restaurant, there aren’t many seats at all, so getting there early is essential.
We ate a delicious lunch of Iberian pork and their famous homemade spinach with chickpeas, then hired out some rowboats in the tiny canal at the Plaza de España to work it off. It was tough rowing round and there were other people on the water, but for a mere €6 for 35 minutes, it’s a wonderful way to experience the Renaissance/neo-Moorish style of this semi-circular building, especially if you take a few cans of chilled beer on board.
We didn’t have long before we were due at the Catedral de Sevilla. Again, avoid the queues and buy tickets online beforehand. If you want to make the most of your time in this city, queuing for hours shouldn’t be on the agenda and so a little forward planning can make all the difference. When we arrived back at the hotel later that evening, my parents had kindly arrange for a bottle of red wine to be waiting for us. And when there’s robes in the wardrobe and a jacuzzi bath, you’ve got to take advantage of it! Hola, room service!
I can’t say that I was pleased to be jetting back to rainy England after this incredible getaway, however, we’d seen the majority of Seville’s “attractions” and so after scoffing a plateful of churros with eggs and ham, for breakfast, we took our last day easy. The artistic neighbourhood of Barrio Santa Cruz is great to stroll around, and there are so many cute boutiques as well as high street chains (Zara, Oysho, Mango, Stradivarius). It was nice to stroll through the narrow cobbled streets at our own pace and enjoy some shopping before checking out and grabbing a taxi to the airport.
Top five things to see and do:
1. Visit the Real Alcázar de Sevilla
2. Hire a rowboat at the Plaza de España
3. Explore the Barrio Santa Cruz (and buy nice things!)
4. Sit beneath the curves of the Metropol Parasol
5. Hire SEVici bikes to cycle round the city
Five things we didn’t do, but you should:
1. Go to a traditional flamenco dance
2. Visit the Casa de Pilatos
3. Shop for hats at Maquedano
4. Take a train to Jerez for sherry tasting, or to Cadiz for a day at the beach!
5. Find the Costurero de la Reina, a little hexagonal castle that’s the oldest neomudéjar building in town
Top five foodie hotspots:
1. La Cacharreria if you’re a breakfast fiend like me!
2. El Rinconcello, a must-visit for traditional tapas
3. Bar Comercia, for the best churros you’ve ever tasted
4. The rooftop bar at the Eurostars Torre Hotel is perfect for open-air drinking and great views of the city
5. Mercado Lonja del Barranco because who doesn’t love a food hall?!